scars

pg-13 | no warnings apply

This wasn't what she was expecting at all. That he kissed her didn't particularly shock her; she had known this was coming for weeks, maybe months, even. It was in the way he touched her, the way he said her name, the words he used that meant so much more than their dictionary definitions. With every e-mail and phone call, with every hand on her back and squeeze of her shoulder, he told her, I'm going to have you. It was the prelude that surprised her.

She fell asleep on his couch. His invitation for dinner - a sort of you're-bipedal-again celebratory thing - had been unexpected. As had been his reaction when she told him she didn't feel like going out somewhere just yet. 'Come over to my place, and I'll cook,' was about the last thing that she thought she'd hear from him. Of course, he didn't actually cook, but it didn't really matter. When she couldn't stop yawning, he offered to drive her home, and when he went to get his keys, she was just going to sit down for a minute.

Then she was in his arms. She presumed that he was carrying her to avoid waking her up, but he was grunting the whole way, making jerky, clumsy movements, and he had barely made it out of the living room before she opened her eyes. With each step, she remained quiet, not moving, not letting on, even though she worried about his back. It was a sweet gesture, and she didn't want to ruin it.

Except then she realized that he wasn't taking her out to his car; he was carrying her to his bedroom. A wave of trepidation dissipated as she assured herself that Josh wouldn't take advantage of her, wouldn't hurt her.

That was about the time he accidentally whacked her ankle into the doorjamb.

"Ooh, ow."

"Hey, sorry. You should really have shorter legs."

"You like my legs."

"This is true." With that, he dropped her on to his bed, grimacing at his own lack of grace.

"This is your bed."

"This is also true." By then, he had sprawled out beside her, close proximity a necessity brought on by the size of his mattress.

"I don't know what -"

"I was going to sleep on the couch," he said softly. "Let you sleep here."

She turned onto her side, hesitantly touching his chest. He took a deep, shuddering breath, so she withdrew. But before she could pull away, he gripped her fingers, bringing her hand back to his body. It was one of those odd, almost surreal moments that kept happening, although neither of them had stepped over the line yet. He had changed out of his suit, into a simple knit shirt - 'I see you really dressed up for the occasion,' she had teased him - and as she moved her fingers, ever so slightly, she could feel an aberration on the smooth, toned skin beneath the cloth.

She had known it was there, of course, but she still inhaled sharply when she realized what it was.

"You wanna see it? I'll show you mine, you show me yours?" His tone was teasing, light, but she didn't smile. He had given her permission, she decided, so she propped herself up and took hold of the hem of his shirt. When he didn't protest, she pulled it up and over, baring his chest. She could hardly see it in the dim light filtering in from the hallway.

"Mine's bigger," she finally said.

"Mmm-hmm. I don't think so."

"It is."

"Can you prove it?"

He stared at her for the longest time. With slightly trembling hands, she lifted up the hem of her shirt, stopping at the edge of her bra, pushing it up just enough for him to see her scar. At first, he seemed more interested in staring at her breasts, but he eventually tore his eyes away. His lower lip twitched as he stared, and she wondered if this had been a bad idea.

"Mine's definitely bigger. Yours just hasn't totally ... scar-ified yet."

"Scar-ified?"

"It's a word," he said defensively.

"A real word or a Josh-word?"

He didn't answer; instead, he lowered his head to her body. She tentatively touched him, her fingers digging into his hair as he lay his head down on her stomach.

"You going to do that to all my scars?" Her voice was ragged; she was slightly ashamed of how easily he affected her. He was silent for several moments, until he finally sat up and shifted down on the bed. When he put his hand on her stomach, covering the zipper of her pants, she inhaled sharply. Without thinking, she lifted her hips. He must have figured that granted him permission, because he swiftly unzipped them, pulled them off, and tossed them to the ground. His lips avoided any untouched patch of skin; he attended only to her scars, kissing each one tenderly. Her mind was reeling, and all she could focus on was the fact that they were lying in his bed, each half-naked, and he hadn't even kissed her on the mouth yet. Then suddenly, he was leaning over her, brushing his lips over her forehead.

"I think you had one here." Then her cheek. "And here." Her other cheek. "And here." Then he ran his thumb over her lower lip. She couldn't remember there being a cut there, but she certainly didn't argue when he lightly brought his lips down to hers. His kisses moved slowly to the right, until he was resting his cheek against hers.

"Who are you and what did you do with Joshua Lyman?"

He lifted his head to look at her. His eyes were dark; it was the moments like these when she feared that her Josh had died in a hospital room in Germany. She tried to stifle the yawn she felt coming on, but it was no use. He blinked, and his gaze returned to normal. She squeezed his arm, reassured herself that her worries were unwarranted.

"I'm going to let you sleep," he said softly. "I'll take the couch."

"It's your bed. I don't mind."

"I was hoping you'd say that."

"I know you were."

(fin.)