By Black Rose
The day had dawned cloudy, a heavy overcast that flattened the waves beyond the beach and turned the normally blue waters gunmetal gray with white tipped peaks. A stay indoors sort of day, I had announced over breakfast, after having stepped out on the patio to test the damp breeze that was colder than I'd gotten used to enjoying. Squall, already buried nose deep in some book that was dauntingly thick, agreed - which is to say he didn't disagree, and I'd learned long ago to interpret his different degrees of silence.
We rinsed out the dishes together and I was still drying off my hands when he disappeared into his office, the steady click-tap of keyboard strokes echoing through the open door soon after. No surprise there, and open door or no I wasn't about to interrupt whatever he was working on. It left me with nothing to do, but that really didn't bother me. Odd thing about retirement - you get used to doing nothing fairly quickly. At least, *I* had. "Nothing" was still a pleasant surprise, filled with scores of things I could *choose* to do instead of things on the list that had to be done and preferably the day before.
A glance out the window showed that the clouds were getting, if anything, heavier instead of clearing away. Squall, I decided, had the right idea; just not the right execution. A book, yes, with a blanket, and a couch and pillows and a cup of hot tea. That sounded about perfect. I had shelves of things that I'd been meaning to read since forever and had never gotten around to, usually for lack of time. A gray, wet fall day sounded like the perfect opportunity.
I picked a book off the shelves at random, chosen more for the brightly colored cover than because I had any idea what it was about or recollection of how I'd ended up with a copy of it in the first place. Hot water in the kettle and tea bags in the cupboard; I didn't bother to call back to the office and ask if Squall wanted any. If it was hot and wasn't coffee then the chances of him touching it were next to nothing, and there were several cups of coffee left warming in the pot.
It took me a few minutes and two tries to get properly settled on the couch, stretched across the cushions with a pillow at my back and a blanket tucked around my feet. Gold light from the lamps chased away the dreary gray coming through the windows, the tea was warm and sweet, and the quick, steady tap of Squall's fingers on the keyboard could just faintly be heard from down the hall.
The book, I found, was a series of fictional short stories dramatizing notable points in Galbadia's history. I was three stories into it, content to just enjoy the images the words spun out, before memory stirred sluggishly and I realized it was probably something I had read and enjoyed back in university. Which didn't explain how I had gotten a copy of it in Esthar, unless Kiros or Ward... I flipped to the front and yes, there it was, penciled in Ward's neat, blocky script, my name and a date - six years prior? Birthday, I guessed, or midwinter. Only Ward had that kind of patience, to track down a copy of something over ten years out of print. It was a thoughtful gift; I could dimly recall a sense of familiarity, but not enough to ruin the enjoyment of re-reading the stories.
It was another story and a half before I glanced up to realize it was nearly noon, the morning hours slipping by in the rhythm of turning pages and the flat light that never seemed to change. My stomach took belated notice, grumbling a protest over how long ago breakfast had been, and the tea in my mug had gone ice cold, dregs of leaf powder forming serpentine black swirls on the bottom of the cup. I put the book aside and kicked my way free of the blanket, stretching the stiffness from my back as I padded into the kitchen.
There were deli meats in the refrigerator, and left overs from dinner the night before. Portable sounded better than hot. I dug out the bread and a knife. "Squall? Do you want a sandwich?"
No answer, which meant he probably had headphones on, something fast paced, repetitive and club-like droning into his eardrums. But the tap of his typing wasn't coming from the office any more and when I stuck my head around the door, curious, his chair was empty, the laptop folded away dark and quiet. "Squall?"
Still no answer, the house silent. He would have to have gone out the back in order to sneak out without me noticing and the back door had a tendancy to slam shut when the wind was blowing. I tried again, raising my voice. "Squall?" Still nothing.
I put the bread away and started upstairs, the carpet warm underfoot after the cool kitchen tiles. The upper level was just as quiet as the lower, lights out and dimly lit by the watery, halfhearted daylight seeping in from outside. I peered into empty rooms and had just about decided that maybe he *had* managed to sneak outside - probably for a jog up and down the beach - when a second glance into our bedroom turned into the jackpot. He was there, tucked into the cushioned seat of the big bay window, as blanket wrapped as I had been downstairs and half hidden in the curtains.
Asleep. Sound asleep, his cheek pillowed on the window itself, small, steady breaths misting the glass in faint bursts of fog. A book, the same one he had been reading over breakfast, was cradled loosely in his hands, his place marked with one thumb where the pages had fallen closed. His hair was tumbled forward over his eyes, curving loose against his cheek and trailing down to brush the collar of his tshirt. It was getting almost as long as mine had been when we first met, and even less inclined to behave.
A year prior I wouldn't have dared risk disturbing him. Hells, a year prior I wouldn't have dared to step foot in the room, much less creep within arm's reach. He would have been awake on a hairtrigger, nerves wound tight as steel springs, and I would have been facing down a knife blade or gun barrel before I'd gotten within ten feet. But I wasn't the only one who had found that retirement from active duty suited me, and when I tiptoed close and cautiously reached out to grasp the book he only stirred slightly, curling in towards the window as he shifted. I held my breath, easing the heavy thing out of his hands.
He wasn't primed for the front lines any more but it was a vain hope to not wake him at all. His eyes flickered open as the book slid free, breath catching with a soft, wordless noise.
"You fell asleep," I whispered. He blinked again, eyes focusing, and half stifled a yawn as he relenquished the book. I glanced at it curiously as I bent to put it on the floor; the page he had been reading was covered in hundreds of lines of coded nonsense syllables and numbers, laid out in patterns that made my eyes ache. "Ugh. I see *why*. What is it?"
"Studying," Squall said on the exhale of another yawn. "Proficiency certification." Warm fingers reached out to wrap around my wrist, content to hold.
"Headache inducing," I corrected. "Give yourself eyestrain." He pulled his feet up, giving me room to drop down to the window seat. I reached out with my free hand to run my fingers down his cheek, then leaned in to follow them with a light kiss. "Tired?"
Squall shook his head, lacing his fingers through mine. He *did* look better, I had to admit. The circles under his eyes had faded in the last weeks from bruises to mere shadows beneath his lashes and the sharp lines of tension had drained from his jaw. I moved to brush another kiss across his lips but he pulled back with a wry smile and plucked the reading glasses from my nose, slipping them smoothly off. "Eye strain?" he queried dryly in mock imitation of my own tone as he set them aside.
"Forgot I had them on," I sheepishly admitted.
"Better than when you forget you *own* them," he scolded but anything else he might have said was lost, swallowed in a kiss.
His mouth opened easily under mine, his hands moving up to grasp at my shirt as he shifted to give me room. He tasted warm, lips soft with the dregs of sleep, lazy and relaxed. A second kiss, too tempting not to take, drew a slow, murmured sound from his throat as his fingers slid into my hair.
Boneless, sweet tasting and languidly willing, with eyes half open, sleep mussed and a yawn still hovering on his lips. I broke the kiss reluctantly, nuzzling his cheek. "Should I take you back to bed?"
"Just got up," he objected, but it was less of a protest than an observation. His hands slipped around the back of my neck, thumbs digging into the tendons.
I let my head drop down to his shoulder, arching into the massage. "Feels good," I mumbled.
"So do you," he breathed. He twisted, kicking half free of the blanket, and his legs slid easily over my thighs. I could feel the leap of his heartbeat beneath my lips. "Laguna..."
His voice, already sleep husky, throbbed over the vowels of my name with a wordless entreaty that sank through me in a warm rush. I caught the flicker of his pulse between my lips and listened to the tiny sounds that bubbled up from his throat in time to the slide of my tongue over his skin. The remnants of sleep freed his vocal chords, half murmured moans sliding past his lips before he could remember to bite them back, loud in the silence.
The sky beyond the window glass was a flat, dark gray, the gust of the wind setting the house to creaking softly around us. I slid my hands beneath the blanket, under the soft folds of his tshirt, to find smooth, hot skin that leapt beneath my fingers. The trail of his pulse lead up the column of his throat, his fingers catching and tangling in my hair as I marked a path of wet, open mouthed kisses over his skin. Another moan escaped censorship on the tail end of an indrawn gasp that brushed hot over my ear.
Loose sweat pants slid easily over his hips, the material worn thin and baby soft. Mine, I realized; the drawstring double knotted for my waist, not his. There was nothing beneath them but sleep warmed skin and his thighs tightened around my hips, back arching, as I slid my palms under the smooth curve of his ass. "Yes..."
It was breathed low and soft, the final s drawn out between his teeth in a hiss. It was an addictive sound, pure sex poured straight from my ears to pool hot and greedy in my veins. I pushed him back against the window frame, his body sliding easily beneath me as he squirmed. "Fuck the bed," I whispered, nipping at the tiny silver stud in his ear.
He laughed softly, hot breaths puffed against my skin, but the sound cut off in a gasp as I slipped a hand between his thighs. He was hot and heavy against my palm, silk skin and the tiny, involuntary thrusts of his hips as he pushed into the curve of my fingers. His fists were clenched against my shoulders and he twisted his head, his whisper muffled against my cheek even as his throat stretched out, bare and inviting, beneath my mouth. "Laguna..."
I trailed tiny bites up underneath his chin, forcing his head back as small answering sounds vibrated underneath my lips, caught and smothered against his clenched teeth. "Want to hear you," I breathed against his mouth. His lips opened against mine, a moan swallowed between us as I traced him by touch, familiar and right beneath my fingertips.
It was never easy, habit too long ingrained to be tossed away in a scant few weeks. But caught with sleep still lingering hazy on his mind, if I played it just right... hard but not hard *enough*, a fast assault with a drawn out campaign, teasing with a steady promise that would leave him slick and straining in my hands... and my reward was sound. *His* sound, a low, breathless, keening moan that began in his chest, winding slow up his throat to escape past the vigilance of his lips with every stroke of my hand. I could draw it from him, circled between thumb and forefinger, base to crown and back in a rhythm that his hips echoed, breath sucked in on the upstroke and out with the down as a wordless whimper, full of "mmm" and "nnn", trickled in traitorous bursts from his tongue.
Hyne, there were times I thought I could come just from listening to him, or from watching the play of muscles sliding under rose flushed skin and the way his eyes would go from pale gray to glassy black, dark and hazy. Every gasped breath was music, punctuated with the percussion of a moan, and where his hand pressed, sliding, across the window glass the ghost of his heat wreathed his fingers in leaping tendrils of steaming fog. Outside the wind had picked up, the ocean filled with white capped bursts of spray that rose and fell all across the horizon.
Pale lightning flashed, arching from cloud to wave in a blinding streak, the booming roll of the thunder rattling the windows. I closed my eyes, the pattern of it painted in red starbursts across my inner eyelid, and listened to the low, full throated cry that wrung from Squall's lips as I slid a sweat slicked finger into the heat of his body.
In and up, out and down, a two-fold rhythm caught between my hands that arched his back, hips pushed up, his breath coming hard and fast between inarticulate sounds. Close, wound tight and coiling, trembling between his thighs as I found a pattern that pushed short, sharp cries from his throat and sent answering tremors through my own spine. Closer, faster, balanced on a thin line between whimper and scream, eyes closed and teeth sunk into his lower lip as he twisted.
I leaned down and caught his lips against mine, open mouthed and gasping. The cry burst free, the vowels of my name drawn out in a hard, harsh growl that echoed louder than the storm against my ears as I felt his muscles clench, shudders arching through him, and liquid heat spilled, wet, through my fingers.
The window seat really wasn't big enough for two but he hooked his fingers into the folds of my shirt, tugging me down, and I went just to feel the tiny, secondary tremors shudder through him as I settled heavy between his thighs, the panted rhythm of his breath catching as he arched into me. I pushed against him, my own breath aching in my throat, and his hands tightened on my shoulders as he muffled a small cry against my lips. "Ah... Laguna..."
"Shh." But I couldn't suit actions to words, rocking gently into the cradle of his hips as he arched up to meet me. "Shh. Take your time."
"God..." Squall's lips trailed over my jaw, his fingers tangling in my hair. His eyes, beneath the slitted fringe of his lashes, were dark and lust dialated. "You... ah... no, don't stop..."
I leaned into the shuddering grasp of his thighs, my own moan quietly echoing his. "Won't," I promised breathlessly, pressing a kiss to his throat as thunder rumbled overhead in heavy bass drumbeats. "Catch your breath. Then I'm taking you back to that bed..."
He laughed softly. "You and that bed... mmmnn... Laguna... ah... *fuck*... fuck the bed, here is good, here is *fine*..."
"Sure?" I asked, but I was already pushing away blankets and clothes alike, his skin hot to the touch and his fingers, where they burrowed beneath fabric, even hotter.
"Here," Squall growled, his mouth hard against mine. "Right here. You, me... window..." He lips slid across my cheek, burning warmth, our breath shared in quick gasps. His voice, against my ear, was a low, breathless rumble that drowned out the thunder and the rushing, pattering purr of the rain. "...make me *scream*."
I kissed him, hard and gasping, and listened to the sweet sound of his voice drown out the passing of the storm.
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