Cold wracked through Katia’s body, the heater had broken today and Marko was trying to scavenge for the materials to fix it but that left them with no heater for the night.
“I’m cold,” she said unhelpfully, though the only person to hear was Roman.
They were both huddled in their beds on either side of the room.
“I know,” he replied glumly. He must really be feeling worse for wear if he wasn’t giving her a sarcastic reply and just generally being a dick.
“We can’t stay like this all night, we’ll get sick.”
“Then what do you suggest we do? Huddle for warmth?” he asked sarcastically.
“Well...it would help,” she replied warily.
Roman stared at Katia incredulously, “You really want to try that? With me?”
“Well ‘want' is the wrong word-I just want to be warm again. And it’s not like I actually hate you. We just got off on the wrong foot.”
Roman just looked at her, his eyes even darker in the low light.
“Please?” Katia tried again, “Can we just try? My teeth are beginning to chatter.”
He sighed long and hard before making his way towards her but not before cursing as he set his bare feet on the ground.
“Scoot over,” he said gruffly.
Katia did so and he lifted the covers and slipped under them; he radiated warmth and she shamelessly moved closer, wrapping herself around him. They may not be close but they’d spent weeks together in an incredibly stressful situation so it didn’t feel too awkward to be so close.
The heat of him was amazing and he was comfortable; his arms enclosed her and they settled in together. Neither of them spoke, the situation was patently mortifying and they didn’t have anything to say anyway. Roman’s arms around her were a pleasant weight as they pulled her closer ever so slightly. All in the name of warmth, of course.
“I’m feeling better already,” she said eventually, breaking the silence.
“I’m trying to sleep,” Roman grumbled back before sighing, “But yes, I am feeling warmer.”
“Good, told you it was a good idea.”
“If you don’t shut up I’m going back to my bed just on principle. It’s weird enough having to cuddle with someone who can barely tolerate me without you talking about it and making it even weirder.”
“Like I said before we just got off on the wrong foot. And it is not cuddling,” Katia hissed indignantly, “We’re just trying to get warm.”
“Oh stop it, Katia. I literally have you in my arms right now and your head is on my chest, if that doesn’t constitute cuddling in your book I don’t even want to know what does,” Roman replied, annoyed and she just knew had rolled his eyes at her. That little shit.
“Yes but that sounds romantic which this isn’t. If one of us gets sick that could mean we all die, we’re just being pragmatic,” she argued, hating that she was basically talking into his chest due to their position. It didn’t help her argument in the slightest.
“It would be more pragmatic if you let me sleep. I swear you could talk until your lips fell off.”
Katia harrumphed but didn’t reply, just hit her head against his chest, ostensibly to get more comfortable. Roman didn’t react which made her more annoyed but she knew that any conversation with him, civil or otherwise was over so she just settled down to sleep.
Luckily she was feeling a lot warmer and their combined body heat was enough to stave off the cold and the feeling of being close to another human after so much time without it that even though she and Roman argued like a cat and dog locked in a room together (it often felt like that) it was nice to feel companionship.
It seemed that he felt something similar as his grip on her had only tightened once he’d fallen asleep and the snores he let out were something that Katia had never heard before, perhaps he’d never slept properly before. Without Roman’s conscious decision to keep a certain amount of distance between them their legs naturally slotted together which made her blush, this was far too intimate but to move now might wake him which was worse. The only thing that she could do now was to try and sleep.
Katia was woken up the next morning by Marko coughing to get her attention and looking very amused indeed.
“I go out for one night and you get yourself a boyfriend, you work fast.”
Luckily Roman was out for the count and snoring heavily otherwise Katia would have died from embarrassment, she also counted herself lucky that the covers blocked Marko’s view of their intertwined legs.
“We were huddling for warmth,” she bit out, annoyed.
“Uh huh, whatever you say,” he said, leaning against the doorway and smirking, “Looks a tad romantic to me. Also, I didn’t have Roman pegged down as the cuddling type but I stand very much corrected-he’ll never live that one down.”
“Leave, Marko. I’ll be downstairs to help with the heater soon, I assume that’s why you woke me up.”
“Well I was hoping for Roman to wake up but you will do.”
“Rude,” Katia sniffed haughtily but couldn’t full repress a snort-the situation was kind of funny, after all, “A lady needs her privacy...go on. Shoo.”
Marko chuckled and left, leaving Katia to her thoughts. She needed to extricate herself from Roman’s arms but she didn’t want to wake him up until they weren’t so...close. The whole thing felt far too intimate for her to deal with so early in the morning, it was just too awkward. It reminded her of when she would watch TV, she had thought people only cuddled that way in fiction as she had never done so with any of her previous partners, male or female. Roman was a lot more comfortable to lie on than she would have thought, not that she had given that any thought whatsoever before last night. God, the whole thing was ridiculous and she needed to forget about it, there was no room in a warzone for crushes of any kind. Katia had always had a bad taste in men but this took the cake, she sighed ruefully.
Katia tried to pull away without waking his but Marko was right, Roman really was a cuddler and he was holding onto her very tightly. She wiggled out of his arms and Roman groaned and turned to get comfortable again. Now that they were a respectable distance apart she decided to wake him up, or try to anyway, he looked to be out for the count. It felt wrong to wake him when he looked so peaceful it was all hands on deck to help fix the heater and the sooner hat it was fixed the better.
“Roman?” She said, shaking him gently, “Roman! Come on, you’ve slept enough. We need to help Marko fix the heater, he has enough of the components to fix it thankfully.”
Roman groaned but rolled over and sat up, blinking blearily at her, “Ok, fine, gimme a minute.”
“Sure thing I’ll, uh, be downstairs with Marko. He really wanted to get started with the heater and I can’t help but agree.”
“Fair enough,” Roman said before yawning and stretching, “I don’t want to get out of bed but everything for the greater good, right?”
“Exactly, I’m off. See you in a bit,” Katia said, trotting out of the room. Grateful to leave the odd tension between them behind for the moment.
Katia found Marko sat in front of the heater and cursing softly to himself.
“Anything I can do to help?” She asked, plopping herself down next to him, cross-legged.
He looked over to her, “Yes, actually. Fetch me that wrench, would you? I need to replace a pipe. I had to turn off the heater completely in order to work on it but once I’m done it should be good to go.”
“Great! Better than we thought. I was afraid that we’d have to build another one from scratch.”
“I bet you wouldn’t mind having some more late-night cuddle sessions with Roman, though,” Marko teased as he took the wrench from Katia.
“Oh shut up, Marko! It wasn’t like that and you know it.”
“Whatever you say, sweetheart.”
Katia growled and chucked an oil-stained piece of cloth at his head.
Roman poked his head around the door a few minutes later looking groggy but much more rested than she had seen him in weeks, possibly ever.
“Need any help?” He asked lazily.
“We’ve got it under control,” Marko replied, “I would be in your debt forever if you started breakfast, though. I managed to rustle up some meat so we’re in luck.”
“I would much rather be helping with the heater,” He grumbled.
“Katia?” Marko asked, “Mind swapping?”
Normally she would have argued but she didn’t want to mess up the newfound peace between them. She nodded.
“Sure,” she stood up and made her way to the door where Roman was stood, “Here,” she said, shoving the screwdriver she had been idly holding into his hands, “I’ll see if I can rustle up anything good.”
Roman looked down at her with an unreadable expression, “Thank you, Katia. I really hate cooking, I’d just fuck it up, anyway.”
As Katia bustled about the kitchen making breakfast, cooking with enough ingredients for once instead of having to make do she noticed the change in temperature before she heard Marko’s shout.
“Heater’s fixed, Katia!”
“I know!” She shouted back, “Good job! Breakfast is nearly done!”
Soon came the sound of feet on the staircase as the two men quickly made their way to the kitchen where she handed them their breakfast. They didn’t have a kitchen table but they usually ate standing up together in the kitchen, it was Katia’s idea. It meant less walking to put the bowls back in the sink to be washed as well as fostering a sense of community by eating together. Roman hadn’t liked it at first but he grew used to it eventually, like everything else emotional that Katia had suggested. It occurred to her at that moment that Roman had adapted to her way of doing things in a lot of ways, it was only fair that she at least try to do the same.