Of All The Stars In Magazines
'Stubborn' didn't quite describe it. Not well enough. There had to be a stronger word for 'stubborn' without being insulting. Whatever it was, it was needed to describe Sue. You'd think that Reed Richards, the person who understood their changed DNA better than anyone else on the planet, would be listened to. You'd think that when she was told to take things easy, she'd think 'yeah, that sounds like a good idea'. But if you thought that, you'd be wrong.
Sue had been trying to carry on as if things were normal for weeks. Going food shopping, now catering for four very hungry adults; doing the housework despite the fact that all the housework had been delegated between the four of them; staying up late to catch those essential movies that didn't start until eleven; insisting that she helped Reed in the lab when he was working too hard, not to mention going to her father's house several times a week to make sure that he was taking care of himself. Every day, she was already running around at sunrise, and working long past sunset. Reed kept on warning her that her body was still adjusting to changes, and that she should take it easy every now and again before she ran herself into the ground, but, surprise, surprise, she didn't listen to him.
Of course she didn't listen to him. That would mean admitting that he, Reed Richards, the man who had spectacularly broken her heart without realising it, and then recaptured it without realising it, was right. Right.
Of course, it was also typical that it was exactly when Reed had actually left the lab and planned on having a relaxing lunch, noting how peaceful the Baxter Building was, when Johnny and Ben arrived in the kitchen, the latter of the two with a protesting Sue slung over his shoulder.
But, naturally, Sue hung from Ben's shoulder, only her back end visible to Reed, insisting that she was "fine, now" and that she "didn't need to waste Reed's time". So, the two men had explained to their team leader what had really happened.
It seemed that whilst pushing herself to the limit with juggling housework, talking on the phone, and getting the other to help her do the housework, she had brought too much upon herself, and collapsed on the spot, complaining of a "killer headache" and had been unconscious for at least a minute before either Ben or Johnny panicked enough to realise that perhaps, just maybe, it would be a good idea to call Reed, at which moment Sue had woken up and insisted that she was fine.
It had been a struggle, but eventually, Reed had eventually gotten Sue into a resting position lying down. She'd refused to go to bed, so she was now lying on the couch whilst Reed threw himself into a protective mode that he automatically assumed when Sue was near. Johnny and Ben had gone back to the video game that they had been playing together, now that it was clear that Sue was in safe hands and clearly wasn't going to make a run for it. She'd proved that already by trying to make an escape and almost collapsing with a headache again.
"Is this where you say 'I told you so'?" Sue asked Reed, breaking the silence that loomed over them whilst he took her pulse rate.
He smiled, lifting his eyes at her and smiling before looking back down at his watch. "No, I'm not really fond of rubbing it in," he told her.
She shrugged her shoulders when he released her wrist, letting out a surrendering sigh. "I guess I should have taken it a little easier," she admitted.
Reed gave her the 'understatement' look that she had grown used to in circumstances like this one. "Maybe a little more than 'a little'."
"I can't help it, Reed," she told him. "I can't just sit still and do nothing like the others do. I hate sitting still."
As if to demonstrate the face, she tried to sit up, bracing herself against the side of the couch and going to raise up, but Reed stopped her, putting his hand on her shoulders and guiding her back down again. "Oh no," he told her firmly, but still with a smile in his voice despite the worry. "You're staying right there,"
"I'm not arguing with you about this, Sue, you need to rest."
"I have issues with sitting still," she reminded him.
"I've noticed," he said simply, not moving from where he sat on the edge of the couch even though he had no reason to stay there. A large part of his mind needed him to stay there beside her, just for a while, and know that there was no reason for them to be anywhere else than with each other. Besides, he couldn't shake the worry he had for what might happen if she was alone. What if she'd collapsed and Ben and Johnny hadn't been there?
"I feel fine now, Reed," she told him, when she saw his eyes darting around, continuing to check her over.
He frowned slightly. "Sue, you're whiter than my lab coat," he pointed out to her.
"You won't let me wash it, though!" she told him defensively. "It's hard not to be whiter than that old thing."
Reed sighed. "You need to start taking it easy, Sue," he said tiredly, having lost count of the amount of times he'd said it to her. "You need to relax more, let your body adjust to what's happening to it--"
"I can't just sit here on my own all day," she groaned, boredom already setting in at the mere idea.
However, Reed smiled at her. "You're not going to be on your own," he told her, shaking his head. "All my work is done for the day, and I have nothing to do."
"Please, Reed?" she begged of him. She'd rather take the feeling of being ill for weeks than spend the rest of the day doing nothing, even if it did mean that she got to spend peaceful time with Reed when he wasn't thinking about the lab.
He looked down at her firmly, not backing down in the slightest. "You're resting, Sue. Doctor's orders."
She frowned grumpily, and folded her arms over her chest. "I knew there was a reason why I never liked doctors," she complained bitterly.
He simply smiled sweetly at her. "Just doing my job."
"As leader, or are you just taking advantage of the fact that it says Dr. Richards on your mail?"
"A little of both," he informed her.
She glared at him. "Are you proud of yourself?"
He nodded. "Completely." She responded by pouting at him, abandoning her irritation for begging once again. Part of Reed was rather amused to see her this way again. "Sue, I don't want to come down hard on you, but you can't wear yourself out like this. If you're not going to listen to me then you should at least listen to your body," he told her.
"I listened to my body once," she informed him casually.
"Once?" he questioned.
"It's not really that communicative," she continued.
"Last time I heard from it, I was sixteen," she told him. "I said to it: 'body, how would you like to go to a class in vigorous toning at six-thirty tomorrow morning?'. It didn't have a lot to say on the matter, but it was very clear."
"What did it say?" Reed asked, humouring her.
"Something along the lines of 'listen, bitch, do it and die'."
Reed laughed, and signalled for her to move her legs. She lifted them for a moment, and he sat down on the couch beside her, pulling her legs down again after that her upper legs were resting in his lap. "Well, look on the bright side," he told her. "At least you didn't collapse outside where the reporters are."
She scoffed. "I'd be all over the front page tomorrow and they'd accuse me of being hung over."
"Are you?" He teased her.
"Very funny," she told him, humour glittering in her eyes. "I didn't realise you knew how to tell jokes."
"Ouch," he laughed, feigning hurt, before recovering. "You know, the only reason the reporters go mad over this is because they don't actually know us," she looked at him curiously. "You're the only woman out of the four of us, and they don't get to see you like we do. They only see you saving the world and they expect you to be strong all the time, so when you're not, they jump all over it and call it a world exclusive. Me, Johnny and Ben…we're your friends, your family…you don't have to be strong around us all the time. We understand that there are weaknesses, but we embrace them rather than posting them on the internet for all to see."
She smiled at his insight. "So, I've just got to be more open?"
He nodded. "Yeah,"
"Apparently that's where I've been going wrong then," she mused. "That must be why I've hit my thirties and I'm still single."
"Same here," he agreed, not entirely sure he had said it aloud until he saw her look at him. They glanced at each other for a long time. She really was amazingly beautiful, even when she was slightly pale. Her ocean blue eyes were glittering brightly, and there were a few freckles from the summer that had just ended. When he was this close to her, he could see the stars in her eyes that he used to gaze into more than he did the ones in the sky. He broke their gaze, looking down at the floor before them. "To be honest, I'm surprised you're not married by now," he said, wondering if he should lead their conversation down this road. After all, it was dangerous, yet familiar, territory for them.
"What makes you say that?" She asked him, quietly because of their history, but she realised afterwards that she should have raised her voice in case he heard the loud hammering in her heart.
"You're a beautiful woman, Sue, inside and out," he told her, and she blushed. She'd been called beautiful before by many men, including Reed, and as usual, when the words came from him, it sent shivers down her spine. "Any sensible man would snatch you up and keep you for himself when he realised what an amazing woman you are."
Remembering her almost-proposal from Victor, and her failed romance with Reed, she found her cheeks shimmered out of visibility, something that she found had been happening instead of her previous blushing. "Somehow, I don't think that's happening. Not for me, anyway," she brushed off.
"Well, someone's sure as Hell trying," Reed told her.
She looked up sharply from where she had been gazing towards the coffee table. "What?"
"Just a little something I read in the newspapers," he backtracked innocently, reaching for the newspaper on the coffee table and opening it on a random page just to hide the redness covering his face at the words he knew weren't true.
"In the papers?"
He nodded behind the paper. "Apparently, word has it that someone is out to win your heart," he revealed to her,
"Oh, really?" she asked him, lifting her head off the couch arm slightly.
"Yeah, he just can't think of how to do it," Reed told her.
She thought about this for a moment, and then frowned, unable to reach a conclusion. "Who is it?"
He shrugged, shaking his head. "Sorry, I can't tell you."
"Last week you refused to read the papers because of the rumours and you made us all promise not to tell you anything that they wrote concerning you," he reminded her.
"Oh, come on!" She protested.
"Sorry, not telling," he insisted.
"There's a guy out there in this city who likes me, and you're not even going to tell me who it is?" she asked incredulously.
"No," he told her, grinning slightly at his ability to have her hang onto his every word suddenly, when she refused to listen to him if he told her to take it easy. "Now, drink some water," he told her, reaching for the glass on the coffee table and handing it to her.
She drank some, and handed it back to him. Silently, he placed it on the table and looked back to the newspaper. "Would he make me happy?" she asked, determined to find out something about this mystery man.
He nodded. "Happier than you've ever been in your life," he answered.
"Is he cute?"
"Gorgeous, according to the women who wrote in about him."
"Does he love me?"
Reed contemplated this thought. "Love's a strong word," he thought. "…but yes, he loves you."
She smiled, her cheeks shimmering out of visibility again. "He's in love with me, and you're still not going to tell me who--?"
She was interrupted in her argument by a pair of soft lips covering her own. It took her a moment to adjust, but eventually she realised that the sensation spreading through her was because Reed was kissing her, and she eagerly kissed him back. Bringing her hand to the back of his back, she pulled him closer to her whilst allowing his tongue entrance to her own. The kiss was long and passionate, both of them very willing for it, but when things started to develop and gentle caresses came into play, Reed pulled away, knowing that Sue wouldn't, and the object of her lying on the couch was for her to rest, not what she had in mind now.
"Does that answer your question?" he asked her.
She smirked at him. "Your ego is huge, you know that?" she teased him.
"I've been told," he nodded.
She smiled, kissing him gently again. "So…love, huh?"
"Yeah…" he whispered against her lips. "…love."
It was no surprise that Sue no longer put up a fight with remaining on the couch for the rest of the day, especially when Reed was more than content to lie with her.
It did, however, surprise Ben and Johnny when they entered the room that evening to ask what was being done about dinner, and they were greeted with the sight of the so called 'fantastic couple of the century' curled up together asleep on the couch.
"Thank God!" Johnny all but exploded when he saw them. "I was starting to think we'd have to lock them in a closet together or something."