blue flamingos

Love, Vanished and Renewed

Fandom: The West Wing

Category/Rated: Slash, Mature

Year/Length: 2006/ ~2300 words

Pairing: Ellie/Gina

Spoilers: What Kind of Day Has It Been, Commencement story-arc

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: It's a little like starting over, and a little like never letting go.

Author's Notes: Written for [info]raedbard's rare pairings ficathon, with the following prompts: Item: train, Episode: 'Commencement', Quote: 'The blue smoke leaps/Like swirling clouds of birds vanishing/So my love leaps forth/Toward you,/Vanishes and is renewed (Images, Richard Aldington)

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.

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She isn't the last person Ellie would have expected to see standing on her doorstep, but if Ellie was writing a list, she'd be pretty high up there.

'Hi Ellie.' She smiled as though it hasn't been two years since they last saw each other.

Ellie would like to go back in time and not open the door. She'd like to hide behind hair her housemate keeps offering to cut short and pretend she's not there. She'd like to say something cutting and hurtful and slam the door.

Of course, being her father's daughter, she does none of these things, just stands there, one hand on the door, text book still open in her other hand, and says nothing.

Her smile starts to fade in the face of Ellie's silence. 'So, er, how's everything going?'

Ellie sometimes thinks that no-one else sees her like this, being uncertain. She sometimes thinks this made it special, made it love, that she was trusted with something no-one else was. Then she reminds herself that she got left behind without a second's hesitation and that some things are just relaxation.

'Ellie?' Her smile's gone now, her face drawn with uncertainty and confusion. 'Ellie, seriously, say something.'

Ellie thinks, just for a moment, that there might be advantages to having her security detail around all the time, not just Beth inside, but even then, they'd probably take her side, not Ellie's.

'El, I'm...'

'Don't call me that,' she says, surprised by how cold and sharp her own voice sounds, like she's reprimanding some first year med student trying to muscle in on her space in the lab. The other woman starts back half a pace, dangerously close to the edge of the step, looking as surprised as Ellie feels.

'Sorry,' she says softly. 'Ellie, I...'

'What are you doing here?' Ellie asks sharply. She doesn't want to hear apologies, isn't ready to forgive yet, or try and pretend like it doesn't still hurt when she can't stop herself looking for familiar brown hair every time she sees the governor on TV.

She seems to relax with this question, like they're got to the stuff she wants to say, and Ellie wants to take it back. 'We were at the naming of a new train,' she explains with a shrug, inviting Ellie to laugh about the stupid stuff politicians do, like they would have before. Ellie schools her face to be expressionless and nods for her to go on. 'And, er... it was scheduled to run to here on its first journey, and I thought...' She seems to crumble suddenly, her whole body folding inwards as she wraps her arms round herself. 'God, Ellie, I thought... On the news, when they first reported Zoey being kidnapped, when they said the Presidents' daughter...' Her eyes meet Ellie's, wide and frightened and unhappy. 'I thought it was you, Ellie, I though...'

And just like that, Ellie's not angry any more. Hurt, still, of course, but the burning anger that carried her through two years, from the moment Zoey introduced her to the the new agent with a casual, 'this is Gina's replacement,' it's all gone, in a rush of love so strong she wants to hold on so it doesn't sweep her away.

'You left,' she says, surprised that Gina can even hear her, her voice is so quiet. 'You didn't even... I had to hear from *Zoey*.'

Gina seems to fold further into herself. 'I know. I'm sorry.'

'I thought...' I thought you cared about me, she wants to say. I thought it meant something that you'd drive to Baltimore on your days off, even when we couldn't tell anyone. I thought you liked dancing with me, kissing me, sleeping with me. I thought it mattered that you were risking losing your job and being yelled at by my father, that we went we went out sometimes anyway, even though people might recognise me.

'I know,' Gina says, even when Ellie doesn't finish her thought, and she remembers that Gina always did know. 'Could I come in?' She glances behind her and Ellie follows her gaze automatically, even though she knows the agents aren't there.

'Beth's inside.' And must, she realises suddenly, have come down to see who was att eh door. Nice to know her agents will take her side. 'You could...I could make some coffee.'

Gina grins, her whole body relaxing suddenly and Ellie can't stop herself smiling back. 'Coffee sounds nice.'

Beth's in the kitchen when they walk in, but she takes one look at them, nods a greeting to Gina and leaves, taking her paperback with her.

Ellie turns the kettle on and busies herself finding mugs and teaspoons and sugar. Gina takes her really sweet, she remembers, sweet ad black and when Ellie kisses her after, she'll tast like it, bitter with a hint of sweetness.

Ellie tips far more milk into her mug than she meant to, suddenly hyper-aware of Gina sitting on the counter behind her, and the sharp memory of Gina kissing her for the first time, in the doorway of her dorm room, after Ellie said goodnight to Zoey, kissing her softly and pilling away and smiling, her whole face lit up.

Ellie didn't stop smiling all week.

'El?' Gina' right behind her, her hand on Ellie's, stilling it. 'I think you stirred that enough.'

She looks down at the mug, the instant coffee/milk mix frothing in the bottom, and flushes, ducking her head so her hair falls over her face. Gina reaches out and smoothes it back behind her ear, her hand lingering there. Ellie shivers.

It hurt more than anything, the way Gina disappeared out of their lives, the way no-one could tell her where she went, there was just some *stranger* in her room, where she should have been. It hurt so badly, but she never dated anyone else, never wanted anyone else but Gina. Her whole body vibrates with the need to touch her, to lean in and tangle her hands in Gina's hair, to kiss her until the months, years, since she left don't matter anymore.

She steps away, letting Gina's hand fall back and ducking her head to add water to the mugs, trying not to see Gina's confused, hurt face.

'El...'

'Why did you leave?' She hands Gina a mug and cradles hers in both hands. She tells herself, Gina came back, Gina cam back, whatever the reason she left, she didn't leave Ellie, except she never wrote, never called...

Gina boosts herself back onto the counter, so she's not looking directly at Ellie. 'I was in hospital,' she says quietly and Ellie jerks towards her without thought.

Gina used to wake up gasping for breath sometimes, after the Newsuem. Sometimes she'd talk and sometimes Ellie would just hold her.

'I didn't do anything,' Gina says quickly, glancing up at Ellie too fast for Ellie to catcher expression. 'I got knocked over by an ambulance.' She flashes a grin then sobers up. 'I got sent to the West Coast, for a governor.' Ellie knows this already, is about to say this when Gina speaks again, quietly. 'Someone... someone knew about us. They wouldn't let me go back to Zoey.'

Ellie absorbs this for a minute, burning her tongue when she sips her too-hot coffee distractedly. Someone found out, not like they were too careful, but someone found out and told Gina's supervisors and she got punished.

'Why didn't you call?' she asks.

Gina looks at her incredulously. 'I'm lucky I didn't lose my job, El, my superiors found out I was sleeping with the President's daughter, my protectee's sister, I could have been fired.'

'That's all, just sleeping together?' She wants to be angry, but her eyes sting with tears and it comes out sounding sad instead. This hurts worse than not knowing.

'No, Ellie, you know it wasn't.' Gina's eyes burn into her but she can't look up. 'I wanted... Zoey was at the Newseum, I was in hospital and I kept thinking next time it could be you. Or me. I didn't want...' She trails off, taking a gulp of her coffee and letting Ellie fill in the blanks.

'You could have let me decide for myself,' she says, surprised at the strength of her voice. 'When Zoey at that bar, there was an agent shot.' And she didn't find out until after Zoey was back home safe and even though she *knew* she still felt the same burst of fear, just like seeing the Newseum on the news.

'It's all right.' Gina's hand settles lightly on Ellie's arm. She looks down at it, pale against her dark sweater and thinks this is just like always, her life fading against Zoey's. It's not like she doesn't love her sister, she does, but it's so typical that this relationship turned every time on something happening to Zoey.

'I miss you,' Gina says, sounding choked. 'I thought I could stay away, I didn't want to risk...' Ellie takes a step towards her, tucking her hair behind her ears and Gina stops talking. She tightens her hand on Ellie's arm and they both lean in on the same breath.

Gina's mouth on hers is soft, her first kiss light and gentle, tasting dark and sweet, just like Ellie knew it would. She feels her eyes slide closed, almost against her will and she tilts her head, leaning deeper into the kiss, her hand tangling in Gina's curls, just like she wanted to before.

Gina moans against her mouth, a tiny sound of pleasure. Ellie strokes the tip of her tongue over Gina's lower lip and she opens her mouth, letting Ellie in, scraping her teeth across her lip. Ellie shudders, feeling light headed, swirling in a sea of remembered, familiar touches and moments, a hundred coffee-flavoured kisses just like this.

Gina pulls her closer, tight in between her legs, her arms going round Ellie's waist, holding on, and Ellie thinks she felt the shudder, thinks she knows, she suffered like Ellie did, even if she was the one who left.

'It's all right.' Gina's hands stroke up and down her back, stuttering when Ellie nibbles at her ear, then dropping lower, circling her waist.

'Are you staying?' Ellie asks, not meaning to. She strokes Gina's throat, soft, pale skin, smelling of clear shower gel and meadow fresh detergent, cut under with airports and the acrid scent of gunpowder that will always make her think of Gina.

Her hands shake as she opens the top button of Gina's shirt, stroking lower, beneath the delicate lace of her bra, feeling her shiver when her fingertips graze the other girl's nipple, the curve of her breast. Gina presses her hands against Ellie's back, drawing her closer and they're kissing again, hot breath against her cheek and passionate, sloppy kisses. Gina's hands are cold against her skin, sweeping up under Ellie's sweater, cupping over her breasts, rough and uncoordinated, nothing like Gina's usual grace.

She presses harder against Gina's body, fitting her hands to curves so familiar she wants to cry, fumbling at the zip of her jeans awkwardly with her left hand. Gina laughs, cobweb-light, and reaches down to do it herself, her fingers tangling with Ellie's for a moment. She wants to catch them, to hold on and not let go. She slides her hand inside Gina's jeans instead, stroking lightly. Gina arches into her touch and moans, the sound rippling through Ellie's whole body, shuddering down her spine.

She catches Gina's wrist and freezes, unsure. 'El?' Gina groans. 'El, please.' She opens her eyes, staring intently into Ellie's gaze for a long moment, while Ellie fights the urge to look away. She's got her hand in Gina's pants, it hardly the moment to be shy.

Gina grins suddenly and leads their joined hands lower until Ellie lets go of her wrist. Her fingers fumble at Ellie's pants and then they're sliding inside, blunt nails and rough fingertips and Ellie hisses, pressing closer to Gina, mimicking the movements of her fingers, stroking and twisting and...

'God, Ellie, yes.' Gina talks during sex, half-meaningless words of encouragement and pleasure and it's such a turn on that Ellie sometimes thinks she could come just from that. She can't do it, even when she tries, but Gina reads words in the way Ellie presses closer and closer, the way her breathing speeds up and catches in Gina's ear.

'Ellie, please, right there, yes.' Gina's voice slides on the sibilants and her fingers speed up, slipping inside Ellie and Ellie presses down on her, so close as Gina twists her fingers, pressing the heel of her hand against Ellie's clit and suddenly Ellie's coming, waves of pleasure sweeping through her as Gina strokes her, slower and slower until Ellie pulls her hand away from too sensitive skin.

She leans into Gina, her whole body limp. Gina's breath hitches in her ear. 'El, please. Please.' She twists her fingers up inside Gina, slick and warm, Gina clutches at her and shudder and – 'yes, God, El, yes,' comes, shaking.

Ellie holds onto her, kissing her neck as Gina shudders and trembles, their clothes dishevelled, Gina's hot, smooth skin pressed against hers.

Finally Gina turns her head, catching Ellie's mouth in a fierce kiss.

'Yes,' she says when she pulls away, looking right into Ellie's eyes. It takes Ellie a moment to realise what she's talking about but the rush of warmth when she does is better than any orgasm. 'Yes. I'm staying.'

It can't be that simple, so many questions like what about Gina's job and Ellie's parents, but all Ellie wants right then is to grin and kiss her and hope.

So she does.


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