She can still hear the entire conversation, the whole swaying stretch of it.
And now that she's (mostly) sober, it sounds more like 'stupid' than 'stupendous'.
"Uh, no. I'm just fine over here. Over - "
" - where the horse shit isn't."
She remembers his hands more than most anything else, his fingers and their position and even just the angle of his wrist, bending a gloved hand over the gate so that she could grasp onto it.
She can remember the feel of the lovingly abused but still warm leather, how it engulfed her smaller fingers as he steadied and sturdied her movements.
"Up and over. Come on now."
She can remember how nice the other hand was to her then, gently catching her hip and stroking up her waist as she'd gone tipsy and tipping up over the stall gate, leaning into his reach for balance. His long reach and the span of him was amazing sometimes. Most especially when he half held but mostly pulled her over a horse stall gate.
"Walt," she'd laughed it at him, damn near giggling her face into a shirt that smelled of hay and horse, sweat tinted cologne and fucking Walt Longmire, "these are new boots."
The most surprising memory, the most inexplicable of things?
His playfulness, his impish humor as he'd helped her over the stall gate. His laughter while it was just the two of them being silly.
He'd laughed with her as she'd landed back on boot heels, one of her hands grasped up in his and her face buried in the 'V' of his buttoned shirt, nose brushed and tickled by chest hair. Her spine had bent at an angle from where his other gloved hand was still cupped into her lower back, keeping her upright despite her lack of balance.
"Then it's time you got a little horse shit on 'em. Break 'em in."
"I didn't come here to play in your stable."
But she hadn't really fought to move out of his arms either. It'd been him. He'd been the one to lift the hand from her back and slowly pass it along the horse's side as his face took a rub against her hair. Just before he lifted his head entirely up and away from her leaning. Then she'd started to move away from the sturdy warmth of him but, to his credit, he'd still kept her left hand twisted up under the control of his right.
"Yeah? For what then?"
"I forget now."
She couldn't be expected to remember such things when he'd whispered the question up under the back of her ear and with more affection, more doting, than she'd expected from him. And in remembering it she still tries to reason whether he'd actually been so close or if she'd imagined it all.
"Stop it." she'd told him sharply, her head twitching to the left and jaw rising even as he'd clutched that hand up tighter in the hold of a thick riding glove.
It wasn't familiar to her, that glove.
It hadn't been something that would usually remind her of him.
She'd just blinked as that hand loosened hers and caught up on the back right of her waist, tickling at her slightly while his other hand stretched slowly down the horse's side.
She'd turned her head toward him entirely, finally looking at that glass-bottle-blue of his eyes."Lookin' at me like that."
"Jesus, fuck. I never shoulda come out here."
Her attention and both her hands had instantly, instinctively, gone forward toward the horse, probably faster than they should have. Because Walt had quickly caught his own gloved palm up under the horse's jaw, shushing on the both of them in an attempt to soothe as Vic had offered affectionate scritches along the startled beast's long nose. The other hand was half caught under his as he held them clutched together, her fingers pinned between him and his horse and how the hell did she end up in situations like this?
"Why did you?"
"Well..." Well...Now... How exactly was a girl supposed to explain infatuation and lust and possible love and emotional attachment when she'd had so much to drink? Better to just abbreviate that particular discussion, head that right off at the pass. "I'm drunk."
"You drive like this, Vic?"
Leave it to him to treat her like she was incapable or idiotic.
God, sometimes he really was a condescending son of a bitch. And self-righteous too.
"Walked. Lou gave me a ride up to... it was one of those roads back there."
"You don't know him." She'd been sure to say that with some sting and some sincerity at once. Just to be sure that he believed her and maybe to be sure that, for once, it was him gettin' the brunt end of the Hurt Stick and not the other way around.
"How well do you know him?"
"Seriously, Vic." His voice isn't as gruff as it was when he'd asked the night before. Now it's calmer, more patient and brushing soft rather than rasped. "How well did you know the guy? Lou?"
Oh, for ever lovin' hell... Really? He's still stuck back on the Lou conversation? He even remembers Lou's name? Where are the man's priorities? What are his priorities?
She doesn't answer and for two reasons, really...
Firstly, none of his goddamn business.
Secondly, he wouldn't like her answer anyhow.
And her head hurts too much to fight with the likes of Longmire.
She recognizes, unconsciously, that he wouldn't particularly enjoy either answer that comes to her. Not really. Because if she knows the guy too little then he's gonna go all John-Wayne's-Gotta-Protect-the-Little-Lady but after the fact, which is doubly annoying. If she implies that she knows this 'Lou' fairly well then he's gonna go sour and glum on her. He'll get quiet and surly and they won't be able to have a civil adult conversation until mid-afternoon, at the least. Which would be extraordinarily awkward, considering she's perched on the edge of his couch cushion.
She puts her fingertips against her lips and refuses to tell him that 'Lou' just happened to be the name of the cab driver and also, she needs a considerable raise. Because that was the most expensive cab ride in the free fucking world. "Can I have some water?"
"Vic - "
He must have known that request was coming, because he's already nudging a cool glass against the side of the hand she's got pressed into her temple. He runs the condensation slowly against the backs of her knuckles, as though he's painting them, before his other hand circles her wrist and he pulls, forcing her to take the water from him. The touch rocks her like surface waves on a seismograph, the spikes and peaks and valleys. But it continues longer than it usually would, lasts longer than she would expect. The pads of his fingers rub the inside of a now flexed wrist and it's a string of aftershocks, smaller jags and jumps on a graph line, the needle bumping to the beat of her heart.
Fuck, he makes the earth just move sometimes. And these are all the little aftershocks of the night before.
And especially when he lifts his hand from touching the inside of her wrist and brushes her sweated hair back instead.
Seismology... It's not, at any other time, a subject matter that she would equate with Walt Longmire.
"Drink the water." He takes a light tug against her hair and it's just another spike on the graph, him being mischievous. She glances up in surprise and sharp reaction, watches him half grin as he points toward the aspirin bottle he's left on the coffee table. "Take the pills."
"It's my day off," she reminds him before sipping at the cool water, blinking her eyes shut into the realization that he's still fingering her hair. "I'm allowed a hangover."
Elastic waves radiate out in all directions from where his fingers trace on her hair and then he lets go. Tectonic plates go still, unmoving, just hovering on the edge of natural disaster.
She thinks, sometimes, she'd be disastrous for him. If ever they actually came together.
She'd be worse than his own personal earthquake. She's his fault line now, dangerous, shifty and unpredictable.
Vic takes a long drink of water, gulping down half the glass all at once. She's still in the process of swallowing when his fingers find her jaw and she remembers, again, the movements of his hands. Because, right, the thing she remembers most from the night before is the movement of each hand. His kindness can be felt through the shift of each palm, the precise curl of his first two fingers as he swipes some stray hair back behind her right ear. The side of his thumb braces against her cheek and she wonders where his gloves went. Does he leave them in the barn? On the porch? Maybe he brings them -
"Kissed me last night, Vic."
Well... So, yeah, she had done that.
Softly and quick, just verging on supposedly innocent and really just a brush of her lips along his.
A stolen kiss as he'd tried to tuck her in under a thinly worn but colorful blanket, one of his palms skimming her hip.
"I know." She squeezes her eyes shut against the truth, face a grimace of pain. "I was trying to forget."
His hand drops away from her face and her skin goes instantly cooler. "You mean it?"
"Mean what?" One eye opens as she lifts her head at how incredibly tall he is, her head tipping back onto her shoulders as she meets his glance. "The kiss? Or forgetting it?"
He shrugs those wide shoulders at her, throws the world off his back like it's made of nothing and leans his lanky body down. She finds herself dithering over the last few sips of water in the glass, making them last as he intentionally just watches her, his knees drawn up but outside of hers and his forearms against his denim covered thighs. She realizes he's already completely showered and shaven and dressed. He smells like generic soap and Walt and warmth as his palms both catch against the backs of her calves and curve there on sweated denim. His fingers flex tighter and his thumbs are rubbing her shin bones as she presses the rim of the glass against her bottom lip as a distraction.
He's staring at her despite it, his lips tipped on a crooked grin. One brow is cocked up at her and he sighs out hard. "Vic."
"Not like you stopped me."
"Nope," he admits with a smile in his eyes that is disarming and damn smugly annoying all at once.
It's also not at all what she'd expected. It's jarring, like a tremor.
He's got his hands viced on her legs and she can feel how large they are, how possessive.
His fingers massage into muscle and the needle jumps. They're rising on the Richter Scale, together, in tandem.
"You have to work," she warns, nodding toward the door without taking her glance away from his. And even as he takes the glass from her fingers and sets it to the table beside the bottle of pain reliever, he's lulling quiet. He smiles, this time with the whole of his mouth. And holy hell, up and fucking far away she goes with it.
She thinks maybe she's dreaming. Or still drunk.
"Yup," he mumbles agreement, the smile simmering slowly. It stays glinting in his eyes as he leans forward into standing. He brushes a kiss on her forehead as he stretches up between her and the table and then moves away. Vic leans into the way he manages to brush fingertips on her shoulder even as he goes.
Yup. Aaaaand definitely still slightly drunk.
It's the only explanation she has for leaning into his fingers instead of away.
"Take the pills." Walt's fingers push a little force of pressure against her shoulder before he goes and she watches him reach for his coat, the rich color of it soothing to her as he gives up another half grin. "Get some more sleep."
"So you can call me in later?"
"Make you dinner? Tonight?" he asks at the same time, indiscriminately ignoring the attitude she's trying to cut his way.
She shrugs one shoulder up and holds, feels it go more coquette than she'd intended but she rolls with it anyhow, notes that it makes his eyes slim and brighten in their blue. "Uhkay."
"Okay." He's to the door and his hand, large palmed and warm, it stalls on the handle as he turns a glance back at her. "Stay away from Lou today, all right?"
Seems she does some earth shaking of her own as she reflexively grins at him.
And it's visually obvious to her as it invisibly knocks him off balance and into the door frame.
"You jealous, Longmire?"
He shrugs and jerks the door open, voice dropping into that characteristic rumble of his, "Just think maybe you should be calling me instead."
Those peaks and valleys even out again as he steps out the door of his own house, closing it up behind himself and with her tucked safely inside it. She ignores the bottle of pills and stretches back out against the couch instead, drawing the woven blanket against her hip and snugging tighter down as everything lulls back to an unbroken line. No sudden movements or marks or jerks of a needle.
Just a consistent line and the promise that he'll be back to her after awhile, back to making her heart jump up into her throat.
They don't need to move the earth around to find a way to fit together, not really.
And seismology isn't a science she would usually equate with Walt Longmire.
But he generally manages to shake up her world, without much effort, just the same.