contains somewhat detailed descriptions of sex. I'm telling you here but shh don't tell the site

Later, they would delicately overlook the question of who started it. Whether it was Stein's hand on Marie's knee, for once, rather than her shoulder, or whether it was the way Marie's eye kept dipping towards his lips as he tried to comfort her—that didn't matter. Pointing fingers would accomplish nothing.

However it started, the warmth and solidity of Stein's hand against Marie's back as their lips brushed against each other was something that she enjoyed. She would never deny that. How could she, when one kiss led so clearly to another, when the kisses stopped being hesitant and started to be hungry? Stein was so tender and needing that it brought tears to her eye, and she could not pull away.

The thought crossed her mind that this could have—should have?—been B.J., but it didn't stay. Stein was too different. B.J. was a generous lover, whereas Stein was—inexperienced. He couldn't hide it, though in the way he pulled back just as things were really getting started it was clear that he wanted to. She had no words to reassure him. To speak would be think about the situation, and to think about it would be to acknowledge that it needed to be thought about, more than this. Marie didn't want to think about it. She wanted to be close to Stein, woven together with him. She wanted to become part of his pain so that he couldn't tell himself that he was alone. She didn't want to stop. Reaching for him, she traced the scar along his face and then pulled him into another kiss. With her free hand she guided his to her breast. His touch was light at first, tentative. Only the tips of his fingers. So she took his hand again and pressed it flush against her chest. It was then that she noticed he was shaking. A blush creeping up her face, she pulled away.

"Don't you want to?"

He made a few attempts to speak, but nothing came out. His face was red, too, and his eyes wary. He dropped his hand from her breast to the bottom of her ribcage instead. Here, his touch was more confident. He ran his thumb along her rib firmly; when she gasped and straightened, he released her back so that he could do the same with his other hand. She let her hands stray to massage his legs and saw his mouth twist with the unfamiliar sensation. And then, she couldn't help but let her eye flit downwards. There was a bulge beginning to form there. He followed her gaze and watched as her hands slid inwards once more. But he stopped them before they reached their goal. They looked at each other and a wordless moment passed. Then, in a flurry of movement, they rearranged themselves on the lumpy bed so that Marie was spread out and Stein kneeling over her. There was a sheen of sweat on his face, and a blush on hers.

"Marie…" he breathed.


She knew what he wanted to say. It was clear in the way his hands hovered over her body, in the compulsive sort of way he kept swallowing, his eyes darting nervously. She took his hand and pulled him in. Kisses, at least, he was familiar with. They'd learned how to kiss each other a long time ago.

And while they breathed each other in, he let his hands do as they pleased. It was atypical. He traced her ribs, the contours of her stomach, and Marie had the sense that he was cataloging her anatomy rather than just reaching for the usual hotspots. She didn't mind. Far from it. His hands were calloused but gentle, and when he touched her this way, at least, he seemed comfortable in what he was doing. In response, she explored his anatomy too: his jawline, the muscles of his shoulders and neck. The tender spot beneath his hair where the bolt protruded from his head. He sucked in a hissing breath at that, clutching at her and then kissing her more deeply as if in reassurance. She swallowed a moan.

In a few minutes they had relieved each other of their respective shirts. Marie was breathless just looking at him—not only because he was gorgeous (though he was, overpoweringly so), but because of the way he was looking back at her, because the longing for this had never gone away completely. He looked awed. Others might think that Franken Stein cared only about bare flesh as something to be examined, dissected. But that wasn't what Marie saw now.

He leaned in again, this time not for her lips but for her throat, eliciting a gasp. His mouth was hot and wet against her skin. He pressed his tongue against her neck and she whimpered, clutching her fingers in his hair. There were no thoughts in her head, nothing more than desire.

At the whimper, his grip on her sides tightened and his mouth latched onto her throat. He sucked on her skin and she shivered and he would leave a hickey if he kept that up. The thought made her moan, and again his hands tightened around her. There was a different sensation on her neck now: his teeth. She gasped and tilted her head back.

But he withdrew, then. "Marie? Am I hurting you?"

"No," she breathed, exposing more of her throat instinctively. But when he did not return, she opened her eye to look at him. There was sweat on his face and worry in his eyes. "Franken?"

"I don't want to hurt you," he said.

She reached for him, tried to pull him back down to her. "That didn't hurt. I liked it." He had nibbled along her jawbone; it was unfamiliar, but not at all unpleasant.

He didn't let himself be pulled in. He wasn't meeting her gaze, either. Resting her hand on his knee, she thought of the past: of the rumors that had spread in the corners of the school when the two of them had dated. Part of the rumors had been undeniable: only an idiot would have tried to argue that Stein was not sadistic. But these rumors had been a little dirtier, a little more presumptuous about exactly what kind of pleasure Stein got out of causing pain. And about how Marie might have been the perfect partner for him in that regard.

Before this past month, Marie had never seen him look quite as broken as he had when he confronted the one who started those rumors.

And so she could guess, almost, what was going through his head now. Could guess that on his part, the rumors had been more true than false. And that he knew they hadn't been true about her at all.

Again she tried to tug him forward, and this time he came to lie by her side. He looked uncomfortable in a way that had nothing to do with the hotel's crappy mattress.

Marie said again, "You weren't hurting me."

He nodded to acknowledge her statement, nothing more. It looked like he was shaking. She ran a hand over his chest, not quite touching the stitched-up scars that decorated it. She wasn't sure it was her place to do so. She wasn't sure, now, that Stein wanted her to see him like this. She wanted this. But if he didn't—

"Do you need me to leave you alone?" she asked.

A quick, sharp shake of his head, his eyes suddenly focused on her again. "Please, no."

She nodded and snuggled a little closer. "What do you want?"


A shiver ran down her spine at the simplicity of his statement. His voice was raw, his face flushed. There was no mistaking the look in his eyes. She traced a hand over the curving muscles of his stomach as it rose and fell with his breath, and she asked him, "How?"

He shook his head. "I—can't."

"We can." (Can was not an issue—perhaps should was, but her mind did not stay long on that thought.)

"I'll hurt you. I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't hurt me," she murmured. And then, on a sudden instinct, she slid one leg across his and pulled herself into a seated position so that she was straddling his groin. He froze, his eyes wide open.

She gave a little smile. "There. Is that better?"

He reached for her as if entranced. His hands settled on her sides once more, and as he rubbed them gently, her lips parted and her hips rolled on their own. He hissed. And so she did it again, sliding over him more deliberately. He squeezed her sides and let off a little laugh.


"You're… bold," he said.

She smirked mischievously. "Not what you expected?"

He gave a crooked sort of grin in return. "Maybe I should have, from Marie the Pulverizer."

Except that she wasn't usually like this; usually she lost and found herself in her partner's hands, shaped comfortably by him. This was uncharted territory to her, too. So she gave a soft chuckle and a coy toss of her head. She ground against him once more, holding the headboard for balance, and this time the sensation echoed up her spine and across her shoulders. She caught her breath. Stein molded her sides, and her movement began to mimic his pace. Her eye slipped closed.

And then Stein's hands trailed downwards, and her eye flew open again and a moan escaped her. He traced along her hips, the slight roundness of her stomach that she'd never quite managed to reduce. (And with Stein alone she could be certain that he didn't care, because that was who he was; he didn't think about things like that.) His hands began to tease at the waistband of her sweatpants.

"I want these out of the way," he said, eyes flicking up to her face to check her reaction. But he didn't need to look there to see it, because she'd slid the sweats down to her knees, and her panties with them. They clung to her with their dampness. Cheeks slightly pink, Marie maneuvered out of the pants. And before she settled back into place (before she could leave an embarrassing wet spot on Stein's pants), she curled her fingers around his waistband.

"Stop me," she said with grin. She knew he wouldn't. So when his hips arched off the bed, she was ready to pull the sweatpants down. He kicked them off his legs, and together they were exposed. Hardly daring to dip her eye down (how many times had she tried to avoid imagining this sight because he wasn't hers, he would never be hers?), Marie took his length in her hand.

He groaned and pushed his hips up again. "Marie…"

Gently, she began stroking him, all the while watching his face. He looked different than he usually did—and not in the obvious way. It was not just a matter of how pleasure shaped his expression. He seemed unguarded, almost as unguarded as he had been with her when they were teens (when they were actually together). His body jerked erratically as she moved her hand up and down his shaft, and his gritted teeth could not quite hold back the strained noises he was making.

She could see sweat beading all over his body, and with her free hand she traced a drop of it across his shoulders. His eyes flew open then, and when they focused on her something like a smile—an innocent, triumphant, happy smile—pulled at his lips. "Marie," he said. Not warningly. He sounded satisfied.

Meeting his eyes, Marie blushed to the roots of her hair. He was looking at her, and seeing her and wanting her. It seemed impossible. As if hidden desires had escaped from her heart and shaped reality. He shifted under her, and the shock of pleasure it gave her was more than the touch alone warranted. For a moment, she could not move. She ached with wanting.

Her hand trembling around his length, she rearranged herself so that he was just brushing her entrance. A frozen moment, both of them waiting for a protest from the other (surely a protest would come from somewhere, Marie thought; it had to, something was bound to stop them) but when none came they pressed into each other and he slid into her smoothly.

His head rolled back and he groaned. His hips strained against her, trying to thrust, but Marie's head was swimming and this moment seemed too complete to interrupt by moving. He was inside of her. They were one—and maybe some people would laugh at Marie for taking it that way, some people who would call it silly and sentimental, but for so long she had ached to be close to him, as close as she could, and now she had this. Now they had this, together.

She began to rock her hips, reveling in the sensation that seemed to spark through her entire body, not just her core. She could feel him in her toes, all the way up her spine. With one hand, he still held her waist, but he made no effort to direct her, only rubbing her side, tracing her back and the curve of her rear. The other hand found its way between her legs, and Marie nearly bucked off of him as he began stroking her. His touch was gentle and constant, and soon they were beyond talking—beyond the need for it and far beyond the capability. And so when Marie came she could only arch her back and let out an indistinct whimper. The feeling rolled through her body, shaking her with its intensity. And then she felt Stein reach his release as well, and she whimpered again and spread herself over him because she had to be close to him, had to. With her head resting on his chest, she could hear his pounding heart and the rush of his breath gradually calm again. His hand settled on the small of her back, protectively.

Time passed, warm and flowing in the afterglow. There was nothing in Marie's thoughts but the sound of Stein's breath and the feeling of her body against his. He had slipped out of her, but they were still joined—something like soul resonance but more profound than that. Every now and then, he traced over her vertebrae, but for the most part they were wrapped in stillness.

Her mind had still not settled, and so she wouldn't have noticed if she hadn't felt Stein jump.

"Marie? What's wrong?"


But the way her voice creaked out of her answered her question, and she returned to herself suddenly to find that there were tears flowing from her eye. Blushing, she sat up and tried to wipe them away, sending a quick glance at Stein. He looked—horrified.

"It's nothing," she tried to reassure him, but it was still hard to get the words out, and her shoulders began to shake. She buried her face in her hands. She couldn't let him see this, he didn't need to see this—"I'm fine," she tried again, "I just—get emotional, after…"

She curled in on herself, because it was a lie. She may have been more vulnerable after making love—who wasn't?—but it wasn't usually like this. And she couldn't bear to lie to him, not now. She leaned over him again and kissed him, sloppily, because she had to let him know that he had not hurt her. She knew that. He had not hurt her. It was the opposite: that he had been so gentle, so wonderful, and that he didn't believe in this part of himself. That no one did. There was peace, here, but it would be gone in the morning and he would consider it a fluke.

When the tears slowed and her breath stopped coming in uneven gasps, she took his hand and squeezed it. What could she say here? I love you, perhaps, but he was not hers to say that to, and in the empty space after her words he would not say it back and he would remember that he never said things like that, and he would begin to close up again. Marie couldn't precipitate that. It made her heart hurt to even think of it. So instead she took a deep breath and lay back down, resting one arm over his chest.

"Thank you," she murmured, though the words were too small, and she prayed that they and the gentle glow of her wavelength would be enough to reassure Stein that he had not hurt her.