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They were in the middle of a spectacular argument about something completely inconsequential, and Sara slid into the passenger seat of the car and slammed the door shut behind her.
"You know Alex, it's a good thing we're together because we're too screwed up to be with anyone else!"
Alex bristled and started to retort but pulled up short. She wanted to refute Sara's reckless accusation and yet there was a part of her that knewand was terrified to admitthat it might be true. They were damaged. Maybe not irreparably. But significantly. In the end, it was that damage that had kept her and Olivia apart. Not that Olivia didn't bear wounds of her own. Just that no matter how hard they'd tried, their broken places couldn't fit together without causing more pain. Unlike the way Alex and Sara had made room for each others' jagged edges and sharp angles. Settling into seamlessness like interlocking pieces of a complicated puzzle.
She thought of their first time together, Sara's fingers carefully tracing over her shoulder, feather light against the ugliness of the scar.
"Does it hurt?" she'd whispered, eyes unfathomably dark as she tucked a stray strand of Alex's hair behind her ear.
When Alex slowly shook her head, Sara bent to kiss the places she had touched with an almost unbearable gentleness that made Alex's throat ache and her eyes sting with unshed tears, and then she'd gathered Alex against her, and kissed away even those.
She considered the nightlight that she'd finally gotten used to, keeping constant vigil in the corner of their bedroom, and the way that, when Sara woke, panting and terrified and tangled in sweaty sheets, the first thing she needed to hear from Alex was, "You're safe, Sara" and the second thing was, "I'm here now."
She remembered the conversation that had started everything, long after last call in a hotel bar, both in town to present at a conference. Having appraised each other from a distance for several days, they finally found themselves alone together after their colleagues gradually called it a night. Alex had had one more drink than she knew was prudent. But there was something about Sara that felt familiar and safe. Maybe it was the fierce intelligence evident in her banter. Or the obvious passion she felt for her work. Or perhaps it was the wariness behind the shine in her dark eyes. Whatever it was, Alex allowed it to relax her enough to let her guard down. And the two of them talked until dawn, stories tumbling out on top of each other, both of them more nakedly honest than either had been in a long time.
Alex turned to Sara in the car, her earlier fury completely forgotten as she saw the look of utter amusement on her lover's face. Alex smiled in spite of herself, flooded with relief. "Cat got your tongue?" Sara asked, grinning broadly as she leaned in and kissed Alex's smile.
Maybe they were both damaged. Maybe even significantly. But Alex knew that they were healing each other. And that maybe, without her even realizing it, she had already been made whole.
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