It was as if something hung in the air, left behind by what had passed beneath it. Heavy, intoxicating like incense, mingling with their breath. Or perhaps it was only their breath, lingering from what it had been a few brief minutes ago.

It thinned slowly, as their shallow snaps and puffs for air began to deepen. Neither struggled for control, instead letting their bodies regain composure at their own rate. Just for once not allowing the ever present "next thing to do" drag them back into duty and uniform. The memory of fear was still too close.

The light was too sharp, blaring from the lamp on the nightstand. Finally annoyed with it she reached out and clumsily pushed at the metal neck, turning it the other way. It helped a little, but she grunted slightly when a series of dry flaps followed the push. A short while ago there had been a neat stack of reports on the nightstand, but by the sound of it the last ones had now joined their comrades on the floor.

For the moment she didn't care to look, but withdrew her hand and let it flop back down on his neck. He mumbled something, but didn't stir yet. She smirked, but softly.

Normally he'd never "mumble something", but always speak clearly and with a purpose.

It must have been good.

She closed her eyes for a moment, the smirk softening further.


She may very well only mumble something too, if prompted. Maybe later…

Idly, she ran her fingertips in small circles. The skin beneath the touch was damp, and she thought she could feel his still slowing pulse. It may have been her own, but it wasn't important. As long as both their hearts were still beating.

She moved the hand, playing with the thick braids slouched about his shoulders, one tumbled over her collarbone. A slow sigh escaped him, tickling her neck. She moved slower, abandoning his hair to trace the tattoos of his shoulder, running her fingertips along the arm resting around her waist. Most of his warmth was still on her.

Gentle now, not like a few minutes ago. Not like a few days ago, when the fear had made them claw at each other, desperate to feel warmth and closeness. Desperate to feel alive, driven to near-animalistic fury because they had known that every night could be their last. When every little twinge in their bodies had appeared to be a sign of their time running out. They could still feel that despair, that made Torn careless, accidentally tearing up her top when they finally got to be alone. Too desperate to think straight, desperate to feel her warmth after noticing that his hands had kept shaking – even after he had realized that the stress from the races that day had made him forget both lunch and dinner.

That fear that made Ashelin sink her teeth into his shoulder, hard enough to draw blood, that day she had felt a tight burn in her stomach. Unable to distinguish the natural cycle of her body from the poison eating away at them both, the only thing she could think of being that she needed him to clutch her so tightly to him it hurt.

Almost believing the painful closeness could keep them safe, when they both fully well knew that no embrace could ever stop life from slipping away.

It had been raw, and brutal, and they hadn't gotten much pleasure out of it – passion abused like a drug, only to make them forget for a moment. Forget that there was an enemy that was killing them, and they could neither defend themselves or counter against it. Only hang on and race for their lives, struggling to keep the opponents from crossing the line first. Knowing they may as well have died on the track, their cars burning cages around them.

That fear too had made them even more desperate. Clutching each other even in exhaust, numb fingers gripping while harsh breaths ripped at their throats. Even the breaths tasting like blood.

Always blood.

But, that was a few days ago. In between they had been saved again by the man who did that best, and now they were back in Haven.

Ashelin licked her lips slowly, without thinking. There was no more taste of blood. Only the dry aftertaste of the wine they had allowed themselves, as part of the celebration. The new city council had certainly been relived to see them back in one piece.

She didn't care about the council right then, or about the reports that had piled up – now making the carpet four times thicker than usual, even.

There was that other taste left behind, just a hint behind the wine. That was interesting. But it was almost gone. She lazily pondered renewing it before it disappeared.

Turning her head slightly, she studied Torn's closed eye, the one that she could see. He looked like he was sleeping, but she knew he wasn't. Even so, he looked so relaxed that she decided not to drag him upwards for another kiss just yet.

Still watching him she moved her fingertips to his back, rubbing the skin stretched over his shoulder blades. His face tightened a little, still sore – she could feel the tiny indentations from her own nails.

It had been raw again, a few minutes ago, but not brutal. No longer desperately needing to feel alive anymore, instead joyful to be alive, knowing they were out of danger. That new outburst of furious passion an uproar against what had been, a way back to what they could return to. No more need for the drug.

She moved again, tracing the sun design on his forehead, stroking her fingers along the outstretched arms of that tattoo. When her hand moved aside, she saw that the eyelid had risen a little.

They watched each other for a few moments, Ashelin's hand returning to play with Torn's hair.

She stilled when he took in a slow, deep breath, letting it out in a content sigh. Content. Him, content. Of all people.

It stretched her lips in a lazy smile.

He shifted, pulling his hand free from where it had been wedged beneath her back. With leisure uncharacteristic for him he moved while she laid still, watching him with some curiosity.

When his lips brushed her collar bone she tilted her head back, but he did not remain long by her neck. Instead he continued upwards, hands coming up to cradle her head, fingers slipping between the damp locks of red hair.

Well, this was unusual.

She turned to make it easier for him again, shuddering as just the tip of his tongue touched her earlobe. There was a tiny puff of air, he probably smirked a little. Ashelin's lips curled. But he kept moving and her eyes fluttered shut when he stopped, nuzzling her temple.

Smiling, she let her arms slide from his neck to his back, squeezing just the slightest bit.

Then he shifted again, lips leaving her skin. He tilted his head, resting his forehead against hers. Far back in her mind she figured that the empty area on his forehead must be covering the grey circle on hers.

That was when she parted her lips and finally mumbled something.

He got exactly one second to blink and look surprised before she grinned and pushed him over on his back. Before he could try to get back up she had climbed on top and made sure he'd stay there. Once her lips were on his he didn't seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere.

And neither was she.