Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings: Sex and love between women.
Author's Note: This is a sequel to "Better Safe than Sorry," which was in turn a sequel to "Everything for Time."
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace in Rest
Copyright © 2008 Geonn Cannon
Kira always knew what time it was.
She could tell, just by looking, whether a clock was running fast or slow. She knew it took two minutes and thirteen seconds to walk from her shop to Coffee Table Books next door. It wasn't knowledge she actively sought, or something she was all that aware of. She simply knew that a customer had walked through the door and she didn't get free to help him for three minutes and eighteen seconds.
It wasn't hard to figure out where her skill came from. She grew up at the feet of her father in a tiny watch repair shop, countless timepieces ticking away each second. The room was filled with the passage of time until, one day, she stopped hearing the noise. She knew exactly how long of a silence there was between clicks, and she knew how many of those silences would fit in a certain amount of time. Riding the ferry to the mainland took 4,800 clicks, give or take depending on how long the boat stopped at the neighboring islands. Walking upstairs to her apartment at the end of the day took eighteen clicks.
And riding to Hannah's apartment took 540 clicks. 540 of the longest seconds, and nine of the longest minutes, of Kira's life.
It wasn't that she was a hermit. She just preferred things to be predictable. She liked the fact that she spent the majority of her day within a certain little area. She woke up in her apartment, went downstairs to work, and either got something to eat at Coffee Table Books or down the street at the Spartan Café. But tonight, she was going to do something she had never done before: she was going to spend the night at her girlfriend's apartment.
She watched the street slowly glide past the window, her hands under her thighs as she watched the street lights twist and bend in the raindrops on the glass. Her little suitcase sat in the backseat with her toothbrush, shampoo, and a change of clothes. She felt like a little girl going to her friend's house for a sleepover. But she had never had sleepovers like this. She had hardly ever had sleepovers period. But Hannah was erasing a lot of the 'never had' statements from her life.
Kira turned and faced her girlfriend, and smiled. Hannah glanced toward her and the corners of her mouth twisted up. "What are you looking at?"
"I don't know," Kira said. She lifted her shoulders in a shrug and looked out at the street. Rainwater gathered at the sides of the street, forming twin rivers with a thin strip of pavement between them. Hannah's windshield wipers swished back and forth, obscuring the view and then clearing it on the next pass. The buildings they drove by were lit from within like shadow boxes, little dioramas of real life.
Kira was grateful for the rain. She always liked rainy days, watching the sky outside the shop turn prematurely dark. It made her feel safe and secure inside, behind the window the rain turned into a waterfall. Unseen and protected. But this particular rainstorm had brought an extra prize with it. Kira went upstairs after closing the shop for the day and discovered a puddle in the middle of her bed. After discounting a relapse to the problems she had as a three-year-old, she looked up at the ceiling and saw where the leak was coming from.
Her first call was to the repairman, who was coming in the morning. Her second call, to Hannah, resulted in the invitation to take their relationship to the next level. She looked at Hannah again, the way her blonde hair fell over her forehead to cover one eyebrow. Kira reached out and touched the wave resting on Hannah's shoulder and said, "Why do you live in an apartment? You're a real-estate agent. You know where all the good deals are."
"Too much maintenance," Hannah said. "I want to go home and relax at the end of the day, I don't want to worry about mowing the lawn or fixing the eaves trough, or worrying about whether the neighbor has trimmed his hedges yet. My apartment suits me just fine. Besides, it would be unethical to use my knowledge of the housing market to get a new house."
Kira smiled. "Low-maintenance. I like that."
"Good thing," Hannah said. She reached over and squeezed Kira's hand. They pulled into the apartment's parking lot and Hannah found a spot near the door. "Stay here," she said as she ducked out of the car. Kira stayed where she was as instructed, and Hannah ran around the back of the car. She took something off the floor of the backseat, picked up Kira's suitcase, and then opened the passenger side door and held out an open umbrella.
Kira stepped out and pressed against Hannah's side as they ran to the building. Once they got into the entry hall, Hannah closed the umbrella and shook it out toward the bushes before pulling it inside. Her jacket was wet at the shoulders, her blonde hair now plastered to her head. They went up the stairs to Hannah's apartment and Kira waited patiently as Hannah found the keys and opened the door. "Here we are," she said as she reached in to turn on the light. "Home sweet home."
Kira had been in Hannah's apartment before, but only for a few minutes each time. The longest visit had been forty-two minutes and thirty-eight seconds, when Hannah caught a bug and was forced to stay in bed. Kira dropped off some soup and it turned into her longest lunch break ever. Hannah kept telling her she could leave, that she should leave, before she caught the bug herself. But Kira stayed. Held Hannah's hand, helped her to the bathroom, and listened while she threw up.
Afterward, while Kira tucked her into bed, Hannah said, "Forget marriage certificates and all that nonsense. Commitment is listening to someone throw up and not running away."
Kira had smiled and ignored the insinuation. She knew that Hannah was her girlfriend. She was proud of that fact. She knew she didn't want anybody else, couldn't imagine wanting anybody else. The way Hannah made her feel, the way she felt when she was with Hannah, couldn't be duplicated. But marriage? Kira was willing, but couldn't help feel like she shouldn't tie Hannah down permanently. She was willing to go along for the ride until Hannah got sick of her. She just prayed it was a really, really long time.
Hannah's apartment was much more cluttered than Kira was comfortable with. The couch had a jacket and a blouse draped over the back of it, newspapers and magazines were stacked on the floor next to the easy chair, and the sink still held the dirty dishes from the night before.
Hannah shrugged out of her blazer and tossed it onto the back of the couch with the others. She started to unbutton her blouse as she walked to the bathroom. "I'm going to get us some towels. I'll be right back."
"Okay," Kira said. She waited until the bathroom door closed before she went into the kitchen. She turned on the faucet and waved her fingers under the stream until it got hot. She picked up the sponge and began to clean a plate. She had finished with a plate, a bowl, and a glass before Hannah returned from the back of the apartment. Kira looked up apologetically. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Hannah said. "But you're not the maid, you know." Her suit had vanished, replaced with a fluffy white robe. She handed a second robe to Kira.
Kira turned off the faucet and took the robe. "Have you considered hiring one?"
Hannah smirked. "Get out of those clothes before you catch pneumonia. You can go in the bathroom. I'll try to get the apartment up to milady's high standards."
Kira brushed by Hannah, who reached up and squeezed her arm as she passed. Kira smiled on her way to the bathroom. Hannah was always doing that; reaching for her, brushing fingers across her arm or shoulder. Completely innocent touching, but somehow they never failed to send a thrill through her. She saw Hannah's clothes hanging from the shower rod and decided to hang hers there as well. She quickly stripped out of her blouse and slacks, a bit embarrassed to see her plain white blouse hanging next to Hannah's.
She dried her neck with the towel, rubbed her hair to make sure it wouldn't drip, and then looked at herself in the mirror. Definitely not someone who belonged with the gorgeous woman waiting in the kitchen. Hey, a quiet voice shouted from inside her head. She chose you. She wants you here. Get over it and get out there.
Kira smiled. She knew that voice. It was Hannah's voice. It started when they first got together and had grown in strength ever since. She pulled on the robe and cinched the belt around her waist. She flipped her hair out of the collar and left the bathroom. She heard the water running in the sink and joined Hannah in the kitchen.
Hannah looked up when she walked in, flicked her fingers at the sink, and shut off the faucet. "Did you want to take a shower?"
"No." She put her hands on Hannah's waist and pulled her close. She tilted her head up and kissed her, tentatively at first but with quickly becoming more passionate. Hannah chuckled in surprise and then swept her tongue over Kira's lips until they parted. She slipped her tongue into Kira's mouth with a sigh, and they shuffled backward until Kira's hips bumped the counter.
When they broke for air, Hannah gripped the lapels of Kira's robe and exhaled. "Whew. What got into you?"
"You," Kira said.
Hannah nuzzled Kira's cheek. "No, I said what got into you. Not what's going to get into you."
Kira blushed and ducked her chin. She ran her hand over Hannah's robe, twisting the plush material between her fingers. "You've changed me so much, I don't even recognize myself anymore." Hannah's smile wavered and Kira said, "No, it's a good thing. It's a really, very good thing. A great thing." She kissed Hannah again and sighed against her mouth. "I love you."
Hannah opened her eyes. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. I love you."
"I love you, too, Kira." She kissed the tip of Kira's nose, her closed eyelashes, and then followed the trail of Kira's tears with her tongue. "That's the first time we've said that to each other."
"Out loud," Kira corrected. She was focused on the triangle of flesh exposed by Hannah's robe. She gave in to temptation, bent down, and kissed it. Hannah lifted her chin and turned her head to the side. Kira kissed her throat and said, "I've thought it a lot."
Hannah nodded. "Me, too. You know, you like to pretend I'm this miracle worker, or I'm doing you a favor by being with you."
"No. Kira, I hardly ever dated before you. I've had occasional girlfriends since I started dating women when I was nineteen, but they were few and far between. I was always nervous about taking that step. Straight people have it easy. They just have to worry about hearing no. I had to worry about no, or I'm straight. Sometimes I got two-for-one. So after a while I didn't even ask. My first date with you was my first date in months. I'm so glad I got up the nerve to ask you out. Best decision I ever made."
Kira blushed and linked her fingers behind Hannah's neck. "Will you take me to bed?"
Hannah moved her hands to Kira's waist and said, "Wanna lift?" Kira nodded and Hannah cupped her ass. Kira leapt and wrapped her legs around Hannah's waist. Hannah grunted and said, "God. This looks so much easier in the movies..."
"Do you want me to walk?" Kira asked.
"No. I'm determined to be romantic." She pulled away from the counter and walked Kira out of the kitchen.
Kira woke the next morning at fourteen minutes past six exactly. She kept her eyes closed and scooted forward until she found the warm body sharing the bed with her. She pressed her cheek against Hannah's shoulder blade, wrapped both arms around her waist, and kissed her skin. Hannah shifted in her sleep, but didn't wake. When Kira opened her eyes, she found the strands of her hair caught in her eyelashes. She tried to blink them away, but they were too stubborn. Outside, the rain continued to fall. She listened to it for a long time, staring at the dark curtain at the far end of the room. It was going to be one of those odd mornings where the sun didn't appear to rise until late afternoon, when people trudging to work would feel cheated because their bodies thought it was still night time.
Kira pulled the blanket up higher on her shoulder and wished she had gotten dressed after their lovemaking. Of course, if they had dressed, she wouldn't be able to feel Hannah's skin against hers first thing in the morning. She turned her head and inhaled the scent of the back of Hannah's neck. She moved her hands up to Hannah's breasts and teased the nipples, smiling when Hannah stirred with a groan.
"No, it's not," Hannah complained.
"No, it's not."
Kira grinned and closed her eyes. Hannah rolled onto her back and drew Kira's hands to her lips. She kissed the knuckle of each one, then finally opened her eyes and blinked at Kira. "Hey. Good morning."
"Good morning," Kira said. She rested her head on Hannah's chest and listened to her heartbeat. "Are you going in to work today?"
"I don't know. Real-estate doesn't stop for the weather. But people don't want to trudge around in muddy backyards, either." She yawned and pushed her hair out of her face. "I may just show up late and skip lunch. How about you?"
Kira lifted a shoulder.
Hannah kissed the top of Kira's head and said, "If you're not going to work, then why did you wake me up?"
"I missed you."
Kira sighed and closed her eyes. She could hear the patter of rain outside, the steady thumping of Hannah's heart, and the quiet sounds of her own breath. For once, she ignored the ever-present ticking forward of time. There were no seconds, no minutes, just right now. Seconds passed, or they could have been minutes, and she only cared about the beat of Hannah's heart. The feel of her skin. It was peaceful and, at the moment, she felt like it could go on forever. It was peaceful, and she snickered, "Rest in peace."
Hannah snorted and said, "Am I dying?"
"No," Kira said. "We're both resting. Peacefully."
"Thank you for waking me up to tell me that."
Kira chuckled and said, "Sorry."
Hannah reached down to stroke Kira's hair, but her hand stilled near the base of her skull. She sighed deeply and turned her head on the pillow, curled her fingers, and her breathing became steady again.
After a few seconds, Hannah murmured, "I really should get up. Or call in. What time is it, anyway?"
Kira chuckled, "I have no idea."
Hannah wanted to ask her what was so funny, but she was asleep before she formed the words. Kira turned her head, kissed the curve of Hannah's bare breast, and quickly followed.
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