Author's Note: So here it is- the final chapter. I don't know if I'll be resurrecting this pair now that I've completed this story, but I guess we'll just wait and see what happens and what inspiration strikes!
Thank you SO much to everyone who has read and reviewed this story, particularly Dr Pepper 14 (for inspiring me not just to write angst) and Cherise.
Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy this chapter- think of it as my Valentine's Day gift to every one of you! Happy Hearts Day, people- much love to all! xx
I am so late, it's not even funny right now. I have this nagging feeling in my gut that tells me this isn't something I want to be late for, but the traffic is insane- I don't think I even have a choice about whether or not I'm going to get home in time. Well, of course I'm not going to get home in time. -I was only meant to be home twenty minutes ago. But nooo, I had to trip on those last few steps on my way out from work and tear my trousers. And then stand out on the sidewalk for ten minutes trying to hail a cab. And now, I'm stuck in traffic. Someone up there hates me.
This traffic really doesn't look as though it's going to start moving any time soon- I should just walk the last couple of blocks. I'm sure the exercise wouldn't do me any harm. So I hand some money to the driver and get out onto the pavement and begin my brisk walk home. I make it one block before the next worse thing that could possibly happen actually happens. Completely announced, the sky opens up above me and tips out a bucket or twelve of rain. Lots of it. Cold. Wet. Just. Peachy.
Roux better not have another surprise date planned because all I want right now is some hot food and a really thick blanket. May be a fireplace with a log fire going... Though we don't exactly have one in the flat. I guess I'll have to make do with cuddling Roux, if he'll let me. ...Pssht, who am I kidding? When doesn't he let me?
I swear this rain is getting heavier with every step that I take. I'm sure that in reality it isn't really, but I am definitely getting more and more soaked. You could wring me out and hang me up on a washing-line at this point. I can only imagine how terrible I look, but I don't think I'll do that. I know I won't like what I see. I can't help but feel guilty for being so late, especially if Roux has something planned. I always thought that couples' relationships were meant to get more...monotonous as the years passed, but it's been five years now and we're still going strong. Every day that I wake up and see Roux next to me, I send up a thank you to whatever higher powers there may be for keeping us together this long.
I finally make it to our apartment building after what seems like an age and shivering, step into the elevator. When I finally manage to unlock the door and step inside the flat, I'm instantly hit by the smell of cooking and, more importantly, warmth.
"Sweetheart, are you okay? I was getting worried!" Roux calls from the kitchen before he appears a second later, his glasses perched on his nose.
His eyes widen in surprise when he sees me and he rushes over, wrapping his arms around me.
"Shit, you're soaked to the bone! And you're shivering! Why didn't you take a cab?" he asks incredulously, rubbing at my arms in an attempt to warm me up.
"I was in a cab, but the traffic was ridiculous so I thought I'd walk the last couple of blocks...and then it rained on me," I explain, reaching up to claim a kiss.
"Oh, Lee... Go have a hot shower and get into some dry clothes. Dinner should be ready by then."
I nod and let him give me another quick kiss before he shooes me away from the kitchen and towards the bedroom, where I strip off my wet clothes and climb into the shower, more than grateful for the hot water sliding over my body.
I can barely swallow my soup. Lee, on the other hand, is wolfing it down as though he hasn't eaten all day...which actually isn't too far-fetched an idea, considering how he usually works into his lunch-hour if I don't remind him to eat every so often. I never knew that my little Lee would turn out to be such a hard worker after college. I suppose miracles do happen...though he still can't cook. But then again, I guess if we're expecting a change in that department then we need divine intervention, so much more than a mere miracle. -I'll keep dreaming.
Lee doesn't seem to notice my lack of an appetite as he tuts and polishes off the rest of my soup before he hands me the empty bowl to take into the kitchen. He does, however, pick up on the fact that I'm letting him sit there on his arse as I play chef and waiter tonight.
"You're letting me just sit here?" he asks, seeming shocked.
"I just gave you that bowl to take into the kitchen and you didn't say anything about it," he points out.
"...I didn't? Oh...it's okay. Tonight is my treat," I quickly cover up, mentally berating myself for being so absent-minded.
"Are you sure?" he asks, looks suddenly concerned as he peers at me.
"Yes, I'm sure. Now, just stay here and I'll get the main," I nod, placing a light kiss on his cheek as I move past him and into the kitchen.
When I enter the safety of my kitchen refuge, I can't help but sigh and lean against the fridge, letting my eyes close momentarily. I feel ridiculous. My stomach is in knots, my heart is racing and my mind is anywhere but here. It's killing me, but I can't let Lee know. Not yet, anyway. I know that I have to keep up the facade for just a little bit longer before I'll be free and it will all be over.
Lee beams when I bring out the roast beef I spent all day preparing and marinating. His eyes virtually bug out with delight as I start carving out the perfectly-cooked meat and place a generous portion on his plate.
"This looks gorgeous Roux!" he purrs, actually getting up from his seat so that he can come round to give me a hug, "Thank you so much..."
Lee's hug seems to lift a whole bucket of tension from my shoulders and I hold him close to me for a little longer, soaking up his genuine delight and praise. I place a kiss on the top of his blond head and he pulls back a little so that he can look into my face.
"Thanks sweetheart. I thought you might like it," I reply, my smile widening upon seeing my lover's face.
We tuck into the main course and I feel a little better. I actually manage to finish everything on my plate, though I don't go for seconds as Lee does. He rolls his eyes at me when I remind him that there are mini chocolate souffles for dessert, telling me how ashamed he is that I don't think he can handle all the food. He's such a pig at times, but I have to love him for it.
When he's finally finished, Lee actually gets up to help me clear the table for dessert, giving me a smug look as he picks up the serving dish and carries it to the kitchen with a look that clearly reads 'Look at me, I'm helping! Aren't you proud of me?' He looks so amusing that I have to laugh and kiss him, thanking him for helping to clear the table. However, I do shoo him back out of the kitchen as I set about with the finishing touches for dessert. He doesn't protest at that, probably for fear that if he helps, dessert will be ruined. And he loves chocolate, so I know he won't take that risk.
I don't think I've ever been more nervous about a bloody souffle before. They're perfect when I remove them from the oven, but there's so much at stake that I'm not sure if that's really enough. So much hanging on a stupid dessert. My hands are actually shaking as I put in the last finishing touches, so much so that I have to put the souffles back on the counter-top for a while as I steady my nerves. I'm left standing in the kitchen for a full ten minutes, just breathing in and out slowly, until Lee reminds me of his presence and calls out to me from the dining table. With one last deep breath, I pick up the souffles and carry them out, listening to Lee's delighted 'Oooh!' when he sees the chocolatey goodness I'm holding in my hands.
I can barely take my eyes off him as he eats, trying to let the smooth chocolate flavour of the souffle sliding down my throat calm me. It doesn't seem to be working, so I continue to shovel it into my mouth, my eyes trained in on the movement of Lee's spoon between the souffle and his mouth. I just need everything to be perfect. I hear my own spoon hit the bottom of the ceramic bowl as I scrape up the last spoonful and stuff it in my mouth, swallowing as I watch Lee eat, pretending to listen to what he's saying.
The last spoonful of souffle I ate just won't seem to go down, I realise as I cough and choke, feeling something lodge itself in my throat. It's then that I realise that I've made possibly one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
I can see the words 'YOU IDIOT!' flashingly madly in large white writing in my mind as I splutter and gasp, Lee leaping to his feet in the manner of a true hero before he starts thumping me on my back rather unceremoniously. I almost want to swallow the object to avoid the inevitable embarassment that will follow if I actually spit it out and Lee realises what it is, but Lee wrenches out that Heimlich maneuvre he learnt and with a final splutter, I can breathe again. I couldn't care less at that point, for all I can focus on is the clinking of metal against ceramic as the once-offending object shoots out of my mouth and bounces across the plates on the table top.
"Shit, Roux! Are you okay? I can't believe you choked! Are you not feeling well?" Lee asks, his brow furrowed with worry as his hands caress my cheek in a tender motion.
He wipes away the wetness from my cheeks and eyes with his hand, leaning forward to give me a quick kiss before he turns to look for a napkin to wipe me up properly with. And then he sees it.
His eyes widen almost comically and I want to die from embarassment. I can only hope that a pit will open beneath me and swallow me whole. No such luck. His fingers tremble as he reaches out for it, grasping the object delicately between his thumb and forefinger as he brings it up to the light, turning to look at me with a frown.
"This is a ring... There was a ring in your souffle."
"...Actually, it was meant to be in your souffle... I think I got them mixed up in the kitchen..."
"-Why the hell did you put a ring in my souffle!" he exclaims.
I don't answer, and he continues to frown at me, clearly not having made sense of the whole incident yet. And then his already wide eyes double in size and he just gawps.
Roux is looking at me, his eyes red and watery from having choked, and he seems perfectly...terrified. I don't think I've quite registered how I'm feeling yet, still trying to get my head around the fact that he actually put a ring in my souffle. I mean, what the hell was he thinking! I could have choked, just like he did! A ring!
"-Why the hell did you put a ring in my souffle!" I exclaim, looking at Roux and waiting for his answer.
He doesn't respond, his look of terror morphing into a frown, his eyes squinting at me as though studying me. I honestly don't know what that look he's giving me is for. -He seems torn between wanting to laugh and wanting to cry, and has opted instead for this semi-frown he's currently wearing.
And then, like a speeding freight train, it hit me. I didn't think my eyes could bug out this far, and I think if my jaw falls open any wider, it'll be trailing the floor. Roux is still looking at me in disbelief, and I can hear the cogs in my mind grinding to a halt as I unsuccessfully stumble to find the right words to say. Hell, at this point any words would be better than me just sitting here, gawping like a fish.
Yeah, that's right Lee. Top marks for coherence... -I can practically see my mind rolling its eyes at me. That is, if my mind had eyes?
"-What? That's all you have to say?" Roux finally splutters, his voice laced with incredulity as he stares at me.
"You...are you...? Is this an engagement ring?"
There, finally. I can speak again...sort of.
I guess I'm beginning to slip into incoherence again. I take a deep breath and slowly try to speak again.
"So you put an engagement ring, in the souffle, to propose to me?" I ask, almost ridiculously slowly.
"...When someone gives you an engagement ring, it's usually because they're proposing, isn't it?"
I roll my eyes at Roux's sarcasm, marvelling at how inappropriate it is at this time. He's proposing to me and cutting me down at the same time? It's almost surreal. However, it's all too real and Roux is staring at me with that 'look' in his eyes again, and something inside me snaps.
"Oh, shut up Roux. This isn't exactly the time to be sarcastic, is it?" I exclaim, glaring straight back at him with angry eyes.
"Well, it was kind of an obvious question, wasn't it? Of course I'm proposing to you!"
There's irritation in Roux's voice and a look of pure frustration has taken over his entire face as he suddenly stands up, kicking out his chair and leaving his seat. He's beginning to pace in an almost comic manner, running a hand through his silky coal hair as he scrunches up his face, squinting his eyes closed. With a sigh, I get up slowly, going over to stand by him and placing a hand on his shoulder gently, stopping him in his tracks.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... I've just been so...scared about this...and then it went all wrong..." he sighs, closing his eyes again and resting his cheek on the top of my head.
I follow suit and let my eyes drift shut too, holding onto Roux and just feeling him breathe, feeling his heart beating in our closeness. I'm amazed at how quickly everything drifted into calm from the chaos of Roux choking, to us bickering, to...this. This familiarity. I can't count the number of times that we've found ourselves in this position, with me wrapped up in Roux's arms as he just holds me against him.
"It wasn't all wrong at all, babe," I whisper softly, nuzzling my face into his chest before I pull back so that I can look into his face, watching as his eyes open to look down at me.
"It was a disaster, Lee. I choked on the bloody ring. I've got to put a spit-up ring on your finger," he says glumly.
"-Okay, fine... But that wasn't the proposal. You haven't proposed," I point out, gazing at him expectantly.
His expression clears as realisation hits him and he pulls away from me slowly, leaning down to give me a gentle kiss. He takes the ring- which I didn't even realise I was still holding- from my hand, tenderly unfolding my fingers from the fist I've made around the little circle of platinum I'm holding, and takes a step backwards. I can only watch in awed silence as he carefully sinks to the ground on bended knee, taking my hand in his and smiling up at me.
"Lee, sweetheart, I know this hasn't gone at all the way I'd planned it to, but we can't let that stop us now, can we? I love you more than anything or anyone else in this world, Lee, and I can't imagine not spending the rest of my life with you. So, will you marry me?"
He's smiling at me like I've never seen him smile before. His eyes look so bright, so clear, and looking at him now I know that he isn't hiding a thing from me. His every emotion is there, in his eyes, for me to see. It always is. And right now, all I can read in his eyes is love.
"Yes...of course I will!" I grin, trying not to let myself cry.
Unfortunately, instinct kicks in as Roux slides the platinum band onto my ring finger and I can't stop the tears that flow freely down my cheeks as I laugh with pure happiness. Roux's back on his feet again and holding me, kissing my tear-streaked cheeks as he smiles broadly. Finally, his lips find mine and he kisses me madly. I can practically feel the build-up of utter joy between us, with me crying my tears of happiness and Roux just...smiling his beautiful smile.
"See? This is perfect," I say simply as I look into Roux's dark eyes.
"Let's just hope that this foreshadows the rest of our lives," Roux replies, flashing me a corny grin before he wraps me up into his arms and swings me around.
"Roux! You're going to drop me!" I squeal, hanging onto him with all my life as he spins me around as laughs before we stumble towards the bed, joined at the lips.
I know it's cliched, I know it's cheesey, but he's never looked more beautiful than he does right now. He's crying and his cheeks are tear-streaked, but his bell-like laughter is chiming through the flat as we tumble onto the bed together. As soon as our bodies hit the mattress, Lee is peeling off his clothes and tossing them to the floor before he moves to me, sliding my shirt off my shoulders and unbuttoning my trousers. He begins to place kisses on each bit of bare skin that he reveals with the removal of another item of clothing, until we're both completely naked, clothed only in each other.
He finally lies back amongst the pillows, waiting for me to climb over him and cloak him in my own body. I do, moving until I'm draped over him and kissing him again, as slowly as I possibly can. I want to taste him in this moment and commit each sensation to memory, never to be forgotten. I doubt that I could ever forget a sight as entrancing as Lee in this euphoric state of happiness, but I want to remember everything. Every smell, every taste, every contour of the body I've grown to love as much as I love his soul. His skin seems smooth and translucent in the dim light of the bedroom, contrasting starkly against the navy silk sheets we put on the bed yesterday. He practically glows, all pale skin and blond hair against the darkness, and I hover over him, absorbing in this sight of him spread submissively out in front of me. He looks up at me and I know he's waiting, wishing that I'd move faster. But I can't, as I know that if I move faster, the night will end quicker- hardly the thing I want to be happening, when I'm praying that tonight will never end.
He says my name, the single word hanging in the air like a drop of morning dew on a cobweb, delicately suspended and awaiting movement. It is, however, all that I need to spur my motions and I react, pulling out a condom and the lube from the nightstand drawer and preparing myself. I hover over Lee, kissing him as I gently prepare him, trying to keep my wits about me as the sound of his pleasured moans threaten to make me lose control. Soon though, I'm slowly pushing forward, gasping as Lee's warmth surrounds me.
Lee moaning my name is by far the sexiest sound in this world. With that one syllable he has me wrapped around his finger, helplessly losing control and supplicating myself to him. Right now, he could do anything he wanted to me and I wouldn't even dream of protesting. Thankfully, it looks like the only thing on Lee's mind is making love. And I'm not going to be the one to disappoint him.
I lean forward, feeling a shiver run down my spine at Lee's gasp. My lips finally find his, soft and sweet beneath mine, and I kiss him with a fervour reserved only for moments like this when I'm giving myself to him completely. When I pull back a little, Lee's blue eyes are gazing heavy-lidded at me, filled with love, and lust, and need, and everything else beautiful in this world.
"I love you, sweetheart," I manage to whisper before I slowly begin to move, pulling out of Lee a little bit before pushing forward again.
"You too, baby. Love you..."
There is no need for words anymore- everything has been said, and we know everything else that hasn't been said. I know that Lee is out of his mind with happiness, if those earlier tears were anything to go by. Lee knows that I care for him, more than I could ever express in words. And we both know that now, this is the beginning of the rest of our lives.
Our love-making is slow and tender, though by the end of it Lee is clawing at my back so hard that he finally breaks the skin. The quick sting of pain is the only thing keeping me anchored to earth when waves of almost narcotic pleasure wash over me endlessly. I seem to be teetering on the brink for far too long, desperately wanting to lose myself in orgasm but at the same time wishing that this could go on forever. Finally, it's the sight of Lee that does it for me.
Lee is gorgeous; he always has been, in my eyes. But Lee, caught in the fist of an orgasm, is pure, untainted beauty. I consider myself blessed for having been able to witness it so many times, but that sight is what always sends me toppling over the edge. It's the combination of Lee's fine-featured face crumpling with pleasure and the seductively velvet moan he releases that never fails to make me completely lose my mind. I fight to keep my eyes open, though the intensity of my orgasm makes my eyes instinctively flutter closed. I muster up all the strength I can to keep them open, not wanting to lose sight of Lee, rosy lips parted as he gasps for breath, eyes clenched tightly shut.
When the shudders wracking through my body begin to dissolve, I lean forward and seal my lips over Lee's in a lazy kiss, taking my time to lap up the sweet flavour of his mouth. I slowly withdraw from him, moving so that I'm lying beside him as I throw an arm over his stomach, soaking up the suddenly silence of the room.
"You're beautiful, you know that?" I whisper, finally breaking the silence.
Lee chuckles lightly, rolling onto his side and grinning at me. He shifts his weight a little so that he can reach my neck, nuzzling at it for a moment before he pulls back again, smiling up at me.
"So are we really going to do this?" he asks, the grin never leaving his face.
I prop myself up on my elbow, looking down at him tenderly. His blond locks are tousled and damp with sweat, but his eyes are shining with an excitement and happiness that I could get used to seeing.
"Of course we are," I reply, smiling as I place a quick peck on Lee's cheek.
"I really can't believe it... I mean...married!" Lee laughs, wrapping his arms around my neck.
"Why can't you believe it? I can't imagine anything more right than the thought of us getting married," I say gently, lying back down amongst the pillows and pulling Lee closer to me.
Our bodies are pressed together, drying as our sweat cools on our bare skin. We're so close that it feels as though we're melding together, fusing into one being. I love this feeling of closeness, and it makes my heart beat just that little bit faster to know that I'll get to wake up to this every morning until the day that I die.
We've drifted into a comfortable silence again, the air punctuated only by the sound of us breathing. Both Lee and I seem to have caught our breaths back, as the sound of breathing in the room is slow and steady, and I know that Lee is beginning to drift off to sleep, if the pace of his breathing is anything to go by. -There's a niggling in the back of my mind though, which is incredibly inappropriate for a time like this. I can't seem to get rid of it, and as reluctant as I am to break through this calm, it seems wrong not to clear the air before we embark on this life together.
"Lee, sweetheart? I need to tell you something..." I say quietly, trying to move so that I can see Lee.
He cracks open an eye to peer at me through a sleepy blue gaze. His look is expectant as I try to gather up the words to say this, though I'm not sure if there is a tactful approach for this at all.
"I just...I just wanted to clear one thing up before we get married. And I feel obliged to just...start off with some honesty," I explain, and Lee nods, clearly just wanting me to get this off my chest so that we can fall asleep.
I take a deep breath, "Lee... You can't cook to save your life. You really are hopeless... -And I just...I just wanted you to know that after we get married, I don't want you to- I mean, you don't have to cook..."
Suddenly, both of Lee's eyes open and he shuffles until he's sitting upright, looking at me with an astounded expression plastered on his face.
"What? I'm not that bad... I mean, I'm learning, aren't I?" he protests, looking a little upset by my earlier confession.
"Darling, really, you are that bad. But that's okay, 'cause I know that you've really been trying to get better... But I don't want you to cook when you don't need to. I'll supervise you once in a while, but please, promise me you won't cook unless you have to?" I ask, trying not to sound as though I'm begging. Really, deep down, I'd gladly get down on my knees and plead with Lee not to cook anything for me, but I'm so scared that I'm going to offend him that I have to try and remain as casual as I can.
"...But what about Thursdays?" he asks in a small voice, looking up at me with wide eyes.
"I can cook on Thursdays. Hell, I can cook every day of the week- I really don't care- just please, promise me you won't cook anymore?"
Lee is silent for a while. Almost too long, really. Just as I'm about to start mentally kicking myself for offending the love of my life, Lee breaks into a broad grin and pounces on me, pinning my arms to my sides.
"Bastard! I can't believe you let me go on this long without ever telling me I sucked!" he exclaims indignantly, ticking my sides and rendering me helpless.
"I'm sorry love- I just didn't want to hurt your feelings!" I insist, managing to splutter out a few words as I laugh at Lee's ministrations.
Lee doesn't respond, instead he just keeps laughing and moves so that he's straddled my hips but never once stopping tickling me. It isn't long until we're both rolling around on the bed, laughing and getting tangled up in the sheets like a pair of over-active kittens. The air is once again filled by the sounds of Lee's laughter, and as I lie there, pinned to the bed by my fiancee, I know that everything is going to be alright. Life with Lee can be so unpredictable- you never know what's going to happen tomorrow. But I sure as hell intend on spending the rest of my life finding out.