but, love, i couldn't hold it
pan am. dean/colette. r. 2600+
(set in rangoon. because where were they last ep; the answer is: CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT and IN POSSESSION OF BATHING SUITS and thus...OBVIOUSLY BANGING? goin' with that. ~missing scene fic? how does one write not porn. what does one do with a show of four episodes total thus far. WHY AM I A LOST CAUSE. MY CAUSE, IT IS LOST.)
The sun is soaking deep into her skin when his shadow falls over her again; she doesn’t open her eyes to see if she’s right. “Hello,” she says, and he sits down. Yes, then, she thinks, Dean. She’d figured.
With her eyes closed, she can hear the rest of the girls laughing at a distance, the Navy men—pretty dullards, alas—a dull baritone thrum in the background, the splash of water drowning out their words. And him, near her, the squeak of the chair under him and the rasp of his breath. Raising an eyebrow, she lifts her sunglasses and her lids, and he is there by her knees, leaning in.
When she pushes herself up, her knees knock against his and rest there. They are touching, and it wouldn’t be a catalogue, but for the fact that he makes it one, that she suspects since Paris he has been taking note—he is sober now, he is thinking now, his eyes are lazy and warm and focused with manful effort on her face. She thinks: you don’t have to try so. She smiles and he smiles and there, that is like ease. The space between them is minimal, and he is blinding white in his vacation clothes, white against the suffusion of blue and green and gold that rolls out around them.
“Decided against getting wet?” he asks, and she shrugs, laughing.
Her mouth dips in a thoughtful grin. “Perhaps. That sounds lovely, doesn’t it?”
“Is that an invitation?”
She raises her eyebrows. “If you like.”
“Why not.” His grin slants. “Lay off the sightseeing for a bit. I don’t trust your sense of direction anymore.”
“Had it not been for me, Captain, you’d be stuck in the eighth arrondisement to this day,” she says, and he laughs, and she had not realized, perhaps, until that moment, how close he is—his mouth is by her ear; his laughter warms her skin.
She swings her legs around, bare feet burying in the grass, and he grins again. “I’d better go.”
“Well, if I want to get myself freed up for an evening—”
“For fine company and cool water.”
She salutes him goodbye, two-fingered and languid, and his hand smooths against her shoulder as she leaves, slipping briefly against the curve of her spine. She can feel his fingerprints when he is gone, marked in the cocoa butter, his catalogue on her body. It’s not an accident.
And she’d promised herself she wouldn’t. She shakes her head and can’t help smiling as she puts her sunglasses back on—the pleased lazy shiver making tracks between her vertebrae is not something she entirely wants to shake. It fits beneath her skin so beautifully under the sun.
Later, she is back in her room, freckled under her kimono and half-reading a magazine through half-wakeful eyes when a knock on the door wakes her up. She squints into the half-light of the room: the sky is blue-violet, evening-dim, lit up by torches outside; the air is citronella-bright, waking her up tartly when she breathes. Her limbs are heavy and slow when she moves; she opens the door and leans into the jamb, the bone of her hip sharp against the wood.
“I can’t have woken you up again,” he says, and she laughs, waving a hand.
“No, no—not really.”
“I keep on doing that, don’t I?”
“Don’t worry about it, Captain,” she says, the title lilting teasingly off her tongue, though he doesn’t look worried. American figure of speech; it comes out like a habit, not like meaning. “I could use a swim, at long last.”
“At long last?” he parrots her, teasing, and she shrugs. The kimono falls from one shoulder to her elbow, and she shrugs again, out of it, balling it up in her hands.
“Of course,” she says, turning to toss it behind her. When she glances at him over her shoulder, his eyes are on her, the curve of her neck and the bare hollow of her back. “Shall we?” Stepping out of the room, she slides into the space at his side.
“Want to stop off at the bar first?” he asks with all the innocence in the world, and do you know, she dares say he believes it.
“Well,” she says, smiling, “I wouldn’t say no to—what do they call those drinks that they serve? They put an entire fruit tree in them, nearly.”
“One of those fruit salads with rum, you mean? The girly ones?”
“Yes, of course, the rum fruit salad, and I must protest. When in the tropics—” She tilts her chin at him, grinning; it’s hardly their first trip. She reaches her arm back to close the door.
“When in the tropics.” His hand finds its way to her waist, thumb light against skin.
She closes the door behind him and in the next thing he says, she finds an excuse to laugh, to breathe into the bright catch at the back of her throat, to trip her breath with amusement. The space they navigate is theirs, shared—easy as an accident. He laughs when she does, and she fits against him, her arm resting against his.
When this became a habit, she couldn’t say.
By the time they make it outside, she is fairly certain she has not been looking at a clock for hours. The bar was thick and crowded with guests, loud: they had been hip to hip at their stools; they had been reduced to shouting their words into each other’s hair. Outside, though, the air is bright and clear. At night, Rangoon is, if not cool then at least breathable: she raises her arms into it, inhaling hard. When she turns her head, he’s looking again, wordless again—she raises an eyebrow. “It’s good to be out, after that.”
“You like being alone, don’t you?”
“You get used to it.” Tilting her head back—the night breeze brushes along the curve of her throat, warmed from within with rum—she catches his eye, smile arch. “I don’t like small spaces, but I hardly mind company.”
He points a finger at her. He had refused to dilute his rum with fruit; his hand swings forward heavily through the air. “Compliment! Isn't it?”
She shakes her head, laughing—of course it is—and makes her way poolside, slipping off her shoes. The pool is sharp and almost cold: she submerges herself in one dive and gasps when she comes back up.
He splashes up gracelessly next to her. “No cap,” he says, raising an eyebrow, and she shivers, flicks her shoulders. Her hair floats around her like seaweed.
“They’re less stringent here—and now.” Her legs sink; her toes touch bottom again and she rests them there, reaches back around to push her soaked hair up off her neck. “And no one is watching.”
She watches it sink into him, his eyes wide and his smile lazy, rum-slowed a second off the brightness in his eyes. “There’s that.”
He dives in, arms sluicing through the water, and she pushes off bottom again, floating onto her back. His hand catches her ankle from beneath, rests there. “Gotcha,” he teases.
“I wasn’t running.”
“Running—in water?” He raises an eyebrow, thumb absent along the curve of her heel, and she flexes her leg, calf tautening against his fingertips.
Bridget, he does not say; Bridget, it is not her place to say. She thinks: she'll allow it. They find themselves speaking more and more of anchors in her absence. The rum blurs the world at its edges—violet sky, flaming torches, golden hair, blue water. No room for ghosts, not ghosts with faces. This is not Paris, this is not a raw wound. His eyes are clear; his mouth is warm; his hand is on her skin.
“That does put a damper on the ability to run,” she says, “you’re right,” and there’s something wrong with that sentence, her mouth stings with chlorine and the back of her tongue still tastes pink from the drink; her back arches against the water and she lands and his hand is still on her foot. Her leg hikes between them, curving through the water as the space diminishes. “But I wouldn’t, in any case—” her breath hitches, high like laughter in her throat, and his other hand reaches out. His fingertips skim along the wet ends of her hair, where it falls in points against her cheek, her neck. She arches into his hand, spine, legs, moving in against him; this is not a dance, this would be graceless on land but they are suspended, floating, in the water, and her arms loop around his neck, her face tips up under his already parted mouth, tips in.
They drank together in advance, like an apology or a contract to pass on easily into the next morning, but there is no apology when he kisses her, and she can feel the lingering curve of a smile on his lips. Their mouths are hot with chlorine and sun and the drunken-sugar burnt heat of dark rum; there is salt on her lips and fruit lingering at the back of her throat. Her fingers dig into his shoulders, and he makes a low, indecorous sound, mouth opening wider and tongue rolling languorous over hers. His hand leaves her calf, snakes up the expanse of her thigh to hold her by the hip, by the small of the back, and her feet are still not touching the ground. She is weightless and his hands are familiar against her, practiced navigation, she thinks and she laughs softly into his mouth, stanching it against his upper lip. Perhaps they should dance more often, she thinks, she doesn’t have time to think, she pulls him in harder against her, fingers tangling in his drying hair. His mouth leaves hers, moves down to her neck and she closes her eyes, his face pressed into the hollow of her shoulder, his lips slow against her collarbone. The ghost of her laughter turns into a gasp, and she feels him grin against her neck, teeth to her skin.
“Perhaps not here?” she offers weakly, and his hands slide up the curve of her back, the exposed skin of her shoulder blades, her spine. He kisses her neck again, again, over and over in the same soft place.
“You were the one who said no one was watching,” he murmurs muffled beneath her ear.
“The trees have eyes,” she laughs, legs twisting between his.
"Well, they're what we've got, when—"
“When in the tropics, right, right—" His mouth slips down against her neck again, and she shivers, drawing her face back, legs still entangled with his, waist still tight in his hands.
“Perhaps,” He doesn't pull back. Voice low and reluctant and stuck to her skin, his arms wrap around her waist and he pulls her up against him, into his arms—she kicks, yelping, a wave of water ricocheting poolside up to the grass.
“What are you doing!” Her arms still loop easily around his neck; she knocks her cheek to his, her nose to his temple, laughing. “What are you doing.”
“Damsel? Oh, Captain.”
“C’mon, give a guy props for chivalry. For the attempt?”
“Chivalry is dead, I hear.” His hand slides around to cup her small breast, she arches into it, digging her fingers into his scalp. Put me down,” she says, quite stern, and he puts her down on the grass. She kneels to pick up her shoes, to let him collect his own, his shirt. She watches him put it on—the breadth of his shoulders, the movement of his abdomen, breath warm in her throat when she looks at him. A side effect of Paris that has yet to leave.
She moves to him, touches the small of his back through his shirt, and they walk half-entwined half-apart in a clumsy half-bid for decorum across the ticklish expanse of grass, to the lobby of the hotel. His face and hair catches the light off the torches on the lawn as they walk past them across the path, lighting him up gold—American mint, she thinks, golden boy, her hand on the back of his neck and lightly ruffling the base of his hair. He leans back into her hands, eyes closing briefly, and for a moment he is absurdly beautiful, for a moment this is more than can be catalogued, this is something she will not say goodbye to in the morning. Her stomach clenches; she thinks of flying, absurdly, the physical fact of flying, the way that gravity shifts and air thins as a plane moves into the air. She leans into the space he leaves, her head on his shoulder. This is ground, she reminds herself, solid ground, and his skin is solid and warm next to her cheek.
Their footsteps are loud in the lobby, clacking on the imported tile. She smothers the urge to laugh against his shoulder, shaking and tasting salt against her mouth. He is standing very straight, arm confidently correct around her; they are silent, passing the doorman, and the silence follows them up the stairs and down the hall, follows them to her door. She fumbles for the key she slipped into her shoe—the door swings open under her hand, and when she looks back, there is something cautious on his face, wariness piercing through the rum.
“You know,” he says, “if you—”
“Captain,” she says more softly, “surely you know me better than that by now.”
She smiles carefully against his name; it comes out as a whisper in the space between them and she tilts up her face again, nose knocking into his. Her hand slips beneath the fluttering end of his opened shirt, resting lightly against his hip.
Lightly, too, she kisses him.
Not lightly at all, he kisses back.
And his arms are around her and the door knocks shut from a joint effort of hips and feet, and the space between the bed is navigated in a dance of stumbling, and they are a tangle of bare skin and mosquito netting and the seaweed chemical tangles in her hair. His hands catch under her ribs, move slowly from her waist to the straps of her suit, peeling it down. It sticks to her skin, audible where it is stripped back; his palm catches against her breast and she hisses softly, sinking her teeth into her lip and arching against the hard line of him between her legs. Her fingers crumple his collar, pull his shirt easily from his shoulders; his mouth moves from her neck to her breast and her nails sink into the muscle of his shoulder—god, she hears him murmur, obscured into swallows and consonants against her, just as she bites Dieu, bon dieu! against her teeth. Her leg curls around his, hips pressing up through the delineation of wet fabric and hard heat between their legs as he worries the soaked second skin of her suit down and down, down until it folds at the precipice of waist and hip. He kisses the exposed ridge of hipbone, twice, and grins suddenly; he sits up, stroking the long white path of her stomach, her sternum, the skin untouched by the sun. “Don’t French girls sunbathe topless? Shows what I know.”
“Tais-toi,” she bites, arching against him and losing her English. Her hands slip beneath the band of his suit and pull him back against her, back into the shared expanse of bare skin between them, and she hears him swallow, hears him swallow whatever word was on the tip of his tongue. It was the last. There are no words that follow.
But he says her name, and, sinking into her, he says it like it’s new, says it like it’s a marvel.
Her lashes flutter shut; his shoulders flex beneath her hands, and the light wanes in through the window and lights up his hair, his smile, again and again.
She will remember him in perfect clarity in the morning, even with her eyes shut.
But she cannot help smiling, smiling back against his mouth.