He didn’t want to wake her, so he didn’t knock. Lights, very low, he sub-vocalized the words, his tongue moving behind his closed lips. Quietly, he stepped to the bed and sank down on the floor beside it, wrapping his arms around his knees and pulling them close to his chest.
She was curled on her side facing away from him, her hair a tangle across the pillow. Slowly, he reached out a hand, not trying to touch her, just bringing a bit of himself a bit closer. She sighed in her sleep and turned, snuggling into the pillow. Her lips pursed, eyes moving behind her lids.
He wondered what she dreamed. His hand was still outstretched and he laid it lightly on the duvet, fingers curled, so close. She sighed and her lips moved, almost a smile. It was a bit of a fight, but he pulled his hand away.
Slowly, his eyes wandered over her face, or the half that wasn’t pressed into the pillow. Wide forehead, sweeping, dark brows, feminine nose, full lips; he traced her features slowly, measuring them against his memory, erasing the image that kept thrusting itself on him -- the blanket pulled off and the empty, empty face.
He frowned and started again: chin, lips, cheek, nose, fluttering eyelashes, brows. She moved lightly against the pillow and a wisp of hair fell forward across her cheek. His fingers twitched, but he stilled them.
She opened her eyes.
She looked at him for a moment, unseeing, and then blinked and focused all at once. A slow breath in and out, and her eyes, dark in the dimness of the room, roamed his face. Her hand moved out from under the covers, one finger lifting to stroke along his hand that still lay open in front of her. His fingers quivered and stilled.
Rose blinked and studied his face. His eyes were huge and he looked ghostly pale in the dimness of her room. He was sitting on the floor in his shirtsleeves, knees drawn up under his chin, one arm outstretched, his hand laying palm up right below her chin. He must have been working because his sleeves were rolled up and she could smell machinery on his hand. She had an urge to move her face, lay her cheek into that palm and feel his fingers move to cradle her face. Instead, she brought her hand up slowly from the warmth of the covers and stroked one finger lazily along his.
His whole body trembled and his eyes darkened even more. Rose stilled, watching him. They were breathing in time, she noticed, both of them taking shallow breaths between parted lips. She wet her lips with a flick of her tongue and pressed them together, taking a long, deep breath through her nose. His eyes were too dark, so she let her lids fall close and moved under the covers, uncurling her body, stretching out, arms over her head. His hand on her bed stayed where it was, unmoving. When she raised her arm, his fingers brushed along the length of the soft underside, and she shivered.
As she brought her arms down, she rested her hand on his, letting her fingers weave into his. His gaze flickered recognition of the touch and she saw a question there. “What?” she whispered.
“I …” His voice was no more than a breath, “May I?” His fingers twitched toward her, outstretched. “I just … not …”
Something passed across his face, but then the skin around his eyes relaxed and he moved his hand forward, his fingertips brushing lightly across her face, tracing brow, eyelashes, nose, cheek; one slow fingertip brushed the softness of her lips.
“I don’t know what I would have done.” His lips barely moved. “Nothing would have stopped me.”
“It’s alright,” she murmured. “I’m alright. Everyone is ... alright.” She ignored Magpie. He’d brought his own doom.
Slowly, her own hand reached out, her fingertips finding his cheek, up to his temple and down to his jaw. Without thinking, desperately not thinking, she swept her fingers back, through his hair until she was holding the back of his head in her palm.
His fingertips brushed up the side of her face as she brought him forward, pushing her hair out of the way. His lips were very soft. With a sigh, she licked her tongue lightly across his closed lips and he groaned. His hands moved to frame her face and he shifted slightly, fitting his face against hers, his tongue moving forward to stroke against her lips, lazily, lips nibbling, and then thrusting forward, swirling against her, cool velvet.
He moved, and she noticed that she had her fists in the front of his shirt and was pulling him up so that he lay sprawled across her. She smiled against his lips and kissed him again, running her hand through his hair, across the softness of his nape, and slowly down the length of his back.
He hummed deep in his throat and flexed like a cat.
“Rose.” Again, his fingers played across her face, fingertips across her cheek and the pad of his thumb tracing her lips. She nibbled his thumb, watching him. His own mouth opened, his tongue unconsciously mimicking hers. She chuckled, and his eyes flicked up to hers, dancing. He brushed his thumb again over her lips and then down to her chin, holding her still and dipping his face down into hers.