A/N: Little one-shot written originally for the Christmas T4T fundraiser.
When I Think of You, I Touch My E*L*F
This is an incredibly lumpy sofa.
That's probably what he thinks about my ass. If he thinks about my ass at all.
Still…I think of the person in the next room…I want to be happy, to be grateful, to be this close.
Even if it means nothing to him.
Even if it means nothing.
If I mean nothing.
His silhouette breaks the doorway. A part of me feels a glimmer that he'll ask something akin to "Are you sure about sleeping out here?" and tilt his head back in invitation toward the open doorway. Back toward his room.
Instead, I hear him cough softly as if to clear his throat. "I've got another blanket." He pauses. His shadowed hand picks at the door frame. "In my dresser."
My little glimmer tucks herself into a ball. "I'll be okay." Try to sound casual. Smooth the bedding out on the sofa. "Thanks, though."
We've already done the who-sleeps-where verbal dance. He offered to take the sofa. I didn't want to take his own bed from him.
I've failed spectacularly at not letting myself hope he'd offer to share.
As I tuck the sheet under the cushions, I notice him bend to unplug the tiny tree we just hung the last blub on barely an hour ago.
"Oh," I say, my voice cracking for some reason I don't want to analyze. "Please…please leave it."
He looks at me, then the glow of the 75 or so white bulbs. He shrugs and leaves it on.
Hopefully, he thinks it's just my untamed Christmas spirit. I don't feel like explaining that I'm scared of the dark. Not to a guy who loves Walking Dead and movies that just the trailers for which keep me up at night, clutching the covers under my chin.
He looks back at me. I fight my eyes not to follow the slope of his sides. "I can get the blanket now. Just in case you need it."
"I'll be okay." I repeat. I haven't even convinced myself yet. Drop the pillow in place. "If I get cold, maybe I'll knock on your door."
It's a comment I haven't thought about and I don't where it came from. I want to say it was a joke…not to acknowledge I was testing the waters.
Behind me, I hear him pad into the kitchen. "Um…" his voice trails off in an unspoken question.
I scramble to save face. "Jus- just for body heat. Not to snuggle or anything." I force a short laugh.
Yes, yes. Yes, it's all so fucking funny.
"I barely do that with my girlfriend."
Ack. My spine goes straight. Ex-girlfriend. Ex. Ex. Ex.
No chance at all – not that I had much of one anyway – if he still slips into referring to her in the present tense.
I'm still in panic mode from my slip into revealing how much I…
"Just for body heat." Fuck, did I already say that? "Like to prevent frostbite. Like to not lose toes. Plane crash in the Andes. That sort of thing. Not to cuddle." My God. Shut up. Shutupshutupshutup. Plane crash in the Andes? Really? That's harkening up some sexy imagery there, huh?
Hey man, how did you first realize you loved her?
When I was starving and got her confused with a savory pot roast.
"Just kidding," I add a bit too quickly.
He's back at his door. Pauses. Looks back. Smiles. Smiles that smile that I can't decipher; it's impossible to tell if he thinks I'm funny or pathetic or insane. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight," I say, pulling the corner of the blanket up and slipping under. Under the blanket. Further under his spell.
Between his door and the floor, the air is pitch black.
Maybe his smile meant it's a unique situation for him to go sleep with a woman so close and not be tempted to be intimate.
Not sure what time it is. Or how long I've been asleep. Or how long it took me to fall asleep rather than replay the past days' events again and again.
The text. Out of the blue. Hey, can I call you?
My heart racing. Pacing and planning for upwards of 4 minutes the perfectly, deliberately casual response: Sure.
Please, can you do something for me? Look that over. Organize that. Maybe it's wrong, he said, but I do things on my own.
But, he asked me for help. Me.
Not that beautiful girl he has all the pictures with. The one with the glowy, flowy ebony hair. Or anyone he's known for years. Or a coworker.
Me. That girl he met one weekend a little while ago by chance.
That unthreatening, physically unremarkable girl that made him laugh and he said he had a great time hanging out with.
Then faded away.
Until he had a crisis and needed files sorted and letters written and a budget overhaul and some sort of plan or hope or whatever to keeps his upstart landscaping business alive.
You're creative and smart and funny…and you just…you just get it.
It. Yeah, I get it.
I don't get him.
Now, hopefully not looking too much like an overeager puppy, I'm at his apartment. I'm still trying to let that sink in.
An afternoon of cutting expenses became an evening of rebranding his business image. That turned into a night of dragging him out to get a tree for his barren apartment and the very finest ornaments the 99 cent store had to offer.
Then, the quiet invitation of "You might as well to just sleep over." It's late. And cold. And Christmas.
As quietly as possible, I tiptoe to the bathroom. Turn the knob. Close the door silently. Not even a click. Realize I was holding my breath.
Every brush of my feet is like thunder. And now, after my successful endeavor to reach the bathroom undetected, just how do I plan on peeing without him hearing me?
Oh, grow up. It's basic human function. It's no big deal. It's nothing to be embarrassed about.
I turn the faucet on full blast. Congratulations, I am a genius.
Afterward, I open the door and walk full-on into rock hard abs.
"You okay?" His voice is gravelly, confused. "Did you run a bath?"
Congratulations, I am a goober.
"I'm fine," I say, and duck around his body, trying not to inhale too much of his warm, sleepy scent.
"Didn't mean to disturb you," I splutter. I can't get under my covers fast enough.
He's quiet, motionless for a moment as I clamber onto the sofa. Then, he sounds almost apologetic. "I…I guess I didn't realize what a light sleeper I've become." He turns away. "Goodnight…again."
I watch the traffic lights play across the walls while they battle with the tree lights for too long.
I am asleep.
It is not something of which I am often aware, but this dream has that weird level of self-awareness.
It's still night, the tree is still lit, but the house is dressed to the nines. I walk toward his room. Garland over the doorways. Candles on the bar. Greenery adorns his headboard.
The lights from the tree barely stretch to his bed, barely show the shadowy sheets flutter and rise with his breaths. Barely light the contours of his face.
He's right in the middle, where I'd imagined him to be. Walking to him, my hand hovers above his form. I trace his frame, note the tug of his warmth.
Suddenly, his hand encircles my wrist and I tumble across him.
I wish I could actually feel the scorch of his skin against my own.
His hand presses against my lower back, pulls me to him. Heat. And hard. And desire. And too good to be true…
…so I grab this little glimpse of REM heaven and stare and study and stake my claim. My thumbs learn the lines of his face. My chest mirrors his rise and fall. My legs entwine with his.
In darkness, my eyes see what I want to see in daylight: Love behind his eyes.
Warm. Mine. His. Real. Or, as real as I can get.
He can't be gasping, simply can't, because this is a realistic dream – I insist, I insist – and my tongue is somewhere around his third molar.
Again. But different. Low. Lower.
Shit. The spell breaks.
And double shit. There is someone perched upon the coffee table.
And it ain't an elf.
Instinct tells me that it is not strictly acceptable behavior to crouch near a sleeping person and observe them unawares. I want to balk, but I start to sit up and it's far more awkward that I expect, like extra weights on my limbs, and that's when I get a lovely Christmas surprise: My hands are up my shirt and down my pants and that it's entirely possible to not feel oneself stop mid nipple pull.
Huh, I didn't even know I was into that.
Cough. "Is it," he begins. Might adjust. "I mean, are you trying to keep me up all night?"
It's an attempt to defuse. I smile in spite of myself. "So it would seem. Sorry."
His hands run through his bed head. "Well, I better head back. Won't due to have dark circles under my eyes." A short laugh. "People say they're my best feature."
"They're wrong." More words I don't plan slip out, probably because of the focus I'm presently putting into finding a graceful way to quit groping myself.
His head tilts.
Unthinking, I lean forward, press my lips to his chest, just to the right of center.
My eyes go wide. Oh God, it's like I've developed motor function Tourettes.
"Your heart," I stammer. Push myself back into the sofa, away from him. "Your heart is your best feature."
His hands go on either side of me. Slowly. One. Then the other. His face aligns with mine, then passes, then his mouth is at my ear, his breath along my skin.
"You would know." Lips press to my neck. "You're the one I gave it to."