Summary: In the end, of course, it's never about what it was about to begin with.
Pairing: CJ/OMC, CJ/Toby
Notes: I was re-reading littleloonlost's My Back Pages, and as soon as I finished, the first line poked me and demanded that I write the rest of the story. So in a way, this is inspired by her, except only kind of.
In the end, of course, it's never about what it was about to begin with. It's one of life's subtle, unwritten rules that no one ever bothers to teach. She's come to think of these things as words her mother died before finding the time to speak, like how peanut butter can get gum out of hair and how easy it is to fall in love when you're not looking.
It's four in the morning, and the keys of his laptop are silent for the first time in months. He looks weary, battle scarred, as if the sheer effort of hitting 'save' and 'print' has added the years he managed to hold at bay while he was writing.
The comforter is soft against the exposed skin of her naked stomach, and she is reading as slowly as she can bear, determined to absorb every last syllable, to extract the secrets held between his words.
Somewhere a dog barks, and it startles her, the manuscript shaking in her hands.
She smoothes long fingers over the pages, as if to caress away his anxiety.
Neither of them know how long she's been reading when the last page floats down the the pile she's been making on the floor. Her eyes are wet when she looks up to meet his gaze, and she's surprised to find that his too, hold tears. She can't bring herself to tell him why she's crying.
She moves first, sliding off the bed to kneel before him, chin resting on his knee, and they they are making love on the floor, his pages pressing into her back, staining her skin and marking her as his. She vows to confess. In the morning.
His head is propped on his elbow, eyes sharply focused and a vague smile on his face when she wakes, shifting against the pages that have begun to stick to her skin.
"Did you sleep?" she whispers, and she's not surprised that the question makes him jump.
He nods, idly reaching out to peel page twenty-two off her abdomen. They both laugh then, and only the phone ringing tears them from the carpet.
She is rambling into the phone about consulting fees and making coffee naked when he wraps his arms around her from behind. The fabric of his robe tickles the undersides of her breasts and his still-wet hair is cold against her skin as he leans in to kiss the side of her neck.
She nearly drops the phone when one hand dips between her legs, two fingers sliding into her without warning.
She's always loved sleeping with writers.
They live like this for a week, maybe two. Her days have started to blur together.
His editor calls to say that the manuscript is his best yet. He calls her his muse, for the first time since finishing, and it sets every nerve in her body on edge. She cries as they make love, afraid that maybe the window to tell him is closing.
She is locked in the bathroom, tears staining her cheeks as she clutches the phone. The chirp of the buttons as she presses them is heavy, echoing against all the porcelain in the room.
At first she thinks she's dialed wrong, but after so many years, it's impossible to forget the familiar patterns of fingers against keypad.
"I understand now," she whispers into the phone. "I'd like to try again."
She imagined that the sun would be setting when she finally found the courage to tell him. It would have been oddly poetic. It wasn't, and Portland couldn't even muster up a summer rainstorm for her.
There's nothing poetic about leaving your husband for your ex-boyfriend on a sunny day in July, but she's never been the writer anyway. Her hands don't shake as she hands over her boarding pass.