WantAn AU "The Outsiders" episode expansion written for the 2019 Michigan Conzine. Rated R
“Well, it’s a complicated thing, but I am happy, Daddy.” – Catherine, “Orphans”
Catherine wakens to soft movements on the balcony that she is almost certain isn’t the wind. She throws the files on her lap off as she sees black movement, and her mind cries out, he’s here.
Catherine’s nightly routine – out of day clothes, then falling asleep surrounded by work – hasn’t changed in the weeks since Vincent was shot by a frightened and feral child. Every night since he sent her away she uses work to try to stay up, hoping he will come, but also fearfully sure he won’t.
She rushes to the balcony.
“Vincent,” she says as she approaches him, but, like something beaten and untrusting, he retreats to the furthest point away from her on the terrace.
He still doesn’t want her by his side. She tries to focus on the good – he’s here, his arm looks healed – but it still hurts.
He wanted me to leave him alone, and I did. Why is he here now, if he doesn’t want me?
“Are you all right?” she asks, backing away to the other corner, trying to create a space to talk.
He doesn’t answer, instead shaking his head at the ridiculousness of question.
Of course, he isn’t all right.
To save those he loves Vincent dealt with the inevitable – an unscrupulous and violent group of people who would kill to take the Tunnels for their own.
Father should have known. He should have planned better, she blames the man in her mind. Vincent did what he had to, but it’s a burden he never should have to shoulder.
“I haven’t been–” Vincent begins. “I cannot–” he starts again, but stops.
Does he need help? Are there more troubles Below?
Before she can ask, he locks into her gaze.
“You’ve been restless.”
It takes a moment for her to comprehend what he is saying, but he’s right, she thinks, discovering the truth once he’s stated it.
The last weeks have been … unsettled.
The office is a nightmare. There’ve been a dozen times she’s almost walked out. Only the needs of everyone have kept her to desk and duty. Between Rita, Joe, and Moreno all expecting her to be damn good at upholding the law, there’s at least a relentless routine to hide in, but more and more her mind keeps returning to Vincent and what they’ve done.
According to the law, they should both be in jail. She can’t deny that. But what does the law mean to Vincent, a man with no safety and no standing in the world? Officially, Vincent doesn’t and shouldn’t exist. And yet here he is, probably hoping for answers to questions that have plagued her since he killed the men who meant to kill her.
The law could do a lot to him, but what can it do for him? It couldn’t get rid of the dangerous men Vincent was forced to kill.
These are the questions she wrestles with, avoiding contact with everyone while hoping to see the one person she endures the conflict for.
‘You’ve been restless,’ huh? Well, that’s an understatement, and it certainly never brought you to my balcony since you sent me away that night.
She stuffs down the bad thoughts and tries to remember what is different about today. Then she realizes it was Jenny.
Jenny had shown up unannounced on her doorstep, dragging Catherine from the apartment and insisting they go Sunday antiquing. Catherine couldn’t think up an excuse fast enough, although she should have. Catherine’s mood had made spending the day with her oblivious friend as horrible and impossible as she feared. It wasn’t Jenny’s fault. She was just the wrong person. It was hopeless to try to relate to someone whose biggest fear was a painting not matching the couch, not the hatred in a killer’s eyes.
Catherine had wanted, still wants, only one person.
“Vincent, I tried to give you time, but I almost … You haven’t come to me in so long.”
Not a question, but he answers, nonetheless.
“As I said …” He looks down. “You’ve been restless.”
As before, it takes a second before his words sink in. Finally, she starts to see what he’s actually saying.
Him staying away, it’s my fault? Because I was … restless?
Guilt and anger seep into the petty and needful spaces of her heart. What does he expect her to do, not think? Not feel? She has tried so hard not to want anything he wasn’t ready to give, and yet he blames her for asking basic questions of their existence?
She wants to be compassionate, strong, reassuring, and above all, to not need him, but after the last weeks, she can’t, she just can’t. She isn’t perfect. And if she isn’t, will that be why he leaves her, maybe for good? He’s tried before.
They stand on opposite sides of the small space just watching each other while everything between them feels fragile, ready to shatter. And then suddenly, Vincent moves. His frustration seems a near physical thing. He starts to pace, shaking his head, then his entire body. Before she can understand what’s happening, he steps towards her, holding out his hand.
“That’s not what I … Please, Catherine. Talk to me.”
She cannot imagine what to say. What can she tell him that won’t frighten him away?
She has no idea where to begin, so she begins where they always seem to begin—in fear and hope.
She places her hand in his, and he draws her into his arms. He holds her long enough that she can notice how much she likes his scent tonight, that he’s worn his leather vest with the white ribbed shirt, how the wind lifts and comingles their hair.
“Catherine,” Vincent sighs. “I know your day was … difficult. Tell me why.”
She doesn’t answer his question. She just clutches him, listening to his heartbeat, wanting to stave off his request. The jumble of crashing thoughts can’t be spoken. Should she tell him it’s getting harder and harder to pretend? That trying to isolate the pieces of her life—him, the Tunnels, work, friends—is starting to feel hopeless again? She’s promised what they have is worth everything, that it’s enough, and it was—until he pleaded for her to leave him. Nothing she said to him then, including I love you, made a bit of difference. He doesn’t want her by his side, and the truth is, how can she blame him? She can’t seem to give up her life Above to be with him every day.
To find the balance between all they ask of from one another—loyalty, love, love without physical expression, freedom—it’s beginning to feel like they’re asking for the moon.
“What happened today?” he asks again, still holding her close.
She pushes down the ache that started the last time they saw one another to give the short answer.
“Jenny took me shopping.”
He seems to take in the information but says nothing. Instead, he takes off his cloak and lays it on the ground. He takes her hand and starts to pull her to sit on it beside him against bricks of the balcony wall. Part of Catherine is still hurt, still reeling from his accusation, but the other half is embarrassingly grateful for the kindness and care.
“Where did she take you?” he questions, once he settles her next to him.
Why is he asking this, when there is so much left unsaid between them?
“Vincent, I don’t see …”
“Please, Catherine, tell me where you traveled. Let me see it through your eyes.”
He wants to know where she went without him. It’s almost enough to end it all in tears right there, except, like on some clairvoyant impulse, she’d spent the entire unexpected and unwanted trip trying to see the world through his eyes.
She doesn’t know how this will fix anything, but heaven help her, she trusts Vincent beyond anyone else in the world. What he wants she’ll give him, even if he breaks her heart.
* * *
He wasn’t asked to help dispose of the bodies.
That was one of the unspoken kindnesses offered him, because of his arm, because of Catherine, because of what everyone Below had expected—not wanted for him but wanted from him. Instead, he was told to rest, to recover, then was left alone to grapple with certainties, fears, and desires, his as well as hers, until he was so confused he could no longer sleep.
Her need for touch, for contact, what his abashed brain could only label as “restlessness”, grew every day they were apart. However, until today, until her sadness pulled him, and his guilt for his part in it pushed him Above, he hadn’t gathered enough courage to face her and her need. She had professed love to him, and what had he offered her in return except shame and distance? He knows nothing of how he should help her, or how they might unlock the impasse they have found themselves in … again. He is only certain he loves her, he must listen, and he must try.
* * *
“Jenny took me antique shopping. I didn’t want to go, but she insisted. She sweet talked her way past my doorman and made me let her in.” Catherine shakes her head at her friend’s audacity. “Then she ransacked my closet. Said she would leave a path of destruction ‘the likes of which I had never seen’ unless I went out with her.” Catherine almost laughs. “I had to get her out to save my apartment.”
She’s downplaying the pain, trying to be fine, and that isn’t good, but he won’t stop her now, partially, he fears, because he wishes it were true.
“The first place we went to was in an office building,” she begins. “There were floors of antiques. The walls were painted white. They had rows and rows of things from different countries, different eras. Each piece was well lit, displayed on its own … showcased, you know?”
“Not really,” he chuffs, and she seems confused, but it is only truth. He has never been anywhere like that – so maintained as she describes. His life is a jumble of necessity and incongruity.
“You’re probably right,” she concedes, “because life isn’t like that, is it? Each thing they had was individual, untouchable – like a museum. The truth is, I hated it.” She peers down at her lap.
He can’t stand to see her so defeated by a day.
“Then I would have hated it as well,” he declares.
She glances up as if to question that and smiles a little, wondering what he means by the leap.
“Should I love what my love hates?” he asks.
“I guess not,” she agrees, and a small thrill travels through her, reaching him through their bond. She is his love and is pleased he has called her so. Other than when he pulled her down to sit beside him, it is the only sign that he might be on the right path.
“Keep going,” he insists.
“Well,” she says, while seeming to try to remember. “We left after about forty minutes of Jenny hemming and hawing over a Japanese wall hanging.” She glances up and adds wryly, “She didn’t even buy it, by the way.”
“So we took a cab to the next shop near Gramercy Park. The cab smelled like vomit, and we got stuck in traffic … on a Sunday. The driver didn’t talk to us the whole time. I’m not certain he spoke English or ever passed a driver’s test, even. When he sped down the wrong way on a one-way street, I nearly jumped out.”
“I am relieved you didn’t,” he says, playing along with her overstatement.
“I would have …” She nods, keeping the jest going. “Except Jenny would have jumped after me,” she puffs a little in mock pride, “and she hasn’t had the fall training I’ve had from Isaac.”
He smiles, and she chuckles a bit before she shakes her head, letting the amusement pass.
“The second place was all right. It was … busier. I mean there was more to see, but it wasn’t–” She doesn’t finish the thought right away. Finally, after a few moments of growing unease, she says, “I didn’t see anything I thought you would like.”
For a moment, he doesn’t know what to say.
“Catherine, what do you mean?
“I just … there was nothing there for you. I wanted something for you.”
“I don’t expect you to buy me anything. You know that,” he counters.
She only shakes her head. “Nothing seemed right. Everything looked breakable.”
“After a few minutes, I left Jenny and walked around the block.”
He will not let this go. He wants to understand. “Why would you be searching for something for me?”
This angers her, deeply and abruptly.
“Why wouldn’t I, Vincent? When you love someone, you want to … you want to show them. You want for them.”
This was not the entire reason. He can feel her holding onto something she’s afraid to speak of. Not wanting to anger her further, he defers his worry.
“Tell me more.”
“Well,” she begins with a sigh, “the last place looked tiny on the outside. It was just a door really.” She shrugs. “An old door with decorative ironwork behind it and two miniscule display windows on either side, filled to the brim with everything but the kitchen sink.”
She closes her eyes.
“The door was red, but you could tell there were layers and layers of paint behind it.”
“How? Tell me. How did you know?” he encourages.
She has caught the spirit of his game, and she lets go of her earlier anger. “Because … because, I don’t know what you would call them, the grooves, the decoration on the door, around the window–”
“The molding? The mullion?” he offers.
“The molding, I think. It was smooth, rounded, but you could tell it used to be more distinct.” She opens her eyes, staring far away. “And the door handle, it was brass.” She uses her thumb to press on an imaginary latch. “You know that type – mostly black, except the part that’s shiny from all the hands that had opened it.”
“Yes, I see it, Catherine,” he says.
“The floor was marble.”
“What color was the marble?”
“It was tiled, cream and grey. It was cold on my feet. I liked that. My feet hurt from walking. I wore the wrong shoes.”
He could have told her that, even if he won’t. Her afternoon’s discomfort had been impossible to ignore.
She continues. “Once you stepped in, everything was covered. Every space was occupied. It wasn’t dirty or dusty. It was right, just everything … everywhere. There were carved shelves piled with silver tea sets, garden statues of elephants and angels, a million antique lamps. There was a beautiful wood canoe balanced on top of two china cabinets.”
She stops. She’s remembering the moment, and he is remembering with her, although for him it was just a feeling, her feeling. It is the reason why he’s here, why he had to come tonight despite every fear, why he’d pushed down all the regrets and loathing for the monster that lives in his skin to be by her side.
“And I saw this bed,” she says.
“I thought of you,” she declares and then hurries to explain. “I thought you would love it, or you might, I don’t know … It reminded me of your chair. It was French or Italian, I think, sturdy, but beautiful.”
Her gaze drops.
Will it always be beds for them? Very possibly. The moment they’d shared in Kanin and Olivia’s bedchamber laced through almost every interaction since.
“It doesn’t matter,” she mumbles, breaking him out of his pitiful musing.
“It does matter, Catherine. Did you–”
She interrupts him. “It doesn’t matter, Vincent,” she insists, and, despite her best efforts, the anger bleeds into her words. “I shouldn’t have …”
He reaches and threads their fingers together. Before he can decide to ask, she continues.
“I could buy everything in that store, but what would be the point, Vincent? It had loads of beautiful things, but there was nothing there I wanted.”
It isn’t a lie, but it isn’t the whole truth. She does want something. Even without the bond, he had enough experience listening to others to know when someone was hiding their wishes, even from themselves.
And yet, how can he not understand her reluctance? To want was a dangerous thing. He’d been taught that from the youngest age. To want more to eat, greedy. To want to see the sun, perilous. To want another person, impossible.
“Why didn’t you wish for anything, Catherine?” he presses in a whisper.
“I don’t know, Vincent.” The anger rises.
“I think you do,” he replies, because, despite the danger, he sees what staying safe has done to her.
She snatches her hand back. She doesn’t trust that he can fix this.
“Because those things, why would I need them? We aren’t … it’s pretty clear those possibilities …”
Aren’t for us.
She can’t say it.
She wraps her arms around herself. He has seen her do this before to keep herself from reaching out.
She doesn’t want to blame him, but how can she not? He hasn’t even explained to her why he can never show her love. Beyond the obvious, she doesn’t know about all the losses. She doesn’t know about Lisa. They will have to face them, but must it be today?
“I was there with you,” he says, trying to comfort her with words.
“You were …” she concedes, but it is a taciturn agreement. He can still see it. She wants what she can’t have. She won’t say the what she needs, but he feels it as clearly as he felt her pain this afternoon.
She is so hungry for closeness, for touch, and all she receives is cruel and violent. In that fetid and rank cave, he saw what those men had meant to do to her, even through the black haze of his rage. Has no one has touched her since?
For love’s sake, for his sake, she will not accept the comfort of another, so now, sitting next to him on her balcony floor, rigid with trauma, she is so starving for contact she’s starting to unravel.
Holding her hand isn’t enough. Embracing her isn’t enough. What has worked before, isn’t enough.
She is falling apart, and she can’t stop it.
Can he stop it?
The decision is made before he has time to reconsider.
He lifts her chin with the gentle nudge of his finger. He is careful to curl his claw into his hand as he pulls her face forward.
He kisses her.
At first, Catherine is stunned, too shocked by his actions to reciprocate, then a spiraling, clenching joy echoes through them both, settling deep. Her arms let go of themselves and she opens to him.
They part to breathe, and she exhales, “Vincent, why?”
“I love you, Catherine,” he answers. “I wanted to give you something, and, as you said, isn’t it right to give to the person you love?”
She is astonished, happy, but for propriety’s sake he must ask, “Do you want me to kiss you?”
“Yes!” she wrenches back sob and laughs at the same time. The emotions, elation and relief break over her and over him in turn. They feel as perfect and as perilous as basking in sunlight.
Her amazement lasts another second before he kisses her again, and she returns it with a fervor that threatens his control.
The monster inside him begs to pull her into his arms, but he doesn’t listen.
He eases away to steady himself, then stands to open the balcony door to her bedroom. Once done, he reaches for her hand.
“Come. The day was long for you. You need rest.”
She stares, at first confused, then tries to shake his hand away.
Dear God, is it Lisa all over again? Will Catherine pull away too?
“Vincent, please … please I don’t want you to leave me yet. I get you for so little time,” she whispers as her eyes implore him.
Is that what she fears, that he’ll go? Of course, he realizes. He has insisted on exile for both of them in the past, even after the outsiders. He had to deal with the aftermath of their hands and knives; why did he never think she would? In that, there seems to be only one difference between them—she fought to stay upright so much longer. She’d gone on, for weeks, with head down, eyes forward until she collapsed here, today, with him. No one in her life has offered her care after this latest attack or time for contemplation. No one in her life Above can even know what she’s endured.
Catherine needs him, his presence, his touch, and, God help him, he will give her anything she needs, even if it breaks him.
He reaches for her hand again.
“I won’t leave you, Catherine.”
Her bedroom is as small as he remembers. The colors, in the scant light of night, seem beautiful and expertly chosen, but still a pale reflection of all that she is.
He keeps her hand in his own as he pulls back the covers of her bed. As gently as possible, he draws her around to the side.
“Lie down now, Catherine.”
She sits on the bed, but she will not let go. She gazes into his eyes, and what he sees there, oh, what he sees there – a truth his stoic self has never been willing to believe, never felt could be for him. She wants him.
She lies back, pulling him down, and he cannot help but follow. She wants him here, beside her, with her, above her. He draws her wrist to his lips, then with more kisses ascends her arm.
He reaches her shoulder and looks up. A tress, heretic and drifting, keeps the intensity he feels from her away from his gaze. He lifts the stray lock, stroking her forehead as he does, then places the it behind the shell of her ear.
To want is dangerous. The beast wants, and Vincent’s been fighting him, denying him, his entire life. But the beast also serves Catherine.
So, what about giving? Was that his mistake with Lisa? He had coveted Lisa. He took. Catherine wants. If he can listen to her desire can he follow? Can he give?
His fingers trail the silken tress behind her ear, then down her neck. She closes her eyes, relaxing into his grasp.
His hands gravitate to the ties of her flower-soft wrap and undoes them. Her chest—her breasts, the monster in him corrects—lay clearly visible beneath the delicate, silk top. A gasping breath makes them more so. She is a wonder of beauty.
Thank you for waiting for me, he would tell her if he could say such words, if he could give up listening to even one sigh she offers him. He can’t.
She despaired today, but it was a momentary lapse. She has never truly given up on this dream, even when he tried to distance himself from it, from her, in disgrace. Looking back, he can see how the last weeks became a hideous game, waiting for her to break, to accept another’s comfort, to leave him, but she never would.
He kisses her bared neck. She leans into him and shivers. She is a bird, fluttering, her heart racing beneath his mouth and hands. A longing, sweet and searing, echoes through them, settling deep. It is her, her want inside him, compounding with his own.
Her loyalty, her desire, has taken his closed and rejected self, his certain path, and opened wide his whole being. Catherine’s belief in him has created space for an entirely new idea.
She wants, and if he can, he will give. For her he can be calculated and carnal. If he can focus only on her through the bond, he can make sure she always desires what he is doing.
He pulls back, just a fraction, to regard her.
“Catherine, I think we can have this, if …”
He can feel her heart racing.
“… if you hold nothing from me,” he continues, although the words seem foreign in his mouth. “If I can concentrate on you, on what you wish for.”
She deliberately slows her breathing as she takes in his words and nods, but then asks, a worry betrayed by her eyes and voice, “Do you want this, Vincent?”
Can she doubt it? Yes. He has made her doubt. Never again.
“More than life,” he answers and kisses her again, thoroughly, leaving no room for uncertainty.
She opens her mouth to him, and he tastes her. She is so willing, so trusting. She will take anything he will give. He wishes so much more for her, but he will try to live up to her belief and her love.
“Where do I touch you?” he asks.
“Everywhere,” she replies.
He shakes his head. She can’t leave him without instruction. She has visited this beautiful and fraught country. He has not.
“Catherine, where do I touch you?” he repeats.
She smiles with understanding.
“Here.” She traces her neck.
He runs a tender and delicate stroke along her throat, following with a tentative lick that becomes bolder with her moan.
She pulls up her top. It bunches to nothing above her breasts
“Here,” she shows him. The sight of her uncovered both enchants and demands.
He kisses her collar bones, then works his way over a swell, alternating between tasting her skin and inhaling her scent. It is stronger here.
He takes time, even when she rises into his first caress, his palm barely gliding over her nipple. He is stunned by the pulse of desire it elicits. When he cups one breast in his hand, she murmurs his name. When he takes a hardened pink tip into his mouth, she gasps.
For what feels like a year of bliss, he continues to explore her ethereal curves and beautiful peaks. He lifts himself so he can gaze at her again. She isn’t naked, not yet, but she may as well be, she is so utterly vulnerable to him. The over-arching fear—for the first time—isn’t dread of his darker self, of its physical power, but his authority over her heart. She peers back with eyes that beseech, and he sees how devastation could be wrought with a simple misplaced word.
Taking his hesitation for innocence, she guides his free hand over her sex. “Here,” she whispers. Her smooth bottoms are wet and humid. His touch releases the scent and he is surrounded by it. She arches into his fingers.
His traitor thoughts wonder if she is always this sensitive, this responsive with every lover she’s been with.
“Just you,” she nearly cries, and he can’t help but stop in awe again. Either she could read the exact thoughts on his face, or the bond is stronger than he ever thought.
Frustration, need – “Vincent,” she keens, twisting under his motionless hand.
He presses in, over the fabric, and finds a place that both thrills and overwhelms. He strokes it experimentally, and all at once she is grabbing his arm – to pull him closer, to push him away – flinging herself into his hand, then melting back. He was hard before, but experiencing this through her is like plunging into exquisite fire. The ache is as excruciating as it is divine.
He must see all of her. He lets go to pull her sleep shorts down. She takes the opportunity to wrench her top off as well.
He is kneeling at the end of her bed, taking her in, so grateful, feeling both blessed and shaken. This is the deepest intimacy, he thinks. His fierce, weary, strong, and caring Catherine—his Catherine—is totally exposed to him. He kisses her ankles and calves. He runs his hands up her thighs, hips, and flanks, then carefully lays over her.
“You are perfect, Catherine,” he says, as he kisses her flush skin once more. “You are exquisite,” he sings into her breast. “I will worship you,” he promises before taking as much of her flawless nipple into his mouth as he can, laving and tasting her. He hopes no one has ever touched her like this, loved her like this, slowly, with no agenda, or obligation, except to learn.
Her joy is a white, celestial light. Her desire is a coiling, red heartbeat. Completely open to her, he appreciates his action today in a new way, when he urged her to sit with him, to talk with him, and when he took her to her bedroom. She has been so strong, driven, but there is a deep, hidden need to let go, to be guided. She has steered her own course for so long. A secret part, that he is somehow lucky enough to see, wants someone—no, wants him—to lead. Her trust is intoxicating.
He settles next to her and his hand reaches for her sex again. She starts to writhe under his fingers. “Shh…” he soothes and uses part of his weight to anchor her still. “Don’t move,” he commands, as he, with strenuous and exacting care, eases a clawed finger into her passage. It is wet and warm, and he has never wanted to exist anywhere so much in his life. Their eyes meet. The heat builds inside her, as he swirls and curls his finger up. She sobs with pleasure. He presses in and muscles tighten around him, while the surge of energy rises higher. His thumb finds the outside spot, enticing, stimulating, demanding for her to ascend, while he tries to keep her immobile, not quite perfectly. Further … and she can’t help but tremble, intensity rising. She is quivering below him, eyes locked, everything between them increasing, escalating. Her body curves, a bow ready to kill, and he will take any death she will offer.
Another swipe and press, and she is convulsing while crying out his name.
He almost follows her, wishes he could, arousal now painful and surging, but the focus on her needs – , encompassing – keeps him from letting go.
As soon as she can breathe again, her fingers are scrambling for his trousers.
“Catherine,” he protests, pulling away, uttering heartbreak. “We can’t …”
She jerks him back to her, her hands pulling on his shirt with previously unknown strength. She whispers into his hair, “I’m on birth control, I promise.”
All his doubts are drowned in a tide of desire. He stands and pulls off his clothes – vest, shirt, pants, everything.
When he is done, when he’s as naked and vulnerable as she, he asks, “Do you want me, Catherine?”
For the first time, he has confidence in her answer.
Both her hands reach out to him.
“So much,” she promises.
“Then I am yours,” he swears.
Before he realizes what’s happening, she parts for him and he is poised over her. The tip of his cock slides down and within, and he chokes in an immensely undignified way.
She laughs into his shoulder. “Glad I’m not the only one,” she says, cradling him closer.
Happiness, fervor, joy, comfort, madness, even amusement—can this act truly encompass all these?
Her hands brush his hair back as her eyes find his. She nods, her smile warm and benevolent, answering his question, then murmurs, “You can move now, Vincent.”
She twines her small legs behind him as much as she can, and he sinks in more. Then he thrusts searching for her heat, trusting her in this, but he still isn’t fully inside her. He wants everything all at once, but he won’t hurt her. It is perfect torment.
“Please, Vincent,” she begs him, tipping her head back, pressing up.
He inches forward again, almost flush, but she is wickedly tight, and he is not small.
He breathes, waiting, reveling in the back and forth sensations. It is lightning, dancing between ground and sky. One more push and they are one.
She beams, and he can’t help but think of how skilled she is at getting what she wants, that a part of this is her proving her case to him. She is remarkably good at it – devastatingly good, if the erection he can feel in his teeth has anything to say about it.
He captures her mouth, ready to cede any point, but also plunging into her again to make an argument of his own.
“Oh, God!” she exclaims into his kiss and drives up to meet him.
He thrusts again.
“So good …” she whispers as her channel tightens around him.
He can feel her coiling once more, rising, and, this time, he will be there to meet her.
While arching into him, she begins to stroke him – arms, back, chest – driving him dangerously close to feral. She doesn’t understand. She wants to give to him, but he can’t do that, because the beast wants. He can’t tempt control, not yet. He grabs both her hands pressing them above her head, keeping them there, while he clutches her underneath, lifting her hips until the angle is everything she needs. He thrusts as if he has something to justify to her, to himself.
They fall into a frenzied rhythm, and it is bliss, feeling this, feeling what she feels. Impossibly, he swells more with each penetration, and with each plunge she clutches him deeper.
Too soon, it is over. They reach the edge of the mountain and can’t help but jump. He fills her with everything he can think to give. She accepts only with the unspoken pledge that this is but a taste of what they can have, and that he will give her every night he can. They shudder and cry into each other’s bodies.
For a few moments, they can only breathe while holding onto one another, quietly appreciating everything that has happened.
“I love you, Vincent,” she swears into his shoulder.
“I love you, Catherine,” he vows into her neck.
* * *
Catherine wakens to a soft stirring behind her. A wind of breath she is almost certain isn’t a dream warms her ear.
“It’s nearly morning,” Vincent sighs.
They are lying together on their sides. His large, warm body curls around her while his semi-hard erection presses into her thighs, a reminder that this is real.
She needs those.
They’ve made love again. She insisted. She was sore, and she could tell he was tired, but when she climbed on top of him and said, we have to make sure it wasn’t just a dream, he didn’t stop her to fault her logic. When she couldn’t help but cry out as she came while he slammed into her from below, well, he didn’t fault her logic then, either.
Seeing him beneath her, craving her, abandoning himself to her kisses and touches – it was a sight she would take to the grave.
Now, they are resting in an exhausted and comfortable haze, her nails dancing lazy circles into the fur of his surrounding arm.
There is no lark, just the march of time across the sky and his innate sense to tell them their time together is ending … for now.
Everything is different … and nothing is different. The complexities of her life are still there, ready to pounce in the light of day. She also isn’t naïve enough to think his insecurities, his worries about his nature, aren’t still his – theirs – to fight.
And yet …
They’ve made love, and although they haven’t discussed it yet, she’s pretty sure it was his first time. They have shared something that is both earthly and sacred, and now they are warm in each other’s arms. He is loved. She is loved. They are (briefly) sated, and she knows, somehow, they will learn to deal with the intricacies of their lives together.
“I have to go,” he says and kisses her cheek.
He takes her assent as his signal to move, but there’s a regretful expression that flashes over his features. He finds his pants in the semi-light and pulls them on.
“I’ll come again tonight,” he promises, picking up his shirt.
He doesn’t get the inadvertent joke.
Does she dare?
“I know you will,” she responds with a shameless smile, figuring they’ve risked a lot in the past day. They can hazard a little humor.
His eyes peek out of the collar as he pulls the shirt over his head. He doesn’t laugh, but his eyebrows arch in a way that says he’s amused … and intrigued.
He has responsibilities, as does she, she reminds herself – ones that will be completely forgotten if he keeps looking at her like he is.
Vincent shakes off what she guesses is a similar thought and grabs his boots, but doesn’t put them on, probably determining it’s better to keep moving and put them on outside. She notices he’s left his vest, belt, and the rest of his clothes. He’ll be back for them soon.
He kneels next to the bed.
“Catherine, there are things we should discuss …” He lowers his gaze, and sighs. “… that I need to tell you, but they must wait.”
“All right,” she accepts, curious, but he is right, they must wait, for now. She takes his face in her hands, letting the sheet she clutched to her chest fall. Might as well leave him with a taste of things to come.
The kiss they offer each other in goodbye lasts long enough to tempt them out of their good intentions. When he pulls back he appears happy and sad, vulnerable, excited, content and wild all at once. She realizes this is what real love looks like.
“I love you, Vincent,” she can’t help but tell him again.
He nods in acceptance, and it is better than any flowery comeback she’s ever heard.
He kisses her cheek. It feels chaste, thankful, but then he’s working his way down her neck again, while contrarily protesting into it, “I really must go.”
Does he? the primal part of her asks, the longing, liquid ache beginning to build at her core again.
Yes, he must, for now, her no-fun voice retorts. He must leave now for safety’s sake.
She gently pushes him back. “I know,” she says.
He gazes at her for a moment more, then stands and grabs his boots again. He’s just about to step onto the balcony when he turns.
“Catherine, there’s just one more thing.”
“Yes,” she answers and pulls the sheet to sit up. She will give him anything.
“Do you think …” he begins and smiles, and it is like a new dawning. “Do you think you can buy that bed?”