Day Zero – Chapter 5 – 04

            “What’s wrong, Thom?”  If she hadn’t been so close, he never would have heard the question.
            “Nothing,” he lied quietly, tilting his face toward hers.  “Pain in my ankle.  That’s all.  It’s passing, now.”  It can’t be real.  It cannot be real.  I’m not…I can’t…I can’t face it if it is.  I can’t…we need her too much for me to be selfish.  If…  The thoughts died as she kissed him gently, one of her hands sliding up under his shirt, fingers cool against bruised flesh.  He hissed softly.
            “I’m sorry,” she murmured softly.  “I can stop.”
            “No,” he said quietly, almost begging and hating himself for it.  “Don’t stop.”  It’s worth it.  To be…it’s worth it.  To be close to her, to Marin, my love, is worth any of it.  I just can’t…I can’t lose you like that.  I won’t lose you like that.  It can’t be real.  None of them can be real.  None of it…just you and I.  What we feel for each other is real.  None of the rest of that is.  The rest is just bullshit.  We are real.  All the rest, it’s just imaginings.  Fear making me see things that aren’t real.  That’s all.  This is real.  You and I here, this is real.  That’s all I need.  He kissed her ear gently, then drew her closer against him, working the hand that had been playing with her hair underneath the blankets, underneath her body to slowly creep up her spine.  She shivered, sighing in delight, then shifted, rocking herself up onto her knees along the side of his body, knees straddling one of his legs.  His hand drifted down, fingertips grazing the flesh of her hip.
            “I don’t want to hurt you,” she murmured as she leaned down over him, hands planted to either side of his shoulders, holding herself up above him.  She leaned down to kiss him, and he found himself unable to breathe for a few moments as he lost himself in the taste of her.
            “It would be worth it,” he mumbled, all but breathless, against her lips.  He could feel himself responding to her touch, to her nearness, though realization that she was right, that she really could hurt him badly, worse than he was, cooled his passions slightly.  She could do a lot of damage if we did this tonight.
            She straightened, the blankets slipping from her shoulders.  He shivered in the sudden chill, licking his lips as he watched her smile sadly down at him in the dim.  “Not if it kills you, Thom,” she whispered softly, leaning down to kiss him one more time before lying down next to him again, leaving one leg curled around his almost possessively.  He shuddered slightly, willing calm on himself.  She ran her hand gently along his belly and that very nearly undid him.  He drew a shaking breath and drew her tightly against his side, ignoring the twinges in his ribs.
            “Almost worth it,” he murmured, managing to smile.  She laughed quietly.
            “We’d wake everyone else anyway,” she said, then went quiet again, pressed against his side, sharing his warmth and he hers.
            The sleety rain continued to fall, punctuated by rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightning.  Neither fell back to sleep right away, they just lay together and listened to the storm, each half lost in their own thoughts but feeling safer for the presence of the other so near.  He wrapped his fingers around the hand she left resting against his breastbone and squeezed her fingers, staring up into the darkness.
            We’re going to have to bust our asses if all of us are going to survive, he thought.  And even then it’s not going to be easy at all.  Food, permanent shelter, water, safety…can we even hope to survive out here alone?  Forty of us?  Almost too many to keep fed.  Where are we going to get food?  How are we going to get food, if things get worse?  What if today was the last of summer we’ll see in years?  Have they been thinking about this stuff while I’ve been out?  He frowned to himself slightly.
            “Are you all right?”
            She knows me too well sometimes, I think.  “Just thinking,” he murmured back. “Things you’ll yell at me for.  Logistics.  Food.  Survival.”
            “Mmph.  The only survival that should concern you at the moment, Thomas Ambrose, is your own.”  She kissed his shoulder and sighed, grip on him tightening.  “More than enough time for you to get worried over logistics after you’ve healed up a little.”
            She sounds so sure of it.  I wish I was.  He closed his eyes and nodded slightly.  She ruffled his hair gently.
            “You should get some sleep,” she said quietly.  “So should I.”
            He nodded mutely, knowing she’d feel it.  It was just so hard, killing the worry, not being concerned.  It was just too hard sometimes.
            I have to trust them, though, in our friends.  I have to trust that they’ll make sure we survive the short term so we can have the luxury of worrying about the long term once that’s settled.  Who knows?  Maybe we’re wrong and this isn’t the end.  I don’t think we’re wrong.  But maybe we are.  He shivered once, struggling to put the vision of her slipping away out of his mind—not the first he’d had, that was for certain—and closed his eyes, holding her close and letting sleep finally take him as the rain continued to fall.


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