For once, Rebecca wakes up before Nathaniel. It’s a Saturday, and by her normal standards, she’s never up this early. The sun hasn’t ventured into the sky yet, still nestled in its covers below the horizon, and Rebecca does the same, watching the peacefulness in Nathaniel’s face as he sleeps and forever wishing she could have a piece of that too.
He turns over towards the bedside table, internal clock signaling it’s time to rise and shine despite not having to work today. When he turns back after briefly checking his phone, Nathaniel finds Rebecca with a smile on her face and her head propped in her palm as he elbow rests on her pillow.
“Wow, good morning,” he greets, his voice still thick with sleep.
“Hi,” Rebecca whispers. There’s silence between them as they stare at one another with hazy eyes. “I wanna do something fun today. It’s Saturday, and we both don’t have to work.”
“What did you have in mind, babe?” Rebecca looks down and swirls her fingertip across Nathaniel’s bare chest. The request she has is probably silly, but she ventures to quietly ask it anyway.
“Can we go watch the sunrise from the roof?” Nathaniel takes her chin and lifts it to where her eyes meet his. The innocence staring back at him reminds him of a phantom, fleeting version of Rebecca, one where she was not burdened by the loss of Josh Chan or the weight of her insecurities. It makes her more beautiful than she already looks lying next to him. Wordlessly, he shifts out of bed and reaches for her hand. “Are we really going?”
“Grab your shoes and a jacket. We don’t have too long before the sun comes up.” Rebecca takes his hand and climbs out of bed, putting on her sandals and one of Nathaniel’s sweatshirts as quickly as she can. She races to the door and waits for Nathaniel to come to meet her, tapping her foot incessantly.
“Come on, slowpoke, let’s go! If I get there before you, you’re making breakfast!” Nathaniel comes out of the bedroom with a blanket folded over his arm and a grin on his face.
“Is everything always a competition with you, Rebecca?” She stands on her tiptoes and gives him a quick kiss.
“Of course it is. How long have you known me? Now, come on!” She bolts out the door and makes her way up to the top floor, pausing at the terrace entrance. The benefits of having an expensive apartment outside of LA include this rooftop terrace with a stellar view of the city. Strangely enough, Nathaniel hasn’t used the view since living in his apartment, but he’s excited to see what it looks like.
Rebecca has seen quite a few sunrises in her life, mostly because she was awake each morning to watch them from her office window in New York, but she’s never actually watched the sun rise. She’s never seen how the rays stretch their limbs and the warm glow pulses like a yawn as the sun moves over the horizon, and she’s especially never sat with someone else to watch it happen.
Together, the pair makes their way to the lonely terrace and Rebecca’s excited voice fills the air.
“I’m so excited. Oh my god, this is so fun. It feels like a movie! This is probably super dangerous, but we should sit by the edge so we can be right there when it happens—“
“Shh, people are still sleeping,” Nathaniel whispers and presses a finger to her lips. He fights the urge to laugh at her excitement but gives a kind smile.
“Sorry, I’m just really excited. I’ve never done this before.” Her voice is quieter but no less excited than before, and Nathaniel takes the hand she’s outstretched to him.
“Gee, I couldn’t tell,” he retorts with a wink. Rebecca giggles and guides him to where she wants to sit.
They find a spot near the edge of the roof to take a seat and spread out the blanket underneath them. Nathaniel sits down first and pulls Rebecca between his legs, wrapping his arms around her middle and resting his chin on her shoulder. Rebecca sighs and leans her head back to rest on his, turning her head slightly to kiss his cheek. The silence between them hangs delicately like a baby’s mobile as the wind breezes through Rebecca’s untamed hair every so often. When she shivers, Nathaniel pulls her closer, hugs her tighter, and draws ellipses in her soft curves over his Stanford sweatshirt.
“Shh, the sun’s coming up, look.” She points out at the first glimmers of sunlight that peek over the skyline, and she crawls over as close as she can to the edge of the blanket to sit cross-legged and watch natural beauty unfold before her eyes.
Nathaniel sits back and lets Rebecca cherish the moment for herself. Eventually, he inches closer to her as the Sun begins to greet the earth in earnest. Rebecca’s mouth parts slightly, and her eyes study the dance of the morning light beams. He’s at the perfect angle where the light flickers in Rebecca’s eyes and creates the warmest of glows in her irises, warmer than any compliment she’s ever given or any smile she’s ever shown. The softness on her face is enchanting; he could get lost in it all day.
Nathaniel takes out his phone and snaps a picture of Rebecca. One picture turns into a couple, and then a few until she finally turns to him and notices the phone in his hand. Silently, she removes the phone from his hand and places it out of his reach and motions to Nathaniel to sit next to her. He does and copies her now outstretched legs, crossed at the ankles, and leans back on his palms to watch the sun smile at them.
They sit and stare for a while longer as the birds begin to chirp around them, filling the air with a bright morning song. Nathaniel takes one of his hands and reaches across to find one of Rebecca’s. The brush of fingers sends an intense energy through her, and she takes her gaze upwards into Nathaniel’s eyes.
Her gaze, so warm and pure and easy, melts his heart. Maybe it’s the way the light frames her face or the way the wind blows her bangs back or the way her lips curl up as she glances over each part of his face or the way she flutters her eyelashes under the heat of his intensity. Any way, Nathaniel takes this moment to admire her radiant beauty and can’t stop the soft caress of her cheek before he leans in to kiss her.
The kiss is unscripted but it’s a beautiful ad-lib that completes this cinematic moment in Rebecca’s mind. But the moment doesn’t end. Their hands roam slowly across each other’s bodies begging for more than just a kiss. Even in their search for sexual satisfaction, the tempo doesn’t change. Rebecca lies back on the blanket and pulls Nathaniel down on top of her to settle between her legs.
Nathaniel takes care to attend to each part of her body as his hands travel down to her loose sweatpants, which she stole once again. He slides them down her legs, still refusing to break the kiss. He takes himself out of his own pants and keeps his body pressed against hers to shield her from the morning chill. Nathaniel gently pushes himself inside of Rebecca, and she lets out a quiet moan against his lips.
She’s content not to rush this, and so is he. It seems like a lifetime that Rebecca and Nathaniel lie in stillness, her body wrapped around his, her heat grasping him in a tight but loving squeeze. Rebecca looks up to find his eyes, and the love she finds staring down at her is overwhelming. She knows that look; it’s a look she’s run away from before. But this time, she chooses to embrace it.
“Nathaniel,” she whispers.
“Rebecca,” he replies.
He wants to tell her. He wants her to know how she makes him feel. He wants to shout it from this damn rooftop and let the entire city and world know how much he loves Rebecca Bunch.
But he doesn’t.
They start to move together, and his hands capture her face in a powerful kiss. One of them moves back to her hair and winds his fingers in the strands, though not with the same roughness and desperation that he usually does. They rock together with a lush tenderness as the morning glow becomes their comforter, the whipping winds their ceiling fan, and the chirping birds and car motors their soundtrack.
Rebecca comes apart beautifully beneath him as she always does, and Nathaniel helps bring her down from her high. He stays with her inside of her for as long as she needs afterwards. The intimacy of the moment is strangely not a bad thing to her. After experiencing all of the rushed and furious sex she could ever have in a lifetime, to slow down and enjoy it is refreshing. Her hand reaches up to move some fallen hair from around Nathaniel’s eyes, and she takes the moment to kiss him once again.
Everything she wants and needs to say but can’t put a voice to, she places inside that kiss, and Nathaniel understands because he always does. She’s an open book with a closed heart that Nathaniel is slowly peeling away the hard cover from. When he rolls to lie next to her instead of on top of her, Rebecca snuggles into his side and places her hand upon his heart like he does with her to make sure she’s alive and breathing. He does the same.
To Nathaniel, the gesture is more than just a confirmation of life; it’s a silent proclamation of love, simple and beautiful. When he feels her small palm flat over his steadily thumping heart, his heart stretches to impossible lengths and stirs with a flutter inside of his chest.
Rebecca listens to his breaths even out, and even though she isn’t nervous about anything, her heart can’t seem to slow down. Her stomach ties itself in knots, and the wings of her heart flap wildly within their cage. What is this feeling, so sudden and new, she thinks. It’s not loathing; it’s very much the opposite.