431. - Lucien
I'm trying to rub the sleep out of my eyes, but it's not doing me much good. My legs are sore and my brain is mush after being on a plane for nearly twenty-seven hours; I'm relying on muscle memory to carry me to where the taxi's are waiting for me. Once I'm in the car I text Emma that I'm on my way, which leads to her calling me maybe a minute later.
"Are you drunk, or having a stroke?" She asks. I rub my eyes again, surpressing a yawn.
"The text you sent me. I'm just going to assume you meant that you've gotten into a taxi, but not even Robert Langdon could make sense of that."
"Robert...? What? I'm so confused." Hearing Emma's laugh, even just over the phone, lifts my heart and wakes me up a little. "Wait, let me check."
I'm so tired I have to blink several times to really get my eyes to focus, but when they finally do it's not hard to understand Emma's comments.
Hisr git inn a txi. Wkll be hime un 30 mubutes.
"Wow. I'm sorry. I'm severely sleep deprived."
She laughs again, and I can just imagine her hair bouncing around as she shakes her head, even though she knows I can't see her. "It's alright, love. But I told you -you were far past your bedtime when we last called."
"Are you really going to pretend you didn't send me something that was going to keep me up for hours? This on you, Middleton."
"Like that isn't the best picture you've gotten in weeks." She teases. "See you in thirty minutes, babe. Love you."
"Love you, too."
An elevator. I decide as I drag my feet up the stairs. It doesn't have to end up in the actual apartment, but I'll be damned if the building we move into doesn't have an elevator. I get to the right floor eventually and I remember the last time I walked here; the night I'd been out with Emma and nearly kissed her, after which she insisted I'd stay the night because the weather had been so awful. I still wonder what would have happened if Beth hadn't been there. Would I have slipped into the bedroom, and if I hadn't, would I still have invited her to my birthday party? Thinking about how differently things might have gone is breaking my already broken brain.
I ring the bell, hiding my face behind my arm to yawn. A door opens, but it's not Emma's - it's her neighbour Edith, going out to wherever. I give her a polite nod, still mid-yawn, but her eyes narrow and she doesn't say anything back, just disappears down the hall.
"Excuse me, why are you oggling my neighbour?" A very familiar voice asks; a warmth spreads over my body and my head snaps back. Emma is in the doorway, her eyebrows raised at me but there's also that teasing smile on her lips that I love so much.
"Just trying to come to peace with the fact that a lot of people here still hate me."
With a laugh she grabs my wrist to pull me inside, and the next moment she's in my arms and her lips find mine. It truly doesn't matter where we are, coming to Emma will always be coming home. The kiss morphs into just a tight hug as we stand there in the tiny hallway, just taking each other in. Everything around me could disappear and I'd be okay, as long as I still had Emma.
"I missed you." She mutters against my neck, and I smile.
"I missed you, too."
We're interrupted by loud meowing and something furry rubbing against my leg. I jump, falling back against the wall before realising it's only that damn cat. "Right." I breathe. "Nice to see you again, Frank."
When I come out of the shower, scrubbed clean of any airplane-grime, the apartment smells like Emma's famous truffle pasta. I find her still stirring the sauce, humming along to the gentle tones of the music she's put out. From behind I wrap my arms around her, resting my chin on her shoulder. "I'm so glad to be back here."
She smiles and cranes her neck so she can kiss my neck. With the hand that isn't stirring she reaches up to tangle her fingers in my hair. I close my eyes, savouring the feeling. "I'm glad to have you back."
We have dinner on the tiny couch while watching Friends-reruns. Except for the fat cat that seems adament to make his home against my legs, absolutely nothing has changed. Every now and then I doze off, not having slept since first getting on the plane, but it's never for more than ten minutes. At nine, Emma seems to have had enough; with her legs over mine, she gently flicks my face. "We could just go to bed, you know. I don't mind."
"I do." I complain, pulling her a little closer to me. "Watching you fall asleep is one of my favourite things in the world, and you're definitely not tired yet. Besides..." I press a kiss to her forehead. "If I sleep now, I'm going to wake up at like three in the morning and I'm just going to be tired again tomorrow. This is the best fix for a jetlag."
"Do tell me why you can't be tired tomorrow?" Her smile becomes a little mischievous.
"I think you know, Middleton."
"Tell me anyway." She presses. I agree with a roll of my eyes.
"A couple of hours ago, I received a picture." I brush some hair out of her neck so I can kiss the now bare spot. "It awakened all kinds of things in me, and it's been really hard to focus." I brush my hand up over her thigh, grinning when it causes her to shiver. Her head falls back against my shoulder when I sink my teeth into the skin of her neck. "I'd like to act on it. But coming to think of it, we might not have to wait until tomorrow. It might just be the perfect trick to keep me..." My sentence gets broken up by a yawn; Emma snorts and I close my eyes, trying not to laugh at how my own body just betrayed me.
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