DISCLAIMER: I own nothing.

A/N: Personally, I rate this at a high T for its adult content, but it's possible YMMV. Please be aware of this vague content warning before you start reading!


Bittersweet

by Joodiff


Barefoot, I wander back into the bedroom, and as my gaze falls on you I naïvely wonder, just for a moment, if you have any idea just how beautiful you are, sleepy and smiling in the summer sun. And such a thought most definitely is naïve of me; your ego is extraordinarily robust and you're certainly well-aware that women are ridiculously attracted to you. That I am ridiculously attracted to you. The only thing that helps defend me from my own folly is the touch of wry self-deprecation I seem to provoke in you. I really don't think you realise just how vulnerable I could actually be to you – and I am incredibly grateful for that. The weaknesses you do find in me you exploit mercilessly, sometimes with ruthless charm, sometimes with impatient intimidation. The former is so much more dangerous and effective than the latter, but – thank God – you don't seem to realise that, either.

Indolently stretched out as you are in the morning sunshine, I can't help smiling at how leonine you appear. The passing thought comes with very sharp claws – we both know I am by no means the only lioness in your pride. I can't – won't – think about that now. Our elegant and unspoken… arrangement… relies too much on all the words that get left unsaid and all the thoughts that remain unfinished. I know it won't be long now before the restlessness takes hold of you again; won't be long before the night comes when there's only cool empty space next to me in the rumpled bed where you're currently lounging.

Your smile fades, and I realise too much must be showing on my face. I feel stupidly guilty; I have no interest in punishing you for simply being who and what you are.

"Come back to bed," you say, your voice a soft, deep growl. Maybe you understand us better than I think you do. While you are mine, you will give me everything. You'd bodily tear the stars from the midnight sky for me if I asked you to, and perhaps that's why it always hurts so much when the inevitable moment comes that I'm alone again. Knowing you'll be back eventually – and that I will unthinkingly welcome your return – is the bitterest, sweetest pain imaginable.

One day you might love me as much as I love you. In fact, maybe you already do, in your own unique, idiosyncratic way.

I join you on the bed because I am weak and foolish. Your skin is tawny in the sunlight; warm and impossibly smooth. You smell of you, and of me; of us. Gentle morning musk, not at all unpleasant. I kiss the centre of your chest where the skin lies tight over bone, and I feel your arms automatically encircle me. Your strength is natural, artless; male. I like it. I want to rest my head on your ribcage and listen to your heart. So I do. The strong, steady beat is reassuring. It makes promises to me that I believe implicitly. You will come back. You always do, eventually.

You kiss the top of my head, nuzzle into my hair, and it breaks my heart. You are so gentle, so affectionate. And soon you'll be gone. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but very soon.

"Peter," I whisper, just to hear your name. To make this tender moment real enough to live in my memory until it is our time again.

I feel the lazy response vibrate through your chest. "Mm…?"

For now, you will give me absolutely anything. It hurts. I kiss your chest again. "Nothing."

Your hands are wandering slowly and softly, slipping under my robe, and I want to cry. I am not weak, I am not foolish, but you always effortlessly manage to make me both. I dance to your tune like a puppet, and I love and hate you for it. You turn my life upside down every single time you walk in and then out again, and still I stubbornly refuse to believe that you are a cruel and worthless man.

You kiss my neck, and I wonder how long it will be before you bite. Your hands are on my back now, warm against my skin. I want you. It's a tragedy, all of it. And a blessing. I love you. I hate you. I need you. Your distinctive scent will stay with me longer than you do. You will smile at me even though you are no longer mine, and I will scratch and bite and spit at you because I will continue to want you in every single one of all the empty hours while you're gone; while you're doing God knows what with God knows who. It frightens me a little that one day perhaps you won't come back, that perhaps one day you'll stumble across someone who will cradle your great wounded heart even more tenderly than I do.

I feel your teeth at last, but you are oh-so-gentle and the tears that start to sting in my eyes aren't born from any physical pain. I blink them away quickly. You would stay if you knew how much your leaving always hurts me, but your unhappiness would wither me a little more with every passing day. The way to have you is not to hold you. I must have the patience you lack. I wish you were cruel. If you were cruel, I could leave your shadow behind me; could forget the dark velvet of your voice and the tempting heat of your skin.

Your eyes are full of sunshine. Deep, dark and warm, flecked with green and gold. I search for your lips with mine, and you are so, so willing to be found. I kiss you, you kiss me. Slow and soft and intimate, a true lovers' kiss. We are so good together, you and I – and still you won't stay. You are too capricious, my love. Far, far too capricious. I should despise you as much as I always end up despising myself. I don't. I love the bones of you. Always have and I think I always will.

Sometimes I don't like you very much. Sometimes I don't like me very much.

I can feel you now, hard as iron against my stomach. Why don't you ache for me the way I ache for you when we are apart? Why aren't you as lost without me as I am without you, Peter?

I find your throat with my lips. There is stubble here, harsh beneath the soft, clear edge of your beard. I like its rough burn against my sensitive skin. The hollow beneath your Adam's apple is deep and delicate. I flick my tongue against it and you growl, the sound enough to send a shiver down my spine. I go lower, kissing my way to my target. Your nipples harden, one under my lips, the other under my fingertips. I can feel the deep throb of you against my belly. So hard. So hungry.

You will come back. There will be a moment when you're alone, and then you will remember what I feel like, what I smell like, what I taste like. All of this and so much more will bring you back, a sheepish, gentle smile on your face.

I keep heading lower. Your hands are on my shoulders now, your fingers squeezing gently, pressing a silent message into my flesh. This is us, your fingers tell me. This is what we are. This is what we will always be.

My lips are on your stomach now, and beneath the softness the muscle is tensed hard. Anticipation. Desire. Your need for me. For me. Somehow I do own the heart of you, and your fingertips tell me that, too. You are weak, not me. You are fickle and reckless, and I am strong; strong enough to endure your weakness. To indulge it.

You quiver, strung with tension. Your fingers are running rhythmically through my hair now, possessive and yet oddly soothing. We know this road, have travelled it on and off for so long. No surprises. Just heartbeats and murmurs and the sun streaming through the window on a fine Sunday morning.

You twist, surprising me. I can't compete with your strength, don't even bother to try. Now I'm looking up at you, and there's something in your eyes that tells me there are a hundred and one things you would say to me if you could. My beautiful, wounded man. So full of fire and anger, so impudent, restless and haunted. So strong, too. Strong enough to withstand your own weakness. I see death and love and hurt in your eyes, and all those tumbling, desperate words that you can't bring yourself to say.

I kiss you again; kiss you deeply to steal the pain away, and for a moment you relax and let me share the weight of everything that bears down on you so oppressively. I would willingly fight your demons if you would let me, but I know you never will. You are too proud for that. Too stubborn, too independent.

Too afraid.

Whose bed will you find yourself in next week, next month, next year, my love? They come and they go, all the beautiful aloof women whose names I rarely ever hear spoken. One or two of them will mean more to you than they believe; perhaps one or two of them will even break your heart a little. Maybe it will be my door you come to when they do; maybe, maybe not. I run my fingers down your cheekbone, and you give me a tiny, uncertain smile in response. I think you know something of the damage you cause, and I think you do regret it, just a little.

"So solemn," you say softly, and you brush my forehead with your lips.

Why are you so tender as everything around us burns to ashes? I hate you for it. I love you for it.

I find the sensitive nape of your neck with my fingertips. I can't slay your demons, Peter, but I can make you purr. And I do.

You are still hard. Hot and hard. There is resignation in both of us. We know. Of course we know. Another few minutes, another few hours, another few days, possibly. That's all we have. Until the next time.

Mornings are boisterous. Mornings are for fucking. Love-making belongs to the sweet shadows of the night, not to the hard brightness of daylight. That's how it's always been for us. I am still waiting for the tidal surge that will overtake you, for the moment when you become gleeful and lecherous and single-minded. The moment when you will simply take me and I will adore you for it.

I am surprised when you kiss me gently. This is not how you are when the sun is on your back and the devil is on your shoulder. I am more surprised when you kiss my throat, my chest, my breasts; when instead of hunting and invading your hands roam and stroke and explore tenderly. This is the paradox of you. I let you whisper in my ear, and I let you love me. Because I am weak; because I am strong.

"Now," I say to you.

You tilt your head to one side and I wish you wouldn't; it's far too disarming. Your expression is quizzical. You are wondering why I'm unusually precipitous. You're good at what you do, you know you are. You know you can reduce me to nothing more than sighs and shivers long, long before you're ready to finish it for both of us. Today it would be too exquisitely painful to let you show me what you cannot tell me.

You will be gone soon. So don't make love to me, Peter. Fuck me instead. It's what I want. What I need to give me the strength to turn my back on you when I have to.

Who will it be, my love? Who will be lying in your arms so very, very soon?

Not me.

Do you care how dysfunctional you are? How dysfunctional we are?

You are still regarding me inquiringly. I don't know what thoughts are going through your head so I say softly, "Boyd…?"

Your expression abruptly changes. Hardens. You have read something in me that might be truth or lie – I can't tell. I don't care. You shift your weight abruptly, twist yourself between my thighs, taking the access I willingly give, but taking it brusquely, efficiently. Competent now, not affectionate. Something in you has changed.

I think it's over. I think we're over. For now.

You are still so beautiful in the bright sunlight. Whatever happens, part of me will always love you. I honestly believe that.

It's smooth, the way you enter me. Smooth and sweet, but it's bitter, too. Now we are one. Unified. Complete. I stare up into your haunting dark eyes and I wish things were simpler. Easier. I wish we were just Peter and Grace; I wish we were just in love. I wish we didn't always end up hurting each other.

You will go. And I will be glad.

We will fight; we will snap and snarl. And eventually there you'll be again. And I will step aside and let you walk back into my life, my house and my bed. Because you are who you are and because I am who I am. Because in the end it is always us.

You move slow and sure inside me. I dig my fingernails hard into your shoulders. I want to mark you for my successor to see. Maybe you know that. You don't stop me. I don't stop you, either. We kiss, we caress; I sigh, you moan. We are heat and joy, sweat and love, sadness and pain. I steal all of you and want so much more; you give everything, take everything, and I know how much you are hurting. I hurt too. So very much.

Go. Don't go. Be mine. Don't be mine.

We shake and we break within moments of each other, and I don't think it's just me who's close to tears.

But you will go. Because you can't stay.

I fall into a stupor lying in your arms in the summer sun. I love you.

It hurts. And it's going to hurt a lot more before we smile properly at each other again. Goodbye, Peter. Until next time.

- the end -