Category: Joe/Torri. Rpf (real person fiction).
Author's Note: All my thanks to ceruleantides for sparking an entire highway's conversation, and to eleventh_moment for the punches. Dedicated with much love to anr for introducing me to rpf all those many months ago, and because now she has to write me leather jacket fic.
how readily my veins
leap up: a little harder and
the whole heart would follow."
-- Tracy Ryan, 'Bite'
Her morning coffee goes cold somewhere during the second act, and it’s just past noon by the time they finish. Trinity is not a particularly long script, but any episode that features David inevitably includes a lengthy table reading.
She sits between Damian and Rachel, the rest of the cast and some of the crew spread throughout the room, sitting in chairs along the wall or gathered around the table. Scripts and coffee cups litter the room in haphazard fashion. As usual, Joe and Jason sit side by side, the coffee pot on the table between them.
There is applause and laughter at the tag, everyone still in good spirits thanks to David’s unflagging humor.
“All right, be free everyone,” Martin says, releasing them for the day. The room is suddenly loud with conversation and Andy comes in to meet with Damian as they’re packing up and saying their goodbyes.
She’s talking with Rachel, going over their hiking details for the weekend when she hears Andy mention Elizabeth.
She turns towards their discussion instinctively, and from across the table, she catches Joe’s grin and his thumbs up.
“What about Elizabeth?” she asks them.
“Elizabeth and John,” Damian says. “You wanted a gun.”
“I get a gun?” She looks back and forth between the two of them, waiting.
Andy just smiles. “I know nothing.”
“Let’s just say… life support pods, aliens, and I think there could be a kiss,” says Damian cryptically.
A small cheer goes up around the room from those listening in on the conversation, and she can’t help glancing at Joe. He’s not smiling anymore, his expression making her stomach knot.
Andy leaves before she can question him further, and she’s unable to get any more information out of Damian. Rachel shakes her head and smiles. “He won’t tell you any more than that. Remember how long it took to get Martin to spill the kiss in Conversion?”
Months, if she remembers correctly. “I think they really like giving it out slowly and seeing what we come up with.”
Rachel leans in conspiratorially. “Good for Elizabeth to finally go out there and get some,” she says with a wink. They’ve hinted at modernizing their characters past “strong women leaders” since the beginning of the season.
She’s packing her script into her bag when she notices Joe still sitting in his chair across the room. He’s watching her, his gaze direct and steady.
She smiles, but doesn’t hold the eye contact for long. She’s suddenly unsure of the thoughts in her head.
When she looks up, he’s deep in conversation with Paul.
She stays on set the day of the Conversion kiss, and she’s not the only one.
“You’re all teenagers,” Rachel says over the clapping and whistles after the second take. Joe says nothing, just shrugs and grins in good sport.
He comes and stands beside her as camera marks are readjusted. “I see you decided to stick around.”
“I couldn’t help myself,” she says, and offers him her water. “I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.”
He takes the bottle with a smile of thanks. “And what do you think?”
He nods. “Yeah.”
Martin beckons to Rachel, and then turns, looking for Joe. She looks up at him, but he’s looking at the set.
“I think it’s just as uncomfortable to see as it was to read,” she says.
He glances at her, and she gets the sense that he’s almost surprised.
She shrugs apologetically. “Isn’t that the point?”
“Oh, definitely,” he says quickly. “I just had a different word in mind.”
Martin finally sees them and calls Joe over.
“Like what?” she asks before he leaves.
He takes a quick sip of water, and then hands it back to her. “No, I think I like uncomfortable best.”
He returns to the set before she can work out how to respond.
Sometimes she thinks they share entire secrets in these few minutes, even when she has no idea what’s being said.
She goes drinking with Rachel, beer after beer until they’ve rewritten the rumors of upcoming storylines and turned the season finale into an epic battle of wit between themselves and a handful of Wraith females.
“It’s not always just about sex,” Rachel says, trying for serious despite the fact that she hasn’t stopped grinning since they discussed the many ways the men could be incapacitated at this point in the episode. “Women are dangerous; the Wraith are dangerous. It’s about the female sex.”
She thinks they stopped making sense about a half an hour ago.
“We should never do this again,” she says.
Rachel nods in agreement. “I’ve given up drinking.”
Conversion wraps a full day ahead of schedule and David invites everyone over for an impromptu party.
She brings beer and Sedge, the latter running directly to Jason who, as usual, has a tennis ball handy. He greets her with a wave, and then throws the ball. Sedge passes her in a dead run soon thereafter.
With only a handful of episodes left and Aurora already underway, discussion at the party revolves around hiatus plans. She hasn’t worked out all the details yet, but going home to a month of sun is at the top of her list.
She finds Jane talking with Kavan and Joe in the kitchen, something about recipes of salad dressing and blueberries. There are warm hellos and she offers them beer before putting the rest in the refrigerator.
David and Paul pass through the room a moment later, stopping for quick greetings before hurrying off with plates of food for the barbecue.
Joe follows her as she heads back outside, and they lean against the railing of the patio with their beers. Clinking their bottles together in toast, they stand for a moment in silence watching Sedge run herself into exhaustion.
The sun sets in front of them, a crazy golden red that reflects in a myriad of angles from her bottle back across the lawn.
“Any big hiatus plans?” he asks, turning slightly to look at her.
She shakes her head. “Not yet. Just going home sounds great for now.”
“Leaving us early?”
“I was thinking about it.” Her scenes in the two-parter were minimal and currently set to film first. The extra few days of vacation would be welcome.
He nods thoughtfully. “Of course, you’ll miss the mid-season wrap party.”
She shoots him a look and he smiles innocently. Brad’s wrap parties were notorious; all she remembers from last year is crowds of people and lots of alcohol. Apparently there was also dancing, although she has thankfully not retained any memory of that.
“I think that might be a reason to leave sooner,” she says.
He shrugs dejectedly, turning away from her. “And I was even going to ask you for the first dance.”
She laughs, and even though he doesn’t look at her, she can tell he’s grinning. “I suppose I can think about it…”
“It’s a deal,” he says before she can change her mind. He glances at her, and the coppery sunset plays lightly across his face, his eyes shining gold. Emotions war within her loudly, confusion and a sense of guilt rising quickly to the top.
She swallows, remembers to smile before she remembers to breathe.
Just when she starts to wonder if he’s going to look away, he grabs her free hand, pulling her across the lawn to where the dinner crowd is gathering. A few people turn at their approach, waving or calling out hellos.
Her hand goes cool suddenly when he releases it, moving his arm to loop it around her waist instead. It’s so quick and casual; she’s up against him even as she looks down to see his hand on her hip.
The easy familiarity of the movement makes her pulse race. Guilt again flares deep in her stomach, but she doesn’t dwell on it, hesitant to name just what she’s feeling guilty about.
He lets her go when they reach for plates, the shift apart simple.
As it should be, she reminds herself.
It’s almost ten when she realizes the time. The majority of people are gathered in the living room, and she makes her way around to the groups to say goodbye.
“It’s about time you left,” David says as he gives her a hug and then an exaggerated air kiss to the cheek.
She laughs. “I had the feeling I was outstaying my welcome.”
“Only since the beer ran out.”
Jane slaps his arm and he grins. “And please do come again!”
“I think it’s past his bedtime,” Joe says as he leans in to give her a quick kiss on the cheek.
She turns too early, or waits too long, or maybe she freezes when the sudden smell of his cologne catches her off guard, but somehow his kiss misses, surprisingly, and his lips land softly on the corner of her mouth.
Paul sighs dramatically. “David’s already impossible to work with in the morning.”
“Only in the morning?”
Conversation continues around her, no one acting any differently, although she can’t quite make eye contact with Joe.
She’s not usually thrown by close proximity to him, but she’s been out of sorts around him all day. She’s also feeling a little heady from the beer and tired from the week of filming, and god knows those two alone are enough to mess with her senses completely. She finally manages to look at him, but he’s laughing at something Jane has said.
Relief floods her system, tainted only by the fleeting pain of disappointment.
She says the rest of her goodbyes to the group, and manages to smile at Joe when she passes beside him to reach for her jacket.
She tells herself she feels no regret.
Her legs violently protest and her lungs burn with exertion by the end of her run, but she finishes the two south shore paths to make it part of the way around Burnaby Lake. It’s not the Sunday she’d planned, but somewhere along the way she found what she had needed.
She walks slowly in the shade patches on the path, shaking off the trembling of her legs and finding her breath. She feels beaten; she feels great.
Jason catches up a moment later, sweaty, but breathing easy. He grins at her. “Ready for more?”
She aims a tired swat at his arm and misses.
He walks beside her, stretching muscles in his neck and shoulders. “You even pulled out a sprint at the end.”
“Pure home stretch adrenaline,” she says with a laugh. “I’ll regret it tomorrow.”
He smiles. “You’d be surprised.”
She falls quiet, caught by his words.
Although she has found the ability to be reflective, to think rationally about her emotions, she has not conquered the ability to be unaffected by them. It bothers her to know that age and life experience sometimes can’t protect her from herself.
She’s attracted to Joe, she knows this much. It’s not the most ideal circumstance given their co-star status, or the possible long-term run of the show, or the obvious marriage factor, but it’s also meaningless. She’s been attracted to her grocer for the past year, and they’ve rarely talked about anything other than the weather.
A month’s hiatus, sun, and a few rounds of margaritas in Olvera Street will cure just about anything.
She looks over at Jason. “I suppose we have to go all the way back now…”
“I’m leaving you behind if you’re going to whine about it,” he says with a smirk.
“You could at least try to feel exhausted by the end.”
He sets off down the path. “Remind me.”
They do four takes of the final scene before Martin gets fed up with the lighting and angle of the shot and sends them off the set. Aurora is proving to be a nightmare to film.
Rachel is completely worn out, having been on set since the early morning for touch up shots. Jason is only holding it together thanks to caffeine. She can only guess the moods of Joe, Mitch and David, but none of them are looking their best.
Mitch leaves the group when Carole waves him aside for makeup, prompting Rachel and Jason to sit down in tandem.
“Wake me up tomorrow,” Rachel says in a mumble, her eyes already closed.
Jason rubs her back reassuringly, looking up at them with a bemused expression. “Should we order dinner?”
David snorts, and she can’t help smiling.
Joe wanders in circles behind her, pacing slowly to no clear pattern on the floor. She watches him over her shoulder as he finally arrives at a wall on the main set and stops to turn and lean against it. He gives her a half smile when he looks up.
“Pizza,” Rachel says suddenly.
David turns to look at her. “Really?”
“Thin crust, extra cheese.”
He waves away the idea. “I was thinking seafood, salad…”
Jason raises his hand. “I’m in for everything.”
She smiles and walks the few steps backward until she’s standing beside Joe. She looks at him, waiting for his suggestion, but he just shrugs.
David and Rachel continue to debate the finer points of their dinner options, and she bows her head, stretching the muscles in her neck. The exhilaration of her run hadn’t lasted longer than Monday.
“Chinese,” she offers, and then she feels his hand on the small of her back. Her mouth goes dry.
Jason says something about kung pao chicken and David laughs, responds.
“Never again,” Jason says. “Remember the day we got szechuan beef?”
Joe joins in the conversation, but she’s caught in silence when he begins to slowly massage the muscles on either side of her spine. She exhales, still unable to raise her head.
Indecision roots her, and she doesn’t know whether to say something or look at him. He moves slowly up her spine, working the knots that have plagued her since the weekend.
She knows she should think about this, should feel the alarm rising in her blood. It is there, but much fainter than she would have expected. She’s losing perspective; she’s losing control.
Someone mentions fried rice or chow mein, but she’s lost the conversation completely. She finally lifts her head, looks up to see Jason with his arm around Rachel’s shoulders. If she doesn’t think about it, she can feel justified.
It’s then that she notices Joe’s not massaging her back anymore, but tracing it. His fingers slide over her shirt finding the lines of her muscles, his thumb trails slowly down her vertebrae.
And god help her, she doesn’t walk away.
She looks again at Jason and Rachel, his touch casual and in plain view of anyone. Heat rises in her cheeks.
She knows no one can see Joe’s hand on her back, his fingers playing with the hem of her shirt. They are against the wall, standing too close so they block the view, his leg pressing into the back of hers.
It’s enough to make her senses spin.
“If Colonel Caldwell could have a Goa’uld in him, any of us could,” she says. She almost shakes her head and starts over, wondering what is coming out of her mouth.
She feels him pause as he recognizes the reference. “It’s not a pleasant thought.”
“No. No, it isn’t.” It’s inane that they are running their lines while his fingertips graze her skin. His touch is like fire, and she waits for the burn. “I crossed a line.”
“You did what you had to do.” His voice is low, and she bites her lip. “The good news was, he wasn’t hurt.”
Andrea approaches them suddenly and she looks over to see Martin calling them back. She bolts, already five feet away when she glances back at Joe.
His body is stiff, frozen in shock, or guilt, or any number of emotions that she can name. His hands come up over his face and down to the back of his neck.
He looks up at her, his eyes dark but unguarded, and his hands fall to his sides.
She stops walking.
He doesn’t say anything, and she can’t find the words.
It’s dusk by the time she leaves, and she walks on her shadow stretching far out in front of her as she heads to her car.
He’s waiting there, as she expects, but her heart still stutters.
She wants to brush it off, to make it okay, or ignore what happened completely. It’s a sick, twisted creature in her gut that keeps her from saying anything at all.
“Torri,” he says, and it comes out like it’s broken. When he looks away, it’s not for long; his eyes flicker back to find her.
She reads what he can’t say and her hands begin to shake. It’s always been the eye contact between them that’s dangerous.
“About today, I didn’t mean…” He pauses, swallows. “I’m sorry.”
She puts her hands in her pockets. “You don’t have to apologize.”
“Shouldn’t I?” he asks, and somehow he’s closer to her even though they haven’t moved.
She knows what he wants her to say, can feel the heat of it building in the small distance between them. “I don’t know.”
He licks his lips and looks up at the sky. She follows his gaze, but finds no comfort in the few faint stars.
“It’s late,” she says, and the words run like acid.
He nods. “I should probably be…” He trails off, rocking on his feet a little.
She hasn’t the slightest idea what to say, but her body hums in warning when he moves. They already say too much in silence.
His eyes drop to her mouth, and then he looks away. “Goodnight Torri.”
She’s still standing long after he’s left.
She stands by the edge of the pool with a glass of wine and watches Joe as he mingles with the guests inside.
They have managed to mostly avoid each other since Aurora wrapped, although she’s not sure it has helped. He can still look at her from across a soundstage and say things no one else can read.
Through the window she sees him hug Amanda and smile at something Allan says. Then she notices his eyes skimming the crowd, and her heart pounds. She looks away.
Brad’s house and backyard are packed with cast and crew from the entire Stargate franchise. She doesn’t bother to count heads; very few people miss attending this party. Rachel and Kavan catch her at the bar as she’s refilling her glass, and soon there is a circle of people standing around discussing network politics and the possibility of season three.
“I see you kept your end of the deal,” Joe says quietly when he appears at her side.
She smiles into her glass. “It wasn’t hard.”
She turns to him, but Mark and one of the CG guys say hello, and then half the group notices Joe and does the same.
“Where are Katherine and the boys?” Kavan asks.
She’s suddenly holding her breath, and she thinks it must be apparent to everyone that Joe’s doing the same.
His arm is a faint pressure at her side. “They left yesterday for my parents’ house; Aidan’s starting summer camp.”
This sparks a conversation on camps and summer schools, and she listens to the horror stories without really hearing any of them. Joe stands beside her, still and unusually silent.
Music starts loudly in mid-song and a few people look around in surprise. Brad pokes his head out the door and waves. “Sorry! We forgot to turn on the outside speakers.”
“About time,” Jason calls back and earns a laugh from those near enough to hear.
She finishes her wine at the end of the second song and is debating whether or not to leave or get another drink when Joe pulls her off to the side.
He takes her glass and places it down on a nearby table.
“What are you doing?” she asks.
He puts her arm over his shoulder and pulls her to him. “I owe you the first dance.”
His hand settles familiarly on her lower back and she looks up at him when her heart skips a beat. He doesn’t say anything, but his hand tightens.
She’s aware that people are watching them as he sweeps her backward and to the side in a strange half-waltz. They manage to dance to the music, and when he spins her away and back, she grins. “You know, I’m not even drunk yet.”
This time he dips her, and those watching them laugh and clap. “That’s good,” he says, and keeps his mouth by her ear as he pulls her back up. “I was hoping this one you’d remember.”
He calls her on the third day of hiatus, and she stares at his number on her phone until the call goes to her voicemail. He doesn’t leave a message.
Sedge watches as she makes tea with shaky hands.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she says when Sedge whines. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
She stands in the kitchen as her tea goes cold. When she calls him back, he picks up immediately. “The Long Goodbye.”
She’s slow to understand. “What?”
“It’s the name of our episode,” he says, and she hears the emphasis.
She looks down at Sedge. “Sounds appropriate.”
“I thought so.” His voice is light, but the words send a shiver down her spine. Sedge cocks her head to the side.
“Well,” she says, and turns her mug in circles on the counter; there is more she wants to say. He clears his throat and she closes her eyes.
“Torri.” He pauses on the other end, and she thinks about where he is and who he’s with. “I’ll see you soon.”
When he hangs up, she makes another cup of tea so hot it burns her tongue.
The first month of filming rushes past in a blur of lights and cameras, and she has little time to do anything but keep up. She seeks relief from the chaos, and suddenly finds safety in the mundane. Bills, errands, exercise and work become a daily routine that grounds her.
She sees little of Joe once Grace Under Pressure goes into prep, and his absence is welcome. She walks a fine line of control when he’s around.
Their relationship in public since hiatus is almost defined, as though they’ve set ground rules and know the boundaries of this neutral territory. She still winks, he still laughs, they still banter, and everyone around them is oblivious to the game they play.
She’s thankful for the morning trainings that leave her exhausted.
He sits beside her as they play texas hold ‘em on the control room set, and if they are a bit too close together, no one else seems to have noticed.
“All right,” Jason says. “I see your ass-kicking, and raise you that black boot and jacket outfit.”
Joe grins and nudges her. “I’m in.”
She has no idea how they plan to cash in, much less remember what they’re putting into the pot, but she really doesn’t want to lose even if she does have a useless hand.
There is pressure against her shoulder and she looks up to see Joe trying to peek at her cards. She glares. “Okay. Fine, I’m out.”
“Here it is!” Rachel walks up, her hands full of scripts. “Damian said to mention we don’t get paid to play poker.”
Joe smirks and sets his script on her knee as he skims it backward. She catches bits and pieces of sentences, but mostly the words Weir and Sheppard.
“We’re in for some memorizing,” she says.
He nods. “You should come by tomorrow to run some of this.”
She looks at him quickly, but he’s still reading the script.
“That’s not a bad idea,” Rachel says with a sigh. “We’re already a week behind.”
Jason waves his cards and sets them down. “Two pair. What have you got?”
Joe suddenly stops turning pages, and she can feel the heat of his hand through the script into her thigh. She looks down to see the word husband before Joe moves a finger and the word kiss appears.
“A full house,” Joe says simply.
Paul and David are already pushing furniture around to create a set by the time she arrives, and when she knocks, Joe greets her at the door with a slow smile that sets her skin tingling. He starts to say something, but Rachel is right behind her with a message from Jason that he can’t make it.
She lets Rachel pass her as they walk in, and Joe’s hand is a feather-light presence on her back.
When he hears the news, David offers to play Ronon. It leads to a half an hour of sitting around the kitchen with soda and snacks doing impersonations, and it is Paul that finally orders them to focus.
She and Joe vote for running the script by the storyline, but they lose to everyone else for filming order. Joe mumbles something about having to improvise his lines, and she pats his arm in sympathy.
Surprisingly, even though they keep scripts handy, they know their lines better than expected, and most of the scenes run smoothly.
It’s when she’s coming back from the bathroom that she realizes Katherine and his kids aren’t home. She thinks about how to leave. Joe finds her frozen in the hallway and gently touches her shoulder.
She wishes he would kiss her now when she’s still able to walk away.
They finish another scene before David stands. “Okay you guys, I have to get going.”
She looks over to find Joe watching her intently.
Rachel and Paul nod in agreement, but when David begins to move the furniture back, she makes the impulsive decision to stop him. “You can leave it. I’ll stay and run the last couple of scenes.”
No one questions this, and that almost makes it worse.
She waits in the living room, her heart racing, while Joe shows everyone to the door. It only takes a few seconds for her to completely change her mind, and she’s grabbing her bag when he comes back in.
He holds up a script. “So, from where we left off?”
They stumble through a scene without touching, making up the lines that fall between their own, except he keeps calling her Torri and she can’t remember how to be Elizabeth.
“Just imagine what she could tell us about her people and what happened to her,” she says to his coffee table, and pauses when she’s supposed to faint.
“Beam of light,” he offers helpfully. “It’s completely overpowering.”
So she falls and he catches her, and it’s perfectly harmless until he stands her up instead of putting her down. He doesn’t let go.
“Joe,” she says, and it’s as far as she gets because his hand is splayed over her stomach, and she can feel the beat of his heart against her back.
They move apart and he grabs his script. “Scene five.”
She finds it difficult to concentrate and keeps the script in her hands as a barrier between them. It’s ineffectual, but Joe gives her space, so it’s her decision the next time she moves toward him.
“We may well be the last of our kind.” She looks down for the line. “These generous people have allowed us-”
She knows where this is leading before she’s halfway through the sentence because he’s definitely not acting like Thalan when he reaches to hold a lock of her hair between his fingers.
“You consented to this?” he asks quietly even though she hasn’t finished.
“One last chance,” she says, and doesn’t bother with the rest of her lines because he’s not really listening, and she’s thinking about the kiss. It can be meaningless; it can be simple. She almost believes she can promise him that.
He waits, and she leans in to him with a chaste kiss that lies.
When he kisses her back, she tastes coffee and mint and a sweet hint of rebellion that throws her back to high school. But this isn’t hurried or rushed as she expects. In fact, it’s maddeningly slow, and when his hand settles on her belt to pull her closer, she takes one step more and traps his hand between them. She feels his smile on her lips.
His tongue slides lightly across hers, and a hot heat flares in her belly.
She pulls away, suddenly too aware. He’s looking at her by the time she’s steadied herself, his eyes shining with regret and desire. She moves backward before she can change her mind, picking up her bag and making her way past him to the door.
He stops her before she gets there, his hand holding her wrist, and she doesn’t turn to face him.
“What are we doing?” she asks with her eyes closed. His hand tenses, and she knows he can feel her pulse racing past his fingers.
“I don’t know what else to do,” he says.
She opens her eyes and stares at his door. Through the little window, she can just make out the green of his lawn.
He let’s her go.
“Come over,” she says, and leaves.
She spends the next few hours sitting on her couch with her arms wrapped around her knees as the sun sets outside. She thinks about drinking.
It’s not that she wants a drink, but her nerves are shattered and she wonders if she might just need a drink. This train of thought makes her smile, and she forces herself up to do something productive.
She changes and is in the kitchen making dinner when he knocks.
“Hey,” he says softly when she opens the door. He steps inside, brushing against her much too closely, and her body responds immediately. She holds the door handle for support.
He watches her, and she thinks how it’s never been this hard before.
“I’ll open a bottle of wine,” she says, although she’s aching for him to touch her, to kiss her again.
In the kitchen, she pulls two glasses out of the cabinet and a bottle of wine from the refrigerator. She’s standing at the counter when he comes up behind her.
She stills. For a moment he waits, and she can hear nothing over the beating of her heart. Then he’s brushing aside some of her hair and drawing a line down the side of her neck with his finger. He’s giving her time to move away, but she already knows this is the beginning of the end.
His arms wrap around her, his hands again settling on her stomach. When he undoes the bottom button on her shirt, she completely forgets to breathe. He makes his way up slowly, taking his time until her shirt hangs open and he’s writing unreadable messages on her skin.
When she exhales suddenly, he laughs and pulls her against him to place a kiss on her shoulder. He starts to say her name, the vibration of it against her skin, but she pulls his mouth up to hers before he can finish. Her name is the last thing she wants to hear.
This time the kiss is deeper, more demanding, and she hums deep in her throat as he tugs her shirt the rest of the way off. She turns around, arching into him when he presses her hard into the counter. The bottle of wine topples, and sauvignon blanc pours across the surface and on to the floor.
She fleetingly wonders if they’re even going to make it to the bedroom.
His mouth moves to her neck, hot and insistent as she helps strip him of his shirt. She slips sideways, her back wet with wine, and their hands slide across the counter.
Joe looks at her, a bit breathless, and kisses her lightly on the lips. “Maybe we should move this somewhere else.”
He pulls her upright and she suddenly becomes aware of the sharp smell of fruit and alcohol. She takes his hand, leads him to the bedroom. She can regret everything in the morning.
When Andy calls cut, she doesn’t look at Joe. She didn’t expect their on-screen kiss to bare any resemblance to what she knows they’re capable of, but she really doesn’t want to explain why it looks like they’re going to have to do this scene a lot more to get it right.
“Well,” David says. “That was hot.”
She’s aware of Joe flipping around in surprise.
Mitch nods and Paul grins. “I heard they were practicing.”
She would blush if she wasn’t still waiting for a punch line. Joe catches her eye with a silent question before he shrugs at something David says.
Andy stands with a smile. “Good enough for me. Let’s move on.”
It catches her off guard and she wants to argue. She takes a couple of steps and then pauses; she doesn’t know what to say.
Joe leans in as he passes her, his comment quiet and just for her. “I guess we’re naturals.”
Her doorbell rings at a little after four in the morning, and she reaches for her alarm before waking enough to realize her mistake.
When she opens her door, he looks up at her and tries to smile, but she sees the doubt in the way he shifts uncomfortably. So she tells him to leave, to go back to his wife, and before he can speak she says it’s over, that it never really began. She explains every reason she can think of now, and rain-checks all the ones that will come to her later because nothing between them will ever be simple, and she needs him to understand what that could mean.
She runs the whole monologue in her head as his eyes burn with longing and the whisper of his fingertips glides across her skin.
His name pulses in her blood like a drug.
She turns, leaving the door open, leaving him standing there, and goes back to bed.
Her room is dark and she stares at the wall waiting for sleep. She listens as he enters, hears the keys in his pocket, his watch placed on the nightstand, the creak of the bed as he crawls in beside her.
“I can’t do this,” she tells him, but she rolls over to wrap her hands tightly in his shirt.
His breath ruffles through the hair on the top of her head. “I know,” he says. “I know.”
She presses a kiss to his neck, then another on his throat as he runs a hand down her back, pulling her closer. He smells of aftershave and laundry detergent, and she tries not to conjure up images of his family life.
His mouth finds hers, all sweetness and warmth, and she wonders where they hide their deceit.