August 30, 2002 (September, 2002)

Disclaimer: I'd like to say that this was Merry's idea, but her idea was a lot funnier. Sorry. Many thanks to Georgina. Feedback is nice, don't archive without permission, blah blah.


Time doesn't stop. It never does when you want it to, and you know it won't stop now, when you press the button on the alarm before it rings and turn over, pushing your face into his shoulder and squeezing your eyes shut. He's awake, anyway, you can feel that. His breath comes a little faster in your hair, and after a while, he lifts a hand and winds a finger into a curl right by the temple.

"You know I got to get up," he says.

You push even closer, and now your mouth is against his collarbone.The skin is smooth and soft except down where the collarbone joins the breastbone, where you bit down last night and there are small, tender, teeth-shaped bruises. They don't taste any different.

"You've lost weight." Nearly all the softness is gone from his face, and his eyebrows are comfortably uneven for the first time in years. The curve of his ass still fits perfectly against the curve of your hand, though. You know. You checked.

"I'll put it back on." He kisses your hairline. "I'll start right now, if we get up for breakfast."

"Breakfast could be a bad idea. If you get sick — didn't they say some of your training could make you sick?"

"That was the zero g stuff, not sitting in front of a computer screen. And if I do get sick, I'd rather have something to puke up." The morning rasp in his voice is smoothing out already. "What time is your flight?"

You lick the bruises again. "What flight?"

He threads his fingers into your hair and pulls, and you shiver and press closer. Lick. Again. It's like a painting, you think. Just tiny colored dots up close, but from a distance you can see what it really is. You lick his chest, tongue a nipple and feel the skin shiver. There's a scratchier note in his voice again as he says, "No, C. I'm getting up. This isn't something I can fuck around with."

"I know," you say, because you do. You kiss the dip of his breastbone and sit up. He looks gorgeous sprawled there on the scratchy sheets, and he smiles at you like it's Christmas, and then he gets up and goes into the bathroom. You know he's going to take a shower, and you wish he wouldn't.

You wrote your name on him. You want it to stay there.

The bed feels colder now. You try to remember what time your flight is. When you go to the window, you can see the sun, and you hope only the sun can see you back when you stand there naked.

You look through the glass, look up at the sky, and it's blue and empty. You read somewhere that there are thousands of things up there going around and around, satellites and pieces of satellites, launched, abandoned, disintegrating. You can't see anything, but you know time doesn't stop unless you travel faster than light.

You can't make it stop, and you can't make it go faster. You know he's going away.

You think you know that he's coming back.

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