While he chewed on that, sputtering and pointing at me without saying a single coherent thing, I shook my head and then looked down to gauge the distance to the grass. It wasn't too dramatic, so I pushed myself off the branch and landed on my feet. Not quite the best landing I could have hoped for, but I'd sustained enough scrapes for the day. Apparently it was time for a twisted ankle.
After I'd straightened up and tested my weight, I was about to decide that I was finecertainly still fit to drive, which was the most important thingbut then Cayn moved from the branch to my side with all the speed and startling grace of a squirrel. His eyes were wide with concern and surprised anger, he was even sputtering again.
Somehow I found myself sitting on the grass and watching him remove my shoe. "I'm okay," I said, more confused than anything else. He tended to treat my 'accidents' with a little more upset than they deserved, but I'd never seen him attack me with first aid before. It did feel nice to have his hands on some part of me though, I must admit. Even though it was only my foot and ankle.
A few moments later, he looked up at me, still holding my foot, and glared. "That was stupid," he growled. "Why do you do things like that?!"
"I wanted to get down."
I faked a yawn, then regretted it a little and traded it in for contritely hanging my head forward, turning my gaze a bit to the left of his face. "It's not a big deal."
He set my foot down, letting his fingers slide rather farther up my leg than absentminded chance could honestly explain. I pretended not to notice. "One of these days, it's gonna be a really big deal, and you
"And I'll what?" I didn't know if he was trying to threaten me into taking better care of myself or if he was just confessing to worrying about me. I also didn't know how I felt about either of those possibilities.
He blew out a rumbling, growling sigh, flapping his lips a little in an incredibly goofy way. "Don't do things like that anymore."
I couldn't help it, I laughed a little, and even gave him a mystified 'dare you to say that again' smile. Then I shook my head at him. However, when I looked back at him, I realized he'd kept his gaze steady, waiting for me to stop moving my head. He was being serious
"Thanks for checking for injuries, Oie," I said, pitching my voice soft and low, so he had to move closer to hear me properly. Then, in my sexiest tone, I murmured, "I need you to give me back my shoe now."
For a second I thought he was actually going to hold my footwear ransom until he secured a promise or at least an answer from me. But then he caved, the way he often did when I unnerved him to win arguments, and handed me my shoe and sock. I thanked him with an encore of my Sexy Voice and a bit of body language that belonged on late night television, and then put my sock on.
While I was tugging at my shoelaces, I realized Cayn was staring at me. At first I attributed it to my own arrogance and astounding self-absorption, but then a few careful glances out of the corner of my eye confirmed that he really was doing it, and not at all sneakily. I tried to be amused, but it was weird and unsettling. He looked so
intense. And there was a curiously familiar glaze over his eyes.
Finally, I left my shoe half-tied and snapped, "What?"
He shook himself like a dog that had come in out of the rain. "I didn't do anything
What were you thinking about, Cayn?" I pulled my legs closer to myself and posed a bit out of habit, carefully considering what else I might get to say in a moment. And what faces he would make.
Most of the list was severely truncated as he gulped audibly and starting wringing his hands. His face was slowly beginning to glow red, and he swallowed a few more times. My own face would probably follow suit in a momenthis eyes were roving helplessly over me and making very unexpected stops of surprising length.
But then he shut them and shook his head. "Nothing
I stood up, gave my ankle a full test at last, and mentally proclaimed it sufficient. "It's getting dark." On a summer day, too. We'd spent so long mucking about in our own heads, and screwing up in turns, it felt like at least a week to me. I wasn't surprised to see the sun sinking into the horizon.
Cayn shot to his feet and proceeded to stand awkwardly
at some sort of attention, like a bizarre life-size toy soldier made of adjoined sections of soft wood. He didn't salute or anything, he just gave off an air of stiff nervousness. "It-it is, huh?"
"Not too. Besides, you brought the car." I smiled at him, for once leaving off the unsuccessful attempts to make him give in and reach for me. "We'll be home in no time." And, just so he wouldn't flip out and make me feel like a worm, I added, "I'll drop you off at your place so you won't have to walk."
Why did he look like I'd punched him in the gut? His eyes and nose were crumpling towards each other, and his mouth was drooping so much he looked like a cartoon character watching the end of Gone with the Wind.
I approached him carefully, then stood on my toes and hugged him about the neck. As soon as I touched him, his arms wrapped around my middle and held me closer than I had actually planned to be. The rough fabric of his shirt rubbed against my chin and neck, but I welcomed the sensation. My legs would probably start feeling stretched in a few minutes, and his embrace was practically lifting my feet off the ground, but even with all those extra inches he had over me
we fit. Just right.
The urge to say something to unbalance him bubbled inside me, but I pushed it down to support my knees and just said something honest. "Even if
no matter what, how I feel about you
it won't change. Ever." That was all I could say. If I even tried to say something harder, I'd either scare him off or end up choking myself somehow.
He started pushing me back and I just let him. This was probably going to be it, he had to know I wasn't teasing, well enough that his neuroses could no longer argue otherwise, and I had always known that he wouldn't want to be with me. Hell, he'd been saying it over and over again. I looked up at him and waited for him to finally explain himself calmly out of my arms, without stuttering or tripping himself up. He'd probably never believe it, but Cayn could be amazingly well-spoken at times
But he didn't say anything. He just moved my hair out of my face and then allowed his fingers to move along the top and back of my head until they pressed against the back of my neck. It wasn't terribly sensual or private, but I still shivered and felt tingles raise goosebumps on my arms. I tried to ignore them and watched his face, waiting for him to speak. He wasn't frowning, or even smiling, more like
concentrating really hard.
Then he tilted his head, leanedhe kissed me. Slowly and easily. His arms relaxed around me, but still held on tight, firmly deciding to be there. It felt right, as though it was already supposed to be like this, and we'd just hiccupped over the first several chances to begin. I settled back onto the bottoms of my feet, pulling him down with me, unable to stop myself smiling into the kiss a little. His hand was still on the back of my neck, but the other had moved from my waist to a more intimate and undeniably possessive position. I let my hands slide down his chest until I could hug his waist.
Every time we broke away, he'd grin and blush, let me breathe for a few seconds, and then pull me back for another, deeper, longer kiss. Somewhere in the slow, gentle chaos of exploring tongues and hands, we ended up lying on the grass. It was damp, and little bits of dirt and tiny rocks dug into my back, but it was almost impossible to remember they were there.
My head spun, never in complete circles, like the strange kind of washing machine. Every time I started to go dizzy in one direction, Cayn would release a button or two on my shirt and dip down to nibble my collarbone, or I'd find something under his shirt that made him gasp my name and press his warm weight into me, and then my mind would spin off in the opposite direction.
One of the most intoxicating things that I couldn't get my head around was how often he said my name. "Van
" It was my name he was gasping, my name paired into squeaks and panting breaths. And those were his hands, reaching and taking parts of me, accepting it all as easily as accepting an eagerly-awaited letter from the postman. I was lying pressed into the ground, blades of grass combing themselves into my hair, and I was shaking like a piece of paper pinned to a clothesline on a windy day.
Cayn lifted himself up a bit, and I nearly panicked. "No
!" I tightened my legs around his waist, pulling him back into me, and sent him a pleading look. Fuck dignity and self-respect, I was terrified.
But he just reached up to stroke my cheek. "It's gonna get cold," he whispered. "We shouldwe should go."
I only loosened my legs a little. "Will you
" I couldn't ask, I was still too certain that he would shake himself back to whatever he'd been thinking before. If I used too many words, let them be said out loud, he could still get scared and leave. Just when he had me wound so tightly around him that the slightest touch made my skin twang. He lifted himself up again, this time, I untangled my legs and let him have some space.
The button on my jeans had been popped open, and the zipper was even half down. I couldn't remember if he'd done it or I had. Cayn looked down at it and blushed, then pulled the zipper back up and buttoned the goddamn button. But he smiled as he did it, and although he was very red, and shaking a little, he didn't look like he was about to leg it to Nepal. "You'll drive?"
I wasn't too keen on letting him pretend nothing had happened, but I wasn't even altogether certain he was trying to do that. "Of course," I said quietly. "Where to?"
He swallowed and looked away, then dragged his eyes back to meet mine. "Your place
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