They were a stream. When the weather was pleasant and calm, they were a sight to behold. Ripples that kissed the edge of the banks, a bountiful habitat in which only beautiful things could spring from. A life source in which others could source from. They were a stream. Annika was the water, Sydney was the ground. Together they were one flowing entity. Easy as a sigh. As floating. But when the weather was rough they were something entirely different. No longer did the water mould itself. The ground - previously malleable and accommodating - became cold and unyielding. Now that was just as easy as sinking. Balance was a difficult thing with such unpredictable elements. A near impossible thing with such devious outside factors. Destruction only followed when one of them was pushed too far.
Who has the right to make anyone feel like this? Sydney thought bitterly, ever the lover of being in control. It was her body, her emotions, her life. How dare Annika ruin this for her? She had tried damn it, she had done everything right. She was patient and caring and loving. What - what on Earth had stupid Beak Nose Valleres done wrong this time?! Sydney sent a vicious glare at the other girl, hoping - no - wishing that she received a flinch in return. Because at least then she would know that Annika was feeling even a little remorse or guilt. Her anger left her with a shudder, as she gazed at the aching gap between them. The distance always had an effect on her, she couldn’t help it. To breathe, Sydney had to feel. So many times she despised the girl before her, because she could hardly breathe any of the time they were together. Then again, that was for an entirely different reason, wasn’t it?
Her hands itched to reach across the empty, dark, hard space between them. It was incredible how old she felt. Was this how relationships were - well, almost relationships - did they age you? Leave you feeling frail and brittle. There was no denying that when Sydney imagine growing old, she had a senile Annika snapping at her heels with her toothless gums and ever quick wit. But they had already grown old. They were already bitter and resentful. They had lost the youth, the energy, the boundless hope that shrouded them in a mist of baneful, beautiful naivety. Seeing the crystal in all it’s clarity wasn’t nearly as rewarding as one might think. Why - or more appropriately - how did this happen?
Fear. It’s the most deadly of diseases. It’s fast acting and devastating. Leaves the victim paralyzed and useless. It clouds good judgement. Makes a strong-willed person as brave as a sack of used socks. Yes, it made you run faster. But more often than not, straight into the jaws of the rabid dog you were trying to escape from in the first place. “Don’t speak.” Her voice was horse, from repressed tears or wrath, who knew? “For once your words are not going to get you out of this, Annika.” She was trying, God, was she trying. How far could one bend before one broke? How hard could a rock be hit by a wave before it cracked? “No more running, I’m tired of it. Running half way across a country, to the other side of campus, to the God damn bathroom.” Pulling her legs in tighter to her chest, Syd rested her cheek against her knee, sliding her fingers through her hair for a moment. A trick her mother used to calm her. “I’m tired. Of this, of us fighting and flighting. I - I can’t… I’m tired.”
With a sharp pain Sydney realised that Annika’s presence now, once she had returned, was something much more oppressive and dominating. Instead of bathing her gently in her cool embrace, she was slowly being pulled under a torrent of waves and struggled to find the surface. They were a stream. Most of the time.
The air was bitter, permeated by the statement that Sydney had just made, and it was all Annie could do to keep her mouth shut against it. The architect had worked hard to bring herself out here, and even harder to grind out the words that, at least to her own mind, were an admission of how much she felt for the girl. Of why she was afraid. Didn’t Sydney know that she was essential to her existence now? Annie, who had forcibly forged herself into a machine that ran with no outside source of power? Ever the self sufficient one, thanks to Sydney, there was now….there were parts,alright? There was assembly required. She no longer worked without the girl before her. But once Sydney was on a roll, she was on a roll, and Annie should not have even for a moment expected acknowledgement for her small triumphs. Too much wrong had been done, clearly.
Annika was all set and prepared to run into guilt mode, to backtrack over her words and apologize for anything she might have said wrong, to engage Sydney in whatever her worries might have been. Because that was the way they’d always done it. It only took a moment, though, of Sydney saying that /she/ was tired, and that /she/ had grown weary of the running that Annie realized the gravity of her own words, of what she’d just told Sydney. She’d told her, in so many words, that she could not live without her now, and it scared her, and /that/ was the response she received? Her apprehension redoubled, Annie exhaled roughly and shook her head, hunching over in her seat to put her face in her hands. She was going to lose her before she’d ever had her, what was the point in trying? And without being able to speak, Annie didn’t know what to do to respond to her. She felt helpless, emotions battering against her insides for some sort of release that she would not allow to come. “What do you want me-” Nope, that was speaking. That wasn’t allowed. Especially not now, when Sydney had selfishly thrown out statements that just begged to be corrected. She was making blanket accusations that she knew, if Annie were allowed to speak, would be instantly negated. Annika’s muscles tensed uncomfortably just re-running it through her mind. Because she’d run /first/. Further than just across the country. And it wasn’t fair that Sydney got to turn this around on her after that. For once, she wanted to be the less mature of the two of them, to stomp her feet and say ‘damn it, you started it’. But for some reason, she felt bound by Sydney’s not so gentle commands.
She was this girl’s bitch, that was obvious. And perhaps Zeke had been right, maybe it was time to make herself Sydney’s something else on top of that.
There was no indication, at least not to herself, that Annie was in control of this situation. No connect to see who really held the higher status.So when she finally did look up and stand, movements slow and sure and solid and completely fucking terrified- when she sat next to her love and pulled gently at the brunette’s legs, she did so fearfully. She pulled her around so that they faced each other, and Sydney was untangled from the knot she’d wound herself and her feelings up in. It seemed confident, sure. But Annie didn’t do so with anything other than a righteous sense of fear for what might happen if she moved the wrong way. Reasons, not the least of which included that she had no idea what she was about to say.
With her left hand still down at her side, thumb tracing lazy patterns on Sydney’s thigh, Annie brought up her right to cup the smaller girl’s cheek. Her brow furrowed, just enough, and she was all but trying to read her mind - the way she searched her eyes for what to say. “You’ don’t des-” no, that wasn’t right. She wasn’t supposed to talk, was she? Annie took heed of the earlier request and leaned forward to capture her lips briefly, pulling away almost as soon as they’d connected to take in her eyes again. Really, she was at a loss. She couldn’t apologize, she was equal parts confused and not sorry at all. But Annie agreed that she didn’t want to fight anymore.
The words that finally made their way out were…at best, off subject. At worst, they were an implication of something she wasn’t ready for, but it was all she had. It was all Annie could think of to want or request. “…Stay with me?” she pleaded softly, completely resolute and utterly confused.
Emotions were a funny thing. They have the ability to make or break a person. They are internal, yet people stir emotions in you. They are an unavoidable part of your ultimately short life, they’re in your body, caused only you to experience them. However, you have no control of them. They rule you. We - humans - are loyal subjects to our emotions. Catering to them is what our day to day lives revolve around. Our choices are swayed by them, or vision blinded by them. Clarity becomes complexity. It burns away memory. Poisons rationality. And still, the human race suckles on it like a starved babe. Why? Because we’re gluttons to punishment, we relish the pain, adore the haze of anger, crave the tight grip of lust, strive for happiness. If you were to ask for the ultimate drug in society, the answer is simple. The kaleidoscope of human emotion, that is the ultimate high, the most precious possession.
Sydney thought that to be very true, she’d agree in a heartbeat, because the facts applied to her more than anyone else. Her entire career depended solely on her capability to manipulate emotions, her own, and those of her audience - in which ever form they appeared. But what she was feeling now, or - more aptly - not feeling, was numbness. If emotion was the ultimate drug, was numbness the antidote? The absence of emotion. Was that not more painful than the strongest emotion? Pain was an emotion she knew well. They had become bosom buddies over the summer past. There hadn’t been an emotion - fleeting or lingering - that she hadn’t felt in her plight with Annika. Was she the worst kind of fool for believing that maybe - perhaps - they had passed this…this emotional rut that they were perpetually stuck in. Where was a shovel when one needed one?
After a minute of two she allowed her hand to drop from it’s frozen position in the air. She was being selfish surely? It wasn’t as if she didn’t know of Annika’s struggles, her upbringing - though still a part mystery to Sydney - was obviously nothing like her own. She could sympathize with what growing up in such a constrictive household can do to a person. Empathy, however, was a mystery to her. No matter how she tried, Sydney just couldn’t understand why. Why should - couldn’t… Soon, Sydney would have to question what it is she wanted in this. Before she could point the finger and huff about someone else commitment issues, there were some blockades in the road that could only be removed by herself. What did she want? What is it that she needed so desperately from the girl that she could feel so utterly unraveled “Something.” A confession. A declaration. Any recognition that this entire debacle wasn’t only one way. “Anything.” A little consideration toward the fact that she was losing her dignity by laying herself before the girl’s feet. Just one thing. Her love. Her heart. Her promise. “I can’t do this.”
Annie figured she could only hide away there for so long. After a few moments, she began taking deep breaths in hopes that they’d clear her head. Staring up at the ceiling, she ran damp hands over her face again. My, what a metaphor for them this must have been. Literally running away from your feelings until you knew, whether for the sake of manners or being too obvious that you’d have to turn around sometime. Sydney was probably well into taking the way that Annika had fled the wrong way. The thought that she might actually be crying, or think that Annie by any means wanted to end them is what finally prompted her to stand up straight and push herself out of the bathroom for before her foolish brain had a chance to resist.
The thing was, if she wasn’t going to end things, running at a wall she didn’t want to break through was little more than a waste of energy, wasn’t it? Even for the Scandanavian woman herself it was difficult to decipher what she expected to happen. Was she going to at once refuse to leave Sydney alone and refuse to let her get too close? Had she not become part of the problem without realizing it?
Her defense mechanisms were beginning to backfire on her. And it was confusing, more than anything, because she didn’t’ realize this until it was too late. As she slowly padded down the hall, right hand reaching across her stomach to clutch at her tee shirt and the other fisted in a dark mass of waves like she was fighting a migraine. Annie had done..albeit on an infinitely smaller scale, /exactly/ what Sydney had done to her to start all of this. Syd had finally -at least in part- admitted to something that had been hiding between them beneath the surface, and Annie had made a run for it. Again.
She’d done it a few times now, and with Sydney’s inclination towards hyperbole she’d venture that the girl probably thought that they were more than even at this point. And so the frightened child returned looking more like a guilty puppy, after too many moments of silence and use a couple of quiet beats of separation too long. Contrary to most days, where her expression was measured and cold and indifferent, Annie’s expression said volumes about what she was feeling. Remorse, for running. Fear of what that running might mean for them.
She crossed over to the seating area of the living room and started to sit next to Sydney, hesitating only slightly before passing the couch to look absently around the room, perhaps for an answer she wasn’t likely to find. Emerald lingered on the window for a moment, looking over her shoulder at the bay stretched out in front of the building like an escape to nowhere. It really was an amazing view. She could see, even from here, clouds rolling in from somewhere far beyond. Hear those same thunderous masses coming for them. They provided a sort of comfort, in some weird way.
When she finally allowed her eyes to rest on Sydney’s form, annie immediately felt the urge to touch her. It came as no surprise. Their relationship had always been a physical one, even if not in the traditional sense. But as tactile as Sydney had made her, in this situation, she simply could not figure out how to express what she wanted to. So she sat. She sat at the edge of the big, comfy chair adjacent to the couch where they’d been together not so many minutes prior, and she clasped her hands in front of her. Started at them as though they were the most interesting thing in the world, hair falling over her shoulders to curtain her face slightly. And for another incredibly long couple of moments, she simply sat there in silence and let Sydney watch and wait on her. When the words came, they came out as low as the rumble of those storm clouds. They cracked slightly like lightning threatening to break the sky apart. It was as close to admitting the heaviness of what she felt for Sydney as Annie could possibly get. As near to the fire as she would come without melting into her entirely. “il mio cuore ti segue..” she paused, unsure of whether the Italian said what she wanted to. Her eyebrows furrowed for a moment and she almost looked up, before finding what she wanted to say in her own tongue. “Hjarta mitt eftirfarandi hátt þér.” ’ My heart follows you.’
The harsh slavic words rolled off of her tongue more easily than their romantic counterparts would have. And it doesn’t give her the bravery to look up,but she does it anyway. She needed to see who Sydney was going to react to it. Though she wants to move at the look she sees, Annie stays firmly rooted in place. “It’s like I am in a different orbit, and the feeling is very jarring. I’m not sure what I would do…if you were not with me, now…”
It hurt, really. There was no sweetening the blow if she was honest, it was a sucker punch straight to the chest. Because when Sydney Valleres enters a commitment, even as frivolous as holding a parking spot for a complete stranger, she fulfils that commitment to her darned best. Getting into this, this - whatever she had with Annika, labeled or not, she knew this was serious. This wasn’t a summer fling. There were things, things that her overactive imagination taunted her with from time to time, things that had nothing do with carnal acts between the sheets. Snapshots of a could be future. Grainy and exposed with uncertainty. It happened when the sun hit dark skin so perfectly it lodges an uncomfortable itch in the back of her throat. When Annie touched her lower stomach, the phantom of…a path they could take - somewhere different and so utterly terrifying that it thrilled the very life of her - tingled beneath her warm palm. And for Annika to tell her that, to tell her that she saw no future, that Polaroid of more than two laughing faces, was nothing but a silly imagining.
“Let me up…” her voice was strangled and quiet with hurt. “Annika, move!” Scrambling up, the stinging around the ring of her eyes akin to burning, she gasped out as the first sob clawed it’s way up her throat. It was a stupid over reaction, she was being dramatic, she knew this but that didn’t soothe the heat that proverbially bitch slapped her heart, leaving her insides blistered and raw. An arm wrapped around her waist, a hand clutched at her throat - her own, of course. She didn’t know if she couldn’t handle Annie touching. Goosebumps plauged her body, honestly it felt as if she had been dipped in acid then scrubbed down within an inch of her life. “Why would yo- ” her head fell back, looking up at nothing for the answers. Her bottom lip quivered dangerously, god damn it she would not cry. “D - Don’t touch me.”
Was this how Annika saw their relationship, no, the world. A twisted form of instant gratification, that benefited neither of them. A child given a toy with with a time limit. “Is that how we work? We make the most of it before one of us fucks up, or realizes that the other is a giant…hot fucking mess? Hmm, Annika?” Blubbering out a half sob, half mirthless laugh, Sydney shook her head with a sniff. This wasn’t anyway to live, their self-worth issues would be the end of them, and one of them had to be the brave one sooner or later. No one but themselves was about to tap their watches and say time was up. They had as long as they were willing to stick their necks out and say ‘Yeah, I might lose my head, but I’m okay with that.’ “I like you, Annika.” Sydney growled under her breath, she was an actor she should be able to get her words out a little better than the drunken fool part she was playing. “I want you in my life, for as long as you’ll have me. I want to have adventures with you, I want to get into trouble with you - granted, I’ll be the one getting you in trouble. I don’t want to have to go through New York again without knowing that when I come back, you’ll be here…as my - as - mine, know you’re mine. Okay? I don’t want to have this feeling in my chest every time you go over to Ben’s, thinking you’re not going to come back to me.”
“God fucking damn it!” Looking away from Annika’s eyes - those fucking eyes - Sydney took a breath and raked clawed fingers through her hair, tucking errant strands behind her ears frantically. Swivelling back with renewed purpose in her voice, but anxiety in her crossed arms, she set out to finish what she started. “I hurt, mi amor, when you don’t have faith in us. In me. So don’t, okay, don’t doubt my fidelity to you. Because I’d rather burn my signed copy of Funny Girl than cut off ties with you.” Tugging nervously at her fingers, Syd took two long strides and clutches onto any piece of Annika she could get a hold of. Fingers traced facial features, shakily tucked hair away, compulsively brushed at imaginary lint. “Please don’t doubt me - I have too much trust in yo- look at this, look at what you reduce me to! You are my best friend, I need you, always. …Always.” Licking her lips, brow knitted firmly as she tasted salt on her tongue, Sydney looked for anything, a sign of recognition of just how much she needed her. “I l - need you.”
Life with Sydney could be compared to living perpetually in the moment a coin turned through the air, just before it fell and settled the bet of “heads or tails”. Especially if it was understood that your opponent had pulled out a trick coin. It didn’t matter how it landed — the face could still flip at any time. Annie hated it, and she wasn’t sure if it was because she had to watch every word she said for fear of setting Sydney off or whether it was because she hadn’t learned how to anticipate it after all this time. But the shorter brunette inhaled sharply and it took taller’s breath away, anvil slamming down into her gut as their calm conversational ship jutted to a halt. She recoiled quickly when she heard her full name fall from the woman’s lips, bitter and as sharp as a knife’s edge. Annika shifted and sat up, tugging at the strap of her own tank top where it had fallen. “Sydney?” she managed, having not been given enough time to register the diva’s sudden emotional shift. Was she crying now? Annie was sure she hadn’t said anything that warranted that. She rolled onto bare feet automatically when there was no response, padding over the small distance that separated them to try and intercept whatever was on the verge of happening. The most frustrating part about it was that no matter how many times she’d made Sydney cry, Annika never figured out how to stop the onslaught in its tracks. She knew nothing but waiting it out, because Sydney wouldn’t let her. Just like her moment of hesitation earlier, Sydney would rather bury her emotions in an embrace. Irony of ironies, this made Annika feel completely worthless. Frustrated or angry didn’t really cover it. Annie wasn’t accustomed to this kind of anger. The sort that came from being desperate and unable to help someone who was important to you.
“No, why are you,what is-” ‘D-Don’t touch me.” For the second time, Annie recoiled as though she had been burned. She stepped back a fraction from the brunette and shut her eyes tightly, jaw locking on a deep exhale. The lacrosse player violently shoved raven locks away from her face, internally mauling herself because Sydney - Sydney was definitely crying now. Again. Because of her. And if she couldn’t keep this from happening, then every reason - every excuse - she’d given for staying around this long had been voided. Instead, Annie felt too small for her shoes now, standing, awkward and prone to falling over at any given moment. The only thing worse than being berated? Sydney telling her how much she /liked her/. How much she wanted them to be with one another, to for lack of a better term ‘do life’ together, the way the elder woman had always done it on her own. Annika forced her eyes open, staring blankly at the woman who spoke in such passionate terms. Her own expression was equal parts empathetic,= and disappointed. It was the sort of admission that would have made Annie happy, if she weren’t so scared. If she thought for even a moment that /any/ of that was possible. She took another step away from her love in the middle of it, the back of her knee hitting the couch so that she could fall back into a sitting position silently. She continued to stare at the five-foot-nothing diva that had all this power over her, finding her cold and unaffected place somewhere different than where she’d left it. Annie was having trouble scrambling away from the heat she felt coming towards her, and it was making it that much more difficult to continue to function. But still, she stared. Her back ramrod straight as she sat up and away from the back of the couch, allowing the girl to talk.
“ …know you’re mine. Okay? I don’t want to have this feeling in my chest every time you go over to Ben’s, thinking you’re not going to come back to me.”
“Cariño…” The word was barely audible, and she managed it only in the seconds of silence that fell between them, trying one more time to get the girl to see reason. Ideally, she would have told her that Sydney never had to worry about being replaced. She would have reminded the girl that, in fact, their breakup had happened in part because of Sydney, and what Annika felt for her even then, so long ago. The words wouldn’t come. Annie wasn’t prepared to deal with what thy might mean.
It was so obvious -the words had come straight from Sydney’s mouth- that Annie was hurting her. Things had come full circle - /she/ was the bad guy in this situation now. She was the one doing the uprooting. And yet Sydney still wanted to stick around. Knowing in the inevitable. It was…scary, to say the least. ‘I hurt, Mi Amor’, she’d said, as dejectedly as Annika had ever heard Sydney say anything regarding herself. But it was the mention of the singer’s favorite performer, the suggestion that Annie meant more to her than Barbara, that shook the darker woman to her core. And then there was no space to think - Sydney was holding her face in her hands and green eyes became suddenly frantic. It was too much all at once. Too many promises, too much on a subject that, rightfully, Annie hadn’t even broached. “I didn’t mean…” she stammered, helplessly, for the first time in her memory wanting nothing more than to get a little distance /away/ from Sydney to gather her thoughts. ‘Always…always…I need you’. Annie was unsure what to do with her hands, she was certain just a second ago her lungs had been at least marginally functional and now…
Slowly, she placed her fingers on Sydney’s wrists, where the girl held her face. Emerald eyes took the woman again, she could still see the tracks of tears streaming down her face - a twinge of mascara that ran despite the claim of ‘waterproof’. Sydney needed her to stay, and she wanted to, that was evident, she just…needed a minute. “I…Syd, I can’t-” And with that, Annika removed both sets of hands and fled, as quickly and as silently as she left their shared bed in the mornings. Down the hallway and into the guest bathroom, where she shut the door and twisted both the hot and cold knobs on the sink to drown what she miraculously felt would be a sob if it ever reached the surface. What had come over her was unsure, but she’d felt it in Berlin. She’d felt it back at Roque, she’d felt it when Sydney had screamed at her for sleeping with Ben and when she saw Sydney walking towards her in the terminal. It made her afraid. Petrified to the point of hyperventilating, to the point that she’d be crying if she knew how. Cupping her hands beneath the surging faucet, Annika allowed the water to run through her fingers for a moment, aimlessly before letting it splash down into the basin completely. leaning up against the door, she fell backwards a bit as it clicked - she’d not closed it all the way, in her haste. The architect stared at the ceiling and tried to distract herself with the way the room had been built, tried to pull away from simple math. Two plus two was certainly four, though. Sydney’d just proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt. And here was her dark horse, her “knight”. Hiding in her bathroom like a frightened child, completely, for once, out of words.
Sweet Moses, she should not be so tempted to just take the girl on the couch. This is why they shouldn’t be apart for so long, it’s like she becomes desensitised to Annika’s touch, and not even her touch, but the general effect she has on her. Sometimes it only takes a look over the shoulder, or the way her voice dips into that harsh Icelandic accent. It just kills her. And now here she was, having a full on fist fight with her desires in order to keep them in check. It was just a kiss damn it. But it was oh so close. And she was the tease, honestly, they gave her far too much credit and not nearly enough to Annie. She knew it, the puta. Reaching forwards she tucked Annie’s hair behind her ear and stroked her cheek softly with the back of her knuckles. Yes, okay, she was a softie for moments like this, their peaceful moments. They really didn’t get enough of these. It was the first time she though Annika would be the death of her, and it certainly won’t be the last.
She couldn’t stop that pout of the bottom lip, it was like her trying to hold back a rampaging buffalo, it wasn’t going to happen. So, in order to not appear like a petulant child, Sydney leaned in for a gentle kiss. That was until Ben’s name was mentioned, why did is name have to be mentioned? “You were staying with Ben?” Well, there goes that not appearing like a petulant child act. Sydney really didn’t want that to bother her, and it shouldn’t, because Ben was a lovely guy, and his and Annika’s friendship was important to her. And she should support! But she can’t, she sees him and Annie, and she sees the way they laugh, and the way they have their inside jokes and it just hurts. Because even though she has those with Annie to, she’s crazy and needy and all kinds of irrational. She wants to open her mouth and say that’s okay, but she knows if she does all that will come out is begging from reassurance, that she’s Annie’s and Annie’s is hers. Sometimes, just sometimes, Sydney Valleres is a very scared teenage girl.
Her head is buried in the crook of Annika’s neck, fingers tracing the outline of her collarbone and supple skin of her neck. She doesn’t know how long they’ve been like this, it’s later in the day - she knows that much, but really that doesn’t mean a thing. “You’re like…Aang, and his gang.” Oh, she hopes she made the right references, otherwise she’s going to get laughed at. Then pouting will definitely occur. “They’re nomads, they don’t have a home, other than one another. But I suppose that’s the whole crux of the story isn’t it, because even if the whole world is against - Fire Village or whatever - as long as you have people you trust and that love you. You’re home.” Okay, so that was a little too in depth for what she was aiming for, but it got the point across. Honestly she was speaking more to herself, than Annie. Because here she was trying to figure out what was home, where was home, was it New York, San Fran, here in Annie’s arms. And of course it was simple, home is where love resides. “You know what?” She didn’t wait for her to answer, just kissed her soundly. “I think I like you quite a bit Annika Manuel-Sullivan.”
How pathetically head over heels in intrigue (and in-tune) Annie had to have been to notice Sydney’s silent non-reactions. It only took listening to register how someone was responding to things one said — but the way they were decidedly not reacting was an entirely different ballgame. Annie could feel the subtle withdraw of the girl she’d wrapped herself up in at the mention of Ben. It was as though she was wearing a sign on her forehead that said the thought made her uncomfortable. Maybe the Scandanavian woman was giving herself too much credit, maybe it was blatantly obvious that Syd was the jealous type and maybe she’d always made clear that, especially since the two of them had regressed and slept together that night so long ago now, he wasn’t her favorite of Annie’s many friends. Second only to Olivia, if she had to guess.
But damn it, she could have sworn the little intake of breath on his name was a tell-all. Annie shifted, adjusting until she found the spot where the two of them locked into each other just right, legs tangled and arms embracing, sinking into the overlarge cushions of the couch. She began to draw lazy, dragging patterns with her fingertips across the small of Sydney’s back, her left hand eventually dipping lower to trace the curve of her hip. “I was staying with Ben, ” she replied, in a contagious, calming voice. “And I spoke of nothing but our summer, and how much I missed you…”
There was another long moment of silence, smiling on Annie’s part as Sydney bumbled through an anecdote about Avatar given for her benefit. The green eyed woman leaned longingly into their kiss, grinning against her lips and unable to help herself because their mutual infatuation was reaching critical levels and this was what Annie had been wishing for this time last year. She felt undeservedly fortunate and blessed in this moment. Even if she still didn’t believe a word her songbird was singing to her. Annie continued to smile, though it faltered, as the thought of what Syd was saying settled in. “You know I don’t believe in homes, Avecita. ” She murmured the words trepidatiously against her forehead, after their lips had parted and they’d settled again. “I suppose I am more than predisposed to be an Airbender. One day, you will come to your senses and decide that isn’t what you want. But I hope..” The raven-haired woman leaned away to get a look at those delicious brown eyes, ever expressive, “That it isn’t for a while. Because I l-ike you quite a lot, too.”
“Nothing.” That was it, right? Nothing, it was nothing. Just a fleeting glimpse of something she wasn’t ready for, what neither of them were ready for. By a long shot. It was simply a stimulation of the moment, she had gotten caught up. That was all. With a quiet smile she leaned forward, cupping Annika’s jaw with her hand and, with parted lips, grazed her bottom one gently over Annie’s. Teasing is pleasing. It should be on her coat of arms. “And if it were anything, I think I prefer this to talking.” Still having not actually kissed Annika since the interuption was turning out to be a rather enjoyable game, who knew not touching was just about as arousing as touching. “Hmm…” Sydney hummed, much to herself, before removing herself from the couch - and Annika - with a smirk adorned on her lips. How far could she push them before they both broke? A small laugh escaped her lips as she turned toward the bedroom, peeling away her clothes as she padded, wasn’t that just the definition of their relationship?
She had known Annika wouldn’t follow her into the bedroom, it was a silent treaty between them, a line that wasn’t meant to be crossed just yet. The clothe-shedding wasn’t an invitation, as such, just a nod at what was possible. That had been the norm for the two of them really, always tastes of their potential. The sight of the flower, minus the smell. The quiet crackle of burning firewood, but none of the warmth. Fingers plucked at blouse buttons as dark eyes scanned across the horizon, San Fransisco grumbling itself awake several storeies down. But Sydney’s interest was not on what was occuring outside, but to the woman she could hear milling around inside her appartment, as comfortably as she traipsed through her thoughts. Her sweatpants, tank and fluffy socks were a god send after the torture of that outfit. But, paparazzi were constantly on the look out for fashion disasters and Sydney refused to be labeled as such an atrosity. Not that the paparazzi ever followed her, or had reason to.
“You’re more familiar with this place than I am.” She commented with a small smile, watching Annika to and fro her way around the space. “You can always stay here, until moving in day.” It was a statement, Sydney didn’t want their to be any implication, she didn’t expect anything of Annie, but the words were unavoidably heavy. “Where even are you staying?” With a quizical frown she allowed herself to fall over the couch back onto the pluush cushions below and shuffled until she was comfortable.
Oh, how she had to fight herself not to respond to that. Annika wanted desperately to come back immediately and ask the woman how she was expected to fix problems that Sydney wouldn’t tell her about. And of course, she would have continued on about how the diva couldn’t simply lose herself in her li-the thought trailed off and fell to nothing, forgotten as she found the shorter woman close to her again, soft lips ghosting over her own. Annie lifted her chin slightly, aching towards Sydney’s attentions, green eyes fluttering slightly at the contact. The architect tugged lightly at the hem of the girl’s blouse with her unoccupied hand. And, of course, her mouth then curled into a slight,frustrated smile when she realized what Sydney was doing, as the girl pulled away from her and the fabric slipped defeatedly through her fingers. Oh, Mighty Zeus, she was so whipped.
“Tease…” she grumbled, voice full of a particularly disgruntled mirth as strong core muscles propelled the elder woman up and automatically after a retreating Sydney. That is, until she heard the first article of clothing hit the floor. Tease indeed. Annika diverted her path immediately, shaking her head and smiling before she retreated to….organize her dvds or something. It was simply better not to test her own strength. Annie summized that they’d missed each other terribly. If she’d followed, irrational decisions ran the risk of being made. Of course, the raven-haired woman made similar excuses every time she didn’t follow the trail of clothes to the treasured sight that wait at the end.
Annie floated absentmindedly over to a table at the opposite end of Sydney’s living room, glancing out the window there before picking up a notebook and a couple of DVD’s sitting near where the utensils would typically be. The notebook, she knew after turning it over in her fingers for only a second, belonged to her. The telltale nordic scribbling on the inside cover confirmed this. She hummed to herself and made a note to remember to pick it up. She was always finding things of hers in Sydney’s apartment. Parts of her that seemed important until she had the girl to whom the house belonged to compare them to. Here, many things were happily lost.
“Your floor plan is quite simple…” Annie met her eyes and returned the smile as she crossed to the media center to put the DVDS away. “We never did watch these.” Annie had heard the invitation, of course. Turning on a heel, still looking down at her hands, she crossed over to the arm of the couch opposite her…Sydney. “I always thought that I liked it here because of the windows. But I really appreciate the open space they gave you..” Dropping the notebook to the coffee table, Annie sat at the edge of the couch before shifting so that one of her knees kept her balance on the cushions and she found herself leaning over Sydney’s torso, one hand perched on the back of the couch and the other on the seat. She looked up to find the other woman watching her and smirked, before leaning down to deftly press her lips against the exposed, tan skin, where her tank had ridden up in the shuffle. “I won’t stay…” She spoke in an undertone against her skin, glancing up at the other woman with only her eyes, a gleeful glint of mischief evident in them. “But you know I’ll probably not be able to stay away from you come nighttime anyhow..” With that, Annie chuckled at her own teasing and lifted herself to somewhere closer to eye level with her love. While still trepidatious about physical contact, even after all of this time, Annie had few qualms about the way that she lowered herself again to wrap her arms comfortably around the woman beneath her as she fell slightly into the corner of the couch and they shifted to accommodate one another. “I stayed with Ben for a bit, you know, big empty house… Kat..some other odd Roque people when it seemed opportune..” She glanced up as she spoke, as her fingers slid the way they always did beneath the fitted tank in order to rest warmly at the small of her back. “My stuff is all in storage. I’m a vagabond. A nomad.”
It’s a strange feeling to experience, having your entire body sag in relief, but that’s what it did when coupled with Annika’s touch. Sometimes it took all of her will power to simply not fall to her knees, body limp. Now, she didn’t mean this in the ‘faced with the Messiah’ type of weak at the knees, but at the honest fact that she no longer had to try, she no longer had to be ‘Sydney Olivia Valleres’, she could just be Sydney. Facades and bravado banished, leave your artificial smile at the door. All prior worries were forgotten, she didn’t care about the fact her suitcase was travelling Europe without her, or that she had written two words on her extra credit Russian History essay - her name. What mattered, was remembering just how soft yet unyielding Annika’s bottom lip was when it was trapped between her teeth, and committing the little intake of air when she bit just that tad too hard on it, to memory. Oh, how she had forgotten how the downy baby hairs on the nape of her neck had felt as they slipped through her fingers. She never wanted to lose this, these tidbits that only she knew, only she could explore and pick apart. Call her obsessive, but there was an overtly large part of her mind that wanted nothing more than to grab the girl’s face between her hand and growl ‘mine’.
All through-out her adolescence Sydney had fought with her self-esteem issues, thinking no one wanted her, then overcompensated in adulthood imagining she was irresistible. Or at least telling herself that much. Now she had this gorgeous woman fitted nicely between her legs on her couch, and there was still that tiny, niggling voice at the back of her mind. She’s better than you. Why would she want you? Ben and Ruby are the ones you know about, and it’s not like you can amount to them! Pulling back and upright, her hands resting on Annie’s stomach after having nervously pushed back her hair behind her ears, Sydney took a breath to calm her whirling mind. Don’t look, don’t look, don’t lo- you looked. If eyes could ever be a physical entity, Annika’s would be the kind that - whenever you walked down the street - they’d cause you to take a second glance, every time. They baited you, reeled you in and then shut you up in a cool box full of water . And you went along with it willingly. “I’m fine…” she smiled softly, answering before Annie had the chance to question. Her thumb traced the outline of Annika’s bottom lip languidly, her eyes following the movement, as something strong and uncontrolable bubbled up in her stomach. “Nika. I…” I, what? I’m sorry if I fuck this up, which I will? I left the door unlocked? I need to pee? Anything but that! “I missed you, so much. That’s all.” Sydney decided it was best to keep her mouth busy so she leaned forward to capture her…Annika’s lips once more. Home is where lips latched, Pumbaa had it all wrong.
She was convinced that it was about the sex thing. It’s part of the reason that Annie was in no rush to consummate their relationship. Hell, if she were being honest with herself, it definitely didn’t do much to kill that secret inkling of fear that lounged languidly along the next big milestone between them, either. Not that Annika would ever admit to being afraid. She wanted to ask what the falter was about, damn her fear that it might chase the girl away, but then she’s whimpering slightly at the feel of Sydney’s tongue sliding against her own again and unanswered questions were left lingering on her own lips. She fights a smile at the kiss briefly, before it’s no longer an issue. There was a conflict - because the actor’s lips still tasted faintly of sugar from their dessert, and the nonexistent space between them made every subtle movement a delicious distraction rivaling even that. But she’s worried, even as her hands wander and she maps the curves of the woman beneath her through cover of clothes, every so often dragging up a hem or squeezing lightly, no shame in wandering fingertips that desire Sydney’s bare skin, solid and warm beneath them. Though she questioned whether their first time together would turn out just the way their first date had- a disaster compared to their soaring expectations - Annie was through throwing dice with Sydney. Relying on chance to throw them together and giving up at the first bad roll. If that happened, they’d work at it until they got it right.
It was the fleeting look of uncertainty in her would-be-lover’s eyes. Moments like the one that had just taken place, where Sydney still looked so desperately unsure about something that it caused the architect’s foolish new optimism to falter, made the elder girl scramble hopelessly for a way to fix it. Never mind her own insecurities. Nevermind that there were still moments where she found herself petrified. Annie was convinced she was still there, in body as well as in spirit, and the looks that Sydney gave her sometimes, the ambiguous glances that she never explained… “Avecita..” Annie pulls away then, her hands flee from the admittedly erogenous zones where they’d fallen to support her weight. Agile limbs took her backwards to sit at the opposite end of the couch, where she motioned for Sydney to follow suit once she was settled. “What’s on your mind, love?Really “ she murmurs, green eyes still smiling despite the worry apparent in her voice. If it was insecurity, some pesky feeling that they’d fail at something along the road, Annika was intent upon fixing it before they slept together. More than anything else, Annie was afraid of allowing something physical to be the anchor for their wobbly relationship. She absolutely wouldn’t allow it, reasons not the least of which included that Annie was prideful enough to /need/ to prove that they were more than that. That she was good for the other woman in vast and myriad other ways as well. It was a hard thing to keep at, but the self-resentment if she didn’t would be unbearable.
There were a select few things that could distract Sydney Valleres from her internal combustion engine of fury once it had revved up. Perhaps distract was the wrong word, channel was more relevant. One of the divergences, of course, was sex, but seeing as their relationship - Annika and her own’s - was still in the first tentative steps, though their sexual frustration levels were actually reaching critical, it probably wasn’t the best idea to take that course of action. The second being some form of exercise, but six inch heels again weren’t ideal for that plan either. Seemingly out of choices, and according to Annika out of paper - which, yes she understood was a joke but made her pout none-the-less - Sydney was fresh out of ideas on how to cool her proverbial fire. “We’re going to Dairy Queen!” The fiery diva had stopped not a few paces from their original meeting point, suddenly struck by the overwhelming need for the sugar-filled, delicious dairy treat. With a new found purpose and a hankering for calorific cream, Sydney strode onward, tugging her…Annika (were they labeling things yet?) behind her.
Having officially off-loaded about her flight from Hell, the two of them were sat opposite one another, an ungodly amount of ice cream between them. They were supposed to be sharing it, but with the amount that Sydney was shoveling by the truck load into her mouth, she would be surprised if Annie was able to get a bite in. “And then I left my fast pass on the god damn tray… Which reminds me, you need to learn how to make the yellowfin tu- Oh, and there was me thinking you could cook. /I’ll/ have to learn how to make it.” Running her tongue over her teeth, to hide the smile that was spreading across her lips Sydney dipped the spoon in the creamy concoction and offered it to Annie to eat. Just because they weren’t ready for sex, didn’t mean Sydney was going to stop the teasing any time soon, they’d had almost a year of foreplay, a little more couldn’t hurt. Removing the spoon from Annika’s reach, Sydney popped it in her own mouth and slowly removed the ice cream from it’s surface. Running the now spotless stainless steel over her lips, eyes gleaming with mirth, Sydney watched Annika’s reaction in amusement. “I saw you made a sign, you utterly smitten kitten. What color collar shall I buy for you?” Leaving the spoon in the cup, Syd reached forward to swipe a bit of the dessert off Annie’s lip and pop it in her mouth. “Thank you, byggir minn.”
Soon after Sydney’s belly was full of her craving, she had dragged Annie back to her place, afraid the apartment might be full of spiders that would eat her face whilst she was napping - she told Annie this much, much to her chagrin. “You see it’s been what -” she began counting on her fingers aimlessly “- too many hours since you picked me up, and…” The smile on her face would have been explanation enough, but Sydney carried on regardless. “I never did get my welcome home kiss, which I am very-” she pushed the door shut, and turned around to face Annie, a feral smirk on her lips “- very -” slipping her arms around the girl’s shoulders, leaning into her heavily “- unhappy about.” Though her words were cocky and sure, there was a sliver of doubt lingering somewhere in the back of her mind. Not that she had feelings for Annika, that much would always be unwavering, but that at one point, Annika was going to realise this was all too much - /she/ was too much. It wasn’t like she was the easiest person to get involved with, surely there were much nicer fish in the Roquean pond? “I really missed you…” All pretenses were gone, this was just Sydney and Annika, nothing else. Just them, in a quiet apartment, looking over the bay, listening to each other’s soft breath, soaking up being with one another again. It was…bliss in Dairy Queen cup.
Annika listened dutifully as Sydney recounted her particularly eventful travel adventures, nodding as usual in places appropriate and still half grinning at her, even at the points of most frustration. For all of the trouble, she supposed she should have sought to do more to fix the wrongs done by the airline earlier - make some phone calls, order them to reimburse her, something of that sort - but honestly the airline could have shot her across the country in a cannon for all Annika cared, as long as she landed back in San Francisco and in her arms as planned. Virgin America had gotten Sydney home safely. The rest of it was just a bonus. “Hey, hey, ” She interjected, halfheartedly, when Sydney started to make fun of her cooking with that trademarked arrogant smirk of hers, raising a hand of her own in protest. “I can make lots of things. And what I can’t make, I can learn to make. I am a fast learner, after all. “
Foremost on the list of examples illustrating this fact? A certain mischievous glint in dark amber eyes that signaled an incoming ploy for her attentions. That was the thing about the two of them, especially in moments of being apart. They both had things they wanted to say, no doubt. But Sydney liked attention, needed to hash out and relive things aloud, and Annie was more than obliged to give it to her. She might not have taken to the whole awkward-couple-feeding-one-another-thing, but luckily, Sydney hadn’t meant the gesture sincerely anyhow. And so it began. “I am never eating dessert with you again…” she murmured, trying to affect an unbothered expression. The little nervous ticks were her tell, though. The way that Annika’s thumb came in to brush at the palm of her hand absently, or how she bit her lip for only a fraction of a second before releasing it, blinking green eyes as though coming out of a trance when Sydney put the spoon down. Damn her. ” This collar thing is becoming something of a kink for you. ” Annie shook her head, tongue darting out to swipe across her lips, just where Sydney’s hand had fled. That was it. There was just a look. A little silent wonder about whether Annie was really still allowed to want to lean across the table and kiss her that badly. “You are welcome.”
The ride back - which took place in Annie’s Jeep, as she’d left the Prius in Virginia for unspecified reasons - was funny, to say the least. There’d never been any doubt that Annika would end up back at Sydney’s apartment, one way or another. Why Sydney felt the need to formally ask her to come there, when she’d not so much as hesitated to say ‘we have to go ‘home” earlier was beyond the taller girl. But she’d smirked and taken the girl’s hand into her own anyway, merely throwing out an “I’m in no hurry to get back to where I’m staying, You know I haven’t picked out an apartment yet anyhow” before she acquiesced.
And then they were strolling through Sydney’s intimately familiar entryway. The little carry on was shoved off near the couch, the lights were neglected. Somewhere far West, thunder rumbled softly. There was a storm brewing out there, but there wouldn’t be any rain for at least a couple of days. Just the telltale sign of things changing. Annie turned away from the window when Sydney started to speak, eyebrow arched in interest and lips curling from a small, self satisfied smirk into a full fledged grin. Her show was amusing, and the look on her face..well, enticing was an insufficient description. Viridescent eyes practically sparkled. Sydney made her want to run and stay put forever, all at once. She pulled the shorter girl in as Sydney’s arms found her neck, their bodies flush together as, in Annie’s opinion, they should always be. “Tu no sabes?” She said, feigning aloof and overly interested in what Sydney was saying, as though it were a peculiar choice of words. “You are allowed to kiss me whenever you feel so inclined.” She brought her hands up then, brushing her thumbs against the diva’s blushing cheeks before cupping her face in loving hands. Leaning forward, she pecked her lips sweetly. “But hello.” Another kiss. “Welcome home.” Brushing brown waves away, Annika’s arms slid back down around the girl’s waist. A little squeeze and a grin, a gaze never broken between them. Another kiss, this one lingering. “I’ve missed you, too.” And with that, Annie kissed the girl in the way she’d wanted to back at the terminal. Soundly, fingers falling to Sydney’s waist to splay and ply at soft skin just beneath the hem of her top. It wasn’t as urgent as it might have been, but Annie didn’t seem as though she would be letting her go anytime soon.