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Vodka Warm

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Blue had tasted wine before, and occasionally Calla had offered her sips of liquor… but nothing like this. Never as much as this. She wasn’t entirely sure what had gotten her drunk. Henry had appeared with goblets made of ice and merely yelled, “aw yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees,” elongating the e’s until Gansey and she agreed to drink it. She had spoken to her mother three days ago and was reminded that Sargents could be good at drinking, if terrible at making drinks, and she figured it was just Maura being weird in the way that everyone was weird when she called Fox Way in the last six months. Oh, right, psychics.

Falling backward onto the quilted, soft bed in her hotel room, Blue thought of the tall pines she had looked down upon as the flight descended toward Helsinki (“we were supposed to hike America,” she’d argued with Henry, to no avail, and when she tried to protest Henry paying for her share Gansey was paying for all three of them on his phone). She closed her eyes and stretched, breathing deep, and tried to imagine climbing inside of the soft but rigid bark, tried to imagine being warm and green against the snow. A click of the door tried to bring her back and she moaned as a gentle weight hit the bed beside her.

“Pardon me, miss, but are you becoming a tree?”

The vodka mixed with the mint of Gansey’s breath and Blue wanted to say that the smell of him was intoxicating, but she was so intoxicated that… everything was intoxicating.

“Not really. But I like to think of it.”

Gansey curled around her as she opened her eyes, his honeyed hair tickling her face as he rested his head on her chest. She adjusted her leg over one of his own, smiling at his closeness.

“You dork,” she said, noticing the thick blue gloves on his hands, “you’re supposed to leave those gloves at the bar.”

“Oops,” he laughed. “I’ll return them tomorrow.”

“Where’s Henry?”

“Partying,” he replied matter of factly, sitting up to take off the gloves and neatly place them on the side table.

“Oh no, did we leave Henry to his own devices? We’re terrible parents,” Blue sighed, taking in the back of Gansey’s neck, flush from the cold walk from the bar two blocks away, a sliver of skin she wanted to touch so badly. She half reached, then gave up, the alcohol making her head go all swimmy.

“Not so terrible,” Gansey said, leaning back on one arm and digging in his pocket with the other. RoboBee flitted into the air, it’s little heart pulsing in brilliant glow.

“Oooooh, good thinking.”

“I made him give it to me in exchange for leaving him to dance on a table made of ice.”
He took her hand and kissed it, “You’re very cold, Jane.”

“Well, Dick, I was in a bar made of ice, you see,” she mustered herself upward and wrapped her legs around Gansey’s waist and her arms around his shoulders from behind.

“Ah, sounds like an adventure.”

“Yeah, you should go sometime.”

“Hmm… maybe… do they give you gloves?”

“They do but they have a very strict policy about not leaving with them.”

“I see.”

Quiet fell over them in its natural way and the heater hummed in time with RoboBee’s absent whirring. Blue squeezed around him tighter as he ran his thumb over her knuckles, his fingers dancing along her wrist. She felt his breath deepening against her chest and rested her head on his back, her eyes closing. I am touching him and it is safe. Sometimes she still couldn’t believe it. A tear fell hot on her cheek still cold from the bar, from the Finnish night. A hard swallow came, a knee jerk response to hiding her feelings, one that Gansey had been pleading with her to work on.

“You okay back there,” he called and Blue untangled herself and wiggled off of the bed.

“Yes, just uncomfortable,” she began to unzip her way out of her winter wear. She was still clumsy in it, sober or no, and even when it was keeping her warm it felt cumbersome. Henrietta had never required the likes of Land’s End or North Face and she’d never gone anywhere that would even lend itself to a test drive.

“If you’re ready for bed, I’ll tuck you in and be on my way.”

Blue watched as Gansey pulled down the quilt and the comforter underneath, watched the sway of his hair under the vent as he straightened out the wrinkle of the sheet before pulling it down as well. He reached for the gloves and turned, “Your dreams await you, Jane.”

She crossed to him and pulled his face to hers, kissing him lightly.

“Goodnight,” he whispered.

“Why are we whispering?”

“I don’t know,” he laughed.

“Stay,” Blue gave, still a whisper as he slid away from her and toward the door.

“Aren’t you tired?”

“Yes... but stay. Lie with me.”

“Oh.”

She pulled him toward the bed, watching the blush from cold turn to an altogether different kind of blush. They did not lie down. Kneeling on the bed she put her arms around his neck and kissed him once more, then unzipped his jacket. He moved his arms to help her slip it off and then he pulled her sweater over her head, she as agreeable as he had been. His arms were wrapped around her waist and his sweater was soft and warm against her t shirt. He pulled her face from his, ending her hungry kiss, and for a moment she was scared she was moving too fast, but he just smiled at her and brushed her temples with his thumbs.

“I’ve really wanted to try something,” he said, pressing his forehead to hers.

“Okay.”

“Just okay?”

“Okay,” she smiled.

He brushed her hair aside (it had grown out into its thick spirals and she hadn’t bothered to crop it since they started their journey) and, stretching her shirt collar out of the way, kissed along her collarbone, then placed light kisses along her shoulder, up her neck. The warmth of the vodka in her veins seemed to take stronger hold of her body and a soft moan escaped. She blushed, embarrassed, but hoped he hadn't noticed, hoped she didn’t sound stupid. Blue realized her fingers were gripping his neck tight, tangled in his hair, and as she pulled him closer he placed a great big raspberry right beneath her ear and giggled.

She let out a boisterous laugh, wiping the wet of it away, “You’re such a ladykiller, Dick.”

They shared small kisses as he backed up and pulled her from the bed to her feet. He kept a hand on her waist and took the fingers of her left hand and entwined them with the fingers of his right, and began to sway.

“Are we dancing?”

“We are.”

“You’re drunk.”

“You’re drunker.”

“No fair, I’m smaller.”

“Congress will reconvene and consider this before passing further legislation.”

Blue was unsure of how much time had passed. She was only sure of the warmth of him, the weight of their bodies pressed together, the rise and fall of his stomach, the smell of mint and pine and snow, outside, inside, from anywhere or everywhere…

Magic. Just… magic.

Gansey spoke, but did not break the spell when he whispered, “Jane, could I tell you a secret?”

“Cross my heart,” she whispered back.

He placed his hands on the back of her thighs and she leapt up, as she’d done a thousand times before, and he caught her and held her while she wrapped her legs comfortably around him, as he’d done a thousand times before.

“I love you,” he whispered, the mint and breeze of him stronger than any vodka in the world could ever be, and Blue felt her heart sink to her stomach and rise again, felt her pulse in every part of her, felt herself stretching out into the world, all the way to the stars.

“I love you, too,” she whispered, and when she looked at him she was glad that his hazel eyes were moist, as moist as hers. Everything glittered in his eyes.

They fell on the bed that way, in love, in love out loud, happy and warm, even in this cold place, at home, even in this strange room.