DISCLAIMER: This is a love story about two consenting female adults. Can't handle it, don't like it, don't read it. We're just borrowing Dick Wolf's characters for fun; we aren't making any money from it.
AUTHOR' NOTE: When two writing heads get together in a round robin...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It's Gotta Be Love
By Katherine Quinn & Adrienne Lee
"I think we should take a picture of us and our fish, get them printed into cards, and send them out, and call it a day."
"I'm serious, Liv," I reply, without looking up from the computer.
You push your chair back, and stand up. "So am I!"
"Come on, Sweetie." I reach over, to take your hand and prevent you from walking away. "We need to do this."
"Well, can I at least drive? I'm bored."
I sigh, and scoot my chair over to the side. "All right, here you go."
You take your seat, triumphant, holding the mouse. "So what are we getting?"
"I don't know."
"Why are we shopping for all these people?" You look at the list on the clipboard and scrunch your face. "Who's this? Do I even know them?"
"She was at our party, remember? My cousin, sort of."
"Okay, why don't we start with the most important people first?"
"And the most difficult people to shop for."
"How hard is it to shop for your mom?"
I look at you, incredulous, and before I can stop myself, I ask, "You didn't have a hard time shopping for yours?"
You shrug casually. "I just gave her the same perfume every year."
I watch you carefully. Finally, I just smile. "Oh."
"I'm fine with this Alex, really." You address my voiceless concern. "It's been a while since her death," you add, seemingly sincere.
I smile a wider smile, and kiss you gently. "O.K. So what do we get someone who has everything?"
Briefly, you chew on your lip. "Well, she's always complaining about how little time you're spending with her. Why don't you make one of those coupon books. You know? A dinner out. Opera. Whatever your mom likes to do."
"Uh. You do realize it'd be a coupon book from us?"
"Why? She's your mom."
"She likes you. And you call her mom, too!"
Somehow, the fact that she's technically "my mom" too doesn't make going to the opera sound any less painful. "Scratch that then." I shrug.
"My mom likes spending time with you." You say, sounding almost hurt that I nixed the idea so quickly.
"Oh, it's not your mom. I don't mind spending time with her. I mind spending time at the opera."
You roll your eyes at me, which makes me laugh.
"This is serious Liv. We're married now. This is our first Christmas as a married couple."
"I know, I know. I just I don't think I've ever spent so much time planning like this." I say, slipping next to you on the too small chair. "You have a clipboard. And names. And ideas. I usually just wander around the drug store and pick out what seems right."
"Well, honey, we gave everyone plastic gnomes and tylenol last year. We can't do that twice. So this year, it's up to me."
I look down the list, sighing at what seems like an insurmountable number of people who we apparently have touched this year enough to warrant some kind of present or at least an acknowledgment of the holiday season.
"We're going to need a loan," I sigh, as I realize the page in front of you has a back.
"We don't have to buy them all diamonds."
"How about gift certificates to the drug store?"
That earns me a swat and a smile.
"Well at least they'll be able to pick out their own gnome that way." I shrug.
"This isn't so bad." You say looking down at the list. "It's going to be quick once we start going."
"If you say so."
You turn back to the computer and click the mouse, moving the screen to lists of retail merchandise. I watch as you click things into the virtual cart quickly, and I watch as you cross off names on the list. "It's not so bad," you say. "And we can get them sent to everyone individually," you explain, "so we won't even have to wrap."
"Fantastic." I sigh, standing up and stretching my arms over my head.
"What are you doing?" You ask quickly, curiously.
"Stretching?" I ask you back, sure that you're insane.
"Are you okay?"
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, what's wrong?"
"I just, I keep waiting for you to say that you feel sick. That I made you sick." You say.
"I'm not going to get sick." I say resolutely. "It's Christmas."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I know my body," you reply with conviction.
"I didn't get sick the other time you got sick," you remind me, taking your seat beside me once more.
"That's true "
Then with authority, you add, "Pneumonia isn't as contagious as most people think. The cold that started it in the first place might have been, but that's nothing to worry about."
Your dismissiveness makes me worry all the more. "How can you say that? You should still be careful."
"I'm always careful. I'm not the one who brings files home and stay up half the night working."
"I haven't been doing it that much either."
"That's cuz I don't let you," you smile despite my frown, and reach over to tuck my hair behind my ear. "I'm sure all those years have taken their toll on your immune system."
"You make me sound like I'm a weakling."
"No, you're just delicate, more delicate than me anyway."
"What is this?" I lift my brows in amusement. "Do you just have to be the stronger one?"
"But I am the stronger one. I run faster than you; I can lift heavier things "
"Yes, yes, I know that," I silence you with a swat. "You don't have to look so smug about it."
"Yeah, sure." I give you a smacking kiss on the nose. "So, what are we giving each other?"
"Garden gnomes and Tylenol?"
"Liv!" This time I pretend to shove you off my chair. "We don't even have a garden!"
"We can get one."
"Right, and how are we going to do that?"
"We can move out of Manhattan and into one of the other boroughs. Hey, we could even move down the street from Elliot's." You smirk.
Moving out? From here? The only apartment I've lived in since, since Are you serious? The laughter in your eyes tells me you're not, but something in your tone makes me wonder
"Are you serious?" I ask.
"Are you serious?" You demand, looking at me with scrutiny in your eyes. I smile at you, but your jaw doesn't relax.
"Not really." I say, "But you've never thought about it?" I ask, more of a reflection than a question.
"About leaving the city?"
I can see the near horror written on your face that you're trying desperately to keep under control. Now I wish I hadn't made the joke in the first place. I don't want you to be upset for something I honestly had meant as nothing more than a simple joke.
"No," I say slowly, carefully judging my words before I use them, "didn't you ever think about having a house of your own? Out of Manhattan? You know, living in the suburbs. Driving a mini-van?" I ask with a smile, nudging you to make sure you know that I'm not serious.
"Not really." You admit, shrugging. "I've done the country. I had enough of it, I think. I thought I'd die here. I mean, I've lived here since law school. And it's paid for."
"I know, Alex. I'm not really serious. I mean, I'm happy here."
"But you want a house?"
"Not really. I mean, I've never lived anywhere but the city. It'd be a trip to have a lawn and a garden."
"So you want a garden?"
"Yes? No. I mean, Alex. I didn't mean to make this into an issue. I don't really want to move."
"I'm just surprised that you've thought about it."
"I haven't thought about it, really. I want to live wherever you are. If you decide you want to live on the moon, I'd follow you there."
"That's sweet." You smile. "It's disgusting, but it's sweet."
I kiss you. "That's my specialty," I say, turning away.
You look at me leeringly. "You're sure?"
"Yes, Alex. I'm sure." I smile.
"Okay," you say turning back to the screen.
"What do you want to get mom?"
What do I want to get mom? What do I want to get mom. "I'm not sure. Mother daughter day at the spa?"
"That sounds nice."
"Which spa though. There are so many." I nibble on the pencil, then a thought pops into my head. "Hey, maybe she'll share her garden."
"Last time I helped her with it, she was complaining about how she couldn't do some of the things she used to do now that she's older."
You nod your understanding. "Yeah?"
"And you know how I feel about gardening."
"Yeah." You laugh. "It's green and brown, it must be a tree?"
"Shut up, I'm not that bad." I poke you in the ribs with my elbow. "Anyway, maybe you can give her a coupon book revolving around her garden."
"I'm not sure, Alex "
"Think about it. You'll get your garden, and she'll get someone who can toil the soil and appreciate the difference between gardenias and roses," I explain, squeezing your biceps to emphasize my point.
"But I thought we're giving her a gift together."
I can tell you're thinking the idea over, and not necessarily objecting to it. "I'll get the bulbs and stuff. I'll even be there to make sure you have what you need from the house, you know, like a runner."
"Hm Maybe. Are you sure you don't mind sharing your mom?"
"No." I lean over to kiss you. "We're a unit, and I love you."
You smile, and pull me into your lap, wrapping your arms around my waist, returning my kiss.
As our kisses deepen, I find myself wondering about what you said earlier. No, I haven't thought about living anywhere else but the city. I love it here. But to have our own little house with a picket fence, and a yard and garden, it wouldn't be so bad, would it? I wonder how it'd be like, the two of us, with a place of our own, where the neighbors are in the next house or across the street, not right next door, connected by a wall... It's not like we're doing it right away. It won't even be tomorrow
Before our kisses take our breath away, I pull back, and run my fingers across your lips. "So what are we getting Trevor?"
"A one-way trip to the moon?"
"Don't tempt me." I sigh, thinking about our beach house adventure. "I wonder if he's really giving you all those pictures of me "
"Let's see, Trevor, Trevor, Trevor," I say, pacing in the space in front of you. "There's so much I want to give him. A slap in the head a kick in the ass. Are you sure we really need to get him something?"
"Yeah, I'm sure," you say, smiling at my overly acted pacing. "He is my brother. Your brother in law, remember?"
"Half brother in law." I say with a smile.
"Not nice. When you married me, you married him." You say back.
"That's sick Alex."
You look at me for a second and see what's running through my head. "I didn't pervert." You sigh, shaking your head at me.
"Everything I can think of is entirely inappropriate to give him in front of your mother."
"Yeah. I don't want to hear any of them," You smile at me. "Seriously though?"
"I don't know," I say with a smirk. "I really do like the moon idea."
"Liv, I know you two don't have the best relationship."
"He sent me a bottle of booze to celebrate sobriety." I complain.
"And he got hell for that." You point out.
"He has a huge collection of porn." I counter
"And we have a huge collection of sex toys."
"And he bought most of them." Match point.
"That's true." You sigh. "We still have to get him something. He's my brother."
"How about counseling?"
"Liv," You say again warning me that you're not kidding around anymore. "We really have to pick something out."
I sigh. "How about an alarm system for his beach house?"
"That's not a bad idea," you say with a smile.
"Thank you," I laugh as you write it down on your notepad.
"O.K. we've got Trevor. What are we giving Serena?"
"A steady girlfriend?"
"Be nice!" This time, you back away before I can touch you. "And she does have a steady girlfriend."
"Really? Serena Southerlyn?"
"Yes, really, Serena Southerlyn."
"A domesticated Serena?" You laugh.
"I wouldn't go that far."
"A gift certificate to the drug store?" Your smirk widens in response to my glare, and you wag your brows. "Or better yet, the toy store."
I sigh. "You're rude."
"Don't forget crude and socially unacceptable."
"You're just loving this, aren't you?"
"And you love me."
"Sometimes I wonder why " I smile, making sure you know I'm only teasing. "So what are we giving her?"
"Gift certificate to Victoria's Secret?"
"How'bout to a bookstore."
"I suppose that could "
You interrupt with another impish laugh, "So she can buy smut."
Without giving you the satisfaction of a response, I write down 'bookstore' next to Serena's name, and move on, "What about the guys? And don't tell me gift certificates to Krispy Kreme."
"You take all my fun away."
"I thought I was your fun." Reaching over, I slide my hand along your leg, slowing down as I ease up the inside of your thigh. Almost imperceptibly, your muscles tense, and I move away. "Come on, we're almost done," I say, suppressing my smile
1388 The Others
As we plod through the list of my co-workers, and then most of yours, we make our decisions. I'm actually kind of surprised that I'm enjoying this planning with you.
You look down at the list in front of you. "This is going to take forever." You sigh. "We'll never do it." You decide, as you look at the list in front of you looking crestfallen.
"It'll be fine, Allie. The internet is amazing. And we still have plenty of time. I don't think I've ever even started shopping this early."
"Right, right, midnight at the drug store."
"Exactly." I say with a smile.
"It'll be a miracle if we get it all done." You sigh again.
"Christmas is like that, it always works out." I shrug.
"There's still one more person on my list." You say, with a smile.
"We don't know anyone else," I groan, leaning over your shoulder and looking at the papers that are in front of you. I don't see any names that are missing your neat scrawl next to them.
"I didn't say our list, I said my list. What about you?"
"What about me?" I ask, unsure of what you're getting at.
"What do you want?"
"I I don't know Alex. You don't have to get me anything."
"Liv, it's Christmas. I'm not going to buy stuff for distant relatives I haven't seen in years and not get something for my wife."
"I don't know Alex. There's nothing I need."
"Is there something you want?"
I think about it, for a good hard second, knowing that giving you something to get will make this much easier on both of us, but I honestly don't know what to say. I want another year like this. I want another Christmas with you. I want to be healthy and happy, and I want it all with you.
"I want you," finally you say, after long moments have passed.
"And you say I'm the horn dog!"
"No, Alex, I mean, I want you."
"I want another Christmas with you, just like this. I want many, many Christmases with you, all of them, for the rest of my life. I want you."
With a smile, I take your hand, and kiss your rings. "You have me."
"No, I mean, what if."
I run my fingers through your hair, then leaning in, I touch my lips gently with yours. "No what if's, Liv. I love you. I'll always love you. Until the day I die."
Somehow you sound so surprised. Why? Didn't you believe me when I said 'I do' that I'd love you forever? "I made a promise to you."
"I wouldn't want you to stay with me just so you wouldn't break your promise "
"I don't make any promises I can't keep, Liv." I try to explain. "It's not about breaking my words, I mean, in a way, it is. But I wouldn't have made the promise, I wouldn't have said 'yes' if I didn't think I could or would love you forever, you know?"
"I guess," you sigh.
There's still so much uncertainty in your eyes. I wish I could take it away, but I can't. Not any more than you could when I feel insecure. I hold your face in my hands, and kiss you again softly. "Guess you'll just have to wait until next Christmas and the ones after that to see." Then I flick my tongue at the tip of your nose. "In the meantime, anything special you want for this Christmas?"
"I thought you understood."
"Oh, no, I meant, you know," you smirk. "Just the two of us, with nothing between us?"
I shake my head. "Don't forget we have dinner with mom."
"I know, but dinner will end, sooner or later."
"True." I smile a little, before disappointment takes over, "So we're really not exchanging gifts?
You look at me like I killed your puppy and am presenting his corpse to you on a silver platter when I suggest that we not do presents this year. Even though you're pretending it doesn't break your heart, I can see the sadness in your eyes at the thought of not sharing something for the holiday season, so I make myself backpedal as quickly as I suggested the idea. "We can do presents, if you want to. But I thought the point was to not stress out about this Christmas?"
"We're already stressing out about it." You say, moving your list in front of my eyes.
"Alex, if you want to do presents for each other, that's fine. We can do presents."
"So what do you want?" You ask, smiling broadly, your faith easily reinstated.
"I really don't know. How about something frilly for you?"
You laugh. "You want me to give myself lingerie?"
"It's the gift that keeps on giving." I smile. "Not to mention that mom'll love you presenting it to me at the big family bash."
You smile. "Do you want anything socially acceptable?"
"Nope." I grin at you, while you roll your eyes at me.
You swat at me gently, and laugh harder. "What are you going to get me?" You ask, with a smile at that warms my heart.
"I don't know yet, what do you want?" I ask, playing into your smile.
You think for a minute. "Hmm," you say tapping your pencil against the desk in front of you. "I don't know."
"That's what I said, and you wouldn't accept it as an answer." I point out.
"I know," I laugh. "But it's okay, I know exactly what I'm getting you."
"That's not fair!" You complain.
"Oh well." I laugh at you. "You'll have to see what's under the tree."
"What's wrong, Allie?"
"We don't have a tree! How did we forget our tree?"
"I didn't realize we were getting one." You shrug. "Why do we need a tree?"
"Why?" I can't believe what I'm hearing. "Why?"
"Because! It's Christmas! We can't not have a tree for Christmas!"
"But we'll be at mom's. She'll have a tree."
"But what about our own tree?"
You roll your eyes. "We get one?"
"We're going to end up with a Charlie Brown tree."
"A droopy tree with a handful of needles?" I stare at you, surprised. "You haven't seen the Peanuts Christmas cartoon?"
"But they show it every year."
You shrug again. "I worked every year." You smile and press a kiss to my cheek. "This'll be my first Christmas off."
"Really? You worked every Christmas?"
"Somebody has to."
"Oh." Suppose you're right about that. Crime doesn't stop for the holidays "But you didn't see the cartoon when you were little?"
You lift your brows and shake your head.
What's wrong with this picture? "How'd you "
"You weren't kidding about the last minute shopping at the drug store, were you?"
You're still shaking your head.
"Do you just not like Christmas?"
"It's not that I don't like Christmas."
"Then what's wrong?" You ask, looking into my eyes.
" It's just that it was never a real big deal." I shrug again, half wishing you'd just let the subject drop, and the other half of me knowing for sure you won't.
"How can it not be a big deal?" You ask, even more shocked than my lack of interest in the Peanuts Christmas special.
"Alex, before you, I didn't have anything to celebrate. It was just me."
"But " You interrupt, and then stop yourself
"There's no reason to get a into Christmas when it's just me. And it's not like the guys are really into running around Christmas shopping. It just sort of became like any other day."
"But it's Christmas."
"Sweetie, you always had something to look forward to. You had a family, and somewhere to be, and people to love you."
"You have people who love you too." You say, kissing my cheek.
"What about when you were a kid?"
"It was just another day." I shrug again, feeling helpless.
"You didn't celebrate."
"My mom always started to celebrate real early in the morning."
"Liv," you whisper, kissing me on the cheek.
"It's not a big deal, Alex. It wasn't a big deal then and it's not now."
"You sound hurt." You say, observationally.
"Well I'm not, okay? Can we just drop this?" I ask, more defensively than I mean it to sound. I don't want you to feel sorry for me, and I can see it in your eyes, the pity for things that I can't change.
"Fine," you say quietly, turning back to your list.
"Why do you have to be like this? All the time?" I ask, not bothering to hide the hurt in my voice.
"And why can't you just let things drop?"
I should expect your defensiveness, should be used to it by now. But I'm not, and it stings. "Fine." I spit. "But you know that's not who I am."
"Well, and you know how I am before you married me!"
We're going nowhere fast. "Let's just drop this," I sigh, and stick the Christmas list in its folder, and back in the drawer.
"It's okay. It's fine."
"Obviously, it isn't." You reach over to touch my arm. "Come on, I don't want you to feel sorry for me. It's the past, and there's nothing you can do about it."
"I don't feel sorry for you, I mean, I do, but not like that. I just wish "
"It's just sometimes I wish things were different. You know, if I could go back in time "
You laugh, your tone more mischievous than sarcastic.
"You'd go to jail for statutory for the things we do."
"That's sick!" I swat you, hard. "I'm trying to be serious."
"Sometimes you're a little too serious." You lean in to kiss me, softly, taking the sting away. "Like now."
I rest my forehead against yours and sigh, "I just."
"It's okay, Sweetie, honest. It wasn't a big deal."
"But it's Christmas."
"I know." Gently, you brush your thumb across my lips. "So let's not fight about it, okay? It's kinda silly."
"Come on, you know it is." You smile, and kiss me where your finger passed, then you check your watch. "If we get dressed right now, we can go get a tree and come back, and still have time to decorate it."
"It's okay. You don't want to celebrate."
"One of these days, I'm getting you a cross and violin!" You laugh.
"Allie, I'm just teasing. Sorry." You kiss me again. "I know it means a lot to you, and I can learn to like it, too."
Your excitement is contagious. At the Christmas tree lot, I fight through the millions of other New Yorkers who had this brilliant idea tonight. The numbness in my hands and feet from the cold while you search through millions of trees that largely all look the same to me, makes me vow that next year we're buying a fake tree so we never have to have this charming holiday experience again.
Finally, it's as though a light goes off above your head. Pulling at one particular tree, you tell me that you've found it, the perfect one. I look at it appraisingly, trying to see how it's different from the hundreds of others you've looked at and rejected. You swat at me when I can't see the difference between the perfect tree and all the other ones we've looked at, but you smile while I fork out the money.
"You'll thank me for this, later." You say, with a smile, and I agree, while the guy from the lot helps me tie the unruly pile of branches to the top of our car.
When we get back to the apartment, it's another struggle and fight to get the thing off the top of the car. You stand behind me supervising me while I cut off ropes and pull the tree off of the top of the car and up the stairs.
Finally back in our own apartment, tree in hand, you supervise me more to get the tree into the right position. When you're finally satisfied that it's right, I flop into the couch and take a deep breath.
"Aren't you going to help me?" You ask, as you head down the hall and swing open a closet door.
"What's that?" I ask you, following behind, as you pull a box out of one of the hall closets.
"Decorations?" You say, as though I have asked the most ridiculous question in the world.
"Jesus Alex, I don't think the tree's that big." I mumble as I appraise the size of the box.
"Trust me," you say, and I roll my eyes, hefting the box and following you back to the tree.
I watch, as you start giving me assignments, explaining how to make this perfect. I follow behind you, stringing lights and placing tinsel. Your smile is contagious, and so is your childlike excitement. Before I know it, I'm giggling along with you, while we place ornaments on the tree.
"It wasn't so bad, was it?" I turn to you and smile, while you put the finishing touches on the tree. It's amazing how quickly you got into the spirit, and started to take over the decorating. I'm glad. It was more fun watching you pull the ornaments out of the box, and make decisions on the colors and placements.
You step back, and grin self-satisfactorily.
"You really did a great job, Liv." I loop my arms around yours, and pull you close. "It's the best-looking tree I've ever had, I think. It's gorgeous."
"I can't believe all that crap fits on the little tree."
"What did I tell you." I nudge you gently with my elbow. "Wait here."
"Where are you going?"
"To get the camera. We need to take a picture."
You nod your agreement and turn back to admiring your handiwork. When I walk back into the room, you're still staring at the tree.
I pick up the camera, and point. "Cheers!" I say, catching your attention, and you turn.
"Hey!" You yelp. "No fair!"
"Of course it is!" I smile. If I didn't catch you off guard, I'd never have any photographs of you. "We need a picture of you and our first tree for the scrapbook," I explain, as I join you by the tree.
"We're making a scrapbook?"
"Yep. Our first Christmas together."
"Does it matter that I think it's a stupid idea?"
"Didn't think so." You shake your head and laugh, then you look over to me. "What are you doing now?"
With outstretched arm, I raise the camera in front of us.
"Allie!" You protest, staring at me with a wide smile. "We're gonna look like dorks!"
"Oh well." I laugh, and kiss you on the cheek, just as the flash goes off with a soft click. Turning the camera around, we check the image. "Okay," I concede, "We do look like dorks."
"Dorks in love," you laugh again, the lightness of your tone matching the sparkles in your eyes.
"Yep." It's good to see you so happy. I hope this is just the beginning. I hope all our Christmases will be like this.
You take the camera from me, and put it aside. Then, wrapping an arm around my shoulder, you ask, "Now what?"
"Now's the best part!"
"We make love under the tree?"
"We could," I tap you on the nose. "But we have to do this first," I insist, as I turn on the Christmas lights, "Just watch." I instruct, "Not me, the tree, silly," while I run around the apartment, flipping off all the light switches, until only the bright colors twinkle in the dark
Each light on the tree sparkles with a life of its own. It shines and reflects bright neon colors against the wall. You come over to me, wrapping your arms around my waist and planting your chin into my shoulder.
"It's beautiful," You whisper in my ear, your breath teasing my neck as you stand with me in silence and watch the beautiful lights reflecting off the ornaments and bouncing onto the walls.
"Yeah, it is." I sigh, staring into the lights.
My voice is too quiet, a little shaky as the lights on tree remind me of the Christmases that I've ignored. The beauty that almost takes my breath away makes me feel silly for thinking this was a stupid idea. And now, we're here. You and I together, standing under the tree that you so carefully picked out and I dragged in here and helped cover in tinsel and lights.
For the first time, right now, I'm not dreading this holiday. This Christmas, I'm not going to pretend that it's just another day. This year will really be a celebration.
"What's wrong?" You ask, gently, squeezing me tightly into you.
"I don't know," I say, as a small tear runs down my cheek.
"You're crying, sweetie," You say, gently, hugging me tight again.
"I'm happy." I say simply, not sure how else to describe the feeling of happiness that's running through me.
You kiss me again. "You sure?"
"Yeah. I mean. I've never thought that that I'd have this."
"What, a Christmas tree?"
"Not just a tree. All of this. You and me. The tree. Christmas."
You kiss me, on my cheek, not sure what to say you let the silence linger between us. Carefully, I push the tear out of my eye and look at you, turning in your arms so I can wrap you up in mine.
"Now we need to get presents for under it." You smile.
"Yeah I guess we do." I say, sighing.
"You guess?" I ask, watching you carefully. One minute you're happy, the next you seemed sad. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," you force a smile, pulling me closer, your eyes focused on the blinking colors. "We go get presents for the tree."
"Come." Taking your hand, I pull you towards the couch. You stare at me inquisitively as I throw the pillows onto the floor. Then I lay down, and pat at the spot beside me.
Without a word, you comply, looking at me with your brows furrowed, and waiting for my next move. Carefully, I shift us, until you're on your back, and I'm half sprawled on top of you.
"When I was little, after we finished decorating the tree, my dad and I would just sit and watch the lights," I tell you quietly, pointing to the ceiling, and the colorful reflections above. "They look like stars."
You follow your eyes, and smile. Very gently, you press a kiss to my forehead. "It's beautiful."
"Yeah," I sigh, draping my leg along yours, and closing our distance. "So tell me."
"Tell you what?"
"Why you don't want to get presents for the tree."
"That's not true," you deny, and smile a big smile. "I know exactly what to get you, for under this tree AND the one at your mom's."
So this is not about presents for me "So tell me!"
"Nope. You'll just have to wait."
"Ha! How do I know you're not just saying that? Maybe you're as hopelessly lost as I am, about what to get for you!"
"You don't have to," you start, playing right into my hands. "I don't want you to get me anything."
There it is again, the almost wistful tone in your voice, as you slide your hand down the small of my back, and draw me deeper into your embrace.
"Why? I want to. It's not Christmas without presents!"
"You've given me enough."
"Your love, your acceptance " Softly, you sigh. "You believed in me when I doubted myself. You stuck with me when I wasn't quite myself. I don't need anything else."
"Those are just things people do, when they love someone. 365 days a year, 366 when it's a leap year. Christmas presents are different."
"Yeah, well, I just I'm happy with what I have, I don't wanna be greedy."
"Greed? That's not "
"You know what they say, about being too greedy "
That you might lose it all? "Wow. If everyone thought like you, Santa Claus, not to mention the nation's retailers will go out of business." I tease, to lighten the mood
"Alex." I sigh. "I wish I could explain it better. I wish I could just show you." I feel helpless, staring up into the tree, a mixture of happiness and self pity. I'm scared and sure of myself, full of contradictions.
"This is hard for you," You say quietly, pushing but not prodding.
"Christmas wasn't always happy for me Alex." I say, feeling the same shame I had when I was a kid.
"I know." You say, quietly, resting yourself against me, your head on my shoulder. "If you want to talk about it " You say, letting your voice drop off at the end.
"I know," I say, accepting your offer and rejecting it at the same time. "I think I forgot how to celebrate this right."
"I can help you with that." You say, the warmth of the smell of your hair under my nose and your weight on my arm gives me comfort.
"It really does look like stars," I gently change the subject.
"Did you celebrate when you were a kid?" You ask the question, the one that I have left unanswered.
"My mom and I didn't do this." I say, unintentionally cryptically. "I don't remember having a tree. I got used to it being just another day. My mom mostly remembered to get something for me, but I was really young when she got drunk one Christmas and told me about Santa Claus. She didn't know me very well, so when she remembered what she got was never what I had hinted around for."
"What did you want?"
"I don't know. Kids stuff. Boy stuff." I say with a smirk. "My mom wanted me to be far more girly. You know, the frilly pink dresses and the bows in my hair. I looked stupid with the skinned knees."
You laugh at that. "I did too, mostly." You say. "Mom was never happy with that."
"I never wanted much," I sigh, "a baseball glove one year. Actually, I begged for that damn glove for about five. I think I finally ended up stealing the money from her purse and getting it for myself."
"That's so sad." You say.
"It's not a big deal." I say, immediately defensive.
"I don't pity you Liv." You say strongly, and I understand you hear the defensiveness in my voice.
"I know," I say quickly. "I know."
Do you really? Do you believe me when I tell you I don't pity you? "I really don't."
"I know," you reply still too quickly, and a little more forcefully than before.
Really can't blame you for your reaction. Sometimes I think you pity you. Slowly, I trace circles along the taut plane of your stomach. "By definition, to pity you means I think you're weak, even inferior." I smile, skipping my fingers up to your chest. "I think you're one of the strongest people I know, and we're equals."
"Okay " You drag out the syllables.
"If I believed in soul mates "
"I know." I lean my forehead up, to demand a kiss. Closing my eyes to the pressure of your lips, I add, "And I'd like to think you're right."
"Yeah." Somehow it's difficult for me to just say it, to tell you you're my soul mate. "So, do you want a baseball glove for Christmas?"
You laugh, a bright genuine laugh that tingles my heart. "I'm not a kid anymore."
"How'bout tickets to the Yankees?"
"Alex, I really don't want anything," you insist.
"Half of the joy of Christmas is giving. Are you going to deprive me of that?" I ask, with an exasperated sigh.
"Hm." Easily, your guilt washes over you. "I guess not."
"Good, then help me. You still want boy things?"
"Well, I wasn't kidding earlier about the frilly things you can get for you "
"I'm sure you weren't." I tap you on the nose. "Something that doesn't involve sex, that you enjoy."
"But I enjoy "
"Liv," I warn. "I'm serious. A new leather jacket? Watch? Boots?" I run the list of 'boy things' I can think of. "You already have a gun, unless you want a different one."
"I don't want a gun, Sweetie," you laugh again. "Why don't you surprise me? You know what I like, and what I don't like."
Finally, I give up. "Oh, all right "
1400 Under the Tree
"So what are you getting me?" you ask, your hand sliding up my body.
"Not telling." I smile.
"I'll tease you til you break." You laugh.
"Never," I say, giggling as I pull your hand away from my breast.
"Yes," You say, fighting to put it back.
"I'm stronger than you." I say, as I keep your hand at bay.
"But you want me," you whisper, letting your voice drop lower and letting the arousal fill your voice.
"Isn't it sacreligious to do it under a Christmas tree?" I ask, as you tease your hand back up my body.
"Are you sure?" I tease you, pushing your hand away again.
"I don't know." I say, pretending to make an appraisal of the situation.
"You suggested it," you nearly whine in my ear.
"I don't remember that." I laugh, as you kiss my neck; leaning over me and letting your weight rest against my side.
"Someone's turned on." I whisper.
"Mmmm can't help it." You moan into my ear. "Are you complaining?"
"Of course not."
"Then kiss me," you demand, and quite willingly, I agree
"Here," you toss the box on top of the pile. "Done. Gimme the next one."
I glance at it, and do a double take. Then I have to pick it up to make sure. "Liv! This is "
"Yes?" You warn darkly.
"It's, um, asymmetrical. Um, maybe it's a little too creative?" Is this how you feel when you have your foot in your mouth?
"You can say it, it's terrible, ugly, horrendous, you name it."
"Well, I wouldn't go that far O.K. maybe it's a little unconventional."
"Wrapping things up really isn't my specialty." You lean back against the couch, and hugs your arms around your knees. "Unwrapping definitely, especially you."
I reply by throwing a bow at you.
"Maybe we should get gift bags."
"Why? It's not so bad. You just have to be more careful, or something."
"Come on, Allie," you whine, running your fingers against the presents I wrapped. "That's a girl's job."
"Excuse me? Last time I checked, you're a girl."
"Yes, but not when it comes to gift wrapping. I thought we were having stuff sent to people so we won't have to deal with it."
"Not all of it. Some of it we have to hand deliver."
"But I don't wanna sit here all weekend wrapping up stuff. I suck at it."
I close my eyes briefly and sigh. "Fine. I'll do all the wrapping if you'll cut the ribbons and tape."
"But where's the fun in that?" You pluck a needle from the Christmas tree and start to break it apart. "I thought Christmas was supposed to be fun."
"It will be as soon as we're done prepping," I hold my hand out for the next piece of tape.
You rip it off the dispenser, and pick up one of the spools, "There's enough ribbon here to strangle a horse!"
"Blue, Liv, not purple."
You sigh, and snip a length from the purple spool. "What difference does it make? In the end, it all goes into the trash anyway."
"Just pass me the scissors..."
"Are you done yet?" I ask, watching you carefully cut tape and ribbons to the perfect length. You take it and carefully wrap it around the box in front of you, that is decorated with a beautiful deep purple and blue wrapping paper, that I would never have picked out myself. Your insistence on the mixture of unusual shades turned out to be a good thing. You really do have an eye for color, and the steadily growing stack of boxes to your left is beautiful.
You look up from the box you are wrapping and give me an evil look.
"Does it look like I'm done?" You ask, with a heavy sarcasm in your voice, as you gesture to the pile on your right that are clearly unwrapped still.
"Exactly." You say, gesturing for me to put my finger on the knot you are carefully tying. I sigh and give you my finger which you catch in your knot.
"You could try again," you say gently, handing me a box from the pile.
I sigh heavily and pull at the wrapping paper in front of me, carefully placing the small box in the middle and cutting paper around the sides. When I pull the pieces up over the box, I realize that it's just a little bit too small. I throw my scissors, as you look up at me suddenly, catching my fit of frustration.
"I hate stuff like this, Alex." I mumble.
"I know, but we have to get this done."
I sigh, and sit back against the couch and stare at the pile of gifts.
You look at me and start to laugh.
"What?" I demand, waiting for you to explain.
"You look like I shot your dog."
"I'm not allowed to have a dog." I say, sticking my tongue out at you. You laugh at me and shake your head.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with you," you laugh, as you put tape on yet another corner
"Oh, I have a few ideas " You say with a leering grin.
"Liv," I sigh, and comment with a smile, "You keep doing that, and I'm going to think our whole marriage revolves around sex."
"Who said anything about sex?"
"You suggested "
"No, I was going to say you could shoot me and put me out of misery for starters." You smirk. "Don't blame your obsession with sex on me."
"I'm not, and even if I were, are you complaining?" I motion for your finger again.
"Nope." After the knot is done, you take the package from. "Here, I can tie the bows."
"Are you sure?"
"I can tie my shoe laces."
"You sure? Thought you tripped on the stairs last week," I remind you as I cut the paper for the next box. God, maybe we should just get gift bags for the rest. And I still have to wrap your presents.
"I tripped because I was looking at someone and not paying attention." After trimming the excess from the ends, you set your box aside. "There, it's done," you announce and go back to pulling at the tree.
"An extraordinarily beautiful someone."
"You're so sloppy."
"I thought that's why you love me."
"I love you for many other reasons."
I pass the box on to you. "For starters, you can tie bows."
"Sometimes you're cute when you're whiny," I tease, watching you measure the loops before knotting them together.
"I'm never whiny!" You protest. "And why are you stopping?"
"Because. I think I need a break "
"No, " I demand.
"What do you mean no?" You laugh.
"We have to finish. You're the one who keeps telling me how important all this wrapping is. I'm the one who thinks they're lucky that they're getting anything at all." I pout at you.
"Then you have to help." You say simply.
"I can't. I suck at it." I tell you shrugging your shoulders at me.
You laugh and you pull out another present. "Come here," you say, patting the ground in front of you.
"What?" I ask suspiciously.
"I'm going to show you how to do this so I don't have to do them all."
"But nothing, come here," you say, patting the ground in front of you.
With a heavy sigh I slide between your legs as you instruct me on how to cut the paper. You wrap your hands around my arms, and carefully show me how to fold the paper so it makes the sharp corners, and how to make sure that your ends are tight and flush to the box underneath. When we're done, we have something that actually resembles a present instead of a box with paper just taped to the sides.
"See? It's not that hard." You say, kissing my neck.
I pull another present from the pile and cut paper carefully, now, actually paying attention. Your arms wrap around my waist as I carefully fold it the same way you showed me. When I'm done, I show you the box and you kiss your approval.
"Look, I did it," I laugh.
"Yes you did, I knew you could."
You smile at me as I grab another one, the pile slowly inching itself down becoming ever smaller
1405 STILL MORE
"WHEW! Finally," I sigh as I shuffle the pile of wrapped presents, making sure they are properly balanced.
"Now we write Christmas cards."
Groaning, you flop onto your back, and cover your eyes dramatically with your hand. "We'll never get done!"
"Of course we will. We only have a couple boxes of cards."
"That's like what? Thirty?" You roll your eyes.
"More like fifty," I try to sound nonchalant.
"Alex!" You sit up, and throw your arms into the air. "Do you even know fifty people? In addition to all the people we're sending or giving gifts?"
"Well actually, because of the gifts, the card list got shorter."
"Next year, we're using one of those places that print and mail your cards."
"We can't do that. I mean, I don't communicate with some of these people but once a year at Christmas."
"Exactly. They shouldn't expect personalized notes."
"God, Alex." You sink your head into your hands and rub your temples.
"It won't be so bad, I promise," I ruffle your hair and kiss the top of your head. "You just need to sign them."
"Why do I have to sign them?"
"Because? The whole point is to catch them up with all the important things that happened, and well, we got married."
"We'll never finish all this crap!"
You look so frustrated, I'm almost tempted to scrap the cards. I mean, do I really need to tell my grade school classmates or my fourth cousins about us? I'm sure some of them will be less than accepting, and would rather not hear about it at all
Do I really have to tell everyone about us?
Shout it from the roof?
Get a tee shirt with your name on it?
"I suppose I can go through the list, and see if I can't pare it down."
I watch you as you pull out a huge pile of cards and plop them down in front of me.
"Can't we just write one letter and put it in all of them?"
"You know what, that's not a bad idea." You say with a smile. You stand quickly and plop down in the chair that's in front of the computer. "We can do it together." You gesture for me to come sit next to you. "That way, it's from both of us, we're all set, and we only really have to sign them and go."
"That sounds great." I smile, glad that this suddenly doesn't sound like as much of a process as it did a few minutes ago.
"So what do you want to put in it?" You ask, as you type the greeting into the word processor.
"Well, that we got married." I say. "Lots of people on your list don't even know about me. Are you sure?" I ask, not sure if you really want to send out a letter.
"Well yeah, but what else?"
"I don't know, Alex. I don't write Christmas letters."
"I'm aware." You say, rolling your eyes at me. "It's supposed to be what you've accomplished for the year. Things you did, things you're proud of."
"I married you." I shrug. "That's about it for me."
"You got that award."
I look at you with a shrug. "It wasn't a big deal."
"Of course it was," you sigh with exasperation.
"Alex, they gave it to me because I was a woman."
"A woman with an amazing record of helping victims of horrible crimes." You say, looking at me with the same scolding look you do every time I belittle any of my accomplishments. "You're so hard on yourself." You say, pushing stray hairs out of my eyes and giving me a tiny kiss on the cheek.
"It wasn't a big deal, Alex. You make the whole thing sound like the Nobel peace prize."
"It's not that baby. I'm so proud of you. I wish you were."
"I was just doing my job."
"They don't just go about handing out commendations to people who are just doing their jobs, and calling them heroes."
"Yeah, well, they gave it to me for getting bobbed on the head."
"God, Liv," I sigh. "Why can't you just accept a compliment for what it is? You work hard, often above and beyond the call of duty."
"That's because I have to, in order to compete with the guys."
Okay, maybe I'm spoiled by the close to 50-50 gender ratio of my office. Is it really that bad being a female cop? "I'm sure Don doesn't look at you differently because you're a woman."
"Yeah well." You shrug. "Maybe he doesn't, but I'm sure other people "
I see we're not going to get anywhere. God, sometimes I get more cooperation from hostile witnesses. "Liv, I'm not so sure that even with a department full of women you wouldn't work just as hard. I think it's just who you are. You care about the victims, and about getting justice for them. You care."
"Of course I do."
"Meanwhile, a lot of cops out there care only about their pensions."
Finally, you have nothing to say.
"So," I return to the keyboard and computer screen. "You received an award for your heroism."
"I still don't know why your friends would care. They don't even know me."
"They will after this Christmas," I say, sounding more cheerful. "They'll know what a great person you are."
You adjust and readjust your sitting position, looking decidedly uncomfortable.
"I don't know. These are strangers. I just, I feel funny telling them about me."
"I'm doing the telling, you're just signing," I smile, giving your knee a warm squeeze. "We could always tell them about our honeymoon on the island!"
"O.K." You laugh. "Let's start from the top!"
I can't believe you agreed, even in jest. "I was just kidding, Liv "
I plow forward, ignoring the look of shock on your face. "This year was crazy!," I say, trying my best to sound like a newscaster, while you stare at me, your eyes wide as I continue headlong into my recap of our year. "I made my first naked TV appearance."
"That's not funny." You say, smiling.
"I became something of a local celebrity after bearing it all on the news?" I suggest.
You swat at me. "You're not putting that in the Christmas letter. The Christmas letter isn't supposed to announce something like that."
"I don't know it was one big events in my social calendar."
"That's because they weren't your breasts exposed to the world." You complain. That makes me laugh, and you start to blush. "You're beautiful when you blush." I smile.
"Shut up." You laugh again.
"I mean it." I say. "You can write something embarrassing about me."
"I don't know, how about that I ended up spending three days of our honeymoon sitting no the bathroom floor because you wanted me to be adventurous."
"You ended up like that because you ate 'mystery meat' trying to be daring."
"Just for you." I smile.
"Yeah, being near death is really sexy." You laugh.
"I wasn't near death." I grouse, and you give me a quick squeeze.
"I thought you were. You really scared the hell out of me."
"I'm sorry," I say , simply, unsure of what else to say.
"You don't have to apologize. I guess I felt the same way you did when I didn't want to see a doctor last week."
"Yeah." I say quietly. "But you went and everything's okay."
"So," you say, turning to the screen. "Let's start like this."
"This has been a wild and crazy year," I begin, paraphrasing what you said earlier.
"Okay You're not going to write about the honeymoon "
"Of course not!" I give you an impatient look. "First, I've acquired a goldfish and a molly as pets."
"Actually, we got them last year. And I thought they were our fish, not just yours."
"Fine. Let's skip the fish. You know what? Let's start from the beginning," I open up a new document. "It's been quite a year. I have so much to tell you, I scarcely know where to begin "
"Yeah?" You wait for me to continue.
"I don't know where to begin!"
"Oh, Christ." You pick your chin off my shoulder, and rub your face with your hand. "I thought you were telling them about us?"
"I can't just jump into that. I need some sort of a lead in."
"How'bout 'My co-worker and I decided to shack up. Then we got married.'"
"No! At least not in those words!"
"Okay, what about this: 'You all know I work with a group of detectives on some of the most heinous crimes '"
"Sounds good so far," I type as you dictated.
"'Well, I jumped one of them in the bathroom last year '"
"Argh! Be serious!" Leaning over, I wrap my fingers around your throat, pretending to choke you. "And I didn't jump you!"
You laugh, holding my hands. "Right, you threw yourself at me!"
"I did not!"
"Did, too!" Letting go, you move to tickle my ribs. "You practically smothered me with your breasts."
"Shut up! And stop that!" I gasp from laughter, my fingers moving down to your sides in revenge.
Easily, you block me, and resume your attack. "You started it!"
"No you did!"
"You tried to choke me!"
"Stop, stop," I wheeze. "Can't breathe."
Immediately, you comply, pulling me into your arms, "You okay, baby?"
My fingers find your ribs, and I laugh, "Sucker!"
You grab me and tickle me, and I shriek as your fingers find my ribs. I laugh, and reach for your hands, trying to twist them away from my sensitive sides. "Truce, truce, truce" I say, and you laugh. You kiss my neck, and pull your fingers back.
"Truce." You giggle, kissing me again.
You turn back to the letter on the computer. "We really have to work on this." You laugh, as you sit up straight and put your fingers back onto the keys.
"Okay, seriously." I say. "Here, get this down. This has been a really crazy year. I still work in the same job, as an assistant district attorney assigned to the special victims unit." I start, and you sit in front of me typing. "We've had quite an impressive arrest record this year, and I still love what I do." I look to you for your approval, and you nod. "On a more personal note, I met someone, someone I love, and we got married this year in a beautiful ceremony."
"Liv," you say, turning to me. "That's all true. But a lot of these people they don't know."
"Yeah, I know that's why we're writing the letter."
"No, no, I mean they don't know. And the way that sounds, it "
"That I date women. Or had dated women. Or would ever fall in love with a woman. Or marry a woman."
"So writing it like that is kind of misleading."
"Oh. Are you sure you really want to write this letter at all?" I ask.
"It's important to me Liv that people know about us. You make me so happy. Like my life is complete. I want my friends to know that."
"Then why haven't you told them already?"
"We just got married," you remind me.
"No, I mean, why don't they know you dated women?"
"I don't know."
"You never told them."
"They never told me either," you say, defending yourself when you don't need to.
"It's okay." I shrug. "So how do you want to do this?"
"God, it's so hard," I lean back into you.
"To tell people you're gay?"
"Yes, well, no. I don't know." I sigh, as you pull me closer. "I mean, I don't have problems with people knowing, or with telling anyone maybe I'm just, I don't know, at a loss for words? The right words anyway?"
"That's a change."
"Shut up!" I elbow you in your gut.
"I'm just trying to "
"I know what you're trying to do, Liv. It's not helping. O.K.?"
"Sorry, I just."
"No, no, I'm sorry," I turn to kiss you. "I shouldn't take my frustrations out on you."
"And I shouldn't tease you so much," you concede, kissing me back.
"That's true," I agree with a smile, winding my fingers in your hair.
"You know," with your eyes closed, you breathe against my lips, "We still have that letter to write."
"I'd much rather do this," I mumble into your mouth, my breath catching as your hands slide under my shirt. "Liv "
"We should stop."
"I know," you whisper, your lips skipping down my throat.
Too bad we didn't do the campaign the Police Commissioner wanted. Then everyone would know, and we wouldn't have to do this
Breathlessly, I try to catch your attention. "Liv?"
Ignoring your light nibbles on my ear, and the shivers across my skin, I tell you my idea, "A picture says a thousand word, right?"
"Yeah?" You stop, pull back to look into my eyes, and wait for me to continue.
"Here," reluctantly, I turn away from you and back to the screen. "This someone is a decorated detective I work with, the most wonderful, caring person I've ever known. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to introduce you in person in the near future. Meanwhile, here's us, under our first tree." I drop the photograph of us underneath, then add, 'Merry Christmas, from Alex and Olivia.'
With the letter finished, I lean back into your arms once more. "What do you think?"
"I, um," I stammer as I look at the letter and the picture. "Are you sure?"
"Yep. It looks good. And it says everything I need it to."
"People are going to think you used the wrong picture."
"Why would I send it out if it had the wrong picture? And it has our names on it."
"They're going to think you changed your name to Olivia and Alex is your new husband."
"I assure you that no one on the list is that stupid."
"We look stupid." I say, trying not to sound as judgmental as I feel. "We have better pictures. Pictures where I don't look like that."
"You're beautiful," you start to say, but then change your mind when you feel me bristle. "You look good."
I look at the picture critically. "You could really get the point across if you put in one of us in bed together."
"Ha ha." You say dryly, and then you look at me. "Get that look off your face. We are not putting a naked picture in the Christmas card."
"We could get some of that new "
"Olivia Benson," you warn. "I like this picture. It's very us, and that's what's good about it. That it's us, and the tree," you say, leaning into me.
"Okay with me," I shrug, as I watch you hit the print button and order up an immediate fifty copies of it.
"See that wasn't bad?" You say, kissing me.
"Do we get to devirginize our tree now?" I ask, suddenly aware that my hand is still resting against the skin under your shirt.
"You're really incorrigible."
I smile my most innocent smile. "I just love you," I say.
You smile. "That's good because you have to sign these," you say, getting up from the chair and handing me a pen. "Get to work."
"Hey, what about you?"
"Aren't you going to sign them, too?"
"I'll do it after you're done," I explain, while moving towards the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To get water, do you want some?"
"Oh, I'd love some, just not water."
"What do you," I start to ask, then I see the look on your face, and I shake my head. "God, you have a one track mind."
"Whatever. The sooner you get done with the letters "
"The sooner you can find something else for me to do," you grumble.
"As a matter of fact, I do have something in mind," I smile, and lick my lips suggestively.
You stare for a long moment, then you shake yourself from the haze. "I don't know why we can't wait on this. It's not like the post office works on Saturday afternoons."
"Come on, Liv," I walk back to press a kiss on the top of your head. "I just want to get it done, then we can really start celebrating."
"I feel like I'm signing my life away," you whine.
I smile a teasing smile. "Too late, you've already done that, on the island."
You sigh. "Are you coming back?"
"No, I thought I'd strip naked and wait for you under the tree."
The hopefulness falls from your face. "Tease."
You tease me mercilessly, sitting across the room from me watching as I sign what seems like an innumerable stack of papers all with our picture across them. You lie back in the chair, looking at me while you slowly sip water from the glass you're holding.
"Allie?" I whine. I'm frustrated with myself, since this isn't my usual. Usually you're the one pawing at me, but now, you're the one who's in control. I hate that.
"Keep going." You say.
"All you need is a whip." I complain.
"Kinky." You say coolly, while you smile at me.
"That's not funny." I complain, as I sign my name and slide the signed copy onto the too small pile.
"The faster you get it done the faster "
"Don't remind me." I cut you off. "What's next?"
"We could watch the Peanut's Christmas special. I bought it on tape."
"Great." I say, trying not to sound disappointed. "Nothing puts you in the mood like cartoons singing Christmas carols."
"Liv." You scold.
I frown at you. "What?"
"What's wrong?" You ask.
"Are you sexually frustrated?" You ask with a tiny laugh.
"I hate you." Is all I manage.
"No you don't. Besides, you make it sounds like I hold out on you. Like we haven't made love in years."
"It's been a few days."
You laugh. "Liv, we have more sex than anyone we know."
"You don't know that. I can't help that I want you."
You're so cute when you're like this, all flustered, and trying to stay in control.
"And I want you, too," I reply with a slow smile. "As soon as we're done with this "
"Right, then we can spend the next ten hours watching cartoons."
"We did make love last night," I remind you. "We started under the tree and ended up in the middle of the living room?"
"Yeah, well, it felt like days, years at this point." You slap the next signed piece of paper on the smaller pile, channeling your growing want.
"Anticipation, isn't that what you tell me? All the time?"
"Different. Of course it is." I smile again, and engage your attention. "Is it me? Or is it kind of hot in here?" I ask, then take a sip of water, carefully sliding my tongue along my bottom lip to catch the errant drip.
When you don't respond, I unbutton the second button on my shirt.
You tear your eyes away to give me a dirty look. Immediately, you return to the Christmas letters, speeding through the pages.
When you've built a momentum, I sigh, and complain, "Did you change the temperature or something?"
"No, Alex," you provide curtly, watching me from the corner of your eye.
Slowly, I unloop the bottom buttons, until the third button remains in place. "Whew, that's better," I say, pulling at the clinging fabric.
No longer surreptitiously staring, you wait eagerly for my next move. I twist the last button in my fingers, contemplating your silent request. At the last minute, I change my mind, and lower my glass onto the floor beside me, providing you with a deeper view of my chest.
I think I can hear your breath hitch.
Then, just as slowly, I raise my torso, then my arms, stretching my body leisurely, pretending not to notice the effects my actions have on you. That I don't see the hunger in your following eyes.
"Chop, chop!" I clap my hands. "Let's get on with the letters!"
You pause, and stare at me.
I smile my most innocent smile. "Come on, the sooner we get done " I start to say, then stop when you throw the pen onto the desk, and push back your chair.
In no time, you're hovering above me, with danger oozing from your pores.
O.K. maybe I've pushed this a little too far. Batting my lashes and swallowing my squeak, I say, "Hi."
I don't give you the chance to say anything else. I kiss you, hard, the way I want you to kiss me. My hands are on your body. You respond to me with a moan.
"Liv the letters." You say, like that is going to make me go back to the table. I push into you, making you step backwards and into the couch. Quickly I jump on top of you, nearly growling at you.
"Will wait," I tell you, with another hard kiss.
"But we have to." You break away. You're still smiling. Teasing me. Taunting me.
"I need you." I whisper into your ear, pulling at your clothes. I hear the button ping across the room. "Now," I growl as punctuation.
"Liv," you whisper, but I already have your shirt off, my hand in your waistband while I pull at your kiss with my own deep need.
"Baby," you say, and I can feel you pushing against me, but I don't let you up. I push you into the couch, roughly, grabbing your wrists and holding them over your head while I take your breast into my mouth.
You moan, and I approve, while you struggle with my hands holding yours.
"Don't move," I warn you, and you pretend to pull your hands away. I know this turns you on. I know it does, but I don't like feeling you struggle against me, and I let your hands go.
"Don't," You whisper, putting them back over your head.
I kiss you, and slide my hands up your body, but not on the hands you've put willingly over your head.
You reach for my hand, and put it where you want it, holding your wrists down, but again I let you go when you pull against them.
"I," I stammer, "I can't."
"But I want you "
"I can't." I say pulling off of you. "I just can't"
"I can't. I'm sorry, Alex, I just can't," you keep apologizing as you pull your weight off of me.
"But I thought you want me?" I try not to feel the cold of rejection pouring over me. Something's wrong with this picture, my rational mind screams through the haze.
"I do, Alex, but not like that," you say, as if I had just slapped you.
Before you can pull completely away, I hold you back. "Not like how?"
"I felt like I was, and you were," you sigh. "I just."
"You know what I'm made of," you drop your voice to a near whisper. "Alcoholism might not be the only thing I inherited."
"Liv! How," I can't believe what I'm hearing. "I want you, I love you, and I teased you mercilessly."
"I shouldn't have lost control."
Do you have to blame yourself for everything? If anyone is to blame, it's me. "But, Sweetie." I try to kiss you, when you shy away, I sigh my apology, "I'm sorry. I didn't think I was just playing with you. To see how much you wanted me."
"But you were turned on," you mumble, still refusing to meet my eyes.
"When I was being rough, you wanted me to be rough."
"Like I said, I was pushing, to see how much you wanted me. I'm sorry, I really didn't think, you know, I didn't mean for you to feel bad."
"How do you expect me to feel?" You accuse angrily, "I felt like I was raping you."
"No, no, no," I kiss you all over your face, desperately, hoping to make you understand. "I wanted you, I wanted the rough, you weren't "
"I know that, I know that's what you wanted, and I'm sorry. I can't give it to you. I wish I could, but not like that. I'm sorry." Somehow you're back to blaming yourself again.
"Shh " I kiss you softly; I kiss you on your face, your mouth. I kiss your fingers which were holding me captive earlier. "Don't apologize for that."
"Can I tell you something?" I brush my thumb across your lips, hushing any words you might have in mind. "You know how I easily I fall asleep in your arms? Well, I've never done that, with anybody else; I've never felt as safe or as protected than I do with you." I wait for your quiet acknowledgment, then continue before my pride gets in the way or my courage fails me, "Your strength, your willingness to take charge, the same qualities that make me feel safe also turn me on. It's a big turn on to know that for once, I can surrender my control, to someone stronger than me, who I know will never intentionally hurt me, who will protect me with that same strength "
"That doesn't make it okay." I try to explain. Try to tell you how sick it makes me to think of myself touching you against your will. How much of a life I've tried to make out of proving to myself that I'm not merely an extension of my parents, and how being like him, being like a man who's haunted me who's name I don't even know has been my life.
"Baby, I wanted you to hold me down." You try to explain. You push against me and I push away.
"But you liked it." I say, feeling my stomach churning. My face feels hot. My skin is cold.
"You didn't do anything wrong."
"You don't get it." I say angrily, pulling away from you again.
"I guess not," you mumble. "I don't want you to feel bad," you say with a gentle kiss to my lips.
"I can't help it," I say, feeling your hands on my back makes my skin feel like it's burning. I'm being silly, and I know it, but I can't make myself feel differently. You're still touching me and I feel my stomach starting to turn.
I stand up, quickly, knowing I'm going to be sick. You stare at me wide eyed while I run from the room. I hear your footsteps behind me, and I slam the bathroom door between us, not wanting you there, not wanting you to see me be sick.
"Liv?" You pound on the door. "Open the door."
"Just a second." I say, wiping my mouth on my sleeve.
When I finally open the door, you're sitting on the bed, staring at the wall. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Alex. I'm sorry."
"What happened?" You ask, and it's then I can hear the tears in your voice. The shaking timbre that lets me know how you feel.
"I, I just felt sick."
"Because of me."
"Not because of you. Because of me."
"You were sick because I liked it."
"I was sick because because that's what I'm most afraid of in the world."
"But you're not him. You can never ever be like him," I tell you with as much conviction as I can muster. You're not the one with the mental or emotional or just plain general defect.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Look," I pull my shirt tighter around myself, my shirt that I pulled on in a hurry to hide my nakedness after you fled the room. "You couldn't even do it, even when you knew it was consensual."
"I'm sorry, okay, Alex?"
"I didn't mean it like that, I wasn't blaming you."
"But you're disappointed."
"No. Disappointment isn't quite the word for it." I inhale deeply and hold my breath, hiding my tears and refusing to look at you.
"Nothing. Don't worry about it. I'm really sorry. I really didn't mean for you to feel that way. I don't know how " I stop to inhale again, very aware that you're still standing far, far away from me, on the other side of the room.
"Don't know how what?"
"I just don't understand. I don't know how you can think that, that you're anything like him."
You snicker, your voice dripping with self-loathing. "The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree?"
"But you're not like him. You spend every day of your life trying to help people, to save them from the same violence he inflicted on your mother."
"Not all the time, I don't always..."
"But the ones you found alive, you help them survive. I've seen you."
"But that doesn't mean I can't be like him, Alex, that I can't learn to get off on your struggles."
"Did I what?"
"Did you get off? Were you turned on?"
A long stretch of silence elapses. Finally, you speak, "I could maybe I did, a little."
"But you knew I wanted it. I literally begged you for it."
"This time. But what about the next time?"
This time I can't fight the tears. "There won't be a next time, I assure you," I say forcefully, to convince you, to scold myself. "I won't do that to you again."
"Alex," I say, watching you collapse but unable to make my legs move over to you.
"I'm fine," You say, pushing tears out of your eyes, pulling yourself to the edge of the bed and curling up around your arms.
"Don't cry." I say, quietly. "Please Alex. It's Christmastime."
You look at me, and shoot me an evil glare. I can see the anger flashing in your eyes, now. "Why are you standing over there?" You say accusingly.
"Look at yourself, Liv. You can't even bear to come over here." You say, standing and turning to face me quickly.
"Alex." I plead but I don't move.
"How the fuck do you think that's supposed to make me feel?"
"It's not you."
"It's not me?" You laugh. "Liv, it may be your fear, but it's me that made you feel that way. Something that I did to you, that's what makes you look like that. You should have seen your face. For Christ's sake, I made you physically sick."
"Come on Alex." I say, taking a tentative step across the carpet towards you.
"Liv, just don't, okay?"
"I love you." I say quietly.
"Please don't." You beg, as you turn away.
"I love you," I say again, taking another step. The first becomes the second, until I've crossed the room and let my hand rest on your shoulder.
You look back at me, at my fingers on you, and turn.
The tears are glistening in your eyes, streaming down your face. "I love you," is all I can say.
"I'm sorry," you whisper as I take you into my arms.
"No, I'm sorry," I whisper feeling the tears running down my face. "I love you."
"I love you, and I'm sorry," you whisper your reassurance and your apology, over and over.
Angrily, I wipe tears from my eyes, cursing my out of control lachrymal glands. "Don't."
"I don't deserve it."
I know my response was ambiguous; I refuse to clarify.
Now you're wiping your tears impatiently off your own face. "Alex!"
"Can't we just forget about this?" Tired and defeated, I beg, "I'll try not to, I won't, not again."
"But Alex "
"But what? Olivia? What do you want from me? I'm sorry for asking you to do something I shouldn't have asked in the first place," I let my disgust show. "I'll talk to the therapist after the holiday's over, all right? And whatever's wrong with me, I'll get fixed."
"Alex " You attempt to kiss my lips. When I turn my head, you sigh, "It's not you. I love you."
"Don't," I insist, tugging my shirt tighter around myself, and moving away.
"Damnit, Alex, I love you!" Grabbing my arm, you pull me back. "I love you, and I want you!" You announce, holding me to you, and raising my face. "Look at me, Alex! I love you!"
"Fine, you want me to prove it to you? Fine!" You snarl, pushing me until I fall backwards into the bed. Immediately, you're on me, your weight pressing down into me. "I love you, Alex, and I want you!" You shout-growl at me, your hands struggling with my shirt, tearing at my pants.
"Liv, don't," I plea. "Don't do it. You don't have to." I fight you, aware of the wild arousal growing perversely in me.
"Sure I do," you grab my wrists and hold them over my head. "I love you."
Why do I feel like this? Why does it turn me on to be completely at your mercy? This is so wrong, on so many levels, I just didn't realize it before. "Please, Liv," I move against your hold. "You don't have to," I repeat, intending to reassure, sounding breathless instead.
"I want you!" You yell at my breast, before taking it into your mouth, pulling hard, raking your teeth over my flesh.
"God, Liv," I respond, despite myself. "Oh god!" I shriek when you plunge inside, stretching me open with your fingers.
Instinctively, I fight against your grip on my wrists. "Liv," I beg, bucking writhing in your arms, wanting you to release me so I can twist my hands in your hair, so I can push you deeper into me
I try to explain to you that it's not you it's me, but has that ever worked?
You'll never accept my reasoning and you'll never understand what's so clear in my head.
The answer is clear. I know it in my heart as well as in my head. So I only have one choice.
I push you.
I push you backwards, not hard, but fast enough to knock you off balance and onto the bed. I growl at you that I want you, and you look at me wide eyed. "You don't have to," you mumble.
"I do, I want you." I say again, not wanting to explain. I know if I explain it'll fall apart. I know if I think about what I'm doing, I'll never be able to live with myself.
I jump on you, holding you down.
I pull your wrists above your head, and I hold them tightly. It's like it was on the couch, only this time, when you try to pull your hands away, I push them harder into the bed, and don't let them go.
"You don't have to," you mutter again, but all I hear is don't as I slam my fingers inside you.
This is dangerous.
I'm falling apart.
I push on top of you, and pull at your clothes. Your shirt comes away, and I roughly pull at your pants. My fingers rip at them, and quickly I slam inside you again, and fight back as you try to break away.
"You don't have to," you shriek, but I know better.
If I don't do this, now, everything will change.
We can never go back.
I have to.
I try not to think about it, not logically at least, and instead taste your skin in my mouth. I try not to feel you pulling against me, try not to let you go and keeping you together.
I hear your ragged breathing as I fight against you. I hear the seams of my clothes ripping. And I look up, to see the darkness in your eyes, fear, mixed with something else I can't quite place.
And I look for signs that you might be enjoying this, as much as I am. Maybe half as much as I am. A fraction maybe? I don't see it.
Whatever you're doing, it's fueled by adrenaline, by your need to prove yourself. To prove to me that you do love me. Love me enough to give me what I want.
Even if it kills you.
And it's killing you, right now, even as I'm responding to your fierce jagged thrusts.
I can't let you do this.
You'll just hate yourself afterwards. You'll hate me.
I pull myself back from struggling, from bucking towards you. "Stop!" I scream.
You jerk your head up. You freeze, staring at me more like a frightened animal than a predator.
"Let go," I move my arms slightly, to let you know that's what I meant.
And you do, without skipping a beat.
And I fight the reflex to rub my wrists. The bruises will show soon enough. You don't need to deal with that right now.
See? You're not like your father. You can stop, I want to point out to you, but I don't. There'll be time for that later.
Then you start to withdraw your fingers, and I clench around you, sucking in a deep stabling breath. "Don't? Please? Stay?"
You still your movements, and stare through me.
"Look at me," I catch your face in my hands. "I'm sorry."
"No really, I'm sorry. I think I let my pride got to me."
"Sometimes it bothers me that you're always in control, that you can resist me. And I'm almost always the one making the first moves, always wanting more," I try to explain what brought on this entire episode, at least in speculative hind sight. "I guess I wanted to know you want me, too, as much as I want you."
"I do want you, Alex," you whisper. "I love you."
"I know," I kiss you softly, winding my fingers in your hair, tasting the salt of your tears mixed with mine. And I relax my muscles holding you to me, and sigh, "I'm sorry. Please don't hate me?"
I'm hyper aware of how wrong this feels, how my mind is slowly narrowing and I'm not paying any attention to what I'm doing or where I am. I'm in a place that's numb, while your writhe under me, pushing against my hands.
Silently I pray for your release so I can get off of you and pretend that none of this ever happened. I want to like this, I want to find some part of myself that understands. All I can see in the back of my mind is the victims I've helped, the people I've talked to. They shouldn't be in my mind, not while I'm touching you like this. Not while I'm on top of you, growling, kissing you and pulling at your body.
"Liv," you say, and I know you're talking, or I believe you are. I hold you tighter to the bed, struggling to keep your hands together while I slide inside you.
I can feel your arousal on my hand, even though you struggle. You want this, you want me. And I want you, just not like this.
"Liv." You say again.
I try to focus on your voice, but it's useless. I only know that you want this, and I have to do it, right now, I have to do it to save us.
I hear things shattering in my mind. Stop. Stop means to pull away. It means to let you go. I try to judge whether you mean it, or whether you're fighting me. In a second though, involuntarily, I let you go. I jump off of you, letting your hands go, and pulling myself away from your body.
You reach for me, and move my head so I'm watching you. "You don't have to do this."
"I love you." I say, dumbly.
"I know you do, I love you. I love you, too. I just wanted to know that you wanted me."
"I wanted to not be in control." You say, reaching for me and kissing me on my lips. You're talking, but my focus isn't right.
"Make love to me," you whisper, and I know what that means.
"Please? Liv? I'm sorry," I apologize again, and when you don't respond, I ask you to make love to me.
Something in your gaze changes, and you lower your head, and kiss me on my lips.
It feels different. Your kisses feel different.
Despite that, I kiss you back.
When you slip your tongue pass my lips, I suck on it, and twine my tongue with it, like I used to. But something's different.
It's almost as if you're distracted. Like before, when you were recovering from your head injury.
Except this is different.
When your hands slide up to cover my breasts, I arch, more out of habit than want.
Somehow, I'm not reacting like I should, like I'd desperately want. Or, I wish I could say I want.
My mind engages my thoughts, more interested in solving this enigma than what you're doing to me, to my body.
You seem to notice, as the pressure of your kneading changes, as your kisses deepen.
Still, I'm not responding like I normally would.
Why is that?
A few minutes ago I wanted you, I needed you. I needed you and your reassurance so much that I even asked you to make love to me.
Wait. I asked.
Once again, I had to ask.
We are, or at least I am, back to where we started.
Why does this bother me so much? You love me, and you want me. You even tried to prove it to me earlier. Then what's my problem?
Why am I having issues about being in control? I'm a control freak, am I not? So why would I want to have my control taken away from me?
Is this even about control?
Maybe it is about having to ask, or about being the needier one in the relationship
I watch you letting me touch you, and your body moves in time with my hands. Your back arches, just as it always does. It's all like it always is, except your eyes are distant and I can tell without much interpretation that you're not really into this.
Just like I wasn't there a few minutes ago, you're distant. Your body responds on a purely biological level, and you're not there. Your mind is a million miles away, and I can't reach you, not like this.
"Allie?" I ask between kisses.
You moan, but don't speak.
I kiss you, our tongues mix and pull at each other, but there's no passion.
I'm giving you what I know you want, but it's not working.
"Allie?" I ask again.
"Mmm " you manage, as you lean in for another kiss. You don't want to talk. I know that's why you're ignoring me, pretending I'm not talking, pretending you want this more than you do.
I pull off of you. "We shouldn't do this," I tell you.
You sigh a deep sigh. There's a sadness in your eyes, a deep sadness.
"You're not into this," I say, quietly.
"I'm sorry," you say, not denying what I knew I felt.
"I'm not either," I say with a deep breath.
"I know," you say, sliding a blanket over your naked body, while I lie next to you, staring at your profile against the light from the window.
I take a deep breath. "What happened?"
"I don't know," you say, still not looking at me.
"Me either," I sigh, as I slip into your silence.
This is the second time I hear your inhale, as if you were going to say something. In the end, you let out your breath slowly, and remain silent.
The third time is followed by a sigh.
I guess that's your way of communication, I'm not sure why I am surprised. That's usually how things go anyway - either one of us would close ourselves up to the other. I guess, this time, neither one of us wants to reach out.
Neither one of us wants to be the one who fills this cold space between us.
I wonder if you heard any part of everything I said to you.
Or if you even understood where I'm coming from. Suppose I can't blame you if you didn't. I'm not sure I do either.
All I know is, once again, you did something because I wanted you to.
How fine is the line between doing something because you know it'll make me happy, and because you feel obligated? I wish I knew.
Maybe I am being paranoid. Maybe I shouldn't be thinking like this. But I can't for the life of me remember the last time you initiated our love-making. Sure, you were talking about devirginizing the tree just now, but how much of that was only to get out of Christmas preparation?
I miss those days when you weren't so concerned with maintaining your control, when you found me irresistible.
What will happen if I stopped pawing at you, or throwing myself at you?
Will we stop making love all together?
Would this be it then? Is this where the lesbian bed death happens? The beginning of the end of our relationship?
You sigh again, and this time you turn your back to me.
I pull on the tatters of my clothes, and ease out of bed, and into the closet. You don't say a word.
You don't say a word when I come out and start walking towards the door.
At the last moment, with my hand on the knob, I look back at you, to find you staring at me. "I'm not sleepy," I offer, with a casual voice. "So I'm going to be in the study, wrapping your presents, okay? No peeking," I add with a smile.
You acknowledge with a smile of your own.
Like always, we play your favorite game - let's pretend nothing's wrong and get on with our happy life.
I can't help but feel that I did something wrong. I stare at your profile and sigh. You don't say anything. Your face is blank and you don't talk either. Both of us lie together in an uncomfortable silence.
I want to ask you what happened. I want to ask you how we ended up here, not touching each other, afraid to speak.
At least I'm afraid to speak. I'm not sure what to say. I know I should say something, though, but the words die on my lips.
You get up, holding the clothes tight to your body. You don't look at me, and I watch only to see where you're going. You head into the closet, changing your clothes with your back to me, so I can't see your nakedness. Is this where we really are?
You turn to me with a smile on your face. It's painfully fake, and you say with a false lilt in your voice that you're wrapping my presents so I shouldn't peek.
You want to be alone.
Your smile is masking something, a pain that comes from our failed attempt at making love. I can't remember this ever happening to us before, that our passion fizzled so quickly, ending with us pulling off each other and into our own worlds without a final resolution.
Our lovemaking, the whole thing, it's become like second nature to us. You seduce and I follow. We fall into bed, into patterns, and it's always the same, always familiar.
Even slightly interrupting our pattern, and now here we are. Barely speaking, with false smiles and lilting tones that only serve to remind us both that something is horribly wrong.
I don't understand what I did.
Being scared at taking control of you I shouldn't have is natural for me. But I think about what it's like when you touch me, and tease me, and realize sometimes it's nice to not be in control.
Could that be what this is?
You want me to take that from you?
I've become used to taking only what you give me. Maybe, what you're asking for, is that I finally learn to take for myself.
Outside our bedroom door, I pause, almost as if I'm waiting for you to call me back, to say something, anything.
Of course I don't stay long. No sense reminding myself how unrealistic my expectations are.
It's almost ironic, that one of the first things that attracted you to me is your dark brooding. What fun it would be to get to the depth and passion I knew buried underneath. It'd be like unearthing treasures.
It's still like that, I suppose. The joy we discovered together, I wouldn't trade for the world. But sometimes I get tired of hammering and digging, and forcing you open, and forcing the issues until whatever we're looking for comes to light.
So, quietly, I move to the living room, stopping by the illuminated tank to look at our fish. They seem so blissful, swimming around each other. I wonder if they ever fight. If they ever fail to communicate.
If they get scared.
If we separate them, will they feel loneliness?
Do they swim around looking for the other during the brief moments of separation, when we fish them out to change their water?
Do they talk to each other in ways we don't hear?
Or are they merely blissfully coexisting, waiting for the next flake of food to fall?
Maybe I think too much.
I know I think too much.
I also know I'm supposed to be in the other room wrapping your presents. But do I really want to do that? Considering what I got you? The ironic appropriateness and inappropriateness of the gifts. Oh, here, here's something to keep you warm since I won't be doing that anymore. Oh, and this is something to keep you occupied while you spend time with yourself. And by the way, you can forget about the other, I'm done being the seducer.
Yeah, OK, I'm also being melodramatic, I know that. But right now, it feels good to wallow.
It feels even better to blank my mind, and not think about anything.
When the sun rises, it'll be another day, right?
I walk to the kitchen, and pull an apple out of the fridge. Then I walk back to the couch, pick up the remote, flip on the tv, and lean into the cushions
I hear the TV flip on. Still in bed, I know that means that you changed your mind about being in the study by yourself. I wonder if that means if you want me to wander out and talk to you.
I stretch on the bed, not sure what to do. I don't want to be fighting with you and even though you didn't walk out on a bad note, I know there's unspoken things still floating between us.
I sigh and stand up, walking across the room, I open the door and watch you pouting on the couch. One of your arms is wrapped tightly to your chest, the other outstretched as you flip through channels at a pace faster than you could possibly watch.
"Alex?" I say, quietly.
"Hmmm " You say, barely acknowledging my presence.
"Can we ?"
I watch you flip the channel again and sigh as you don't look up.
"Alex, we have to talk."
"There's nothing to talk about." You say distantly.
"Alex?" I walk over to you and plop down next to you on the couch.
"There's nothing to talk about." You say again, flipping the channel as if to prove your point.
I take the remote from you gently, and flip the TV off. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." You say again, crossing your arms over your chest and pulling your legs up into the couch.
"I don't know, Olivia."
I flinch at the way you say my name. "You're angry at me." I say.
"Why are you acting like this?" You say, accusatorily.
"Because I think we need to talk about what just happened."
"That's a first."
"When was the last time you wanted to talk about something." You say with a mean laugh.
"I don't understand "
"You're not a victim here, Liv. You're just as responsible for what happened 'in there'," you say with cruel sarcasm.
"I know I am, Alex. I know."
"That's why I think we need to talk, Alex," you add with a sigh.
"OK," I reply, still staring at the blank tv.
After a lull of silence, you echo, "Okay?"
I know you expect me to talk. "I've said all I needed to say." I motion at the bedroom with a slight toss of my head, "In there."
"Um. Maybe I was too wrapped up in what I was feeling Would you mind repeating what you said? I wanna make sure I heard, I wanna make sure I heard right."
"I don't feel like repeating myself right now," is my response. I really don't mean to be so uncooperative, but right now, right this moment, I just can't bring myself to be otherwise. "I just don't."
"But we need to talk," you insist gently.
"Because it's Christmas? We shouldn't be fighting when it's Christmas."
"We're not fighting, at least not that I'm aware of."
"Okay, we're not fighting. But you're sad. You shouldn't be sad when it's Christmas."
"Technically, it's not Christmas yet, and since when did you become such an advocate of holiday cheer?"
"Since you convinced me that it's worth celebrating?"
When I remain silent, you sigh. "Is this what's like for you? Trying to get me out of my shell? Are you giving me a dose of my own medicine?"
"Not intentionally," I shrug.
"Talk to me, Alex, please?"
"I'm just tired of being the one initiating our conversations all the time," I complete my answer to your previous question.
"Oh." Fidgety, you rub your forehead, before resting your hand on my knee. "Does it apply to our love making, too?"
So you did hear what I said, at least enough to decipher for yourself. I stare at our connection, and shrug.
Your next move takes me by surprise. Without warning or any preamble, you lean forward, pulling and pressing into me, until you trap my body against the couch.
"What are you doing?" I manage, my heart pounding in my chest.
"I want you," you whisper, bending your head, moving in for my lips.
With my hands on your shoulder, I block you from getting any closer. "If you're just doing this because you think I want you to, then don't "
You push aside my arms and hush me with a deep sweeping kiss that takes my breath away, then whisper-growl, "I'm doing this because you're fucking hot, and I wanna get in your pants."
I can't help but laugh, partly to cover my nervousness. "What if I don't want to?"
You slide your hand up to cup my breast, drawing a moan from me. "Then I'll just have to change your mind."
In the warm glowing aftermath of our love making, you crawl into my arms, exhausted and sweating still out of breath from the exertion. I can't remember the last time being with you felt like that, as deeply intense as that was.
Crawling on top of you and taking you; forcing you to do what I wanted for the first time in what seems like forever. It made the whole thing seem even more erotic, more fulfilling.
An understanding was made, I realized, perhaps. Without feeling like I was raping you, I was taking your control. Making you give yourself over to me, and it didn't feel dirty, and it didn't feel wrong. You let me touch you, let me take your control away, and you genuinely seemed to like it.
Holding you tightly to my chest, I try to remember what changed. I wonder when I stopped taking this opportunity with you. When you started to feel like wanting me was a burden.
I can't remember much, except when the depression started, my sex drive started to die. Not that it disappeared, when you would lean in and kiss me, I could feel the stirrings inside me. But I never thought, never tried to
"Whatcha thinking?" You ask me with a smile. Your fingers trace small circles on my shoulder as you lay on top of me, yawning a little.
"I'm thinking about you." I murmur as I think about how wonderfully our bodies fit together. How our curves line up so I can feel you wonderfully stretched all the way down my skin.
"What about me?" You ask, closing your eyes and adjusting your head into the curve of my shoulder.
"That I love you."
You smile. "What else?"
"That I need to do that more often?"
"What? Ply me with cheesy pick up lines and then take advantage of me?"
"Mmhmmm." I say, delighting in the laugh that you supply.
"Sounds perfect," You say with a satisfied smile.
1433 ANOTHER DAY
A soft moan wakes me. And as my senses focus, I realize I'm moaning, to your hands crossing my body, gently, slowly. As if a sensual wave, I let myself drift, even though the light filtering through my eyelids tells me the sun has risen, that it's probably obscenely late.
With my eyes still closed, I try to remember the night before. Us, laying together, our bodying molding beautifully together, and the deep contentment I felt
I try to remember what happened, after you crawled on top of me, after you held my hands down initially by lacing your fingers firmly lovingly with mine
Somehow it's all a blur, a warm hazy blur that brings a smile to my face.
Maybe it's because I'm distracted.
The slight change of pressure of your touch, and your lips on the back of my neck, they both tell me you realize you've successfully teased me awake.
In your arms I stretch, opening my eyes slowly, moaning to the sunlight and your languid kisses.
"'Afternoon, Princess," you whisper, as I turn to face you.
"Afternoon!" I almost bolt upright, your hand sliding down my hips stop me.
"Yep," you smirk. "Last time I checked, it was after twelve."
"How long have you been up?"
"Just a couple of hours."
"Why didn't you wake me up?"
You shrug, and nuzzle my neck. "It's Sunday."
I lean back, allowing you better access. "What have you been doing?"
"Watching you sleep?" You say with a tender voice, then add lightly, "And listening to you snore."
"I don't snore!" I argue, pushing against your shoulders in protest.
You hold me fast. "One of these days, I'll just have to make a tape "
"Don't you dare!"
"Oh?" Ignoring my mock anger, you dip your head again. "Whatcha gonna do?" You ask against the sensitive spot on my throat.
"You'll be severely punished," I gasp.
"You wouldn't punish me," I say, kissing you again. The smile slowly spreads across your face as you close your eyes against the light. I want you, and I am taking pleasure in your gentle awakening. Your moans punctuate your breath which is coming faster as my hands carefully tease your nipples into stiff peaks.
"Sure I would." You say, grinning ear to ear as my hands slide down your body. You moan again, my hands dancing and snaking over your taut stomach muscles. You bite your lip, to keep another moan from sneaking out.
"How?" I ask, sliding my hand lower down your hip. I feel you pressing yourself back, trying to give my hands more room to get closer to you, but I carefully keep them from touching you everywhere but where you want to be touched most.
"How what?" You ask, which makes me smirk against my will. I'm glad to know I can have this effect on you.
"How would you punish me," I ask, reminding you of what we were talking about.
"Ummm I could make you sign more Christmas cards."
"We already did more than we could ever send out." I say, with a smile. "You stamped them and addressed them. You even threw extras away."
"We could make more friends?"
"How about making you put up more tinsel?"
I stop you before you can even finish your sentence. "There's more tinsel on our tree than there are branches." I say, with a kiss.
"I could cut you off," You say, as you moan into my kiss.
I laugh, and so do you. "Really?" I ask.
"Yep," you say with a laugh, as I slip my hand into your inner thigh.
"No you couldn't," I say, teasing you mercilessly.
"Sure I could," you say, as you bite your lip harder.
"You could not," I say, again.
"You're right," you say with a smile as you push yourself into me, pulling your legs open to give me better access.
"Well?" You demand with a smirky smile as you slide your fingers along the insides of my thighs, teasing me mercilessly with your feathery touch.
I bite my lips and inhale, fighting to concentrate on your question. "Well what?"
"You still haven't told me how "
"How?" I ask, my hips thrusting involuntarily towards you, only to be met by emptiness.
"Relax, Alex," you tell me with a gentle chuckle.
This time, I growl my frustration, and reach for your hand.
My eyes fly open when you catch my wrists. Lovingly, you brush your lips across my fingers, then with a smile, you push my arms gently over my head. "Let me," you whisper in between soft kisses. "I won't let you down, I promise."
Hungrily, I kiss you back, resigning myself to my predicament. I did ask you to take charge, it's just although I wonder if your words carry a deeper meaning
You don't give me much time to ponder. "So tell me," you whisper hoarsely, sliding your mouth across my jaw and down my throat.
"Mmm?" I whimper my question.
"My punishment," you remind me as your tongue sweeps down and across my chest.
I press against you, offering you my breasts, hoping you would take my nipples inside your mouth. Instead, you begin tracing lazy circles moving away from the tip.
Another whimper escapes my lips as I arch my body higher, immersing deeper into the eroticism of my control slipping away from me, of helplessness and want.
"Alex? You gonna tell me?" You ask, your mouth spiraling to the other breast, while your hand reach under the curve of my buttocks. "My punishment?"
I know you're doing this on purpose, to keep my mind distracted from my arousal, to drive me slowly to the brink of desperation. Biting down on my lower lip again, I inhale, preparing to answer when you flick your tongue hard at the aching point. "Oh, god," I nearly howl when you pull it into your mouth
Don't stop, I beg you in my head, unsure if you'll actually stop if I verbalize my plea. Or are you waiting for me to beg you, to ask you to take me and love me, and to satisfy that almost painful desire? Should I even try to find out?
"Liv, god, Liv " Is all I manage when you begin a delicious kneading with your mouth and hand, manipulating my flesh to grow my pleasure and need.
Please I plead, silently, while your deep moans mingle with mine. You want me as much as I want you. "Liv," I gasp, disobeying your orders and moving my hands to clasp your shoulders, to hold you to me
"Well?" I ask again, smiling as you call my name and beg without words for me to touch you. Your body lights to my touches and caresses, and teasing you, getting nearly close enough to make a difference is driving you to madness.
"Please Liv?" You ask, and I smile at you.
Your back is arching, while I straddle the space above you, lovingly, carefully touching your skin with my lips. Each kiss illicit a whimpering from you that goes right to my core.
"Please?" You say. I can feel my own arousal mounting as yours grows.
"You didn't answer my question." I smile.
"Hmm?" You ask again, your eyes closed, and your mind a million miles away from our conversation. I kiss your lips, carefully, and you raise your head off the pillow trying to chase me, but I don't let you get the deep contact you desire.
"I get the definite sense," I say, taking your nipple into my mouth and pulling on it gently, making you moan harder. "You're not paying attention to this conversation," I say, pulling my head away from your breast.
"Don't talk," You say, arching your back and pushing yourself back against my lips, inviting me to take you back into my mouth. I do without hesitation, but just as quickly let go.
"But I'm interested in " I start saying, while I let my fingers carefully run tiny circles on the inside of your thigh. I can feel you trying to slide your body into them, but I refuse you the contact, getting as close as I can without the active release you're seeking.
"Shhh." You say, pushing against me harder.
"I know, but baby, I really want to know " I say, with a teasing smile. You don't smile back.
"Liv," you beg, as you slide your hands into mine and move them closer to where you want me to touch you.
I smile at you and pull my hands away. "What?"
"Shut up and fuck me."
"Just shut up and fuck me!" I demand, my voice hoarse from want, from need. I arch towards you. If I could just get near you, or get you near me. I swear, just a tiny bit of pressure, just a brief touch, that's all it'd take
You refuse to release me. Instead, you tsk, "What language! So unbecoming of a good girl."
"I don't wanna be a good girl," responding to your cheesy line and your cheesy smile, I almost whine. "Just, please? Liv? I need."
You kiss me lightly on my lips, then pull away before I can deepen our contact. "What would mom say?" You ask with a smirk.
"I don't care! Please?" I beg, trying to push into you, my pride shatters to the sharp punctuated edges of my desire. "Why won't you?"
"Because what?" I whimper as you shift, tucking your knees between my legs, further exposing me to the skin tingling air in the room.
You shrug. "Just because."
What has gotten into you? I don't think you've ever teased me like this. From the sheen of moisture on your face, and the flush of your skin, I know you're torturing yourself in the process. "Liv?"
"You wanted me to lead, to take what I want," you state, bending your head to flick at my painfully aroused nipples, first one, then the other, back and forth, driving me towards unfulfilled delirium.
I managed a whimpered, "Yeah?"
"Well, I'm leading, and I want you."
"And taking your time," I sigh my protest when you skip back to my throat.
"Yep," you slide your tongue on my skin, and finally slip into my mouth, in a soul searching kiss that pushes me to a whole new level of want.
I think I can come right here, right now.
My nails rake your back.
My body tenses.
"No!" I scream when you pull away.
And I stare at you wild eyed when you completely pull away. "Wh "
You silence me with a gentle touch on my lips. Before I can wrap my tongue around your finger to draw you back, you climb off the bed.
"I'll be right back," you tell me. "Can I trust you to behave?"
"Behave?" Furiously, I try to gather my thoughts.
"Wait for me," you smile a meaningful smile.
I nod, despite my desperation. You did it on purpose, didn't you? Putting the self-help possibility in my head just to increase the torment. And I watch you cross the room and pull open the closet door. "What are you ?" I begin to ask, then the toy box hits the floor
And I moan my anticipation when you begin searching through the contents
I pull the toy box out of our closet. I try to remember the last time we played with it's contents, and I can't. Forcing the thought out of my head, I reach into the box, while you push yourself up onto your elbows to watch.
There's so much stuff in here we've never tried, and some of it we never will. Some of the things are ridiculous, joke toys that wouldn't be practical to use at all. But some of the things, some of it will fit quite nicely into my plan for you.
"Hmmm " I say, pulling at things in the box and moving them around. I watch as you stare at me your eyes wide and almost wild. I want to tease you, so I take my time carefully pawing through the pile of toys.
"What are you getting?" You say, with more desperation clear in your voice than I'm sure you'd like to admit.
"Don't know." I say, as I move some of the things from the box to the floor.
"Come on Liv," you whine at me.
"What?" I ask, still playing in the box.
"Come back?" You ask impatiently.
I grab a few things from the box and push them to the side. "I'm looking for something." I explain, patiently.
"Liv," You say, with a definite whine.
"Alex." I whine back at you.
You lay back onto the bed flat. You look at the ceiling and I can see your knuckles firmly gripping the bed sheets that are next to you.
"Aha!" I shout, which makes you prop yourself right back up and stretch to see.
"What?" You say quickly.
"You'll see," I say with a huge smile.
"Liv," You whine again.
I crawl back next to you on the bed, and show you the toy and the strap that I picked out from the box.
"Are you sure?" you ask me, quietly.
"You want me to?"
"Then I'm sure," I say, sliding the straps up my legs while you watch
I watch you crawl into bed with your prize in hand. The smile on your face exudes triumph, danger, anything but the shy smile you had all the other times we went into the box. I feel my heart hammering in my chest as you slowly slide the straps up your legs.
Do you need help? I open my mouth to ask, but my voice fails me, so I reach out with my fingers towards the buckles.
"S'ok," you say gently, telling me with your eyes that I am to keep my hands to myself.
I sigh, flopping back onto the pillows and staring up to the ceiling.
A few moments later, I lift my head again, to watch you make adjustments, and I moan in protest. I can't help myself.
Is all this loosening and tightening of the straps necessary? What are you doing? Besides driving me crazy?
I want this, and I want you.
"Liv?" I breathe, sounding much more needful than I meant to be.
You laugh. "I'm almost done, Alex. You don't want it falling off in the middle, do you?"
I suppose not. I shake my head slightly.
"Finally," you smile, holding the toy in your hand and pulling at it, as if to make sure it's on tight. Carefully, you re-take your space between my knees, and lay your body over mine. Then you kiss me, deep and loving and slow.
I try to follow your pace, and not devour your face in hunger. The pressure of the firm plastic warming between us makes it difficult.
"Please, Liv," I whisper when we break for air, conveying my need with my eyes, with the shallowness of my breath.
You lift yourself up with one elbow, and let your hand trail down the center of my body. Twisting my hair gently with your fingers, you ask, "You really want this?"
I push against you, as far as I can, grinding into the air you keep between us. "Please."
"Or do you want this?" You dip your finger inside me.
I close my eyes and swallow.
And I sigh, when you withdraw, and lay your weight on me again,
And I feel your lips on mine again, kissing me lightly, almost sweetly. "Which?" You ask.
"Whichever. Both." I mouth. At this point, I'm beyond caring. "I just, want you."
1440 On Top
I adjust my position above you and let the toy fill the gap between us. I tease you with it, poking you, but not touching you how you want to be touched. You whimper at me, desperate for my contact, but I hang over you, teasing you.
"Liv," you moan, "I need you." You try to pull me into you, try to make me touch you, desperate for our contact. I lean into you and kiss you.
You reach between our legs, trying to push the toy into yourself. I laugh, and you moan.
I take your hand and pull it away from the toy, and pull it to my lips, kissing it gently while you protest with a gentle whimper.
"Let me," I whisper as I take your breath with my kiss.
You moan, loudly this time. I let my hands wander between us and hold the toy steady as I push it inside you with the force of my hips. I push into you carefully, watching your face for a sign you want me to stop.
"Are you sure?" I ask again.
"Please Liv?" You say, pulling me tightly.
You clutch me to you as I slowly move my hips in circles, back and forth, causing you to wrap your legs around my back. Each time I move against you, I feel the pressure pushing back against myself. An aching is building ready to explode for you at the slightest touch.
I love this feeling.
Your arms wrap around my back, your fingernails scraping against my skin as you pull me hard into you.
This feels so good. You press into me, pulling into me tighter as you begin to moan more rhythmically. I slide my fingers between us, providing you the pressure you need to push you over the edge. You hold your breath, and I quicken my pace.
When you come, you scream my name, pulling into me desperately, holding me tight, not letting me pull my body away from you.
I push slowly into you and you whimper as the last clutches of your orgasm pass. Carefully, I pull out of you, sliding my body against yours while I kiss you, deeply, again stealing your breath which comes in gasps.
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