Worth Living For
By Formidable Opponent.
Disclaimer: Not mine, sadly.
Happy Holidays. Enjoy.
The vest had saved his life, but he wasn't sure if he was grateful for it. The bullet had hit in near point-blank range, straight into the center of his chest. It hurt like a son of a bitch, still does, but he will never admit it. He's been shot too many times to begin complaining now.
When she hears the news, she shuts down her machines and leaves to go home--not her home, but to his. She manages to pick her way into the passenger seat of his car and waits for him patiently. He comes only minutes later, acknowledging her presence before entering his vehicle. With a soft palm against her cheek and a weary smile, he starts the engine.
Her eyes never move from his chest. He doesn't need to look at her to know she continues to stare. When they reach his house, he opens the door for her. She refuses to move until she feels his callused fingers lace with her own. She suddenly attempts to hide her concern for him, finding composure in the familiar scent of sawdust, the scent of him. She needs to be strong for him. His home is lukewarm, yet cold in desolation and vacancy. Calmness fading just slightly, she trembles at the thought of why.
He moves upstairs and prepares the spare bedroom. Once he's finished, her calls to her, stepping out of the room to search when there is no answer. He doesn't need to look far until he's found her. He discovers her in his room, her gothic attire sprawled carelessly on the floor and his drawer an inch open. She must have changed into his clothes in a matter of seconds. She is already beneath the sheets, eyes fluttering in the descent into sleep.
With his back to the bed, he begins to strip his own clothes, replacing them with a worn t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Laying the last discarded article onto the arm of a nearby chair, he slips into bed beside her. He normally sleeps on the right side of the bed, the side closest to the door, but she lies there peacefully, head buried into his pillow. He shan't disturb her. She rests on her side, facing him. He lies silently, arms to either of his sides, staring blankly at the whiteness of the ceiling. He listens carefully to her breathe.
As with many cases of his insomnia, a ceaseless rumination forestalls him from resting. Shannon and Kelly, then Kate, and most recently, Jenny. Death. He's thought of this biological phenomenon many times before, but it never comes to him, unlike it does to those around him. There were times when he thought he would die, and times when he wanted to die. He's suffered and caused suffering. He can't control it, any of it, though he prays to God for the ability to end it all. Their deaths were because of him. They died because he left; she died as bait for him; she died trying to save him. He's seen a great deal of death, more than any one man should, and caused just as much. But he's never experienced it. Perhaps it would be more satisfying than life. He unconsciously considers the comparison, but tries to shun the sinful thought. It doesn't budge. He doesn't understand why he must proceed to live while those he loves dwell six feet below his tired feet. There is no motive for him to continue, while he can think of many for him to join them. He curses the damned vest.
Hiding tears, knowing faintly they will never fall, from above, he unintentionally turns his head to face the body beside him. And as if on mark, she stirs awake. He shuts his eyes from her.
He barely notices when she shifts closer to him. His arm stiffens slightly as her body pushes against it. Her bare legs cross with his own. He can feel every curve; he memorizes every touch. Her face is impossibly close to his, her breath melding intimately with his own. A slender hand reaches for his, as the other makes its way onto his chest. She touches him softly, in search for his wound. Her eyes see only traces in the darkness, but she knows when she's found it. Her hand jerks back slightly, in fear of hurting him further, but decides to rest it lightly against the injury. Easy fingers caress the fabric on his skin, and he feels a hint of pleasure. He doesn't stop her.
"Let me see it," she whispers to him. At this, his eyes open. Her green eyes have never been wider and more focused, even if stimulated by a dozen shots of Caf-Pow. Her gaze is intent on him obeying, though he doesn't immediately conform. After a moment of futile consideration, he turns his body to parallel hers. Covering her hand with his, he gently pushes it away. He moves to lift the hem of his shirt, high enough to expose the wound between his breasts. He looks with interest for her reaction.
From his eyes to his chest, her glance falls. A sallow, sullen bruise, as large as a dollar coin, lies off-center, directly above his left atrium. Had he not worn the vest, he would most certainly be dead. She knows he's thought of the possibility, but hopes any ideas have gone no farther. Her hand still cloaked in his, he carries it to his chest, laying her palm flat against the black contuse. The warm contact dulls the latent pain, and he shudders again in pleasure.
She leans downward, careful not to tussle his upraised shirt, and supplants her lips where her hand had been. Brushing gently for a few seconds more, she murmurs almost inaudibly into his firm body. "Feel better?"
Welcoming the warmth of her breath on his sore flesh, he replies. "Mm, much."
He feels a smile form on her mouth, triggering him to organize one on his, if only for a second. For moments, they lay silently in each others arms, her head still safely concealed beneath his chin. But soon, the thoughts return and linger.
As if she notices his disarray, she shifts to hold him closer. In a low and pleading voice, the head held close to his heart begins to speak. "Please. Live. If not for your sake, then for mine. I need you." Her words are bent on changing his chain of thought.
He pushes back to see her face. Cold air slips between them, lapping at his skin as they separate. He ignores the sensation to raise a hand, tilting her head toward his. In a slow and deliberate movement, he captures her lips in an impassioned kiss. Her lips are warm and full, enticing his senses. Her cautious ferocity breathes into him life. He begins to understand.
They make love and for an instant in time, his thoughts wander from their recent field of interest. They rest in repose, their breaths in tune as her body perches atop him. His mind digresses in a good way, for once, as she fumbles with lengths of his silver hair. A passive solace emanates from her to him and a long sought-after sigh escapes his lips. Her heartbeat against his own catches his attention, and he remembers her words--words finally capable of luring him into a hopeful slumber.
He can live for her, and for now, that's enough.