spem reduxit

r | sexual content

He thought she'd want to make love. Because it was their first night in what he presumed was their new home, because it was the first time in months (had it been months?) that they allowed themselves the luxury of a shower, because they had a bed and brand-new sheets and blessed electricity, even if they were only allowed to have it on for six hours a day, because, for once, he couldn't make out the faint smell of decaying flesh. And because it had been four days, and he was certain she needed it as much as he did.

But she pulled away from his touch, continuing to smooth down the sheets she had gotten at the store.

"You don't have to stay with me, you know." She turned to look at him, her face red and blotchy.

"What are you talking about?" he whispered.

"You spent a lot of time talking to Rachel."

He laughed. "Because I was - am - impressed. Aren't you?"

Her breathing quickened and he watched helplessly as she began to cry. "They won't let us stay here."

"You heard what she said. Anyone can stay who pulls their own weight and doesn't cause trouble."

"And how are we going to pull our own weight? They don't have any need for us here. What are they going to do with a political hack and a college dropout?"

He stepped closer, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "I'm sure they'll need manual laborers."

"You can't do that. Not anything strenuous."

"Then I'll ... cook."

"Oh, that's great," she said sarcastically. "And if there were a newspaper around here, the headline would read, '182 People Survive Apocalyptic Plague, Only to Die, Tragically, of Food Poisoning, at the Hands of Joshua Lyman.'"

"That's a bit long for a headline, isn't it?"

She covered her face with her hands. She was shaking violently, and he wasn't sure if she was crying or laughing, so he just took her in his arms and kissed her temple.

"Anyway," he said softly. "I'm sure I'd find some way to blame you. '182 People Dead at the Hands of Diane Moss.'"

"Gee, thanks." But he could feel her smiling.

"Let's go to bed," he urged her. "We can worry about this tomorrow."

She pulled back the sheets and settled in, humming softly as he crawled in next to her, spooning her body with his. He started by kissing her earlobe, sliding his hand under her shirt, delighting in the way her stomach was smooth, clean.

"You don't have to," she said. "Now that we're with other people, you don't have to stay with me."

"Donna."

"I'm just saying, we don't have to be the new Adam and Eve now. If you were just -"

"Donna, I know you're not about to insinuate that I was fucking you just to repopulate the species. We've been using condoms religiously, for crying out loud. We don't even know if ... if ...."

"If our children will have the same immunity we do," she finished.

He sighed, planting kisses along the expanse of her neck. "I don't care if we find 182 million people out there; I'm with you."

It seemed to pacify her. "We can't, though. Not tonight. We're still out."

"I thought you were going to get some at the store."

She shook her head. "They let me get sheets, rations, and basic toiletries, but birth control falls under luxury items. We're going to have to do some work and earn some tokens to buy them."

"Maybe it was easier when we were traveling from town to town, stealing what we needed."

"Yeah, except we can't single-handedly run a power plant. Or a -"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." His hand traveled lower, undoing the string on her pajama bottoms. "I guess it's worth it to have running water and heat in the winter."

Her breath caught in her throat. "We can always do other things."

"My thoughts exactly," he muttered, pushing aside her underwear.

(fin.)