It's 3am and I'm on a friends' couch and she and her husband went to bed hours ago but unfortunately I'm still nocturnal.
"I'm really sorry I scared you today."
Laying back against the pillows, almost horizontal and with half closed eyelids, Walter could barely see Paige as she stood in front of the mirror and let her hair down. "You had to do it," he said. He was very, very tired. "You knew taking that risk would be the only way to salvage the mission. I would have done the same thing, and you would have rightfully yelled at me."
She turned. "Do you want to yell at me?"
He shook his head. "No."
"You're right, though. I would have yelled at you." She walked across the room and stood at his hip. He lifted his hand toward her, and she took it, curling their fingers around each other. "Though I do have to say. I find your way of reacting to fear more appealing than mine." When she'd reappeared out of the cloud of dust and leaped over the Humvee to safety, he'd clutched her to him, placing kisses against her hairline and mumbling how relieved he was that she was safe. Walter shrugged. "I was emotional."
Paige chuckled. "You're being that way a lot more often lately," she said, letting go of his hand to swing a leg up onto the mattress, shifting until she straddled him. She bent down, brushing her lips against his before sitting up and beginning to undo the buttons on his nightshirt. She ran the backs of her fingers up his chest, slowly, before cupping the side of his face and leaning in to kiss him again. He closed his eyes, running his tongue along her bottom lip and lifting a hand to rest against her hip.
She sat up, scooting backward ever so slightly and then placed wet, open mouthed kisses on his chest, trailing them down to his navel and then back up. "I love you," she murmured as her lips brushed against his neck. "I don't ever want you to doubt that." She kissed his jaw. "Not even for a second."
He didn't. Not anymore. The days of being afraid she'd leave – or worse, be simply pretending to love him back – were long over. Walter couldn't imagine anything being more of a truth than Paige Dineen telling him that she loved him, except for maybe him telling her the same thing.
He especially didn't doubt it when she was over him like this, planting kisses all down his front, her hands running along his arms, his rib cage, exploring territory they knew better than anyone else save himself. He'd once told her, not long after they became intimate, that she made him feel adored – and before her, he hadn't even known how to properly define that word. She'd shook her head. No, she said. I don't make you feel adored. I adore you. That doesn't mean you just feel adored. It means you are.
He pushed down on the mattress, lifting his upper body up. "No, no," Paige said, putting her hands on his chest as he finished sitting up. "Lay back."
He slid his arms around her. "I just want to hold you. Is there anything wrong with that?"
A smile played over her lips. "No," she said, resting her forehead against his. "Nothing wrong with that. Actually," she bit her lower lip, her hands resting on his chest. "Actually I really like your arms around me."
"Yet another thing we have in common," he said. She chuckled and he smiled, pleased. "Paige, I'm really tired."
"Oh. Okay." She nodded, shifting her weight and preparing to move off him, but he tightened his arms around her. He didn't want her to move, even if only to beside him.
She smiled, sliding her arms around his neck. "You okay?"
"Yeah. I just like feeling you because…" he felt a catch in his throat, and he grunted to clear it. "Because it helps me remember that you're here. Before…when you were giving your report to Cabe I…" he looked down. "I kept having these…these heart palpitations. I couldn't see you and it's like my brain was telling me I wouldn't see you. Again. Even though…" he drew in a ragged breath. "Even though the danger was over and I knew you were safe." He glanced up at her, briefly, then averted his eyes again even though he saw nothing but gentle concern in hers. His brain had gotten the better of him, had convinced him of a fear that wasn't real, and he knew that wasn't unusual. It was normal, but this was a part of normal that still terrified him.
"Hey." She put both her hands on the side of his face and gently lifted it to look at her. "Walter, it's okay. I'm here. I'm right here."
He nodded, breathing out slowly as he watched her nod along with him. "I know." He closed his eyes. "I don't know why I'm like this. I'm sorry."
"Don't ever apologize for caring about someone," he heard her say, and then her lips were on his again.
He kissed her back, groaning quietly into her mouth, and then put a hand up to her hair, gently pushing her head downward, just enough that he could kiss her forehead. "I love you so much," he whispered.
Paige smiled, pushing gently on his chest, and he laid back, watching her as she shifted her weight, settling down on top of him and resting her head against his chest. She slid a hand between his open shirt and his skin and sighed contentedly as he put his arms back around her. They lay quietly for a few moments, then she turned her head so she could look at him. "We can have the life affirming sex in the morning, right?"
Walter enjoyed the way her body moved with his as his chest shook with silent laughter. He drew in a breath, running his fingers affectionately through her hair. "You can wake me up in a couple of hours."
"Oh, no no," Paige said with a smirk. "If I sack out now, I'm committed to the sleep thing until dawn."
"Wake me up at dawn, then," he suggested.
"Kay," she said as she turned her head back into a more comfortable sleeping position. "It's a date."