"Sara," Ava whispered. "You awake," she asked, keeping her voice low in case Sara was actually asleep.
Sara turned to face Ava. Laying on her side, she rested a hand on Ava's hip, smiling sleepily at her. "You okay," she asked. "Fireworks." The Fourth was over but there were always the few stragglers that continued to go off every so often.
"No." She shook her head, it warmed her heart that Sara was always concerned about her well-being. "I mean, yes I'm okay." She clarified at Sara's worried expression. "No it's not the fireworks." She scrunched up her nose making Sara smile.
"What's up," Sara asked, it wasn't unusual for them to talk late into the night, but Ava never woke her unless something was bothering her. She looked at the clock behind Ava's back, it was close to midnight. "What's got you up so late."
"I was thinking." She paused not sure what Sara would think of her idea.
Sara lifted up on her elbow resting her head in her hand. "Hey." She caressed the side of Ava's face. "Whatever it is, you can tell me."
Ava smiled, Sara was always good at reassuring her, no matter how trivial the issue causing her stress was. "I was thinking, well I've been thinking about this since the camping trip. Since we spend so much time at each other's places, how do you feel about us moving in together." She played with the hem of Sara's shirt nervously waiting for her response.
"I think that's a great idea." Sara smiled brightly. "It actually makes perfect sense seeing as we're constantly switching between your place and mine. The only question is, your place or mine."
Ava thought about it another second before offering. "I really like your kitchen, even if it wasn't used to its full potential before I came along." She teased.
Sara chuckled. She was right, her microwave had been her most used appliance. "And I like your living room area, it's more open. And your master bathroom. I love that tub." She hummed thinking about the many times the two had shared a bath together.
"Focus." Ava kissed her lightly on the lips, knowing exactly where Sara's mind had gone off to.
Sara groaned. "You can't tell me to focus and kiss me at the same time. You're not helping."
"I can't help myself." Ava kissed her again and pulled back. "How attached are you to your house."
"What are you thinking," Sara asked. Knowing Ava, she had a plan, and a backup plan in case Sara didn't like the first one.
"I was thinking we rent the houses out, and maybe get a shared place, one with your kitchen, my open living room and a spacious tub." She waited as Sara thought about the idea.
"Renting them out would be a good investment. There are always first responders looking to rent. I like the idea of a new place. A place of our own. I can't wait to come home to you every night that you're off and you coming home to me after your shift." She never got tired of spending time with Ava.
"Me too. We can start looking tomorrow." She couldn't wait to start the search.
"Good, now that we have that settled, can I focus on something else," Sara asked, her voice low, her hand already moving under the bottom of Ava's shirt.
Ava let out a moan as Sara's hand slid under her shirt cupping her breast, her thumb grazing across her nipple. "Yes please," she sighed, her back arching, pushing more of herself into Sara's hand.
"Good answer." Sara hovered above her for a brief second before claiming Ava's lips.
"Ava," Sara called towards the bedroom when she heard a car door slam. "Your mom is here."
Ava practically skipped out of their bedroom, excited to have her mother over. She hadn't realized how much she missed her until their Father's Day lunch and the few lunches and dinners she'd shared with her since. "Thank you." She stopped to drop a kiss on top of Sara's head as she worked on packing the books into boxes. A few minutes later Ava returned with her mother, Pam and Sara's parents. "Look who I found." Ava's grin overtook her face. She still couldn't believe her mother was here, happy and ready to help her move in with her girlfriend.
"Hey, I'm glad you guys are here." She was extremely pleased her mother and Ava's instantly hit it off when they'd invited them both to lunch. It gave Ava's mother another friend and it allowed them all to become closer. Ava's mom had joined them at the family dinner the previous week and had cried when she'd bid Sara and Ava goodnight. She apologized to Ava for not giving her a more loving environment. One like the one Sara had grown up in. Which in turn had caused Ava to start crying followed by Sara because she hated to see Ava cry. Happy tears or otherwise. "Watch the boxes, they're everywhere." Sara jumped to her feet giving the trio a hug.
"You two seem to have a lot of the packing done," Pam said as she looked around the bare living room.
Ava blushed. "We were up early, too excited to sleep." She and Sara had stayed up late packing up her place and had started early on Sara's.
"Knock knock," Mick said, sticking his head through the front door looking around before opening it fully. "I was promised food for my services." He smiled, stepping inside.
"Where's Laurel," Sara asked looking behind him.
"She's not feeling too great, she's a bit rundown from work, I told her to stay home and sleep for a few more hours, she'll join us later."
"She's okay," Dinah asked, concerned for her eldest daughter. She'd been more sick than usual, she hoped it was nothing more than exhaustion from the hours she'd been putting in at work.
"She's fine." Mick assured them. "She'll meet us at the new house later." He was relieved when the family accepted his answer. He and Laurel had wanted to wait a bit before telling everyone about the baby, just in case there were complications. It had taken months of trying and failing to get pregnant, they didn't want to get the family's hope up. "So what's left," Mick asked, wanting to change the subject before he let anything slip.
"We haven't started on the kitchen, guest bedroom, or the garage. We're mostly done in the bedroom and what you see here." Ava pointed out.
"Pam, how would you like to help me in the kitchen," Dinah asked. "Maybe we can get some breakfast going." This time last year she would have expected an empty fridge and a freezer packed with microwavable meals. With Ava around she was sure there'd be plenty of fresh food available for breakfast.
"That sounds great, I ran out of the house and missed breakfast." She and Randy had another fight, as they usually did anytime he learned she was going out with their daughter. He'd been angry Ava had not apologized and his anger had only intensified when Pam had told him he was the one that'd been in the wrong. She smiled at the family that had not only welcomed her daughter but herself. It amazed her how at ease she felt with the Lance family. The moment they'd met her they'd made her feel like she was part of the family. The first time she'd gone to lunch with Sara's mother she'd been worried the woman would judge her for not supporting her daughter like a mother should but Dinah had surprised her. She'd hugged her and treated her like friend. Like they'd known each other for years. After a few lunches she'd finally accepted Dinah's invitation to join them for dinner. The invitation had been for both her and Randy but he'd immediately refused when she'd brought it up. Being around Sara's parents made her realize how much she'd failed her daughter. She promised herself that she would do better.
"How are you doing Pam," Dinah asked once they were alone in the kitchen. She hadn't missed Pam's earlier statement about running out of the house. She'd let slip in the past that Randy was not okay with her spending time with Ava and in his words, condoning her daughter's relationship.
Pam sighed, there wasn't much that got past Dinah. She set down the spatula she'd been using for the hashbrowns. She looked towards the kitchen entryway making sure it was empty before looking at Dinah once again. "I've decided to leave Randy." She was sure Dinah would be happy about the decision, even though she never spoke ill of her husband she knew Dinah did not care for him because of the way he treated her and Ava.
Dinah had not expected that. "How do you feel having made the decision," she asked keeping her reaction neutral. She was pleased Pam had finally made the decision, but she knew it hadn't been an easy one. After all, she and Randy had been together for quite some time.
"Honestly." She paused, taking a deep breath. "Overwhelmed, nervous, excited, but mostly, I'm terrified. I have no idea what I'm doing. I've been with Randy for 30 years."
Dinah stood beside her putting an arm around her shoulders. "It's scary, but you're not alone. That young lady in the other room beams anytime she sees you. She will be there for you and will support you, as will my family."
Pam nodded. "Thank you Dinah." She leaned into the half hug. "Now I just need to find a way to tell Ava." She'd stayed up late into the night thinking about it.
"Tell Ava what," Ava asked walking in. "Breakfast smells delicious." She sniffed the air. "What's going on. Everything okay," she asked.
"I'll go give Sara a hand." She squeezed Pam's forearm with a reassuring smile. "You got this."
Ava looked at her mother with concern. "What's going on mom." She moved to stand beside her. "What's wrong."
"Maybe we should sit." She pointed at the breakfast table. She waited for Ava to grab a seat before pulling a chair close to her. She took her daughter's hand in hers. "I don't know how to say this so I'm just going to say it."
Ava nodded. "Whatever it is, you can tell me." It felt like deja vu, it wasn't that long ago when Sara had used the same words just before they'd discussed moving in together.
"I've decided to leave your father." She waited for her daughter's reaction.
Ava sat silently for almost a full minute, that was the last thing she'd expected. A million thoughts ran through her mind as she processed her mother's news. "Are you at peace with the decision," she asked finally.
Pam nodded. "I am. I'm scared out of my mind." She let out a nervous chuckle. "You're okay with this, you don't think I'm making a mistake." She confirmed with her daughter.
Ava took both of her mother's hands in hers. "Mom, all I want is for you to be happy. If not being with dad is what makes you happy then I'm a hundred percent okay with it."
"I asked him last night to come help you and Sara move, he lost his temper as he always does and I lost the last bit of hope I'd been holding onto. I'm an idiot for thinking he would change after 30 years."
"You're not an idiot, you're someone that doesn't give up. Someone I'm proud to call mom. We will help with whatever you need."
Pam gasped. "I haven't thought further than telling you." She panicked. "I have no idea where I'm going, what I'm going to do next. I was so angry last night, I didn't think everything through. I mean I've been thinking about it for a while but I hadn't planned on telling him last night."
"Mom, breath. We'll figure it out." Ava assured her, it wasn't often she saw her mother this frazzled.
Pam chuckled running a hand through her hair. "You're right." She smiled, tears filling her eyes. "I don't deserve you."
"Of course you do mom, I love you. Now come on." She stood up, pulling her mother with her. "Sara is hungry, and it's not pretty when she or Mick get hungry."
Her mother laughed. "I don't tell you this enough, I'm proud of you Ava. I am so blessed to have you."
Ava loved this side of her mother, the open one that isn't afraid to show emotion. "Thanks mom."
"Hey, dad and Mick are going to make a trip to the new house, Len and Ray are gonna meet them there to unload, do you want to go with them to boss them around," Sara asked.
Ava rolled her eyes. "Don't be ridiculous Sara, of course I do. Want to eat first," she asked. She didn't want breakfast to get cold.
"Now who's being ridiculous. I'll go get everybody." With that she was out of the kitchen.
Pam released Ava and moved to the stove where the food had been left. "She's something else."
"Yes she is." Ava smiled. She wondered if Sara had sensed her need for her from the other room, she always had impeccable timing.
"Everything okay with your mom," Sara asked as they followed behind Mick and her father, in Mick's truck, while Mick drove the u-haul. Ava didn't immediately respond. "We don't have to talk about it." She was sure she'd interrupted something earlier but she hadn't wanted to make things awkward for Pam.
"No, I want to." Ava reached across the center console to take Sara's hand in hers. "She told dad she wants a divorce."
"Woah!" Sara exclaimed, she did not see that coming. "How do you feel about that." She knew Ava's mother wasn't happy with her father, she just hadn't expected her to divorce him.
"I think I'm okay with it." She was, she kept telling herself, a part of her worried about her father, but she wanted her mother happy. "She told him last night, there's a lot she's going to need to figure out. I told her we'd help her."
"Of course." Sara immediately told her. "Today we move us, tomorrow, we move her." She joked.
Ava chuckled. "Maybe not tomorrow. A few minutes before you came into the kitchen she was actually on the verge of a panic attack. She hasn't thought that far out."
"I don't blame her. She was with your dad a long time."
"She was." Ava agreed. "I was thinking, what if we don't move the big furniture items from my place and she stays there until either she figures things out or permanently. My place is paid off, so she won't have to worry about a mortgage."
Sara's head whipped in her direction. "Your place is paid off," she asked. She couldn't believe it. She was financially responsible and often made multiple payments on her house but she still had years left on her loan. "How is that even possible."
Ava shrugged. "I took out a VA loan, got really good rates, and several tax free deployments. I bought the place a year after I joined the service as an investment. I rented it out while I was enlisted. So I made double payments every month." She said it as if it were the most common thing in the world.
"Honestly, I don't know why I'm surprised." Sara shook her head. "But I like the idea of your mom taking over the house. It will be a familiar place for her and she'll be closer to us and the family. If she's comfortable with letting the family know, let's have everyone over for dinner, talk about it, see what she wants to do."
Ava brought the hand she was holding to her lips, kissing it. "I love you."
"I love you too babe." She squeezed Ava's hand.
"Have I told you how much I love you," Ava asked as she held Sara in their new tub. It had been a long day but everyone had finally left and she and Sara could finally have some alone time together.
Sara shrugged, leaning back against Ava. "Once or twice."
Ava tightened her arms around Sara's waist. "I need to do better." She dropped several kisses on Sara's shoulder, making her way up her neck, stopping just below her ear. "I love you Sara, thank you for tonight. I know you wanted to spend the evening christening every room in this house, I appreciate you taking the time to get my mother settled into her new house. And for getting help lined up to get her moved."
"She's family." It wasn't the first time she'd reminded Ava tonight. "While I am disappointed not to be christening every room in the house, I will settle for this room and our bedroom." She turned to kiss Ava. "We'll take care of the other rooms in the morning."