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Good Sport

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Beth is sleeping. No, she’s not just sleeping. Beth is having the kind of deep sleep that comes with working her ass off all week staying up till ungodly hours to make unsafe drops to unlawful people. Beth’s having the kind of heavy sleep that comes with finally having a few nights off in an empty house with no one to take care of but herself. It’s peaceful. It’s full-bodied.

It’s interrupted.

Her mom-mode never really switches itself off even if the kids aren’t with her. It’s just how it is. All four are with Dean for a couple of nights this week, staying with him at his mother’s house while he finds a new place to live. Kicking him out had been an easy decision once she realized she couldn’t go back to just being the obedient housewife Dean’s always dreamed of. And although she initially worried that such a move would lose her the kids again, Dean hadn’t retaliated.

She knows he must know that she’s back in. That she’s seeing Rio again. But so far he hasn’t brought it up with her, hasn’t tried to pry. Instead, without putting up much of a fight he moved out of the house and agreed to her scheduled meet-ups and drop-offs with the children almost immediately. It’s like he suddenly decided to be decent right when she had given up on him completely.

And so, despite the fact there’s no one here for her to be listening out for and that she is totally deserving of this heavenly slumber, Beth is easily woken when she hears the faint sound of floorboards shifting under a moving weight through the doorway of her bedroom.

She isn’t even startled at first either, taking a moment to really wake up and remember that she’s supposed to be alone in the house tonight. It does sink in rather quickly though when she props herself up onto an elbow and stares into the darkness to see the outline of a tall and lean figure standing at the end of her bed.

For a split second her heart is gripped by panic, but before it can settle itself in her throat her eyes adjust to the moonlight filtering in through the windows and she recognizes Rio’s face staring back at her.

She freezes.

This is not their usual routine. Especially now. Especially since she had told him she was done. Things have been tense between them ever since she left and then he consequently drew her back in. He hasn’t been showing up to her house as much as he used to and she’s been finding reasons to keep it that way. She doesn’t linger to speak with him after their meet-ups. She doesn’t text him to catch up at quaint cafes to discuss business strategy. She keeps things professional and polite and he just stares back at her with that same calculating look in response.

It’s better that way.

So this is new. He’s never just showed up in her bedroom at, she glances at the clock, two o’clock in the morning before. Even when they were on better terms he wasn’t pulling stunts like this. Sure, he’ll show up in her backyard while she’s washing up after dinner or break into her kitchen when she’s out running errands during the day and wait for her to come home. But never into her bedroom when she’s sleeping. Never when she’s at her most vulnerable.

Beth takes a second to gather herself. First it was fear from sensing an intruder that overwhelmed her, then it was relief upon seeing a familiar face, but now she’s settled on anger. What on earth is he doing in her bedroom in the middle of the night that couldn’t have been dealt with in the morning over the phone?

This is not how their partnership works. She fucked up when she left. She fucked up when she well, fucked him. But that doesn’t mean he gets to break all the rules. He’s always respected certain boundaries when it comes to her. That doesn’t go out the window just because she screwed him in more ways than one.

She’s about to say as much too. Demand he leave, admonish him for thinking he has the right to her whenever he wants. But then she sees his face and it’s an expression she’s never seen before, one she couldn’t ever imagine him wanting her seeing. He looks tired. He looks sad. He looks defeated.

That last one has her faltering. The words leaving her. As well as the anger.

There’s something in the way he is looking at her that is just so pleading. Pleading that she not turn this into an argument, pleading that she doesn’t make him leave.

His breathing fills the silence around them. Heavy and slow and exhausted. He slouches where he stands, his shoulders slumped forward and his arms hanging listlessly at his sides.

Something’s wrong with him, she can tell. Or something’s gone wrong elsewhere. Either way she knows a surrender when she sees one. Whatever fight he usually has in him has been completely drained and right now he’s giving into something she doesn’t quite understand.

He watches her so carefully as he reaches down to slip out of his shoes, sneakers neatly placed side by side near the foot of her bed like they belong there. His movements are so slow and so sluggish and so unlike his usual purposeful grace that if Beth weren’t so unsure of what exactly is happening, she would be out of bed and helping him.

Neither says a word as he makes his way to the other side of the bed, Beth doesn’t protest when he pulls back the covers, and Rio doesn’t stop watching her as he slides in next to her.

He’s still fully clothed, lying on his side now with his arms folded awkwardly over his chest, causing the shoulder he’s resting on to press up awkwardly under his ear.

Beth wants to say something, ask him what’s going on. Even for Rio this is unusual. Even accounting for the fact that they’ve had sex in this very bed before, this still warrants an explanation. But then Rio just closes his eyes.

And that’s it. Then he’s just asleep.

Beth blinks a couple of times like she doesn’t quite believe there’s really a sleeping Rio in her bed right now when just a minute ago she was alone and asleep herself. She stays looking down at him for a moment as his breathing becomes deeper but his brow no less furrowed, still propped up on her elbow, yet to have moved since she first realized he was in her bedroom. She doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do.

So instead she just sinks back down into the covers with him, careful not to disturb him as she turns further onto her side so she can watch his face. But it doesn’t take long before she too gives in, sleep finding her quickly.

When she wakes in the morning she is alone, and while she isn’t surprised she refuses to acknowledge any disappointment. And maybe if the pillow next to her smells like him and she falls asleep that night with her nose pressed into the plush fabric she’ll decide to ignore that too.

***

She isn’t really sure what happened that night, why he showed up in her bedroom and crawled into her bed to fall asleep. He isn’t volunteering any insights either.

She half expects him to make some kind of joke about it to her, tease her for letting him stay, turn it into some sort of innuendo despite the fact it was all very innocent. But he doesn’t say anything at all, in fact if anything, he seems almost dismissive of her the next time she sees him.

Which is fine, Beth can work with that. It’s not like she was the one who wanted him there. It does make her question why she let him stay then in the first place, but she honestly doesn’t want to open that can of worms right now. She’s just started to get her life back together without Dean and she’s still trying to adjust to being a single mother, co-parenting four children that she has to learn how to be without on Dean’s scheduled days.

So she doesn’t bring it up either. She’s a good sport like that. She just lets it go. Until a couple of days later when she wakes in the middle of the night again to the feeling of her mattress dipping behind her.

She rolls over quickly, it’s Dean’s night so she knows it’s not one of her babies. She’s pretty sure she knows who it’s going to be too but it still startles her to find Rio in her bed quietly watching her from the other side.

He was quieter this time, got himself nearly all the way into her bed without her noticing. He must have figured out how to avoid the creaking floorboards this time around. The fact that he is such a fast learner unnerves her. She doesn’t want him getting better at this.

“Rio.”

She says his name and she’s not sure why. It’s not really a question, she knows it’s him.

He doesn’t answer her, doesn’t give her a shit-eating grin like she’s used to when he catches her off guard either. Instead he averts his eyes from her stare and looks down at the blanket they’re now sharing.

Beth uses the moment to take in his appearance. He looks tired again, his face drawn, and she can see from his shoulders poking out from under the blanket that he’s still in his button-up.

He mustn’t plan these little visits then, she thinks. Surely if he got in his car to come all the way over here just to sleep in her bed, he’d choose something a little more comfortable. Maybe he’s come from a business meeting or a drop-off. Maybe there’s something going on behind the scenes he isn’t telling her. So she asks.

“What’s going on?” she whispers to him.

His eyes find hers again. He bites his lip for a second before releasing it and letting out a heavy sigh.

“Nothin’,” he says shaking his head.

Beth doesn’t believe him.

“Then why are you in my bed?” she asks.

The shoulder he isn’t leaning on slightly rises as if to shrug before he answers.

“I’m tired, ma.”

It’s not really a proper answer and she thinks he knows it. But the way he says it isn’t to mock her like he does sometimes when he is purposely evading any of her more serious questions either. She can hear it in the dejected tone of his voice that he means what he’s saying. He’s tired.

Beth for whatever reason decides to grant him this small mercy, despite the fact he would never let it go if it were her.

“Sleep then,” she says simply.

She reaches up a hand to prop beneath her pillow as she gets more comfortable, but Rio grabs onto it before she can get settled, pulling it to his face and slipping it between his own pillow and his cheek instead. She watches on in quiet wonder as he rubs his face against it, shifting himself further into her so he can press his forehead along the soft cushioning of her palm.

He does it until his breathing evens out. He does it until he falls asleep. Beth watches him until she does too, her hand pressed against his skin.

Again, Beth will wake to an empty bed in the morning and again they both won’t acknowledge it when they meet up a day later for a drop-off. But Beth will think about the way he looked sleeping steady against her open palm the entire time she’s with him.

***

Beth starts to wonder if he’s worked out Dean’s and her schedule already, because he never shows up when she has the kids. It honestly wouldn’t surprise her. He seems to always know where she’s going to be and when every other day in between.

It starts to become a routine now. No longer that unusual. He never stays more than one night in a row, he’s never there when she wakes up in the morning, but it happens at least once, sometimes twice a week. Rio, sleeping next to her in her bed.

She tries talking to him about it. But he’s a different creature when he shows up in her bedroom on those nights. He isn’t the sarcastic, teasing Rio. He isn’t even the scary, threatening one. He’s this bare bones version. The one where all the layers and bravado have been stripped back to reveal what’s soft and vulnerable underneath.

So she doesn’t push it when he brushes off her questions, won’t push it. Because she’s frightened that if she does she won’t ever see this version of him again. And she doesn’t dare bring it up when she sees him at their meet-ups in the light of day. She usually has Annie and Ruby with her, he sometimes has Demon and Bullet. It just never feels like the right time.

If she’s honest with herself, those nights he visits have started to become the nights that she likes best, slowly falling to sleep with him curled on his side next to her, softly snoring. She never sleeps better. But she can’t really say whether it’s because she finds his presence comforting or simply because when he’s not there she spends the night on high alert listening out for him to come sneaking in.

Some nights he comes early though, and those are her favorite. Instead of showing up at one or two in the morning and waking her, he comes padding into the room closer to ten when she’s still up and reading a book in bed.

He always seems sheepish those nights. Like he couldn’t wait anymore and became impatient. He winds up lying closer to her then too, head on the same pillow so he can browse through the pages with her as she reads the latest chapter of her book.

It mustn’t make much sense to him considering he only ever gets to read a few pages at a time and never from where he last left off. But he never says anything about it. He never says anything about anything when he comes over really. And she keeps letting him get away with it.

He likes it when she runs her fingers over his face. It’s something she never thought she’d ever learn about him, but he does. She notices it after he keeps grabbing at her hands and pressing them to his cheeks. It helps him fall asleep. She wonders if this is something that his mother used to do for him, a way to soothe him to sleep as a little boy.

She’s started doing it without his prompting, just reaching over and tracing the lines of his face, smoothing out that permanent crease in his brow and down the slope of his nose all the way to the sharp line of his jaw. He goes slack against the pillow every time, his lips slightly parting as he starts to nod off.

For a while it’s only ever her reaching across to touch him, Rio always staying on his side of the bed and giving her space. But then one night she wakes up to find him in her bed and wrapped tightly around her. His arm circling her waist, long form tucked up against her back and the gentle in and out of his breath brushing the nape of her neck.

And then he’s doing it every time. Pressing himself into her, face buried in her hair, his arm draped around her waist or resting against her stomach. He’s always so close now Beth can feel the buttons of his shirt pressing into her skin as he breathes against her. She lets him get away with that too.

It’s during a shopping trip for a new pair of school pants for Kenny that she notices over in the men’s section that the sleepwear is on sale. She buys a pair of plain black pajamas pants and a matching black t-shirt that she takes home with her and leaves neatly folded on the pillow next to hers.

She doesn’t open her eyes when she hears him enter later that night. Though she notices the pause in his movements even without her sight, assumes he’s taking a moment to work out what’s in front of him. She thinks about rolling over and explaining herself to him, but changes her mind and refuses to turn around when she hears the rustling of clothes and the definite sound of a zipper being lowered.

He must know she’s awake though because he doesn’t hesitate in pulling her to him once he’s climbed into bed, nuzzling his face against the back of her neck and breathing her in.

She reaches back and runs a hand through his cropped hair down to the back of his neck, feeling the soft material of the new t-shirt she’s just bought for him. The sigh he releases against her in response is almost shuddering. It reminds her of the sounds he had made when they were in bed together and did more than just sleeping. It feels like so long ago now.

He hasn’t tried anything with her which she finds surprising. He’ll make lewd comments to her during their day to day meetings but never once he’s in her bed at night. Though that doesn’t mean she doesn’t notice when he becomes affected by their proximity. Whether it’s subconsciously in his sleep or just an uncontrollable response to being pressed up against her, she’ll sometimes feel him. Against her thigh. Or her hip. Her ass.

She doesn’t react to it though, and neither does he.

***

He then starts showing up more and more often. Multiple nights in a row even. She is positive he knows her and Dean’s hand-off schedule now. Whenever the kids aren’t there, he’s in her bed that night. But he’s still always gone by morning. She’s only ever caught him leaving once so far, waking up as he was getting ready to make his exit.

She was confused as to what had woken her at first, sitting up bleary-eyed and still half asleep as Rio stood at the end of the bed in the early morning, buttoning his shirt.

“Rio?” she called out quietly, voice rough from sleep.

He just walked over to her and ran his finger across her forehead and down her cheek in a way she’s become familiar with.

“Go back to sleep, Elizabeth,” he’d instructed.

And she’d done as he asked, not remembering hearing him leave.

He seems just as determined to leave her in the morning as he is to stay with her at night. She isn’t sure exactly why, though she thinks it may have something to do with him keeping her safely at a distance. Like the intimacy they share at night can’t bleed into their lives in the light of day if he isn’t there to wake up to it with her. Which makes her wonder why he’s gone this far in the first place.

One night she’d even fallen asleep on the couch after a few wines and a sappy movie that didn’t really interest her, only to wake up and find him sprawled out lazily on the other side, one arm up on the side rest and his chin dropped to his chest, fast asleep.

He didn’t look comfortable and for the millionth time Beth just didn’t understand it. Why was he here? Why not in her bed at the very least? Why does he want to sleep wherever she is?

She had wanted to leave him there for the night. She’d wanted to disappear into her room and have the bed to herself and avoid having to deal with Rio and the consistent unknown that he constantly presents her with.

But he couldn’t stay like that and she’d known it. He’d have woken up the next morning with one hell of a sore neck and she imagined she’d be the one who wouldn’t hear the end of it. So carefully getting up, she’d walked herself over to him and let a hand flatten against his chest to gently shake him into consciousness. She is a good sport after all.

He hadn’t startled the way she thought he might have at being woken. He just opened his eyes and looked up at her expectantly, like he was the one that’d been waiting for her, and he probably had been.

She didn’t say anything to him after that. She had just headed to her bathroom and taken hold of her toothbrush once there, brushing her teeth and washing her face on autopilot and staring at herself in the mirror, questioning why she keeps letting this happen.

By the time she was finishing up he was in the doorway watching her, decked out in the pajamas she stupidly decided to buy him that are at least one size too big for his slim frame. She can’t really blame the guy for showing up all the time with that kind of encouragement.

She wound up changing in front of him. He had followed her back into the bedroom and it took only a moment's hesitation before she decided there was no point in asking him to leave or turn around. He’d seen it all before anyway.

She had peeled her jeans down her legs easily enough and stepped out of them, and while keeping her t-shirt on, she had unhooked her bra and pulled the straps down her arms until she was able to slip it off. Rio just watched her the entire time. Especially as those straps lowered. But that’s all he did.

At least until he was curled up behind her in bed again. While he’d only watched as she'd undressed and slid under the covers in just her t-shirt and panties, he did spend the rest of the night pressed up against her back with his hands spread and grasping the pale flesh of her bare thighs.

***

Then all of a sudden he’s absent for over a week. He just stops showing. She hasn’t needed to see him for anything business-related either so she can’t even check on him without being obvious. Beth is reluctant to admit it, but she’s worried.

It takes two more restless nights making it closer to two weeks now, before he finally shows up again, and there are circles under his eyes so dark and so deep Beth almost mistakes them for bruises.

He changes out of his clothes and into the pajamas she has still been laying out for him without saying a word, and Beth doesn’t even pretend she isn’t watching.

“What happened to you?” she asks him once he’s lying down in bed facing her. “Where have you been?” she tries again when he just presses his face forward and buries it into her neck. “I’m serious, talk to me,” she says, putting a hand out and pushing him back so they are looking each other in the eye.

Rio considers her for a moment, quiet in his contemplation, and Beth is almost positive he isn’t going to answer her.

“Turns out I’ve got my own rotten egg that needs dealing with,” he whispers to her reluctantly. He lets out a breathy chuckle after that, but she can tell there is no humor in it.

“Is it bad?” she whispers, ignoring his attempts to play this down.

“I’m handling it,” he says, his jaw clenched.

They’re familiar words to her now with an all too sinister meaning.

“So that’s what you’ve been doing this past week?” she asks him cautiously, her eyes looking away from his for a moment in discomfort.

He doesn’t answer her until she looks back up at him.

“That’s what I’ve been doing for weeks now,” he says and he sounds exhausted at the reminder.

She looks at him curiously, clearly confused at what would be taking up weeks of his time. He’d made the whole thing sound kind of simple in the past when he suggested she take care of her own rotten egg.

He seems to read her thoughts.

“I’m just trying to figure out the extent of the damage,” Rio says through a sigh. “My rotten egg’s been around for a while. Came up with him through the years.”

And then Beth gets it. Then Beth understands what’s really going on. Why he looks so tired and defeated every time she sees him.

This is not about what some rotten egg has done to betray him, though she is sure that that’s all Rio’s going to be willing to admit to. This is about who that rotten egg was and what they meant to him. This was someone he trusted. This is a betrayal that pains him.

“You were close then?” she asks knowingly.

Rio purses his lips as if he’s going to shut her down and tell her it’s none of her business, but then he just gives in and nods, his face miserable.

“I guess you haven’t been sleeping all that well since you found out, huh?” she says, running a finger down his cheek.

His eyes close almost immediately and he doesn’t answer her.

It doesn’t matter though, it’s not a question that needs answering. Beth already knows that she’s right. She is making sense of it all now. She still isn’t sure how this turned into him showing up here to sleep. But at least she’s figured out what triggered it.

Beth is pulled from her thoughts when she feels his fingers at her wrist, taking hold of her hand and pulling it away from his face, holding it between them.

“You’re not going to go rotten on me, are you darlin’?” he quietly asks her.

The question takes her aback, because although his voice is gentle his eyes are speaking volumes, something dark and desolate brewing.

“No. Never,” she says to him and means it.

He scoffs. “How can you know?”

“Because we’ve already been there before,” she says, and she can tell he knows what she’s referring to. “I already tried to get rid of the king and I couldn’t do it. We’ve been through those motions together. It’s done.”

He looks away from her after that, rolling onto his back so he can let out another one of his humorless chuckles, finally releasing her hand so he can scrub his own over his face.

“I’m just so tired of it,” she hears him mumble from beneath his hand.

Beth can’t stand the sound of it.

She moves closer to him, pulling his hand away from his face the same way he had just done to her, and replacing it with her fingers again. He goes limp in response, his head lolling towards her.

Briefly, she wonders if she could ever do this to him in an argument. Just run a hand along his face as he spits venom at her and watch him melt. She doubts it’d work outside of this room. His guard is never lowered the same way it is when he’s in her bed. But she finds the thought endearing.

When she stops her movements and lets her hand rest against his cheek, he finally opens his eyes again. And the look he gives her is just so pitiful.

She wants to erase that look and they’re so close now that it’s just so easy when she leans forward and kisses him.

It’s slow and sweet just like their first ones, but he is immediately breathless, audibly so, and Beth realizes just how much control she has in this. It sort of takes her aback at just how shaky his pants are into her mouth as she breaks away from him. Dean was never so affected.

She kisses him again, but only once, pulling back just a little to watch just how his brow furrows in frustration before he's pressing forward to capture her mouth with his again.

Beth guessed that Rio would be a passionate lover, long before she ever got to experience it. It was something about just how fiery and biting he could be when he spoke to her that made her so sure of the intensity he would bring to the bedroom. But she always imagined it to be in a very controlled and demanding sort of way, full of want. The reality is just so different. Rio isn’t controlled or demanding. He is desperate and pliant, overwhelmed by need.

It’s what makes it sometimes feel like this is more than just desires been satiated. It’s what makes her stomach twist and her heart clench beneath her ribcage whenever he’s around. It’s what has her letting him crawl into her bed at night.

And as his kisses become more insistent and burning, it’s what has her deciding to run a hand down his heaving chest and into those cheap pajama pants she can’t believe he actually wears.

Rio pulls away and gasps against her mouth when she wraps her fingers around him. He’s already half hard. Just from her mouth on his. It honestly gets her off knowing just how attracted he is to her. She can feel her own body reacting. But this isn’t about her right now.

Her pace is slow and deliberate, dragging her small hand back and forth along his smooth cock. Rio’s hips are rolling in time with her, not quite thrusting, just flexing against her, body tensing at every flick of her wrist. He keeps his forehead pressed against hers, his mouth attempting to kiss her still in between his groans, and Beth just watches and licks at his thick bottom lip as he struggles.

It doesn’t take long. Rio was already so exhausted. She feels it when it hits him. His whole body going rigid next to her, his breath hitching in his throat before he finally finds his release.

Rio isn’t particularly loud when he comes. Even when he’s just shouting in an argument it isn’t so much the volume of his voice but the rumble deep in his chest that resonates. And so it’s the sound of that rumble that precedes the feeling of cum spilling onto her hand.

Rio’s eyes stay squeezed closed as he tries to come back down from it, and Beth takes the opportunity to reach over to her bedside table and grab a tissue to clean her hand off with, throwing it carelessly to the floor afterwards to worry about tomorrow.

When she turns back to him, he’s still panting against his pillow, obviously wrecked, but dark eyes opened and trying to focus on her through hooded lids. He reaches for her, hand going to her hip and moving to the waistband of her pants, but Beth blocks him, catching his wrist.

“Not tonight,” she says to him. “That was just for you. Sleep now,” she insists as he holds her gaze unsure. “You’ve got business to take care of tomorrow and we can’t have a tired king.”

He gives her the slightest, smallest smile at that and she smiles with him. Then his head sinks heavily back into the pillows and he finally closes his eyes for the night.

Beth considers it a win and shifts herself until she is pressed against his chest, an arm coming across to rest next to his head on the pillow, bending at the elbow to splay a hand gently against his forehead, blanketing him, protecting him.

They stay like that for the night and in the morning he has to shift her off him in order to leave, consequently waking her. But he kisses her softly while she’s still in a sleepy haze as he does it. So she doesn’t mind.

Even if it had bothered her, he makes up for it when he spends the next night with his head between her legs for so long she thinks she’s going to pass out. When her third orgasm rips through she has to physically push him away before she starts sobbing from the overwhelming ‘too much, too soon’ feeling sparking through her.

He relents easily and falls asleep with his head pillowed against her thigh like it’s nothing. Beth spends the rest of the night just trying to remember how to breathe.

***

Things return relatively back to normal after that. He’s once again showing up at her house most nights and he no longer looks like he’s walking around dead on his feet. There are some differences now though, like sometimes she’s treated with a press of lips to her temple or a few more lingering ones to her lips before they fall asleep next to each other, and he’s even somewhat acknowledging it when they see other during the day too.

One time, after her and Annie meet up with him to hand over the cash they’ve just washed he says, “okay, I’ve got stuff to do but I’ll see you tonight,” before walking off.

It earns her a very judgmental look from Annie, but Beth just plays it off as them following up on something business-related later in the day. She feels stupid for lying, but if she can’t explain it to herself yet, she’s certainly not going to try and explain what’s been going on to Annie.

But it’s progress. She’s not sure if it’s good progress considering she doesn’t know what this is supposed to be evolving into, but progress none the less.

There’s also that other difference though. Probably the main, more major difference that does not feel like progress, more like a step backwards as far as Beth and her addiction is concerned.

They really shouldn’t be doing it. It’s just going to complicate things even more and there’s a million reasons why it’s such a bad idea. But it keeps happening.

One moment they’ll be in bed lying next to each other, Beth even managing to coax some small talk out of him, and in the next he’ll just unbutton her pajama shirt and start mouthing at the swell of her breasts. He keeps talking to her while he does it too, nipple in his mouth, telling her to go on.

He’s an asshole and they both know it. But he’s a thorough asshole that loves to take his time with her, draw the pleasure out slow and unrelenting. At first they only use their mouths or hands or his goddamn, long and thick fingers that she can’t believe how hard he can make her come on, but they don’t go all the way.

Until they do.

One night she wakes up with him pressed up against her back, hard and panting, and she just shoves down at her pajamas and underwear until Rio catches on and does the same with his own. She is already wet and ready for him and he fucks her hard from behind, coming inside her with his arms pulling her back against his chest, cupping her full breasts in both his hands.

They go straight back to sleep after. And even though Beth wakes the next morning alone in sticky sheets, she can’t help the grin that spreads across her face as she changes over the bed linen.

It bleeds over into their daily lives after that too. All it takes is a particularly heated argument between them with Rio telling her what she cannot do and Beth telling him he is too controlling, and he winds up fucking her in the backseat of her mama van in the empty parking lot of a P.F Chang’s. The irony is not lost on either of them.

Beth thinks that there’ll be repercussions. That now that their intimacy is no longer limited to just her bedroom, things might start to change between them and they’ll finally properly talk about it. But instead he just relents and lets her go ahead with her proposed plan, and then comes over later that night to do it all over again in her bed.

It finally comes to a head one afternoon when Dean is nearly an hour late for a change over with the kids. It’s his weekend and they were supposed to meet at the park so he could take them back to his brand new, bachelor pad of an apartment from there.

Beth is annoyed. He’d been becoming increasingly difficult to deal with of late. Barely speaking to her, scoffing under his breath at every little thing that she suggests. To her credit, she’s been doing her best to just let it go, wanting to keep the peace and avoid giving Dean any reason to lash out at her again.

She is going to want to make this separation official someday soon and she doesn’t want Dean suddenly deciding he knows what’s best for the family and fighting her for custody. He knows too much and if the courts had to compare their track records she is no longer sure who would come out on top as the better parent; the cheating, lying deadbeat dad, or the thieving, criminal, drug dealer mom.

But as soon as he shows up there is just something about the way he strolls over to her, barely acknowledging her or how late he is that just gets under her skin.

“You were supposed to be here an hour ago,” Beth says to him, unable to help herself.

He’s got his phone in his hand and is moving his fingers over the screen like he’s texting someone and pauses to look over at her with disinterest.

“Yeah, I know, sorry about that. Things are just hectic at the moment with the move and all,” he says, brushing her off and going back to staring at his phone, the same phone he couldn’t be bothered using to let her know he was running late in the first place.

Beth has to take a deep breath in to steady herself, lest she abandon all attempts at civility and snap the damn thing out of his hand and across the pavement.

“Look Dean,” Beth starts calmly. “I know things aren’t easy right now and we’re all still adjusting. But can we at least try and keep things cordial between us, for the kids? I’m not saying we have to be the best of friends, but just keeping each other in the loop so we know what’s going on will make all this a lot easier on everyone.”

Dean finally puts his phone away then, but turns to glare at her.

“You know that’s pretty rich coming from you, lecturing me about keeping things civil when you’re the one sending your gangbanger boyfriend ‘round to intimidate me into getting what you want.”

Beth stops. She just stops.

“What?” she asks slowly. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb with me Beth. Rio. You had him threaten me so I wouldn’t take the kids again,” Dean explains. “I mean, do you know how humiliating it is to find out your wife is leaving you through the guy she’s been fucking behind your back?”

Beth stares at him dumbfounded. Speechless.

“You really didn’t know?” Dean asks, reading her expression. “He came to the office the night before you kicked me out. Told me if I took the kids from you again, he would take my teeth! Fucking animal,” Dean sneers.

She’s pretty sure he starts listing other less than favorable names for him after that too, but she is no longer listening.

Beth remembers talking to Rio that day. The day before she told Dean it was over between them. They’d been at the bar, she’d been distracted, Rio had been annoyed. She’d only been back working with him for a couple of weeks then and knew it was only so long she could balance business with her Stepford wife routine she had going on at home for Dean. It just wasn’t her anymore, probably never had been and it felt demoralizing. That’s when she knew she had to leave him. For her sake. For the kids’ sake. And she had told Rio as much.

Drinks were on him, he’d cheers’d her, asked if she’d wanted a chardonnay. But she couldn’t match his enthusiasm and he’d asked her about it and so stupidly, Beth had confided in him. She actually confided in him and told him how she was scared of Dean, scared that maybe he’d take her kids again and then she’d be in the same position she was in when she had to leave the first time.

Rio didn’t say anything in response, offered no words of wisdom, and Beth hadn’t really expected him to anyhow so she didn’t think much of it. He just confirmed times with her for the next day’s drop-offs and left her alone.

Beth assumed he’d forgotten about it the second he’d walked out the door to do his own thing. But obviously he hadn’t. Obviously, he’d instead decided to take matters into his own hands and seek the source of her problems out himself.

Beth had managed to calmly walk away from Dean and back to her car, but now her hands are shaking as she grips the steering wheel she is so angry. She can’t believe Rio went to Dean behind her back. She can’t believe he threatened him. If it was business, then that’d be no surprise, but messing with her family? Since when did he start thinking it was okay to interfere with her personal life like that?

Rio knew how precarious the situation between Dean and her was. He knew how devastated she’d been when she’d come home to a house so empty. How could he risk escalating things further with Dean by threatening him with violence? Especially over the topic of her children? It could have easily backfired. It could have easily pushed Dean to retaliate before she even had a fighting chance.

Beth is getting herself more and more worked up as she drives herself over to the bar. It’s late enough on a Friday afternoon that he’s probably going to be there. If not now, then some time later, and she’s willing to wait.

When she storms through the doors she immediately goes over to their usual spot by the bar. He isn’t there and the place is packed enough that she can’t really scan the room easily, but it only takes a few more steps further into the crowd, weaving around the other patrons before she does catch sight of him over in the corner talking to some guy she doesn’t recognize.

Beth doesn’t even hesitate.

“You had no right!” she launches at him as soon as she’s close enough.

The man he’s talking to him startles in shock, glancing at Rio wide-eyed and back at a fury-fueled Beth. But Beth ignores him, eyes on Rio who, to his credit, only looks her over calmly.

“Can you excuse me for a minute?” Rio says to his companion.

The man nods. “Yeah, that’s fine. Take your time,” he says, eyeing Beth warily again in a way that makes her want to roll her eyes.

Rio gives the man a friendly pat on the arm before he moves past him and focuses on Beth, eyes meeting hers in a steely gaze, his mouth leering.

Beth doesn’t falter as he grabs onto her hand and drags her through the crowd, towards the bathrooms they once fucked in, but then further down the hall to a side door that leads out into the next-door alley.

He drops her hand and turns to face her now that they’re alone, regarding her coolly as he folds his arms across his chest to look her up and down.

“You want to tell me what’s going on sweetheart?” he asks mockingly.

“Do not call me that,” Beth snipes back, caressing the hand he’d just been holding as if scorched. “You went to Dean that night after I told you I was leaving him. You threatened to ‘take his teeth’,” Beth uses air quotes, “if he tried to take the kids again.”

Rio’s jaw tenses but other than that, he keeps his expression neutral.

“Yeah, so what?” he replies, trying for indifference, but his words are too clipped.

“So what?” Beth repeats, practically seething. “He thought I sent you there. He thought that instead of us separating on amicable terms and continuing to co-parent our children in the healthiest way possible, that I was sending you ‘round to threaten to beat the shit out of him if he didn’t agree to everything I say.”

Rio shrugs at her.

“I didn’t tell him that. He assumed that part all on his own.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Beth yells at him. “Why would you go ahead and do it in the first place? Dean and I were at a ceasefire. We were good with each other. And I was trying so hard to keep it that way and not give him any more ammunition to use against me than he already has, and you go ahead and show up like a goddamn loaded gun.”

“He’s playing nice now though, ain’t he?” Rio counters.

“I don’t give a shit if he’s playing nice right now,” Beth fires back. “You had no way of knowing when you went down there that he wasn’t going to just turn around and take them again anyway, simply because you pissed him off.”

“I had a pretty good idea.” And he looks smug. He actually looks smug.

“Is this all amusing to you?” Beth asks him. “Dean gave me an ultimatum, it was you or my kids. And finally when I get them back, you show up on his doorstep threatening to kick his teeth in.”

“Did he try and take your kids again though, after I did what I did?” Rio asks, advancing on her now, arms falling to his sides as he towers over her. “Or did he roll over and do what he ought to? I don’t know what you’re complaining about here mami. You’ve been playing happy families just fine ever since.”

“You took a risk,” Beth says to him, refusing to be affected by his proximity. “You went behind my back and interfered with my personal business and took a risk that wasn’t yours to take.”

“What do you want me to say?” Rio asks, clearly frustrated now. “You were telling me you had a problem and I made a choice to fix it.”

“Why? Why would you do that?” Beth asks, exasperated.

“You said it yourself, you were dumping his ass and there was a chance he was going to mess with you again. I decided to get ahead of it.”

Beth stares at him for a moment, her brain ticking over, trying to work him out.

Rio is not the kind of man that does something without a specific goal in mind. Rio’s a businessman, every move is strategic. She thinks about the conversation they had inside the bar that day, how she told him Dean taking the kids was what had her leaving in the first place.

“Were you worried about him messing with me again?” she asks slowly. “Or were you worried about him messing with the work that I do for you?”

Rio opens his mouth like he’s going to answer her, but then he closes it again and just stares at her.

Beth lets a bitter huff escape her mouth, looking to the sky for a moment before speaking again. Because of course. How could Beth have forgotten? This is just business.

“I knew it,” she says, oddly calm despite the storm of emotions swirling inside of her chest. “You didn’t do it for me. You don’t give a shit about what happens to me or if I get to keep my kids. You did it to ensure I wouldn’t leave again.”

Beth nods to herself, letting her own realization sink in and Rio does nothing to dissuade her.

“I mean, I knew how manipulative you could be but for some reason I didn’t think…” Beth lets her sentence peter out.

She isn’t even really talking to Rio anymore, she’s making it clear to herself just how fucking stupid she’s been.

“You think I’m manipulative?” Rio snaps suddenly, pulling her attention back to him. “You’re the one that took me to your bed, only to tell me we were done the second you got what you needed.”

Beth nods, seeing him clearly for the first time in months, biting her lip to cover the trembling.

“You’re right,” she says to him, forcing the words out evenly despite the clawing feeling in her throat. “That was a mistake. So was everything else since. Don’t show up at my house tonight. Or any night. You’re no longer welcome.”

Beth leaves him in the alley after that.

***

This isn’t some messy break up and Beth isn’t some little girl who just got her heart broken. This isn’t a cause for crying on the couch or the destroying of furniture or too many drinks with the girls. This is nothing because it meant nothing and Beth is fine.

She shows up to meet him for cash drops or to iron out any details the same as she always has and she is fine. She may insist on taking Ruby or Annie with her every time, even when he only texts her and it’s at their spot at the bar and everyone seems confused as to what they’re all doing there. But she is fine.

Rio’s fine too. Doesn’t fight it. Just does as she asks and stops showing up at the house much to her relief. If Beth does spend the first week or two waking up to every creak and thump in the night expecting him to be there, that’s just a natural reaction to a sudden change in routine.

And if she may have noticed that Rio’s got that exhausted, hollow look about him again every time she sees him, and that it could be an argument to the fact that he may not have come out of this completely unaffected, Beth refuses to acknowledge it.

Even when Ruby and Annie start commenting about how tired he looks, Annie going as far as to crack a joke in front of him about not getting enough sleep and ‘who’s the babe?’ Beth does her best to pretend she didn’t hear it.

She doesn’t care anymore anyway. She doesn’t want anything to do with him. She’s sick of everything always having to be on his terms. She’s sick of this cat and mouse game he’s always forcing her to play, trying to get ahead yet always remaining four moves behind. She’s sick of being a goddamn good sport. She’s done.

She can’t actually quit the business side of things, she likes it too much to do that again, but she can refuse to participate in everything else.

He tries to step closer to her when his boys step off to the side to count the cash, she immediately retreats back between Ruby and Annie. He tries to single her out and tease and make fun of her during a lull in the conversation, she ignores him and changes the subject. He tries to catch her eyes and stare her down, she refuses to even look his way.

Beth is stone cold. An unwavering force. And Rio is trying his best to reckon with it.

Ignoring him so much means most of his reactions to her behavior are now being caught and studied by Ruby and Annie, and they won’t stop pestering her about it. They find the shift in dynamic alarming.

“Sweetie, that boy is doing everything he can right now to get your attention,” Ruby tells her.

Beth just dismisses her.

“Honestly Beth, he spends the whole time just staring at you and I can’t tell if he wants to like, murder you and cut you up into a million pieces serial killer style, or just fuck you right there and then in front of everyone,” a comment from Annie, always more colorful than necessary.

Beth tells her she's just reading into things.

They don’t believe her though, especially when she starts letting them take the lead whenever they’re in talks with him or trying to negotiate terms. Which they hate because they can never get anywhere with Rio because he does spend most of the time just staring at her, not even trying to hide his annoyance when Ruby or Annie speak and divert his attention.

But Beth isn’t budging. She sees no reason to. Rio’s just put out at the moment because he can no longer get a rise out of her, because he's so used to her being a convenience for him. She’s sure he’ll get over it and lose interest soon enough. Move on to something else.

But then late one night her doorbell rings and she changes her mind.

Beth’s in bed already, it’s around midnight and she almost thinks she’s imagined the sound until she hears it ring again.

She gets up slowly, only in panties in a bra because now that she has the house to herself every second weekend, she sometimes drinks too much bourbon and gets as far as taking the first layer of clothes off before collapsing into bed. It’s a similar situation to the day drinking.

Beth stumbles as her left foot gets caught in the sheets a little, scrambling to steady herself and searching the floor for where she dumped her clothes before settling on what she finds strewn next to her on the bed.

She’s blinking her eyes open as she walks to the door, eyelashes catching from failing to take her mascara off before rubbing at an eye. When she opens the door she immediately sobers, whatever bourbon still left in her system no longer warming her as the sight of the man who was behind her having so much of it in the first place sends a shiver down her spine.

Rio stands in front of her dressed head to toe in his usual black jeans and black shirt, an added black beanie on his head and his hands buried in the pockets of his also, shock horror, black coat he’s put on to fight the prominent chill in the air. He looks good. Tired, but good.

Beth steels herself.

“It’s late,” she says dismissively. “What are you doing here?”

Rio doesn’t answer, just stares at her quietly, jaw clenching, obviously unimpressed with her tone, obviously under the impression she would make this easy for him.

Beth rolls her eyes and moves to shut the door on him because why shouldn’t she? And it finally triggers a reaction from him as he steps forward and throws an arm out, catching it before she can close it all the way.

He glares at her. She returns one of her own in full.

Beth can tell when Rio realizes that she has no intention of caving or backing down and that’s when he decides to break away from their little staring contest and try a different tactic.

He looks out into the darkness of the street and scans their surroundings, as is habit before he tells her anything important, but he doesn’t move his hand from the door, keeping it ajar, obviously worried that she’s going to try and shut it on him again.

Good, Beth thinks, because that’s exactly what she plans to do the moment he lets up.

“Can we talk?” he eventually asks once he’s looking back at her.

Beth shakes her head at him.

“No, we can’t. Is it business-related?” she questions, steaming ahead and not waiting for an answer. “If so, just text me the details and the girls and I will handle it from there. But other than that, we don’t have anything to say to each other.”

Rio scoffs at her, shaking his head, his free hand scrubbing over his face in frustration.

He opens his mouth to respond to her but the sound of a car approaching grabs both their attention. Beth watches as the couple who live next door stumble out of a taxi together and into their driveway, automatic light sensors picking up on the movement and shining a light over them, stretching to the edges of the yard.

They’re chatting and laughing as they wander up the driveway, clearly a few drinks in, but then the wife catches sight of Beth at her door and her steps falter. She starts waving and moving in their direction like she’s going to come over.

Beth and her are friendly enough, and she is certainly drunk enough right now, that it isn’t that unusual for her to come over and say hello at such an odd hour of the night, but Beth is too aware that in the morning, when she sobers, it will occur to her that is unusual for Beth to be having tall, dark and handsome visitors over her house at such a time.

She’s far enough away that Beth is confident she probably can’t make out who is standing at her door, might even just assume it’s Dean, but Rio looks at her expectantly all the same.

“Shit,” Beth mumbles, looking between her neighbor and Rio one last time before she is stepping aside and letting him come in.

She pauses before closing the door behind him to shoot a placating wave at her neighbors, fake smile plastered across her face as she yells out for them to have a good night. She hopes she doesn’t have to bluff her way through any curious questions the next time they run into each other.

Rio’s made his way inside the house and into the kitchen by the time Beth’s following. He plants himself in front of the sink and leans back against the counter comfortably, Beth feeling at a disadvantage standing awkwardly on the other side.

Rio doesn’t say anything because of course he doesn’t. So Beth starts.

“Why are you here?” Beth asks, repeating her earlier question.

“You know why,” Rio answers carefully.

Beth shakes her head at him.

“Actually no, I don’t know why. There could be any number of reasons why you’re here and I’m not in the mood to guess. So just say it.”

“For fucks sake Elizabeth, would you just-,” Rio’s words start out angry but he catches himself, taking a deep breath and trying again. “Elizabeth. Please. I can’t-” Rio pauses, pursing his lips and looking away from her.

When he looks back up, something in his face changes, and the soft Rio from her bedroom emerges.

“I can’t sleep properly without you anymore.”

And there it is, an admission of sorts, gentle and soothing. But Beth doesn’t melt the way she may have weeks earlier.

“Why?” she asks him instead, no longer willing to let him get away with giving so little and asking for so much.

“I don’t know why.”

Beth isn’t even disappointed, she’s just tired of it.

“Yeah, I don’t really have time for this, so if that’s all you came to say, you can go.”

Beth moves to leave the room and Rio quickly rounds the kitchen counter to follow.

“No,” Beth says, gesturing with her hands out in front of her, stopping him before he can get close to her. “No,” she says again.

Because that is not happening. Beth’s resolve is already teetering on the precipice with something she’s been suppressing since they fought in the alley that day threatening to spill over. She can’t have him in her space if she wants to continue to ignore it.

Rio’s face takes on a pinched expression and he gets that vicious curl to his lip like he’s about to say something cruel, but then something changes and his eyes are instead searching the length of her body and the vicious curl turns into a soft smile.

Beth looks at him confused and glances down at herself to see what it is that is so amusing, and that’s when she notices the clothes that she’s wearing. They’re his. Sort of. They’re the pajamas she bought for him however long ago. Like a sentimental fool she hadn’t moved them from where they’d been left out on his pillow, and in her hurry to answer the door they’d been the first thing she could get her hands on.

She feels her cheeks tinge red and it feels like her mismatched socks all over again. She pushes through it though, just like she did then too.

“You should leave,” she says, clearing her throat, attempting to sound confident and refusing to explain herself.

But the embarrassment is already setting in and she can feel herself starting to crumble.

This still isn’t some messy break up and she still isn’t some little girl who just got her heart broken, but fuck that if it means it isn’t supposed to hurt. It hurts somewhere deep and it hurts something profound, and she still feels just so stupid that she ever trusted him in the first place.

“Elizabeth-”

And so that’s all it takes. Her name on his lips, always sounding so intimate and caressing, striking like the simple pull of a trigger.

“Leave!” she yells at him before he can continue. “Just leave!”

The words come out high and frantic and she can feel the tears brimming at the edges of her eyes.

Rio goes quiet in response and for once he actually has the decency to look shocked.

“I don’t know what you want from me, why you’re always here,” she says, voice shaking. “Is it because there’s no one else?” she asks. “Because I don’t believe that. There’s no way you don’t have other younger, prettier options waiting for you. Is it because you think I'm a sure thing? Because I am not that. I am not some bored housewife desperate for the attention, willing to be the passive little woman by your side whenever you decide you need it and ignoring the fact you treat me like shit when you don’t. I spent twenty years with a lying, cheating husband that thought the same and I am not letting it happen again. Not for anyone.”

Beth’s voice is hitching and the tears have started to trace freely down her face, taking her mascara with it and she scrubs furiously at her cheeks to erase the evidence.

Rio just watches her silently.

Beth takes in a deep breath trying to get her breathing back under control and suddenly she’s never felt so exhausted.

“Please, Rio,” she says, quietly this time. “Please just go.”

There’s another beat of silence before Rio finally speaks up.

“I’m here because you’re here,” he starts. “I’m here because I don’t give a fuck about other options.” He takes a step towards her. “I’m here because you’re not a sure thing, yet you’re the only thing that I am sure of these days.” Then another. “I’m here because you ain’t just some bored, pretty little housewife. You’re a boss bitch who’ll throw keys at my face and rat me out to the Feds and let me fuck them in mama vans or against bathroom walls while on a date with your lying, cheating husband who I cannot fucking stand.” He’s so close now. “And I’m here because I do not want to give that up again.” He’s right in front of her now. “Not for anyone.”

His effect on her is immediate. As soon as Rio is in her space she can never think straight. Her heart always moves to her throat and her eyes feel heavy-lidded as she tries to look him in the eyes and not at his mouth right there in front of her.

Because it’s not that simple.

“Why did you go to Dean, Rio?” she asks quietly, sadly.

She wants to believe everything he’s saying to her. She wants to believe that she actually means something to him. But how is she supposed to do that if she doesn’t even believe him capable of putting her needs above his own? No, not above, even just next to his own.

“Dean hates you,” she continues. “He hates you just as much as you hate him. And he’s jealous. And he’s petty. He could have taken them from me again just to spite you and I wouldn’t have blamed him,” Beth searches his eyes. “I’m sorry Rio, but if I have to choose between you and my kids, it’s going to be my kids, every time.”

Rio nods slowly.

“I know,” he says, looking down at the floor between them. “And that's why I did it.” He looks back up at her, eyes wide and honest. “I didn’t know how else to make you stay, and I lost my cool, and I didn’t think it all the way through.”

Beth can’t imagine Rio losing his cool. He’s gotten angry at her and lashed out before, but he’s still always been in control. Even when she turned him into the FBI he hadn’t lost his cool at her. He’d focused that on Dean. Sometimes she wonders what that must have looked like, Rio all blood and bare knuckles, wild and dangerous. Dean fought back that night too, got a few hits in, and she just knows Rio found some wicked kind of pleasure in returning the favor.

So, she does believe him when he says he lost it at Dean again. Beth used to lose it at Dean all the time when they were together. And if it weren’t for the fact her children were involved, Beth may have found some wicked kind of pleasure in Rio threatening her soon to be ex-husband too.

Beth eventually gives him a nod to show she understands, she even allows the slightest smile to find its way to her lips.

“You were right the other day,” Rio says. “When you said I didn’t do it for you, that’s true,” he concedes, expression concerned. “But I didn’t do it for the business side of things either. I did it for me. I was being selfish.”

He reaches up a hand and pushes her hair away from her eyes and holds it there for a moment before dragging it down the side of her face.

“I don’t like not being able to see you.”

Beth closes her eyes while he touches her, only now connecting the way he likes to touch her face with the way he insists on her doing it to him when they’re safely in bed at night. She always thought it was something she should never do outside of her bedroom with him, but it turns out he’s been letting his guard down and extending this kind of intimacy between them long before she realized what it meant.

Beth reaches up her hand and returns the favor, running her fingers over his cheek softly.

“So, what do we do now then?” Beth asks.

Rio blinks at her slowly a couple of times before chewing at his bottom lip.

“Can we agree that next time you want to kick my husband’s teeth in, you run it by me first?” Beth asks, flashing him a teasing smile.

“Yeah, yes,” he says, letting out a small chuckle. “We can do that. Can we agree that from now on you never let Annie handle any of the negotiations? If she’s not making innuendos, she’s staring me down all mad or somethin’ like I stole your virtue.”

Beth openly laughs at that, not really finding his comments all that fair since he hardly tries to be subtle about his attraction to her in front of her baby sister. Beth would be glaring at him too if it were the other way around.

She nods her head though and agrees, considering how much of a shit he’s been to Ruby and Annie when they’ve tried to work with him lately.

They share a smile with each other, until Beth breaks out into a yawn.

“Sorry,” she says quietly. “Tired.”

Rio nods, but his smile has disappeared and he’s watching her intently, face purposely neutral.

Beth knows what he wants. It’s the whole reason he showed up to her house at midnight in the first place. She finds it fascinating to see him like this, unsure and waiting for her to guide him in the right direction. She is so sure right now that if she were to walk him to the front door and wish him a goodnight, he’d politely do the same and leave.

Instead though, she grabs his hand and takes him to her bedroom.

He’s still fully dressed and Beth realizes that if he’s going to be comfortable, she’s going to need to give him his pajamas back.

“I should probably…” she starts saying, gesturing and fiddling with the bottom of the t-shirt.

Rio strides over to her and grabs the fabric from her fingers, helping to pull it over her head. Her bra comes into full view in front of him, and he doesn’t move to touch but he isn’t shy about looking either, staring at her chest as he starts to pull his pajama pants from her legs, only looking away to eye her panties.

Once she’s out of the pajamas and Rio has them safely in hand, she leaves him to undress and walks over to her chest of drawers, searching for an old t-shirt to throw on. She finds one, a soft grey in shade, and turns back towards him as she starts unfolding it slowly, watching as a now shirtless Rio, pulls his own t-shirt over his head.

His fingers move to the button of his jeans when he notices her eyes on him, and all movements cease when he sees her reach behind and unclasp her bra, slipping it down her shoulders and letting it drop to the ground.

He can only watch as she reaches up to slide her t-shirt on. He can only start moving again once her breasts are covered and she’s tip-toeing over to the bed.

He makes quick work getting his jeans off and his pajama pants on, pulling the covers back so he can press in next to her, as close as possible, forehead coming to rest against hers and breathing out a sigh that can only be described as full of relief.

She watches him, eyes soft, and when he meets her gaze it feels like it always does, like he’s seeing something in her no one else ever has.

“I am sorry,” he whispers to her.

She smiles. After all that he never did get around to saying the actual words, but she knew what he meant.

“I know,” she tells him, cupping his face in her hands and nodding against him, kissing him.

Again, so quickly, she makes him breathless, kissing her back slow and languid through rasping breaths, his bottom lip dragging over her mouth in a way she feels between her legs.

Turns out it was pointless in them switching clothes, because within minutes they’re both naked and he’s on top of her, trailing kisses over her breasts and down her stomach. He wants to go down on her, he always wants to go down on her, but that’s not what she wants right now.

She wants him inside her and his mouth on hers and she grabs at him to try and put him where she needs it most, and Rio just lets her, hips lining up with hers and kissing her through it when he slowly slides into her wet center.

It’s been so long that it feels like too much and although his thrusts start out slow, like he’s trying to savor it, it quickly turns frantic when she wraps her legs around his waist and starts slamming her hips down onto him. She can’t help it. She’s been pretending for so long that his absence hasn’t affected her, that now that he’s here with her again, she feels overwhelmed by it.

Rio seems to sense it in her, sitting up and leaning back to rest on his knees, an arm winding its way beneath her and lifting her up just that little bit so she’s arching up off the mattress, splayed out before him so he can watch her unravel.

And she does, head thrown back against the mattress, full breasts bouncing every time he thrusts into her, one of her hands trailing down over her stomach to her clit.

Rio grabs at it before she can get into any rhythm, and she thinks he’s either doing it to tease or to replace it with his own. Instead he’s bringing her fingers to his mouth, simultaneously tasting her and coating her fingers with his spit so he can guide her hand down the length of her body and back between her legs.

Beth moans loudly at the gesture and as a thank you, she reaches for him with her free hand to tug him back down to her by his shoulder, finding his lips again and chasing the flavor on his tongue. They’re still kissing when Rio starts to come, panting into her mouth as his hips begin to jerk out of rhythm.

Now he does push her hand aside to take over circling her clit. The press of his fingers so firm and insistent that she’s tumbling over the edge, following straight after him.

Her orgasm hits her hard and fast and as the waves of pleasure wash over her, she pulses around him, causing him to let out a strangled groan as he continues to spill inside her.

They collapse against each other once it’s over, Rio half on top of her, an arm across her chest and a leg resting between her thighs, fingers tangled in strawberry blonde locks, anchoring her to the bed. They fall asleep like that too.

When she wakes in the morning, he’s still there, breathing softly next to her. At first she thinks maybe he hadn’t meant to sleep in so late, that maybe this is just a tired mistake. But then his fingers shift in her hair and she feels his hand trailing over her face before settling against her cheek as he falls back to sleep. So Beth does too.

She’ll be woken again some time later by that same hand trailing over her someplace very different, and even though she still feels exhausted after last night, she’ll let him go down on her this time. She’s a good sport like that.