The sky finally opened and let the first snow of the season fall. First in fat sticky clumps that quickly covered everything in a fluffy blanket of white; as the sun went down the wind picked up a storm blew in. Blizzard and exposure warnings flew across the state and roads became impassable. Evidence of the tumultuous night was lost on the two agents in the warehouse. Only when Claudia tried to go back to the B&B did they become aware of the weather.
After months of excavation, the contents of Warehouse 2 were steadily being shipped to Warehouse 13. Myka and Pete were out in Egypt, being two of the few living people that saw inside, helping the excavators map out the interior. As these ancient artifacts came in, Artie and Claudia were busy cataloging and creating new sections. Artie had little time to sleep let alone consider how to proceed with Claudia; she certainly gave no indication of what she wanted. The day after, she behaved like nothing happened and didn't mention it.
Artie just finished cataloging a crate of artifacts when he heard Claudia walk back in after trying to leave. "This is ready to go out to the floor," he said not looking up.
Instead she walked over to her desk and started using her computer. "Suckity suck suck suck." She stomped her foot as she spoke. "Artie, I can't go home." She whined.
"Pray tell," Artie said disinterested while he carried the crate over to the door.
"We're snowed in," Claudia pointed to the images of the radar on her computer. "And we're going be here for awhile."
"What?" Artie pushed up his gasses and walked over to the computer. It was a mass of blue over an unrecognizable map. "This… What is this? This tells me nothing? How do… Just show me the weather." Flustered he grabbed the mouse and tried to find the forecast.
Claudia watched him struggle for a short bit before rolling her eyes bemused with his effort. "Artie! Artie stop." Taking the mouse away and bumping him aside with her hip; she started pulling up the forecast on the screen. "Geez, this isn't one of your stone tablets you can just bang on to make work. "Volia!"
"Ah." Straightening his glasses and looking at the forecast. "Well, it looks like it's going to blow over by the morning. So you can take that box out and put them on the shelf." He pointed to the box he placed by the door.
"No can do El Grumperino," Claudia patted her messenger bag. "I have homework." She took her laptop and a text book out of her bag. "Big nasty stuff due tomorrow." She said as she headed up the spiral staircase.
"Homework?" Artie's eyes followed her. This was the most time he had spent with her since that night. Watching her now he realized exactly how much he missed her.
"Yep, I enrolled at the beginning of the fall term." She said. "I figure a nice computer science degree will make me eligible for the secret service." Claudia flopped on the couch and started setting up her laptop. After she had logged in she opened the textbook and started reading.
Artie looked at her awhile longer. He loved the way she had started curling her hair. It made it look shorter but it framed her face nicely. The streak of color hadn't changed since that night. She bit her bottom lip while she read. He felt pride in her initiative with more than just a tinge of desire as he thought of how Claudia flicked her tongue across his bottom lip as she tried to coax him into returning the kiss. He let the thoughts linger longer than usual and just as they became unbearable, he turned and picked up the box by the door. With a heavy sigh headed out to the warehouse, thinking about the old adage about idle hands.
For the next three hours Artie kept occupied putting away artifacts; though he had to neutralize Don Juan's boots and the original manuscript of Casanova's La Moluccheide as he was putting away King Minos' condoms, sturdy awful things to stop the scorpions in his semen, because Artie allowed his mind wander. Leaving him covered head to toe in purple goo.
Standing on the catwalk just outside the office conflicted in how to handle the goo and Claudia. On a normal night he would have just undressed on the catwalk and head right to the shower. He looked up to see if she was still on the couch. Sure enough she was typing on her laptop. He debated briefly over which was more important, modesty or stains in the office clean. Resigned he sighed as he kicked off his shoes and socks, they would make the biggest puddles; followed by his sweater, that was still dripping neutralizer; then off went his shirt, while not dripping was completely saturated. Standing naked from the waist up, he looked down at his jeans. They had gotten plenty soaked but weren't dripping. Artie quietly thanked the deities that denim was very absorbent before he headed inside.
Claudia looked up from her laptop and flushed bright crimson. He didn't look at her but watched her from his periphery. Her eyes followed Artie until he came up the stairs but when he caught her eye her head snapped back down to the screen while she turned a darker red. Artie briefly froze at her reaction just before he started babbling.
"Uh… I had some… An incident with some of the…" he pointed toward the warehouse. "Yeah, I'll just…" he headed to a dresser in one of the far corners of the room. "I didn't want… You know how the neutralizer gets when you leave sitting for awhile." One of the drawers was stuck and he hit it, knocking a couple of the items off the top. "It's almost ten… I know I don't want to mop." He pulled out some flannel pajama bottoms and a t-shirt. "I'm just gonna…" He pointed to the bathroom while he side stepped toward it.
"Yeahthanksok." Claudia didn't look up at Artie her face was still as red as her hair. Artie noticed that she was still watching him out of the corner of her eye.
A hot shower and clean clothes restored most of Artie's dignity and he headed out of the bathroom. Picking up a book from off the end table as he walked toward the couch; before he sat down he asked, "May I."
"Oh yeah, sure." Claudia moved over to give Artie more room before she went back to working on her laptop. As he sat down he looked over and saw that she was playing some online game.
"So what are you studying?" he asked looking over his glasses at her with a smile. Claudia smiled return making his breath catch and he felt the familiar pull in his chest. Artie sat down and started reading his book. They sat in silence each caught up in their own thoughts and worlds.
"Are you still angry about what happened?" Claudia broke the silence.
"Huh?" He looked up from his book confused. It took a few moments for it to dawn on him. "Oh, that? No," He said and pushed his glasses up his nose and then as he looked down at his book he muttered, "quite the opposite."
Claudia gave him a Cheshire cat smile. She set her laptop on the floor in front of her. "Good I was worried you were." She moved closer to him. "Warehouse 2 happened so fast and all the work piled up. Then when you didn't bring it up I thought you were mad."
"Well, there are hazards to working in close proximity." Artie said not looking up from his book. "Apology accepted."
"Huh? I'm not…" She scoffed. "There is no apology. I wanted to talk it through and hopefully pick up where we left off. Yeah, you are a few hundred years behind in the technology department but you are exactly what I want. Not some kid who can't keep his hands off me and tries too hard to be witty." She scooted down the couch closer to him as she talked.
"Like I said proximity" Artie said this time looking over the top of his glasses at her. "What we feel… What you feel is a result of working closely together." He kept talking even as he saw Claudia get angry. "We are in here day after day and because of this you look at me, a lot more than most women do, and I you to be fair." He raised a hand to stop her from talking. "Because of this you start to think that I'm not too bad looking; especially after a very bad night with your beau. Nothing dawned on you; it was just a reaction to a very… stressful event." Claudia's eyes narrowed at him. "Let's be honest if Josh hadn't happened and you just saw me on the street, you wouldn't give me second glance. He turned toward her looking Claudia in the eyes, "When it became clear that you would be staying here I hoped, not that I had a right to hope for anything, that you fill some of the… The void… The things I missed by spending my life here." He pushed a stray bit of hair behind her ear, hoping to soften the look on her face then continued. "You mean more to me… You are more than I ever thought I could want, more than I deserve really. I want to think my attraction is proximity; if it is then I can't act on them because it would kill me if I ever hurt you. If this," pointing to both her and him, "isn't real, it's going to cause us both a lot of pain. I can't do that to you. I won't." He stopped suddenly, looking down embarrassed by saying too much. He could feel her smiling; he didn't want to make eye contact with her. If he did it would be over for him. He stopped breathing when she leaned over to him and whispered in his ear.
"I'm a big girl. I can make my own decision." As she leaned back she caught his eye. All the fantasies, all the hopes, all the dreams, and wonder flooded him. He grabbed her by her upper arms and pulled her into a kiss. In his haste it landed more on her bottom lip causing their teeth to scrape together. Claudia groaned as she moved her mouth down to fix the problem. It was what he remembered it was; she tasted like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Part of the stash that Artie had hidden in his desk; she still smelled like warm vanilla sugar. His reality became an extension of her; she surrounded him and filled his very being.
Wrapping his arms around her, Artie was surprised how small she felt. He was worried that he might crush her in the embrace. Claudia ran her fingers up the back of his neck and into his hair, sending shivers down his spine. He continued to explore her body. His tongue ran over her teeth and danced around her tongue. While his hands ran up and down her back feeling the curve of her body. Finally resting them on her hips and focused on kissing her.
"Are you sure?" He asked when he pulled back. Claudia's only answer was to kiss him again climbing in his lap as she did. He griped her hips tightly as she took off her jean jacket and pulled off her shirt. He stared wide eyed as her breasts fell free. Her skin was a creamy white and flawless as his eyes traveled over the curve of her breasts, through the wave of her waist, and down to her hips. As her body reacted to the chill in the office, her nipples grew hard and goose bumps started to form.
"What? Is something wrong with them?" She asked looking down at her chest.
Clearing his throat he shook himself slightly. "No, they are perfect." As far as he was concerned they were. He took her by the neck and kissed her again. Then lead a trail is small kisses down her neck, over her collarbone, and down her sternum. He cupped one breast in each of his hands, kneading them as he went back and forth sucking and licking around the nipple. Claudia as melted in his lap. It had been a long time since Artie had held a woman like this and never one that was as precious to him. His movements were slow and calculated, he worshiped every inch of her. Trying to take in as much into memory as he could, he knew this would be over too soon.
Artie knew he couldn't last much longer teasing her and didn't want to embarrass himself by coming in his pants. He cradled her in his arms and laid her down on the couch. He nibbled down the side of her of her stomach, enjoying the sound of her giggling and how she squirmed as he did, while keeping his hands busy unfastening her jeans. She wrapped her legs around him lifting her hips off the couch so he could slide them and her panties off. Artie let out a low growl when he saw the soft purple cotton panties; tossing them on the floor he looked down at Claudia. Her hair was mussed, eyes half open, and lips red slightly swollen from the intensity of kissing. He lightly ran his fingers up the inside of her thighs, up her stomach, between her breasts, across her shoulders and down her arms and back.
Leaning down he kissed underneath each breast. Tracing the bottom of her ribcage with his tongue; Claudia moaned as he bit the soft flesh on her hips. Kissing his way back up to her mouth he held her tightly, hoping she felt the same way he did. Kissing her more gently now using all the restraint he had left. He kissed her neck and ran his hand down the side of her torso, stopping briefly on her breast kneading it slowly before traveling down farther.
She moaned when he slid his finger across her folds. Parting them a little, he explored the top of her labia and found her clit. Rubbing it lightly and slowly; waiting for her to tell him what to do. She just moaned and squirmed under him. "Please, tell me what you like." He whispered in her ear before laying another trail of kisses across her neck.
"Like I know… God that feels good." Claudia closed her eyes and moved with his hand. Artie took that as a sure sign he was doing the right thing, smiling to himself. As her movements became more spastic he placed himself at her entrance and continued touching her. He was more than ready. Her body started to stiffen and her eyes flew open. Her moans got louder almost yelling his name. When she calmed, she relaxed back into the couch "What just happened?" she panted.
"What's suppose to happen." He replied in more of a smug manner than intended. Inside he thanked whatever Gods smiled on him that he was able to make her feel good.
"Can you do it again?" she gave him a coy smile.
"Do you want me?" He asked in total seriousness. "Do you want this?"
"Yes." Her answer while confident was shy and quiet.
"Ok." Artie continued to rub her clit a lot more gently because of its sensitivity. When she closed her eyes and began to moan again he slowly slid into her.
"Ow!" Claudia yelled.
Artie stopped horrified. He had never done this before. "Are you ok? Do you want me to stop?" he asked his voice almost panicked.
"No, no keep going." She said her eyes closed and her teeth gritted. "It'll go away right?"
"Yeah, I've heard tale." He answered weakly as he continued. Other than his first time, Artie never had sex with a virgin involved. With his job, it wasn't like he had a vast amount of experience to draw from. He was sure that he was much more nervous that she was.
It took awhile to get the moment back and he took it as an indication that it didn't hurt anymore when she started bucking against him. He tried moving in slow long thrusts mostly because he didn't want to hurt her but also it had been quite awhile for him. While he was doing better than he thought he would, he didn't know how much longer he could hold back the pressure; especially with the queen of his dream with him. When Claudia started coming again her back arched off the couch and she tightened around him; he couldn't hold back the pressure anymore. Artie closed his eyes and growled as a several year release left him.
His legs weak he collapsed on top of her, half mindful not to crush her. Only when she started moving and kissing his neck did he drift back into his body. He kissed her gently before sitting back up.
"I'm sorry." He stammered. "It's been awhile… A long…If I were younger it would… Are you ok?" He looked at her. "Did I hurt you too bad?"
Claudia cuddled up next to him laying her head on his lap.
"Can we do that again?" She asked smiling up at him.