we swallow
our most tender
secrets
we love like
carnivores,
by the neck.
— Pavana
पवन

"I love you," she says, and she sighs, wishing it wasn't going to be like this, "but that is why I can't settle for anything less than your full trust."

Felicity gets up, then, unable to stand the crestfallen look on his face a second longer. She takes the blanket with her, grateful for the fact that she got two of them, so at least Oliver is still covered. She makes for the wine, downing it straight from the bottle this time, and she's surprised when seconds later she hears Oliver get up too, blanket around his waist. He gestures to the bottle and she passes it to him after a moment.

"I'm sorry," she blurts out.

"You don't ever have to apologise to me," Oliver says instantly.

"I started this," Felicity says, shaking her head.

"In your defence, I wasn't exactly complaining," he says, and the shadow of a smile on his face is too much for her and she tears her gaze away.

"But I - if I led you on -"

"Felicity," he says softly, "it's okay."

But again she shakes her head. "I shouldn't be sleeping with someone I can't have."

His expression changes at that. His eyes fill with the same fire she saw in them when she first kissed him earlier that night and despite herself her breath catches in her throat. "That's not true."

"What do you mean?" Felicity straightens, adjusting her blanket and holding her hand out for the bottle.

He passes it to her after a second of hesitation, and he looks right into her eyes as he says, "I mean - you can have me. For as long and as many times as you want."

"What - what's that supposed to mean?" she splutters, and she almost chokes on her drink and drops the bottle. Thankfully Oliver catches it just in time, preventing it from spilling.

He seems unperturbed, though, as he sets the bottle on the floor.

"It means - I - we - needed this, Felicity. And I get it. You're not ready. You might never be. And that's okay. But I'm just saying - if it happened again, I wouldn't exactly be saying no. Because I -"

"Because you what?" Felicity breathes. She swallows at the lump suddenly in her throat - because she knows in her heart that Oliver would never say no to her.

"I've just - missed you. That's all."

"Even after what I just said to you?"

He blinks, then looks away abruptly, as if realising what he's saying. "No, you're right. This is a bad idea. I - forget I said anything. You're right. This was a mistake. Won't happen again."

And she's not sure if it's the alcohol still running through her veins or their sudden proximity as she takes a slightly unsteady step towards him.

"I never said it should never happen again," she finds herself saying. He looks up. "Or that it was a bad idea. I mean, it is, but that doesn't mean I don't want you - this - I - I'm gonna stop talking."

"That would be my preference," he replies, and his eyes suddenly sparkle with amusement.

"For the record," Felicity says, "I've - missed you too."

Her heart skips a beat when he next speaks, because his voice is several octaves lower and comes out all gravelly. "Oh yeah? How much?"

And she knows, now, that is now or never. She can tell him no, and he'll listen, put his clothes back on and promise never to speak of any of this again.

Or she can tell him yes… and some of the emptiness inside her can melt away at his touch. And it'll be temporary, but it'll be something. And right now she needs something. Anything. She realises she's aching for him, that arousal is going straight to her groin just from the way he's gazing at her, patient as ever, waiting for her to make her decision.

Felicity hesitates, then takes his hand into her own, wriggles a bit, lets the blanket fall to the floor, before guiding his hand down, below her navel, lets him run his hand between her legs. His fingers immediately become wet, and she murmurs, "That much."

And he groans - he actually groans - as his fingers brush her centre just as Felicity pulls him in for a kiss. They take several steps backwards, until Felicity's back is against the salmon ladder and she can feel the cold press of the rungs on her spine. Her arms go up around his neck, and she's sensitive this time, that much she can feel, and he seems to know it, going slow, his touch light, gentle, all the while kissing her back.

And there's something different about his kiss this time. Like he knows he might be kissing her for the last time, so his lips snatch at hers with a kind of desperation and hunger that makes gooseflesh erupt on Felicity's spine, and she shivers, but not because of the cold. He kisses down her neck, past her collarbone, cradling her breast in his hand before kissing it.

Meanwhile he inches artfully inside her, and her toes curl and she stands on the balls of her feet, exhaling sharply when Oliver hits her weak spot while teasing her hardened nipple.

"Oliver…"

He adds a second finger, making her arch into him, groaning softly, and as she does so she feels a hardness pressing onto her thigh. Felicity reaches down, tugs the blanket off Oliver, and his mouth comes off her breast as she wraps her hand around him, tiptoeing so she can land a kiss on the hollow of his throat. Her mouth moves up, to his neck, and she can't help but bite lightly into his skin as her grip tightens on him, eliciting another groan.

"You first," he whispers, and to what seems to be his surprise she shakes her head.

"No," she says firmly, "you."

Obediently he lightens his touch, and his fingers still inside her and then withdraw completely as Felicity squeezes, running her hand down his length as she kisses his lips, tongue in his mouth, and it doesn't take long for him to come as he thrusts into her hand, all over her bare thighs, murmuring her name reverently.

"Sorry," he says sheepishly, when he's finished.

"You never have to apologise to me either," Felicity tells him, and she means it. "Besides. You know I like it."

She's not lying - some primal part of her relishes it, being covered in the evidence of his pleasure, knowing she's done that to him. She's aching for him, now, even more than before, and she can feel her walls clench around his fingers once he slides them inside her again.

Felicity gasps, rocking her hips against his hand, her back bumping into the salmon ladder, and she comes so hard she's sure she's seeing stars. Through her blurred vision as she floats back to earth she can just about register Oliver gazing at her like she hung the moon in the sky herself.

"What?" she says breathlessly.

"You know what," he says, suddenly solemn.

"Don't say it," she pleads. "Please."

He sighs, closing his eyes, saying, "Fine. But - I do."

And as she looks away from him, gathers up her clothes, shivering from the cold now the last vestiges of he orgasm have worn off, she heads for the shower, wishing with all her heart that it didn't ache so much for him.