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It is remarkable that in all the over and under, the rolling and the in and out, his gaze never strays from her eyes. His hands move across her and into dark crevices, hungry and solid, absolutely solid. He never lingers over anything--nipples thigh cunt--whatever the provocation she offers, tongue and hands; or rather, he lingers over everything. It is so difficult, she thinks, during the moments when thought becomes possible, the flickering gasps of awareness. It is so difficult. How can her body do this? How can it do something she doesn't know how to do anymore, that she can't put into words?

The night is a new, raw thing, scraping outside the crypt. Asking to be let in, although it dwells here implicitly. Crypt, shadows and spice, vampire. Even she can figure that out.

And so, although he is not tired and neither is she, she's playing a game. Mostly it's in her head. Maybe it's always been in her head.

He's about to say something, so she matches her mouth to his. Different shapes, but there is a way to put them together, too (it's all logistics, Riley would have said). His tongue is anything but tentative, in and oh-so-reluctantly out. She doesn't know why she expected his mouth to taste like Angel's. Maybe there's bourbon and maybe there's the latest donated O-positive and maybe she doesn't care, tonight. She likes that theory best.

She explores his teeth, every little ridge: molar bicuspid canine, all bumpy, none sharp. Enamel, wet-slick, like everything becomes in this kind of pleasure.

His face is more human than hers. She wonders why she never noticed that before.

He pulls back a little, sure of himself. "Ease up, pet. You've got to breathe."

She wishes he were smiling as he says that. She is sure it is something her face has forgotten, misplaced the way vampires misplace suntan lotion and reflections. So she clenches herself around his cock and inhales, exhales. How can he feel so warm, she wonders, entirely satisfied not to have an answer. Answers are for things that make sense.

Her mother unbreathing is not a thing that makes sense.

She thinks his attention is in one of a thousand million places, and all of them are her. This is good or bad or fucked up, or all of the above; it is what she wants. She can return to her game.

Maybe it started with Angel. Easing asleep in his arms, him slipping out as she slipped out of consciousness, sated. Flickering awake later (but not that much later), listening to the rain, and to the heart that did not beat, the pulse that did not move, the stifled unmotion of his chest. Counting his ribs over and over, then counting her own, then his again. Not entirely awake and attempting to match the curves, match her breathing to his. Which meant not-breathing.

Maybe it started with drowning. Watching some Technicolor Wonders of Our Coral Reefs on the TV, the summer after, and clenching inside. Hold your breath. Hold your breath long enough and you won't drown. Eventually you won't have to breathe anymore, and that means you don't have to die (again), doesn't it?

Isn't that what it means, not-breathing?

So here she is, stealing moments of not-breathing. She begs to be kissed again; it doesn't take words. Moves her hips just slightly out of rhythm with his, teasing. He laughs low in his throat. There's no sound, really, just a vibration against her breasts.

He keeps looking at her, really looking at her. She thinks the expression in his eyes, the way the light pools in them sometimes, might be a poem. It unknots her, and she breathes again.

They're fucking the dead, both of them, and he doesn't know it yet, and she can't stop knowing it, and then she feels that wordless shout inside her as he comes and she has no more words either, even inside her head, even inside, even anywhere.