extra spice

Dear whoever I might be praying to if there was someone out there to pray to, my mouth is on fire and by the look on his face I don’t know whether he was planning it of not. He seems rather confused by the taste of the food on his plate. I try to exhale through my nose but it doesn’t honestly help. I can feel my eyes begin to water a little from the heat and I push my chair back from the table so I can slip into the kitchen and pour not one but two glasses of milk, one just in case for him.

I put both glasses down on the table and drop back to my chair before taking a single sip of the glass. I’m trying to make it last. I suppose I should have brought the whole thing to the table. He blinks at me and offers a sheepish sort of smile and shrug. I guess he hadn’t actually planned this so I can’t blame him for the fire currently going on in my mouth. I have to wonder why he doesn’t seem to be quite on fire himself, he’s taken as much as I have.

“Is this recipe supposed to be so spicy?” Ever word fans the flames of hell in my mouth and I take a big gulp of milk instead. It helps a little and my eyes are a little dryer. He laughs lightly and shakes his head. He looks to be in no heat-pain at all, why am I the only one suffering?

“I have these new peppers growing in the garden and I know they’re hot but I didn’t know they would hold that much of a kick. I don’t find them to be too bad though.” Well, then I guess he won’t need that glass of water! I pull it back over to my side of the table and I huff at his snickering. Bad idea, that didn’t help. I stuff a bit of the potato in my mouth and just keep it there for a few moments before I feel the heat somewhat subside.

My mouth is going to burn itself to oblivion at this point. Dare I really eat that much of it all? It’s not a big plate, we never did eat much though we eat some and I screw my eyes shut. He’s still chuckling just softly and it should infuriate me but all I want to do at this point is pout at him until he stops though I know he won’t.

“I’ll prepare you a big bowl of fruits and berries drizzled with sweet honey after this, all right?” That does sound like a pleasant enough idea and I nod before going back to the food. The chicken is the culprit so I try to hide my bites with the rest. The potato, the mixed veggies, a sip of milk. It goes down well enough but by the time I’m done my mouth is still on high heat. My glass of milk is empty so I take the second one and I drink it down in big gulps.

I don’t feel so terribly bad now.

Once the table is cleared of dishes and I’ve had my third glass of milk while all he’s done is sip on some water, he prepares a couple of bowls of mixed fruit pieces and bites. He drizzles a good bit of honey on mine and sprinkles just a little bit of maple sugar on his. I know he doesn’t like sweets. I can I handle sweet better than spicy and he handles spicy better than sweet. It can be worked with in the end.

“You should totally put some of whatever that was in a container and I’ll bring it over across. See how they like spicy.”

“Now Quentin, don’t be evil. Though I suppose it might be worth it. One finally small payback for the ribbons.” I know he doesn’t hold grudges but this one has stayed with him yet and I don’t blame him. I suppose mock payback won’t hurt and it might be even funny if it turns out they handle this kind of spicy as poorly as I did.

He settles next to me on the couch with the two bowls of fruit and a small teacup full to the brim of steaming, softly coloured water. He likes his tea after meals and I don’t mind, it seems to relax him. We sit side by side, just eating our desserts quietly, listening to the music pouring from the television. We have several ‘radio’ channels on the television, when we don’t feel like watching it, usually we keep it running on one of those channels and it just pours quiet music as background noise through all of the house.

He hasn’t let me brush his hair since the ribbon incident. It’s only been two weeks but it’s a long time for me when I usually could brush it every day. So you can colour me very surprised when, after having cleared up the dishes from our dessert, he disappeared back into his room and came back out with his brush. I think my heart almost exploded. This very well was what I wanted to imagine as the final step to forgiveness.

I watch him as he settles on the floor just in front of me and hands me his brush. He turns his gaze to me and he studies me for a long moment. “Be careful.”

I’m always careful but I know he’s just trying to trust me again. I hold my breath for a moment as I tug, as carefully as I can, his hair loose from its ponytail and I slowly start to run the brush through his long tresses. They are so glossy, so shiny. It took me forever to get mine to look just the way I want it and at times I envy him the beauty of his hair.

My strokes are slow and carefully, I could do this forever really. I feel him start to relax beneath my touch and tears come to my eyes though I do all I can to not let them escape. This means the world to me and I can never forgive myself for hurting him the way I have. I just run the brush in slow strokes, from top to bottom until it all drifts smoothly through the brush’s teeth. I sigh and lean down, ready to hand him his brush over but he turns his gaze back to me and he smiles, oh he smiles. “You can keep going for a while.”

I consider and I cant my head slightly. This is a wonderful idea but the floor where he’s at is cold, I know so I scoot back on the couch slightly. “Here, why don’t you lie down and settle your hair on my lap, I’ll keep on brushing your hair from this angle, the floor is cold there and I don’t want you to get sick.”

He ponders the offer for a moment before he stands and stretches and I’m almost afraid to have broken the moment. He holds his hand out. For a moment I think he’s asking for his brush back but he’s asking for my hand. So I put my hand to his and we get back up. We head off to the wall where the fireplace is. The floor is soft and plushy here and it’s more than warm in front of the fireplace. I guess he wants a full head brushing and just a from-the-side thing.

I shake my head, amazed at what life flings my way and as I settle down on the couch, he settles on the floor between my legs. Something flares a little in me, desire for him, but I focus on the brush in my hand, on its slow strokes through his hair and on those sweet little sigh of pleasure and contentment he breathes. I have no words for how much I appreciate this kind of life we have. It’s just perfect.

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human spirit

“So this place is haunted?” It does look awfully dusty and mostly abandoned but I have a hard time believing it might be haunted, as our host and mock tour-guide states. I look back to the rest of our little group and my lip quirks somewhat. Quentin and Yael, Lex next to me and a few mortals. Halloween is just one of those things where silliness occurs and since neither Quentin or Yael had really celebrated it before, I had thought it could be a change of pace. That and I was still trying to make up for the ribbon issue we’d had just four days ago. Yael wasn’t really talking to me and I know I deserve it, still it stings.

I thought that a tour in one of many supposedly haunted places could be interesting. When mortal dies, some are reborn but some are stuck in place, caught as if in a loop or by chains of sort. I can usually hear them. Their voices tend to be faded, they sound different from everyone else I can hear around me. Though with Lex so close to my shoulder, fingers just brushing mine, everything is pretty hush-hush. It’s peaceful.

“Oh yes, very haunted. There are spirits everywhere in this house. We have several different photos depicting these and showing us just where exactly they are. This house has a very grisly story to its name-…” This was bo-oring. Absolutely so. Our tour guide still was droning on but I essentially put him on ignore. I focused my attention to our surroundings. Now if the mortals hadn’t been there I would have played a prank or two, then again it might just be funnier with the humans there. I’m a bit worried about Quentin and Yael though, I don’t want to spook them too much, I’m still making amends.

So I reach out carefully with my mind, brushing Yael’s own and he turns his gaze to me. I can tell this is half a bad idea but he doesn’t push me away, lets me brush his thoughts with the barest of whispers. ‘I want to have a little spook contest with the mortals, so whatever you hear, it’s most likely going to be me, all right?’ He looks uncertain for a moment before he nods and he brings his lips to Quentin’s ear to tell him what I’d said, or warn him. I don’t know if he’s told him about my gift. I did ask him to keep it a secret of sorts. Maybe he’ll say that it’s something I had planned before and had told him about. It was unlikely but it was the only option.

I could feel some energy about this place but it was faint, faded. If there were spirits here they were mostly ready to pass on and be reborn though something or other was holding them back. It wasn’t my job to help them along after all. Still if I could have some Halloween fun with these humans then my day wouldn’t have been too boring.

All it takes is a few bare things. A chair scraping against the floor and hitting the wall, the rattle of some chains and a few bangs before every one, including the tour guide, is running out, leaving us four there. If we’d been like the rest, we more than likely could have sued or something, the guides aren’t allowed to leave the house until every single client is outside. Still, I suppose it isn’t so bad. We have the place to ourselves though it is quite a bit dusty.

We walk from room to room, I explain things as I sense them, telling them about how such and such person lived here long ago. Eventually Quentin questions how I might know all of these things and I tell him it’s part of my gift, that I can hear the voices of those living and dead but that I don’t pry into the minds unless I’m invited. He looks a little uncertain but shrugs it off. He steps back to Yael and they hold hand. Hardly because of the ghost factor but merely because they can, it’s sweet.

When we walk back out of the house, we see not a soul out there. All participants of the group and the guide have utterly fled the scene and I can’t help a small laugh. I calm down quickly enough as Lex nudges my shoulder and nods towards Yael. I suppose it’s that time and I don’t know how I’m going to manage. I haven’t actually apologized to his face yet. I’ve apologized to Quentin who then told Yael but I know it’s not enough.

I walk over to the pair and clear my throat slightly. I know Quentin has forgiven me already for the most part but he’ll only truly forgive me when Yael will. I sigh and tug my hand briefly through my own short hair. “Can I have a word with Yael, please? Alone if that’s possible.”

I remember when I spent a week with them at their house, Quentin had glared me to death and threatened harm if I had done anything to Yael and my lips quirk just barely as it crosses my mind. He’s glaring at me now but Yael sighs and nods. Quentin walks back to stand to Lex’s side but I can see he’s less than pleased with where he’s at currently. I walk a few paces away with Yael and I lean back slightly against the house.

“There are no words for what happened that day, Yael. At first you didn’t say anything so I guess I assumed you didn’t mind. When we were done and you reacted poorly I didn’t think you really were that uncomfortable about it. I thought you were just sort of playing along. I’m sorry we left you alone that way and I’m sorry we did it at all to begin with.”

He looks up to me for a long moment, as if studying me before he sighs but doesn’t drop his gaze. “I cherish my hair above all. When I was a kid in the orphanage, some kids cornered me and cut it all off with a pair of scissors. They snipped my ears and scraped my head plenty while they did it. It took almost forever for it to grow back. My hair is just… I feel like it’s all I have going for myself and I should have said no when it all started.”

I shake my head and yes, idiot as I am, I dare to reach out and brush a loose strand of forest-green dyed hair from his face. “I’m the one who’s apologizing. You have nothing to apologize for. It was my stupid idea to begin with and I’m only hoping that you can eventually forgive me for thinking it up.”

He shrugs but there is a small, tiny little smile to his lips. “So long as it stays in the past. On another note though, was that you who did the pacing thing above our heads after the other tour folks were gone?”

I blink at him and look back up to the house. “No, I only did the chair and the rattling and the wall bangs because there were objects I could move. I didn’t even notice the footsteps after they left. I guess this house might just have a couple of guests still at this point. Or maybe just folks who don’t have a roof and are squatting in there. Hard to know. Are you hungry? I could go for something warm to eat right now.”

He smiles again and nods, this time his eyes are a little brighter. I think I’m on the road to forgiveness.

ribbons

I don’t know whose bright idea it had been. I can’t say whether I should be amused or horrified at this point. It’s a little bit of both just now and I’m staring at my reflection as little as I can because I can’t take myself seriously if I look for more than a split second.

“When are those coming out of may hair, Quentin?” I cringe at the tone of my own voice, I sound absolutely petulant and I hate it. Still, most of these ribbons are out of my reach or placed just so in my hair and if I try to take them out myself, it seems to worsen things and they become even more tangled. It wasn’t so bad at first with just one or two but now I lost count of how many they’ve put in there, both of them. At least Alexis kept out of it.

This isn’t in the least bit funny, in the long run, at least not for me. I don’t know what was going on through their minds when they decided that this new box of ribbons that just popped up in the mail—like that dress so long ago (to me it feels long ago)—were going to look good in my hair.

The earthy toned ones I don’t mind as much but now I look like someone puked broken rainbows in my hair and I’ve tried getting them out and I just can’t. I’m starting to get frustrated, just sitting here and waiting. Yes, we’ve taken advantage of boxes just randomly coming in named to either one of us before, the dress, the silk flowers, the confetti, but this is past my comfort point. I don’t care if I’m being childish but I’m rather careful of how I treat my hair and this is just too much.

I don’t even know where Quentin is at this point, he and Eoghan went off a while ago, I don’t know how long and just left me here to my own devices, to somehow deal with this humiliation. I don’t think he even realizes how much I hate this. I suppose I should have said no more clearly when they were putting all of them on. I only reacted when they were all done and I saw my reflection. I guess to them it was surprise more than anything else.

When I was young, from what little memories I still retain of the time before Sterling died, I was picked on a lot. Mostly by the slightly older kids who were trying to understand whether I was a boy or a girl. I’m aware my face is rather effeminate, I can’t help that, I was born this way and it’s not going to change. I could deal with it well enough. Often though there were struggles and fights. They’d put me in dresses and would parade me around.

One time, when I fought hard as I could and accidentally broke the arm of one of the kids picking on me, they cornered me and sheared all my hair off. It was ugly and the folks who ran the orphanage could only shave everything off it was so uneven, there was nothing that could be done about it. I was so ashamed, painfully ashamed of this that I spent almost the following year not going outside to play or spending time with anyone. Sterling would come about and spend some time with me but even that it took some time before I let him near me.

It took forever for my hair to grow back, by the time he died and I was left on my own to run off, it barely was long enough to brush my chin and that had been years back that it had been cut. I back then assumed that it was one of those things that made me less wanted by the adults. I wasn’t as pretty or something.

There are footsteps coming back into the living room and I can’t help but curl in a slight ball of misery. If this is what he wanted, this is what he’s getting. A small part of me is aware that this was just a playful game for him but anything that involves my hair in most any way terrifies me. It’s just one of those things I have issues with. Letting anyone near my hair with anything is a struggle for me.

“Yael?” He sounds a little worried, good. I managed to tear all of two ribbons out of my hair and it was unpleasant, I don’t know how he attached those in but they’re just not going anywhere unless he does something about it. I also moved from the living room to my room and I shut the door, it’s something I never do.

“Yael? Come on, it wasn’t that bad, was it? I guess it looked a little weird but it’s nothing to be mad about, right?” Just like when I first started living here, the uncertainty. How I’d raise my voice just slightly to catch his attention and he’d cringe. I think he’s starting to realize just how he’s messed up.

I hear him talk softly and steps start to retreat. His own move forward. I guess Eoghan still was with him. He’ll have some apologizing to do too, it was his idea when he saw the box.

At first when they left I was in a panic and I pondered just cutting it all off but then I remembered how long it takes to grow back. It would take me the better part of a decade and then some to get it back to where it is now, I’m not that patient. I curl a little tighter on my bed and I shake my head as I sniffle. I refuse to cry, it’s not right. I feel like I did when I was young and I picked on by the bullies.

He knows lightly, carefully on the door. “Yael, are you in there? Please, I’ll take them out of your hair if you want, I’m sorry.”

I sniffle again, a little harder and the door clicks open. I can’t even bring myself to look at him as he steps inside and closes the door again. At least he understands I want quiet. “I’m sorry, love. I guess it wasn’t all that funny an idea… if you’ll let me, I’ll take them all out of you hair and if you want afterwards, we can dump them in the fireplace and never ever think about this ever again.”

I don’t move for a few moments before I slowly turn, though only so he’ll have access to my hair. I’m not moving from this spot otherwise, I have no reason to. I still find myself sniffling and the need to cry is pressing more heavily against me. It’s really like way back then.

He settles on the low bench I keep near my bed and I feel him start to slowly tug, untie and release ribbons from my hair. I press my fist against my mouth for a moment and squeeze my eyes shut. “…the dress was one thing, the confetti another. I can wear frills and lace and even leather but not my hair, it’s the only thing I have going for me.”

He’s quiet while he works but after a moment I can feel him exhale and shake his head lightly. “Yael, you’re absolutely gorgeous, everything about you is breathtaking. I’ll make sure that we never put anything in your hair unless you really say you’re okay with it.”

There’s a long pause as he pulls a few more ribbons loose and he reaches a bit closer, brushing his fingers to my neck. I shiver slightly and feel the tears finally begin to prick at my eyes. I feel like such a child! What’s wrong with me?

“Think you’ll still let me help you brush your hair in the morning, one of these days? I know I fucked up and I can’t apologize enough, Eoghan looked like he was feeling like shit when I told him he better go and I guess he’ll be coming by to apologize in a few days. I’m so sorry.”

At least he was sorry, apologetic. It was hard to want to forgive him but I knew I would anyway before too long. He brushes his fingers carefully through my hair and I feel another shiver coming on. “There, they’re all out. I’m sorry.”

I stay still for another long moment before I finally sit up and turn around. He sees another ribbon that was hidden beneath my head and he carefully undoes it. I look down at him for a long moment, trying to rein in my tears, the wetness I still feel trying to trickle down my cheeks and I once more squeeze my eyes shut.

From my lips, the story of the bullies spill and I hear him catch his breath before he’s against me, just holding me and I stiffen for a heartbeat before I merely go lax and cry. It feels absolutely childish to be crying over something that had been so simple but I guess some scars run deeper than others and are triggered by simple things.

I don’t know how much time pass but I feel him kiss my cheeks, my eyes and my lips ever softly. “Come in, let’s put these in the fireplace and burn them to nothing but ashes. After that, if you’ll let me, we’ll just settle and rest. I know I can’t ask you to forgive me so easily but maybe in time it’ll come.”

Burning these to oblivion sounds like a good plan and I wipe my face as dry as I can. I’ll sleep deeply tonight, hopefully not troubled by visions of my past. That would just be pathetic and I’ve been pathetic enough for today.

can’t be sure

“Have you had time to look at his mind a bit more in depth to know what we’re working with?” His voice is currently painfully grating on my nerves but that’s because of the migraine that took hold just a few minutes ago and I can’t blame him for it. I haven’t had one of those in years and it came out of nowhere, I don’t even know how to really take care of it. I could have some pills, some meds but I don’t know if they’d help.

I grunt something intelligible and he looks at me with worry. He reaches out to touch my temple but I back away with a shake of my head. The issue with these headaches, these migraines, is that they open the doorway. That little door I have in my head that keeps all the voices out. Touch makes it worse, it’s like it amplifies everything and it makes me even more miserable.

Still I slowly breathe in and out, I struggle a little to calm myself and try not to focus on the slow throb of the strengthening pain. “I don’t know for certain. Last time I tried to read him he realized I was doing something and I had to pull him into the mindscape. From what he can do with the garden I’d have to say he’s earth-gifted but I can’t be sure.”

The worry etched on his face grows, my voice is whisper soft and I curl my fingers over my ears. It’s a useless sort of trick, it doesn’t cut out anything at all but it’s what I used to do when I was younger, thinking it would do me some, any good.

“Go on and into the bedroom, Eoghan. I’ve set up some wards around the four corners, it cuts out most of the gifts’ effects.” I didn’t even know he could do something like that. I also wondered if it would help with me. If it helps him with his gift then all the better but we’re different and I can’t help but worry that what works for him won’t work for me.

Still I wobble slightly to my feet and I can see it in his eyes that he wants to help me but he keeps his distance. The last time he touched me while I was dealing with a developing migraine, I had a severe blast from his gift and I ended up spending about a week in a sort of coma. It had been unpleasant from what I recall of it.

The moment I step in the bedroom it’s like I’ve entered a soundproof room. It’s quiet. I’d never noticed that kind of quietness before and it leaves me baffled. My head is still throbbing in a painful way but I can’t hear anything. Maybe the wards or whatever it is work better when in the presence of a migraine. I’ll have to thank him once it passes. Usually it takes a few hours though the last one that made its home in my head took two days to leave. I don’t want to be away from him for two days, even if I can help it in any way.

I don’t know that he can or not touch me here with these wards and not send me into kingdom come for the next week or so. It’s tempting to try it and I think I’d be more than willing to face the consequences. I don’t know that he might be willing to tempt fate, however. I don’t blame him.

“Alexis?” It’s so rare that I call him by his full name but my head still is pounding in a bad way though the lack of voice really is a comfort. He looks into the bedroom, a small almost hopeful smile to his lips. I hold out my arms to him and his smile turns into a frown of uncertainty.

“I think it’s worth a try. I know you don’t want to hurt me but I can’t hear anything, not even the whisper of any voice. If I get a blast from your touch, I’ll live with it. I know you’ll worry but I just, this migraine is killing me and I just want to try to see if your presence might not comfort me, please?”

He still looks torn but he steps closer, into the bedroom and he closes the door. I can feel the pressure in my brain ease a little more still. Whatever these wards, they’re powerful and if I had known about them before I might have asked him to put them up all around the apartment. Maybe around our new house, depends on how draining it is for me.

I move to settle on the bed, setting the covers just so and he rounds the bed, tugging the curtains shut as he goes. It doesn’t change the pulse from the migraine but it does help a bit with the light and less light is less pain for me so I’m thankful. He shuts the window curtains just the same and then he’s back about on his side of the bed. “I really don’t want to hurt you, Eoghan.”

I smile at him best I can and just hold my hand out to him. “Just a little touch, it’ll be a start and we know that the more we touch the clearer the link is. If I feel little to nothing with a little touch, it’ll be a star, we’ll just move gradually.”

He still doesn’t look convinced but he settles onto his side of the bed. He reaches out and brushes the tips of his fingers to mine. I feel a little jolt of energy but nothing like what had me conk out in a bad way last time. I nod and he eases just a little closer, pressing his palm to mine without ever breaking contact. I feel nothing more, no extra jolt and no pull. I smile a little more and he presses his second hand to mind. Again there is just a little something, like a brief electric shock, static more than likely is the sensation but that’s all it is.

“I think we’ll be good. I just get this little zaps, like we’re both charged shock full of static electricity but that’s all. Please?” Still he moves slowly, hand brushing over my arm, over my chest and I feel a bit of a stronger charge but not enough to make me want to change my mind. “Please.”

He sighs but settles down without ever releasing my hand. It seems to be our main link, as if he’s afraid that if he lets go of my hand I might hit the floor or something and I suppose I’m thankful to him for that. Once he’s settled, I move to put one hand on his chest and he releases the one he had been holding. I slide it down to his shoulder, over to his arm as I move to rest myself against him. I hiss slightly at a brief shock I get when I press my chest to his side but it’s all there is to it.

I feel tears prick at my eyes as I curl as close to him as I can and he settles his arm around me. “Thank you. This place is so quiet. The pain is still unbearable but I can’t hear anything and if I can’t hear anything then it’s all the better. The pain will recede, I just don’t know how long it’ll take. “If you need to go anywhere, just say so. Once you’re done you can come back and we’ll take the slow resettle like we just did and I think we’ll be good. Please just don’t stray too long, I think I might go insane. I hate these migraines.”

I know he does do and he only hugs me closer. I close my eyes and try to think of nothing, try to forget the world exists for a while and try to get better.

say it again

The way his eyes lit up when I finally gathered the courage to say those words. These emotions still feel so new to me. Frightening in their own way but I’m aware and I know that what I feel for him is real. It isn’t just about desire or lust or hormones. We’ve only really ‘been’ together for about four months now but we’ve lived under the same roof for nearly a year. I knew from the start that there was something between us, that there would be a bond stronger than that of friendship, I was just afraid of moving too fast. I was afraid of stepping where I shouldn’t have.

“Say it again.” His voice is soft, a little dreamy. He looks at me with those icy blue eyes. When I first met him I thought he was blind though it didn’t make sense, he couldn’t have drawn what he had if he’d been blind. I reach out and brush my fingers over his cheek ever softly. He’s trembling and my lips quirk lightly, not quite playfully, it’s more a pleased, content sort of smile.

A small part of me wants to jump his bones and I don’t know where it came from. It’s a sudden desire but I’m not even sure how I’d go about doing that kind of thing so I repress it. I see the hope in his eyes begin to fade lightly and I shake my head. “Just thinking about how much I want you in my life and trying to see if there isn’t anything else I can do to make it all better.”

These are not the words he wanted to hear again, I can see it in his face, in his eyes and he sighs but doesn’t move from his spot. He’s settled on me. We’re on the couch, we stopped watching whatever it was that was on television a little while ago. Make out sounded the better way to pass time. We’re still fully clothed, we always take our time to explore every little bit of one another. I smile at him again and I brush some hair from his face. “I love you, Yael.”

There, his eyes brighten up again and he breathes another sweet note. He presses his face to my chest as if to hide from the world and I’m sure I would feel his blush if I still wasn’t wearing my shirt. I can see the redness on his cheeks even from this angle. If he wants to half-hide from me I won’t take that away from him. It’s his right to try to hide the delicious blush that cover his cheeks and make him all the more desirable.

For a long time we don’t move from our spots, just pressed together, relaxing and appreciating the present moment for all it is. As I begin to feel myself drift towards a desire for sleep however I gently shake his shoulder. We would both be more comfortable in bed and it would leave us with less kinks to worry about come morning.

He pulls away and stretches before holding his hands out to me and I smile at him before easing up to my feet. We both still essentially sleep in different beds, mostly by the fact that all my clothes are in my room and his in his own but we’ve been sharing a bed to sleep in since his nightmares.

We both head out different ways, mostly to get some sleeping clothes on since the air is cool and while sleeping naked is wonderful it isn’t all that comfortable. We meet back up in the middle with a laugh and I turn back to head to my room and he follows. I suppose at some point we’ll either transform either one of our room into something else and transfer whoever’s clothes into the bedroom that will remain. That will be another beautiful step forward for us.

I move to sit on the bed, pulling the sheets up to me comfortably as he settles next to me. I turn to face him, cup his face in my hands and I kiss him softly, tenderly. I pull back just barely, letting my lips brush his still. “I love you.”

These words will not lose their meaning any time soon but now that I’ve found the courage to utter them they feel so much more powerful. He shivers lightly against my lips, beneath my fingers and he presses his lips back to mine to seal the breathing gap that I had allowed to come between us.

Sleep finds us easily, nestled together, tangled to a point with the sheets and blankets pulled up to our necks. This is a warm and comfortable embrace we share and I don’t think anything could really ruin it at this point. Part of me is aware that we could lose everything (or almost, I’d be more than a little saddened to lose Areli and Lavi!) and I’d still be happy because I have him with me. He’s the most important person to me.

He nuzzles my shoulder in his rest and nestles a little closer still. I can’t fault him for seeking warmth. I would do the same in his position, after all.

I wake up after a few hours and just watch him sleep, feel him resting against me. The slow rise and fall of his chest, the way his fingers twitch slightly to go with whatever it he’s dreaming about. At times I wonder what it would be like in his mind, in his dreams. I know I can’t see any of that but it doesn’t hurt to wonder about that kind of thing.

He stills after a few moments and I almost hold my breath, part of me wondering if somehow I woke him up but he sleeps on, his breathing steady. Just settled into another point of his sleep pattern. I’m just glad he seems to no longer be having the nightmares that left him waking up screaming. Those terrified me. Mostly because I didn’t know how to make any of it better.

When he does wake just an hour or so later, he looks up to me with those slightly dazed, sleepy eyes. He rubs one, then the other and he smiles at me. “I had the most beautiful of dreams.”

I quirk a brow at him as he slowly sits up and stretches, yawning widely. Now that I can mostly move again I follow suit, sitting up and stretching the numbness out of my limbs. I’m not going to prod, he rarely leaves his sentences unfinished like this and he hasn’t really hidden any dreams from me recently. Some are a lot more vivid than others.

“I dreamed that you’d said… well those words.” Ah, he thinks he’s dreamed it all and he’s afraid of uttering them in case I might not be comfortable with the idea of saying them yet myself, that’s sweet in a way I guess. I lean closer to him, just brushing my lips to his tenderly and I can’t help the playful grin that finds me.

“I love you, Yael.”