"What time is it?" He squinted at his phone. The blue light nearly blinded him. He put it facedown on the side table as quickly as he could. She giggled.
"Three." He finally answered, rubbing his eyes.
"Haven't done this in awhile."
"I would think you, of all people, would be intensely familiar with the witching hour Olivia Benson." He fought a yawn.
"You know what I mean." He did. No work. No Noah. Just them. Just talking. His apartment was cold and quiet and peaceful. "I swear it was midnight a minute ago." He slipped his hands around the back of her thigh under the duvet. She hid a yawn in the sheets. She was stretched out on her stomach, arms crossed under her pillow. He was propped up on an elbow beside her. He moved his hand up the back of her tee shirt, skating his fingertips across her spine. He ducked his head to kiss her once his eyes readjusted to the dark, lingering and brushing his lips across the soft skin at the corner of her mouth.
"Only a little." She reached up and wrapped an arm around his neck, bringing him to lie down next to her. Close enough to lean her forehead against his. He kept caressing her back. "Worth it to hear you laugh this much." He smiled and shrugged.
"Me too." She beamed. They looked at each other for a long moment, exchanging a half dozen thoughts. "It's been a good year. A really good year. Let's do it again." She joked. Three hundred sixty five days. Together. Nobody died. Nothing exploded.
"Best year of my life." He said, just to make her wrinkle her nose and laugh again. He inhaled deeply. "I wish I had more to offer than platitudes and idioms. I still don't..." He bit his lip. She stroked the side of his face soothingly. He smiled a little.
"Time feels like a cheap way to measure depth of feeling but I'm proud of this. Of us. It really feels more like a gift than a milestone."
"I have something for you." He abruptly disentangled for her. He turned on the lamp and stumbled out of bed as she groaned and buried her face in a pillow.
"What are you-?" He rummaged through the top drawer of his dresser. He turned off the lamp and opened the curtains a little so they had enough light to see without blinking furiously in the bright lights. She sat up against the headboard. He got back into bed with a small white box, shadows from the city lights dancing across his face. He handed it to her without much preamble and she was momentarily speechless. He had chickened out giving it to her at dinner, and even now his heart was racing. She had sent flowers to his office this morning and he had found himself at a jeweler's less than an hour later, overwhelmed with the need to give her something more than words.
Rose gold chain and pendent. A dove in flight. Beautifully detailed. Inconspicuous and breath taking all at the same time. He carefully turned it over in her hand so she could see the back. It was inscribed. My peace.
"You don't-" They both started and stopped speaking in unison. She laughed, a little tearfully, and immediately put the necklace on. The dove glimmered against her skin, just above the low v neck of her shirt. He clasped her waist in his hands, leaning forward to kiss the pendent. She ran her fingers through his hair and blinked back tears as she kissed him on the lips. And both cheeks. And his nose. And his neck and shoulder. "At the end of the day…you bring me peace. You make a better man. A happier one." He cleared his throat. "Thank you for letting me hold you. Letting me be here with you. For letting me in to your life, for letting me spend time with Noah." She sat back so she could look at his face, taking both of his hands in her own. She kissed both of his palms before holding one to her cheek.
"Thank you for letting me see you, Rafa. Thank you for staying. You are…so beautiful." He brushed a tear off her cheek with his thumb and kissed away the track it left on her skin. "I've learned so much this year. About you and myself and my son. I wish I knew how to say what I feel too because right now it's…honestly overwhelming." She gasped out a laugh. He pulled her back into bed. They laid down, pressed together as closely as they could. "I'm holding on to you as long as I can."
"This is good. Real."
"It is." He agreed. They were both suddenly very aware that it was 3 in the morning. They started grinning and laughing for no reason at all. He pulled the covers up around her, tucking her in a little closer. "And-" He breathed deeply, stuck in thought for a moment.
"And?" She asked.
"And I'm so in love with you." He decided. "Time is a gift." He echoed her. "I'm going to give you as many years as you'll let me."
"What if I want them all?"
"They're all yours." She hid her face in his neck.
"You make it sound like poetry."
"It feels like poetry." They talked till the sun came up. They slept till noon. It really was poetry.