The Touch

He shoos away Kitty and Jubilee and Rahne and Emma and every other girl that likes to talk to the closest person he has to a daughter after she's been on a date. The last to come is her, white hair swirling against her chocolate skin. She looks at him inquisitively, not asking in words why he is stalking the halls of the staff dorms like a guard dog on the loose.

"He's back."

Her eyebrows shoot upward in surprise.

"They're dancing."

He can still hear the faint strains of music, the whisper of fabric and footsteps and wind.

She seems bewildered by the words. "But he left."

"She kicked him out," he corrects before putting an arm around his wife's shoulders to lead her away. "C'mon, 'Ro. They're dancing."

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When the music finally stops, she pulls away gently. His arms tighten then let her go. She slips back into the bedroom through the balcony doors and goes to change the music in the player.

An arm stretches across her and stops the motion.

She glances up in surprise at the burning scarlet eyes, then catches her breath at the expression she finds there. A heady mixture of longing and frustration, love and sorrow, tenderness and pain smolders and darkens and brightens in his eyes. The air is thick, charged with tension as only he can create.

He reaches to stroke the hair from her face. She closes her eyes, breathing in the scent of him and letting the warmth of that simple touch overtake her.

She shouldn't be allowing this.

She shouldn't.

Her eyes shutter open and he's tipping her head back to look at them, reading her before deciding his next move. She wonders hazily what he sees.

Hesitation flits across his features, then is gone. He smooths his hands over her shoulders, kisses her hair as she shudders, her skin remembering what comes next. Warmth floods her, but she is powerless to stop him. His eyes have captured her in that mesmerizing gaze, the blending of the crimson darkness, and she allows him closer.

His knowledgeable fingers find their way to the back of her dress, locate the fastenings, and loosen them. He tugs the dress downward. The fabric whispers on her skin and she feels it burn. Never one to hurry, he slowly traces along her curves and removes the other clothes one by one from slip to stockings.

He leaves her then. She leans against the bed to breathe. He slides open the dresser drawers to find what he wants and then stops. She reads the tension in his shoulders, the stiffness in his body, watches as he pulls out one of his shirts from where she has left them.

He looks at her.

She turns away.

She stares at her dress on the floor. Wasn't it all for him? She wants to cry but does not allow herself.

She feels his touch again but keeps her eyes averted. He slides the shirt around her, pulls on the sleeves, buttons the front. For all the times they wanted more, he only allowed himself this, to dress her for bed before drawing her into his arms under the sheets.

He pulls back the bedspread and she lets him tuck her in on her side of the bed rather than the middle. He smooths back her hair, kisses it once again. She closes her eyes and lets the warmth of the simple touch overtake her.

Would it ever be as simple as that?

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He studies her eyes as they drift shut toward sleep. The light has returned to brighten the emeralds, letting them sparkle in the darkness as he remembers.

Perhaps it was the tears.

He brings her pain but she pains him too.

He considers this beautiful woman before him and wonders himself where it all went wrong. White hair swirls against the chestnut tresses strewn out on her pillow. He touches her gently with gloved fingers and lets the warmth of it overtake him.