Stars in a Box

Star light, Star bright, First star I see tonight… Wish I may, Wish I might, Grant me the wish I wish tonight

She must have fallen asleep at some point, because when next Mikaela opened her eyes, the stars were shining.

Last she remembered of the evening, a picnic basket had been involved… Nothing too romantic, but it was sweet in only the way Sam Witwicky seemed capable of. Ham sandwiches and cans of lukewarm orange juice in a battered wicker basket lined with a dishtowel; for dessert, Sam surprised her with strawberries. They weren't her favourite fruit, but god, they tasted so good when dipped in whipped cream and brought to her lips by Sam's fingers. He made them taste sweeter the way he blushed when her mouth curled around the fruit.

"They're delicious," she'd told him, licking a small red drop of strawberry juice lingering on her bottom lip. Maybe before, with past boyfriends, a move like that would be enough to ruin the meal, having ex-boyfriends move in for the kill as they did what their testosterone-sodden brains commanded them to do.

Not Sam. He was different. Special. His eyes darted down to watch her tongue. His gulped back a lump in his throat, his cheeks flushed pink. But he didn't do anything more than that. Wanted to do more, yes, but didn't.

"G-good," he stammered, gaze flickering back to her eyes instead of down to her chest. "I'm glad you like them." He was trying so hard to make this special for her.

"They taste fresh- really juicy," Mikaela had said, selecting a berry, inspecting it for a moment, before holding it to Sam's lips. "Here, try one."

She remembered with perfect clarity the way his eyes never left hers as he smiled, leaned forward, and took the strawberry in his mouth. He held the same look in his eyes when they made love, like he was worshipping her. Like she was the sweetest kind of strawberry in the universe, rich and rare, to be savoured down to the last drop. But he did not stop with the strawberry. Chewing, swallowing, he crawled forward even closer, tilted his held towards hers, wondering if he could steal a kiss…

How long would they have to date for that wondering to go away? Another two years? More? How long would it take for Sam to realize that she wasn't going anywhere; her heart had been his for a long time.

Without hesitation, Mikaela took his lips. He tasted like strawberries. Like love.

When he leaned away, he murmured, "You're right. They're delicious." She knew he wasn't just talking about the berries.

Sometime after that, he'd invited her to lay with him on the sheet he had dragged out as their picnic blanket. It wasn't an actual picnic blanket, just a bedsheet. It smelled like Sam too, meaning he had dragged it from his bed instead of taking a clean one from the closet. Not that Mikaela minded. It was funny little gestures like that that made her love him more; his quirks were what made him her Sam.

They had watched the clouds together until the deep blue of the sky turned peach, pink, and tangerine. Sam pointed out a few cloud formations he remembered from some program he watched on National Geographic. Mikaela mentioned once or twice what she thought a lumpy fluff of clouds looked like- a bunny, a tree, a dog, a pair of giant alien robots locked in a death match…

The last one had made Sam laugh.

After that, she must have fallen asleep. It wasn't hard to imagine falling asleep, really. Not when her head was pillowed to Sam's chest, his heartbeat in her ear. The warmth of his body kept the chill of the evening at bay. Bumblebee's radio playing softly could only be heard when the wind blew, carrying the music in tides no louder than a whisper.

Upon leaving the peace of sleep, Mikaela discovered several things changed. The most obvious was the velvet sky above. Smooth black, untarnished by the rusty-glow of light pollution poured into the sky by civilization. There were more stars out tonight than there were diamonds on Earth; they glittered infinitely more beautiful than any cold stone. The sky looked big enough to get lost in. Deep enough to drown in.

Absolute silence reigned from all corners of the night. Not a chirp from an insect nor the croak of a frog. Even the soft shush of grass blades dancing was mute. Bumblebee and his radio were gone, but not far. Never far. The alien scout took his guardian business seriously; doubtlessly, Bumblebee was hidden somewhere in the trees, parked and comfortable as he gave his friends privacy yet stayed vigilant of the surroundings for danger.

It took only a moment more, and a few confused blinks, for Mikaela to realize that the black, diamond-encrusted sky was not all she was looking at. Her head was still pillowed to Sam's body, though now she found herself lying at an angle that left his arms free. His arms, in fact, were raised to the sky, moving in a swaying rhythm like a conductor does for an orchestra. The instruments were the night; the symphony was the stars.

"Sam?" Mikaela wondered unsurely. Beneath her head, she felt him jerk in surprise. Above her, his hands stopped their flowing dance.

"Mickey? Sorry- did I wake you?" He sounded guilty.

With a groan, Mikaela rolled over to peer down at Sam. He dropped his arms and met her gaze. With what little light caressed them from the moon and stars, Mikaela's face was left in shadow while Sam's eyes glinted.

"No, you didn't," she assured, and then canted her head ever so slightly. The curtain of her hair fell around them, sliding them both into shadow. "What were you doing?" Mikaela enquired, a small smile pulling at the corner of her lips.

Obviously embarrassed to be caught, Sam shrugged as best he could while lying on his back. "Nothing."

"It wasn't nothing," Mikaela insisted. "You were doing something."

A breeze crept over them, the night whispering sweet nothings across the grass, tossing their bedsheet-cum-picnic blanket. A corner of it curled up and flapped over Mikaela's head, draping over them both to blind them. In the split second of pure darkness that ensued, Mikaela dared to steal a kiss of her own from Sam. He still tasted of strawberries.

With a laugh, Sam sat up, wrapping his arms around his girlfriend to keep her close and take her with him. The picnic blanket slid away, innocently rumpled around them.

"So, not only do you steal cars, you steal kisses too?" he teased.

Mikaela shook her hair out of her face, laughing quietly. "I can't steal what's freely given." She leaned in again, placing her mouth to the very corner of Sam's. Her lips lingered against the warm skin, waiting. Not even a heartbeat later, Sam turned his lips to hers. His kiss this time was not hesitant. It was a quietly confidant kiss, tender and warm like laying in bed together on a Sunday until noon. When they pulled back, Mikaela twined her arms around his neck, splaying comfortably across his lap. "See? Freely given."

"I wouldn't mind if you took a little more," Sam said, half-joking, half-hoping. He was as insatiable as he was cute.

Unable to say no, Mikaela acquiesced to the request. Their kiss this time was longer, deeper. Sam's arms slid around her, up her back, down her sides, until they came to rest on her hips. He grasped her there, kneading the flesh, bringing her flush against him. Spurred by his initiative, Mikaela slid her tongue out to trace along his lips, inviting him to play. He opened to her, their breaths mingling as their tongues danced. As her fingers speared his short hair, his hands found the edge of her shirt and crept under. When she gasped, he smirked, kissing deeper. They could play like that for hours, enjoying merely the warmth and feel of the other. It would never get old for them; never boring.

This time, when it became necessary for air, they parted with flushed faces, their breathing quickened. Their hearts pattered against the inside of their chests. Despite the coolness of the summer night, they were suddenly very warm. It seemed the stars above were shining brighter than before. The sort of magic that only happens when you're with the one you love.

"God, I love you," Sam sighed, breathless yet entirely sincere. His hands still held her to him, pressed to the warmth of his body, the beat of his heart, as if he couldn't imagine letting her go. He never wanted to let her go.

Like every time he murmured those words, a warm curl of something Mikaela couldn't quite name fluttered through her. Hearing him say it never got old. She leaned close to his ear, rubbing her cheek to his as she replied, "Love you, too." Meeting his gaze once more, Mikaela tipped him a smile that made her dark eyes glow. "So, are you going to tell me what you were doing now?"

"Um…" He cleared his throat, gaze falling to the side where their wayward picnic basket sat abandoned.

Mikaela took his face in her hands, turning him to face her. "Come on, Sam- nothing you can ever say will surprise me anymore. Giant alien robots- been there. Map to alien power source imprinted on heirloom glasses- done that. Fighting evil alien robots while they try to take over the world- no problem."

"Mikaela…" His lips curled of their own accord, showing the humour he took in her joking.

She leaned back, raising her hands and pointing her first finger of each hand, wiggling them to their own rhythm the same way she had watched Sam do it. "Tell me or I'll keep doing this." She wiggled her fingers close to his face, making Sam wrinkle his nose and lean away.

"You have to promise not to laugh," he said.

"Promise," she replied automatically.

As if to gather strength, Sam laid his face to the crook of her neck. His arms tightened around her as he breathed in her scent- rich and warm like vanilla candles and honey. When he had gathered enough of himself, his arms slid away from her waist, one hand delving around to his back pocket. His eyes met hers searchingly, nervous for a reason only he knew.

"I was trying to catch a star," he murmured.

She didn't laugh, only blinked. "Trying to… why?"

Finally, whatever he was digging for was extracted. "Because… because I wanted to put them in here." His hand came around, fist uncurling. In his palm sat a very small box as black and as velvet as the night sky.

"Oh my god…" She stared, unable to move. Her heart felt as if it stuttered to a stop in her chest.

"See, it's not very flashy, or expensive… I thought if I could catch a star and put it in the box, it would make it a little more impressive." He stopped speaking when he noticed Mikaela had yet to take her eyes off the box, or even blink for that matter. "Um, you can open it now, if you want," he offered, holding out his tiny velvet treasure.

Swallowing the sudden lump in her throat, Mikaela took hold of the box in her trembling fingers. The velvet was warm beneath her touch, as if the box really did contain the stars. Easing back the top, a simple band of silver was revealed.

"Sam," she breathed, stunned by the sight. Simple as it might be, it was breath-taking.

"It's a promise ring, see?" Sam stuttered. "I- I don't have the money for a real engagement ring yet, but I will, soon- eventually… maybe." He cringed. "What I'm trying to say here is, uh…"

He never quite got to finish what he was trying to say, seeing as a pair of lips had sealed themselves to his. Not that he minded. Oh god, how he didn't mind. She kissed him with a vigour that left him dazed and grinning by the time she pulled away.

"Coming out here, the picnic- this was all part of your plan?" she wondered. Her eyes were wide, her lips plump and full as they lingered a breath away.

"Uh-huh," he sighed, and sighed again when Mikaela was kissing him again. Her arms came around his neck, her knees bracketing his hips and squeezing tight. A fuzzy kind of pleasure buzzed from the pit of his stomach and spread outwards, making him feel lightheaded and drunk. He felt like the luckiest man on Earth. "T-that's a yes, right?" he stammered.

"Yeah, Sam, that's a yes," Mikaela assured, laughing a little. She was breathless with delight, flushed and dazed in a way that felt entirely too good to be true.

Sam dared his signature half-smile that lit up his eyes. "Even though I couldn't catch you a star?" he joked lightly.

Glancing down at the nearly-forgotten ring nestled in its quaint little box, Mikaela marveled at the reflection of black velvet space and pinpoints diamond-light captured across the ring's silver surface. There were thousands of stars tinkling like magic in there. The smile on her face widened as she snapped the small box closed. Her eyes glittered went next she spoke.

"You didn't just catch a star, Sam. You caught the whole night sky."