Marina/Esther – “Dare” pt. 25
Disclaimer #1: This is fan fiction. Terapia d’urgenza belongs to Rai2. No copyright infringement is intended by borrowing its characters for a little while. No monetary gain whatsoever is being made. All I’m trying is to spread the love for velvet jackets, sort through the cliffhanger debris and prevent further lesbian parking lot trauma.Disclaimer #2: This is a story about women. In love. With each other. But I guess you already knew that. – If this is not your cup of tea, rest assured that I prefer coffee and that you needn’t read this. If this is illegal where you live, please be careful. – Also, I can’t believe that after ten years of writing fiction online, I still have to apologize for my contents. If fuchsia bras qualify as NSFW in your book, I guess this story might rate as PG-13 upwards.Note/Nota: This story is also available in Spanish, thanks to Sam’s wonderful translating work! Updates for “Atreverse” can be found over at her blog, “Ya sé que estoy piantao”. — Esta historia también está disponible en español, gracias al gran trabajo de Sam. El nuevo capitulo de “Atreverse” se puede leer cada finde en su blog, “Ya sé que estoy piantao”.
And (thanks to Lang for translating) a wave to the Chinese readers: 使用中文的网友：多谢你们支持这篇fanfic，非常抱歉，我只能用英文写作，你们在情节上有什么问题，欢迎在留言里提出，我尽量回答。
Additional note: This story is as of yet unfinished. It will be written and posted in parts, updated weekly, Friday nights at 9 p.m. (GMT+1). You know that my time is limited, and that my time management sucks, but I’ll try to keep it up.
Marina relaxed into the comfort that surrounded her, feeling at ease and at home. Only after a minute did her sleepy mind register that this was the first time in months she was waking up to a sensation other than some kind of ache.
Slowly, her consciousness expanded beyond her own body and she took in the softness of the sheets against her bare legs and the gentle hold of an arm thrown across her waist. Marina held her breath, afraid that the touch would disappear if she moved. But the warmth remained close and solid and Marina blinked her eyes open.
The clear light that fell through the windows and the glass door alerted her to the fact that she was in the mountains, even before her mind recognized the familiar shapes of the room, although she had to struggle to remember why she was sleeping here and not in the bedroom.
Slowly, Marina turned her head to the left, finding herself with long missed sight of Esther, curled against her side on the pullout bed, with her features relaxed in sleep. She looked younger like this, Marina thought with a burst of protective tenderness. The fine lines around her eyes less pronounced away from the stress off shifts and calls. Her breaths came in even bouts against Marina’s shoulder. The drive must have exhausted her; she was still deep asleep.
Marina smiled in wonder.
Judged by the light, it was still early morning and after a moment, Marina realized why she had woken: she needed a bathroom. And she needed a shower. And she hadn’t gotten a chance to brush her teeth since she had prepared for court yesterday morning. Marina reached up to her head. Her hair was probably sticking out in all directions, too. Her gaze fell onto her arm. She was still wearing the same blouse, now wrinkled with sleep.
She had no memory of taking off her skirt, but her legs were bare against the blanket. She didn’t even remember telling Esther goodnight.
With a last look at Esther’s sleeping face, Marina edged towards the side of the bed. She was careful not to move the covers much. Her crutch was nowhere in sight. It still had to be in the kitchen, last night Esther had helped her into bed. At the thought of the kitchen Marina’s stomach rumbled. She hadn’t eaten anything except her medication since yesterday afternoon, and her last proper meal had been sometime the day before that.
As she stood, balancing herself on the back of the couch, she realized that medication sounded like a good idea, too. A very good idea, Marina corrected herself as she limped across the room on wobbly legs. She tried to breathe regularly against the pain and didn’t see the edge of the rug in front of the fireplace.
“Ouc…” Marina bit her lip as she grasped at thin air for hold. Nausea shot up her spine when she had to use her bad leg to remain upright.
She felt eyes on her even before Esther spoke.
Esther’s voice was gravelly with sleep, but now was not a time where Marina could pause to enjoy it. She stood caught in the middle of her room, helpless to hinder Esther’s gaze upon her naked legs and she had to think that she was still wearing yesterday’s underwear, too.
“Keep on sleeping,” Marina said, and she managed to sound calm. “I’m just going… for my meds.”
“I’ll help you.” Immediately, Esther was at her side, with a friendly and alert smile as if she hadn’t just been jarred awake. “Just give me your arm…”
Marina tried to move away. “I can do that on my own.” She could smell her own sweat and the salve that stuck to her knee underneath the bandage.
“You’re hurting with every step,” Esther pointed out. She reached for Marina’s arm again. “Here, let me do tha…”
“I’m not your patient!” Marina bit out angrily.
Esther didn’t back away. “But I…”
“Not now. No!” Marina limped away brusquely. She had to hold onto the doorframe for help, crying with pain and embarrassment.
She didn’t look back until she had closed the bathroom door behind her.
Underneath the hot water, the pain finally subsided. Marina leaned against the wall of the shower stall with her eyes closed, letting the spray wash away the grime and the fear of the past days until the room was steamed up and her skin was rosy with the heat.
Her arm hurt when she reached up to pad her hair dry and then later when she thoroughly brushed her teeth, but it was the familiar ache of a bruise, nothing more. Through the fogged up mirror, Marina could see the purple shade form along her upper arm.
Still, she felt as good as new. Even her leg seemed to hurt a little less, even though she hadn’t taken her medication yet. Marina wrapped a towel around herself. She hadn’t taken any clothes with her in her haste. Esther had probably taken everything upstairs, anyway.
Quietly, Marina exited the bathroom. She hoped that Esther had gone back to sleep a little longer. She wanted to pick up her medication in the kitchen and to make a breakfast coffee to carry over to the bedside for Esther, but then she saw Esther through the open living room door.
She hadn’t gone back to sleep. She sat with her back to the door, hugging something in a rich green against her chest. Marina needed a second before she recognized the scarf Esther had given her.
Only now Marina noticed that Esther’s shoulders were moving. She was crying.
“Esther–” Marina tried to cross the room as quickly as possible.
Esther turned around to look at her. “It’s finally over, we’re here…” Her eyes were reddened. “And you…” She shook her head, interrupting herself. “And no, you’re not my patient. – Do you think I drive all my patients to their holiday homes after shift?”
Marina could have kicked herself. “No, I…”
“You need help.” Esther said plainly. “I can see from here that every step hurts you.” She gave Marina a helpless look. “Why do you push me back?”
“I don’t push you back,” Marina protested. “I just wanted to take a shower and I can do that on my own!”
“You can,” Esther acknowledged. “But what is so bad about letting me help you to the door? – Why are you so stubborn about this?” She moved to the side, making room for Marina. “Do you think I’ll love you less only because sometimes you need help, too?”
“No, but…” Marina had finally reached the bed and sat down on the edge, at a little distance to Esther. “Look at you,” she said, but she was looking at her own hands. “You’re perfectly rational and friendly and pleasant even though I say stupid things…” She looked up at Esther, only to focus on her hands again. “And even though I’m in yesterday’s clothes and didn’t shower in over a day and had no chance to brush my teeth or wash my hair…”
Only when Esther didn’t answer, she looked up. The befuddled look Esther wore was so endearing that Marina was about to forget their entire conversation.
“And you think I’ll love you less because of that?” Esther finally asked, disbelief coloring her voice.
“It’s not exactly my best look,” Marina mumbled sheepishly.
Esther nodded slowly. “So you’re going to leave me when we get dentures and need orthopedic shoes and start wearing funny hats and arguing with the bus conductor?”
Marina laughed and she was surprised herself by the mirth bubbling up from within her. “No,” she declared. She reached for Esther’s hands that were still holding onto the green scarf. “I’ll get you a new hat every birthday,” she promised. “And nightstand glasses for those dentures.”
“All right then,” Esther agreed. “So you won’t freak out if I get your medication now and put a new bandage your knee?”
“No,” Marina stated demurely. She reached up to caress Esther’s temple, where the scar was beginning to fade into the skin. “I’m sorry for snapping at you. I didn’t mean to…”
“I know.” Esther held onto Marina’s hands for a moment longer before she stood. “I’ll get your pills,” she announced and before Marina had even counted up to ten she stood in the door again, easily bracing a space that had cost Marina at least a minute to cross.
“Here’s your medication.” Esther put a collection of white pills in different shapes onto the nightstand and placed a glass of water next to it. You have to take all of them,” she reminded Marina and she leaned into to kiss her forehead before straightened again. “And I’ll take a shower, too,” she decided. She winked at Marina. “I can’t be running around here in pajamas with my hair sticking in all directions. – What would my girlfriend think of me?”
Thinking wasn’t perhaps the most appropriate word to describe the way Marina looked after Esther who walked to the door. Her gaze followed the subtle sway of hips and the way Esther’s shirt rode up a little with every step, letting the edge of her underwear show.
“You’re not even supposed to think about that,” Esther admonished her gently from the doorway.
Marina’s cheeks were flushed. “You’re no fun.” She pretended to pout.
Esther was still laughing as she disappeared from sight. “At this rate, I don’t know who’s going to cook you breakfast coffee.”
When Esther returned, it wasn’t with coffee, but with a set of bandages. Her hair was done up from the shower, but she had put on that same shirt again that ended tantalizingly high along the top of her thighs.
Marina sat up a little straighter on the bed, when Esther walked closer and folded back the edge of the towel she was wearing. Esther had carried the bags with all their clothes upstairs last night. Marina didn’t even know what Esther had packed.
“That smell is nasty,” she protested when Esther opened the plastic container with the draining paste.
Esther was preparing the dressing. “My father had a colleague who brewed herbal liquor in his backyard that smelled just like this,” she commented while she unrolled the tip of another bandage.
“Ugh.” Marina didn’t want to inhale this in any form, whether liquid or aerial.
Esther laughed. “You don’t want to know how it tasted.”
“Your father let you drink that?” Marina asked.
“No, but I tried it anyway.” Esther moved to relax Marina’s knee in her hold. “See, the swelling is already going down.” She brushed her fingers across the marred skin.
Marina sucked in a breath.
“Does it hurt?” Esther asked, looking up from her task.
Marina bit her lip. “No…”
Startled, Esther looked down her fingers that continued to draw tiny circles along Marina’s leg, as if they were acting on their own volition. Marina’s skin was achingly soft and still warm from the shower…
“Not fair!” Marina protested. “If I’m not allowed to think about this, you don’t get to do it, either!”
“Sometimes, thinking is really overrated,” Esther muttered and Marina had only a fraction of a moment to see Esther’s eyes turn darker, then her lips were already against her own, drinking her in.
Marina had the distinct sensation of melting into these lips and into the gentle fingers combing through her hair, over and over with the same reverent necessity. Her pulse was beating wildly against the thin barrier of her skin, woken abruptly and leaving nerves on end in its wake.
Her last, feverish thought was that like this, she wouldn’t even last a minute.
Backing away wasn’t an option, though. When Esther suddenly pulled back, Marina was late to realize that the small sound of protest at the unexpected separation had been torn from her own throat.
“I don’t… want to hurt you.” Esther managed to get out between unsteady breaths. She cradled Marina’s face between her hands, perhaps to hold her at bay or because Esther didn’t trust herself at this moment. “We should stop…”
That was Esther’s voice, and Marina heard it, but the look in Esther’s eyes told her that she wanted to do anything but stop.
“Don’t leave me hanging now.” Marina was shocked at the amount of pleading in her tone, but it didn’t matter. Not with Esther.
“But your leg…” Despite her try for reason, her fingers were already winding themselves into Marina’s hair again and Marina could feel the tremble in the caress.
“It will hurt for a while longer anyway.” Marina shook her head. “I don’t want that to matter now.”
“We’ll be careful.” Esther’s hands moved along Marina’s shoulders and down her arms, mindful of the bruises
“Very careful,” Marina agreed, but all she could focus on were the goose bumps raised in the wake of Esther’s touch. She didn’t even remember that there was a bruise somewhere as her gaze followed Esther’s fingers that wandered up the length of the towel she had wrapped around her.
The small, tucked-in corner holding it on place would have needed only a tiny pull, but when Marina pulled back her shoulders, all it took was a brush of a fingertip and the thick fabric fell away, leaving Marina exposed to Esther’s eyes. The smile had disappeared from them, replaced by an expression that was bordering on feral.
For a moment, it seemed as if she was going to say something, but then a shaky exhalation was all that escaped Esther’s lips.
She didn’t need to speak. All she could have said was in the way she looked at Marina.
I thought I would never see you like this again.
I thought I would never be able to touch you again.
Wordlessly, Marina reached out to pull Esther closer again. She couldn’t let herself sink into the pillows in a smooth movement, though, since she to balance herself on her good arm to make sure she didn’t jar her leg. It was far from elegant, but Esther smiled as she moved to the side, mindful of the wounded knee that would have to wait a little longer to be dressed.
It was not really what Marina had imagined when it came to the old fantasy of bringing Esther here, into her place in the mountains. She had always thought of the lit fireplace, a set of drinks next to the rugs, and the gentle shadows of late evening.
She hadn’t thought of this – naked need and bright daylight falling in through terrace door window. Esther had to have opened the blinds last night and now was really not the time to think about that. The street just led to two houses even further up the hill. Neighbors walking by the house might catch a glimpse of them in passing. But it didn’t matter.
They were like this morning, or like the first of all mornings – of things to come, light and together and with no pretense. It was in Esther’s smile and in the way she unceremoniously pulled off her t-shirt before she let herself fall forward.
Esther’s back and shoulders seemed to flex under the sunlight, breathless shades that left Marina equally breathless. She reached up with a hand – the good one – to draw the ribbon away that held Esther’s hair together. It tumbled down, brushing against Marina’s neck and chest. She could hear Esther smile close to her ear and then her lips were moving down Marina’s throat until she reached the line of pale skin between her breasts.
One of Marina’s hands curled itself into the sheets as Esther inhaled against her skin, accompanied by a moan. Her hands moved along Marina’s side with more urgency, making Marina throw her arms around Esther’s neck. She couldn’t move anywhere else. Not now. Not ever.
Esther’s arms wrapped around her middle, much stronger than they looked, and Marina forgot about her leg as she arched into the warm body against her own.
“Careful…” Esther spoke at the same time Marina winced.
“Ouc…” Marina bit her lip, but then she had to laugh, giddy with the sight of Esther’s face close to her own, and with the feel of that coveted skin touching hers again. Finally.
“Are you alright?” Esther asked and she waited for the minuscule nod before her lips moved up Marina’s throat again.
And now this felt just as infinite, like an free day of summer, with the sun painting stripes along their moving bodies. Behind every caress, there was another kiss already waiting, and each breath seemed to wait for a counterpart from the other.
Marina could feel a fine line of sweat forming against the nape of Esther’s neck. Her lips found the line of Esther’s brow, her closed eyes, her temple and the fine lines of the scar that now surrounded it. It was part of Esther now, part of their shared history.
Esther’s fingers dug into the skin of Marina’s back and as she moved, a small draft of air ghosted like a touch across Marina’s breasts. She tried to curl closer around Esther in reaction, trying to draw her into her own body, wrapping her good leg around her hips and then she didn’t even care about the other one anymore, the rush of the moment dimming out the pain, and the need to be closer, and yet closer still. She was moving towards Esther, and towards the light and the air and always the next hill of vines, and then, quite possibly, the mountain came down in one blinding avalanche.
Marina, gasping for air, wouldn’t have noticed if rocks had rolled past their house, or even right through this room. Lights were exploding behind her eyelids. Somewhere there was the airborne thought that it had been far too long since the last time, and how did they even manage the reserve they had shown these past few months?
Insane, Marina thought giddily, mindlessly at home in the tangle of warmth and breath and long limbs and just being. Together.
When she blinked her eyes open, it was still there. The sun, and Esther’s smiling face close to her own, and the sense of being exactly where she was supposed to be. Marina marveled at the serenity of the moment, of the complete lack of any insecurity in Esther’s gaze. She hadn’t realized that it had been there before, when they had first been together, but she saw that it was gone now.
Marina stroked a few strands of sweat-matted hair away from Esther’s face, wondering whether Esther was seeing something similar in her own gaze right now. She leaned in to kiss her and even though she didn’t want to, her eyes closed on their own volition, but she still kept seeing Esther.
The kiss was slow and sweet, like first snow, dimming out all other sensation, But when Esther moved, her body still warm with exhaustion, until Marina’s good leg fell in between hers, the moment tilted on its axis and then thundered down the mountain sides and Marina wound her arms around Esther’s hips as tightly as possible. She didn’t let go, even as Esther’s movements became rough and uncontrolled and her voice louder. She didn’t let go, and she didn’t care one bit about how much her arm hurt.
The sun stood high by the time they had breakfast – Marina had insisted that she was able to make the coffee, even though she did it exclusively with her right hand – on the rugs in front of the empty fireplace, with Marina cushioned in Esther’s arms and her leg propped up on two pillows.
“We need to try that with an actual fire tonight,” Esther decided, her fingers avoiding Marina who was trying to catch a piece of pineapple from her grasp with her lips.
“I’m not sure I can get that done with one arm…” Marina reached for another bite of fruit.
Esther chuckled and put her chin onto Marina’s shoulder. “What makes you think I can’t light a fire?” She managed to save another piece of pineapple for herself, but then gave in and let Marina take it away.
Marina gave Esther a lazy look from underneath her lashes. “You don’t really want me to comment on that one, do you?”
“On my girl scout years?” Esther asked, ignoring the double entendre.
Marina sat up a little straighter to be able to turn her head and get a better look at Esther. “You were a girl scout?”
Esther laughed. “There’s much you don’t know about me yet, Dr. Ranieri.”
And Marina thought that this was good. Because she was planning to find out new things about one Esther Bruno for a very long time to come.
That’s it for this week, people. Thanks for stopping by! The following chapter will (hopefully) be available as of next Friday (tomorrow… good Lord!) , 9 p.m. (GMT+1), posted in parts across the weekend. – Comments, as always, welcome below.