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My Regards to Soul and Romance

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Daine lost her virginity at age fifteen to a perfectly nice boy named Farant when they were both in the same group home for a few months. He'd been flirtatious and decently attractive, and she'd been curious. She'd liked the kissing well enough, and the sex was a little painful, but fine. Nothing she was rushing to do again, not with Farant, but she'd thought someday it might be nice to do it more with someone she cared about.

There had been other boys had flirted with her during her freshman year of college, and she'd even gone on a few dates, but no one had really captured her attention. Then she found out about Numair, and suddenly all she could think about was how much she'd like to try all those things again, with him.

"Not that I'm--" she tells Miri, a week after her birthday, when her roommate finally gets a chance to call her. "It's not like that's all I want."

"No, no, I get it," says Miri, laughing. "I met your hot TA! I'd be thinking about that all the time too."

"He's fair sweet," Daine says, sighing. "He likes touching me and kissing and all, but it's driving me out of my mind that he won't go any farther! I don't understand it. I asked Alanna, she's one of his best friends, but she didn't really have much advice. Just told me to take off all my clothes and see if that helped."

Miri snickers. "Well, it might."

Daine smiles. "It might at that. I don't know. I should be grateful he's so thoughtful, but it's hard to feel grateful when I'm so frustrated. If I'd known it would take so long for him to ready to sleep with me, I would have made a move sooner. It's not as if it was illegal for him to be kissing me when I was seventeen."

"Have you told him that?"

"Yes! He says I deserve something special." She sighs again. "Fair sweet, like I said. But I'm about ready to throttle him." She glances down at her watch. "And I'm supposed to be meeting him, I'd better go."

"Okay!" says Miri. "Happy birthday! I miss you. Keep me posted on the hot TA situation. I don't get to check my email that often, but I want to know if you smack some sense into him ASAP."

Daine laughs. "Will do. Miss you too. Have fun biking a million miles a day."

"I will."

Daine doesn't really have sexy clothes. Most of what she owns is second-hand stuff she bought from Goodwill; she doesn't go to dress-up events very often, and she's outside or with animals so much that she never wants to wear anything she can't get dirty. She was not really prepared for a boyfriend. He's already seen the one cute dress she owns.

Then, she remembers Alanna's dress, the one she borrowed a few weeks back and has been forgetting to return. It doesn't fit her exactly right, Alanna being both shorter and broader than she is, but it shows off miles of legs and some cleavage, and Daine is pretty sure Numair is very interested in both of those.

If Alanna hasn't asked for it back yet, she can't be missing it too much.

She puts her hair up, puts on her cutest bra and underwear (not matching, but she can't have everything), gets on the dress, and feeds Kitten. "Don't wait up!" she tells the lizard, scratching her head. "I've got a good feeling about tonight."

*

It's not like Numair doesn't want to sleep with Daine. The first morning he woke up next to her all sprawled out over his bed, wearing nothing but her bra and underwear, he'd had trouble not rolling on top of her and seeing how she felt about morning sex. But then she'd stirred and smiled at him, and his lust had softened into something deeper and softer. Daine is wonderful, and she deserves to be treated right.

Unfortunately, the two of them seem to have very different definitions of treated right.

George and Jon aren't sympathetic to his perspective.

"She wants to sleep with you, you want to sleep with her," Jon says. "This isn't rocket science. And aren't you a rocket scientist anyway? Even if it was, you could figure it out."

"I'm a botanist," says Numair. "Although I did do enough physics in undergrad to have a rudimentary understanding of--"

"Sleep with your damn girlfriend," George interjects.

"But--"

"It's real sweet you want to make sure she's comfortable and it's special and all," he continues. "But she's tellin' you she's comfortable and ready and you're ignorin' her. Now, if you're not ready--"

Numair splutters. "Of course I'm ready, I'm very experienced--"

Jon rolls his eyes. "Dude, I've had tons of sex, I still needed time to be ready to take it up the ass. "

"I think we're discussing different issues," says Numair.

"If you're not ready to sleep with her, talk to her," says George. "Don't make it out like it's for her benefit when you're the one who needs time."

"Right," says Numair. "Well, I appreciate your advice. I'd better get going, she's coming over tonight and I need to clean up."

"Get condoms," says Jon.

"We're getting takeout and watching Netflix."

"Has anyone ever said watching Netflix and not meant it as a euphemism for sex?" asks Jon.

"Yes," says Numair, running his hand through his hair. "Me. Tonight. I'll see you two later."

He can't stop thinking about what George said all the way home. It's absurd--of course he's ready. He was scrawny and gangly in high school, but by college he'd filled out and women responded very well. He's had a lot of sex. He was the object of envy among his undergraduate peers in the sciences. There is no way he isn't ready to have sex with Daine.

But it's not really like having sex with anyone else, is it? Because she's not some random blonde he found at a party or some girl who was flirting with him at a bar. She's his girlfriend. He'd like to be with her for a long time.

George might have a point.

He gets his apartment cleaned up--no pile of books on the couch, no weird cartons of takeout in the fridge, no piles of dirty laundry on his bedroom floor--and washes his face and brushes his teeth, just for good measure.

When Daine arrives, she's got her hair pinned up and she's wearing that tiny dress that he thinks is Alanna's, and her legs look so good he's worried he's actually drooling. Daine's legs make his brain fizzle and die.

"Were we going somewhere?" he asks, when he recovers. "You look beautiful."

"No," says Daine, smiling and pulling him down for a quick kiss. "It's a date. You dress up for dates."

"You look beautiful," he says again.

"Alanna said I should just get naked for you," she remarks, and Numair chokes on the air. She smirks. "If I couldn't get you to sleep with me. I thought I'd try dressing up before I tried dressing down."

"Um," Numair says helplessly. "I think we need to talk about that."

Daine looks surprised and maybe a little hurt, and he tugs her onto the couch with him, giving her a long kiss. "George suggested I might not be ready to sleep with you."

"You?" asks Daine, incredulous.

"That was my reaction. But on further reflection, I think he might be right." He kisses her hair. "I'm--I don't have the best history with relationships, Daine. Historically, sex tends to be all I do with the women I'm with. I haven't had any complaints, but it's not as if I go back for constructive criticism after."

Daine squints up at him. "You're afraid you're bad at sex?" she asks.

"No! Well, not exactly. I'm simply--I want everything to be perfect, and I want it to be good for you. Especially since it sounds as if your first time was lacking."

She rolls her eyes. "Numair. You're being silly. It's going to be good, because it's with you. And if the first time isn't good, then we can do it again, right? You aren't just going to give up, are you?"

"Of course not! But I'd rather just do it right the first time. You deserve something amazing."

"If you're nervous, I can understand," Daine says carefully. "I'm nervous I'll disappoint you too."

"Daine--" he protests.

She bites her lip. "I'm allowed to be insecure too, you know. I'm probably not any good in bed. So if you need to wait, I understand. But--"

She doesn't finish, but Numair can fill in the blanks. She doesn't want to wait. She might not want to wait because she is nervous, and she'd rather get it over with than worry. And she wants to. He can't forget that either; she wants to.

"You're wonderful," he tells her, and kisses her. "What do you want for dinner?"

*

They get Thai and watch a few episodes of Planet Earth, Daine curled into Numair's side. She feels better, knowing he's nervous too, but not sure how to help. She doesn't know what good waiting is going to do either of them. If the sex is awful, wouldn't it be better to find out now? Putting it off will just make it into a bigger deal. But if he needs to wait, she won't be a brat, parading around in cute clothes and trying to make him do something he doesn't feel comfortable with.

So she's a little surprised when he slides his hand up her thigh as the credits roll on the TV. She turns around so she can look at him, and he's smiling, sliding his hand up further, under her dress and up to cup her ass. Her breath catches. "Numair--"

"You don't have to go home tonight, do you?" he asks, voice rough.

She swallows hard and shakes her head. Her heart is pounding. She tries to speak and nothing comes out; she licks her lips. "No," she says. "I was hoping to stay."

"Good," he says, and kisses her. They've kissed before--a lot, in fact--but this feels different. Anticipation is thrumming through her, and his hand under her dress, kneading her gently, is driving her wild. She wants him so much she can barely breathe.

He doesn't stop kissing her as he repositions, sliding his arms around her and picking her up. "I think a change of venue is in order," he murmurs.

She licks her lips, taking the chance to regain some of composure. "You're sure? You're not nervous anymore?"

"Terrified," he admits, smiling at her. "I've never been so invested in a sexual encounter before."

"You don't have anything to be worried about," Daine tells him. "Every time you touch me I feel like I'm going to burst into flames."

"Likewise," he says, putting her down on his bed. He looks at her for a long minute, licking his lips. "You are extraordinary."

She blushes and squirms; the naked admiration in his eyes is still new and a little overwhelming, in the best possible way. "Well, don't just stand there," she says. "It's too big a bed for just me."

He laughs softly and goes over to his dresser. Daine flushes as he pulls out a bottle of lube and condoms. "I hope these are still good," he muses, turning over the box. "It's been a while."

"It has?"

He glances back at her. "I've been somewhat infatuated," he admits.

"How long?"

"Bear in mind, I did think you were older." She waves her hand, dismissive, and he smiles, coming back over to lie next to her on the bed. "You came in to argue about your grade on a quiz. I didn't give you credit for an answer and you thought you deserved it. You're--quite striking when you're angry."

Daine laughs. "I came in and yelled at you!"

"You did. And you were right. I tried to ignore my reaction to you, but it was a losing battle." He looks over at her, a question in his eyes. "I thought you might have similar feelings. At first."

"I--probably did," Daine admits. "I didn't think of it like that. Of course you were handsome and intelligent and I liked you a great deal, but I assumed you had a girlfriend when I thought about it." She smiles. "I was probably in denial too. Until I heard you and George."

"Well, thank goodness for that," says Numair. He kisses her again, and she thinks it was supposed to be quick, but they just don't stop. Numair slides his hand up her dress again, high enough he can squeeze her breast this time, and they only break off kissing when Daine moans.

"I should take this off," she remarks, breathless. She struggles out of the dress. "I'd be fair embarrassed returning it to Alanna if anything happened while I was wearing it."

Numair's staring again, and she flushes. "I didn't have anything that matched," she says, glancing down at herself. The bra is white with blue polka dots and the underwear are lacy gray, an impulse buy on her birthday.

"Believe me," says Numair, voice husky. "I have no objections." He licks his lips. "What did you do? Last time?"

"Oh," says Daine, looking away. "We kissed a bit and then we did it. We didn't have much time."

Numair shakes his head, leaning in to kiss her neck. His stubble tickles, and she laughs, but it makes her shiver too. "Well, we have plenty of time," he says. "And I'm planning to make the most of it. Did you come?"

"Come where?"

He slides his hand under her bra, cupping her breast and flicking his thumb over her nipple. Daine bites her lip and nearly misses the answer. "The last time you had sex. Did you orgasm?"

"Um," she says, trying to collect herself. "I don't think so. I don't know." He pulls back, looking her over, and Daine frowns. "What?"

"Have you never--not even by yourself?" he asks. Daine shakes her head, embarrassed, but Numair just leans in and kisses her. "Oh, sweet," he murmurs.

"You don't have to stop," Daine protests. "It's not a big deal."

"I'm not going to stop," Numair says. "I'm going to make up for missed opportunities."

He kisses her again, reaching around behind her back to unhook her bra and pull it off. It feels fair uneven, her in nothing but her underwear and him still wearing everything, so she reaches up and tugs his t-shirt up over his head and casts it aside. He slides down to nuzzle between her breasts. She's expecting him to stay with them, but he just keeps going down, until he's nuzzling her through her underwear.

"Numair!" she gasps, laughing and squirming.

He looks up at her with a boyish grin. "Yes?"

"What are you doing?"

"If everything goes according to plan, I'm giving you your first orgasm." He hooks his fingers in her underwear and tugs them off, and Daine feels herself go red. Farant hadn't spent any time looking at her down there. He'd been happy to just stare at her breasts.

But Numair doesn't comment on how she hasn't shaved or the scar she's got on her thigh or any of that, he just leans in and starts licking her. She lets out a surprised laugh, but it turns into a moan as he keeps going. Numair clearly didn't need to worry, he knows exactly what he's doing. He slides his finger inside her, sucking on what must be her clit, and he has her whimpering and writhing, desperate, in no time. She slides her leg up over his shoulder, pushing closer. Numair just slides another finger in beside the first, crooking them up and rubbing inside her.

She's tingling all over, can barely think. Her hand finds his hair and he makes an approving noise, which she feels, and when he finally brings his free hand up to play with her breast again, that's it. She gasps and all the thrumming tension erupts out of her in waves of pleasure. Numair rides it out, keeping up with his hands and mouth until the last of the aftershocks die down. Then he pulls back, looking mussed and very pleased with himself. Daine reaches out, feeling boneless, and pulls him back on top of her for a long kiss. She can taste herself on him, and it's strange but not unpleasant.

She's too breathless to keep up the kissing for long, and Numair flops over next to her, pushing her hair back away from her face. "How do you feel?"

"Wonderful." She shoves him gently. "I don't see why you were nervous!"

"I'm always afraid I'll screw up the things that really matter," he says.

Daine rolls over on top of him and kisses him again. "I won't let you screw it up with me," she tells him. "I'm planning to keep you." She slides her hand down to play with the fly of his jeans. "What do you like?"

His breath catches, which is gratifying. If he can get her so undone, it's only fair she does the same to him. "I think anything you'd like to do would be more than acceptable."

She pops the button and unzips his pants, and she pushes the jeans and boxers off at the same time. Then she stares, because there's really quite a lot of him, and it's obvious how much he's enjoying himself. She licks her lips, nervous and excited all at once. She doesn't know where to start.

Her indecision must show on his face, because Numair leans in and kisses her, tugging her on top of him. "This position has always been a favorite of mine," he tells her, stroking her hip. "If you'd like to try it."

"I want to try everything," she says honestly. "Just tell me what to do."

He gets a condom and slides it on and slicks himself up with quick, sure motions. "You're sure?" he asks, looking up at her.

She smacks his chest lightly. "I'm sure!" And because it seems simple enough, she positions herself over him and slides down.

"Slo--" he starts, but Daine's not known for her patience. It hurts some, but she was slick already, and with the lube, he goes in easy enough. Easier than last time. As soon as she's used to it, she starts to move, wanting to make it good for him. Numair recovers a little after she does, laughing, and between the two of them they find a rhythm that has both of them gasping. She wasn't expecting that--she already got to come, she doesn't need to do it again. "You're amazing," he murmurs, pulling her down for another kiss.

Her second orgasm takes her by surprise, and her rhythm falters and dies as she collapses on his chest, spent. Numair laughs softly and kisses her hair, rolling them over to finish with her on her back, him thrusting a few more times before he's finished too.

He rolls off her and stares at the ceiling, looking as dazed as she feels.

"I'm an idiot," he comments. "We could have been doing that for a week."

Daine giggles and tucks herself into his side again, smiling when his arm comes up to wrap around her automatically. "I tried to tell you," she says. "You should listen to me."

"I'll be sure to keep that in mind in the future."

*

This time when Numair wakes up, Daine is already awake and watching him, a smile playing around her lips. He stretches and grins back. "See something you like?"

"One or two things," she says, smiling softly, and Numair feels the same rush of soft fondness as that first night.

The correct word for it may or may not be love.

He rolls over on top of her for a long kiss. "I suppose you've never tried morning sex," he observes, sliding his thigh between her legs.

Her arms come up around his neck, and she beams. "No. But I'm a fast learner."

The correct word is unquestionably love. But he can say it later.