I breathe in his scent, the distinct smell only he possesses. Our lips part ways, and he holds himself over top of me, straddling my hips. His arms brush against my bare sides, leaving behind a cold trail where the warmth of him used to be.
"Does this count as 'catching up'?" He whispers in my ear, and I smile, eyes closed.
"If I'm confident enough to let you do what you're doing right now then I think that's pretty comfortable."
"The question is, how much farther will you let me go?"
"I don't think you can go much farther than minor nude intimacy without a condom and some serious birth control." I open my eyes, and stroke his lip with my thumb. I feel the soft flesh stretch into a gentle grin, and hands run up and down my arms.
"I missed you."
"Oh cool. 'Hey Erika, I just met you after three years, now I'm going to impregnate you. Surprise!' " I laugh quietly, and he lowers himself so that his chest brushes mine.
"Surprise." He breathes, voice hoarse from talking in such hushed tones.
I make a noise, just as waves of pleasure wash over me.
"Fuck." We whisper together, and I feel the pace quicken. My heart races, and my body quivers. My fingers press into his back, my nails scratching against his hot skin.
"Surprise." I repeat, through gritted teeth, trying not to be loud.
"Fucking God." His voice adds to the sensation, and I am on the brink of screaming. If I was watching instead of experiencing, I would watch his back become decorated with red trails, from his shoulder blades to his mid-back.
Suddenly, my entire body shudders, and the world isn't important enough to see, feel or hear.
I wake up next to him, feeling great. Sore, but the happiest I've been in ages.
"Still can't wake up before me." The words tickle my ear, and I roll my eyes.
"That's a strange habit for someone who wants to sleep all day."
I prod his shoulder, absently smiling.
"I'd rather lose precious sleep than lose you in the middle of the night." He says into my neck, then kisses my collarbone.
"It's too early to do this again." I complain, but that doesn't stop his hand from sliding down my stomach, and between my legs anyway.
"Correction, too early for you."
His fingers are cold, but that's not why I shiver.
"Fucking balls!" I whisper-yell into his hair.
Suddenly, he just stops. Stops, and listens to my breath get caught in my throat.
"You said it was too early."
"Too bad, it's later, I'm awake." I tilt his head up so that he is facing me, and kiss the part between his bottom lip and chin. "You can be a tease, so can I." I roll out of bed, dodging his hands, which try to pull me back beneath the blankets.
Just to add to it, I sway my hips slightly as I walk over to my pile of clothes, and face him while putting them on.
"Are you fucking kidding me?" He groans, and I get under the covers again with him. This time, as I roll over to face him, I can feel something hard against the leg of my jeans, and I ignore it, for the sake of my mission.
"So we just met after a few years, and now you decide the best way to ease into our relationship again is sex. I mean I'm totally fine with it, but you need to stop being horny at the thought of me."
"That down there doesn't feel the same way." He smirks at me, propping himself up on one elbow.
"I feel like I should find that gross, instead of funny."
He chuckles, then kisses my forehead.
"I love you, Erik."
That's what does it. My eyes start watering, and I have to bite my lip to keep silent. My throat closes, and the memories flash back.
The record store. The necklace. Dropping out. The bad dream. The wanted posters. And most of all, my final decision.
My hands shake slightly as I cup my hand around his cheek. I close my eyes, and snuggle closer to him.
"Erik?" That damn nickname. "What's wrong? Babe, it's okay. Please just calm down." He rubs my neck gently, and I take a slow, deep breath.
"When are you going?" It comes out as more of a demand than a question.
"When are you going away?"
"I don't want to be alone again, okay? I don't think I could handle it." My hand curls into a fist against his chest, and I let my tears fall. If there could be a way in the world to describe how I feel, it would be like coming home from a really awful war, safe and excited to see your family, to find that everything you ever loved was destroyed in the process. That's probably not extreme enough.
My silent crying turns to sobbing. To breathe, my lungs take sharp breaths, and I bring my eyelids over my eyes again. That doesn't stop a stream from pouring out, but it stings less.
"....Erika." He lifts my head so that I'm looking into his eyes, and touches his lips gently to mine. My breathing slows, but I still feel like my stomach is turning inside out. "I'm not leaving you again. I promised I'd find you again, and here we are. And I'm fucking keeping it that way." His voice is quiet, but demands me to listen to his words, and never forget them.
"You have a job, Clifford. You can't leave your band for me." I say coldly, and curl up into a ball beside him.
"I'll find a way to keep you with me. I promise. Calm down."
I shake my head, knowing he can't. They wouldn't let him bring me. I don't have enough money to travel where they go. It won't work. I'm going to lose him again, and be alone. Surrounded by people, but only one matters. The one I can only see once or twice a year. Hell, even beside him now I feel dread building up in my stomach at the thought of facing life on my own. He's lying to make me feel better. It makes me angry.
"No. I'm going to be alone again. Fucking alone. You're going to get famous, and nobody will be allowed near you. Then, you'll get barely any breaks, and I won't see you. Ever. Don't try to make me think it'll be okay. Because it won't." I straighten myself out, and glare at him, then step out of bed. "I'm taking a shower."
I stomp into the bathroom, and slam the door.
I peel off my clothes, but don't get into the shower. Instead, I sit wrapped in a towel on the toilet, my head in my hands. What if he doesn't love me anymore? What if he changed his mind about me?
Have I changed my mind about him?
The door opens and closes, and Michael squats in front of me, now in his underwear instead of naked.
"Please, babe, I'm not lying to make you feel better. I'm trying to tell you that if I had to, I'd get them to pause the tour to get to you. Sneak onto a plane to see you again. Anything." His hands are warm on my knees, this time I calm down. Not a lot, but a little. "I'm going to go now, so have a shower, sit there, do anything to make you not angry or sad anymore, okay?"
He turns to leave, but a sentence bubbles out of my throat before I know what I'm going to say.
"If you want me to be happy then stay."
I motion towards the shower, and he slowly looks from me to the glass door.