Title: After the Storm

She had spent her life waiting on a Superman. She had done so patiently, because good things always came to those who waited. She was still waiting, patient but alone. She never let her emotions sweep her away, pulling her along as they barreled through life. Instead, she shut them out, and along with her emotions the people that caused them.

It was easier, safer that way.

The people who came into her life never bowled her over. They may have rocked her, upsetting the delicate balance of things, but they never tore away her reservations. She kept everyone at a safe distance, throwing up walls whenever one was bypassed.

The last person who had made it nearly to her heart had torn gaping holes in her walls, sent her reservations crumbling. Like it or not, he had nearly destroyed her. She had known him, hidden absolutely nothing from him, bared every single thing, and he had left. Just like everyone else.

Because they always left.

And every time someone new stepped into her world, she tried to smile even though it was difficult, and she tried not to be jaded. She tried to offer up an honest chance at what they were offering, but she kept secret pieces of herself. Because giving pieces of herself, even little ones, to people was practically ensuring that she would never be whole again. Pieces were lost, given away, or trashed.

All she really wanted was something real and lasting.

She was tired of people always leaving.

It was desperately hard for her not to throw herself into anything because all she wanted was love, in spite of all the abandonment. Her heart ached to be kept. But her mind still stung from all the disappointments her short life had offered up.

But with him…the battle was more real.

The moment his arms came around her, her mind quieted and her heart took over. Her face pressed against his chest, listening to the muffled beat of his heart, absorbing his clean scent, feeling the soft expansion of his chest. The places where her skin touched his burned and tingled. When his face pressed against her neck, her heart stopped.

When he looked at her with that quiet, intense look as if searching for everything, her heart told her to lift her mouth to his. Her mind forced her face against his chest, and whispered in her ear that the moment she wasn't a mystery anymore he would leave as well.

She didn't entirely disagree. She could see it, understand it, almost accept it. There was something far more interesting about the hunt, and once the prey was had there was nothing to keep you there. But it had been a while since she had had that mindset, of a predator on the prowl. Her heart had grown soft and pliant like warm lead, and her mind no longer partook in that type of activity.

Her heart still puffed up, demanding a chance for him, for whatever was waiting in the arms for them. If there was something to come of it, her heart wagered, it would never come by playing safe. Her mind scoffed, chastising her heart like a child. The only thing that could come of it would be more heartache, her mind stated.

The thoughts swarmed her waking moments. Of course, they didn't stay the smile that curved her mouth when he glanced her way, drawing a subdued smile from him as well. They didn't stop her from accepting casual touches through the night, his knee pressed to hers, his fingers skating against her arm, his shoulder against hers while completing paperwork. They didn't stop her from spending countless hours getting all the attention she could from him.

It didn't matter that he would leave, they always did, but for the time being she felt as though she was his and he hers.

Her friends badgered her constantly about him, asking questions that she found it hard to answer. For once, her words failed her. She would struggle for them to come, and in the end she would find mildly lacking words for the things she felt.

Because quiet elation didn't quite cover it when his fingers curled around hers, or the way he held his hand open patiently waiting for her hand to settle as her fingers drew patterns on his palm, or the way his thumb rubbed over her knuckles and the back of her hand.

Because steady comfort didn't come close to describing it when he tugged her close, his arms coming around her, tight and desperate like he was just as unwilling to let go as she was, like they could wind up just standing there for the width of an eternity. Or the feel of reluctance as they pulled away from one another, because logically they couldn't just stay molded together.

Because vulnerable and fragile couldn't describe her, not even when she was with him. Because that went against everything she strove so hard for, because while she could protect herself from a violent onslaught of need, the gentle patience of acceptance was much harder to combat. While all the others before him had tried to bust in with sledgehammers, it felt as though he was slowly dismantling her walls.

Because absolutely terrified didn't come close to even touching the undercurrent that ran strong and bright just under all her other emotions. Because she knew she was setting herself up to be knocked down, crushed, left once more, but it was hard not to. Just like it was hard not to reach out and touch him, hold his hand, wrap her arms around him.

Just like it was hard not to ask to be kept.

Just like it was hard not to ask him to be her Superman.