“I don’t know why I have to get undressed to tell you I love you,” Anatoly said, sulking as he pulled his pants down to his feet. “I know about the Narrative, remember?”
Maia sat back against the wall and looked at him -- the annoyed and slightly pathetic expression on his face, the pale skin of his chest contrasting with the dark hair that finally had grown back in (1) and the happy trail that led down over his abs and… disappeared under the waistband of his underwear.
“Lose the briefs, Kerensky,” she said, smiling.
“I bet Dahl doesn’t make Jimmy do this every time they talk about their feelings.” Anatoly hooked his thumbs over the waistband of the article of clothing in question and started to tug downward.
“You’re right. Andy doesn’t. Jimmy does it all on his own because Andy overthinks everything. And despite the fact that he and Jimmy have been sleeping together since they were study buddies at the Academy and he has Weinstein’s assurance there hasn’t been, nor will there be any Narrative interference, Andy still questions what higher power or writer or both is pulling their strings. So Jimmy gets extra naked and they get extra busy, which would both be no-nos on basic cable in 2012, so he can prove to Andy that they’re really real.”
“It’s kind of disturbing how much you know about our friends’ sex lives,” Anatoly interrupted, kicking both his pants and underwear off and standing, arms crossed, looking at Maia.
“Yes, well going back to my previous point, Andy overthinks everything and when he gets drunk you can’t shut him up. I’m just paraphrasing.”
“And I’m sure you didn’t ply him with the alcohol that got him to such a talkative state and then you didn’t pry as many details as you could from him.”
“What kind of woman do you think I am?” she asked with a smile. (2)
Anatoly spread his arms wide, presenting himself in his all together in answer. “So are you saying you have doubts about my level of commitment to you because we started dating thanks to the fact that some people thought we’d be good together and decided to set us up? And the fact that those people weren’t our colleagues, and there was some behind the scenes orchestration -- orchestration that we are both fully aware of now and that has been all but removed from the equation -- that the only way I can prove to you that my feelings for you are real is to literally present myself in my barest form so that you’ll see that what I say is true? That I love you, Maia Duvall?”
“Jesus, Kerensky.” Maia had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. She was hoping to have sex sometime this evening and she had a feeling if she laughed at Kerensky that likelihood would be doomed. And probably would be for some time. “If you’re trying to prove to me that you’re not saying things that some writer put into your mouth, don’t use such big words. Although come to think of it, there’s no way one of the writers on Weinstein’s staff would’ve been able to come up with such a speech.”
“Fine, if you’re not going to take this seriously.” Anatoly rolled his eyes and reached for his pants.
“Wait. Anatoly, stop.” Maia moved off the bed and quickly grabbed the clothes that were strewn across the floor. “I made you strip because I like to see you naked, okay?”
She looked up at Anatoly, the pile of his clothes in her arms were oddly comforting, like a protective blanket to help her find her words. “And you naked makes the thing less serious.”
“And I don’t mean it like that,” she quickly added when an offended look crossed his face.
“I mean I know you’re serious. I believe you’re certain you know how you feel. If this was a month ago I would have thought you were insane, or this was setting me up for a very painful and very dramatic death. But now. . . not so much. However plotted the beginning may have been, it’s real now.”
“It’s real not just for me, right?“ Anatoly stepped closer, his eyes going soft and a smile starting to form at the sides of his mouth. Maia fought the urge to run away.
“Yes,” Maia said, shutting her eyes as Kerensky leaned in.
And that’s when she tripped and fell backwards onto her ass, her head bumping painfully against the frame of her bed.
“Ow,” she said. “Fuck.”
“You cannot blame me or any Narrative for that big and dramatic. That was all you,” Anatoly laughed.
“Watch it, Kerensky. Your dangly bits are within reach and I have military training.”
“You’re a real romantic, you know that?” Anatoly knelt down next to Maia and gently rubbed the back of her head.
“So I’ve been told,” she said, rolling her eyes. She wrapped her hand around the back of Anatoly’s neck and pulled him down for a kiss. “I love you, too asshole.” (3)
(1) Yes, it had been her request to Weinstein. No, she didn’t care if it was superficial. The early 21st century’s aversion to chest hair was something she found to be utter bullshit. Besides, it made everyone involved happy -- she got enjoy a man with hair on his chest, Mark didn’t have to get a shave and a wax every time he had a shirtless scene, and Anatoly could stop worrying that he had some mystery malady that made his chest hair suddenly disappear.
(2) To be honest, she hadn’t done that much. Andy was the one who’d tried to match her drink for drink, and Jimmy had told her about details of Andy’s existential crises. Neither had really been detailed about the sex, although Andy had blushed every time he saw her for the rest of the week.
(3) God, many gods, writers, et al. help her she did. Anatoly was right. This one was on her. She’d still smack the satisfied smile off of Andy’s face when he found out, but she’d deal with that later.