I woke up in the middle of the night, sweat-soaked and sobbing dryly in a confused babble of French and English. My hair was tangled and matted so tightly I couldn't straighten it out and separate the strands with just my fingers. Cursing under my breath, I got unsteadily to my feet and headed for the door. There was a comb in the bathroom.
On the way there, I tripped over my bathrobe and hit my head on the wall. "Ugh," I muttered, "klutz mode on, apparently." Then I just shrugged out of my robe and set it on the floor for a minute or two, piecing my consciousness together into one glorious whole. It was too hard, so I gave up and scaled the wall until I was standing up again.
The bathroom light made the world quite, quite hideous, but I squinted through it and fumbled for the top drawer. I hummed the sort of victory tune my accomplishment deserved, then pulled out the comb. As I sat on the edge of the narrow bathtub and picked at my tangled mess of hair, things in front of me began to focus at last. The bathroom tiles took on individual definition, the black ones giving way to thin cracks of age and a pair of socks.
Wait. I kept the apartment fairly tidy, there shouldn't have been any clothes on the floor anywhere, especially not the bathroom. Even ones with people in them. I wasn't wearing socks, so those weren't my feet
I lowered the comb to my knee and looked up. "Oh. Hi, Cayn."
He looked tired and even more mussed than I knew I was. "Hi," he said, one eye stuck shut and his head leaning a bit to the side. "Why is the light on?"
"Because I'm in here." I gave him a winsome smile and nearly fell backwards into the tub.
He shot an arm out to catch me, then held me steady, crouching so that our eyes had an easier time meeting. "Um, you look sorta
upset. Are you okay?"
"Just marvelous. You're so tall, I forget that looking up at you might make me fall over." As his arm was still clasping mine, I turned my gaze that way, to take in the sight before he realized his position and let go.
First, he apologized. For his height, of all things.
I laughed and waved the apology away, scooting forward to give my feet better purchase of the floor. And to be closer to Cayn, but that was a given. "Don't be ridiculous," I said, reaching out to tap his mouth. He jerked back, nearly taking me with him. This was funny too, I laughed a bit harder, but with less sound. "Your height is a beautiful thing. I only wish I were taller so I could do this more often."
Although by most of the factors that counted, he was the experienced one, he didn't see it coming at all. I darted forward to give him what I meant to be a quick kiss, but it sort of
blossomed a little. Just like before, there was a brief grace period in which he allowed me to remain where I was, even took a bit of liberty so small I could have just imagined it, and then he had me by the shoulders, pushing me back.
Feigning total innocence, I blinked at him, letting him see a bit of the hurt I felt, and half-wishing he'd go so I could get in the shower and warm up. "Y-y-you need to stop doing that," he said, anything but firm.
"Really? Why?" I glanced down at his thin neck, wondering how I could reach it without tipping him off too early. "You seem to like it well enough."
There, he'd shut his eyes and let his head roll back. I tugged him forward and slid off the tub entirely, making him form a lap with a place for me in it. Arms round his neck, I let my sleepy mind call the shots, kissing his neck and fumbling for handholds that would make him squeak.
When I found a very good one, he nearly fell backwards. "Eegahahhhaa!" he yelped. His hands were shaking, but holding tightly to me. I smiled up at him, stupidly hopeful.
"Have you given in yet?" Just in case the answer was not yes, I shifted myself in his lap. As little as I knew firsthand, I was pretty damn sure at least some parts of him did not mind my being there. If only he'd let them have the final say.
Of course he wouldn't, the wonderful git. He tried to climb out from under me, whimpering. "What about" pause to gasp plaintively as I ran a finger down from his jaw to his collar bone, "Christian?"
I didn't want to talk about him. We'd talked for at least an hour, and fought about Cayn or missed chances and botched opportunities off and on so many times that I didn't know if it was finally okay or if I was still mad at him. "He says you have to be nice to me or he'll beat you up," I said, still somewhat sleepy. Cayn smelled nice. I hugged his neck and snuggled up to him, determined to stay where I was, come hell or high water.
He went rigidthen relaxed. "You need to go back to bed."
"Will you come with me?" I knew he wouldn't. I was slow, but I was learning. This was not going to be an easy win. Tonight would not end the way I'd like it too.
A soft feeling of completely stupid happiness infused my head as he patted my bare shoulder and shook his head. "I'll just get you there. Come on."
With his help, I stood up, clutching what I could, yet unable to initiate any more meaningful contact. He looped an arm around my waist and walked out of the bathroom. After we'd cleared the door, I laid my head on his chest. "My hair is still a mess."
"I-I can fix it for you." The total lack of confidence in his voice, while not refreshing, was comfortable. Safe. I slipped my hand into his and headed to the couch, figuring that any attempt to take him to my room at this stage would ruin everything.
His hand was warm, which I hadn't expected, and he let me have it until we reached the couch. I let it slide and sat down. "Thank you," I said, so he wouldn't chicken out.
He sat next to me and raised trembling hands to flick his nimble fingers through my hopelessly tangled hair. Something about his hands on my head melted my knees and set a small fire in my stomach. A moment after he'd started, I realized I was purring. Not in that affected romance novel way, but very similar to a cat being pampered. I nearly laughed, but I really liked the sound.
"Cayn?" If he kept this up, I was going to turn and jump him. I had precious little idea of what came after the actual jumping, but as long as it involved him, I was eager to define every last possibility.
"Don't stop, please." I hugged myself, grinning like a moron. There were probably other things I could have saidbetter things, that didn't make me sound like a little girlbut that was really all I could get out of myself. Then I leaned into him and just sighed. I was probably just sleeping. Of course the Real Cayn in Reality hadn't even stayed. Knowing him, he'd scarpered as soon as I'd shut my bedroom door. So it was safe to compliment him. "You're the most wonderful, clever, lovely, beautiful man I know."
He urked and patted my arm gingerly. "Eheh, that's not true
Get up, okay?"
"It is true, but you'd never let me say it. I don't know if it's modesty, shyness, or that you think I'm attacking your nice secure, brow-beating self image." I rubbed my cheek against his collar bone, occasionally pausing to kiss what bare skin showed. "Everything about you is fascinating. I want to know everything." On the word 'everything', I let one hand move from his chest to an area rather lower, stroking on the way with the back of that hand. "I wish you'd just let me
"Van, stop." It was a low whine, desperate and pitiful. "I don't
I don't want this
Right. That's why my hand is still lying undisturbed in your lap. That's why you haven't punched me, and that's why you kissed me back twice. I almost said all of that aloud, but I didn't think he'd listen. He was as stubborn as I was.
"So you need to get up, go back to bed, and
stop thinking about me like thhaaat
Heh, my fault. I'd decided to call attention to what I had found. "Hmm," I began carefully, "something tells me you're not being entirely honest with either of us. It's rather a big hint, lovely. Impressively so."
Wow. No need for a blanket ever again. I nuzzled into his warmth, chuckling very softly. This was great. I should have made a play for him ages ago. He was even more wonderful like this than I'd gotten used to him being. Although he was a little right about me needing to go back to bed. I could see the air in front of my face. It moved without moving in a conventional way.
Up in the world we went. Standing upright again, but why? I'd been happy where we were. But he had to know better, he was more awake than I was. Upward mobility
and now we were in my room. Cayn had scooped up my discarded rob from the hallway, and draped it over me like a cloak. He even held it in place, kneading my shoulders a bit. "Here you go," he whispered.
I'd lost the night to his stubbornness. The first handful of dawn crept in through the window. I turned around and hugged him without really moving my arms. There wasn't anything else to say at this point, he was already helping me get under the blanket. I tried to pull him in with me, but he just dodge and acted like I was a squirmy child fighting against bedtime.
Once he'd tucked the blanket up to my chin, trapping my arms, I sighed and burrowed into the pillow. "You really are wonderful," I said. "I wouldn't lie to you about that, ever."
He didn't answer, but I hadn't expected him to say anything. My spirits lifted a bit as he reached down and ruffled my hair, but then he turned and left the room.