A/N: a little different from my usual fare. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: goodness no, I don't own any of it or this would be on TV.
It is late at night when he comes to her.
She goes to bed each night wondering if this will be the time he doesn't push open her door, slowly cross her bedroom floor and join her, twining his body around hers in the dark as though they are two cats who fit perfectly together. She waits for it, expects it, tries to decide how she will react if he doesn't: whether or not her already cracked and bleeding heart can stand the strain.
He always comes to her.
It has been two months and four days since they faked his death. Two months and three days that he has been living with her, struggling to find the key to clearing his name while not putting those he cares about at risk. To her surprise that included her. She had believed him when he said she counted. She hadn't known how much.
It has been three weeks since he first came to her.
She wasn't surprised he'd snapped, in a way: he was a human being no matter what the world thought. A human being whose controlled, content way of life had been ripped from him. It had left him broken, sad and standing on the edge of an emotional precipice. And she was the only one who could pull him back.
It had happened that day after he'd gone out in a disguise again. He'd seen John again. At his grave. One too many times hit and glass will shatter. He'd shattered that day. She'd offered him comfort which he angrily rejected, and said things that had left her in tears. She'd taken refuge in her bedroom, loving and hating him in equal measure.
That night, he had come to her.
He hadn't spoken a word: just got in bed beside her and curled around her. She'd turned into his arms and trailed her fingertips along the burning tears that slid down his face like summer rain. She'd wiped them away and then, reckless, terrified, she'd kissed his face. A dozen gentle, loving kisses lighter than air. He had lain beside her, quiet, accepting: and when she'd kissed his mouth he had only sighed, lips parting beneath hers with a soft moan that was part surrender, part release.
She didn't take it any further: didn't want to push him while he was so vulnerable. But when the kiss had ended he had cuddled against her, breathing steady and quiet, and she knew after a time that he'd fallen asleep. She slept too, a dangerous combination of sorrow and elation engaging in a vicious tug-of-war in her head.
He was gone in the morning when she'd awoke, and during the day they'd both played the game of the elephant in the living room. He'd seemed a bit better, and she was glad. Glad she'd helped him, even though it had cut out another fragment of her heart.
The next night, he came back to her.
It was the same thing as the night before, except this time he hadn't been crying. The holding, the kissing, the way he seemed to melt into her arms and mouth as though grateful and desperate for whatever release it afforded him. Curling around her tightly, possessively, both of them falling asleep easily and peacefully. Him being gone in the morning. Surely, she told herself, it wasn't a habit now: a routine that they would share, however bizarre and comforting it was.
It wasn't the first time she'd been wrong. It wouldn't be the last.
She wasn't entirely sure who it was for: him? Her? Likely both, she'd decided. Loving arms were a safe warm place to be, and those were two things he seemed to desperately need. For her part, just being able to hold him and kiss him was its own little dream come true. She knew the circumstances were horrible but she couldn't stop herself from wanting him. It was as though she'd made the wish on a monkey's paw instead of a genie's lamp and they were both suffering the consequences.
So this night, like every other, she waits for him, and he comes.
The same as always: their bodies pressed tight together, shutting the rest of the world out of their co-dependent safehaven. The kisses, the sighs, the smoothing of hair and the caress of cheeks. His eyes are glittering in the dark, haunted by his sacrifices and struggles, but he is more at peace with her. She knows she shouldn't just take what she can get from him, that it likely doesn't mean the same thing to him as it does to her, but she can't stop. He is her heroin and she is his cocaine, and they will continue to shoot up with the drug of each other for as long as they can.
Tonight for the first time she whispers words to him, knowing he won't echo them, can't echo them. But he whispers other words to her: different words that have just as much meaning to her. And in the dark she smiles, because now she knows that he won't leave her: he is as helpless to leave her as she is him. They own each other now, in all its dark and twisted glory. No matter how long it takes to prove his innocence or for him to kiss more than her lips, she no longer has to be afraid of losing him.
She twines her fingers in his, holding their hands up in the sliver of silver moonlight that shines through the bedroom window. And as he presses a tentative kiss to the nape of her neck, she can almost imagine that she sees wedding bands on their fingers: shimmering circles of inevitability, perfect rings of scars.