Continued from here
She wallows neck-deep in the water and closes her eyes. This is the closest she’s felt to being at home in her own skin. She allows herself to dream.
She dreams that he comes knocking, that she lets him in.
That he sees her naked beneath the bath-water.
She wants him to see her naked. She wants to know what he thinks when he sees her with nothing between them but themselves.
Sometimes she wants so much she aches.
A knock on the door.
His voice is soft, uncharacteristically uncertain.
She slides down under the bubbles and says nothing.
He runs like the devil’s on his tail, leaping over puddles and rooftops with the same practised ease.
The rain stings his face, the air sears his lungs. He can hardly breathe. His power is thrumming under the pores of his skin, electric, crackling through every nerve and for the first time in a long time he feels pain, raw and physical.
He throws himself between the space of two buildings, lands clumsily, bites dust.
There is blood in his mouth, on his stomach and fingers, and he tries to ignore it, he tries to push himself up, but -
Sleek and satiny, she crosses the room in a red dress and walks right up to him, says:-
She places a gloved hand on his abdomen and he winces. She moves her hand, confused.
“Ribs got busted,” he explains, snatching back her hand and placing it higher, on his chest. “Punctured a lung…”
“All in a day’s work.”
“No dancin’. Sorry.”
The mistletoe sparkles in the twilight. He doesn’t even joke about it anymore. He lifts her hand to his lips and she feels the heat of them on her fingers.
Not. Close. Enough.
The cards rain down all around him like a snowstorm, landing at his feet with the rest of his nearly-destroyed room.
He cracks his knuckles, his fingers, willing a spark, anything. Nothing. He’s nothing. Naked.
It isn’t coming back. The power. It’s gone. Gone forever.
Well shit. At least he can still pick pockets, kick ass, screw women and…
He kicks a piece of chair across the room.
He’s naked. So is she. He doesn’t like it. It freaks the hell outta him.
He picks up a card, tries to charge it. Scowls.
Queen of Hearts.
Syncopated beats and neon lights; Kitty is lost in the crowd, and she plunges headfirst into the tidal wave of bodies, all sweat and pheromones and touch after touch after touch after touch…
Later she stands outside on the street, the bass thrumming through her stomach, her skin raw with sensation. Her bare flesh prickles with more than just the cold; her heart is in her mouth. The memory of contact is almost too much to bear.
She shivers now, wide awake. Everything is suddenly new and tumultuous, vast and endless.
Only now they unfold before her.
All the possibilities.
He dares himself to be naked to his soul. He is all at once scared and elated, but he does it for her, for them. He can’t tell her what this means to him. He doesn’t have the words.
“I love you,” she tells him.
She wraps herself around him, so soft, so warm, so willing, and this time he is not being selfish because somehow she has disarmed him and he’s not in control anymore…
Neither is she.
He can do whatever he wants to her and he does, not because he can, but because he loves her too…
Sugar and spice and all things nice. That’s what little girls are made of.
Sugar and spice.
She laughs. It’s bitter.
Rogue, concentrate! Emma’s voice resounds in her head.
She spins on her heel, smashes a gloved fist into someone’s jaw. She feels bone crunch beneath her knuckles and feels a surge of satisfaction flood her senses.
Sugar and spice.
Blood inside her gloves, between her fingers…
That’s what little girls are made of.
Boot heel in solar plexus and the crunch of teeth biting dust…
Not this li’l gal.
She’s made of nails an’ if y’touch her you’ll die.
Itchy feet, itchy fingers.
He doesn’t run – he walks – but inside he’s running, and the knuckles of the hand holding the emerald are white.
The darkness swallows him up like ink. When it spits him out it is back out onto the streets, wading through soupy air thick with the scent of spices and the sound of jazz. He’s come home to run away; he’s come home to seek refuge.
The girl on the corner smiles his way. Waxy brown curls glisten in the lamplight.
He picks the pocket of a random passer-by and smiles back.
He walks on over.
Remy isn’t good at keeping still.
Even when he’s silent his fingers are moving, fanning a pack of cards, back, forth, whirr, shlick.
It’s been six months, and she’s not angry anymore. She thinks she might be ready if he is.
She finds his foot beneath the War Room table, bumps it with her own. He bumps it back, silly, playful, forgiving.
And he’s still now, the cards quiet in his hands. His foot hooks her calf, twines their legs together.
Gawd, Ah’ve missed yah, she broadcasts breathlessly, impulsively, and though he can’t hear, she couldn’t care less who does.
It isn’t funny. Staring death in the face.
It’s goddamn beautiful… Humbling. Here he is light, he is perfect. He is new.
But she calls his name and, “Ah love you,” she says, just like the first time; and in this place he sees what it really means – so many nuances of emotion he’d never known existed, and this time he’s not afraid to say it, he’s not afraid to mean it.
She fights for him, the way he couldn’t for her, so damn stubborn…
And he turns back from the light.
Because it’s what he does best.
Seize the Day
Her toes curl in warm sand only to be washed by the tide, and on it goes, on and on…
And her hand curls around his, as if she had never let him go.
This is what it is to be ‘normal’. Quiet. Static. Years of running have brought her here. How long she’ll stay, she doesn’t know but… right now, she’s happy standing where her footsteps fall.
Only the sea changes now, ticking away time – but they’ll ignore it, just for a little while.
Together they slide into the sunset without even a word between them.