When He Comes

AquaSoulSis aka Lady Fangs

It wasn't quite light outside, the sky was streaked a soft purple and the stars were still visible. She rolled over in the bed, yawned and stretched and reached out—to find the space beside her empty, and cold.

She slowly rose and gathered the sheets around her nude body as she made her way out of the room, bare save for only the bed, and down the long hallway, her feet padding softly on the hardwood floors.

Most mornings were like this, and waking up alone wasn't unusual for her. But sometimes, she really wished that he'd just stay in bed with her, so they could watch the sun rise together. But her lover barely slept, and even after more than 10 years together she still hadn't learned to accept that.

But, she wouldn't make a fuss about it. It was a minor detail in their "relationship" and one that she didn't truly mind. It was part of her loving him, and God, he was such a hard man to love.

Off and on—here today, gone tomorrow. That was Barney Ross. At first she didn't understand it—couldn't understand it. His life, his constant disappearances and re-appearances. During that first year they'd fought about it, well, more like held heated discussions. She wasn't one for fits, and he was the type to simply walk away without an answer. Was it another woman? She'd asked, only for him to turn on her sharply, his dark eyes blazing as he'd grabbed her and held her tight.

"Never," he'd whispered then kissed her with such force and passion that it had effectively silenced the argument for good.

In their third year, she'd accidentally found out what it was that he did for a living. And she'd left him because of it.

She wasn't so much frightened of him than she was FOR him. And because she loved him so damned much, she was terrified of losing him. Night time was the worst. It was then that the dreams started and the visions of bullets, and flames, and death took over. More than once, she'd woke up screaming, most nights she woke up crying into a pillow that was a sorry replacement for a man.

He'd stayed away from her for six whole months, and in that time she didn't know whether he was dead or alive. It was her choice. And he'd honored it. Even now, the memory of it still hurt her. The pain in his eyes as she'd yelled at him, screamed at him, beat her fists against his chest, crying tears for him and for herself. She'd sent him away and he'd gone, but not before telling her that even if he died tomorrow, he'd still love her.

Every once in a while, she found herself going by his shop downtown, but she resisted the urge to go in, afraid to see him, yet desperate to know if he was still there. One night, she'd driven by, only to see him standing by the garage door, puffing on a cigar.

Dark glasses drawn over his eyes, thick arms crossed over his chest, dark hair slightly un-kept and finger-combed, hanging on his forehead. Her windows were dark, he'd done the tints himself, but as she drove a little quicker past his shop, she could swear that she'd seen those dark, simmering eyes through his sunglasses, staring directly at her and into her heart.

It was a fitful night. And to top it off, it was storming outside.

She'd tossed and turned in her bed, her body at once hot, and then cold, the blankets and sheets tangled around her feet. Finally, out of frustration, she'd gotten up and gone out into her living room, only to freeze when she reached the door, her heart beginning to race.

"How'd you get in here," she'd whispered when she saw him standing outside her bedroom door.

"Had to see you." He'd replied gruffly, his eyes drinking in her body. She shivered at the intensity of his stare, and started to wrap her arms around herself, but he reached out and stopped her, wrapping his hands around her slender wrists.

"Don't do that," he said, stepping forward and slipping one arm around her waist, pulling her close to his chest, and lowering his head to inhale the scent of her hair. She tensed against him, going rigid as he traced the outline of her body, one hand coming to rest on her hip as the other snaked down her back, calloused hands wrapped around the curve of her ass. A rush of heat pooled deep in her womb, between her legs as she relaxed against him, leaning into his touch despite herself. Her fingers wrapped in the fabric of his shirt, clinging tightly for fear of falling.

"Barney, stop…please…" It wasn't what she meant to say and he knew it, too. "You don't mean that. And I have no intention to do it." His soft lips found hers and she moaned aloud as he kissed her, each touch deepening their embrace. She could feel him pressing urgently against her as her fingers hurriedly tugged at his pants. He abruptly broke the kiss, but didn't give her time to mourn the loss before he picked her up and took them both to bed.

She could feel the heat of his skin as they made love throughout the night and she screamed his name over and over again—each cry accompanied by a searing orgasm that made her legs shake as he spread them wider, and came equally as hard.

And in the morning, when she opened her eyes, she found herself wrapped in his arms, a soft, gentle snoring in her ear. She stirred against him, and he loosened his grip, but didn't wake up. And, in the dim, morning light, she took the time to study him.

Barney Ross was beautiful. With his eyes closed, and his lips slightly parted, his body completely relaxed, he was hers to study. Each shoulder adorned with intricate, brilliantly-colored tattoos. She traced her fingers across his broad chest, still so hard and solid after decades of war, covered in old scars, like a topography map, and there were fresher ones too.

During her perusal of his body, he'd awakened and watched her silently, felt the tips of her fingers, trail across his skin. He'd heard her soft intake of breath as the covers fell away and she'd seen the bruises across his stomach, deep and dark, blue and purple, some black.

It had been worse a few days ago, he was still a bit sore. He stiffened at the touch and his movement drew her face to his.

"Not as bad as it looks," he'd said softly, pulling her close to him once again.

She'd looked up at his face, and then back at the bruises, and then back at him.

"Does it happen all the time?" She said, resting her against his shoulder, one leg snaking its way between his.

"Sometimes things get rough," he said.

The leg moved against his, arousing him. She was quiet for a while, deep in thought, and he didn't want to break her from whatever was on her mind. Finally, when she spoke to him again, her voice was soft, low and resolute, and he'd kissed her forehead in reply.

That had been seven years ago. They'd come to a silent agreement. She was his. And he was hers. Now, in the early morning hours, she tiptoed down the stairs and headed toward the garage, knowing exactly where he'd be. There she found him in nothing but sweatpants, polishing his bike. She stood at the door, arms crossed as she watched him work.

"You're up early," he said, but didn't deviate from the task at hand.

"So are you." She replied, moving from the door and perching on the seat of the bike. "How long are you staying for this time?" she asked, looking down at the ripple of muscles in his back as he worked.

Poetry in motion, she thought.

Finally, he stood up, assessing his work, his eyes going over the curves of the bike and then up to her exposed leg, covered at the thigh by crisp white sheets.

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe a day, maybe a week, maybe a month." He picked her up and she wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her back into the main house. They settled down on the floor in the bare living room, facing the large windows that overlooked the city.

Her fingers played with the dog tags and the cross on the necklace around his neck as she lay her head on his chest, listening to the strong, steady thrum of his heart. She knew, in her heart, that Barney was committed to her, but he could never, really and truly commit to "them". But after all these years together, somehow, they'd managed to make it work.