Expectations (cont)

And I was aware of a feeling of being sheltered and cherished. Of being loved and treasured. I felt... somewhat less than flawed. Heero was a comforting, protective presence. An anchor in my uncertain world. I just wanted to curl there with him forever. To set aside the cares and worries of the world and let him watch over me.

When his own synapses decided to function again, there was the brush of soft kisses along my neck and collarbone. ‘Are you all right?’ he asked me, voice soft as though not to disturb the peace of the moment.

I hummed an affirmative and managed to turn my head enough to nuzzle against him.

He grew quiet for a moment and then ventured, ‘Thank you. I’ve wanted this... for so long.’

‘I know,’ I whispered, feeling the niggling presence of guilt and not wanting to deal with it. ‘I’m sorry... I...’

‘Hush,’ he told me, lifting his head to continue his rain of kisses across my chest. ‘You weren’t ready. It wouldn’t have been this... right if we’d pushed it too soon.’

I didn’t quite know what to say to that and so held my tongue, looking up at the ceiling and wondering why it was so hard to focus on it. Heero raised his head to look at me, frowned faintly, and made to lever up. I couldn’t help a sound of protest, desperate not to lose the moment. Afraid that his moving away would steal this precious and rare moment of... peace. Of... surrender.

‘Please don’t take this feeling away from me,’ I gasped, before I had a chance to stop myself, my arms closing around him to hold him where he was.

He hesitated, but then relaxed against me, looking at me intently. ‘Are you... all right?’ he pressed, fingers brushing over my cheek.

‘I’m fine,’ I smiled for him. ‘Just stay a bit longer?’

‘Of course,’ he whispered and bent to kissing his way up the curve of my face, lingering at the corners of my eyes. ‘There’s no place in the world I’d rather be than where I am right now.’

I had to grin, and I’m sure I looked like a loon with my eyes trying to drift shut.

He seemed... terribly fascinated with my face, gently kissing and stroking along my jaw line. ‘God,’ he murmured. ‘I never imagined it would feel this good.’

I blinked open sleepy eyes to regard him, thinking about that, and suddenly understanding that he’d never... taken the dominant role before. I thought my heart would burst in my chest with the knowledge. Of all my regrets, that one had always nagged at me in a way far different than all the others. That Heero’d had his first time with someone else. It was a balm to my spirit to know that we’d finally shared something together that had been new to us both. Don’t ask me why that was so important to me... but it was.

There was a light in his eyes when I looked, that told me he understood just what he’d implied and had said it on purpose, giving me that awareness as a kind of gift. I turned to kiss him, acknowledging it. ‘That... means a great deal to me,’ was all I could manage to tell him, but his soft smile was answer enough.

I dozed off with him still trapped inside me, with his body still covering and shielding mine. At some point he must have actually left the bed, because when I woke a few hours later I had been cleaned up and tucked in, and Heero was asleep beside me.

I will spare you the... somewhat less than romantic reason for my sudden awakening at that ungodly hour. Let’s just suffice it to say I needed to make a trip to the bathroom and leave it at that, shall we? It wasn’t an entirely unexpected thing, but my first experience with it, and by the time I was done and cleaned up, I was wide-awake.

I knew if I tried going back to bed at that point, I’d only end up tossing and turning until I woke poor Heero up, so I snagged my discarded jeans from the bathroom and wandered off downstairs. I had a vague thought about making some hot chocolate or something, but decided I would make too much noise trying to find everything in the not-yet-familiar kitchen, and dismissed the idea.

The house was very strange in the dark. I felt oddly like I was intruding where I didn’t belong, as I padded silently through the maze of boxes, both full and empty. I tried to settle in the living room, but most of the last load from the apartment had been dumped there and it wasn’t very inviting. I paced out of there and through our little dining room, remembering the sound of Trowa and Quatre’s voices as they had teased each other. It gave me a warm feeling, the notion that this house... our house was already filling with new memories. Was already storing the echoes of my friend’s voices. Our friend’s voices. That thought made me feel faintly melancholy, wondering if that room would ever know the sound of Hayden’s deep laugh, would ever hear the bite of Toria’s wit.

Those were my friends, and God how I missed them sometimes. But their voices... their very presence, made me miss something else until my heart ached in my chest. Sometimes it felt like I was drifting between two lives. Like I wasn’t Captain Maxwell the ship’s pilot anymore, but I wasn’t quite... whoever the hell I was going to be someday. Just... drifting.

I left that room and went into the kitchen; eyes adjusted enough to the near darkness that I could see our dishes stacked in the drainer to dry. It was a small touch of the familiar, making me feel a little less lost in the big house.

Lost. Drifting. What odd things to be thinking about after... what had just happened between Heero and me.

I shivered, there in the middle of our ugly kitchen, just thinking about it. God... I’d never in my life felt as anchored and steady as I had with Heero. If I thought about it too much, let myself remember too much... I ached with wanting to go seek him out. Wanting to bury myself in his arms. But it wasn’t fair to wake him just because my mind was so full of thoughts, just because I was so restless.

I left the kitchen, drawn to walk the rest of our house, perhaps checking the parameters. Perhaps just doubting the reality of it. I found myself wondering what the place had looked like when Pat and Lester had lived there. Had there been a table in the hall? Maybe where the phone sat? Or a place where Pat put fresh flowers from her gardens? There were a few nails in the hall and I wondered what pictures had hung there. The kids? Each other? Maybe Lester had painted and there’d been a portrait of the willow tree in the backyard. Or Pat working with her flowers.

I found myself in the back room. In my studio not-quite-born, and there sat the couch from the apartment. It was like finding an old friend in an unexpected place. It rather surprised me, that strange feeling. I had spent a lot of time convalescing on the damn thing, and would have expected it to fill me with the same harsh memories that my old bed did. But it didn’t. Maybe it was the fact that I’d tried to spend my darkest moments in the privacy of my room, in that bed. That I had tried to hide my frustration and fear from Heero, who had been bearing enough burdens during those horrible months. But... the times out in the living room of the apartment, spent with Heero... were not so bitter. Not so dark.

I understood his remark then, when we had left that place for the last time. ‘Not all of my memories of our time here are... bad ones,’ he had said, and it had surprised me a little. But I suppose that not all of mine had been bad ones either.

I think... before the weekend was over... I needed to tell him that.

The studio, with all its windows, was lit by a vibrant moon, shadows from the trees outside dancing across the floor and walls. The play of light spoke to my muse and I found myself hunting for the box that held my art supplies.

It wasn’t hard to find, Heero is every bit as organized as you would have expected, and every box in the house was labeled with a concise list of its contents. I was settled on the end of the couch, sitting in a splash of moonlight, sketchpad in hand, in a matter of minutes.

The room really was not much more than a closed in porch and it was damn cool out there. I pulled my legs up to tuck under me and propped my sketchpad against my knees, burrowing into the couch cushions. I caught a hint of Heero’s scent and couldn’t help smiling softly.

I sketched the ghosts of trees for a bit, and thought about memories.

I tried to capture the ethereal feel of the light, and thought about changes.

I drew leaves on trees that didn’t have them, and thought about the future.

I blocked in shadows as deep as the night, and thought about the past.

Then I just sat for a while, watching the shifting patterns, and tried to still the maelstrom in my head, tried to make sense of the waking dreams.

I seemed strangely bereft of ghosts and hamsters that night. Solo didn’t come to tease me about my ‘virginity’; hamsters did not come to wave banners under my nose. Guilt beast did not come to join me on the couch. It was peaceful. It was lonely, being left to think my own thoughts.

I couldn’t tell you what all ran through my head that night. Visions of Mickey in his hospital bed somewhere. The lines of Toria’s e-mail, requesting my status in the land of the living. Memories of some of those old songs the Musketeers had sung so very badly. Thoughts of space. Thoughts of piloting. Feelings of regret. Feelings of... not regret. Heero. The memory of Heero’s hands on me. The feel of his lips on mine.

I remembered the sketch he had asked me to do for him, of the window in the apartment and I folded back the page that held the fragments of my night, finding a clean page. I thought about that window, pulling up what I had tucked away and began to sketch. I tried to think about those melancholy days of standing in that window looking out, seeing... not much of anything. Trying to capture for Heero what he seemed to want to remember.

But what kept coming to my mind was the sight of him, rising above me. The feel of his hips between my thighs. The sounds of elation passing his lips.

God... what I had seen in his face. What I had felt in my heart.

It threatened to overwhelm me, sitting there in the moonlight, and I had to pause until my sight cleared and my hands stopped shaking.

It’s not sex, damn it. It’s... two souls finding each other in the dark. It’s... when something is broken and is only whole when the two halves come together. I can’t explain it. I can only feel it. If you ever find it, don’t let it go. Don’t ever let it go. Even when it isn’t easy. Even when it hurts. Even when it gets confused. Nothing in all the heavens and the Earth is perfect, but what I had in Heero was as close as it fucking gets. I can’t name it, and I can only sound like a besotted idiot trying to explain the unexplainable. I can’t do it, there just aren’t words.

But when I looked down into my lap, I saw it. I hadn’t sketched the window picture I had intended, is that any surprise? Do I ever damn well draw what I plan to?

You remember that portrait I’d done of myself... selves, on the way to L3? I held its... answer in my hands.

The man and the little boy who had seemed so lost, in the other picture, had been found. The two who had seemed so tired were now resting. The pair that had been so broken and worn, were made whole.

The portrait is of Heero, settled back with a gentle smile on his face. I could have gazed on that expression all damn day. It’s a rare and open moment that my artist’s memory had squirreled away for me. I am tucked up against his right side and his arm is tight around me, holding me close and shielding me. I am resting peacefully in his care, all the lines of worry and exhaustion gone from my face. On his other side, the child... No... I am curled in a ball, head resting on his knee. Sleeping the way only small children can sleep, the fear gone from my face, his hand resting lightly on my back.

He holds all of me.

You need more explanation than that? I can’t give it; just that and no more.

Heero holds all of me.

He found me there, some hours later, asleep on the couch. There was the glow of dawn in the air when I opened my eyes at his touch, but I didn’t notice. Noticed nothing at all but the shine of unabashed tears on Heero’s face. He held my sketchpad in his hands. I half expected him to turn away when he saw me awake. He never lets me see him cry, but he surprised me, only reaching to cup my cheek.

‘That’s all I’ve ever wanted,’ he whispered, voice terribly unsteady.

I reached for him, drawing him into my arms. He was still warm from bed and his heated flesh coming to rest against my chilled skin made us both shiver.

‘I know,’ I told him, tugging until he came to lie with me, wrapping me against him to share his warmth. ‘This is really forever, isn’t it?’ I whispered, not sure I wanted anyone to hear the words but him.

‘I hope so,’ he said, equally softly, lifting his head to look down at me. ‘God, I hope so.’

I pulled his face down to gently kiss the tears away, feeling... almost awed that he’d let me see him like this. Distantly, I heard the sketchpad drop to the floor, and I smiled up at him, feeling that thing inside me letting go and relaxing.

‘Give me that feeling again,’ I sighed, and watched that light come back into his eyes.

We were finally home.

End of Expectations

[1] ‘Wanderlust’ by Heather Alexander
[2] ‘The poor Man’s Garden’ by Mary Howitt.

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