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Dina is frantic.

Why?

Maybe it’s the fact that she’s just spent a week up in the mountains, inspecting a series of safe houses for electrical damage; and while clearing out debris and detritus left by a recent storm, she disturbs a runner who she recognizes as someone who voluntarily left Jackson a month ago. She puts a bullet in his brain and writes down his name and location. Quick. Clinical.

Maybe it’s the temper tantrum her son threw that morning, and the fact that she hasn’t been able to get through to him since then. Worry clouds up in her mind: worry that he will think poorly of her, that she will become ensconced in his memory as the overbearing parent, the one he only just tolerates.

Maybe it’s the fact that she is another year older - and as victorious as this feels, to survive for so long in this world, it also feels like a kind of betrayal, something that should be a source of shame - that she should continue to live, while her sister and mother are gone.

Maybe it’s Ellie’s fingers drumming on her thigh under the table, all through lunch. 

Well, it’s probably not that last one. But it certainly isn’t helping.

So Dina, needless to say, is worked up. They come home, and she snaps - she drags Ellie up to their bedroom; she presses her against their closed bedroom door, insistent, and tries to close her eyes to all the stressors of the world. 

But then Ellie’s hands are on her shoulders, firm and grounding. “Easy, easy, we’ve got time. Dina, babe.” And Ellie laughs then, grinning down at her. “We’ve got so much time.” 

And Dina wants to feel foolish for all her freneticism, for all her worried energy, and she can’t quite meet Ellie’s smile above her.

“Hey.” Ellie touches her jaw, and Dina finally meets her gaze.

“I’m sorry,” Dina murmurs, and a worry line is between Ellie’s brows as she starts to massage a muscle in the curve of Dina’s neck.

“For what?”

Dina sighs, reaching. The magnitude of what she wants to say feels just out of reach. “For rushing everything?”

But Ellie shakes her head, as if the answer is simple. “That isn’t your fault.”

And Dina, with a great measure of comfort washing over her, feels like Ellie understands: that Dina isn’t used to feeling this way, but that raising their child in this world brings these feelings on sometimes; and there are things beyond their control, huge and abstract, that keep her up at night and make her detached and worried; and that, desperately, Dina wants to go back to her old calm, to find her peace in the storm, to do so much more than just survive.

Ellie kisses her forehead. “We’ve got a couple hours to spare, hm?” Dina nods, and Ellie smiles down at her again. “I plan on using every second of it,” Ellie replies, and her voice is somehow sweet and dark, and it curls in Dina and makes her shudder. “No rushing allowed.”

And Dina is so, so thankful for her, and she lets Ellie push her backwards until her legs hit the mattress, and they both go tumbling down into bed, laughing through their kiss.

Ellie undresses both herself and Dina, grinning at the expected difficulty that comes with wrestling off Dina’s jeans and socks. Dina lies on her back, one knee bent up, and Ellie just leans against it absently, running her hands over Dina’s belly. She traces the stretch marks there and kisses the inside of Dina’s knee. 

“You get more beautiful every year,” Ellie murmurs, and there’s not a trace of laughter or joking in her voice - it’s just deep and soft and true, and it makes Dina’s heart ache as Ellie sets about pressing a line of soft kisses up her thigh. Dina knows that she’s already wet, and her legs fall open a little wider, as she whines in anticipation. 

But Ellie has said no rushing, so of course she moves back up Dina’s body, hovering over her to kiss her mouth.

Ellie kisses her chaste and sweet and soft, rolling them over so that they’re on their sides facing each other, one hand absently tracing Dina’s back. She licks into Dina’s mouth for a second and then pulls away, leaving Dina gasping; she plants kisses on Dina’s nose, between her eyebrows, on her cheekbones, on her chin. Dina blushes at the attention and giggles as Ellie nibbles at her neck, sucking on the skin there. 

Ellie pushes Dina down again so that she’s on her back, and Dina sighs happily. She lets Ellie position her where she wants her - she lets Ellie tip her head to the side, so that her neck is bared and Ellie can kiss down it; she spreads her legs so Ellie can kneel between them and start to run her hands over Dina’s thighs and massage her warm, soft flesh.

By the time Ellie reaches Dina’s breasts, Dina is sucking down air at a moderate tempo, flushed red down her neck, with whimpers drawn up from her throat by Ellie’s clever mouth and hands. Her shoulders and collarbones are bruising purple thanks to Ellie’s ministrations; as Ellie nuzzles the scar on her right shoulder and kisses it lightly, Dina wishes she could freeze this moment forever.

Then Ellie starts to lavish one of Dina’s breasts with her mouth; and without warning she reaches down with a hand and cups Dina between her legs, and that steady tempo of her breathing is interrupted by a sharp gasp and a broken sound that is Ellie’s name. 

Ellie smirks against her chest and Dina would roll her eyes, if it weren’t for the steady rhythm that Ellie has set against her clit. It makes her rock her hips and press herself deeper down into the mattress and spread her legs and God, Ellie is so precise between her legs. 

“Inside, baby,” Dina gasps. “I need you inside me.” And Ellie nods against her chest and murmurs sweetly, and Dina croons and spreads her legs and Ellie slips a finger inside her and Dina cries out and -

And Ellie pulls out and goes right back to her clit. Dina whines , fisting her hands in the blankets and rocking her hips. She needs Ellie, desperately, and it occurs to her to voice these things - 

“Fill me, baby,” she whimpers as she rocks into Ellie’s touch. “Please, please, I’m so empty -”

And Ellie’s tone is so even , as if she were remarking on the weather rather than responding to a demand - “I know, love” - and she just continues to circle Dina’s clit, almost absently now, as she inclines her head and paints Dina’s neck in kisses.

Ellie,” Dina gasps, voice pitching now, breathing rising to a frantic tempo. “I need you so so much, baby, I need you to fuck me, please -”

And then in one smooth motion, Ellie has withdrawn from her neck; she’s moved down Dina’s body, and the absence of her warmth against Dina makes Dina shiver; and she’s slipped inside Dina with two fingers, before Dina can even register what’s happened; and then Dina is arching and keening as Ellie fucks her, fast and hard -

Dina can tell she won’t last long, not with how Ellie has teased her, and the thought is thrilling as she tips her head back and gives herself over to Ellie’s relentless, firm thrusts and her hot, wet mouth against her breast. Something gives way inside her, and she is gasping Ellie’s name, whimpering, and she can almost let go, she’s so close -

Ellie stops. 

She pulls her mouth from Dina’s breast, removes her hand from Dina’s slick heat. Dina feels like she’s missed a step on a staircase and has left part of herself behind; she gasps for breath, watching with something approaching incredulity as Ellie studies her slick fingers and then starts to lick them clean.

Dina can hardly catch her breath - “What...I…” - and Ellie responds with a smirk.

“I said no rushing.”

And her voice is so even that it’s infuriating, and Ellie barks out a laugh when Dina rolls them both over.

Now driven by her impatience, Dina climbs into Ellie’s lap and sinks down on her fingers easily. She loops her arms around Ellie’s neck, meeting Ellie’s mouth in the same languid rhythm with which she rolls her hips, fucking herself on Ellie’s hand. And again, she gasps and cants her hips - she isn’t there yet but she’s so close, she can practically feel the delicious sensation that is her coming around Ellie’s fingers -

And then Ellie stops her with her free hand on Dina’s belly. Dina can’t help but roll her eyes in exasperation as she leans back on her elbows and Ellie slides out of her.

“This is torture,” she whines, sliding up the bed on her back, as Ellie chuckles leans over her and kisses her sternum. 

Ellie then nuzzles her nose, but her eyes are firm. “I’ll make it worth it, baby, I promise,” she murmurs, and her voice is so even and so unflappable that Dina can’t help but smile. Ellie kisses her mouth lightly, and then descends between her legs again.

By this time, Dina is gasping and writhing - part of her is begging to be taken and the other part keens in excitement. This, Dina thinks, is what Ellie has become so good at - making something last, drawing something out, and helping Dina to feel every single precious second. And, most of all, treating each moment like something just as important as whatever grand thing they’re working towards. 

It isn’t just the sex, of course - it’s also Ellie’s hand on her shoulder when Dina’s angry, angry at something small but it’s really anger at the world at large, at the massive, horrifying thing they live in; it’s Ellie leaning against her when she thinks of her sister and mother, and the wave of grief that she keeps usually at bay overtakes her. It’s everything that makes her pause, everything that keeps her from getting dragged away into the riptide of the world.

Ellie pulls Dina back into her lap, one hand at the small of her back as Dina sinks down onto her fingers again. Dina rocks on Ellie’s hand, savoring the sweet stretch as she clenches around Ellie’s fingers, before finding a rhythm that suits her. She feels Ellie move beneath her, curling her fingers, while her other arm wraps around Dina’s waist, strong and firm and steady.

“I want you to come this time, baby,” Ellie says, voice soft, her gaze leveled firmly on Dina, and Dina can only gasp and shudder as her hips jerk faster, and Ellie smiles up at her and slants her mouth over Dina’s -

And time doesn’t seem to have its hold on Dina as it usually does. She doesn’t know how long it’s been until she’s gasping, and her orgasm starts from her twitching hips and rises all the way to her shoulders, as she writhes and jerks, mouth open, inhaling desperately. Every exhale is a cry. Her lips just brush Ellie’s, who whispers to her - “Yeah, baby, just like that” - and it all seems to go on for far longer than Dina expects - shocks of pleasure race up her body and her hips jerk uncontrollably and her voice rises to a high moan and Ellie just holds her through it. 

And then Dina collapses forward, arms around Ellie’s neck, head buried against her shoulder, gasping desperately.

Ellie rolls them over so that Dina eases back onto the mattress, fully relaxed, all boneless weight with not a hard or sharp thing in her. Ellie’s fingers are still moving inside her languidly - and it is at this point that Ellie slips all the way inside, gently, so that her long fingers are buried inside Dina up to the knuckle. 

Her thumb brushes Dina’s clit, and Dina whimpers and gasps, overly-sensitive. She instinctively draws her knees up, as something white-hot surges through her. “Baby…”

“I know, I’m sorry,” Ellie murmurs against her thigh, shushing her. Dina feels Ellie’s warm breath ghost over her inner thighs, as Ellie turns her attention back to her soft skin. She murmurs soothing, absent things against Dina’s skin and lathes her tongue there; she trails kisses up and down her skin, slowly; nuzzles against the creases of Dina’s thighs, and across her lower belly. Dina whines at first, clenching absently around Ellie’s fingers, and then feels herself floating away, blissful and heavy and fuzzy.

She’s somewhat brought back to the present by Ellie sucking gently on the skin of her inner thigh, nuzzling the soft purple mark she leaves behind. Dina whimpers at the sight - although Ellie has painted her inner thighs in hickeys by now - and lets her legs spread a little wider.

“Can I stay inside you, baby?” Ellie murmurs, and Dina whines and nods, squeezing and gasping brokenly as she feels the hard length of Ellie’s fingers, still buried inside of her.

“Will you be patient for me?” Ellie murmurs again, and Dina nods rapidly, gasping a “Yes”, trying to still her rocking hips. And then Ellie leans forward to run her tongue around Dina’s entrance and over her own fingers. 

And there’s something thrilling about how Ellie’s fingers stay stationary inside of her, so, so deep, as Dina clenches and spasms around her, whimpering. She tries to rock her hips, tries to create some sort of friction, but Ellie just pins her down with her other arm and lathes over Dina’s clit with her tongue. Dina is desperate at the restraint, desperate to meet the pleasure she knows is just out of reach, and she whimpers and gasps and grips the sheets so hard she thinks they might tear -

“Ellie,” she cries. “Ellie, Ellie.”

“I know,” Ellie murmurs, and Dina can see her watching her rolling hips. “I know, you’re so close.”

“I need it, El,” Dina gasps, and she hears the edge of desperation in her own voice, now familiar. “I need it, please.”

“Soon, baby, I promise.” 

And Ellie leans in and takes Dina’s clit in her mouth, and just stays there, letting her tongue gently work under the hood -

Dina’s hips are rocking now, slow and insistent like the ocean, and a high, keening sound emerges from her throat as Ellie works on her with her tongue.

And, finally, gloriously, Ellie moves her fingers and breathes against her thigh - “Come for me” - and every stroke sends surges of pleasure through Dina that leave her gasping and seizing and crying. Ellie’s thrusts are so slow but Dina is so full that it feels like even the smallest movement could make her come again, and the thought makes her clamp down on Ellie’s fingers all the harder. A sound she doesn’t recognize - a mid-register, desperate sound - is leaving her mouth, pitching slightly on every thrust. She is thankful for the slow tempo - it is maybe the only thing keeping her tethered to reality right now - but then Dina thinks she will lose her mind as she watches Ellie suck her clit into her mouth.

Something high and frantic rises in Dina, something that makes her scramble for Ellie’s back, makes her arch off of the bed. It’s an aftershock, but it ripples through her almost as strongly as her orgasm. Dina is gasping and breathless and still trying to fuck herself on Ellie’s fingers, even as Ellie continues to pin her down.

“So good for me,” Ellie murmurs, kissing Dina’s clit. Her eyes are dark, pupils blown. “Do you want me to clean you up, baby?”

Dina feels like she’s in some kind of limbo as she nods - she doesn’t know if a “Please” leaves her lips or if she just imagines it, but regardless, part of her can’t help but whine in pleasure as Ellie gently withdraws, positions Dina’s legs to fall open, and leans in to lick her.

It is easier now to remind herself to be patient, with two bright orgasms behind her. Dina feels equal parts exhausted and lit aflame - part of her wants to grind against Ellie’s tongue, and scrabble her hands across her back; and the other part wants to sink into the mattress. She feels her lower back sink down and her pelvis tilt up to meet Ellie’s mouth, and her head drifts to the side.

Something touches her belly. It is Ellie’s left hand - her wedding band, on her middle finger, glints in the light - and Dina cradles it in both of her hands. She runs one hand up Ellie’s wrist, feeling the flex of her muscles and ligaments, the scars that stretch across her skin, her pulse on the inside of her wrist, all sweet and warm and here with her. She touches the stumps of her two missing fingers so, so gently, and at the same time Ellie sucks her clit into her mouth and Dina’s fingers clench around Ellie’s hand. Ellie squeezes back, strong and unwavering in the parts that she has, and the parts that are gone don’t matter - she’s here, with Dina, and that’s what matters.

Dina whimpers and rolls her hips, gasping desperately - she feels aloft in some kind of soft limbo, but she also feels like she’s been wrung out, like a sponge. 

“Baby,” Dina murmurs, smiling weakly. “Baby, I don’t know if I can come again.”

Ellie nuzzles her belly and looks up. “Do you want me to stop?”

“No, no, I just…didn’t want to get your hopes up…”

“Does it still feel good?”

“Of course it does, I just don’t want to...disappoint you…”

Ellie scoffs at this, fully scoffs. “I could do this for hours,” she replies, and Dina flushes as her eyes meet Ellie’s, sharp and serious between her legs.

“Okay,” Dina replies, mouth curling into a half-smile. “Okay.”

The humor fades somewhat from Ellie’s expression, leaving something more serious, a little worried. “Just...just enjoy it, okay? It doesn’t have to go anywhere, yeah?” And Dina nods, and spreads her legs again.

Ellie touches her so softly, with so much warmth and sweetness. Dina feels less of the tickle of an oncoming orgasm and more of a sweet, soft humming pleasure that she can sink into. Ellie rolls her clit in her mouth, careful to avoid the overly-sensitive spots; she lathes her tongue up Dina’s folds and dips inside. A small part of Dina wants to feel embarrassed at how exposed she is, how much Ellie sees her, but she feels so heavy, sinking so deeply into the mattress, that she just can’t bring herself to care. 

She isn’t sure she can bring herself to care about much right now anyways - not about the infected or who’s out on patrol or who could die tomorrow, not about impending storms or town gossip or anything. Ellie is here with her, and their son is with his grandparents for the evening, and that is all that matters to Dina right now. Outside, the world swirls on and on and on.

And then Dina feels Ellie enter her - and suddenly, she needs Ellie more than she’s ever needed her, maybe more than she’s ever needed anything. She scrambles to speak and something coherent must leave her mouth, because Ellie is no longer between her legs but beside her, looping one arm around her shoulders. She continues to move her other hand, soft and insistent between Dina’s legs.

And the low hum that Dina has felt before has risen to a buzz, and desperation leeches into her voice. “Please,” she whispers to Ellie, who is so calm as she looks down at her, who just kisses her forehead and smiles.

“Yes, baby,” Ellie murmurs against her cheek. “No teasing this time.” She kisses a line down Dina’s neck, and Dina could sob in relief, but she just holds Ellie closer.

Absurdly, Dina thinks of the dance in the church, of how she pressed herself so closely into Ellie’s side - how she felt the nerves radiating off of her in waves, how Ellie seemed almost afraid of her. 

Now Dina can think of nothing but Ellie’s strong hands that hold her and touch her, assured and giving and sweet, and the thought makes her wrap herself around Ellie all the closer, makes her voice pitch upwards into a cry -

“I love you,” Dina gasps desperately, hands gripping at Ellie’s back. “I love you, El, I’m coming -”

“I’ve got you,” Ellie murmurs into her ear, holding her steady. “Come for me, baby, I love you so much -” 

This time Dina is almost silent, mouth open in her silent moan as she arches off of the bed, as Ellie’s fingers pump inside her and Dina clamps down around her; and Ellie is kissing Dina’s neck softly, even as her muscles strain and twitch under her mouth; and she is whispering soothing things in Dina’s ear - “So good, baby, that’s perfect, that’s so perfect” - 

And then Dina crashes back into herself and she is sucking down air like she’s suffocating, and exhaling in heavy, vibrating moans as her body clenches and unclenches and clenches around Ellie’s fingers; her whole body is shaking , like she can hardly process what is happening to her, and her only tethers are Ellie’s fingers that help her to ride it out, and Ellie’s voice, still in a whisper - “I love you, I love you so much -”

Everything else fades away.

At some point Ellie pulls out of her, and somehow gets them both under their blankets, positioned so that Dina rests her head in the curve of Ellie’s neck, and Ellie’s arms wrap her in a warm embrace. Dina doesn’t remember any of this happening, but it’s how she comes to, with a soft sigh against Ellie’s neck and a murmur of pleasure.

Dina sucks down a deep breath - down, down, all the way to her toes - and feels some semblance of a return to her body. Her limbs feel like mush, and there’s a soft ache between her legs, and her mind feels scattered and distant. She shifts in Ellie’s arms and feels Ellie shift with her; her nose bumps Ellie’s jaw, so she kisses it absently, and then finds Ellie’s green eyes.

Ellie smiles, voice soft. “Happy birthday.”

Dina wants to scoff - it all seems like a trivial thing now, with the absolutely life-altering series of orgasms she’s just experienced - but she nuzzles against Ellie’s neck all the same. “I’ll make that up to you tomorrow,” she murmurs, and she feels Ellie smile against her hair.

“Don’t worry about it.”

Ellie settles further into the blankets and Dina’s brain churns - there’s something that she wants to know, that she can’t put her finger on -

“How did you know to do that?”

When Ellie looks down at her questioningly, Dina lifts one arm - with considerable effort - and gestures vaguely at her prone body. “You ruined me, babe.”

Ellie smiles and shrugs. “I asked Cat about it.”

Dina raises her eyebrows. “What does Cat know about our sex life?”

Ellie hums, and reaches over to fix a lock of Dina’s hair. Her voice is casual when she speaks. “Just that I like to give my wife mind-blowing orgasms.”

Dina bites her lip, and tries not to think too much about the logistics of Cat and Ellie discussing creative ways to make her come.

“So should I be thanking Cat for my birthday present?”

“I mean, if you want.” Ellie’s mouth quirks into a half-smile. “She’s still coming over for dinner tomorrow, you know.”

“Wouldn’t that just be excellent dinner conversation,” Dina chuckles. She can feel herself fading - the dark warmth of the bed and Ellie’s body is a soothing lullaby, to which she can only give herself over. Ellie presses her mouth against the crown of her head, humming absently. 

Dina is right on the edge of consciousness when it occurs to her - “Maybe I’ll ask Cat what I should get you for your birthday.”

And Ellie’s rich laugh is the last thing Dina hears before she falls asleep.