Title: Ah, Sugar, Sugar

Author: Soleil

Disclaimer: Still not mine, despite begging and pouting. Title is a line from a song, My Candy Girl. Has very little to do with the story, actually. :)

Summary: Fluff. Like cotton candy, short on substance and form. Just fluff

He had read once that sound waves carried forever. Somewhere, conversations from a hundred years ago echo between the stars. In that same nebulous somewhere, the sound of the music drifting from a radio would circle the planets and dance between moons. But for now, it eased across the grass, floating across picnic blankets and tree roots before reaching the path.

Spring slid quietly over the city, blanketing it in a sigh of a breeze and warm air. The cherry blossoms had bloomed, pink and light on the concrete and tree branches. The tidal basin was crowded with walkers and picnickers determined to enjoy the first warm days. Ahead of them, Mattie and Jen wandered in and out of the sunlight, giggling as they ambled along the path. The walk had been his idea. Mattie needed to see the city in the spring. He needed her to see it, to understand what she could have if she ever had to decide between staying and going.

More than that, he needed this moment. This space where everything was okay and everyone was happy. The back of his hand brushed against Mac's and he smiled at her as she hooked a finger around his. It was slow, the walk, the day, this thing between them. He had started it this time; the fortune from the cookie tucked safely in his pocket. For once, she didn't back away, but she didn't run forward, either. They were both too guarded, too hurt by each other and others, to rush. Instead, they slid, like children on a too hot slide, inching forward to find comfort.

The music was growing louder. A small portable radio on a picnic blanket rested at the heads of a young couple. The woman's hair, blonde and shiny, haloed her head and their legs were tangled around each other. Only people that young, he thought, would be that free from inhibitions. Only people that young wouldn't understand how the world would slowly fill them with hurts and anxieties.

Her hip bumped his and he turned to face her, his expression surprised. "Sorry," she laughed. "I was dancing."

"Oh." He didn't know how to respond. Evolution was a mind-boggling concept. A year ago, she never would have done this. Never would have danced on a path or slowly woven her fingers through his until they formed an even pattern. Time, and a good counselor, was buffing away the rough parts on her, leaving her smooth and shiny. It wore away the parts he didn't like – like Clay.

It was altering him, too. Stretching him until the walls he built so carefully cracked as he grew beyond them. His glimpse at the future let him see a world he didn't like, one where a crippling grip on self-control kept him from the thing he wanted most.

"Do you like this song?" he asked lamely, unable to come up with any other response.

She shrugged, her muscles bunching briefly beneath her thin shirt. "It reminds me of warm weather." She shook her hair back. "It reminds me of driving across the desert barefoot with the windows down."

"Sounds nice."

She shrugged again and glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "I like it better here."

He tugged on her hand, spinning her closer to his body. With a laugh, she twirled away, still holding his hand. "Want to go dancing?" he asked.

"No." She wound her way back to his side. "I like it here," she repeated. "Who wants to go to a club when you can dance here?" She flung her arms wide, hitting him in the chest with their joined hands. "Whoops. Sorry."

"Have dinner with me tonight?" He pinned her forearm to his chest.

"You or you and the girls?" she asked, then shook her head. "Doesn't matter. Yes."

"How about tomorrow night?"

"In addition to or instead of?"

"In addition to," he said.

"Okay," she agreed.

"And the night after that?"

She nudged his side with her elbow and rested her head on his shoulder. "Yes and yes to all the others, too."

He kissed the top of her lightly. "Good."

He watched as Mattie and Jen paused on the path, waiting for them to catch up. He dropped another light kiss on her head as the music faded. Other sounds filtered across the lawn and over the water. He liked knowing that the sounds, if not the day, will last forever. Somewhere, a hundred years from now and thousands and thousands of miles away, her sigh will swirl into space. And if, one day, a satellite or something that hasn't been invented yet hears it, it will know they were happy.