The Morning of the Gala
Curt let himself smile.
He felt warmth and softness under his hand. Bare, smooth skin.
It was a tame fantasy, compared to how his dreams could get. Stef staring at him, his hand on her chest. Very tame, compared to dreams of making love until they were burned by phoenix fire, or-
There was something wrong.
He blinked. He licked his lips.
He could hear the tiny rustles of the sheet. He could feel the grit in the corners of his eyes. He could feel her. Really feel her.
‘I’m not dreaming, am I?’
She pinched the hand touching her chest, then raised an eyebrow. ‘Am I usually naked in your dreams?’
He lifted the sheet, and saw her familiar pyjama bottoms.
‘So sue me,’ she said, ‘I rounded up from half, answer the question, am I usually naked in your dreams?’
He felt his face flush. ‘Sometimes?’
‘Is the real thing disappointing? I mean, they’re not very impressive droids. And neither of them are fluent in six million forms of communication.’
He tried to pull his hand away from her chest, but she caught his wrist and held it there. ‘What’s going on, newbie?’
‘You were sleep-groping again.’
Guilt swelled as he tried to pull his hand away. ‘I’m sorry!’
She stroked the back of his hand with two fingers. ‘It’s you, so I tried not to be scared, but I was a bit anyway. So I tried to shove your hand away. But you’re persistent, and I’m apathetic, so I let you touch me.’
‘Oh gods, Stef-‘
‘And then you were touching me. And it wasn’t- It was just touch. And then it wasn’t scary anymore.’ A real, if nervous, smile. ‘I’m not scared, Curt.’
He relaxed his hand, and let her lay it against her left breast. He kept the contact as light as he could, his thumb lying over the collection of scars where her breastbone should have been.
‘And you just decided to take your top off?’ he asked, watching her breathe, watching for any sign that she wanted him to remove him hand.
She took in a deep breath, her chest swelling against his hand, then licked her lips. ‘It didn’t seem like much of a leap if I was wearing clothes.’
‘Are you ok, Stef?’
She gave him a tiny nod, strands of hair falling across her face. ‘But I don’t know what to do next.’
‘You took a big step, newbie, are you sure that you don’t want to just leave it as this for today?’
‘I’ll stop you when I get scared.’
‘What would you like me to do?’
‘I- I trust you,’ she said, ‘and stick to what’s nekkid for now, but anything that’s naked is far game, unless I get scared. And start out with the-’
‘I’ll be gentle, I swear,’ he said. ‘Now, are you sure?’
He leaned down and kissed her, quick, chaste kisses, as had been the standard since confessing his feelings. Giant leaps also had to have small steps. He gave her one more quick, chaste kiss, then brushed her hair behind her ear. ‘All you have to do is say stop.’
He kissed her again, this time, opening his lips a little. She stiffened at the new sensation, but didn’t pull away. He flicked his tongue across her lips, then pulled away. ‘You ok?’
She gave him a small nod.
He propped himself up on his elbows and looked down at her. Down, against the mattress, down, where she wasn’t in a position of power. Unequal, at a disadvantage, as she was too much of the time.
He gave a small shake of his head, and sat up, requiring a strong wall of pillows behind him. ‘Come here, Stef.’
‘But I thought-’ she said as she rolled onto her back, exposing herself, offering herself. ‘Isn’t this how-?’
He gently grabbed for her hands. ‘Come here, Stef.’ She slowly sat, the blanket coming away from her sensible pyjama bottoms. ‘Don’t be scared.’ He tugged on her hands. ‘I always get your lap,’ he said, ‘time to return the favour.’
She hesitated for a a moment, and he let her hands go.
She knelt on the bed and folded her hands in her lap. ‘Are you- Are you doing it this way because I’m me, is this-’
He leaned forward, cupped a hand under her chin and caught her unsure gaze. ‘Do you have any idea how unfathomably sexy it is to be straddled by the woman you love?’
She put the heel of her hand to her mouth for a moment, then climbed atop him, her chest pushing against his, the warmth of her body soaking through his shirt.
She settled against his lap and smiled. ‘I never thought I’d ever, ever do this. I never thought that I wouldn’t be scared.’
He found her hands and held them tight. ‘I’ll never hurt you. I swear, by whatever you want me to swear by, that I’ll never, ever hurt you.’
She shook her head, and wrapped her hands around his neck. ‘That’s stupid.’
‘Stupid how, newbie?’
‘If we were in a collapsing building, and my legs were trapped under rubble, would you cut my legs off or let me get squished to death?’
He pulled her closer, feeling her alive in his arms, and waited for the wave of memory to pass. ‘Don’t forget I had to watch a building fall on you, and I couldn’t do a damn thing.’
She moved against him, pressing her chest harder against his. ‘Phoenix situations don’t count. But it’s stupid to promise to never hurt me.’
‘I’ve hurt you enough, Stef. I can’t- Every damn time I touch you, I think about Russia. I think about how much I hurt you, I think about-’
She pulled away from him, grabbed his hands and lifted them to her breasts.
‘All I’m saying,’ she said as she leaned against his hands. ‘Is that maybe we should yield to Asimov on this one.’
Lust battled with grief, and he took a moment to process her words. ‘Huh?’ he asked at last.
She tapped a finger against his chest. ‘First Law: Curt may not injure his newbie or, through inaction, allow his newbie to come to harm.’
‘I can do that.’
She tapped another finger against hist chest. ‘Second Law: Curt must obey the orders given to him by the Agency, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.’
Three fingers stroked against his chest now. ‘Third Law: Curt must protect himself at all costs.’
‘That isn’t how the last one goes.’
‘My rules, padawan.’
‘Third Law,’ he said, ‘Say it right.’
‘Curt must protect his own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.’
‘Yes ma’am,’ he said.
‘That established,’ she said. ‘Um? Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. If I wrecked the mood or whatever, you can-’
He squeezed his hands a little, and her mouth immediately closed. ‘I’ll do my best never to hurt you in any way, Stef, and I mean that. Now, if you want to put your shirt back on, I’m ok with that.’
She brought herself level with his eyes, and blue eyes stared into his. ‘You’re a good man, and I trust you.’
“I trust you” slid into him as deeply as “I love you” as much as “I forgive you”. He blinked back tears and kissed her again, this time, teasing her lips apart by just a fraction, then moving to kiss his way along her jaw, then down her throat.
He moved his hands away from her barely-there breasts, and spread them across her bare back, letting them trace across the contours of her shoulders.
A sharp intake of breath was more than he expected.
‘Good,’ he asked as he paused his hands, ‘or bad?’
‘Good,’ she said, looking confused, ‘I think?’
He scraped her shoulder blades with the backs of his short nails and she gave a small yelp, and rocked against him, assisting the blood flow to his groin. He moved his fingers in small circles, enjoying the tiny, surprised sounds of pleasure.
‘Is-’ she started. ‘Is that supposed to happen? I mean, I’m not trying to be- If I’m doing the wrong thing, just tell me. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be quiet, I can hit my mute button if you like. I-’
‘If you like what I’m doing, then there’s no wrong reaction, all right? Nothing you can do right now is wrong. And don’t you dare hit your mute button,’ he said. ‘Just enjoy yourself and give me direction if you so wish.’
She leaned her forehead against his and nodded. ‘Okies,’ she said. ‘Unpause. Resume.’
He moved his hands slowly down her back, fluttering over the few scars on her back, then skating down her sides, which had far more of a reaction than her shoulders. Tiny sounds of pleasure became louder, and she pushed herself against him with every movement he made.
He was hard. A tiny, base part of him wanted to ask her to let him make love to her, but it was drowned out by logic and the complete need to focus on her, to give her the best of him, and to reward her leap of faith.
His hands skated across her stomach, keeping clear of the top of her pyjama pants.
She mumbled something, and he looked up to her. ‘Louder, newbie?’
‘You’ve seen them before,’ she said, the words tumbling out, still barely more than a mumble. ‘But it’s different now. Different context. Sexy context. Do- My scars. Are- Are you ok with them?’
He pressed on the small of her back, drawing her body up and closer to him, and ran the tip of his tongue across the scars between her breasts. She gave a surprised “oh” and went a little limp in his arms.
He held her for a moment, hands flat against her back. ‘All you have to do is tell me to stop.’
‘I know,’ she said, anchoring her hands around his neck. ‘And I haven’t told you to stop.’
He let out a long breath against her chest, then pressed his hand to her right breast. He slowly traced his fingers around the ever-so-slight curve, then allowed his index finger to rest against her nipple.
Her breath slowed, her thighs tightening on him just a little.
‘Do you want me to stop?’
Her eyes slid closed. ‘No.’
He depressed it, enjoying the sound of her breath catching, then gently brought his thumb to rest against it. With the slowest, most careful of movements, he slowly drew it between his fingers and pinched it.
She shrieked and thrust herself against him, forcing him back into the solid wall of pillows.
‘Careful,’ she whimpered, ‘slowly, gods, please, slowly.’
She relaxed a little, her breath as ragged as if he’d already brought her to orgasm, then swallowed and gave him a nod.
He slowly teased the nipple, her movements against him bringing him closer and closer to coming himself. She flailed as he lowered his mouth and slowly kissed the small, hard nipple.
Her hands grabbed fistfuls of his hair, her body leaning away from him, inadvertently bringing her closer to his mouth. He held her with both hands, and took her into his mouth.
She ground against him, and he came hard as she moaned. He rocked himself against her, allowing himself only an exhalation as he spent himself against his boxers. His switched to her other breast, and her breaths grew deeper, until she collapsed limply in his arms, head against his chest.
He wrapped his arms and held her tightly. She wrapped his arms around her neck and drew herself up to kiss his cheek before sliding from his arms to lie on the bed beside him. ‘W- W- Was that supposed to happen?’
A thought replaced his boxers to hide the stain. ‘You all right?’
She pulled one of the pillows from behind him and clutched it tightly to her chest. ‘Earth-shattering kaboom? Was that supposed to happen?’
A grin split his face. ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘when it’s done right.’
She clutched the pillow tighter. ‘So- So that’s- What was that? Was that easy-mode sex?’
He required away the majority of his pillows, and laid down beside her. ‘If you’re sensitive enough, you can-’ He searched for a word. ‘You can overload on pretty much any part of your body. The least of sex is what goes on between your legs.’ She blushed, and he cupped her face. ‘This is big, you sure you’re ok?’
She pushed the pillow away, pulled herself closer and rested against his chest. ‘Arms,’ she said, and he complied, holding her tightly. ‘I’m still- Still processing, but I’m ok. I- But what about you?’
A smile crept onto his lips. ‘We both overloaded Stef, trust me, I’m good.’
She mumbled her love for him, and began to snore after a moment.
The Morning of the Gala