DISCLAIMER: Law & Order: Trial By Jury and all characters are
property of NBC and Dick Wolf.
SERIES/SEQUEL: This is the fourth story of an ongoing series featuring Serena Southerlyn and Tracey Kibre, following Between Bombay and Manhattan, Monday, Monday and Friday, I'm in Love. Title from an Indigo Girls song.
FANDOMS/PAIRING: Law and Order: Trial by Jury/Law and Order Tracey Kibre/Serena Southerlyn
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
She had almost forgotten that her birthday was Thursday. God knows, she had just about reached the point where the average woman would stop counting them, but Tracey Kibre had never been accused of being average. Besides, she had always adhered to her mother's theory that each year survived became an additional badge of strength and tenacity, worn not on a sash across her chest, but in each new wrinkle, and each new gray hair.
Driving by the war protestors outside the UN, she couldn't help but reflect that there were far too many men and women who would never see the other side of twenty, much less forty. For them, birthdays were a privilege of which they had been ruthlessly deprived. She would celebrate the gift of her next year. It seemed the least she could do.
Walking into the lobby of Hogan Place, Tracey silently debated mentioning her birthday to Serena. They had talked about birthdays in that general way that people have when they are getting to know one another, but that had been months ago, and she wondered if Serena would remember.
It had been nearly six months now that Tracey had been involved with Serena Southerlyn. What had begun as a frantic, experimental one-night thing, had evolved into something Tracey wasn't sure she could quantify or name. The first few months had just been about sex. Ravenous, reckless, insatiable.
And then one night, a week or so after a revealing conversation over dinner, spent, exhausted, every muscle in her body limp from the waves of orgasm that had washed over her, Tracey had fallen asleep, wrapped in Serena's arms. She had never spent the night before. It had been a matter of honor for her to slip stealthily out of bed, not waking the slumbering beauty stretched out on the pale green sheets, and exit silently into the half-dawn light of the Manhattan streets.
Roused by the lucent beams of yellow light that peered through the slits in the blinds, Tracey tried to reconcile the feelings of absolute lassitude and tranquility with her primordial urge to flee, to get away as quickly as she could from the possibility of any displays of tenderness. She ended up staying right where she was, tucked safely under Serena's arm, the warmth of that satin skin and the oddly comfortable sensation of being held overcoming the need to be gone.
Since then, things had been different. She actually spent the night on a regular basis now. Of course, always at Serena's. She had never invited the younger woman to her apartment, and Serena had never attempted to broach the subject, seeming to know instinctively that Tracey would not willingly yield her privacy, and would resent the suggestion.
Tracey had lain awake many of those nights, listening to the soft rhythm of Serena's breathing, her normally cold feet warmed by the heat emanating off the younger woman's body. For as long as she could remember, she had had a plan, a perfect diagram of how her life would progress, of what went where, and when. In none of those extensive blueprints was the vaguest suggestion of an affair with a female colleague, a younger female colleague at that.
Yet, suddenly, there was this gorgeous, brilliant, charming creature who, against Tracey's better judgment and all efforts to the contrary, had managed to establish a toehold in her life, one that Serena showed no signs of willingly relinquishing, and Tracey still stopped short in slightly amused amazement at the fact of it. Like a snow storm in July.
It wasn't supposed to happen, but one couldn't help but be a bit in awe of nature and revel in the sheer beauty of the contradiction. Quite often, that was how Tracey felt as she watched Serena across a table from her, laughing at something witty Tracey had said, head thrown back, glorious mane of gold flowing down around her shoulders like the robe of a queen. She couldn't help but stare in wonder at the apparition, her own snowflakes in summer.
Crossing the lobby of Hogan Place, and entering the elevator, Tracey hesitated for a moment, before pressing the nine instead of the number for her own floor. She seldom visited Serena in her office, not wanting to fuel any speculation that might have grown from sightings of the two of them having lunch or dinner together.
It wasn't that Tracey cared what people thought. In fact, part of her felt a self-satisfied arrogance at the fact that she had, without effort, managed to attain what no one else had even come close to achieving, bedding the golden girl of Hogan Place. Still, it would do neither of their careers any good to flaunt it, and so they were circumspect, generally avoiding each other at work, and maintaining a professional distance when necessary.
Serena was sitting at her desk, hair pulled back in a ponytail to keep it out of her eyes. She was typing something, her head bent to the side as she read the document, slender fingers flying over the keyboard. Tracey watched for a moment from the doorway, a slight smile gracing her lips as she thought of how those fingers moved with equal agility on her body, in her body, bringing cascades of pleasure with each slight touch.
Serena must have felt her gaze, for she looked up suddenly, a slow, sexy grin creating those tiny dimples in the corners of her mouth that Tracey adored.
"And to what do I owe the pleasure, Ms. Kibre?" Serena asked teasingly, her voice pitched so that no one outside the small office could hear her.
"Nothing special. I just got back from court," Tracey answered casually, dropping gracefully into the chair by Serena's desk.
"I take it from that cat that ate the canary grin that you won?" Serena laughed.
"How do you know that this is a canary eating grin?" Tracey countered, enjoying as always the easy banter that was central to their relationship.
"I've seen it before, though in a slightly different context, and from a distinctly different position," Serena smirked back at her, her voice pitched only for Tracey's ears. "Still, even from this upright angle, I can tell it's the same grin."
Tracey chuckled low in her throat, that deep, husky, Tallulah laugh that sent shivers of pleasure along Serena's skin. Head tilted back against the wall, one leg crossed casually, an arm laying with supple grace along the edge of the desk, Tracey made an astonishingly delectable picture, and Serena couldn't help but let her gaze linger on the curve of well-turned calf showing under the edge of Tracey's skirt, her eyes following the line up the length of Tracey's body to finally meet dark eyes sparkling with amusement and not a little desire.
"To answer your question, yes, I won. Did you have some doubt, Grasshopper?" Tracey grinned.
"Not at all. Still, I am surprised to see you. Something up?" Serena responded.
"It occurred to me on the way back here that my birthday is Thursday, and I was thinking that we might have dinner or something," Tracey replied nonchalantly, her fingers tracing the curve of the Buddha figure that sat at the edge of Serena's desk.
"I know your birthday is Thursday, Tracey," Serena smiled at her, face pinching up just a little as she continued, "Did you think that I had forgotten?"
"Hell, I had," Tracey laughed, "And it was a while ago that you asked me about when it was, so I didn't know."
"Tracey, we've been sleeping together for six months now. I'd be a pretty lousy, well, whatever I am, if I didn't remember your birthday," Serena told her, clearly flummoxed at the appropriate term to use to describe their arrangement. "In fact, I already made a few plans, not that I assumed that you would be spending your birthday with me, but it never hurts to be prepared. Just in case."
"Just in case? And what exactly did you have planned, just in case?" Tracey laughed, not entirely comfortable with the idea that Serena had made just in case sort of plans, but at the same time, pleased that her young lover had been so thoughtful.
"Now telling you would take all the fun out of it. It's a surprise," the blonde replied, a mischievous twinkle in her blue eyes.
"What if I said that I don't like surprises?"
"Then you picked the wrong profession. You told me yourself that the life of a prosecutor is ten percent discovery and ninety percent recovering from what the defense discovered," Serena countered smiling. "Seriously, if you have other plans, I understand. I just thought that if you did want to spend your birthday with me, I should have a few tricks up my sleeve."
Tracey chuckled again, strangely pleased to hear her own words thrown back at her. It was odd that what had begun as a single night of unbridled passion had turned into what Tracey, in moments of absolute honesty had to admit, even to herself, was now something more than just a fling. What it was she was loathe to name.
Friendship was definitely a part of it. That and companionship, the ability to share with someone who did the same job, experienced the same difficulties, knew the same people. Tracey had discovered, somewhat to her surprise, that she actually truly liked Serena, appreciated her intellect and her passion for justice, admired her determination and her fire. The younger woman had a ready wit that matched her own, and a piercing ability to see through the deceptive barriers that people placed around themselves, both qualities that Tracey possessed herself.
She had found that, despite the fifteen year age difference, instead of a relationship of inequity, they were a well matched pair. It was that fact that troubled Tracey and left her lying sleepless next to Serena's slumbering form on more nights than she cared to count. She wasn't sure that she was ready to truly contemplate the ramifications and rewrite those blueprints for a successful life.
"Do any of these tricks involve you, me, black silk, and whipped cream?" Tracey whispered sexily, leaning forward so that Serena had a good view of the cleavage displayed so nicely by her red silk blouse.
Serena laughed, loudly enough that an assistant passing by in the hallway glanced in to see the source of the amusement. Lowering her voice, she leaned forward just as conspiratorially and replied.
"You've already had that. Don't you want something different for your birthday?"
"Can I have something different and that?" Tracey smirked, raising her eyebrows in emphasis.
"Go back to work, Ms. Kibre, before Arthur wanders by and starts a lecture on the appalling lack of work ethic in the modern world," Serena responded, eyes twinkling. "And put Thursday at seven on your calendar. My apartment. And don't be late."
"You're sexy when you're bossy," Tracey told her, standing to leave. She paused in the doorway for a moment, mentally cataloging the lovely picture before her. She felt the next words slip onto her tongue and lay there, leaving a flavor akin to baking chocolate, rich and yet slightly bitter. "I do love that about you."
"Just that?" Serena teased, the look in her eyes making it clear that she saw the conflict in Tracey's expression.
"No, not just that," Tracey said almost unwillingly, before falling back on witticism. "You know I love your shoes. That's how this whole thing started."
"Right. Those famous Manolos you love to slip into. How could I forget?" Serena answered, a resigned sigh escaping her lips, matched by the vaguely sad look that ghosted across those sapphire blue eyes.
"I'll see you Thursday. Seven. Your place," Tracey stated, as an odd feeling of guilt and contrition swept through her, leaving her unsettled.
Serena watched Tracey leave, making her way confidently down the hall toward the elevator. For just a moment there, she had felt the connection between them, along with Tracey's complete uneasiness with the situation. She had tried not to push, not certain herself where this was going, or even where she wanted it to go. Still, Serena was nothing if not honest with herself and she had realized some weeks ago that the thought of Tracey not being in her bed, in her life was untenable. She just wasn't sure what, if anything, she could do to control it.
Tracey rode the elevator down to her floor, oblivious to anything but the thoughts coursing through her mind. Stepping off, she made her way mechanically to her office, throwing herself down unceremoniously in her desk chair. Anyone looking in at her would have been justified in thinking that she had experienced some sort of devastating shock. And she had.
Standing there in the doorway, she had undergone a moment of epiphany. There was a distinct possibility that she had somehow, inadvertently fallen in love with Serena.
"Damn. How the hell did that happen?" She wondered, mentally castigating herself for allowing such a massive detour on her chosen road. She knew with certainty that Serena suspected, or at least hoped and she also knew that she had until Thursday to figure out just what she planned to do about it.
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