Chapter Thirty-Three: Love all through our bodies
It had been Matt's idea to have Karen and Arthur over for dinner tonight – though he claimed Karen had been pestering him endlessly about visiting, saying she wanted to see what Matt's place looked like when there were two children living there instead of just one. At that, Alex had laughed herself silly and Matt had sulked for an hour.
It's been a rather nice evening, though, all things considered. Matt had helped her cook, Salome had set the table and when Karen and Arthur arrived, they'd had a lovely dinner with red wine for them and a fizzy drink for Salome. It had been just like a lunch break on set except the food was better. They'd talked and laughed, Arthur had made a joke about Matt's chin, Matt had retaliated with a comment about his nose, and Karen had pretended to gag whenever Matt kissed Alex in front of her. It was all so comfortable and so easy. She never thought she would have this – especially with Matt.
At the moment, Matt, Karen and Salome have retired to the living room to play some sort of cryptic game with cards that Alex doesn't understand. She thinks Matt and Karen just make up the rules as they go along. Arthur is perusing their CD collection like the nosy thing he is, nodding with approval sometimes and snorting with derision at others. Alex wants to tell him that those Glee soundtracks aren't hers but she's pretty sure he wouldn't believe her anyway.
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me!"
At the cries of protest from Karen and Salome, Alex leaves the biscuits baking in the oven and pokes her head out from the kitchen to see them holding their cards and glaring at Matt. They're all sitting in the floor around the coffee table, cards and drinks spread out in front of them.
"Am not!" Matt looks entirely too pleased with himself, grinning at them.
"You have to be," Karen insists. "There's no way you can win five times in a row!"
Matt laughs. "I can't help it I'm lucky."
"You're a clumsy disaster with limbs," Karen says. "You are not winning with luck, stupid face!"
"Oi! Uncalled for!"
As they continue to row, Salome huffs and tosses her cards onto the table, though she can't seem to keep a smile from twitching at the corners of her mouth. It seems staying angry with Matt is difficult for her too. Alex knows the feeling.
Spotting her lurking in the entryway to the living room, Matt's eyes light up and he jumps to his feet. "Alex, they're persecuting me for being a winner."
She laughs as he wraps his arms around her waist and nuzzles his face into her hair. "Poor baby," she says, cupping her hand around the back of his neck.
Karen and Salome make identical faces of distaste but Alex doesn't have time to respond before Matt is lifting her off her feet. She shrieks, laughing through her protests as he carries her by the waist over to the sofa and sits down with her, pulling her into his lap.
Pulling away to shove at his chest, she says, "You great idiot, couldn't you just ask me to sit down?"
He grins at her. "Ah, but what fun would that have been?"
"Mom," Salome whines, and Alex turns from Matt's pleased face to look at her. "Make him stop winning."
She shakes her head, smiling. "I can't, love. Why don't you play a different game?"
"I know!" Karen scrambles to her feet and makes her way over to the board games stacked in the corner of the room. Alex still hasn't managed to find a place for them. She needs to rearrange things in the hall closet and make space but she hasn't yet deemed it important enough to spend time on. Bending long legs at the knee, Karen kneels and angles her head awkwardly to read the titles. "Ah ha! This one!"
When Karen pulls the game out from the bottom of the stack and holds it up to the light, Alex laughs, Salome squeals in delight and Matt and Arthur groan in unison. "No," Matt protests. "Pretty Pretty Princess? That's a girl's game!"
Holding a Yeah Yeah Yeah's CD and perusing the song titles, Arthur says without looking up, "We're completely at a disadvantage here. I say unfair."
"And I agree," Matt says, holding up his hand. "Here here."
Alex nudges him and he winces. "Are you scared to play a little girl's game, Mr. Smith?"
"Scared I'll whip him," Salome says, smiling.
Matt points a finger at her, squinting. "Alright, poppet. You just wait. I'll beat you at any game you throw at me."
"Honestly," Alex says, rolling her eyes. "Is this what your life is now? Challenging little girls to board games?"
Matt frowns, looking disturbed. "Apparently."
Arthur joins them around the coffee table and helps Karen and Salome set up the game. Once everything is ready, the three of them force Matt and Alex apart because they can't play if they're too busy snogging. Salome seems to like the backup when it comes to limiting their public displays of affection.
By the middle of the game, Arthur is losing miserably and Matt and Salome are competing fiercely to get the crown. At this point in the game, no one but those two seem to care about winning. Arthur is organizing the jewelry by color and Karen is watching Matt and Salome bicker good-naturedly with her chin resting on her open palm.
When Alex spins and lands on a ring, she reaches for the jewelry box but Matt stops her with a hand on her arm. "Allow me, my lady," he says, with a wink and an over-the-top, gallant smile.
Alex rolls her eyes at him but says, "Very well, good sir."
At the moment, he's wearing three multi-colored necklaces and bracelets, with a plastic ring on each pinky. Alex wants to pull out her lipstick and put it on him, just to complete the look. She wonders if he'd let her, if she gave him another glass of wine. While she's contemplating it, Matt selects a pink ring from the box. He takes her hand and slides the ring onto her ring finger. It's too small to go past her knuckle but at the moment, she can't say she cares. Matt looks up and when his eyes meet hers, her breath catches in her throat. Suddenly, it isn't just a silly little game anymore and with the way he's looking at her, he seems to know it too.
It doesn't even feel odd. It just feels right. Everything about their life together feels right and Alex can't quite believe that they've made it work. It's all so very domestic with them and she didn't ever think it would be something Matt wanted, having a life stable enough to raise a child with her but he's taken to it like a duck to water. She's never been more grateful for him than when she sees him with her daughter, or when his arm slips around her in the night.
She hadn't been sure that living with Matt would work out very well in the end but it's better than she could have hoped for. He compromises with Salome when it comes to the television, he helps her with her homework, and he gets her to take a shower when Alex is too tired to argue with her. He's there when Alex wakes up in the morning, usually smiling at her from his pillow. He holds her hand in the street and in the car, he kisses her for no reason other than because he wants to, he helps her with dinner and distracts her from washing the dishes with open-mouthed kisses to the back of her neck and uncoordinated waltzing around the kitchen table. Matt has become everything to her and her daughter, and staring into his smiling eyes right then, Alex knows she wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life this way.
Across the table, Arthur clears his throat pointedly and the spell is broken. Matt blinks, smiling widely at her and dropping a kiss to her hand. They turn back to the game as if nothing has happened, ignoring Karen's smirking face.
In another ten minutes, Matt has won the game, princess crown atop his head as he takes a bite of one of Alex's biscuits and gloats like a child.
"You really should not be so happy about being the prettiest princess," Alex says, watching him adjust his crown and preen.
"Really, mate," Arthur says with a frown. "It's unmanly."
Matt looks offended. "Oi, crowns are cool now!"
Laughing, Alex watches as Salome leans back on the floor and giggles at him, covering her face with her hand. She had thought her daughter would be miffed about losing but apparently seeing Matt in a princess crown is a win all its own.
"Alright," Arthur says, standing up and stretching. "I feel decidedly emasculated. You got a football about this place?"
Snorting, Karen says, "You're just pouting because you wanted to be a princess too, aren't you?" She pats him on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Darvill. You're a pretty princess on the inside."
Arthur glares at her. "I'm going to find a football and kick you in the face with it."
They continue to bicker as they all head outside to play football under the night sky and Alex shakes her head, watching them go. "Football's in the garage," she tells Matt, feeling him snake an arm around her waist from behind.
She nods, turning around to face him and bursting into laughter when she sees he's still wearing all his jewelry – crown included. "You daft man. You can't play football in that."
"I know," he says, taking off the crown to inspect it admiringly. "I like it, though. I can see why you like being the princess when we -"
"Sshh," Alex covers his mouth with a laugh, glancing over her shoulder at Salome, still fiddling with the board game. Leaning close, she brushes her lips against his jaw, smiling when he shivers against her. "Go play football and if you're very very good, I might let you be the princess tonight."
"Deal," Matt growls, leaning in to kiss her.
Before Alex can even get her arms around him to respond, he's letting go of her with a wink and striding across the room to Salome. He picks her up and swings her onto his back, laughing when she shrieks and giggles with protests.
"Matty, put me down!"
"Can't," he says, heading out the door with her. "I need you to be on my team, poppet."
Shaking her head in amusement, Alex turns to put Matt's crown back in the box. She'll wrestle all of the other jewelry off of him later tonight – should be interesting. With a broad grin, Alex heads outside to join her ridiculous little family on the lawn.
When Matt and Salome make it to the back yard, Karen and Arthur are already kicking the football around – how they managed to find it so quickly is beyond him. Karen is making a fool of herself as she tries to bounce it off her foot and nearly tripping herself in the process. He smiles at her clumsiness, bouncing Salome against his back. The young girl squeals loudly, tightening her grip around his neck.
"Up for a round, sweetheart?" He asks her, turning his head to smile at her adorably flushed cheeks.
Salome looks at him seriously for a moment. He always hates it when she does that. He never knows what to expect from her when she gets that face on. She tilts her head and asks, "Are you going to marry my mom, Matty?"
Matt stops short of the grass, staring at Salome with wide-eyes. He can feel his heart skip every other beat and the blood race through his veins with adrenaline. Marry Alex?
He can't say he understands what happens next because his mind is still reeling from Salome's out-of-the-blue question, but the next thing he knows, the ball has landed square in his midsection, causing him to bend forward. Salome falls from his back and onto the grass with a shriek and the force it has him tumbling to the ground next to her.
"Oh my god, are you okay! I'm so sorry!" Karen screeches, rushing towards them. Mouth full of grass and body bent at an odd angle, Matt glances over to Salome, who is staring out at the sky above her with a befuddled expression. She slowly meets his eyes and they share a look of, 'what just happened?'
Ginger hair suddenly clouds his vision and he turns his head, rolling over onto his back and seeing Karen leaning over him, a concerned look on her face. He begins to chuckle and Salome joins him, their giggles quickly turning into full on bellied laughter.
Karen rolls her eyes, saying something to Arthur that he can't really hear over the sound his and Salome's combined laughter.
He's silently thankful for the painful blow to the stomach and the lack of air in his lungs, though.
What kind of question was that?
Shaking his head, he moves to stand and help the young girl to her feet. This time, actually paying attention to what's happening, they join in on the game. He doesn't answer her question and she doesn't bring it up again.
Though he has a feeling she might later, if she really wants an answer.
Matt throws himself into the game, pushing Arthur around and chuckling with him when they both stumble and Karen manages to get the ball from them. Salome does very well, for being new at it. She even ducks between his legs once, which surprises him when they don't even fall from the force of it.
It feels invigorating, goofing around with his good friends. They haven't really seen much of each other lately, and he's so very glad he had suggested this. He kicks the ball towards Salome, and turns to face the house. He sees Alex standing in the doorway, and he can make out the smile that graces her face.
"Are you going to marry my mom, Matty?"
A shiver lances down his spine, and he returns her smile with hesitation. Did Salome expect them to get married? Did he want to get married?
"Oi! Pay attention, airhead!" Karen shouts. Matt glances back to her, but she's already distracted again with trying to get the ball from Arthur, who's currently kicking the ball back and forth between his feet.
"Just go on without me," he tells them, before moving quickly towards Alex. She quirks a brow at him when he's close enough, but he just shrugs before kissing her. She responds immediately (god, he loves that), wrapping her arms around his waist and pulling him closer. He's glad Salome is busy, because he really doesn't want to stop.
He slides his hands into her hair, as always marveling at the softness of her curls. She didn't use any hair products today, and his fingers filter through easily. A small moan escapes her throat and vibrates across his tongue, causing his skin to tighten.
When they pull away, she's smiling so brightly at him and his heart clenches at the sight.
"What was that for?" She asks, biting her lip. Her fingers play with the back of his shirt, the soft pads of her fingertips slipping underneath occasionally.
"Just because I love you," he shrugs, opting for the simple version.
'Just because you're amazing and you cause me to want to do crazy things for you. Just because I want to make sure you're still here with me, because I don't want to wake up in the next five minutes and figure out the past couple months have been a dream. Just because you mean the world to me and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.'
And he does, doesn't he? He wants to spend the rest of his life with this woman, just doing whatever to make her happy and keep her that way.
"Aren't you a big softy?" Alex laughs, kissing him again, just a press of their lips together. His eyes flutter shut, and he nuzzles her nose with his.
This is where he belongs, he knows. In her arms, in her life.
"I didn't think I needed a reason to kiss you," he murmurs against her lips, eyes opening to focus on hers again.
"Of course you don't, silly. It was just unexpected is all."
"I hope to take you off guard more often then, if it incites that smile," he says with a wink.
"I bet you will," Alex replies, a little breathlessly.
He thinks back to Salome's question – innocent enough for a ten-year-old, heavy enough to cause his heart to race at the thought of it. The thought of marrying Alex Kingston is not as highly scary as he is expecting it to be, though. As it should be. With his track record – the length of his record isn't what he's concerned about, but the content is – it should be entirely frightening.
But this is Alex.
Everything seems so much better with her. Even having his face personally meet the hard wood of a door, for example. Everything is just so much brighter. He has to admit he's become somewhat of a sap when it comes to her. Just standing here with her is enough to send his heart into a tailspin.
Especially with that little smile she's got, and that cocked hip, or the way her hair glows because of the light filtering out of the house they share. It all feels right.
And marrying her? Oh, that sounds perfect. Seeing a ring on her finger, every morning, and knowing she's his and he's hers in every sense of the word is honestly the best thought that has ever crossed his mind. Making her happy is his mission in life now, and he doesn't see that changing at all.
He wants to forever be there for her, for Salome. He's going to marry this woman someday.
He knows that right now they're taking it day by day, and he'd probably scare her away (again) if he did it anytime soon. But he thinks, one day, he will. He will take the time and pick out the right ring, probably with Salome's help. He'll book reservations at her favorite restaurant, for the three of them, and tell her it's "just because."
Just because everything.
And in that moment between the main course and dessert he will get down on one knee and hope for the best.
He doesn't imagine she'd give him any less. She never could. He likes to think he makes her as happy as she makes him, and if that idea is anything to go by, he isn't too afraid of getting a 'no' in return.
Coming back to himself, Matt kisses her again, cupping her face in his hands as he dominates her mouth. He puts everything into this kiss, and it leaves her breathless and staring at him with wide, slightly aroused, eyes.
"Oh, I will. Definitely," he finally agrees, offering her a giant smile. The sound of Karen, Arthur and Salome fighting over the ball reaches his ears, but his eyes never leave Alex's. Those green eyes that could burn a hole in his chest and heal it again, just like new. Without thinking, he says, "It's just you, you know that, right? It's always going to be you. You're my everything and this? This is perfect."
She bites her lip again, and he watches as her eyes rim red. That look used to bring him to his knees in effort to fix whatever wrong was bothering her. But now, right now, he knows this is a happy kind of tearing up. This is a, 'Oh my, could this get any better?' moment and she's right there with him.
"It's just you," she murmurs back.
They share a smile and he is overwhelmed, blown away, thrilled, because he is definitely marrying this woman and making them a proper family. Together, they're going to grow old and watch Salome grow up into a beautiful, successful woman. She's going to help him through all those mid-life crisis problems men tend to have and he's going to dash all her fears when she thinks she's not good enough.
Together, they could conquer the world.
But he's content with a simple life, though simplicity with Alex Kingston at his side is highly unlikely.
He wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N – Omg, you guys. IT'S OVER. I am actually a little sad. You guys have been amazing and so so wonderful. Britney and I adore you all so much. Thank you for sticking with us and actually reading this story because I really wasn't sure anyone would want to. I just wish we could hug you all personally because you're fantastic. Okay, I wrote from Alex's point of view for this chapter and Britney wrote for Matt's. Chapter title comes from Noah and the Whale's Five Years Time.
Now, be on the lookout for oneshots and such that will take place in the It's Just You 'verse. We've got a few fics to post that take place after this one:)
Iara –Thank you so much honey! Glad you liked all the fluff!