Elena knocked on the door that connected her hotel room with Nathan and Sully's. Shifting her weight back and forth on bare feet, she picked at a rather unsettling dark brown stain on her khaki capris. When the three of them had carefully hidden the stolen pirate boat and cargo and finally gotten back to their hotel rooms, they had all been so exhausted that each had fallen asleep immediately. The events of the last twelve hours had left Elena so physically and emotionally drained that she hadn't even bothered to change, let alone shower, and so when she woke up after she didn't know how long, she intended to clean up immediately, preferring not to think about what or whose bodily fluids she was idly scratching at.
The doorknob clicked and she heard Nathan's sleepy tenor call out, "What's up, Elena?"
"Hey, I was about to take a shower and I was wondering if- if…uh…"
Elena trailed off as Nathan opened the door wearing nothing but a white towel wrapped low around his waist, his dark hair dripping water down his neck. Her eyes involuntarily scanned down to his abs, where she could see his hips tapering into a V that met somewhere below the fabric.
"You were wondering…?" Nathan asked, and she could hear the smile in his voice. She pulled her gaze back to meet his, and shook her head slightly, trying to remember what she had needed.
"...ah, I was wondering if I could have your towel…I mean an extra towel," She corrected herself. "Do you have an extra towel I can borrow? I was about to shower, I need one for my hair and my other ones are all still dirty…" Elena could feel herself blushing at the effect he had on her. She was usually pretty collected, both on- and off-camera, but now she tripped over words like she had never seen a man in a towel before. She got the impression that not only could Nathan tell he'd unsettled her, but also that he was quite pleased with this fact.
"Yeah, come on in, just give me a second," he replied, and turned back towards his bathroom, grabbing a pair of jeans off one of the twin beds as he went. Elena followed him in, glancing around. Two suitcases spilled clothes over the floor, one at the foot of each unmade bed. Piles of maps and papers lay on one nightstand, and a half-empty box of cigars sat on the other. The bathroom door was still open a crack; Elena could see a vague movement in the steamed mirror and heard the towel hit the floor. Looking away quickly, she picked Nathan's silver belt buckle up off the dresser and turned it over in her hands. The metal was tarnished and dented in several places, but the imprinted skull-and-crossbones was still visible, despite being worn down.
"So, um, where's Sully?" she asked, more to fill the silence than out of any actual curiosity. She had a pretty good idea of where he was anyway.
"Down at the bar," Nathan called out from the bathroom. "He'll be working over the barmaid, if I know him, and not just trying to reduce his tab this time."
"Back to the grindstone already then?" Elena smiled. The man was nothing if he wasn't a charmer, and she was sure he'd be gone for a while. "Isn't it a little early to be at a bar?"
"Not at all, Sleeping Beauty," Nate replied, walking out in jeans and carrying a clean, folded towel. "You were out all night and most of the day too. It's nearly 8pm. And besides-" he tossed the towel at her, which she caught with one hand, "-Sully's rich now."
"Sully's filthy rich," she corrected, placing the buckle back down.
"We all are," he said, then much quieter, as if just realizing what he was saying, he repeated it. "We all are." He was silent then, and Elena couldn't tell if he was looking at her or through her into some memory.
"Right, just what you wanted," she said, and there was an awkward pause when he didn't reply.
"So…thanks for the towel," she said to break the silence, giving it a little shake and starting back to her room. Smooth, she thought to herself. Real smooth.
She was just inside the door when she felt Nathan's large hand close around her wrist. She turned back.
He hesitated, then said, "I'm really sorry about your camera," his eyes not quite meeting hers. "I know how much it meant to you to get this story."
His apology touched her. She thought she'd shrugged the loss of her camera off convincingly enough.
"It's okay, really," she replied. "It's not like I'd have been able to use the story anyway, not after what happened to Roman. Too many people would have put themselves in danger if they'd seen the story- curious scientists, ambitious politicians…"
"And no-account tomb-robbers?" Nathan finished for her, and her stomach clenched a little, partially at her own harsh words tossed casually back at her and partially because Nathan had taken a step closer and smelled deliciously clean.
"That group seems to be the most capable of handling themselves, actually," she replied. She hoped it came out sounding calmer than she felt.
"You weren't too bad yourself, you know. I just made it up as I went," he admitted, and gave that familiar cocky grin that melted her knees.
"I believe it," she answered. There was another silence, and Elena realized Nathan was still holding her wrist. She glanced down, turning her hand a little, and when he did not let go she looked up at him.
Nathan bent his head and pressed his lips firmly against hers.
When he pulled back, Elena asked frankly, "You make that up as you go too?"
Nathan shrugged. She scanned his eyes, hazel and bright and waiting for her response.
She smiled. "It took you long enough." Nathan barely had time to return the grin when Elena reached up and pulled his head back down to crush his mouth against hers. He tasted familiar; something spicy that lingered in her memory…cinnamon toothpaste, maybe? Nutmeg? Her lips parted as his tongue slid inside- definitely cinnamon. She ran her hand through his hair, which was still damp, and she groaned slightly as she remembered that she still hadn't showered. Misinterpreting her, Nathan pushed her up against the wall and skimmed his hand across the bare skin at the base of her throat, which made it all the more difficult to stop.
"What?" he asked, confused as she eased him gently away, her hand remaining flat against his chest. She fought the urge to trace her fingers along the muscles of his arms or down the plane of his stomach.
"I still need to shower, remember? I'm disgusting," she said, and held up the towel she still clenched in her other fist.
Without batting an eye, Nathan replied, "I don't mind taking another one."
Elena arched an eyebrow, then pushed the towel against his chest. She turned coolly and walked towards her bathroom. Deliberately, she peeled off both tank tops at once and pulled the ponytail holder out of her hair, which tumbled down her neck. Pausing at the door to the bathroom, she looked back over her shoulder at Nathan. He looked puzzled, standing half-dressed in the doorway, and Elena shivered. She could not remember him being more appealing.
"I expect Sully won't be back for a while," she said in a low voice, "which is good since I don't want any interruptions this time, but just in case-" she reached back to unhook her bra as she entered the bathroom, "-lock the door behind you."
Nathan smiled, shook his head, and complied.