A/N: wows. am amazed by all the generous feedback from some of you. thank you, really. i hesitated over this one, i really did. the episode was so great, the moments so subtle, that i wasn't sure i could pull this off. i hope this second half lives up to the first. xoxo mia
There is a moment, a brief one, where he thinks she might slip away, almost as if she's dissolving in his hands. She's faded in his dreams more than once. He'd be holding her, tasting her, feeling her body beneath him, and every time, he'd be pulled from sleep and away from her. His time with her is always interrupted; never complete.
When he's awake, he tries not to think of those times. He allows himself to look at her, to meet her eyes, to hug her tightly. He teases her and meets her eyes across a table in a diner, across the front seat of a car – he even lets his hand rest on the small of her back, guiding her from room to room.
But that's where it ends. He does not kiss her, he does not stand half-dressed with her in the moonlight and he certainly does not admit that he loves her.
But she doesn't disappear, and he's left standing still in front of the window, his heart pushing the blood through his body at a sharp and steady pace – lub dub, lub dub.
His hand still clasps hers, pressed against his chest and over his heart, and he's sure she can feel its beat. The words have slipped out, have finally been released, but now the calm he'd felt moments ago has evaporated after his kiss, and he realizes the gravity of what he's done.
I love you.
He closes his eyes tightly for a moment, trying to decide what to say, what to do next, how to rescue himself, and he feels her hand pulling away from his heart, slipping off his chest, and he doesn't want to see her leave, to see her walk away. So he keeps them shut.
And he's so prepared for her to walk silently around him or to awkwardly begin to speak that when her lips replace her hand over his pounding heart, he jerks slightly in surprise, his hand coming up to cup the back of her head.
"Temperance," he breathes. "What are you –"
She pulls back slightly, tilting her chin up and she meets his eyes, and hers are glimmering. "Kiss me again."
He hesitates for a moment, the tension hanging in the air as he wrestles with himself. If he kisses her again, he's not sure he can stop, not sure he can ever go back to the way things were. The kiss they've just shared – it can be explained away, filed under an emotional moment that they can both move on from. He loves her, yes. People love their friends; they love their partners. It doesn't have to change everything, they can continue as they were – he can bury it deep within himself.
But all that can't happen if he kisses her again.
"Bones," he whispers. "Today has been – emotional. And maybe this isn't what you –"
Her fingers curl around his bicep, the tips pressing into his skin. "Is what you said… was it about today? Was it to comfort me in some way, to reassure me in some way?"
She sounds hesitant, unsure, and he finds he hates the sound of doubt that's suddenly evident in her voice.
"No, no," he says hoarsely, his hand coming up to press against the side of her throat. "No."
Her lips press together and her eyelashes flutter suddenly, and he wonders if she's trying to blink back tears. She drops her gaze again for a moment, and his blood still continues its rushing circuit through his body while the seconds tick by in near-silence.
And then her eyes raise to his again, shining, a fan of blues, even in the lowlight of his living room. "Then kiss me."
Her words swirl around him, making him dizzy, and he feels a slight tremor as he lets his fingers slide lightly down her neck to the pulse at the base of her throat, and he feels the echo of her own heartbeat, matching his. Lub dub.
Again he brushes his lips over hers gently, only an echo of a kiss, really, and she steps even closer, pressing her hips against his, the length of her along him, and he can feel the warmth radiating from beneath her clothes.
Tilting his head again, he allows his mouth to sweep over hers again; a shivery, simple kiss, and his knees feel weak and shaky. He takes a step back, his arm winding around her waist to pull her with him, and he drops into the chair, tugging her into his lap, her knees against his hips.
She tips down, cupping his face in her hands, kissing him more deeply, and he again touches his tongue to hers, tentatively at first and then more surely. He can taste the scotch in her mouth, on her tongue. The lining of her cheek is silky, and he traces the smooth pearl of her teeth, learning her mouth, discovering this new part of her he's never explored.
When they finally break away again, his fingers sift through her hair, tangling in the strands. "Say my name, my first name," he whispers.
She does, on a soft breath, barely escaping. Seeley.
When he captures her mouth this time, his kiss is more insistent. The sound of her voice has swept through him, warming him from his head to the base of his toes, and he wants her taste again on his tongue, wants the flavor of her in his mouth.
She presses into him, her knees sinking deeper into the cushions of the chair, her head tilting to deepen the kiss. The share a breath for several moments, hands sliding slowly, and her fingers trail over the bare skin of his shoulders and down his arms, tracing the lines of muscle and bone.
He wants the same, wants to feel her skin under his fingers, and he slips his hands between them and she pulls her mouth from his, watching him silently as he slowly slips each button free and peels the cotton away from her skin.
All those images, all those pictures of her he's allowed himself in the middle of the night or the corner of a day don't compare with her skin under his hands. It's warm and it has texture; it's flushed from the blood that races through her. She isn't only a dream or a ghost that he's chasing. A silvery scar runs under his fingertips, a small birthmark catches his eye. Confronted with these slight imperfections and signs of a life lived, she's shockingly real, and he trembles. Dreams don't feel like this.
He cups the fullness of her breast finally, lifting it gently, and the strap falls from her shoulder, looping over her upper arm.
He lifts his head, meeting her eyes. "I dream of you," he confesses.
She swallows, her lashes fluttering. "I dream of you, too."
Shuddering, he drops his head between her breasts, his mouth opening against her skin, and she moans softly, shifting against him, tightening her thighs against him. He tugs the lace cups of her bra down, pushes the other strap away before pulling it from her entirely, and it is soon discarded on top of her shirt on the floor beside them. Her nipples are taut as he draws them into the warm recesses of his mouth, and he's hard in seconds, tilting his hips into hers as words tumble from her lips.
And as much as he loves her against him like this, the weight of her in his lap, he wants her beneath him. Wrapping one arm around her waist, he uses the other to push himself up and out of the chair. She winds her legs more tightly around his waist, and she lets her face drop to his shoulder, her cheek pressing against him and her eyes falling closed as he carries her down the darkened hall to where he sleeps.
When she's sprawled amongst the sheets, her hair a fan around her, he kneels at the foot of the bed, tugging her pants down over her hips and off her. He pauses to look down at her, her skin flushed pink, her body bare except for the simple panties she still wears. She's really here with him, finally. It's overwhelming, and he takes a deep breath before easing himself over her, settling between her legs.
He kisses her again, gently, and she wraps her arms around him, rolling and tumbling with him until she's the one suspended above him, her hair like a curtain around his face, their kiss a brief, perfumed secret. And then she's sliding lower, her fingers curling into the waistband of his sweats, and she dragging them down over his thighs, baring his skin as she goes.
She's sitting up, tugging them gently over his ankles when she surprises him. Cradling his foot in her hand, she bends down, pressing a soft kiss to his arch and his eyes water. "Temperance…"
"It hurt, you know," she whispers. "When I saw your xrays. I never told anyone, but when I saw what had happened…." She looks up at him, her eyes glittering, and sets his foot down gently, crawling closer to trace a finger over his ribs. "I felt an ache, my chest felt so tight…"
He is speechless, unable to respond, and a tear splashes onto his chest and she swipes at her cheek. It is, in her own way, an admission of love. She loves him, has loved him, he realizes.
It hits him with full force, and he pulls her to him, on top of him and presses kisses all over her face, tasting the salt that's now there before dragging his tongue over her lower lip and sweeping into her mouth, curling her hair around his fingers.
When they again pull away, drawing rapid breaths, she meets his eyes, her lips parted and swollen from his kisses. "Show me," she says. "Show me how, how you make love."
He swallows thickly, shaking his head, amazed by her. "You already know," he murmurs, pressing a kiss to her jaw. "This is how, how we are together. This is what it means."
She smiles suddenly, radiantly, and he can't control his own grin as it stretches his face. Yes, this is what it means.
And then she's kissing him again, sweeping him into her storm, urging him along with the slight undulation of her hips and the coaxing of her tongue. Growling low in his chest, he flips her beneath him again, his hand slipping between them, falling into the damp curls between her legs.
"Temperance," he says, his voice breaking. "I – I don't… do we…?"
"I'm safe," she breathes, her fingers curling around him, stroking him. "You don't need anything with me." She's pushing her panties down over her thighs, struggling to bring her newly-bare body back against his.
He nods shakily, pressing a tender kiss to the side of her mouth. "I'm safe too," he whispers. "I promise."
She draws her knees up, pressing them into his sides, and when he sinks into her a sound escapes her he's never heard before; something intimate, something new. It is a sound one makes when their body joins with someone else's, a sound only a lover knows, and it drives him deeper, makes him gasp himself. He gathers her up in his arms, pressing open-mouthed kisses along her neck and shoulders as he moves within her. A sheen appears on their bodies, their skin dampening and shimmering as their hips roll together, gathering momentum.
"Temperance," he chokes out, his eyes searching for hers. He expects to find them shut but instead they are wide, amazed, full of light, and he pulls them both forward, together, over the line.