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Before You Lay My Body in the Cold Ground

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She was dead on her feet. Swaying as she walked through the tawdry motel hallway, lit up by endless seventies-style wall lights that were dingy from years without wash, bugs that had once been drawn to the light now trapped inside it, lifeless. She focused on pulling the strap of her bag up higher on her slender shoulder. Focused on the sound her boots made against the worn and dirty carpet. Focused on the door at the end of the hallway she knew Nick would be waiting behind.

It had been two years since Kira had left, and god was that whole thing a mess and a half. Nick and his girlfriend had spent most of their short time together giving each other the cold shoulder, and the entire year and a half she had been around all Cassie could feel was that chill. Kira had taken to hiding things, important things; about Division, her powers, and even leads to freeing Cassie's mother. She'd started using her powers to manipulate, little by little, until Nick's budding immunity to being Pushed finally became full strength. He saw her then, had to have, the way she really was: selfish, out for her own survival, no one else's, and dead inside. The one time Nick had opened up to Cassie about it; at a bar after killing two Division agents that had held guns cocked and pressed against her delicate skull, the barrels cold and biting into her skin; he said that she hadn't been like that before. That they'd fought, yes, but it was normal then, she hadn't always been so fucked up, not until they'd taken her and did whatever they'd done inside those sickeningly white rooms.

Cassie couldn't even blame her for the way she was now, not really. If she'd ever been captured her only priority would be to never go back, even if she and anyone in her way had to die to make it so. But she'd never forgive the flat-eyed brunette for breaking Nick, too. He was different now. He joked with her like he had the entire four years they'd known each other, but there was this…look, behind his eyes. She couldn't describe it. Couldn't draw it. Couldn't fix it. He'd been taking care of her from the start, or, well, close enough to the start, way before the middle. And she couldn't take care of him back. He wouldn't let her, guarded himself and his weaknesses from her. Sometimes when the room was dark and the only noise was of the cars speeding down whatever highway they were closest to at the time, she'd watch him sleep. He looked even more broken in his sleep, unfixable, untouchable. He was going to get wrinkles very early on if he kept up those heavy duty frowns while dreaming. It was like for those stolen times in the night he was the Watcher, seeing every horrible future that could come to pass. But during these peeping-tom hours she wasn't anything close to a Mover. Couldn't even move herself to step closer to his bed. Touch him. Lighten his load with comfort. Afraid he'd push her away.

Finally she reached the end of the hallway, sliding her key in the lock, listening to it catch and turn as it opened. She pushed on the door and dragged her feet purposefully to her bed where she gratefully collapsed into a boneless pile. She sighed, feeling her sore muscles loosen and relax as she sat up on her elbows to look around the room for him. He was sitting in one of the cheap chairs that came with the room, pulled up to the window so he could look at nothing. He turned towards her slightly and released a long breath, like he hadn't done that since she left. He did that sometimes, acted like he couldn't breathe when she was gone; like she wouldn't come back again. It made sense that they'd stuck together this long. They'd both lost everyone that they'd ever been close to besides each other. They were all they had left.

She raised a hand and started digging through her bag, finding the familiar rings on the side of her sketchbook, tracing the letters she'd written on the front of every one of them she'd gone through since she was fifteen, since they found her mother dead inside Division headquarters. They all said, simply, and with no color, which stated exactly what it was supposed to about her view on being a Watcher, "book of lies". The future never was the truth, anymore. She grabbed the edge of it and pulled it out; flipping to the page she'd drawn while she was out. Lately she had to get away from him to get visions of the future. Emergency warnings aside, whenever she focused on the future with him near her, his smell lingering in her nose, his warmth permeating her bones even from across the room, the only thing she could ever see was him. Sometimes it was just him alone, sitting down somewhere, deep in thought. Other times it was the two of them, looking at each other only when they couldn't be seen doing it. But usually it was the same vision. It started out like one of those magnified pictures that make you guess what the larger image is. There was sound: a rhythmic knocking, and then the edge of a square rocking against something else became visible. The vision would then slowly start fading back, letting her see more of the big picture; the square became a headboard, hitting the wall behind it. The rest was a tangle of sheets and limbs and mouths; a symphony of sighs and groans. Her own name repeated in her head a thousand times in his voice, but in a tone she'd never heard in the present. So she went on walks when she needed to see any future that didn't include that headboard.

She tossed Nick the book and he Moved it up and towards himself when it started faltering in its flight. He looked at it intently, deciphering the shapes, lines, and colors. After he'd stared at it for a few moments, his eyes racing back and forth across the page over and over, he looked up at her again, shock evident on his face. Her drawings had improved, as any skill practiced that often would, and he must have clearly seen that it was a man and a woman, deeply connected physically in that way that only men and women had. And it was her.

But it wasn't him.

He looked back down at the book, squeezed his eyes shut tightly when he thought she couldn't see him. The grimace all the reaction she'd ever need to see to this. He closed it silently, stood up and put it on the table beside the window. "Thanks for the visual over-share, Cass. Really appreciate seeing kid sis that way." He loped to the bathroom, confident as ever, as if this hadn't bothered him in the least. But they both knew differently.

She gave him his space. Let him wallow or throw a temper tantrum or just think it through in the shower. She turned on the TV. and flipped through the channels, hoping to find something—anything, to take her out of her own life for a small time. She settled on The Rugrats. It reminded her of her mom, and the inevitable comparisons to Angelica she had received when she was a little girl. It wasn't quite taking her away from her own life, but it was transporting her to a time when she didn't have to worry about how to deal with a man nine years her senior, his sometimes childish emotions, his eyes that seemed to see through every word of bullshit bravado she spoke, and her own body's mutinous reaction to his hands. Hands that had never even touched her in any way that wasn't platonic, for chrissake. So she watched the cartoon, changed into a tank top and sleep pants, and raided their duffels for snack food.

When he came out again, hair wet and sticking up at all angles, she was sitting on the bed Indian style, eating his share of the chips and watching cartoons. Like a child. Because that's what she was to him, anyway. Seventeen or no, she would always be nothing more than a kid. He ruffled her hair as he passed, just to prove that fact to her, she guessed, and crawled into his own bed, turned off the lamp, and then Moved the power button on the t.v. off. "Okay, hint taken, Nick, time for bed. Gotcha." As she slipped underneath the scratchy, and probably stained, motel sheet and comforter she thought about how crazy this four-year stint had been. Nick had been everything to her, and she assumed, with help from her glimpses into the not-so-far future, that she would be that for him too, on every level. But with this new future, she had to wonder what had changed. Did she do something to set their predicted course off from that happy-as-we-could-get-in-these-circumstances-ever after? Did he make a small choice that did it? Did it matter? She closed her eyes and prepared to go to sleep, but it didn't come. She waited until it had been an acceptable amount of time (at least an hour; that was her rule), before looking through her eyelashes, just in case he was up, to watch him as he slept.

But oh, boy was he up alright. She watched through barely opened eyes as he chewed on his bottom lip, brow furrowed, eyes tracing her from head to toe over and over and over as his muscular arm rustled the bed sheets up and down. It wasn't the first time she'd seen him do that, living in close quarters with a sexually inactive man would cause one or two accidents of the sort. Once she went into the bathroom to brush her teeth and saw him through the opening of the shower curtain. Once she'd just come back to the motel when he wasn't expecting her yet and she'd found him splayed across the bed; pants around his ankles, hotel porn on the television screen. He didn't know about the first time, thought he was being slick she guessed; and the second time had been deliciously awkward for them both. But this…this was a completely different game. He was looking at her. Thinking of her while doing that. She felt her heart thump against her ribs erratically and a flood of warmth and dizziness move from her chest to her knees. She continued watching him sneakily as the sweat began to bead on his forehead and his face contorted, his mouth opening in a silent moan. Soon he quickened his pace, and not long after he let out a quiet groan that somehow formed her name and went straight to her center, where she could feel herself getting warm and wet just by watching.

His eyes were closed and she was so aroused just from seeing this in real life and not some two dimensional vision, all she needed was just one brush of her fingers to get herself off. She moved her arm slowly and silently, trying not to make any movement that would alert him to her consciousness, and slipped her fingers underneath the waistband of her pants to the place she'd discovered when she was fourteen and had seen Nick through a hazy glass door while he was showering. She shook and trembled and came, emptying her lungs of air and biting her pillow to stop from making any noise. When she opened her eyes again she checked his face, it was relaxed, a small smile on his lips and he looked peaceful for once. His eyes were closed, his breathing quiet. He hadn't seen.

She was about to turn over and go to sleep when the covers were Moved off of her. She whipped her head around to look at him, his very open eyes shining from the streetlight's orange glow shining through the slits in the blinds. She opened her mouth to ask what he was doing, maybe make up an excuse about what he may or may not have seen, something about an itch and bug bites, when the tie that held her pants together began Moving slowly apart, untying in the air as he watched her. She opened and closed her eyes a few times, trying to figure out if she was dreaming or if he was possessed. Nothing changed. He remained watching her reaction to his power's slow seduction. As her pants started slowly inching their way down her hips she finally spoke. "Nick, what are you-" He sat up and moved so that he was kneeling by the side of her bed, his head parallel to her bellybutton, looking at her with the most unguarded look she'd ever seen on him. By this time her pants had come to the point where she needed to lift her hips to allow them to continue down her legs. She did. Slowly, so, so slowly, they slid completely off, landing on the floor, forgotten.

Next came her shirt; the slow slide of the cotton against her skin had goose bumps rising on her flesh, the loss of her shirt let the cold air shroud her chest and stomach. Her breathing hitched when she felt her bra being unhooked against her back, she was thankful for his increase in control over the years in a way she hadn't imagined before. It too slid off her body, leaving her in only her underwear. She was overwhelmed. Their relationship had changed drastically in the last thirty minutes and she couldn't say she wasn't pleased but she was confused, she wasn't expecting anything like this. He seemed to hesitate, staring at the triangle of fabric until he heard it. "You can, Nick."

His eyes raked up her body from the only clothing she had left, slowly over her, until she thought she could feel his eyes on her. He looked her in the eyes, pulled his bottom lip between his teeth for a second and nodded; looking back down her body in that slow way; savoring the forbidden fruit. She thought that was what this was about. She wasn't an adult yet, not legally in their current locale, and he was touching her without touching her, trying to find some gray area between the black and white. He Moved her panties off of her, roughly this time, jagged movements, until they were off, leaving her laid bare before him. She closed her eyes, waiting for whatever was going to come next. She gasped when she felt something brush against her shoulder. She turned and saw that it was one of her markers floating ghostlike in the air. He caressed her with it, over her shoulder to her collarbones, tracing words and letters across her skin using the cap of the pen. He painted her all over with his touch, down her sternum and over her breasts, light grazes across her nipples making her sigh; down her smooth stomach and dipping into her bellybutton; across her thighs and knees until he got to her ankle and moved back up. She was holding her breath as he had done earlier that night, waiting for the pen's last chartered spot. He Moved her legs apart slowly, letting her soak in the sensation of cool sheets slipping against her overheated body.

And then, something in him broke. He dropped his head down so that his forehead pressed against the mattress and took a deep breath. When he lifted his head back up he looked her in the face again. She could see the marker start to float up in her peripheral vision; she gripped the sheets in her hands, expectant, watching him watch her, waiting for it. They stared at each other , and she wouldn't spout off any of that 'it could have been hours' shit, it was less than a minute of direct eye contact, but it was intense and focused and there were decisions being made on both sides. When his decision was apparently made, he let out a groan and said, "Well, fuck that." And the marker went flying into the wall, clattering against it on its journey to the floor. Then it was his hands on her instead, brushing over her inner thighs, and she couldn't hold in the moan that bubbled up. She saw his jaw clench at the noise, the tendons there dancing against his stubbled cheek. Then he moved his hands up, sliding his fingers between her folds, tracing through the wetness there, mumbling "God, Cassie, you're so…" and "Baby you feel…" and other adaptations of those sentiments. Then on his third downward dip he slid his middle finger all the way inside her. She gasped and tightened, her chest rose up off the bed, fighting not to scream at how right and amazing and glorious it felt. He slid his finger back out of her very slowly before thrusting it back in hard. He did this over and over until for once, the Watcher was blind, and when she thought she could feel the future coming, he stopped. She lifted her head up quickly and started right away with "Nick, goddamn it, If you don't put that right ba-" She saw now that he was on the bed with her, leaning back on his heels; naked, aroused, and so sexy she may have just come again. "Oh. Well…that's good, too." She said, flustered and suddenly nervous.

He placed one hand on each side of her head, putting his weight on them so that their faces were inches apart. He nuzzled his nose across her cheek until his lips were at her ear "Cass…you're mine. I'm gonna make you mine." A light bite against her earlobe to punctuate." That other future, it'll never happen now, not after tonight." She smirked and replied with a confidence she didn't quite feel while his dick was pressing into her thigh, "It wasn't ever going to happen in the first place. Not as long as you're alive. Probably not even if you were dead. I guess I just love you like that." And then she waited once again, for his reaction. "I love you too, kiddo…um, inappropriate nickname, now. But I do. And you are mine, Forever. No matter what the future says." And with that last word he pressed his lips against hers in a hard kiss to distract her from the pain of being filled to the hilt for the first time. She dug her nails into his back and let out a small noise of discomfort. He waited for a minute or so for her body to adjust before he started slowly rocking, causing friction between their most intimate of skin. He rained kisses all over her face, neck, and collarbones, leaving points of cool skin where the air touched the places his tongue had teased across.

Their rhythm picked up, and the head board started knocking into the wall. He was whispering to her now, just her name, just those six letters strung together, over and over until it felt like her name was a chant he needed to keep himself alive. And she was moaning, enjoying this vulnerability he was showing her. And he was close; so close. So he concentrated and very carefully Moved her clit gently in time with his thrusts, pushing the headboard to its limits, and her pleasure to its maximum. He said her name and "mine" alternately now, before he buried his head in the crook of her neck as he spilled inside her, and she bit down on his shoulder hard enough to leave teeth shaped bruises and she was flying, suddenly. She thought maybe he had Moved them off the bed, into the sky, but when she came down a little she realized he hadn't, it was just that spectacular an orgasm.

He raised his head and looked at her for a second, brushing the side of her face with his fingertips. It was a sweet moment. And since neither of them do those, she said "So much for the hands-off-the-jailbait approach, huh?" and she smiled at him, one of her brilliant Cassie smiles. He laughed and repeated the words "you're mine" and thrust one last time, just to prove his point.