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Dinner for Two

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Jupiter was pacing when Caine finally returned to his tiny apartment. She'd spent the afternoon getting everything ready for dinner and now that there was nothing left to do was stewing in her own self-doubt. It was probably a terrible idea, and he's hate it. On the other hand, he didn't seem to mind her dragging him to do crazy human things that much, and this was kind of like that.

He opened the door with little fanfare, freezing in the middle of setting his bag down when he saw Jupiter. His eyes flickered over the rest of the room, a slight from line creasing between his eyebrows.

God, it was cute. Even his eyebrows were sexy. Jupiter was in so deep.

"What's all this?" he asked, nodding over her shoulder at the dining area that was really part of the living room she'd spent the last two hours setting up. She'd dimmed the lights and set up tea candles on top of the low bookshelf, giving the room a soft glow. Jupiter had brought a red table cloth for the table and pressed napkins and flowers. The table was set for two.

"Well," Jupiter took Caine's hands and led him to the table. "I thought it would be nice to have a date night in. Flying is great and all, but a change of pace can be good too."

Caine's eyes softened as they shifted from the table to her, and Jupiter felt her nerves settle. His hands were warm as they enveloped hers, tugging them to his lips. He pressed a dry kiss to her knuckles. "As your majesty wishes."

Jupiter about melted inside. That little worried part of her, which had been increasingly insecure about how he agreed with her about nearly everything, however, piped up. "It's not just about what I want, you know. This is okay? You like it?" In the past month all their dates thus far had been variations on x-treme sports space-style and getting burgers at Tico's.

He nodded, his mouth curving into a smile. "I thought you were just going to drop your things off. I didn't expect all this. Is it -" he hesitated, eyes flicking back over the romantic table set up. "You don't need to. I'm only a -"

"Hush." Jupiter silenced him with a finger over his lips. "I want to." She licked her lips, feeling words pile up inside her mouth that had been tossing around in her head for weeks. Words like I don't deserve you, and you came after me when you didn't have to, and when you look at me sometimes I can't handle how much I want to be with you.

She didn't say any of that though. It was too soon. She worried that it might be too much and he'd run away, although Caine had been steadfast by her side since they met. She trusted him with her life, but learning to trust him with her heart was harder than she thought it would be, even though she wanted to. She wanted to lay herself bare before him. She wanted to let herself fall into his strength and let it prop her up, but she had spent so long on her own, she wasn't sure she knew how. All she knew was that she wanted to be closer to him.

Dinner wasn't fancy. Jupiter wasn't the best cook since her role in the kitchen was usually chopping, but she made a passable attempt at spaghetti and meatballs, which Caine ate up like it was the best food he'd ever eaten. They talked of idle things. Jupiter's mom wanted to meet Caine, and Jupiter had been putting it off but might have to cave soon. Caine had gone to visit Stinger and they'd set up a secondary security network around the city for her protection in advance of the Aegis arriving in a month to escort her to her first off-world function. Jupiter asked a lot of dumb questions about all the weird species Caine brought up because he was an endless font of knowledge on how to defeat them in close-quarters combat and also she was trying not to think too hard about the trip.

By the time they were both done eating, Caine had relaxed back into his seat, grinning at Jupiter as he described breaking a Dolian blockade through planetary rings. She soaked up his whole presence. She loved seeing him open up like a flower unfolding before the sun. Without his coat, his wing draped over the back of his chair like a fluffy cape, fluttering when he laughed or brought his hands up to gesture. He'd been stoic when they'd met and he was still quiet most of the time when they were out, but now there was light in his eyes that shone just for her.

She wanted to kiss him. She wanted to hug him. She wanted to crawl into his lap and do both, and then lose herself in him and feel his hands all over her. She'd been waiting a month for him to make a move on her, but she was done waiting.

When his story was finished and they lapsed into comfortable silence sipping their wine, Jupiter felt the mood shift. He was smiling at her, setting off the butterflies in her belly for what she had planned next.

"I made dessert," she said.

"Can I help?" Caine immediately stood and reached for the plates. Jupiter took them from him and set them back on the table.

"Later." The butterflies started flitting around and Caine must have sensed them because he took her hand when they were both seated again.

"What is it?"

"I'd like to try something. And you can say no if you want," she hurried to add. "It's nothing bad, but if you want to stop any-"

"I trust you," Caine interrupted her with a touch to her forearm, like it was that easy. Jupiter breathed out, smiling reflexively when he did. "What do you want to try?"

"You stay there." Jupiter went to retrieve dessert from the kitchen and waved him back when he reached for the bowls. "Let me."

Caine sat back and held perfectly still, his eyes watching her like a hawk. His nostrils flared when Jupiter selected a strawberry from the bowl and dipped it into the chocolate. His lips parted when she then touched the strawberry to them. Delicately, he ate it from her fingers.

"Do you like that?"

Caine swallowed first, then said, "It's very good. But I should be serving you." He made to get up again, and this time Jupiter slid into his lap to keep him seated, settling in sideways with on arm looped around his shoulders. His arm came up around her back to hold her securely, his wings fluttering restlessly behind him.

"I want to take care of you tonight," Jupiter said when their eyes met. She leaned in and kissed his lips, tasting the remains of strawberry and chocolate when his mouth opened under hers.

"I'm not worth-" Caine started when they parted, but Jupiter leaned in to kiss him again before he could finish his thought.

"You are," she said afterwards, her forehead coming to rest against his. In the close space between them where she couldn't meet his eyes it was easier for her words to break free. "You saved me. You came for me. You see me like no one else in my entire life, which has been turned completely upside down." She felt his breath of laughter against her cheek, his muscles relax fractionally even as they cradled her close. She smiled. It made the next bit easier to say. "I think I'm falling in love with you."

For a moment, the world stood still. Held its breath. Jupiter was holding hers and only released it when Caine's arms wrapped fully around her and pulled her close. His mouth was tentative for only a moment before turning open and hot. His free hand came to cup Jupiter's cheek. He dove in like a man seeking something he could only find through passion.

They were both gasping when they finally pulled apart. Jupiter felt like her blood was singing, coursing through her hot and fast to pool all her desire in her belly. Sitting in his lap, she could feel his interest, but she also knew that every other time she'd been close enough to know he wanted her, he hadn't pushed for more. This time she was ready to do the pushing.

"Caine," she began. "Caine, I want you."

"Jupiter," he breathed.

"Please. I very much want to make love to you tonight. Please say yes. Say yes because you want to."

He pressed a very soft kiss to her mouth. "Yes, your majesty." Then he stood, swinging Jupiter up into his arms. She laughed in surprise, delight, and laughed again when he stepped away from the table and snapped out his wings. He curled them around them, enveloping them into their own little world in his tiny apartment on her backwater planet. In the warmth and closeness, he kissed her again and said, "I love you too."

Jupiter's heart was full to bursting, beating hard with desire and joy both as Caine carried her to bedroom, where they came together amidst a cloud of feathers.