Bobby and Darien slowly climbed back to wakefulness together, a rare occurrence but one they reveled in when it happened. When Darien lightly squeezed the hand that, out of habit and joyful memory, still frequently found its way onto his abdomen at night, Bobby chuckled softly.
"Morning." The younger man echoed, twisting his head backward briefly and receiving a gentle kiss. Deciding that wasn't nearly enough, he turned over and initiated a deeper, more sustained version. At last, they pulled apart, both breathing heavily. The spark in Darien's eyes told Bobby he was longing for something more involved, but Hobbes hesitated.
"What? Don't you want to?"
" 'Course I do. It's just... you said last night the kid knows you sleepwalk an' all that. Does she... I mean..."
"Will we ever have to tell her about the birds an' bees? Yeah, absolutely. She feels with me... senses the ups an' downs, but she's too young to understand. All she'll know is that her mom and dad got really, *really* happy for a few seconds. She won't pick up on how or why."
"Totally sure. Go on..."
Bobby's hand started moving in the right direction, but he paused a second time and grinned ruefully.
"Sorry, babe. I'm still not used to this, I guess."
"Used to what? To me?"
"Nah. It's havin' somebody who wants me to touch, kiss... be the one who reaches out. Viv... she was never much into the physical part a'marriage. I think it scared her. Always wondered if she got hurt or messed with as a kid, somethin' like that. I knew she'd never tell me, even if it was true, so..."
"... you didn't ask."
"No reason to bother."
"You've never asked me either." Darien observed quietly, stroking slowly, repeatedly over Bobby's scalp.
"You? Way I understood it you had it pretty good growin' up, Ari. I never saw even a hint a'that in your records..."
"I'm not talking about my childhood. I mean in prison. You must've wondered..."
Hobbes blanched, reached up and captured his husband's hand to still it.
"I never saw that file. Borden said I didn't need to... that it didn't matter anymore. A couple years ago I thought about takin' a peek anyway, but by then I was so hung up on you... it woulda killed me if I found out somebody... did that."
Darien grimaced faintly.
"Do you wanna know?"
"Not the details. If there's somethin' that might trigger a nasty memory, you should tell me, though, so I don't just stumble on it."
"Not seeing. I have to be able to see... to know it's you. And it might take a long, long time before I can... go down on you. Other than that, we should be okay."
"You're sayin' somebody... that they did..."
"Blitzed me from behind. I had no chance to fight back. The guards... they think it's just something new prisoners have to go through. After that first time, if they saw, they did what they could to protect me. Kev came an' got me released before it happened too many more times..."
"How many?" Bobby forced out,
"Three. I'm, uh... really glad you didn't want details, 'cause I've pretty much... blocked those out. The before is there in my head, and the after... but not much in between."
"Thank God for that..." Bobby croaked, gathering Darien fully into his arms. "Thank God..."
"I didn't mean to make you feel so bad. It just... you talked about Viv... and it seemed a good time to bring it up, you know..."
Bobbi whimpered and began to shift restlessly, wringing a melancholy chuckle from Darien. "Like I said... the ups and downs."
Bobby pulled back a little, smiled weakly and caressed his husband's face.
"You, uh... you do know you can always say you don't wanna, right? Now that you told me... I'll understand."
"I haven't said it yet, have I? Yeah, maybe I get sad or angry about the past, but I'm not stuck in it... not most of the time anyway. I'm a free man who gets to make his own choices, now. I chose to lean on you and follow your lead when I first got the job an' I had no clue what my future was gonna look like... or if I'd even have one. I chose to have your child, when walking away would've been so much easier and caused a lot less pain. I chose to keep loving you, even when I knew you might not come back from that little mountain vacation you took. I chose to trust you and go see your doc when I was so hurt an' lost I couldn't see a way out. I've picked you every step of the way, Bert... and I always will."
"Ari... my God..."
"It's okay." Darien soothed, swiping Bobby's tears away. "The way we compliment each other makes us a great team. You're super-agent, I still have to feel my way. You can't find the words, I can't shut up."
"Yeah, well... could you try a little harder? Makes it hard for me to concentrate." Bobby retorted with a sly grin as he eased his hand into Darien's boxers.
"Mmmm. Yeah... I can do silence... definitely... ohhhh... jeez..."
"Those noises I don't mind."
"Good thing, too. B-Bert... damn, yes... faster... please, faster..."
"I hear and obey."
"Crap... I'm gonna... Bert, I have to..."
"Do it. It's all good, sweetheart. Let go, Ari..."
"After. C'mon, babe... that's it. God... you're so beautiful like this..."
"Bert... man..." Darien panted, struggling to catch his breath
"Love you too, Ari." Hobbes laughed.
"What... what say we go shower... and I'll return the favor?"
"Sounds perfect. Then we'll get dressed, have breakfast... and take Bobbi to the zoo."
Darien's eyes lit up.
"Yeah! We promised her, didn't we?"
"Seems like a hundred years ago."
"Sure you don't wanna wait? Maybe see if we can do her birthday there?"
"Nah. I... I got other ideas for that."
"Never you mind." Bobby teased, rising and drawing his husband up to his feet as well. "That's gonna be as much a surprise for you as it is for her."
"You forget she can read your mind, now, too?"
A TREATMENT ROOM AT THE AGENCY: 1 HOUR LATER
Curled protectively around Claire, Eberts blinked his eyes slowly as he reluctantly woke up. Gazing adoringly down at her, he found a reserve of boldness somewhere inside him and leaned in to place a brief, gentle, barely-there kiss on her warm lips. Moments later she was awake as well and smiling up at him with a soft, sweet expression that made his pulse suddenly begin to race. Unable to resist, he swept loose hair away from her brow and placed another light kiss there.
"Good morning, love. Did you sleep well?"
"Yes... for the most part. It helped that you were here to hold me. I felt safer than I have in years..." she confessed, snuggling her head into his shoulder.
"Trust me... it was my pleasure."
"Mmmm... speaking of.... Lord, you're so warm..." she murmured, shifting even closer and pressing against him.
"Claire... er, you don't... I mean... oh, heavens..."
Reaching up with both hands, she tipped his chin down, forcing him to meet her eyes and acknowledge the hunger in them.
"I do, Albert. I do know precisely what it is I want. Will you let me have it? Hmmm?"
"I know you've little or no experience, but you'll *never* have any if you always let your fear convince you to back away. Please..."
"It's not fear... not the way you believe. I simply... I couldn't stand to disappoint you. If... if I'm not all you expect... physically... Not that I would ever think you that shallow, but..."
"Oh, Albert. Is that what it's been all this time?"
"You have faith in my intelligence?"
"Of course! You're one of the most incredible scientific minds I've ever encountered..."
"Then trust me to judge for myself... and trust that I would never reject you or say anything unkind."
"I know... I know that..."
"Then let me in. Let me show you what a beautiful and precious moment this can be... when the person you're with truly loves you."
"You do... don't you?"
"I can hardly bear it."
Eventually, Claire was rewarded with a minute release of tension and a quiet sigh.
Claire slowly extended her hand and touched Albert's zipper, eliciting a sharp gasp.
"Darling, I haven't done anything yet." She chuckled.
"It's... it's all so new. Everything is a surprise."
"Yes, well... you're in for quite a few of those."
It took several minutes of soothing words and reassurances, but finally Claire was able to dip her hand into Albert's briefs. At that point, however, she paused, now a bit in shock herself.
"Claire? What is it? Oh... oh dear God..."
"No! No, love, there's nothing wrong. You're more than adequate... much more, in fact. I was simply letting that... sink in."
Eberts' doubt overwhelmed everything else until Claire smiled at him and began to cautiously free him from his clothes.
"You mean it? Ahhh! It seems you do! Claire..."
"Relax, Albert. This will be amazing if you can only relax. Close your eyes... and just feel. Let go of your worries and your insecurities... let it all go."
"Oh... oh... Claire, I'm... something's... I'm dripping!"
"You're doing fine. That's just your pre-ejaculate." She whispered in his ear. "It helps to ease the way when someone is stroking you... or when you first push into your lover. It's usually not enough, of course. That's why women make a good deal of our own lubricant."
"Ahhh... R-really? Do... are you..."
"Mmmm-hmmm. I am. Right now. When we do finally have our first time... you'll see. Even as grand as you are, you'll slide straight in... with hardly any effort at all. And I'll welcome you, Albert. I'll open myself, open my body... and you'll never want to leave."
Claire's intense speech pushed Eberts over the edge. He howled, but it was quickly muted by Claire's free hand. Within a few minutes, his breathing had almost returned to normal, but she wondered if his eyes ever would. When he laid a trembling hand on her abdomen, she questioned him with just her eyes. He nodded hesitantly. Gripping his hand lightly, she tugged it down and laid it against her now soaked panties. He pulled back a moment later, staring at the moisture glistening on his fingertips.
"Not now. You need time to think about all this. We'll talk over lunch. I'm going to go clean up." she stated firmly, kissing him and favoring him with a content, delighted smile before rising and heading for the en-suite bathroom. Eberts gradually made it onto his feet and, realizing what a disaster the bed now was, wobbled off to search the room for the fresh linens he knew had to be there somewhere.