Disclaimer: "Everlong" is by the Foo Fighters. I am not the Foo Fighters.

Claimer: Characters are mine. Thou shalt not steal.

A/N: Um, sometimes I shouldn't listen to my muse. Especially when he says, "Title...how about 'afterhours'? And it should be about sex. Except without the smut." Stupid muse...Endure my strangely poetic ramblings about an oft-abused subject and another random jaunt with these characters, and reviews would be EPIC.


afterhours

i.

(hello

I've waited here for you

everlong)

He was black and white.

She was red and gold and blue.

Together, they were everything.


ii.

(breathe out

so I can breathe you in

hold you in)

Warm shadows. Curved shadows. He pressed his lips against them.

She shivered, ever so slightly. Her chest hitched mid-rise, almost imperceptibly. Her pulse fluctuated minutely, hammering out a staccato blur of frenzied beats before smoothing out once more—but still a bit faster, if even and steady.

He felt the changes, though. He knew by now what to look for.

She was unflappable, unfazeable, a constant casual confidence clinging to her skin, to her very existence. It was ironic, he mused, that even though she was such an open, accessible person, almost nobody possessed the ability to peel back that final layer of casual ease, a thin casing of nonchalant armor that was all that protected her heart.

Sometimes he wondered if it were scar tissue. Love like you've never been hurt before.

Easier said than done.

He tensed his fingers, digging the tips carefully into giving flesh.

Her breath caught in her throat, audibly now.

But she was exposed here, lain as bare (or perhaps more so) as if he had cut her open and examined her insides. No matter how unflappable or unfazeable she was ordinarily, in this sunset-hazy darkness, tangled in these sheets, she was susceptible to the barest brush of his lips, to the faintest caress of his hand. He could make her shudder and gasp and moan, and sometimes he reveled in this power that was his and his alone.

And it was ironic, too, that here their positions were switched. Normally upbeat and outgoing and other terms involving prepositions, here she was subdued and filled with resistance, choking down the groans swelling in her throat and fisting her fingers in the sheets and in his hair, almost desperate to quell the tremors.

For once, she was quiet and vulnerable and he was daring and bold.

He stormed her body like an arrogant conqueror, possessively tracing her contours, none of his hesitation or uncertainty present. Here there did not need to be words, and he thrived in this world of action and reverence and lust.

He molded his hand to the front angle of her hip, gripping the thinly-skinned bone hard enough to keep her still but not hard enough to bruise (and she bruised so easily here, mottled purples on sun-graced flesh). She endeavored to keep her spine linear but ultimately failed, arching up into him, nails marking his back.

Her breath was hot on his neck, and the half-moan dredged from her lips was sweet honey in his ear, trickling down through his system in a pleasant ripple of warmth. He recognized the timbre of the sound and knew that now, finally now, she was done biting back sensation. It was her white flag of surrender, and he knew what she was ultimately surrendering to, and it wasn't just feelings.

It was to him.

He shifted his position slightly, mindful of keeping his weight on his arms, and kissed her ever so softly on the lips.

He could break her in a myriad of ways, some of them terrible, some of them less so. But he knew that at no other moment would he be capable of shattering her so completely, of splintering her truly fragile heart into shards with careless hands or callous words. She had no refuge now, no walls to shelter behind if he decided that she was not enough.

(Good god, he wondered. How could she not be enough when he was the one always falling short?)

It frightened him how vulnerable these few minutes were. To be entrusted with such a delicate thing as a heart…

She suddenly tensed beneath him, around him, and his name was a breathless cry in his ear.

I love you, he mouthed against her skin, over and over and over, but she was already too far gone to hear his silent pleas.

Some part of him was relieved when it was done, somewhere beneath all the layers of pounding emotion and raw instinct. She had survived another night in his arms, still intact and whole and unblemished. Soon she would begin reclaiming the only armor she had, consciously controlling her breathing and regaining her perpetual disarming nonchalance, but not before she whispered words he could not voice and laced her fingers through his.

(She would say them flippantly all the time, in response to less-than-stellar things, but he could tell the difference when she said them now, in this bare moment when the world had been reduced to only them, in this last moment of poignant vulnerability.)

And then she completed covering herself in scar tissue so that she couldn't be hurt so off-handedly, so she could brush past the following painful silence, so that she could love him unflinchingly in his clumsiness, in his inabilities.

He remembered how it felt, though, to be so close to her none of that mattered.

He knew she remembered it, too.


iii.

(feel this real forever

be this good again)

In the morning, when they woke, she would be bright-eyed and bubbly and bursting with inane conversation, and he would be observant and taciturn and inwardly amused by her almost-childlike exuberance. She would reel off a list of things that they could do that day, and he would smile and nod (or maybe mostly just nod) and realize that, as always, she had not included anything he would particularly dislike.

She knew he never had the strength to disagree with her, and he knew she would never have the gall to suggest something he hated.

And when she inevitably bounced out of bed, he would remain half-seated against the headboard, his eyes following her around their room, the faintest of smiles decorating his face as she continued chattering, sometimes even going so far as to shout over the rush of the shower.

She would return, though, towel-dried and crookedly dressed, and he would silently straighten her shirt as she sat on his edge of the bed. Blue eyes would meet blue, and he would think that this all made sense: that if the real sky reflected in real ice, her eyes should reflect in his.

He would pull her close, into a soft kiss, and the fastenings of her armor would still be a tad loose, and he would still taste her surrender on her tongue, impossibly sweet beneath protective scars.

Maybe later he would think about sunlight and prisms and how both were relatively plain separately but the source of a beautiful rainbow spectrum together (naturally she was the sunlight and he was the prism because she was brilliant and warm and he was hard and faceted). He would probably snicker inwardly at his needlessly poetic tangents and not mention such theories to her, even though she would undoubtedly take him seriously and even more undoubtedly tease him good-naturedly about being a closet romantic.

That would be in the morning, though. For now…

For now, he waited patiently for her to exhale so that he would have air to breathe.

(promise not to stop when I say when

she sang)