His mouth, left open, shut slowly at the sound of her laughter. Had he expected his words to move her to action, to rouse her sympathies, to—to do much of anything? Why would they? Perhaps he’d only needed to pull them from his throat.
"No. You aren’t—" Why had his mind seemed to stumble so often as of late? “—If you do find me so repellent, I’m far from forcing you to stay.” And why had his voice softened so much, so quickly? “—I was only trying to tell you that I don’t want to see you go.”
There was no way to conceal the sharp intake of breath, nor the long drawn out exhale through her nose. She left her haven against the wall and stepped closer. “All I did was dance at that festival.” Her voice wavered. She paused. “I danced and as punishment you lured me in and manipulated me and made me want you.” It was too much to think about how easy it had been for him; how foolish she had been to let things get this far. But here they were, standing together in a dark pit from which they’d never climb back out no matter how much they clawed and snarled.
He needed her. She wanted him. As much as she’d like all this to end — as hard as she’d tried to get it to end — it never would.
She remained surprisingly and unsettlingly calm as she cupped his face in her hands. ”I’ll stay. Not because I pity you, but because when you fell from grace, you dragged me down with you.”
"—!" It was a sound between a huff and mirthless laughter. "—Everything. Everything.” As usual, speaking was simple when he wasn’t looking directly at her. Trying to distract himself from that ache, he chattered on.
"Who I am, what I’ve done, how I’ve destroyed my own life, and—and—” He shrugged. “For a short while, at least, it need not matter.”
Her own laughter was curt and cruel. Anyone could see that he deserved to suffer; to be reminded of how much hurt he had brought to people—to her. Why did she have to get caught up in all of this? Why did she have to be his distraction?
"If I can’t leave—if you won’t let me leave, then what am I supposed to do? Run into your arms and take the pain away?” There was no hiding the bitterness dripping from her words.
"And—" Both his hands remained at his neck, rubbing in circles. His eyes screwed shut for a moment or two. "—And I know you have no wish to go on like this but I need you.” They opened, but remained staring in any direction but hers. Another sigh.
"When you are here, with me, I—” He shook his head, brow knitted, hunting for the word. It was on the very tip of his tongue and the ache was beginning to distract and—
"—I can forget.”
The fact that she knew he needed her didn’t make her quiver any less. As much as she wanted to cut him off, to scoff and walk away like she should have done the moment he tried to stop her from leaving, she couldn’t dare to move. She had poured out her thoughts to him and it was only fair for her to allow him the same.
One eyebrow lifted as he spoke, followed by her gaze. Her voice remained soft and curious. ”Forget what?”
Almost immediately, he answered with another soft cough—followed by soft laughter—into his fist.
"Do I really?" His shoulders shrugged as he shifted beneath her and with a sigh he held her closer to rest his chin in her hair. "Thanks to you, I’m certain.”
"Of course," she replied through a giggle. Her smirk grew wider as she graced his cheek with a kiss, along his jaw, and finally on his nose. "I don’t know what you’d do without me."
Of course you do. Now what? His own eyes stayed on the floor, his own hands fell away. Why did she need to stare so intensely—? As if on cue, the dull, distant beginnings of pain began forming again at his neck. A certain jolt passed through his mind—say something. She isn’t gone yet. Something. Anything, before she can change her mind—
"There came a point where I—" Go on. "—where this no longer felt—entirely wrong.”
Her arms crossed and she leaned against the wall simply on the grounds that if she didn’t do something — if she didn’t get away from him then she’d drive herself mad.
That would make two of them.
She listened to him, regardless of how sick she felt. That was her weakness, really — listening to him. It’s still wrong, she screamed to herself, it’s so very wrong and vile and absolutely putrid. Yet here she was. Her own gaze fell to the floor and all she could think was how grateful he must have been for that. “And?”
"Mmm." A contented hum as he leaned his head over hers. He reached for her chin and turned her head to face him, planting a quick kiss on her lips but letting his lips linger on her a bit.
"I’m certain we could," he murmured, his mind very quickly drifting away from talk of the girl.
Another smirk formed before she leaned into him for another kiss. She stayed there, eyes closed with that peculiar smile on her face for a long time before she moved the remainder of his soup aside and climbed into his lap.
"You sound better already," she muttered while she ran her hands through his hair. He still sounded and looked awful — but less awful.
He pressed his lips into a thin line. In spite of every fiber of his mind roaring at him to keep her, his grip began to loosen from her waist almost immediately after she spoke. His hands, however, moved upward—brushing hair away from her face almost frantically.
Eyes flitted from hers, looked to the floor, back to her again before he could voice the only answer he could possibly have given.
Her eyes could have bored holes in his skin from the sheer intensity of her gaze. She didn’t look away from him for an instant, nor did she want to, oddly enough. All she could hear was the sound of her shallow breath and the rustling of his hands as he ran them through her hair.
Her next words were hardly words at all. Vowels formed on her lips but hardly any sound escaped them. ”I know.”
He sipped away the dregs of his own dinner, knitting his brow and scoffing into his bowl. “Really?” One finger drummed along its side as his other hand ran through his hair.
"And how would you propose I do that?" Half-kidding, a hint of his smile remained as he narrowed his eyes skeptically up at her.
Her shoulders slumped as she leaned against him, opting to rest her head against his shoulder. “I’m not sure,” she sighed, “I can’t be the one to think of everything.” Her tone emphasized her teasing, though there was still truth in her words. “We can figure something out.”