Disclaimer: Yeah, I wish…
Drummed this out in about half an hour since I was feeling sentimental after playing through the game again. Enjoy :)

Not Tonight

It's late when she pours herself a drink and sips it while she closes the door and turns the key. Normally she would consider it too late to be drinking, but she feels that she needs it tonight. Too much cigarette smoke and a mixture of both cheap and expensive perfumes and aftershaves. It's a wonder they don't all asphyxiate on nights like this.

She wanders through to the kitchen and picks up a piece of paper left on the table. Denzel's maths homework. She sighs with weary affection; he always forgets to put it back in his schoolbag.

As she puts her glass in the sink she hears the lock on the back door click behind her. She turns just as Cloud comes in, smiles at her briefly and then relocks it behind him. His keys clink together loudly as he hangs them on the hook beside the door. She smiles back; it's good to see him home.

He steps up next to her as she finishes rinsing out her glass, taking it from her and drying it without a word. They still don't say anything, but it's a comfortable sort of silence; companionable. Besides, they know each other well enough now to play out the conversations in their heads, word for word in perfect time.

They both move towards the stairs at the same moment, with Cloud stepping to the side at their base to let her slip past him. It's a practiced movement, as is the way her hand rests on his arm, just for an instant, as she puts her foot on the bottom step. His eyes rise to meet hers, but they never connect. She always looks away at the last second. They ascend quietly, both avoiding the step second from the top that creaks loudly when stood on. He watches as she glances at the kids' bedroom door, and then follows her along the landing.

She pauses outside her room, her hand resting lightly on the door handle. She glances back at him, the dim light filtering in from the skylight reflected as shards in her eyes. There's an unspoken invitation there, one that he sees every night. The same one. Always the same.

She opens her mouth. It's little more than a slight parting of her lips but he sees the same question hanging there. Of course, she never asks; he sees her biting it back, unsure of herself, and of him. He tries to smile comfortingly to her. Whether or not he really succeeds, he doesn't know, but he does know that she is familiar enough with him to understand what he means, spoken word or not.

She does understand, and he sees her mouth curve upwards at the very edges into a soft smile. It's a little sad, but understanding. She gets it. She knows.

He reaches out and strokes her hair gently, leaning in to brush his lips against her forehead. She leans into his touch, her eyes closed. It's another familiar movement, almost ritualistic by this time. He still doesn't move away, resting his chin on her head as she leans in still closer to rest her own on his shoulder.

They stay like that for a little while, still saying nothing. One arm rests at the small of her back while one her hands sits at his chest. The others hang at their sides, proof of closeness that isn't quite close enough.

Eventually, they move away, but her hand lingers a little longer than she feels it should. He doesn't mind though; it's reassuring in a way. She turns back to the door, and presses the handle down. He watches her as she slips inside and pauses before closing it.

"Are you sure?" she whispers. He closes his eyes, and it's the same words as every night that come out. The same reply.

"Not tonight." She nods and moves to close the door, but suddenly his hand is there, pressing against it. She blinks up at him. This break from pattern unnerves her. He smiles again.

"Maybe tomorrow?" He makes sure it is a question. He needs this to be half her choice. The smile returns to her own face, this time touching the corners of her eyes.

"Maybe tomorrow," she replies.