Title: Core Values
By: Marla, otherwise known here as SleeplessEyes.
TV Show: The L Word
Disclaimer: I don't own Tina or Bette.
Rating: T, just in case.
!Warning!: Very light lesbian content
Summary: Bette remembers what the Tibette relationship used to be like, and awes over the transformation between them.
Word Count: 907
Pairing: Tibette
Author's Note: This story was written for my girlfriend's birthday. My first, my last, and my forever.

Core Values

We had known each other without really knowing who the other person truly was; their goals, aspirations, hopes, and most of all: core values.

The subject of /sexuality/ was taboo. Love was love, no matter whom it was with.

Wasn't it?

Tina more often than not stated to others that she was strictly a lesbian. Bette bit her bottom lip and pasted on a quick smile to nod, as she often did.

Together, alone, the subject was side-stepped and carefully avoided with smooth, practiced responses by Tina and Bette. As skeptical as the former Art Director was,

Tina gave no notice or pretended not to with averted eyes.

Tina was a devoted lover to whoever she was with, especially those that encouraged her to smile; and most of all, to find her niche. Unlike Bette, scrutinization never held any water. Sexuality had been completely dismissed by the blonde and forgotten like a stray puppy.

Years ago, Bette had to wonder if Tina was /really/ straight at heart and attempted to take on a gay lifestyle like another piece of stylish clothing.

In the darkness of their bedroom, Bette exhaled and wrapped her arms around a slender familiar form for comfort.

As loving and perfect as she was with evening home-made dinners and sporting the most beautiful of skirts, Bette peered through that angelic facade and wondered. It was human. Bette strived to question everything with a first raised. Even the unquestionable.

Another exhale.

In time, Tina did the same. After their world fell apart and crumbled to dust. She unearthed her roots and remembered what she loved and lived for. Bette's erroneous and foolhardy judgment provided a push.

Their future was reassembled, and rewritten. There would never come to be the possibility of the feared lesbian bed death, and finally, there would be hardly if not a few incurable disagreements between them.

Her own spoken words floated through her mind and breezed through her lips like a melody.

"I promise to share your values."

Next to her, Tina smiled softly with a subtle glow.

"I know you do, babe." Tina said, lips crinkling into a smile as she turned to face her soul mate while struggling to straighten her emerald green nightgown of hazardous creases.

Their lips met in a heated kiss. Familiar, and new every time.

Bette, albeit surprised, contently wrapped her arms around Tina's neck and allowed Tina to encircle her arms around her waist, as Bette often did when roles were a factor in their relationship.

Tina nuzzled under Bette's neck and tightened her grip gently.

Her back relaxed immediately and Tina traced the very edges of her white tanktop.

"Thank you." Bette murmured, tone lightening and lowering to match her love.
It was Tina's turn to be surprised.

"For what?"

Bette shut her eyes and licked her lips; hoping her expression could match her words.

"I wanted to thank you for supporting me, and letting us 'be' again without the problems that followed us for so many years," her voice quivered in volumes and dropped to a barely audible whisper. "I am not meant to be forgiven so easily by you, nor do I deserve any of it. Each of us made catastrophic mistakes, yet we found each other again in another world that was truly in a sense, ours."

"You just had to find who you were on your own," Tina said, entangling her fingers in a mass of Bette's curls. "As I did."

Bette's eyes fluttered open and held Tina's. The smile grew wider.

Her head, which had been starting to bow gradually, rose again, to lock eyes with Tina.

"I promise to share your values, too. It's about both of us, and what we can accomplish. Together. Not just for the other."

For a long time, they locked in a devoted embrace. On the surface, sex was often what others perceived a relationship to be about; when on a deeper level, it was about love.

Bette cradled Tina's face against hers and exchanged a kiss.

"You have always been my first,"

"I know, Tee. In a sense, you were my first, too. The first that truly mattered."

Tina smiled and giggled, cheeks growing rosy.

"Not only that, but you will always be my forever. My forever that shares my values and my forever that I can share values with."

Their limbs and breaths entangled during moments of loving expressions, and declarations of more promises.

In the years that that led to their reunion, Tina became firmer about her stance as Bette's wife, and what sex spread her legs for.

Confidence was the key.

"Bette," Tina started to Bette's side in a side to front pattern, breath barely lingering on her lips.

She grasped Tina's hand and brought it to her mouth to plant a loving kiss, slowly nodding her head as if to ask Tina what she wanted.

"I love you."

Each day, they fell in love again. Sharing values that both had come to cherish and live by between, before, and after every obstacle.

"I love you, Tina." Bette replied, kissing the top of Tina's forehead and allowing Tina to pull the hem of her worn silk white pants. Her hand rested there, and rubbed the area of skin affectionately.

Their values were one.

Lips met again and sealed their bond. The past was what propelled them forward; striving to make a better future.