love, by default

nc-17 | major character death | sexual content

"Don't," she said suddenly, tearfully, putting her fingers over his mouth. "Don't say it."

It left him confused. He watched as she blinked and tears spilled out onto her cheeks. Unsure of what he had done wrong, and not wanting to make the situation worse, he just pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her. She rested her forehead against his. The sound of her crying was almost enough to set him off.

"Why?" he said, his voice low and broken.

"You don't mean it. You can't mean it."

He flinched, and her sobs intensified. She started apologizing, profusely, for everything and anything. When she tried to pull away, he tightened his hold, refusing to let her leave the couch.

"Why not?"

She pursed her lips, shaking her head as she bunched up his shirt in her hands. "We might be the only people alive on the planet, Josh. It's ... love by default, if anything. You can't have anyone else, so ... just don't."

"That's the silliest thing I've ever heard," he whispered. "I loved you before this." He wasn't quite sure if that was completely true, but it was irrelevant now, and he thought it would comfort her.

"But I'm not that person anymore."

There's no way I can win this, he thought. "Donna."

"Just drop it. I don't want to talk about this anymore."

He fell silent, caressing her back as he kissed her face, trying to conjure up the right words to ease her concerns. The tension began to slip away, and he felt her grinding her hips against him. It would be easy to slip her out of her clothing, lay her back on the couch or the floor. Instead:

"Do you love me?"

"Josh."

"Do you?"

"Would you even believe me if I said I did?"

He pressed his lips to her ear, flicking the lobe with his tongue, enjoying the way she shivered in his embrace. "Yes."

"How can you say that?"

"Because I don't think you'd lie to me. Not about something like this."

She leaned back, resting her rear on his thighs. Uncomfortable silence for several moments. "What if I'm lying to myself? What if it's not love, but ... I don't know. Gratitude? Fear?"

"You're afraid of me?"

"No, no, no. Fear of being alone."

He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply as she squeezed his shoulders. When he reopened them, he found her staring at him, her lower lip trembling again.

"I trust you," he said, not having anything else to offer her.

Her hands moved to his face, fingers tracing the outline of his lips. He could hardly breathe; the silence seemed have a physical presence, pressing on his chest.

"I loved you before," she finally said. "And I think I love you now."

"I love you, too," he rasped, and she crushed her lips to his. She tugged insistently at his shirt, and he fought the clasp on her bra. Within moments, their clothing was thrown aside. She left him only to retrieve a condom; he ripped it open with record speed, and then she was on top of him, taking him inside her. With his hands on her hips, he controlled their union, allowing her to rub her clit, almost violently.

With one final thrust up, he came, groaning loudly as she screeched gibberish. She collapsed on top of him, holding him tightly. There was the matter of the condom, but he didn't move.

"I'm going to tell you that every day until you believe it," he whispered. He partly hoped she would assure him that she already did, but wasn't surprised when she simply kissed him.

(fin.)