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 The meal was lovely if not unconventional, conversations spoken in a broad stroke of topics. Alex mostly listened, happy to be beside Lee and watching her in her element. The people loved her, especially the children. A few were curious as to who Alex was, but the majority didn't need to be told. They either saw them together enough to guess what was happening or didn't think it their business to know.

Rebecca visited each table in turn, slowly making her way down the line to sit and speak with every family. Alex learned from Lee she did this every year, especially with new additions. Concerns would be heard. Grievances, if any, taken up. Larger housing would be negotiated if the family had expanded, and new arrivals — Alex spied Lucas at the table, looking awkward but otherwise healthy — were briefed on protocol and Underground procedure.

They ate until the tables were bare, every family receiving their fair share and then some. As a rule, no one left hungry, and any leftovers were piecemealed out to those who needed the food more. Alex helped with the cleanup until Lee nabbed her wrist and pulled her away for a "feast" of a different kind that took them in a breathless circuit around her lab and ended in her room.

Backed against the headboard of her bed, Alex marveled at the woman planted between her legs. Lee said it herself she was a fast learner and it was no exaggeration. Alex pulled at Lee's fingers as they disappear to the third knuckle, eyes fluttering closed and senses on overload. If she breathed any faster there wasn't going to be enough air for them to share. Head falling forward against Lee's collar a short time later, she muffled her cries as best she could before collapsing, warm, spent, and blessedly content.

So, that was my gift to you. What did you get me? Lee asked with a cheeky smile, fingers drawing lazy patterns against Alex's bare thighs.

"Who said I got you anything?" she teased, swinging off and retrieving her discarded underwear, making sure to drag them up her legs with tempting slowness. She loved these little games. Seeing how far they could push the other.

True. I could say you're the best gift a girl could ask for, but I don't want to rot any more of my teeth.

"I can recommend a good dentist. Excellent oral examinations." The sway of Alex's hips and the roll of her shoulders was properly predatory and made Lee shiver.

You had me at oral.

Perched at the end of the bed, Alex crawled the rest of the way, straddling her partner's hips. Hands braced on either side of Lee's head, she stared down at her, brown hair forming a curtain around them. "I think I know a game we could —"

The sharp crack of breaking glass followed by the thud of something hitting the floor had Alex and Lee snapping upright, foreplay forgotten, but it was the panicked, "Oh my God!" from Em that drove them scrambling from the room.

Lee was faster, Alex staggering to pull her sweatpants up, ripping around the corner into the living room only for her feet to suddenly stick to the floor, the world dimming to the singularity of Mother lying unconscious surrounded by broken glass.

"Lee, Leanna, the glass!" Em warned with a trembling hand. Lee ignored her and slid to her knees, hands moving everywhere but not daring to touch until they cupped her mother's face, calling to her gently.

"What happened?" Alex gasped, heart in her neck. She couldn't decide what to do, frozen in place like a deer in the headlights.

"I don't know. One second, we were talking, and the next, she just hit the floor. Stay here. I'm going to get Taft." Em bolted from the room, nearly taking down a bookcase when she bounced off of it.

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