Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Summary: This is a continuation of “Fade”, “Breathe”, and “Resurrection”, stories set in the months following Destiny.
Category: After Hours
|There are signs to be read on the face and in the eyes, spoken by the tongue
and displayed in countless acts of kindness. They can kindle a blaze to
melt our hearts and weld them into one.
“Liz, hold still.”
“I want to touch you.”
Max was stretched out next to her, leaning on one elbow, his face close to hers. She could see his eyes in the faint moonlight filtering into her room. She started to turn toward him with a small sound of protest and he placed his hand on her belly.
“But . . .”
“Shhhhh. Please. Let me.”
She closed her eyes.
It had been a year since they nearly died.
Though they were inseparable, it had taken a long time for both of them to recover their strength, and not look at each other with a shadow of what had happened haunting their eyes.
It had taken even longer for them to touch each other like this.
Every time she had even thought about it, Liz had felt a part of her shy away. It felt like a very small piece of the silence that had infected her, spread through her body, nearly killed her, was still there. Whenever she thought about being with Max, giving up control over her body, she felt it in her like a warning. He felt it too.
So they had been content, for a long time, with just being together.
They didn’t talk much about what happened to them during the months they were apart. They didn’t need to; when they kissed, they saw glimpses of the darkness in each other. It left them both shaken.
Sometimes, she would wake up crying from a dream, a dream where she could see herself in the mirror, her body barely visible through the darkness spreading from within her, a silver handprint glowing, brighter and brighter, until it hurt her eyes and she could see nothing else.
Sometimes, he was there when she woke. She kept it to herself.
He stroked her skin softly, sliding his hand over her shoulder and down her arm and twining their fingers together, lightly circling her navel, stroking her hip, gently cupping her breast in his palm. She opened her eyes and saw him watching her intently, smiling when he did something that made her breath catch in her throat.
Things had changed.
She shivered. She knew what he wanted. He wanted her to listen to her body, find out what it needed, and ask him for more. He wanted to watch her writhe. He wanted to watch her lose control.
She flinched and closed her eyes.
“Max . . .”
He rested his hand on her hip, quiet, waiting. She was struggling with herself, the internal battle reflected in her furrowed brow, her lower lip caught between her teeth, her clenched fists.
She looked up at him, at the gentleness in his eyes. He knew. He knew something was wrong. He knew her better than she did. She looked away.
She felt her tears and fought them, suddenly frustrated and feeling ill.
She rolled away from him, slowly pulled on a t-shirt, stood up and went to the window.
“Liz?” His voice was soft.
She didn’t answer.
She could hear him breathing, watching her. She didn’t know how long she had been standing there. How could he be so damned patient?
She shivered and pulled her arms tighter across her chest.
She heard him rise, felt his heat just before their bodies touched. He gently wrapped his arms around her shoulders, and she could feel him, naked and warm, against her.
Maybe she was being ridiculous. But she was so scared she was shaking.
“I can’t do this, Max.”
She felt his body react to her as though she had hurt him.
“Why?” She heard pain in his voice.
She struggled for words. “Max, you know when we were apart, and I got so sick? I sort of looked at myself like I was a lab experiment, to keep from going insane, I guess. But the weird thing was, I wasn’t even scared. Maybe because I knew there was nothing I could do about it. But maybe it was because I didn’t know what it would really be like if we were together, and now I do. And now I’m scared to do anything that could risk that.”
She felt the words she was saying tearing through her, through both of them. “Max, I think about letting you do the things you want to do, you know, the things you let me do to you, and I just get this sick feeling inside. It’s like a warning not to do anything that would threaten the balance inside me, because if I lose it again it will never come back. I feel like there’s a place inside of me that is still really fragile, that will just shatter if I let anything like that happen.”
She couldn’t look at him, and looked down at her fingers instead, fidgeting with the edge of her shirt.
“Do you understand?”
He held her close for a moment, his mouth against her hair, and whispered his answer.
He turned away and slowly put on his clothes.
She sat out on the roof, cold and tired, but too troubled to sleep. Tears slowly rose in her eyes and she let them run down her cheeks, uncaring.
She knew she could trust Max.
This had nothing to do with Max.
She had loved finding out what she could make him feel with a simple touch of her fingers, her mouth. She had loved making him shudder and cry out, watching him as the intense pleasure coursed through his body, and afterwards, listening to his heart beating heavy and slow, and then teasing his sensitive flesh until he responded, until he lost control again.
He had let her play, had given himself to her without reservation. And afterwards, he seemed to be stronger, happier, than he had been before. It had been good for him.
But when she had felt the fever rise like a tide in her own body, she had resisted it. When he had tried to give her what she had given him, she had refused.
She knew why.
It was those brief, intense moments, when Max was nothing but the energy flowing through him, that scared her the most. Though he had shared them with her, she understood that ultimately each one was a moment of his surrender to the world, and he was completely lost in it.
Her world had different rules now.
Her body had been out of her control once before, and it had almost killed her. Her grip on herself, on reality, had been nearly destroyed. It was still weak.
There was a shadow inside her still. She could feel it.
She couldn’t tolerate the feeling that something inexorable was happening, something that would take her over, even for a brief time, and erase the boundaries between her and the rest of the world.
She sighed deeply, rubbed her neck with both hands, staring at nothing.
Okay, the thought of losing control scared the hell out of her. But she couldn’t live this way, either. It was keeping Max at a distance, and she knew that it would slowly tear them apart.
He had fought for her, risked his life for her, refused his destiny for her.
But it seemed like just living was harder, sometimes, than all of those things.
She knew what she had to do. She loved him, she knew that, and she couldn’t live without him, literally, so she had better deal with this.
She smiled wearily, but with humor.
“Even if it kills me.”
What the hell, she had almost died twice anyway. She should be getting used to it by now.
He helped her in through his window. His expression was wary.
They looked at each other for a long moment, and then without a word, she took the edges of her shirt and stripped it off, stood still for a second, as though surprised by her own actions, and then unbuttoned her jeans, slid them down to the floor, and stepped out of them. She looked at him and was gratified to see his stunned expression, as she stood there completely naked, her chin raised, defiant.
She took a deep breath, slowly reached her hand out and closed it over his, and led him to her.
She reached up and slid her other hand behind his neck and brought his lips to hers, kissed him fiercely. When he looked at her a few moments later, surprised and breathless, he had to hide a smile at the determination in her eyes. He cocked an eyebrow at her, and she couldn’t help but laugh.
His expression turned solemn, and he kept her eyes locked with his as he slowly touched her where she wanted. She shivered as his fingertips brushed the insides of her thighs. Her eyes closed briefly, and then she gasped as he took her own hand, and made her touch the places she was asking him to touch.
She swayed as she felt the fever rising in her, and this time, she let it come. He moved inside her gently, watching her reaction, feeling her softness, her muscles holding him inside. She guided his hand with her fingertips, at first tentative, then bolder. He softly kissed her lips, her neck, her shoulders, her breasts, his other hand between her shoulder blades, holding her against him.
Soon she was flushed, panting, eyes closed. She was so beautiful it made his throat ache. He picked her up easily, his hands under her hips, her legs wrapped around him, and carried her to bed.
He held her and stroked her hair until she took his hand and put it back where it belonged, and he found her rhythm, slow and deep. He watched her face in wonder, her emotions passing over her like clouds, then softly pressed his mouth to hers, and was surprised by her sudden, fierce reaction, arching her back and pushing her breasts against him. She moaned into his mouth.
Suddenly, he could feel her fear like a current running through her body. He leaned into her and held her down, moving with the rhythm of her body against him. She was gasping now, speaking broken fragments of thoughts, her eyes closed.
“Max, no, I can’t . . . I don’t understand . . . why . . . I’m so scared . . . Max, I . . . ”
“Shhhhhhhhhh,” He breathed. “Liz, I’m right here. It’ll be okay. Just let go.”
She brought a hand up and curved it over his shoulder, and held on as they moved together with the quickening waves that were washing over her. She had her head tucked against his chest, and he could feel her breath, hot and panting, against his skin. Suddenly her whole body tensed, and he felt her muscles contract around his fingers and watched as her head fell back, her mouth open, her eyes closed.
She whimpered as her breath caught in her throat and she arched against him, her voice strangled, choking.
“Oh god, no, please . . .”
She fought it, swaying at the edge, and then she fell.
It tore through her body, fast and hard, then settled into a long, slow rhythm. He held her close and felt the waves coursing through both of them, and for a few moments, he was lost with her.
He opened his eyes and watched her as she slowly came down. His hand still rested against her softly, he could feel her pulse, and he was fascinated by the faint aftershocks, like echoes, fluttering against his fingers. Suddenly she was shaking, and when she opened her eyes they were filled with tears. Her deep breaths turned to ragged sobs. He kissed her forehead, her eyes, her nose, her mouth, and gently gathered her body to his.
“Shhhhh, it’s okay, Liz, it’s okay.”
She cried until she fell asleep. He watched her, brushing the damp hair from her forehead, then fell asleep with his arms around her.
He woke first, hours later, and lay there for a while, quiet, waiting. Soon she stirred, stretched luxuriously against him, and opened her eyes. Memory slowly returned, and she looked at him with new awareness in her eyes.
“Hey.” He said softly.
She closed her eyes briefly, remembering.
She moved slightly and realized that they were completely tangled together, her body lying full length along his, her hips riding his thigh, his body curved toward hers, their hands resting on his chest, fingers twined. They both felt the sudden current of energy that flowed between them. She looked at him, startled.
He held very still, waiting to see what she would do.
Liz looked away and slowly disentangled her fingers from his, and he caught his breath.
Then he watched her fingertips as she ran them slowly down his ribs, over his stomach, lower.
She rested her hand lightly on him, feeling his warmth, looked up at him, and smiled.
*** “Are you scared?”
He touched her face lightly, fingertips just brushing her skin, then gently laced his fingers into her hair. She looked up at him, her lips slightly apart, her eyes wide, wondering, waiting.
“Take deep breaths, and try to relax.”
That was just like him. She remembered that he had said something similar to her in the Crashdown, when he made the connection with her, when she saw him, really saw him, for the first time. That seemed so long ago.
She took a deep breath and slowly released the tense readiness of her muscles, and gave him a slight smile, just the smallest uplift of the corners of her mouth, letting him know she was okay. Then she arched her back and lightly brushed her bare chest against his. He took a sharp breath, his eyes closing briefly, and then felt her guide him into her. They stared into each other’s eyes as he slowly slid inside her and their bodies joined.
“Does it hurt at all?” He asked quietly.
She shook her head.
They stayed still for a while, resting with each other, getting used to the strangeness of it.
“Liz, what do I feel like?”
She looked steadily into his eyes, but shifted her focus downward, and let her muscles contract, light and quick. He took a quick breath, smiling down at her.
“Well, you’re inside me. It’s the weirdest feeling.”
He was breathing more deeply now, his eyes wandering around her face, closing briefly, involuntarily as she continued to play with him, her inner muscles rippling as she found her control over them.
Her expression turned thoughtful, as though she had forgotten what they were doing, and was concentrating only on describing it for him. She whispered softly. “Well, it’s like I can’t feel where I end and you begin. And it’s like there’s this liquid heat radiating out from right there, through both of us. And I can feel your skin against mine in these totally unexpected places, like between my thighs, the arches of my feet, where our stomachs are touching, my breasts.” She paused. “It’s so soft, here.” She touched his neck, ran her fingers lightly along his collarbone. “It feels right.”
Suddenly, she gave a little gasp. “Do that again.”
“What you just did.”
“Yes…that. What is that?”
He ducked his head in embarrassment. “I guess I have muscles down there, too.”
They looked at each other, and she gave him a small nod, a mannerism that Max had seen many times and found endearing. He shifted his weight slightly, gathering her body closer, moving deeper into her. She responded tentatively, gently raising her hips, pushing up against his. Their lips touched softly, then the kiss deepened, involved more than just their mouths. He gathered her against him again, a slow tension, and then a slower release, like a wave breaking on the shore and then retreating.
Every so often they stopped moving, to just look at each other, and breathe.
Slowly a rhythm established itself, languorous, tidal. Liz gasped lightly each time Max moved deep inside of her, and the soft sounds she was making sent small waves of pleasure and weakness through him. She felt herself melting from the inside, each surge of his body against her bringing her closer to oblivion.
He let his forehead rest against hers, his breath coming in gasps.
“Liz? Liz, I don’t think I can – “
She silenced him with her mouth, wrapping her legs around him and arching up against his chest, her inner muscles suddenly contracting around him. It felt exquisite, and he arched suddenly, braced against his hands, and pressed himself deep inside her, eliciting a cry from her as the waves surged through her body. She murmured something incoherent, her mouth against his shoulder, and he felt her teeth against his skin.
Then her head fell back against the pillow, and he slowly brought his mouth to hers, open, their lips just touching, closed his eyes, and felt his own release, his body moving in its own rhythm, each breath a soft moan.
*** She kissed him, quick, soft kisses, as his breathing slowed, feeling his heartbeat, slow and strong. She shifted slightly underneath him. He whimpered. She laughed softly.
“Liz, don’t move yet.” He paused, resting on his elbows, and brushed his hands lightly over her eyes, resting them on each side of her face.
She smiled, and gently touched his lips, amazed at their softness.
“Max, what do I feel like?”
Max let his eyes close for a moment, then opened them and looked at her. He gave a deep sigh.
Her eyes unexpectedly filled with tears.
Later, as she felt his body moving inside hers again, his eyes dark and deep, she suddenly lost herself in them, and felt their blood mingle, and the boundaries between them disappear.
The waves were back, breaking on the shore. She could almost hear them.
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