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She’s Tragic, He’s Magic

Chapter Text

Four cloves of garlic. How could it call for four whole cloves of garlic? It was chimichurri rice, not butter garlic noodles.

She scowled at the recipe open on her IPad that was set on the counter before her. She sighed then blew a strand of curly blonde hair out of her face.

If you were to look at her, the word that would come to mind would be pixie. She was short, petite, with striking blue eyes the color of a tormented sea. Her blonde hair, forever in knots, hung curly to beyond her breasts. All she needed were a pair of wings and she would practically be a faerie.

Men clamor to protect her. It’s something that a lot of guys have done. That ‘oh she’s small and I need to take care of her. Hold her in my arms so that no one can hurt her.’ She fucking hated it.

He didn’t treat her like that. Oh no. He took one look at her with her fiery personality that could burn like rum on a fire and said ‘no one fucks with my baby’. She was a damn firecracker. When someone pissed her, off she squared her shoulders, put her hands on her hips, and gave them a tongue lashing like he’d never seen or heard.

He might write songs like a madman. Full of intelligence, innuendo, and wit. This woman though, when she was pissed, oh her words were like knives.

She could land a punch like any man though. It had been a particularly bad night, he’d gotten hassled at a bar having a pint, they’d swung and missed. Before he could even put his fists up, she had landed a right hook that knocked him down. Ain’t nobody fucked with his baby because she damn well knew how to take care of herself.

Those icy words, those fiery fists, not once had they been turned on him. She used them only on the rest of the world. They had tried the world and good god it wasn't for them.

He was a successful musician. She was a struggling writer.

He kept a roof over their heads. She hated that.

She kept him well fed. He loved that.

Food was a side passion of hers and she’d found it to be a great way to express her love. Helping every now and then with a lyric made her feel useful too. However, she still hated relying on him for financial stability. It was bullshit. They were youthfully felt, though they never felt young.

Their six year age difference made her uncomfortable. She rarely felt insecure but not being able to stand on her own two feet without him made her feel that way.

She pushed the thoughts out of her head and smashed another clove of garlic with the flat side of the large chopping knife she held in her hand. She very carefully sliced the garlic into pieces then began to shop slowly. Her knife skills were not up to par but she got the job done. She liked to call her chopping skills “rustic” AKA the pieces were far too big.

Two long, lithe arms wrapped around her middle. She never even heard the door open. He was stealthy like a panther and had a tendency to sneak up on her.

His arms roamed freely. Splaying flat against her stomach then moving below her shirt and up under her bra. He kneaded the tender skin and she leaned her head back against him. With a deep contented sigh she let him play her body like an instrument of pleasure.

As one hand carefully rubbed over her right nipple, making the tan skin turn into a hard peak, another slipped below the elastic of her pajama shorts. She hadn’t bothered to get dressed today.

“Damn baby. Smells good.” He bit her neck gently and she hissed with pleasure. “Tastes good.” Two of his long fingers slipped inside of her and she stood up on tiptoe at the feeling of pleasure that went through her. It was like an electric current, her body bending to his will. It was an assault of the senses.

“Feels good.” He whispered into her ear gently biting the earlobe. The feel of his hot breath on the tender skin on her ear made her let out a small squeak of pleasure.

He might be tired after a performance but he was never too tired to make love to the light of his life.

He’d spent far too much time alone. Stumbling across this little faerie of a girl had been a trick of fate that made him almost want to say a prayer of thanks. He refrained. He liked to make his prayers in the bedroom. Or when he was fucking her on the counter of the kitchen.

“God damn, Andrew. Are you going to play with me all day or are you going to actually show me just how much of a man you are and fuck me?” She demanded and he chuckled a sound deep in his throat. He ignored her taunt and slipped another finger into her. He worked them in swirls as her natural juices allowed him to move in and out of her more easily.

“You’re wet, my dear lass. I must be doing something right to prove my manhood,” he joked back at her before sinking his teeth back into her shoulder.

She growled, almost on the verge of anger. She wanted him buried hilt deep inside of her and he was having too fun playing games with her. Well, she was quite capable of playing her own games.

She reached back and expertly unzipped his fly with one hand. Call it a useful talent. Reaching inside she felt that his cock was already hard and she could easily slide her hand up and down it, lubing it up with his own natural juices. He hissed as she ran her thumb over the head.

It was his turn to growl as she worked him just as expertly as he worked her. When he couldn’t stand it anymore, he gently pulled his fingers from inside of her and used his hand to knock everything on the counter to the floor. The garlic, the knife, the cutting board. All of it clattered to the floor. Luckily the knife didn’t land on anyone’s foot. He was too wrapped up in his pursuit of her gentle folds to particularly care.

He practically ripped her shorts off. It took a little more maneuvering to get her peach, lace boy shorts off. He let out a frustrated grunt that sent shock waves to her clit. She was alight with fire. She giggled at his haste and he smiled back, still keeping his attention on the task at hand.

When she was bare from the waist down he nudged her legs open wider and wider, until she was splayed before him. Grasping her thighs, he pulled her towards him. Freeing his hardened cock from his jeans, it took one thrust to drive completely into her.

Being inside of her folds was divine. It was almost religious, the feeling of filling her and being filled by him.

It was gentle but deep. She rocked her hips to match his thrusts.

He fucked her there on the counter, unable to wait long enough to get her to the bedroom. Never could he wait to be inside of her. To be one with her. Fuck, did he love this woman.

His hazel eyes that leaned ever so much to green matched her blue eyes so deep like the turbulent ocean. She leaned her forehead against his and they'd breathed into each other. He exhaled, she inhaled. He inhaled, she exhaled.

They shared breath. The shared life. They shared a life.

They were anchored to each other. Oh, he left plenty but always he came back to her bounding back like a puppy in love. Which he was.

She pined for him every moment he was gone. Heartsick she was for him, he always came back and fucked the living shit out of her. Then he’d hold her in his arms and whisper the sweetest of nothings in her ear. He had a tongue of silver that he knew how to use in more way than one.

“Fuck. Come on Andy, fuck me,” she cried as he slowed down. He grinned a lopsided wolfish grin. Oh, he had her right where he wanted her.

She rocked her hips harder and squeezed the walls of her pussy so that it tightened around his cock with each thrust.

“Good. God. Woman.” He panted as he drove harder into her. He was close. Oh so close. Fuck he wanted it.

“Harder, come on baby, almost there, oh god, almost there,” she cried out, almost always a very vocal woman in and out of the bedroom.

“Baby, take it. Come on, take it.” He couldn’t help but respond to her cries. They were mutual in their intensity. She drove him wild. Absolutely crazy when she was like this. Fully insatiable and completely demanding.

It took two more thrusts for her to come. It took three after her pussy spasmed around his cock for him to come too.

He held fast to her. Burying his face in her neck. Her baby soft hair tickling his cheeks as he came fast and hard. When the spasms stopped they both waited a moment, simply holding on to one another.

When he’d caught his breath, he drew back only slightly to look at her. She stared at him, blue eyes always wide and looking innocent, even though she was a devious little thing.

“Fuck, woman, I love you,” he said with force, and a smile broke across her face.

“Dear bog man, I completely love you,” she whispered back, letting her lips brush against his ever so lightly. He wrapped his hand around the back of her head and deepened the kiss until he could feel the pressure of her lips against his. When their lips were swollen with the kiss that they shared, she pulled back.

“Dinner’s burning.”

“I don’t care,” he replied, an almost dreamy quality to his voice.

“I care,” she shot back. He growled less in the throes of love and more in a complaint. Gently he pulled out of her and helped her off the counter.

“Well then.” She continued picking her clothes up off the floor of the kitchen. She dusted garlic bits off her shorts, gave up, and just pulled on her panties that had luckily been spared from the disaster on the floor.

“Work,” he sighed even though he loved his job. He wanted to be in the kitchen with her. Helping to clean up the mess and finishing dinner. He actually just wanted to be anywhere she wanted to be.

“Go. Go be productive,” she laughed and gently spanked him in a ‘get out of here’ gesture. He smiled and wrapped her up in his arms. She was so short and he was so tall that he had to life her up so that he could kiss her. She giggled again before swatting him on the ass again to get him to go. He left reluctantly.

“Mario Kart later?” He asked, turning back before he fully left the kitchen.

“Oh course, doll. I never get tired of kicking your ass in that game.” She jested, but was mostly serious.

“We’ll see, baby,” he told her with a smile before heading to the studio they’d built in the upstairs room of the house.

She turned back to mess that was now the kitchen and the pot bubbling on the stove that was very nearly on the verge of burning. She smiled to herself, remembering the feel of his hands on her, in her.

It was bliss.

It wouldn’t last.

OoOo

Chapter Text

“Well, dinner is burned to shit, thank you very much.” He pulled the large over the ear headphones off and looked up at her.

“Sorry, I didn’t know you were recording.” She began to back out of the room but he motioned for her to enter. He pulled the headphones back on and began to play a few more notes. Whatever he was composing, it was hauntingly beautiful. He watched her out of the corner of his eye as his nimble fingers that had only a little while ago been inside of her moved over the strings.

She closed the door softly and leaned back against it watching him. That fucking man was hers, all hers. She loved that thought and smiled to herself as she watched him play.

He tapped a few things on the screen in front of him then pulled off the headphones and set the acoustic/electric in the stand next to him.

“Come here baby.” He called to her. She bit her bottom lip and sauntered over to him. He watched her walk. She was still in a t-shirt, his shirt that was still two sizes too big for her and hung on her like a dress, and her lacy panties. It was a stunning sight.

He took her hand and pulled her into his lap. She wriggled against him to get settled and his cock grew slightly stiff. He grinned and buried his head in her neck. Her long hair tickled his nose and he breathed in the scent of her. She smelled like rose, vanilla, and something exotic and spicy. Her scent was all her, and it turned him on like nothing else.

He managed to pull himself away from her long enough to grasp the neck of his guitar and pull it into her lap. He guided her hands to the strings and the frets. She’d gotten a few lessons from him and knew well enough what to do with her hands. Oh, this wild girl always knew what to do with her hands. She could definitely play his body just as expertly as he could play this guitar.

“Remember to keep your hand curled. You don’t want to touch the strings you don’t mean to hit.” He directed her gently in his best teacher voice.

“I remember,” she snapped at him in her feisty way. He kept his fingers lightly wrapped around her upper arms, stroking the skin there. He chuckled deep in his throat at her words. She didn’t always remember, he thought to himself with another laugh.

Her fingers began to pick out the first notes of “Cherry Wine”. It was her personal favorite. She’d begged him to teach it to her. He’d offered to teach her “Jackie and Wilson” instead. It had a happier feel to it and it made him do her favorite ‘bouncy bounce’ move, as she called it, he had pointed out. She’d persisted. It was such a sad song, he’d argued. It was fitting, she’d thrown back. Finally, he had relented.

Her fingers paused on the strings and he waited to hear her. She was using her long nails to pick the strings but she stayed them.

“My singing is shit. You need to sing.”

“I love when you sing, baby girl. Please continue.” He stroked her unruly blonde hair lovingly and rested his head on her shoulder.

“Please, please, please,” she begged in her cute little way and he sighed.

“You always win when you do that, Ainsley,” he grumbled and he felt her body vibrate with laughter.

“Why do you think I do it?” She shot back at him and he joined her giggles with a chuckle of his own.

She began to pluck out the music again and slowly he began to sing the slow, sweetly sad song to her.

“...Oh, she burns like rum on the fire. Hot and fast and angry as she can be. I walk my days on a wire...” Her body stiffened at this opening line and her fingers fumbled on the strings. She stilled.

“Do you want to stop?” He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. She shook him off.

“No let me start again.” He began again and this time she hit the notes perfectly. As they finished the song she sighed.

“Another one?” She asked.

“Anything you want babe.” He wrapped his arms around her waist in the space between her body and the guitar. She started out the opening of “Work Song” and he joined in. As he hit the first chorus his fingers began to creep downwards until the slipped under the elastic of her panties.

She was still wet and ready from their earlier fuck. Wet with her own juices, wet with his. He slipped a finger inside of her and she gasped, her fingers faltering for a moment.

“Keep playing,” he whispered into her ear before he began to nibble on the lobe.

“Damn boy, you are insatiable. You just had me.”

“I’d have you every moment of every day if I could. Keep going.” Andrew directed her again. Her fingers found the strings and she started again. As he worked his callused finger over her clit in small circles. He swirled one way then the other and applied gentle pressure against the pleasurable pearl.

Little gasps escaped her at each of his movements. Her fingers kept faltering and she hit sour notes. Still she played and made it through the song.

“Another.” He was nearly to the point of demanding. He could be firm when he was in one of these moods. She fucking loved it.

“No, now you fuck me on the floor of this studio.” He growled and sunk his teeth into her neck. She sucked in air as he bit and sucked leaving a glorious love mark on her neck. ‘Mine,’ he thought to himself as he marked her. ‘All mine’.

She was careful with the guitar as she placed it back in it’s cradle. He was not gentle with her.

She was a princess. He was a savage.

He flipped her onto her back and straddled her in one smooth motion. She laughed and he grinned down at her with the smile of a wolf.

“Seems you’re in a predicament.” He said to her his voice throaty and deep. He felt his cock pushing against his fly. He ground slightly against her crotch and she squirmed under him.

“Nah, I got this on lock.” She tossed back. He laughed. Fuck, he loved this girl.

“I think I have you pinned,” he pointed out, lowering his face so that it hovered just above her lips.

“Yes, but I have you wrapped around my finger,” she said, deadly serious. His grin spread wider, splitting his face open.

“Oh?” She smiled a predatory smile and her hands were suddenly in motion. So slowly she reached up and began gently pinching her right nipple until it strained like a hardened peak against the thin fabric of his t-shirt. The other hand began to lightly stroke I'm through his jeans. He could feel the denim growing wet with the precum oozing from the slit in his cock. She was right, she did have him wrapped around her finger.

He was fast when he wanted to be. He was smooth when he wanted to be. She moved willingly as he dismounted her and moved her to his side. He gripped the side of her lace panties and pulled until they ripped. They were a nuisance anyways. He tossed them to the side. Unzipping his jeans, it took one forward motion, one thrust and he was inside her again.

It never stopped amazing him how fucking good it felt to be inside her. He’d claimed her just an hour ago and still he couldn’t get enough. He thrust deep and hard. He wanted her. He needed her. She was his.

“Mine,” he growled in her ear and she moaned deep in her chest.

“Yours. Mine.” She growled back to him meeting him thrust for thrust. It was intense.

“Harder, Andrew. Fuck. Me. Harder.” She demanded rocking back against him with force.

“My insatiable baby,” he cooed to her and she met his response with a frustrated growl.

“Less talking. More fucking,” she instructed through gasps and moans. He loved that he could pull such sweet sounds from her. She loved his voice when he sang. He loved her moans when she made prayers to deities as he was inside her. To him it wasn’t an even trade. She was getting swindled in his opinion.

“God damn, I’m there. Fuck!” She screamed out as her pussy gripped his cock and wouldn’t let go.

“Fuck, woman!” He screamed back as he came into her. They gasped and panted and spasmed together on the floor of his studio.

That studio saw the creation of such sweet music. Both traditional and the kind made whispered in the throws of passion.

OoOo

Chapter Text

'Right where I left you,’ he thought as he came into the house , closing the front door behind him. She was experimenting with another recipe and had sent him out for provisions when she’d burned the first attempt. She liked to “improvise” when it came to the hard and fast rules of someone else’s recipe. Often times it turned out better than usual. Other times he stood fanning the shrieking fire alarm with a dish towel while she flitted about the house opening windows. This had been one of those times. She was still in the kitchen chopping vegetables and he couldn’t help whipping out the “Pirates of the Caribbean” line when he saw her there. She’d made him watch the movie at least a dozen times since they’d started dating. She didn’t find all pirates sexy, just some of them. Her words not his.

“You realize you just rapped the first verse of “The Monster” by Eminem perfectly right? You also did it with no shame?” His voice was full of laughter as he addressed her.

“I like how you seem to think I should have some type of shame about that. Hashtag ‘sorry not sorry’, baby boy.” She singsonged from the counter. “Do you come bearing gifts?” She wiped the red bell pepper juice from her fingers onto the front of the half apron she wore tied around her waist. The tips of her fingers were still red after she was done. He placed the bag of groceries in her hand and she nodded approvingly.

“What do you say we abandon this latest venture of yours and hit the town. Paint it red?”

“Oo la la. Does my Wasteland, Baby got cabin fever?” She asked coming to stand before him. She leaned up on tiptoes and gripped the front of his shirt before tugging to pull him down to her level. He practically had to bend in half to reach her lips, but the pain was worth the reward as she pressed soft lips firmly against his.

“Little bit. I’ve been holed up in that studio for three days straight working on the album. I need some air. A pint. And some of you in something that doesn’t require me to take your pants off later.” She snort laughed, completely unashamed at his words and he grinned. He knew he had her when she did that. She placed her hands on her hips and pushed her right hip out to the side, looking at him.

“Fine, but at this ‘later’ time, I get to be on top.”

“Deal.” He grinned wickedly at her and she rolled her eyes. She smiled back. He was too freaking a-dork-able for his own good.

OoOo

“One more. Please. You were dancing so beautifully. One more pint. I’ll sit at the bar and watch you. It will definitely get things going for...later.” He spoke the last word with a waggling of his eyebrows. Ainsley laughed and pulled him along the sidewalk with her back in the direction of the house. He might be in the mood to be out and about. She on the other hand had no more desire to out in the bar choked with cigarette smoke no matter how good of a playlist they had been blasting that night.

“Come on, Andy, we both know if you have any more, nobody’s going to be on top tonight because ‘later’ is not going to happen if you can’t get it up.” She laughed at her own words and he mock gasped.

“Oooh, low blow, Ains. Very low blow.”

“I always pick the low hanging fruit love.” She pointed out, putting a little hop in her step as she bounced her way down the sidewalk, swinging his hand as she did. Luckily he had limbs like a tree, or with how tall he was and how short she was he’d have to bend over to hold her hand.

“I wanna hold your hand...” She sung a little louder than she needed to but he laughed as she did. She’d been raised on The Beatles and often quoted songs in her high, sweet voice when she found it fitting. They were more quotable than The Eagles or John Denver, the other two music acts from her childhood.

“Watch it.” She hadn’t been paying attention as she looked up at Andrew, the man hit her with enough force to send her sprawling. She pulled Andy down with her. Her knee met with the sidewalk painfully and she felt blood beginning to trickle down her knee that was screaming with pain.

“Watch it yourself, asshole!” She shrieked at him, dusting bits of pavement out of her skinned palms. She glanced over at Andrew who was pulling himself off the ground.

“What’d you say?” The guy had obviously been drinking and Andrew moved quickly as he turned to head back towards them. The man might be unsteady on his feet but he could see him heading back towards Ainsley. He wasn’t sure who he was more worried about, Ainsley or this guy who had no idea he’d just kicked the hornet’s nest.

“You heard me.” Ains was already on her feet and began to lunge. Andrew could see her heels leaving the ground as she pushed off with the balls of her feet. He grabbed her around the waist and caught her before she could fully tackle the guy. She twisted in his arms, spitting curses. Whether at the guy or at Andrew, he wasn’t sure nor did it matter. She used her legs,short as they were to kick out at the drunken man. He looked alarmed but no quite ready to back down yet.

“Leave man, just leave.” Andrew demanded. He managed to get ahold of Ainsley secure enough to turn his body so that their sides faced the guy. “Leave.” Andrew added again. The two men sized each other up. With a wave a hand that said ‘why bother?’ the guy let it go and continued his trek down the street, ready to knock over another unsuspecting 5ft something woman Andrew supposed.

“Let me the fuck go!” Ains screamed. He knew better than to keep ahold of her at this point. He knew what was coming. Releasing her from his grasp she rushed to the wall and placed her palms flat against the stone. Taking deep gasping breaths she hung her head towards the ground. He approached slowly, trying to make as much noise as possible so that he didn’t sneak up on her. Her chest shuddered with the weight of taking in breath. A sob escaped her and he carefully let his flat palm rest against her back. She still gasped and whirled, knocking his hand away. Her arms flew up, whether to hit him or protect her face he wasn’t sure.

“Stop. Just give me a second. Fuck.” Her voice was on the verge of a full meltdown and he held his hands up in a calm, ‘I won’t touch you’ gesture. She began to pace and pull at her hair.

“Ains, baby, sit down for a while please. Just sit. I’m not going to touch you.” He pleaded assuring her. The tears came fast and hard now. The blood was trailing down her leg in a thin red line and created red footprints as she prowled her way along the street. She seemed to ignore him then finally collapsed against the wall.

“I hate myself. I fucking hate myself.” She kept whispering over and over. He took a deep breath and sat next to her his arms resting on his legs. There was nothing for him to do right now but let her work through it. When she got angry like that this was what followed. He knew about her PTSD, he didn’t know what it stemmed from, she refused to talk about it. Yet anytime her anger rose she’d have a flashback of some kind. He accepted her as she was. When she was ready to talk about it she would. It had been two years and she still didn’t ever mention it. She tried to push it away. He respected her choice though he didn’t agree with it. ‘She’ll tell me in time,’ he always told himself, even if it wasn’t true. She grew deathly quiet and he looked over at her. The tears had stopped and she wiped the last of them away.

“I’m sorry.” Her voice was quiet.

“Can I touch you now? Is that okay?” He respected her boundaries always, but especially in these moments. She nodded, still not looking at him but instead staring off into the distance. He stretched his arm out and wrapped it around her shoulders pulling her against his side. He kissed her temple and rested his chin on top of her head.

“I’m sorry.” She repeated.

“Nothing to be sorry about, love.” He silently cursed whoever had done this to her. Not the man knocking into her but whatever or whoever had brought this pain and hate into her. The fight had gone completely out of her at this point.

“I’ll call a car to take us home.” He fished his phone out of his pocket keeping her held fast to his side as he dialed. She continued to stare vacantly at the cement in front of her. She was there but she wasn’t, not entirely.

She was somewhere else. Somewhere dark that she tried to hold deep inside her.

She was a tragedy wrapped up in a comedy.

Why not?

Life was all a farce anyways.

OoOo

He held her that night. He’d gently bandaged her knee when they’d gotten home. Wiping the thin line of blood that had run its way down her leg with a warm wash cloth, he’d placed a bandaid over the biggest extent of damage and placed a gentle kiss against it. She smiled down at him wanly. She’d run her fingers through his hair then rested her hands flat against his cheeks. She tried to smile more warmly but couldn’t muster it. She was tired. So fucking tired.

He took her to bed but no one was on top. He’d pulled her clothes off one by one ready to change her into a pair of pajamas but she’d crawled under the sheets naked, pulling the covers up to her chin. He’d sighed and followed suit. He’d let his hand rest gently on her shoulder to let her know he was there. She grasped it and pulled him closer to her, wrapping his arm around her waist. He held her until long after she slept.

He held her until she woke up screaming. He knew she would. He also knew she’d fight against him. Railing and screaming until she looked him in the eyes. Her wide and scared as she looked him deep in the face.

“You’re safe,” he whispered, and the fight went out of her. It was all she needed to hear in that moment. Not ‘I love you’, or anything else. All she needed to know was the she was with him and safe. She was always safe with him. He rolled over so that his back was to the mattress, pulling her with him. She cuddled against him, resting her head against his chest and listening to him breathe. No matter how tired he was, he always stayed up until she fell back asleep.

“Babe, there’s something so lonesome about you,” she whispered under her breath. He said nothing in reply. He knew she was talking to herself.

She was tragic. He was magic.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He woke to a cold and empty bed. The sheets, where she had tossed and turned and screamed in the night, when her legs had become tangled in the dark fabric confining her, were free of her gentle form. In the night, he had carefully pulled the sheets from her legs and held her close or let her push him away when she needed space to breathe. This had become a semi-nightly affair as of late. Once, she had been calm and peaceful in her sleep. Now, she suffered nightly with wounds he could not see. He yearned to help her heal, but until she let him in, there was nothing he could do. It had been two years and she had continued to dance around any questions he asked about her past and the time that came before him. It was strange to be so in love with someone you didn’t even know, but he was.

He found her exactly where he expected to. The place she felt most safe. In the kitchen.

She was humming the chorus of his song “Foreigner’s God”. It was fitting for the moment and he didn’t disturb her. She flitted away in her magical way from counter to stove to counter to pantry, all the while humming that song.

“She feels no control of her body, she feels no safety in my arms,” she whispered under her breath as she hit the second verse. He cringed at her use of the words. Every time after a PTSD episode, he’d find her in the kitchen humming that song. Every time, she absently sung that line under her breath. He knew by now that it held significance. The riddle of what kind still plagued him. He knew that he may never know.

He stood a little way around the corner, watching her. She had yet to notice him and he could see how her body had deflated. She no longer held herself upright like she had the day before. Instead, she hunched over, holding herself up with her arms as she flipped through cook books, unsatisfied with any of the recipes.

“You can keep hiding or you can join me in the kitchen, but figure it out.” Her voice was soft and sounded downtrodden. He hated when she sounded like this, stood like this, felt like this. He emerged from the shadows and joined her in the kitchen. She paused momentarily from her constant movement, her attempt to dispel the nervous energy inside of her, to come to him and wrap her arms around his waist.

He was so tall. She was so short. Their heights were mismatched but he held her and in that moment, he felt her stand just a little straighter.

“Go sit at the table. I’ll have breakfast ready in a few.” She drew away from him and he felt the absence of her warmth. She gave him the gentlest of shoves. It was meant to be playful. He felt wounded by it despite her demeanor. It often felt like she was pushing him away. Never letting him in. It hurt. He wanted to help and still, despite her deep love for him, she didn’t trust him enough with the darkest parts of herself. Sometimes he felt like they were connected by a thread, other times by a steel cable as thick as a tree trunk. It was a precarious balance, their relationship.

He moved to the table, pulling his arms from the small of her back where they had been resting for the moment. The kitchen had two open doorways, one leading to the dining room, so even once he took a perch on the edge of one of the chairs, he watched her. He didn’t know how to help, so instead he observed, building up information until the day she let him in. Then he’d be prepared.

She lined the table with two plates heaped with food. Instead of placing them in front of their chairs, she simply moved them to the other side. It wasn’t a particularly large table. They only needed room for two. He looked at the steaming plates sitting across from them and turned curious eyes up to her. She smiled a devious little smile and hopped herself up onto the table before him. Gingerly, she placed the tip of her bare foot on his chair, directly between his legs. A few inches farther in and she’d be resting it on some very important body parts. Her smile told him she knew exactly what she was doing.

“Ains, I don’t think...” he began. She placed a single finger to his lips and stopped him mid-protest. He wanted to push her away like she had in the kitchen but he couldn’t. She looked at him with those baby blues of hers. She didn’t look vulnerable like she had the night before. Now, her nerves were steeled. She acted as if nothing had happened. He knew it was only a matter of time before she had another episode. It was nearly nightly these days.

“Ains, really...” She cut him off again this time with words instead of actions.

“I don’t want to talk about it, Andy. I know you do, but I’m not ready yet. Your concern is noted and appreciated. I am asking in this moment that you trust me. I want to make love. On this table. With you. Then I want to eat my breakfast and enjoy the day. Let’s leave what happens in the night to the darkness. That’s where it belongs.” Her words cut his argument off. She knew what she needed more than he did. ‘Let me in,’ he tried to convey to her. ‘Tell me what it is that makes you scream in the night. That haunts yours dreams. Tell me. Tell me. Tell me,’ he begged in his mind. She kept staring at him with those clear blue glass eyes. She was a faerie, a doll, a princess. His princess.

“Damn it, woman,” he growled at her and advanced. This was how she coped with the pain. By wrapping herself up in the comfort of him. Her lover. Her love. Her Andy.

Her body was at the perfect height while she sat on the edge of the table. He grabbed her thighs and pulled her to him so that her sex fit into the crotch of his pants. She was wearing nothing more than a soft reddish pink nightgown with the phrase “It Was All A Dream” written in cursive across the breasts. He hated that nightgown. It was too fitting to what happened in the night. The secret they hid in the bedroom. The hurt she held in the dark nights.

He ripped the fabric free from her body and tossed it to the floor. She had used her hands to help remove it from her body so that he didn’t rip it as he had intended to. She held some type of sentimental value with that nightgown. She wouldn’t let it be torn to shreds. Not even by her wild Irishman.

He was quick to undo the button of his fly but her hands were quicker to get the zipper down. Once again he didn’t wait to disrobe. He was already ready for her, his cock oozing precum. She was already ready for him, her pussy lubed with her natural juices. There had been no physical contact between them yet. Still, the desperate act of simply needing each other had driven them to the point of being ready and willing.

He drove into her with one smooth move of his hips. She had guided him in, parting her thighs so that he could enter. It was a quick fuck. Silent. The two of them rocking their bodies together in a manic motion. He thrust his cock, hard for her, into her pussy, wet for him. She met him thrust for thrust. It was intense and he buried his head into her neck, biting hard. His. Princess. His. Princess.

“Mine.” He growled as he fucked her on the dining room table.

“Yours. Mine.” She nearly screamed back at him.

There was comfort in these words. To know that the one you love is so completely yours that one word could define that love. Mine. Yours.

So help him, he loved this girl. His princess. His goddess. His woman.

She needed him. Loved him. Adored him. Could not breathe without him. She feared her night terrors would drive him away. She feared the name that was on her lips when she gasped in fear in the night. She hated that name.

She hated him for what he had done to her. How he still hurt her even now. She hated Jacob.

OoOo

Chapter Text

She hated Wyoming. With a burning passion she hated Wyoming. There was nothing about this state that was particularly offensive. It was actually quite beautiful and she had spent many of her summers camping here with her family when she was a kid. There really was nothing wrong with Wyoming. Other than the fact that ‘he’, that ever present in her mind proverbial ‘he’, lived here.

He’d moved...after. Said he needed the space to get her out of his head. Ha! It was laughable. He needed space. He needed to get her out of his head. He made it all sound like he’d been the victim. Like he’d been the one to file the restraining order. He’d been the one that had to have a body with flailing fists pulled off him. Like he’d had a choice in leaving her alone. No, oh no. They’d made him leave.

He’d gone willingly enough. He said he was done with her. That he’d met someone else. Funny thing about men like that, not funny in the full on laughing way but in it’s so sad I either laugh or cry way, is that they’re never done. They can get all the space they want or need but that high they get from doing the terrible things they do eventually wears off. The new woman she doesn’t cower quite the same. She doesn’t whimper quite the same. Oh no, they need that real fix with that perfect woman who hides in the corner as they advance on her with that menacing grin.

The letters had come slowly in the beginning. She didn’t bother to read the first one. Just held it over a burning candle and thrown it in the sink to burn. It had come a few weeks after she’d first started dating Andrew. She hadn’t told him about it. She wasn’t ready she kept telling herself. Then a whole torrent of white envelopes started showing up in her mail. Sometimes four or five at a time.

Next he started calling. She’d changed her number but they had shared friends for a while. Anyone could have given him her new number. She changed it again. He found it again. He continued to call. She’d hated hiding it all from Andrew. Telling him that it was a wrong number or a telemarketer call whenever he called. Shrugging her shoulders she’d say someone must have sold her phone number to a calling list again.

Then he started calling her in the night. She’d turn her ringer off but her eyes watched the face of her phone lighting up over and over again. That’s when the night terrors started. If she fell asleep at all she’d dream of him. Life with him. Life with Jacob. Andrew took it all in stride.

Once, only once she’d seen Jacob on the street of her hometown. He didn’t see her only kept checking the street before he jaywalked in the direction of her old apartment. She’d moved but she knew it would only be a matter of time before he found out where.

To Andrew’s delight she’d asked if she could come on tour with him for a while. She told him she was sick of the same view and wanted to travel. She told him she wanted to move again. With a less than firm sense of security he’d asked if she wanted to move to Ireland to live with him. She had happily agreed.

Changing to an international number that only her parents had, having an address in a different country, and being thousands of miles away stopped it all. She had felt safe. Safe in Ireland. Safe with Andrew.

They had an agreement though, with as often as he was on tour, she had to join for at least a few months out of the year so that they could be spend time together. They were so disgustingly cute that the whole band wanted to vomit but secretly they envied that kind of love.

It usually didn’t bother her. They were in a city one night another the next. It was unlikely to be spotted enough that it would get back to anyone she didn’t want to know about her being there. She’d begged Andrew to keep their relationship under the radar so that she could travel without notoriety. To anyone who asked she was writing a book about the band. It was...simple but still completely complicated.

It never really bother her. Not until they were in Wyoming. In the same state as ‘him’.

Andrew found Ainsley leaning against the small table on the tour bus her head resting against the cool window. Her hot breath created a large fog of condensation on the glass that surrounded her like a halo. There was no way she could see any of the view passing outside of the window. Still she continued to stare vacantly out the glass. He didn’t like seeing her like that. He knew something was bothering her. He also knew better than to ask.

“Hey baby girl.” He whispered coming up to kiss her lightly on top of her crown of white blonde hair.

“Hey baby.” She replied still staring out the window. When he hovered she finally turned to look up at him. She smiled warmly at the sight of him, the sight of safety. It didn’t quite reach her eyes. She could see the concern in her face. ‘Smile like you mean it’ she reminded herself always trying to put on a front. If he could see the depth of the darkness inside of her he’d run away screaming. That’s what she always told herself at least. He sat down next to her and stretched his arm over her shoulders pulling her against him. She rested her head against his shoulder feeling limp in his arms like a broken doll. She continued to stare out the window. What she was looking for he didn’t know.

“Something you’re looking for?” He asked resting his chin on top of her head. His breath disturbed the curly blonde strands that reached up and tickled his nose.

'More like someone’ she thought to herself. She sighed and turned her head away from the window finally to stare up at him. He was breathtakingly handsome and his face was always warm and inviting. It radiated love. It was everything she had always wanted and everything Jacob had never given her. She hated even having his name in her mind when she was around Andy. He didn’t deserve to even begin to be compared to Andrew. A savior or a monster. It was an intense juxtaposition. Her past relationship versus her new one. So much safety, he offered her so much safety. He could offer her even more if she would just let him in. She’d slammed that door shut a long time ago. She didn’t plan on opening it back up again.

“Nope. Just watching the scenery go by.” He didn’t mention that she couldn’t actually see the scenery through the circle of condensation on the window. He knew better than to try to break through her logic when she was trying to shut him out. She’d deny, he’d insist, she’d get upset. It simply was not worth it.

“It’s late Ains. Come to bed.” He begged her tugging her back towards the rows of bunks that lined the sides of the back of bus. There was hardly room for one person in a bunk but she was small enough that they squeezed into one together. Yes, they really were disgustingly cute.

As she was hopping up into his middle bunk trying her hardest not to kick anyone in the lower bunk in the face she found herself eye level with his crotch. She paused for a moment in her climb and looked at him with mischievous grin and waggled her eyebrows. He laughed long and hard as she continued her way into the bunk.

“I think the only way we’d make that work is if we went by the good old 69 position.” Andrew joked as he pulled hers against his bare chest. She laughed her high and melodic laugh that he loved so much. She draped herself over his chest like a blanket holding onto him for safety. He felt wrapped up in her love in that moment as she was quite literally wrapped around him. There was a sense of peace and calm between them.

“We’ll have the bedroom tomorrow.” Ains told him quietly and she could feel his lips spread into a grin from where they had been resting against the crown of her head.

“Hm...the possibilities.” Her Andy said with a joke in his voice. Still his mind held the sentence close. It had been several days since he’d been inside of her. Her sex that he craved oh so much had remained devoid of his cock. It twitched at the very idea. She felt that twitch of his cock and smiled happily at the effect she had on him.

Her hand caressed the skin of his side and moved down lower stroking his ribs, then his hipbones. She shifted to the side so that she could gain access to his cock. It was half hard when her hand reached inside of his boxer briefs and gripped gently at the base of the shaft.

“Ains they’ll hear us.”

“No darling, they’ll hear you.” She pointed out grinning at him. He had tried to pause her but only half heartedly. He wanted this as much as she did. He sighed and leaved back crossing his hands behind his head.

She pulled her hand back out and licked her palm. Then she slipped her hand back inside of his briefs and began to stroke ever so softly. He let out small puffs of air. Damn it felt so good to have her touching him, working him over. He’d missed the intimacy of their shared contact.

The tempo of her hand increased until he was letting out low sweet moans. When she ran the pad of her thumb along the slit of his cock that was dripping with precum he almost blew. It had been too long since his baby’s hands had been on him. She stopped teasing him and went in for the kill. Keeping a steady rhythm she stroked him fast enough that he had to grab the pillow from behind him and stuff it over his mouth to keep from moaning so loud he’d wake the entire bus.

Finally he couldn’t hold it anymore and he came fast and hard. The pillow much to Ainsley’s disappointment muted his cries of pleasure as he continued to cum. When he had settled he pulled the pillow away and fixed her with a mock glare.

“Damn woman you will be the death of me.” He growled pulling her to him and crashing his mouth to hers. The feel of his lips, the wetness between her legs, all of it pushed all the thoughts of Jacob from her mind.

A moment’s silence when my baby puts his mouth on me.

OoOo

Chapter Text

Did she mention she hated Wyoming? Every time they stopped at a rest stop, restaurant, or anywhere on the way to the hotel, she would glance around nervously. She kept expecting to turn and, bam, there he’d be. Smiling devilishly in that ‘Now I’ve got you’ way that he always looked at her with when he caught her doing something, anything that would incite his rage. He fed off her fear. Loved every second of it. Any mistake she made he would turn word, or hand, or even fist to her. What he considered to be a mistake others would simply call life. He never was good with logic. His brains were all in his fists.

“What’s got you so jumpy?” Andrew asked when he came up behind her to place his arms on her shoulders. As if to illustrate his point she practically leapt a few feet in the air which was quite a feat for someone so small. She looked at him with wide, scared eyes. He hated when she looked at him like that. Like he was the big bad wolf come to blow her house down and devour her whole. He was a wolf alright and he’d devoured her before and would again, but he was of no threat to her. Still, she always turned frightened eyes on him whenever he caught her off guard. She tried desperately to cover for it and turned back around, resting her back against his chest. He let his hands rest on her shoulders again and began to knead the skin. She purred with happiness, even though she was so tight in the shoulder he could barely move his hands. She was tight and knotted through with tension. He sighed and kissed her on the top of her head, directly in the middle of her halo of wild blonde hair. He kept at it even though it was a lost cause. She needed a masseuse and about three hours on a massage table.

“That feels nice,” she purred, even though he was making no leeway into the mess that was the muscles of her back and shoulders.

“She said, avoiding the question....” he pointed out, trying to not sound passive aggressive and easily losing that battle. He knew something was really bugging her and he also knew that she was not going to tell him. It was not their first time passing through here, but it was their first time stopping for a concert. Something about here had her on high alert. Even as she made happy humming sounds deep in her throat, she was still scanning the rest stop like she was expecting the boogeyman to jump out from behind a tree and shout “Boo!”. It’d be comical if it wasn’t so completely true. She was in her ‘waiting for the shit to hit the fan’ mode. She got like this when something touching on that darkness deep inside of her came out to play. He sighed and rested his head on the top of her head, wrapping his arms around her, having given up on giving her some tension relief. At least with a massage that was.

“When we get to the hotel, I vote for a shower,” he whispered into her ear, nibbling on the cartilage ever so lightly. A chill that was surprisingly hot like fire went down her body as he moved his teeth down to her earlobe.

“Mmmm, and are we going to fight for who gets to go first?” She inquired of him, her hand wrapping tightly around his forearm that crossed her chest. She wanted to be wrapping her hand tightly around something completely different.

“Oh Ains, baby, the only fight we’ll be having is who gets to cum first,” he spoke feather soft, blowing slowly into her ear.

“Damn you man. Now I’m going to spend the next few hours hot and wet thinking about this shower you’re promising me.” Since he started their little play session, she had visibly relaxed. Whatever had been bugging her was put on the back burner at the idea of behind wrapped around him, slippery and wet, as the hot spray rained down on them.

“Good. That’s how I like to have you.” He blew in her ear once again and her hand tightened on his arm. Her purr increased in volume and he kissed the delicate skin behind her ear. Suddenly she spun surprising him.

“Oh baby, you think you’ve got the advantage, but all I'd say is you should ponder your words, ‘A moment’s silence when my baby puts her mouth on me’.” She growled at him, pulling his head down to hers to crash her lips against his. She nibbled lightly on his lower lip in that way that got him instantly hard. He groaned into her mouth as she licked his bottom lip lightly with the tip of her tongue and he opened his mouth to greet her. She broke the kiss first and he let out a feral noise of disagreement. She smiled and silently made her way back to the bus without another word.

“Is that a promise then, Ains?” He called moving to catch up with her.

“Oh hunny, that is a bonafide guarantee.” She shouted back over her shoulder, not turning to look at him. Twin grins spread across their faces as he caught up to her and spun her around in his arms. She laughed at his foolish displays of affection, that damnable name forgotten for just a moment. The way it always was when she was around her Andy.

Still the wilds of Wyoming did not forget.

“Jacob” the wild winds seemed to whisper as the happy couple boarded the bus. She could run but she would never escape her fate. No, the world was not done with that one. Not yet.

OoOo

They burst into the hotel room tearing at each other like wild animals. It had been a rough ride the rest of the way. She had been wet, he had been aching. The second they had the hotel room keycard, they’d made a mad dash for the elevator. When that had taken too long they took to the stairs two at a time. They left their bags on the bus. The only thing they needed in that moment was each other and a very hot, steamy, well deserved shower.

Her legs were wrapped around his waist as he slammed her back against the wall, absorbing most of the shock with the arms wrapped around her back that held her suspended several feet off the floor. He needed to be inside of her. Now.

They tore at each other’s clothes. There went his denim jacket, striped shirt, and black jeans. Her folksy dress was thrown and landed on top of the lamp, casting the entire room in a reddish orange glow that set the mood perfectly though neither of them even noticed. Her bra and panties were made quick work of and next thing, she was wrapped around him, a naked pixie from some dirty version of the old classic fairy tales. She dug her toes into the elastic of his boxer briefs and pushed them down to the ground, careful to not slide out of his arms in the process.

“You promised me a shower,” she sighed into his mouth. He practically howled in response as she bit his lower lip before moving to his neck, where she nibbled and sucked, claiming his as hers.

“So I did,” he responded breathlessly. Good on the man for carrying her all the way to the bathroom and getting the spray going while keeping her in his arms. She did not pause in her assault on his body. She scraped her nails down his back hard enough to incite a snarl off pleasure from him. He didn’t wait. He had her under the spray long before the water heated up. He needed to be fucking her desperately.

“Fuck, that’s cold, Andy,” she cried out with a laugh in her voice.

“It’ll heat up. Or we’ll heat up. Whichever. Fuck, I can’t think, woman!” he cried out, realizing that he was not making any sense. The blood was not currently going to his brain.

“Come on, Andy, fuck me!” she screamed at him loud enough that their neighbor banged on the wall separating them and hollered for them to shut up. They ignored him. Andrew spun her round so that her chest was pressed against the cool tile, causing her nipples to harden. He drove into her in one fast thrust and then he fucked life into her. They greeted their new neighbors with a chorus of moans, screams of pleasure, and an overuse of the words “Fuck me harder!”.

Her sex was so hot and wet. The hot water streamed down their bodies, falling in rivulets. His hair was soaked and he turned his head up to the spray just as he felt himself come to the precipice. He shouted once before cumming fast and hard inside of her. He thrust twice more and she hit her own orgasm. Her pussy walls tightened around him, milking his hardened cock, still inside of her. When they were done gasping for air, he planted a kiss on her shoulder.

“I believe I was promised your mouth being on me,” he pointed out, his voice throaty.

“Oh baby, there’s nothing like a morning blowjob.” Ainsley spoke, giggling as she did. They both dissolved into laughter as the hot water fell down onto them, cleansing them of their sins.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He awoke to the feel of her lips soft and featherlight kissing a senseless pattern down his bare skin. They had had no clean clothes to change into and had not bothered putting the dirty ones back on in order to grab their suitcases the night before. They had not cared that they went to bed naked. He’d loved the feeling of her burning skin against his. He’d taken her not once but twice in the night. Being next to her naked he couldn’t help but cup her ass gently and pull her on top of him. He loved the feel of her sex greedily gripping his cock. She was lubed and ready every time but still her pussy constricted around his cock gripping it as he pulled out, clearly reluctant to release such a perfect specimen from it’s depths. She rode him every time. Fucked him senseless. He could never get enough of her.

“I’ve had you three times already baby love, if you want to go again then you truly are insatiable.” He moaned his hand over his eyes as he let her trail her lips down his neck. She moved to his left nipple and sucked it gently catching the tip between her teeth and rolling it with just the gentlest of pleasure. Fuck he already wanted to blow into her. When she released his nipple oh so sensitive now and blew ever so gently on the wet skin he was instantly hard and throbbing. He was going to need a sports drink to recover from how many times he’d cum into her already. It seemed she needed at least one more go.

She began an assault on his other nipple which was a huge erogenous zone for him. She could play with his nipples all day and he’d blow his load at least three times. She knew exactly how to play him.

“Fuck love do you want me to cum in you or on you? Because if you keep playing that game there’s not going to be much of a choice as I’ll be blowing immediately.”

“You know I never mind a pearl necklace baby.” She whispered seductively looking up at him. He almost came at her words. She gave his nipple a final lick and then moved down further. She ran her tongue down his chest and stomach. Just the tip of her tongue traced the thin line of hair pleasurably called the happy trail that led down to his cock. It was red and pulsating waiting for her.

“A moment’s silence when my baby puts her mouth on me.” She cooed to him from her position just a hair breathes from the swollen head of his cock. God damn he wanted, no needed, her mouth on him. She leaned over and spit a long string of saliva down the length of his cock and he groaned as the hot slightly sticky liquid began to run down the shaft. She reached out and grasped the base of his length then began to run her hand up and down in a gentle twisting motion. Beads of precum began to ooze from the slit on the head and she used her thumb to gently run the liquid over the tip of his electrified cock. She stopped for a moment lifted her thumb to her mouth and licked all of the precum off. He groaned deep in his throat while he watched her. Then with one glorious move she took him into her mouth. A tiny inch at first that she sucked ever so gently. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. A chant began in his mind.

She braced hands on his hips and slowly without her hands lowered her head down the length taking him in until he touched the back of her throat. Then just as slowly she pulled her head back to let his cock almost spring free from the moist heat of her mouth. She held the head in her mouth though and sucked gently. Twice she repeated this movement of taking him in slow and releasing him slow. It was driving him nuts and it took everything in him to not grasp her hair and thrust deep into her throat. She knew what she was doing and he did not need to direct her to do anything. She picked up a steadier pace using her hand to stroke him in that delicious little twist while bring her mouth down to meet her hand and suck before pulling him almost all the way out and repeating.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, yes baby. Mmmm just like that. Oh Ains don’t stop. Don’t stop.” She used her free hand to ever so gently cup his balls and massage softly to cause pleasure but not pain. She did not pause in her movements but she raised her eyes up to him. Those beautiful baby blues looking so wide eyed and innocent with just the smaller prick of tears in the corner from deepthroating him. Fuck she was so dirty and hot. She removed her mouth but kept stroking him in a steady rhythm.

“You going to give me that pearl necklace?” She asked in a sultry voice that made him want to grab her golden locks and pull her mouth to him. She returned to sucking the head gently swallowing every drop of precum that she was milking from him.

“You were serious?” He asked incredulously but with a sense of pleasure in his voice. Oh he wanted to give her several strands of pearls.

“Well you never buy me pretty things.” She joked her voice deep and throaty. Fuck, fuck, fuck, keep it together he told himself. He pulled her gently by the arm up to him so that he could kiss her. He tasted himself on her tongue and it took everything in him to not thrust into him and fuck her senseless. It would take only one thrust he knew and she’d lose out on those pearls.

“Lay down on the bed.” His voice was throaty and desperate. She collapsed back down on the bed a huge smile on her face. He straddled her just below the breasts and gripped himself at the base of his cock. He was still lubed up from her mouth and he licked his hand just to give himself a slicker go. He went fast in his strokes. There was nothing pretty to it, no technique. He needed to cum and he wanted to blow his load onto her. He jerked himself off until he felt that build hit an explosion. Drops of his white seed began to adorn her throat. He came fast, hard, and in volume.

“Uhhhhnnn....” Was about the only sound he was capable of making as the cum shot from him to her chest. She looked up with those sultry eyes and it took him a while to calm and settle. He milked the last of the white seed onto her. When he was done he moved to lie down next to her. He pulled her against him not caring that she was covered in his cum.

“You’re a dirty tramp Andrew Hozier-Byrne.” She said with a laugh making a joke. He smiled against her hair and laughed thoroughly.

“Look who’s talking.” He joked back and she laughed even harder.

“Oh I am a dirty fallen girl for sure. I wear it loud and proud. Just like I’m wearing your cum right now. It’s a beautiful necklace by the way.” She whispered with a yawn. They had not gotten a ton of sleep in between fuck sessions. She seemed particularly amped tonight. Needing him inside her almost constantly. Now she needed sleep.

“Shush yourself Ains before I have you again.” He grunted against her hair in that lilting Irish accent. She knew he was completely serious and was tempted to entice him into another romp in the sheets. She also knew he was exhausted and had a show tonight.

“Go to sleep baby. We’re both tired.” They settled into silence her still wearing his mark. She could hear his breathing even out and she knew that he had fallen into a soft exhausted sleep. She on the other hand was troubled. There really was a moment’s silence when her baby put his mouth on her. When she was fucking she wasn’t thinking. It felt good not to think. It felt good to not think about this place or who could be lurking in the shadows. However, there was only so long she could fuck the demons away.

She laid awake as he slept feeling no safety in his arms.

OoOo

Chapter Text

“You have to get ready.” Ainsley sing-songed from the bed as she plucked a few notes out on one of his favorite acoustics. The guitar laid in her lap covering her bare sex. She was small enough that the mahogany body was cool against her breasts as she made a few sour notes, scrunched her nose up, and plucked them out again making sure that this time they rang out pure. She was never one to mess something up and not go after it until it was perfect.

“Yes Babe, I know that. Do you know that it’s really fucking hard to get ready when you’re playing my guitar naked on the bed that we just fucked to shame?” She giggled to herself as she watched him trying to tug a boot onto his foot. His long leg was pulled up to his chest just so he could reach it. Damn he was so ridiculously tall. She plucked out the first few notes of Cherry Wine. It was one of her favorites and for some reason those first six notes, oh so deep, struck a chord deep in her chest. It was like a heartbeat before it broke into a million pieces. It felt...intense. Maybe she put too much meaning into it. That song simply resonated with her on such a deep level. There was something about how slow and beautiful it was until you truly listened to the lyrics and realized just how sad they were.

The whole song reminded her of her relationship with Jacob. It had started out so beautiful and sweet. He’d pursued her. They had been young, it had been a fast romance. He treated her like a Queen at first. He kept his demons in check. Then one night he didn’t anymore. That first strike of his hand, the look on his face, the look she imagined he had on her face. He’d apologized and fussed over her yet she could see a glint glowing in his eye. He schemed and planned until she was so trapped and twisted up in that romance that even when she no longer wanted to stay for the sake of love she had nowhere to run. A very crazy mental mind fuck.

It never got better. There’d be patches where nothing would happen and he would be the gentle loving man that she had fallen in love with. Then there were patches where it was relentless. She had hated and still hated when he would fuss over her. All protective and pretending to care. He was sorry. Here was an ice pack. It would never happen again. It was all shit that much she knew. It would happen again. It always did.

“Oh mama don’t fuss over me.” She whispered under her breath as she fingerpicked that accompanying line of notes.

Andy watched her with anxious eyes. She was acting very not...Ainsley. She had her moments where she seemed to retreat into some piece of herself that he was not welcomed to be a part of. Lately it seemed that she was retreating there more and more. The moment they crossed state lines and the big “Welcome to Wyoming” sign had greeted them she’d been odd. True she was his lovable oddball all the time. Now though if she wasn’t fucking him she was quiet and contemplative. Even now as she was fucking around on his acoustic that she had begged him to bring up from the bus she was practically silent. Until she sung that damnable line. He always got concerned when she began to sing “Cherry Wine”. It had become clear to him a long time ago that that song held significance to her and considering the lyrics he didn’t need two guesses to understand a basic idea of what had happened. Who the fuck would do that to this beautiful, amazing, fantastic woman? Not a who but a what. A monster. No one could see this tiny pixie of a girl with her mop of messy blonde curls and think let’s tear her down. Hurt her. It made him furious. If he ever got the chance at him... He let the thought drift off.

“Ains are you okay?” He knew it was probably one of the dumbest lines he could have said in that moment. She so obviously wasn’t. He still felt like he needed to ask the question. No matter what consolation she gave him it would not ring true. He wanted to hear it anyways.

“Of course. I’m okay. I promise.” She didn’t look up from the guitar because she knew he’d see the lies in her eyes. ‘I’m not okay, I promise’ she thought to herself as she began to fingerpick the song again.

“You’re coming to the show right? I really don’t want you to be alone in the hotel room all night.” He watched her still and she finally looked up at him. She gave him a beaming smile that was completely fake. He’d learned a long time ago, after learning how to make her laugh, when she was faking it.

“Of course I'm going to be there.” ‘Because I’m scared to be alone’. She didn’t add the last part. That simply rang around and around in her head like the bells in an old cathedral. ‘I’m not okay. I’m not okay. I’m not okay’ the bells tolled over and over again. It was like the worst mantra ever constructed. She couldn’t stop saying it to herself though. Finally like a silent prayer as she looked at him she thought ‘please save me’. She wanted him desperately to see the pain. She wanted him to push her to tell him what was wrong. He always gave her her space and waited for her to come to him. She knew she never would. They were at a stalemate. ‘Push the issue. Make me tell you. Save me. Save me. Save me. Save me from myself.’ She pleaded with her eyes. His brow furrowed for just the smallest of moments and she thought ‘this is it. He’ll say something this time’. Instead he sighed and dragged his hands down his face in an expression of exasperation. She sighed herself and turned back to his guitar. Sometimes they were perfectly in tune and other times it was like they were driving in two completely different lanes. Only her car was careening at 60 mph towards a brick wall.

“Get dressed Ains. You’re driving me crazy doing that.” He pointed at her sitting on the bed, naked, with his guitar in her lap. She laughed a little and gently placed the guitar down on the sheets stained with their lovemaking. ‘Well housekeeping will love that’ she thought as she moved to her suitcase to pull out some clean underwear, a bra, and flowery sundress because she was too tired to try to put an outfit with matching bottoms and top together. She pulled on her scuffed up cowboy boots feeling hipster as fuck. Her hair was gloriously clean after a few days sans shower on the bus but she had not had a brush when they had gotten out of the shower last night so now it was a hopeless mess. She sighed and ran her fingers through it a few times before giving up. She’d have to wage war with it later on when she had time to fight through it with a hairbrush. For now she’d let it be what it would be.

“Come on baby girl. We’ve got to go.” Andy held his hand out to her and she placed hers in his. Her hands were small and dainty and his completely engulfed hers. She had a few smaller calluses on her fingers from periodically picking up the guitar that he could feel as he gripped her hand tighter than he probably needed to. His hands were hopelessly tough. She didn’t care for a second. His music brought her so much joy. She could not care less about a few calluses because of it. Some girls were vain about that shit. Not her. She loved him exactly as he was. Exactly as who he was. Exactly everything he was.

He loved her exactly as she was, without knowing who she is, because he knew everything she was.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The venue was packed and rightfully so. Andy was putting on an amazing show. He had the crowd primed, pumped, and ready. He sang, they sang. He put his fist in the air and a thousand fits hit the air in response. It was amazing. It was powerful. It was a total turn on.

Ainsley was watching from the backstage as usual. She stood in the wing to the side of the stage staying out of the way of Murt and the other techs as they moved through their usual guitar changes and other showtime tasks.

'Op there goes the gas can guitar’

'Rachel’s coming out must be time for some D&D’

'Acoustic coming out. Cue Cherry Wine’

Ainsley worked her way through his show bit by bit. Her thoughts staying on what Andy was doing which kept her far from thinking about the dangers lurking in the dark space of Wyoming. Going through the show checklist in her mind even though she already had the tour memorized helped to keep her calm.

She swayed slowly and sadly to “Cherry Wine” as Andy finger plucked the guitar strings. She loved the way his fingers moved over the strings. She loved the feel of the way his fingers moved inside her. She thought of the line from the song “Hallelujah”, ‘Remember when I moved in you, the holy dove was moving too’. She really wished that Andy would do a cover of “Hallelujah”. It would be beautiful, breathtaking, and achingly sweet. He however constantly argued that he would not do it justice. For as much talent as he had, she saw it every day, he still questioned his skills. The times he said he’d never be a “great guitarist” in interviews tore her up inside. We all had our demons. We were all servants of The Muse. She knew what a fickle bitch The Muse could be being a writer herself. However, it made her blue to hear him talk himself down when he was so talented. Then again when wasn’t she talking herself down all the time in every sense of the phrase?

She was never smart, clever, or quick witted enough. She was never pretty, beautiful, or cute enough. She couldn't dress well, sing well, dance well. Her cooking attempts were disasters unless she stayed within the margins. She wasn’t good in bed. He was always faking it. He was thinking of someone else when they were together. He was settling. He was falling for someone he didn’t even know. He didn’t know her. He didn’t. How could she do this to him?

The thoughts starting out so simple at first turned into a torrent and were soon flooding into her head so fast that it was like the small crack in the dam of sanity holding back the river of crazy had expanded and now the water was flooding in. It threatened to drown her in these thoughts. She was always holding onto her sanity by a thread. Now that thread was beginning to fray. She could feel it coming on. A PTSD episode. Her chest constricted and she tried to take deep breaths through lungs that were quickly closing up.

“Breathe Ains. God damn it breathe!” She harshly whispered to herself even though the music was loud enough that it would have drowned out her words even if she had screamed them at the top of her lungs, which she nearly had.

She wrapped her arms around herself in a gesture of protection. A self huge, a self soothing gesture. Ainsley looked out at the stage where Andrew was currently singing that final “Amen” in “Take Me to Church”. That one like a punch to the chest at the end.

“Scream for me Andrew. Just fucking scream for me.” She prayed to him as if her were a long lost deity from a civilization long ago. He hit that note and tears sprung to her eyes. He was almost done but she honestly did not want him to see her like this. A wreck at the end of his show when he should be coming down off that performance high. He did not need some other fire to put out harshing his performance buzz. The group would want to have drinks. Enjoy themselves. Bond. She had no place in this makeshift family if she could not hold herself together.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” It was now beginning to overtake her. The episode in full force. She felt sick to her stomach and almost leaned over and wretched on the very floor. She looked at Andrew again as he bowed to the crowd a huge smile on his face. She needed him but in that moment she felt an entire ocean between them. A huge rift. He was a million miles away and that was where he needed to stay. Everything she had thought a moment before was true. He had no idea what he was in love with. She was not the strong woman he needed to keep up with him. She was the pathetic broken doll that she was. She put up a good front but when you peeled back the layers she was fucked up. He did not deserve that.

She held the contents of her stomach in, turned from the stage, and fled out into the lobby.

OoOo

The crowd was beginning to filter out into the venue. Some were crowded around the merch table getting vinyls, t-shirts, the usual stuff. When she was younger before all the fuckery of her life she would have been one of those girls crowded around the merch table after a concert enjoying the idea of proudly displaying her favorite bands across her chest. Losing her troubles in the sweet sounds of those vinyl records. Her troubles back then were so much easier. She’d trade a C- in French for the PTSD she suffered with at all moments in a heartbeat. It was so much easier when you weren’t an adult even though childhood had felt like the end of the world on a daily basis. In hindsight those problems has been so mild compared to now.

She stopped and bought a plastic glass of water and tried to focus on the feel of the clean cool liquid slipping down her throat. Mindfulness. Focus on the moment. Don’t live in the past, don’t focus on the future. Simply be in the now. Her chest was still tight, her mind was still threatening to break down the careful dam of emotions she had built up over the years. Getting away from Andy had definitely calmed things down though. That was...not a good sign.

She moved amongst people feeling more comfortable in a crowd than out of one. It was easier to get lost in a field of people than when you were a single piece of prey on your own. Easy pickings. In a crowd there might be a gazelle a little slower than you that the lions could run down first. It as a sick way to look at the world. When you lived simply to survive it became a sick fucked up world anyway.

Ainsley was shifting through people sipping her water, feeling the tension in her chest ease with each moment she spent away from Andy, when all her muscles seized and she stopped dead in her tracks. She had honed her skills over the years to know when something was wrong. She felt eyes on her, sensed someone following close behind. She walked a few more steps, stopped, same thing. She turned around the corner and stepped into a rather dense grouping of people talking. Still there was that feeling of being in someone’s radar. She made sure that there was plenty of open area to run. Ainsley would be dodging people but it was better than being stuck in the bathroom or pressed against a brick wall until someone could come and save her. Then she spun. Her eyes moved over the crowd searching. She looked for eyes on her. It did not take long to find the person hunting her.

A head taller than any of the people surrounding him there he stood. He was tall, actually taller than Andrew which was saying a lot. He was not lithe in frame neither was he heavy. He was...bulky. His head was shaved closed as usual. He wore a dark blue t-shirt but she could almost imagine the dark length of the tribal tattoos on his shoulders that he had never fucking bothered to look up the meaning of. Her eyes moved down to his hands to examine the knuckles. Ones that had so often bruised with where they’d come to impact on her body. They were lily white, free of any of the evidence of his past abuse. She finally settled on his face. It was tilted down to look at her small frame. His mouth had been neutral, neither frowning nor happy. Yet, the moment he realized she saw him his mouth twisted into a predatory smile that said ‘got you’.

The water slipped out of her hand and crashed to the floor.

'Andrew Hozier-Byrne I have never needed you more than in this moment.’ She thought with such intensity that body began to quake. She was quickly pitching into a full PTSD episode as she looked into the less than sweet smiling face of Jacob.

OoOo

Chapter Text

She could not stop looking at his fists. Ainsley couldn’t tear her eyes away from those solid blocks of knuckles that had broken more than one bone. The excuses she had made, so completely ridiculous in every way, that people saw through like clear glass. The number of times the nurses at the ER had asked if she felt safe at home. The number of times she wanted to scream no and beg for help. Jacob would be there and clear his throat, gaining her attention. He looked at her with pleading eyes. In that look, though she saw the silent threat. ‘Say yes or it will be worse next time.’ There was always a next time. The nurses would look at her face, at the bruises on Jacob’s knuckles, then back at her. Ainsley never knew what was worse, the pain exploding in her eye, her cheek, her arm, wherever he’d taken that anger out on, or those looks of pity that they gave her. That poor girl that’s not strong enough to leave the person abusing her. Poor little victim. God, she hated thinking of herself as a victim.

“Hello, Ains.” That sound of his voice, deeper than Andy’s, made her stomach churn. She wanted to throw up yet again. She felt that burning acid climbing it’s way up her throat. She could not see him, not right now, not ever. She needed to get away. She tore at the collar of her dress as she felt her throat closing, choking her. She could not breathe. She was suffocating. She could feel the marks she was making on her throat.

“Tsk, tsk, Ains, we’ve talked about you hurting yourself.” The very line said so many times to her over the two years she kept herself saddled to him caused her to burst into instant tears. He always said that. ‘You made me do this. You made me hit you. I didn’t hurt you. You hurt yourself.’

Oh god, she needed to get out of there. The sight of her in tears seemed to bring an expression of glee to his face. He was getting his kicks from her reaction. This is what he wanted. This is what he missed. He had conditioned her to be this fragile creature. He wanted that back, oh, did he want that back. She was so easy to harm and it felt so good when he did. No other girl could cower like she did. No other project had every turned out so perfectly as she had. He needed her back and he would have her.

It had been chance that he had seen a picture of Andrew Hozier-Byrne boarding a tour bus with an unrecognized girl. They had not mentioned her and Jacob had been flipping through a gossip rag in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. He’d almost flipped the page, then he took a second look. He would recognize Ainsley anywhere. That short height, that halo of crazy blonde curls that were never tamed. You could see the profile of her face and he could almost recognize it without the marks of his fist upon it. That was her. So that was where she’d been hiding. Spurning him to be the groupie for some musician. This Hozier jackass. He’d almost spit on the ground. It was fitting for such a whore. He’d set her straight. He’d find her and show her exactly where she belonged. Under his thumb. Where she had always belonged.

It had taken a little bit of planning to figure out which concert to go to. Would she be at that one? Did she always follow him on tour? Was it something she did independently or did she actually ride around on his bus, desperate for dick? Where was she? He had looked for her unrelentingly. She had all but disappeared. Her family refused to tell him anything, eventually gaining a restraining order. He had tried to let it go, but there was no one like Ainsley. No one at all. No one else could slack his thirst like she could. It was a desperate hunger and he would have his kill. When the Wyoming concert had been announced he had bought tickets the second they went on sale. He’d spent the entire evening prowling the venue, looking for her in a sea of a thousand fans. Something deep within him told him he’d find her. Now here she stood in front of him with tears running down her cheeks at the very sight of him. Oh, she was just as broken as before. That would make this so much easier.

“Ains, Andrew is looking for you.” Ainsley and Jacob’s heads both snapped to the side at the sound of the voice. A strong hand rested of her arm and she'd turned to see one of the roadies ready to lead her backstage. She, in that moment, wanted to throw her arms around him.

“Ains...Do. Not. Go.” Jacob ordered wanting to see what she would do as he bit off each word. Would this be as simply as a single command, or did he have more work to do? He did not know and waited to see what would happen.

The roadie took in the sight of her tear stained face and the clenched fists of Jacob. It took about .2 seconds for him to realize that this was something he needed to interject himself into. There was general rule, nothing fucked with Andrew’s baby.

“Come on,” the roadie tugged Ainsley away from Jacob and she followed robotically. She needed to get away from Jacob, but still she did not want to follow the roadie back to Andrew. She was an utter mess and she did not want him seeing her like this. What if he saw her and everything came tumbling out of her mouth? Her weakness and shame. The danger she was putting Andrew in. Still she followed. She did not look behind her to see if Jacob was following. She would not give him the satisfaction. It was a small win but a win none the less.

OoOo

Andrew paced the backstage area nervously. His energy was wild. Concerned, agitated, restless. Until she was found, he would not calm down. Ainsley was always waiting for him after the shows. Someone had told her that she had turned and fled at the end of his set. She had not been acting like herself at all since they had gotten here. He was thoroughly concerned and completely hurt that she had not come to him if something was bothering her so completely. She had her secrets, yes, but if she was going to go running around a concert venue in a state she didn’t know, she damn well owed him an explanation. What had happened? Why would she put herself in danger like that? He ran his fingers through his hair and realized he was being irrational. She was a grown woman, she could do as she pleased. The thought did nothing to calm him.

He looked up to see a blonde pixie taking reluctant steps down the aisle of the auditorium towards him. Something in his heart broke and he breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of her. As she got closer her saw her eyes were red and puffy. She wiped furiously at her cheeks like she was trying to erase every trace of her tears. She fell short of succeeding. He opened his arms and she hesitated for a moment. That tore him up inside. Something seemed to break within her and she ran into his outstretched arms. He wrapped her up tight his long frame, fully encompassing her small body.

“Jesus, Ains, you scared me half to death.” He leaned his head against the top of her head.

“Andrew, we need to go. Or I need to go. I know you have meet and greet but I have to get out of here. I need to go right now.” She started mumbling against his chest as fast as her mouth would form the words.

“What are you talking about?” He was barely able to keep up with her stream of consciousness as she babbled on and on.

“I have to go, Andrew. I need to go back to the hotel room. Now. Right fucking now. I’m not kidding.” He drew back and searched her face for a moment. He did not like what he saw there. Fear. Not anxiety, but true and deep fear. Something was wrong and he certainly was not going to draw what it was out of her in the middle of a concert venue.

“Give me your keys.” He held his hand out expectantly to one of the roadies packing up the Hozier band equipment. The man gave Andrew an odd look but fished a set of keys out of his pocket, placing them in Andrew’s palm.

“Thank you,” Andrew said sincerely to the tech who had humbly given him control of his car which he absolutely was not required to do. He was greeted with a nod.

“Alright, Ains, let’s go.”

“No, you need to...”

“Ains, I hate to say this, but there’s not an argument you’re going to be able to come up with to get me to stay here. Let’s go.” He took her hand in his and began making his way to the back of the stage. He’d be damned if tonight was not the night he finally pried open the dark shadows she kept hidden inside herself. All of this was getting worse for her. He wanted, no, needed to be there for her.

Ainsley took three steps to every one of his as they quickly retreated from the venue and the monster lurking within it’s depths.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He refrained from driving like the madman he so desperately felt like. She sat in the passenger seat, chewing on her cuticles, looking out the window like she expected the very devil to come driving up beside them. He kept stealing glances at her, as if reassuring himself that she had not opened the door and done a tuck and roll onto the side of the highway. It honestly would not have surprised him if she had at that moment. Whatever had her spooked was festering under the skin. She looked dangerous in that moment. Dangerous to herself, only to herself.

“Do you want the radio?” Silence had stretched between them so long and uncomfortable that he was unable to allow it to sit between them any longer. Their silences were often amicable. He could be working through some new lyrics and her writing another chapter in yet another book she predicted would fail. The silences then were of warmth. He could wrap himself in those silences like a cloak of comfort. Now though, the silence felt dangerous as if there was unspoken electricity crackling through the car. All it would take in that moment was one word, the wrong word, and it would be like striking a match in the middle of a powder keg. Everything she was hiding inside of herself would explode, blowing him away in the process. He desperately needed her out of that headspace she had wrapped herself back into. It was dark in there. So dark he did not know if she could pull herself back out.

“No.” Her voice was faint and hoarse as if she’d been silently screaming for hours. He turned his attention back to the road as there was nothing else to be done. His long nimble fingers gripped the steering wheel tighter. He flexed and released them around the plastic of the steering wheel over and over. He wanted to land a punch to something right about now. Preferably whoever had done this to his pixie of a love. He turned to look at her once more and saw that her eyes were locked onto his hands with a wide eyed look of horror. He stopped the movements immediately and she caught him looking at her. Quickly, Ainsley turned her head away as if nothing had happened. He felt sick to his stomach with the horrors that she must have suffered. He felt sick that for even a moment she would compare him to whoever performed those atrocities. It was...a horrific feeling.

With a hand that quaked only slightly with fear, she rested her hand on his upper thigh. Her thumb drew lazy circles over his thin black jeans. He groaned and stared forward again. Why did she always do this? Deflect her emotions with sex? Why did he always let her?

“Ainsley, I really don’t think now is the time.” It took all the restraint in Andrew Hozier-Byrne to say that. What he wanted right now was to wrap her in his arms and fuck her into oblivion, if for no other reason than he felt closest when he was inside of her. Buried to the hilt in her sex. In those moments they were one and he could bask in the glory of their love. He had never known a better love than the one he shared with Ainsley. Despite the ten tons of emotional baggage she brought to their relationship, ever and always she was his greatest love. His biggest pride. His everything. He could feel in this movement her desire to push these problems away.

“Andrew just...just let me be in control for a second.” She moved her hand, sliding it across the thick fabric, creating friction that brought a gorgeous burning warmth to inside of his thigh. He felt his cock stiffen with her seduction, whether he wanted it to or not. It wanted her now, even if his rational mind was telling him to spurn her advances. He kept his eyes dead on the road as she gently leaned over and undid his fly with her teeth in that talented way that she did. That way that drove him absolutely fucking wild. Fine, let her have her fun as long as they talked when they got to the hotel. He would not deny her the action of her stuffing his cock down her throat.

Ainsley breathed onto her hand that had gone cold during the panic attack. Then she spit a long string of saliva onto it before tenderly lifting his cock from its position tucked to the left of his black jeans. The dark color hid his hard on quite nicely, but she was an expert at spotting when he was stiff, his cock pumped full of blood, whenever he was thinking of her. She loved looking on stage and seeing him catch her eye then right there she could see which way he was packing as he grew hard at the sight of her. Instant turn on, and her panties would already start to soak through with the sweet juices of her pussy as she prepared for him after the show. When he would lift her and press her against the painted cement wall and fuck the darkness out of her. He could not fuck her in his current position behind the wheel, but she could still blow him until that pure white cream of his cum cleansed her of her sins.

Her hand twisted sweetly over his cock. Down, around, up, around again, then to slide her thumb over the slit at the top. He was already oozing precum and she reached her tongue out tentatively and licked one of the sticky drops. He glanced down at her momentarily and hissed in pleasure as she swallowed it. Fuck, she was so hot when she did this kind of shit. He could not resist her even if he wanted to. His grip on the wheel tightened as his baby put her mouth on him. In this position, he couldn’t give her another pearl rosary to pray upon, but he knew his seed would not go to waste.

Andrew practically growled as she sucked just the tip of his length into her mouth, then he had to jerk the wheel to keep from swerving into a ditch as she swallowed him whole until his cock touched the back of her throat. With a hum deep in her throat, his cock twitched in her mouth with pleasure.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, Ainsley, god damn.” He moaned, wanting desperately to knot one of his hands in her hair and guide her even though she knew exactly what she was doing. He wanted a hand on her. However, he knew if he took even one hand off the wheel right now, they would go veering off the road straight into the sticks on the side. Luckily, the road was blissfully abandoned as he’d gotten off the highway, choosing to take an empty backroad the moment she’d pulled his throbbing cock out of his zipper.

She took him out of her mouth inch by inch and proceeded to take him back in inch by inch. He hissed as his balls seized, wanting already to spill his seed. He held it back. She pulled him out of her mouth and licked along the slit. He glanced down to see her staring up at him, the clear fluid on the tip of her outstretched tongue. She made a show of swallowing it. Fuck, this girl would be the death of him.

“Don’t stop, Ains. Oh fuck, don’t stop.” He groaned as she swallowed him whole a second time. Now she went in for the kill shot as she began to take him in and out of her wet mouth over and over again in a rhythm set to music only she could hear. She pumped her hand from the very root of him up to meet her lips. Not an inch of his length was not alight with pleasure of her touch. He glanced down once more to see those baby blues staring up at him. Seeing her looking at him he could not hold it in anymore. He blew a hot stream of cum straight down her throat. She slowed her rhythm but did not stop completely. Rather, she milked every last drop of his thick white seed from his cock. He moaned like a feral beast as he shot rope after rope down her throat. It took everything in him to keep them on the road and not close his eyes in sheer pleasure. He slammed one hand against the steering wheel as that pleasure continued to hit him.

“Fuck, Ains. Just FUCK!” He screamed over and over until finally that pleasurable small death that felt anything but small stopped. He practically felt like weeping from how fucking fantastic that had felt.

She finished cleaning him with her tongue before tucking his cock back inside of his jeans. She sat back and up in her seat. He imagined she would begin to chew on cuticles and remain silent as she had the whole time she was giving him road head. Instead, she reached out and took his hand in hers, placing them in her lap.

“You know, it’s hard enough to remember which side of the street drive on without you blowing me into oblivion,” he joked. Andrew expected no response, but instead her beautiful little laughed greeted him.

“I obviously did not do well enough or we would have crashed,” she jested back and he felt a lightness in his chest.

“You did fan-fucking-tastic my love,” he conceded, and they fell into a silence that was this time more comfortable. “All joking aside, I still expect to talk about what’s going on when we get back to the hotel.” He turned for just a moment to gauge her reaction. Her face fell. She did not look devastated as he had been waiting for. That was a good sign.

“I understand.” Her voice was firm, if a little bit quiet. It was a good sign that she was not pulling back from him. Her grip on his hand had tightened and he took it as a positive sign.

They drove back to the hotel wrapped in that quiet silence of comfort, unaware of the pickup truck that had been tailing them since the venue.

OoOo

Chapter Text

The car was left in the parking lot with the keys turned in at the front desk for when the road crew returned from packing up the venue. Andrew simply did not have time to deal with the car any further. He could feel her slipping away from him even as they walked hand in hand to back to the hotel room. The room sterilized from the last person. The sheets washed in searing water and starched before being expertly folded onto the bed. The duvet that was dirtier than it looked despite the four stars of the hotel. All of it was a false front. Much like the one she put on for him.

She had twisted in those starched sheets in the night. Screaming louder than she ever had as she thrashed about in their confining grip. He had held her, not knowing what to say. He was, for once, without words. All of his jokes, his sentences of calming comfort, had disappeared. They were all foreign to him now. He had laid in silence with her, holding her through her tears. He was running out of words but not love. That was a well that never came up dry. Not when it came to Ainsley.

When they entered the room, she immediately set to the task of disrobing. This was by no means an attempt at seduction. The blowjob in the car had calmed her enough that she felt no need to throw him to the sheets and fuck the loving shit out of him. No, instead she was weary, tired, and wanted a hot shower to relax the muscles that had tensed so tightly with the force of her panic earlier. She wanted to be done with tonight. She wanted to be done with Wyoming. She wanted to be done with Jacob.

“Ainsley, we need to talk about this.” His voice held a firm edge of sternness. He did not want to command such information from her. He’d like to pull it out of her softly. With a gentle touch. She, however, was once again deflecting his advances at comfort. She was tearing off clothing items like she was ready to start a fire in the hotel waste bin and burn them ceremoniously. For all he knew, that was exactly what she planned to do.

“I need a shower,” she responded without emotion. She tore her cowboy boots off and tossed them in odd directions, not caring what they hit. One managed to knick the cream colored wall and leave a scuff mark. Andrew would happily pay for the damage. He did not care about it. In this moment, he wanted the truth as cold and hard as it may be to swallow.

“Ainsley, we said we would talk about it.” His voice was lower now. More gruff. Once again, he told himself to be kind. To love her sweetly until she willingly divulged the information. Instead, he felt he would have to pull it from her mouth like dragging a piece of her soul out. This was quickly turning into an interrogation rather than a friendly chat amongst lovers. Was there such a thing as a friendly chat between them anymore?

“I need to get the smell...I just need to fucking wash tonight off of me. Drop it, Andy.” It was her turn for her voice to turn less than kind. It was on the verge of being bitchy. He watched her for a moment. The way her eyes did not meet his. The way her demeanor was angry. Not at herself, no. In this moment, she was angry with him. He knew he was undeserving of the wrath she was placing on him. They had agreed to talk and he’d be damned if that agreement went out the window yet again.

He gripped her by the upper arm and tugged her up. Wrapping her tightly in his arms, her head pressed against his chest. She could hear the steady beat of his heart through his shirt. It was oddly comforting. Like a sound she wished to cloak herself in at all times.

“We said we would talk. Therefore, we are going to talk. If needs be, I will fuck this conversation out of you if I have to. Do you need me to take control?” He kept his voice level, but he made sure there was firmness without any type of edge that would come across as dangerous. She visibly relaxed in his grip, her muscles loosening so that she practically collapsed into his strong arms.

“Take control, Andrew. God knows I’m not in it right now.” Her consent was all her needed. Thrusting her forward, he pinned her against the bed. Leaning her over so that her face was against the fabric of the bedspread, he held her ass firmly against the crotch of his jeans, making sure she was trapped between him and the bed frame. He did not need her moving when he so desperately wanted to be buried inside her. He meant what he had thought earlier. He’d fuck it out of her if he had to.

“Is this what you want, Ains? Hm? For me to fuck some clarity into you?” He said it in a voice that was husky and dark, but not menacing. He pulled his lips back to illustrate each point, flashing his sharp pearly whites. He wanted to devour her with those sharp teeth. What big teeth you have. The better to eat you with, my dear. She squirmed against him but not in the need for escape. Instead, in the need to feel his stiffened cock rubbing against her sex, cloaked in the fabric of her panties. The last shred of clothing she still wore. He buried his hand in her blonde locks and forced her head up so that she stood flush against his back. Burying his head in her neck, he bit down harder than usual. A gasp escaped her as he licked at the bite, soothing the pain.

His arms snaked around her body to cup her breasts gently. He kneaded the skin there, so supple and soft. Twisting her nipples, pink like the most beautiful first touches of sunset, he brought them to harden peaks. She ground her sex against him harder as he worked her body.

“I asked a question,” he pointed out as her body began to melt into his as his expert touch brought her to the brink and back again. He would not let her cum so soon. He was hardly starting.

“Yes Andrew. Fuck me until I can’t see straight but my mind is once again perfectly clear.” Fuck, her words turned him on.

“As you wish,” he groaned into her ear. Once again shoving her face against the bedspread, he tore the panties from her sex that was already wet. Working a few fingers into her already naturally lubed pussy, he primed her for him. When she was good and relaxed, he freed his cock from where it was pressing so uncomfortably against his zipper as he poised himself behind her. He settled for several seconds, watching her body quiver in anticipation of him filling her. He would have her. He would fucking take her. She would be his.

With a force he had not mustered before, he drove into her until he was buried from root to tip inside of her.

She let out a guttural groan at the feeling. He pulled out until just the head of his cock remained inside and drove in again. She practically shrieked with pleasure this time.

“Fuck, Ains. I am going to fuck you until you scream my name,” he snarled at her and began a steady rhythm of pounding into her until she groaned with each entry and whimpered with the loss of pleasure at each retreat of his cock. He fucked her through one orgasm and into the next. He fucked her until she begged for another and another and another. He fucked her until he could not last any longer. The soft folds of her dripping pussy squeezing hard as if to never release his cock lit his shaft alight with pleasure and he came into her like a levee breaking in a dam. Filling her to the brim with cum, he orgasmed like a wild man, crying his pleasure out to the world.

She did scream his name. Over and over again, as the ripples of her own orgasm overtook her at the end. Her legs gave way then and he had to move to catch her as she collapsed to the ground.

Holding her in his arms, still buried inside her in the most intimate of ways, he looked down at her with her eyes full of compassion and brimming with love. She looked away and sighed once. Looking back at him, feeling safety for once in her life, she began to speak. She honestly did not know where to start. She opened her mouth and one sentence tumbled out.

“His name was Jacob.”

OoOo

Chapter Text

He looked down at her wrapped tightly in the starched sheets of the hotel. It was a decent hotel. Nothing particularly grand or spectacular about it. Neither was it a dump. Some trashy motel on the side of the highway where you could hear the sound of women turning tricks to pay the bills. They had stayed in places like that before. It had never bothered them. The hotel room beat the hell out of being stuck in a bunk the size of a matchbook car. Andrew actually did not fit in the bunks. He’d share the one set out for Ainsley at times but with his length like the limbs of some ancient tree never fit. They had built a bed for him in the back of the bus. His band and crew were kind that way.

Ancient tree he felt in that moment. Staring down at her clutching the sheets tightly against her cheek like the comfort of a well worn childhood security blanket she looked utterly peaceful for the first time in a long time. The words had started as a trickle. Andrew kept having to prompt her. Almost as if asking “then what happened?” which would have come across as strangely absurd. Once that trickle of words started to turn into a steady stream soon it bled into a full torrent of rushing water that threatened to bowl him over. To hear everything, the whole story, the truth and nothing but the truth, had nearly brought him to his knees.

The utter destruction that Jacob had brought to her. To her body. To her mind. The scars he had made both visible and so deeply hidden on her psyche that only the brightness of sunlight could illuminate them. It pissed Andrew Hozier off more than he could express. He had held his red hot fuming rage that turned his entire vision into a magenta wasteland as she spoke inside. Now...now he wanted to hit something. He wanted to pick the lamp up and chuck it so hard across the room that it would shatter into pieces so small no one could put it back together. He felt that way about her. Jacob had shattered her. Now it fell on Andrew’s shoulders to piece her back together. Was he capable of that? Would she allow him to?

She was stubborn that was for damn sure. It was something he loved about her. The fact that she would try over and over with a recipe even when she’d almost light the house on fire in the process. She would tweak a cake recipe, set the fire alarm off when it burned to blackened tar in the oven, then after fanning the fire alarms with a towel she’d pull the devastation out of the oven, and start all over again. All this while the tip of her pink tongue stuck out of the side of her mouth. She did not give up. Neither would he.

Staring at her he felt an immense amount of gratitude that this beautiful doll of a woman had come into his life. As cracked as the porcelain of her facade was she was his and he hers. The weight of the task of supporting her through her emotional crisis weighed on him yet again.

He dragged a hand down his face then buried it in his hair fluffy from a very platonic shower shared with her after she had finally gotten everything out. Every secret. Every dark space she had hidden from him. It had been like the sweetest of releases for her. Better than any orgasm he could provide. She’d still wanted the shower she had requested before.

They’d spent a while under the spray just holding each other. It had been insanely intimate. Her wrapped in his arms. He had leaned down to place his chin on top of her damp white blonde curls. She rested her head against his chest and listened to his heartbeat. Steady and strong. It had been a good long while they had stayed like that simply holding each other and washing away the dirt, grime, sweat, and dead emotions that clung to their skin. Like shedding a confining skin it had all trickled down the drain. Afterwards she had crashed hard. He had sat up with all this on his mind.

When it all began to become such a heavy weight he felt that he could not carry it anymore he made himself list ten things he loved about her.

Her unruly hair that rivaled his in it’s ability to tangle and become a complete mess. That hair that, when she let him, he would brush out for her until it gleamed and she hummed happily.

Her cooking that was always varied, always different, always exotic even when it was something as tame as eggs. She would keep him fed for the rest of his life he knew that for certain.

The way she was with Elwood. She would play game after game of fetch with him until he was finally tuckered out enough to lay down. She would chase after him full of giggles when he would take off with the stick unwilling to bring it back to her. She’d run barefoot through the backyard after his foolish dog.

Her smile. Oh god that smile. When she really looked at him. Not a simple glance but a true deep look. The one where she looked deep into him and her lips spread revealing her pearly whites. She would smile at him like he was the only man in the world. He was worthy in those moments. He mattered. He was one in a million.

Her determination with guitar. He knew that she hated the way her double jointed fingers would cause her to lose her fingering on the fretboard. She would swear. Sometimes the Gaelic curses he had taught her. Then she would try again. And again. And once more with feeling.

The way her tongue did not stumble over the Irish or Gaelic language when he taught her simple words or phrases. She would with that determination she brought to everything repeat it over and over again until she hit it right. Then that smile. Always that smile.

The way she beamed with pride each time he came off stage. She had seen several tours and never once had she stopped looking at him with that sense of pride. That sense of almost wonder. The way she never stopped singing his songs. She had one for every one of her moods and she told them they were constantly shifting. One day “Work Song” would be a sad song brought up to nurse her wounds of depression. On another day it was a slow love song meant for the hush of lovers.

The way she danced without care. There was a time she had been shy and awkward with him. Now she was the one often pulling him to produce some of his most amazingly awkward “dad moves” as his fans called them. She would flit around the kitchen, or the bedroom, or the lobby of the hotel dancing along to “Almost (Sweet Music)” which she referred to as her “happy jam”.

The way her body seemed meant for his. The way she could play his body like an instrument. She could conduct his body like an orchestra. Pulling the sweetest of music from him with the way her hands roamed over his skin. The way her mouth felt on his aching body. Those teeth biting into his neck. Her sex enveloping his length in such a gentle warmth and slick wetness. Their love making never ceased to amaze him. Never bored him. Never became a chore.

Everything. He loved everything about her.

The weight was a lot lighter as he looked down at Ainsley. The utter love of his life. He dragged a hand down his tired face again.

“I need to be youthfully felt ‘cause god I never felt young.” He whispered quietly as he tried to think of what he needed to do next. Kill Jacob was at the top of his list though that would probably go unfulfilled. For now he needed some air. Just a little bit of the fresh night air of Wyoming to clear his head. He leaned down and kissed Ainsley gently on that halo of curls. She did not stir. He hoped she would not fall into one of her frequent night terrors as she often did while he was gone. Just a little air he told himself as he opened the door and with one backward glance at her closed the hotel room door on the prone form of his greatest love.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He just needed a little air he told himself over and over again as he stalked down the stairs. The elevator felt too claustrophobic right now. He needed space. He needed air. He needed to think. He pulled uncomfortably at the collar of his shirt feeling like it was too tight. He couldn’t breathe.

Andrew Hozier could not tell if it was anger or panic that was overtaking him in that moment. Was he angry at all that her ex Jacob had done to her? Put her through? It was monstrous. It was inhuman. It was the work of a psychopath. Plain and simple this man, if you could even call him that, was of that sick group of men who thrived on pain. Fed off of it. Loved it. They were psychopaths. No wiggle room for doubt in that statement.

He was halfway across the lobby his long legs carrying him along as he went when something caught his attention. His head practically snapped around and he almost stumbled as his feet came to a grinding halt.

“Ainsley Taylor.” There was a pause. “Well check again! Asshole must have put it under his name. Try fuck what was it? Hozier. Andrew Hozier.” The voice was coming from a man that was impossible big. Not wide just tall and large. His head was shaven. There were the hint of tattoos peeking out from his t-shirt. He was towering over the clerk and imposing as hell. Andrew paused waiting to see what else would be said to give him a clue as to who was looking for his Ains.

“I cannot release that information sir.” The clerk replied curtly clearly hiding from the sheer size of the guy behind his desk. The man let out a string of curses and slammed his fist down on the counter in a fit of rage. If Andrew had any doubt of who this man was before that simple move solidified it in his mind.

“Maybe I can help you.” Andrew’s words were out of his mouth before he could thoroughly think. He wanted a piece of Jacob. He wanted a strip of his hide. He wanted to hurt him as much as he made Ainsley hurt. Now this man had the gall to show up in their hotel hunting her down? That very fact meant Andrew was out for blood.

The man turned and fixed sharp dull brown eyes onto Andrew. His eyes narrowed for a moment then widened with recognition. A sickly happy smile spread over his face as he took in Andrew’s tall but lithe frame. He weighed him and found him to be less than a threat.

“I suppose you could help me find Ainsley seeing as you’re the one fucking her and all.” It took everything in him to not throw himself at Jacob fists flailing wildly. If Jacob thought their relationship could be boiled down to simply fucking then he knew nothing of the joys of loving Ainsley. From what Ains had told Andrew he knew for certainty that Jacob did not or he would not have taken his anger out on her face, her body, her psyche. Andrew was going to make damn sure that Jacob never had that opportunity to do that again.

“You should leave.” Andrew’s voice was firm. He realized it had not been anger that had driven him from the hotel room. It had been panic. Panic at the idea of undoing the years of damage that Jacob had done to his blonde pixie of a girl. This one small confrontation was a good start. Step One: Get Jacob the fuck away from Ains. Step Two: He would figure that out later.

“I’ll leave once I talk to Ainsley. Now you can either help me find her or you can get out of my way.” Jacob was so self assured. Cocky in that way that beguiles a man with a little cock. They’re always compensating for something. Andrew stared him down and still that sick smile stayed on Jacob’s face. He still did not see him as a threat and that irked Andrew.

“You will leave now.” A flash of anger went through Jacob’s eyes. He did not like being told what to do Ainsley had told him. It seemed he still didn’t. Things never change with assholes do they?

It took only a few seconds for Jacob to start advancing on him. Andrew held his ground ready to take or throw any punches he needed to in defense of his love. He had not seen Alex enter the lobby but suddenly like a flash he was between Andrew and Jacob. His frame was small and his waist thin. He looked like he could be snapped in half by the giant of a man that was Jacob.

“Do we have a problem?” Alex’s usually playful lyrical voice had taken on a dark tone. He stood firm between Andrew and Jacob clearly ready to play devil’s advocate.

“You’re standing between me and the man that’s standing between me and Ainsley. I’ll take you one at a time if you want. Or you can get the fuck out of my way.” His dialogue was uninspired and took on the style of an unintelligent man even though Ainsley had told Andrew she had worked to put him through his Bachelor’s and part of his Master’s. Seems none of that schooling stuck. You can be book smart and still be dumb as a rock. Jacob was walking talking evidence of that fact.

When Jacob continued to move forward with a fist wound back Andrew placed a hand on Alex’s shoulder ready to move him out of the way. Alex surprised the shit out of both of them by winding his fist back and landing a punch across Jacob’s face hard enough to cause Jacob to stumble back a few steps. Alex shook out his hand but was ready to land another punch if necessary.

“If you do not leave I will call the police.” They all turned slightly at the uncertain voice of the desk clerk. He had the receiver held to his ear and his finger shook over the buttons on the front desk phone. Jacob looked at him then turned and looked at the two Irishmen fully ready to throw down a good old fashioned brawl. With a curse he decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and began his brooding walk towards the hotel entrance. Andrew knew it was not the end of it. He still let Jacob stalk off to lick his wounds. Now was not the time for a full fight.

“Thanks lad.” Andrew squeezed Alex’s shoulder and they exchanged a look of camaraderie. Andrew really was truly grateful for his friend. He always had his back whether it was when they were playing a show and Andrew accidentally dropped his mic off the stage or when a punch of two needed to be thrown.

“Of course. Anything for Ainsley and...you.” Alex’s voice paused and faltered on the during the sentence.

“Yes, a disturbance in room 314?” Andrew’s head once again snapped up as he heard his room number spoken by the front desk clerk.

“I’ve got to go.” He gave Alex’s should one more squeeze before racing to the front desk to calm the clerk before full out sprinting in the direction of the elevator.

Alex hoped Andrew had not noticed the way he had stumbled over Ainsley’s name. He meant it when he said he’d do anything for her. Andrew just didnt’ realize the full weight of that statement or the weight it put on Alex’s shoulders.

OoOo

Chapter Text

Andrew didn’t have time to process Alex’s words. They had seemed innocent enough. If he had looked closer, listened closer, he would have heard the longing. The ache in them. Instead he took off at a run for the stairs. He tore away from the potential danger of the weight of Alex’s feelings. Andrew did not know just what Alex was willing to do for Ainsley. He did not realize that Alex viewed her hair like the golden halo of a pixie angel wrapped up in the fiery soul of a goddess of mischief. Andrew did not know just how Alex’s heart soared each time he saw her small frame climbing the twisting bus stairs. The way his heart crashed back down again when he saw the way Andrew put his arm around her protectively. Possessively. He did not know that Alex cursed the fact that Andrew had talked to her first. Had recognized the amazing nature of such a girl a split second before Alex’s eyes fell on her. Those damn long legs of Andrew’s could have beat him in a race whether Alex had stood up from his barstool or not. Alex had stayed put and held his breath that she would throw her drink in his face.

It was a terrible thing to think of when your friend approaches a girl but there was something about Ainsley. Something so...just beautifully broken begging to be put back together. There were some deep scars inside her. Alex could sense them and it broke his heart. Andrew warred with himself to help them heal them Alex could see. Alex could not help but think he would do a better job himself. He couldn’t help but hope that when he was on stage for just a split second Ainsley would look at him like she does when she sees Andrew. That look of pure pride. Admiration without worship. He wished for just a second she would see his long tapered fingers on those thick bass strings and wonder what they would feel like inside her.

Alex watched Andrew leave the lobby. He would have taken a punch from the man so desperate to hunt down Ains. He would have taken a full beating. The reason why was unimportant. The less questions Andrew asked of Alex the less answers he would have to give.

“I hope your friend knows what he is doing. I am receiving more complaints about room 314 than I can answer.” The hotel worker looked more than perturbed. There was still a sense of anxiety about him. He looked thoroughly shook up by what had just happened. The giant of a man towering over him had obviously set him shaking like the last leaf on a tree long awaiting winter. Alex regarded him with barely disguised annoyance.

“I’ll go check on him.” Alex’s voice was low and soothing. Not booming despite the bass sound of it. He spoke softly but with a timbre that could hit notes lower than most men. His voice had never matched his body type. Tall and reed thin. It was a surprise to most people when he opened his mouth. It was the exact reason he kept silent most of the time when he was not on stage doing backing vocals. Very few people cared what he had to say anyways. Except for Ainsley. She would sit and play cards with him into the early morning hours on nights when his mind was spinning and sleep was a distant wish. Ains would play the ridiculous games she had learned from childhood. She was shit at poker. Slowly she would pull words from Alex. Stories of his childhood in Ireland. Stories of his time in college. Causing all sorts of trouble as most young men do. She could pull words from his mouth like pulling sweet honey out of a jar. She had a way with him. A way to handle him that no other woman had.

As the realization sank in of all the times Ainsley had been there for his sleepless nights it struck him how much he wanted to be there for her tonight. Andrew had told him of her night terrors. He could only imagine she was having one now. Causing enough of ruckus that they were apt to get thrown from the hotel.

He had promised the front desk clerk he would check on Andrew. Would it be such a terrible thing for him to just see that everything was alright?

He moved with a swiftness to his step as he glided across the carpet of the lobby. His eyes saw the dark red of the carpet covered in repeating golden vines and flower bud patterns. His mind though saw a pixie angel with a mess of blonde curls in the throws of a nightmare. A girl that needed to be soothed. He saw the girl of his heart in desperate need of comfort.

What he saw and what he wanted were a perilous mix.

OoOo

Andrew could hear the screaming the moment he exited the stairway. The elevator would have been too slow. Pressing the button and waiting with an anxious tapping of his foot was not his style. The molasses pour slow advance of the rising elevator would have had him tearing his hair out. No this time called for action. For movement. He took the stairs two at a time. His long legs could manage it easily. Three flights was not that high yet it felt like Mt Everest as he tried desperately to reach Ains. He knew what he would find. Her lost in her subconscious mind. Thrashing roughly as those past thoughts and experiences overtook her. The beatings that Jacob had delivered with his meaty fists. They would have landed like brass knuckles across Ainsley’s sweet face. The very thought filled him with a deep sickness and rage so strong the entire word was tainted red. The man deserved double of anything that Ains had received. Every arm broken once on her should be broke twice on him. Two punches landed for each one on her. An eye for an eye. Andrew would gladly carry out that idiom.

The screams were almost to the point of hysterics by the time he reached the door of his hotel room. Then suddenly they were silent. The silence scared him more than the screams. The screams he was familiar with. The silence...the silence was unnerving. Andrew opened the door cautiously unsure of what kind of scene he would find. There was a buzzing in his ears as that empty sound stretched out before him.

He found her in a heap on the floor taking breaths deep enough that her stomach swelled like a balloon. She was practically gasping with the effort of her body to pull in oxygen after such a long time without it. The screams had stretched on and on as he climbed the stairs. Now she lay there in tatters with a sheet wrapped around her legs in that constricting way that drove her into a PTSD episode. Which was exactly where she was at now.

Ainsley had began to quake. So violently it had been like a seizing of her muscles. Spasms had wracked her body. Then those phantom pains like blows to the body had begun to fall on her and she had tried desperately to block them. Drawing her arms up like a shield she fought to protect her face, her ribs, her legs. Anything exposed was licensed to the force of his foot driving into her. Just like always her hands were always a few moves behind Jacob’s foot. They landed heavy and hard on her body as she whimpered.

When she awoke from the terror she found the hotel room empty. Devoid of her anchor. The man that kept her tethered to the ground. Away from the space that her body so often wanted to float into. She was lost and adrift. The sobs like terrible heaves of her body had hit then. They were fast and desperate. Her body crying out for the comfort of him when he was gone. She had ran to the window the sheet tangled around her feet. That is when she saw ‘him’. The proverbial him. The man she had spent her nights fending off in the meekest way possible. She saw Jacob leaving the hotel and just lost it. Completely lost it.

The neighbors had screamed and banged on the wall. That overstimulation only added to her panic as she actually lost control of her body. Now the screaming had passed. She had found no comfort yet her body had stopped. It could not maintain that kind of energy anymore. It simply gave out. It left her on the floor gasping and empty. Broken more than she had ever been. She felt hollow.

“Ains?” The voice was timid and quiet. It was the kind of voice you spoke into the darkness when something goes bump in the night. It was the voice of someone who was too spooked to speak loud enough to be heard. It was a voice that was afraid of her.

“You weren’t here.” Her words came in quick gasps as her body fought to regain that oxygen it was so completely devoid of. Sucking in air the words came out hard enough to rip through her throat making her voice hoarse. She had screamed for so long it could no longer properly form words.

“Andrew is she okay?” The sound of the another male voice caused her head to snap up. She looked at the two men half crazed. Andrew hesitated on the threshold unsure of whether he should go to her or if that would cause more panic. Alex did not hesitate. He was unafraid of her. He was unafraid of this feral creature that lay curled on the floor. He went to her the way Andrew should have. He could feel the weight of Andrew’s glare on his back and hear his words of protest. Alex ignored both. He came to her. With gentle hands he stroked her hair in the most soft and soothing way possible. Her body quaked with the sheer force of her distress. Her muscles ached from flexing and uncurling as her body betrayed her. The feel of his hand in her hair petting her so softly was of the greatest comfort. It was like balm to the burn. Water to the parched. Food to the starved. It was a feeling she needed so deeply right then. The need to connect. To feel loved. To feel real. In that moment she hardly felt like she existed. Yet those fingers entwined in her curls brought her back to her body. Back from the recesses of her pained mind. It brought her back from the world of the undead so completely trapped in their minds that they could not find the light again.

“He wasn’t here.” Her words are just as hoarse and they hold the same amount of pain. She hates those words. She hates that she is not enough for herself anymore. She hates that it aches to be away from him. That she has to rely on him for stability. It shouldn’t be that way but it is.

“It will pass.” She closed her eyes in a feeling of pleasure. It was not sexual pleasure. No this was the pleasure of comfort. So many people shush someone when they are afraid. They tell them it will be okay. They say things that calm themselves not the person suffering. Alex’s words are for her and her alone.

“Here Ains let’s get you on the bed.” Andrew’s voice caused her to stiffen. It’s not his voice but his words. It says to her let’s stop making a scene. She hates them and shuts her eyes tight.

“Andrew just give her a few minutes. Here just stroke her arm. It’s fine.” Alex continued to run his fingers ever so lightly through her hair. Her hair was wild and tangled just like her spirit. He felt pleasure in touching her but in that moment it was a tender pleasure not a feeling of sexuality. It was a feeling he does not want to have. It was an emotion that was too deep for him to feel for a woman that was not his.

Andrew fought to hold in his rage. He was angry with himself for leaving her. For being selfish enough to decide whether she was good enough for him when he should have been determining if he was good enough for her. The night had so far proven otherwise. He was angry at Jacob for causing this kind of damage. This kind of wreckage in a girl so full of goodness. To cause a rift in that calm and kind nature. To destroy something so beautiful and pure. He was angry at Alex now for knowing how to take care of her far better than he ever had. Alex was patient with her. He seemed to know exactly what she needed. Andrew always blundered through these moments. He never knew if she should lead or he should. Should he be firm with her or did she require softness? Should he wait for her to tell him what she needed? He wasn’t a mind reader. It appeared that Alex very well might be.

Andrew put his feelings aside as intense as they were in that moment to bring comfort to Ainsley. Nothing in this situation needed to be about him. It was about Ainsley. It was always about Ainsley. He would do anything for her. He would always do anything for her.

There they lay on the ground a trifecta of love. Two known to the other a third hiding it too well. There was never a deficit of love surrounding Ainsley. All she had to do was open her eyes and her heart to see. There were many who loved her. Perhaps one too many.

OoOo

Chapter Text

Eventually Ainsley’s breathing went from raspy and erratic to a calm even cadence. Andrew ran the tips of his fingers down her arm. She had closed her eyes but she was far from sleep. Something in her chest bloomed into a deep feeling of safety. It was something she wanted to wrap herself up in. She could not remember when she had once felt completely safe in her adult life. Yet here in the company of the two men she did. It was a beautiful feeling.

Andrew looked down on his small broken creature and breathed a sigh of relief as he saw her relaxing and coming out of her episode. It was the longest most intense one he had ever bared witness to. Some part of him had worried that she would not come out of it and they would have to take her to the hospital. Which type of hospital he was not sure. His chest seized at the very idea. He could feel her eyes on him. She did not turn her head but simply angled those blue eyes up at him from the floor. He realized the his breathing had become ragged and worked to even it out again. She was very aware of everyone at all times. It was a survival instinct he surmised especially in these states she was very aware of what everyone in the room was doing. As his breathing evened out her eyes slid back to the floor as if they had never been turned to him to start with.

Alex watched her with the gentle gaze of a lover. Everything about this girl that he knew had the fiercest spirit was fragile in this moment. All the fire in her had been dimmed. Dimmed but not diminished. He could see in the way that she was fighting her own mind that she still held that fire. He admired the shit out of her for it. He did not know if he could be that strong in the face of something like this. He did not know the context but he knew broken when he saw it. He had a cousin with PTSD and knew an episode when he saw one. She was still fighting even as her body calmed down forcing her mind to follow. He could not help but relish the feel of his fingers in her hair. The blonde strands were downy soft and despite the tangled curls his fingers glided through like satin.

Ainsley was not quite sure what to do with herself. She knew she could not stay on the floor for the rest of the night with the two men lightly petting her like a feral cat. Yet no part of her really wanted to move away from this feeling of...right, okay, safe, maybe even happy in the moment. She was very aware of the fact that she was naked and wrapped in a bed sheet on the floor of a hotel room while her boyfriend and his bandmate were soothing her. The sense of propriety in her that was only ever barely there perked it’s head up and she gripped the sheet tighter around her and sat up slowly. Alex’s hand slowly fell away. She noted the absence of it as soon as it left her.

“I think I want a bath...” Her voice was hoarse and she had to cough twice to even make a sound. Andrew drew her gently to him and pressed his lips softly but with a firm touch to hers. He helped her stand making sure that the sheet stayed tightly wrapped around her as she made her way to the bathroom. She turned once from the doorway leading into the bathroom and fixed Alex with a warm stare but devoid of a smile.

“Thank you.” She whispered quietly. He gave a closed lipped smile and a nod. She gave a tight smile in response before slipping inside and pushing the door closed behind her.

Andrew wasn’t sure how he felt in that moment about the exchange that had just happened. There was nothing particularly odd about it. The realization that his best friend had just helped his girlfriend through a PTSD freak out was beginning to dawn on him and the whole situation made him feel uncomfortable. The exact reason for that discomfort was lost on him. He only knew in that moment he wanted Alex out of the throughly trashed hotel room as quickly as possible.

“Thanks mate.” Andrew clapped Alex on the back and began steering him towards the door all in one motion. It did not take Alex long to pick up the hint. He made his way to the door giving one more wistful look towards the bathroom before turning to nod at Andrew. He pulled the hotel room door shut behind him.

Andrew heaved a sighed of relief before opening the door to the bathroom where he could hear the soft sound of water falling from the tap into the porcelain tub.

OoOo

Alex leaned his forehead briefly against the hotel room door before rolling around so that the back of his head rested against it. He ground the palms of his hands into his eye sockets before scrubbing them down his face. He groaned and closed his eyes trying to rid his mind of the feel of her hair sliding between his fingers as he had been stroking it.

To rid him of the sound of her breathing. At first ragged and full of fear like a deer spotted by a hunter. Then slowly it had evened out and sounded soft like a hush of snow falling onto the earth. That ethereal silence that pervades the world when the flat white flakes of frozen water build a blanket over the grass. There is always a silence then. A hush. It’s as if you can hear the earth breathing. That’s what her breath had sounded like. That hush.

He ground his palms into his eyes again as he remembered the small smile she had given him before disappearing into the bathroom. It had been a simple smile. Nothing to read in to. Still he wanted desperately to read into it. He wanted there to be some thread to pull at in the way she had said thank you before disappearing to her bath.

He wanted desperately to not be thinking about her in the bath. About the way he wanted to be using a soft washcloth to gently wipe the dried sweat from the back of her neck and down to her shoulders. The way he would sit on the edge of the tub and brush the hair from her face to tuck it behind her ear. He wanted desperately to not think about her at all. Every part of him wanted to keep thinking about her.

He waited a few more minutes listening to the silence in the hallway. Waiting to make sure she did not start screaming again. He knew Andrew was able to take care of her. He did. Really he did. Still he waited outside of the door for a long while as the night stretched on. He finally convinced himself that all was as well as it was going to be at two in the morning and placed his hand against the door once. He walked away letting his palm trail along the smooth metal of the door. The only thing standing between him and Ainsley. That and Andrew.

OoOo

Andrew moved into the bathroom in a gentle manner. He was no longer acting like he might spook her but still he wanted to bring a soft quality to how he proceeded from here. He wanted her to see him as soothing and strong. Her anchor. Something he had been failing to be for several long months.

“I’m sorry.” They were the first words out of Ainsley’s mouth as he came up behind her. She watched his face in the mirror as he gently wrapped his arms around her. Nothing too tight to make her feel claustrophobic as the sheets had. Still a good embrace so that she felt held and protected.

“There’s nothing to be sorry for my love.” He whispered to her in his lovely Irish accent. She loved the sound of his voice. So soft and different from all those around her. He smiled at her and her heart wanted to melt into her feet. She knew he was sincere. There was nothing he believed she should be sorry for. There were many things she believed she should be sorry for. He never saw her as some innocent girl but he also saw her as someone worth saving. On nights like this she was not so sure she was worth the trouble.

“Thank Alex for me. He didn’t have to...I mean he didn’t...it was nice of him and I’m sorry he had to see me like that. I’m embarrassed he did. So thank him for me please.” She felt Andrew tighten slightly as he held her and she looked at him quizzically. His mouth had formed a tight line. When he caught her staring at him in the mirror he let a small smile grace them instead.

“Of course my love. I will thank him for you.” He pressed his lips to the top of her head and she leaned back against his shoulder. They stayed like that for several seconds.

“I really do want a bath.” She told him half jokingly and half serious. He laughed a full hearty laugh and all the tension between them melted.

“How ‘bout a nice joint platonic bath?” He pressed his lips to her bare shoulder and tasted the salt from her dried sweat.

“Mmm joint bath yes. Platonic? Let’s see where the night takes us.” She smiled a mischievous elf like smile at him and he grinned back but kissed her on top of the head once more.

“Platonic bath is my only offer. Take it or leave it.” He responded and she rolled her eyes.

“Fiiiiine.” She drew out the word and he grinned. Picking her up around the waist he spun her gently before letting her down. He let his head dip down to hers and their lips touched gently.

She loved Andrew. She was completely consumed by her love for him. Then why couldn’t she get Alex’s smile from her mind? She could not get the question out of her head.

OoOo

Chapter Text

He held her that night with a firmness. A need to anchor her to him. Not to posses her or to assert ownership. Nor did he want to hold her down. No, a woman this wild could not be possessed, owned, or held down. She danced through life with a fervor. She was held to no one but her own demons. She loved deeply like the ocean and swiftly like a racing river with it’s currents so strong you could not help but be swept up in them.

No, he held her with a sense of security. In a way that would allow her to rest easily enough to sleep. As if he could hold vigil over her in the night ready to fight off those monsters that crept into her mind in the darkness. He held her with his arm wrapped around her strongly but without force. He wanted her to know that she was his and he hers in every sense of that statement. He held a conviction that he would hold onto her. He was oblivious to the envy burning in his heart. The envy painting his heart an emerald shade of green that sparkled with the light bouncing off the facets of the jewel. He was oblivious to why he so desperately needed to to hold onto her. To keep her body pressed to his. To feel that she was solid in his arms and not about to slip away.

He was blind to the resentment he was holding inside towards Alex. Alex who had known exactly what to do and did it without hesitation. If Alex has not been there Andrew would have most likely made things worse. Alex did not treat her like something to fear. No he had treated her like something to covet. To love, adore, and soothe. Alex had sat there slowly pulling the calm from within the depths of Ainsley. Andrew had felt lost and adrift yet Alex has been assured in his actions. Alex’s sole purpose had been to take care of Ainsley. Andrew had feared her. What her episode would be like. He had questioned whether he would be able to calm her this time. He had approached her with trepidation. Alex had approached her with what could only be considered love. Though what kind of love remained to be seen.

Andrew knew all this yet his mind put it on the back burner as it was far too tired to face emotions so deep. Jealously, envy, self loathing. They were all strong emotions that ate away at him bit by bit. He pushed the thought away. Still his world was painted green with jealousy. He may be oblivious to it on the surface but underneath it all his body felt it. It felt it in the way his muscles tensed when he thought of Alex kneeling on the floor next to Ainsley stroking her hair. He felt it in the way his arm held firm around her waist keeping her tethered to him. His mind might not fully grasp the idea yet but his body knew.

Ainsley’s breathing had become soft and even. He watched the way his arm moved up and down as her chest expanded with each breath. He pressed his lips to that wild mane of blonde curls and graced the crown of her head with the lightest of kisses. She did not stir and he could tell he was disappointed.

Their shower had been mostly silent. He had held her to him under the spray of water as the dried sweat drained off of her rinsing her clean. Absolving of her nightmares and sins. Absolution was what she craved and the water granted her that. Freedom from the terrors that Jacob had bestowed upon her. More pain than anyone so kind should ever have to endure. He wanted to grant her freedom from that pain. He hated that he still didn’t know how.

He had wanted to talk. She had stayed silent. The sound of the hot spray running in rivulets down their bodies and splashing against the porcelain of the tub while spraying the plastic curtain created a cacophony of sound. Still between the two of them there had been nothing but a quiet hush. He had wrapped her in a thick fluffy towel and carried her to bed. Snuggling against him with her hair still wet Ainsley had turned her back to him and grown quiet until the blessing of sleep had fallen upon her.

Now Andrew was left to focus on his thoughts. Thoughts he did not want to have.

He could not lose Ainsley. He would not. No one would take her from him.

OoOo

Alex could not sleep. He tossed and turned in the queen sized bed. It was a nice hotel and the mattress was a pillow soft top with plenty of warm blankets and soft sheets. It was the most comfortable bed her had been in for a while having been on the bus for so many days. He was tired and set up for the perfect sleep. Unfortunately sleep eluded him. He would toss his lithe body one way then the other. The sheets wrapped around his legs trapping him. Which made him think of Ainsley. Everything made him think of Ainsley.

He kicked the blankets off of himself and ran his hands down his face. He ground his palms into his eyes hoping to rid himself of the image of that tiny smile she had given him. He was not successful in that endeavor.

He worried about her. Was Andrew taking care of her? Of course he was. That was a stupid question. Did he know how to comfort her if she had another episode? He had done it before which made the answer to that question moot. Could he truly help her? That was a question Alex did not have an answer to and it ate away at him. He wanted to be there. To help.

There was absolutely no excuse he could come up with to show back up at their hotel room in the middle of the night. There had not been a lack of trying to come up with an excuse though. He had even contemplated showing up to ask for some laundry detergent just so he could check in on Ains. He had rejected that as a laughable joke. Who does laundry at 3 in the morning?

He had to accept that there was no reason for him to go back. He was not welcome. Though he could not convince himself that he was not needed.

“God damn it.” He swore under his breath as he turned over yet again. Burying his head in his pillow her practically screamed into it as he let out a cry of frustration.

Why could he not get her out of his head? She was not his to have. Nor would she ever be. He could not continue to pine after her. It would drive him mad.

That halo of blonde curls haunted him though and he curled his fingers without thought as if he was still running them through that angelic mop of hair. A thrilling chill went through his body and he groaned again.

He lied awake most of the morning and watched the clock. The second that breakfast was open he hopped out of bed tugging on his jeans and slipping a black cotton shirt over his head. Ainsley always teased him that he needed to change detergents as his shirts always looked washed out. A small smile graced his lips as he thought of it. The smile lasted only so long before the ache in his chest set in.

He made his way down to the lobby where the small breakfast area was placed off to the side. The smell of eggs and pancakes greeted him and his stomach growled loudly. He’d been so busy pining for Ainsley all night he hadn’t realized how hungry he was. He was about to move into the room when he caught sight of a messy halo of white blonde curls. She balanced two plates ladened with food and a cup of coffee in her hands. He stopped dead in his tracks. As if sensing him she looked up and froze. Her eyes grew wide as she took him in.

They stood like that for several moments just gazing at each other. He noted the beautiful blush that crept from her neck up to her cheeks. She noted the dark circles under his eyes and the way he awkwardly tucked his hands into his pockets as if he wanted to keep them from touching things they shouldn’t.

Oh how she wished those hands would touch her.

Oh how he wished he could always cause her face to flush the beautiful color of a rose.

Danger. There was so much danger in the look they shared.

OoOo

Chapter Text

Ainsley held the plates precariously. One stacked partly on top of the other. She was currently smashing the waffle she had just taken the time to carefully pour and make in the the waffle maker.

She was ravenous after an episode quite frequently. She would not eat after when her body was weak. It was counterintuitive. Her body was tired, exhausted from seizing and screaming. Basically losing all self control as her diseased mind possessed her in the night. Still she did not even so much as nibble on a cracker after an episode. Simply let her body sort itself out.

Now though she was starving and suffering with a whole mess of emotions she had no idea how to process. She had left Andrew sleeping peacefully in bed his chestnut hair fanned out across the stark white pillow he rested his head on. He looked like he had not slept all night and Ains would not be surprised if that had been the truth.

She had planned to take the two plates and the cup of coffee she held in the crook of her arm, that was slowly starting to burn her skin, up to the room so that she could share breakfast with Andrew. Instead she found herself staring into the angelic face of Alex as he stood across the room from her. She wanted to drop the plates and run. Though she cold not tell if it was towards him or away from him.

Ainsley finally lost the battle with the coffee that was burning it’s way through the skin of her forearm. She had to put the plates down and pull the coffee out of it’s secure resting place in the crook of her elbow. She rubbed at the reddened skin and tried to not think about anything. She cleared her mind of thoughts and those ever pesky emotions.

“Hey.” She did not want to look up as she heard the surprisingly deep voice of Alex behind her. He was close enough that she could feel the heat radiating off of him. She was suddenly cold and wanting for his heat against her body. His strong chest against her back and arms wrapped around her middle like a protective barrier. Barring the terrible world from hurting her anymore than she already had been.

Alex stared at the back of her neck that was so rarely visible. She kept her hair down for the most part like a curtain that hid her from the world. Now with her hair pinned up her thin delicate neck peeked out from above a shirt that Alex recognized as Andrew’s. The thought of gently kissing her there on that sensitive skin, letting the hairs rise with the featherlight feeling of his lips on her neck, suddenly passed. She was his. He shook his head so softly it was indecipherable to her. No, she was not his. She was Andrew’s. He knew she would never be belong to him.

“Hey.” Ainsley pushed a curly strand of that white blonde hair behind her ear and turned to face him. His proximity was like a fire that drove her wild. An electric current crackled and burst between them. She felt the desperate need to be in his arms in that moment. The night before burned through her memory. The feel of his hands curled in her hair calming her more than any sedative could. He had a way with her that she did not understand.

Alex wanted her in his arms. It felt right to open them and let her fall into them. He could almost see in those wide eyes of hers that if he opened his arms she would swoon into them. Swoon was the wrong word, she was anything but a damsel in distress, however that need to rush into them with all the fervor of a long lost lover found at last. He kept his arms crossed over his chest almost forcing them to stay there. He flexed his arms trying to force them to stay closed. They wanted desperately to be betray himself. More importantly betray Andrew.

Ainsley tugged uncomfortable at the hem of Andrew’s shirt that she wore like a dress. His tall lanky stature made his close fit like casual dresses of the most expensive yet simple kind.

They stood staring at each other like there were no other people in the room. In the world even.

OoOo

Andrew stood at the edge of the carpet leading into the breakfast nook. His eyes slid over Ainsley then casually moved towards Alex. He could see the look they were sharing and a torrent of anger like burning jealousy broke through him. He could not stand it one more moment. That look...it was more intimate than anything they should ever share. Yet, how much could you call a look a betrayal?

He strode towards Ainsley and with one smooth movement slipped his arm around her shoulders. He pulled her head against his shoulder a little more intensely than was needed. Ainsley melted into him like she did not notice that he had been forceful in his collection of her.

Alex’s eyes widened at the sudden appearance of Andrew.

Ainsley shut her’s to block out the pain she saw cross Alex’s face. She shut her mind against the pain she felt in Andrew’s jealous hold on her. She shut out everything she should to once again survive.

“I missed you.” Andrew kissed the top of Ainsley head in the crowning halo of hair he so longed to place his light kisses on at all times.

“I missed you too.” Ainsley voice was quiet but did not hold any insencerity.

“Thanks for keeping her company.” Andrew’s voice was hard like ice and just as cold. Alex gave a brief nod and then turned with a simple, “Anytime” whispered under his breath.

“I bet.” Andrew’s voice was harsh but quiet. Ainsley gently flinched against his shoulder.

Danger. Oh yes. Now there was danger.

OoOo

Chapter Text

Ainsley detached herself from Andrew’s grasp with a fluid movement as if she was drawing into herself. He watched as she made herself as small as possible in his presence.

Her arms crossed, shoulders scrunched up practically to her ears, then curled in on herself. She did not meet his eyes. Suddenly Andrew felt sick with himself.

He jerked a hand through his tangled hair. He hadn’t bothered to brush it that morning and it was dense with snarls and tangled curls.

He wanted to pace. To turn and begin to move if for no other reason than it kept him from thinking. Thinking about the fact that he was acting possessive.

Like she was his. She was his in some way. His girlfriend, his love, his treasure, his everything. The only thing other than music that breathed life into him.

When his fingers moved swiftly over the strings while he played he imagined those same fingers moving in gently circles over her bare skin.

When his lips moved to form the words that echoed out his very thoughts, his deepest fears, strongest emotions, he imagined those same lips moving across her burning flesh.

When his hand held the mic in such a strong grip he imagined when he spent the day with her hand grasped in his. Her hand completely eclipsed by the size of his palm. Holding her so intensely with love and not possession.

On stage he would beat the tambourine against his chest with so much strength it was as if he was trying to restart his own heart.

The heart that stuttered and stopped every time that he saw her. Her white blonde curls ringing the crown of her head filled with brilliant ideas, delicious recipes, and of course more than just a touch of the dirty thoughts that he had always loved but never expected from her.

His music mimicked his love for her. It was in the very marrow of his bones. Music. Ainsley. One and the same. Love that he could not differentiate.

It stung now to see her drawn away from him. Her shields up as if she had to protect herself. Not from the outside world. No. This time she was protecting herself from him.

That sick feeling spread through his body once again and he partly wanted to gather her in his arms and partly walk away from her so that he did not have to see the way she cowered from him.

“Ains I’m s...” Ainsley held up her hand as she sensed the words coming. She put a stop to the apology about to fall from his mouth.

That beautiful mouthed ringed by lips talented with more than just words. Did he have anything to apologize for? Did she have anything she needed to forgive him for?

Or was it her that had committed a sin? She had done nothing wrong. She had not thrown her arms around Alex’s shoulders and begged him to hold her like the night before.

No, she had not acted out that desire. Yet, did simply thinking the thought make her guilty? Had that been so wrong?

She rubbed at her arms where the goose flesh had begun to rise. She wanted to mentally beat the hell out of herself.

She wanted to chide and criticize and hurl accusations at herself. She wanted to do the very things that Jacob had taught her to do...she wanted to be a good little girl.

She did not want to hurt Andrew. Neither did she want to get hurt.

“I’ll see you back at the room.” Ainsley’s exit was so abrupt that Andrew did not have time to stop her. One second she stood before him curled in on herself like the dead shell of a once beautiful and thriving water lily and the next she was gone.

The two plates of food and the coffee still steaming sat completely forgotten on the table next to him. He cringed at the sight of the food left behind like an afterthought.

In that moment he too felt like he was an afterthought. Her love for him was still there. He did not cease to feel it.

In that one moment he felt it shift on it’s axis like the world had decided to tilt in a completely opposite direction.

The sorrow he felt deep within him at the change slowly melted away like drops of water falling down from a frozen tree branch. The pain bled away and made room for the pure anger he felt in that moment.

He left the food on the table and stormed out of the breakfast nook pissed and on a mission.

It took only a moment for all three players in this performance to cast each other aside in selfish defense of themselves.

Andrew was all but done.

There was blood in the water.

He could smell it.

Some things should be left alone.

OoOo

Andrew slammed his hand flat against the hotel room door. When there was no immediate answer he cocked his hand once again and slammed it against the metal door in a series of rhythmic bangs.

He was pissed. He should walk away. He should go and cool down. He should go and check on Ainsley. He should try to reconcile with her.

There were so many things he should be doing other than this. Still he banged his hand against the door again and again.

With that loud metallic click that most of the high end hotel doors do the door swung open revealing Alex Ryan looking bleary eyed. His eyes were red and it looked like it had been the first time he had slept in days. He was tired. Oh so tired.

Some part of Alex had held the tiniest bit of hope that Ainsley would be standing outside the door banging her pixie like hand against the metal with a burning passion.

Some part of him had known it was not Ainsley he would be opening to the door to. It was that part that had caused him to pause a few steps away from the door as that loud knocking had gone on and on.

He was not sure he was ready to face what would come next. Alex was not sure what that would be. Still he did not want to meet it head on. He curled his toes over the scratchy hotel carpet.

Andrew’s eyes blazed as he took in the appearance of Alex. Alex managed to look simultaneously nonchalant and guilty. He kept his eyes downcast away from the murderous gaze of Andrew. If looks could kill...

“What the freck do you think you’re doing?” It was one question uttered from Andrew’s lips. Asked in anger not clarity.

It was the question to end all questions. It was the furious inquiry that suddenly set off an explosion.

Alex finally looked up and met Andrew’s gaze rage for rage.

“I think the right question to ask Andrew is what the freck do you think you’re doing?” Alex’s voice was even as he threw the question back into his friend’s face.

Strike a match. Light the fuse. Watch the fireworks.

OoOo

Chapter Text

There had once been a broken girl in desperate need to bloom like a flower turned toward an unforgiving sun in the gray skies of winter. She had been a moonflower, a wild moon child, only ever safe when that moon hung heavy and pregnant with light in the darkened sky.

Her head was crowned with a platinum blonde halo marred by the wild curls that had plagued her since childhood. The knots and constant snarls that she struggled with each morning only showed how crooked that halo was.

Her body told tales of less than angelic stories. Her body was tossed against the rocks time and time again until she learned to be quiet. Reserved. Dead inside. It was easier being a soul tangled up in a spiral of extinction than it was to hold onto her humanity that was being stripped away bit by bit.

Soon that moon child came to fear the night. The appearance of her glowing friend hanging in the sky like an acrobat without a safety net marked the start of the nightmares that came on swift and strong. Without warning. Without mercy.

Everything that had once made her young and free died a slow and agonizing death. She no longer danced. She no longer sang. She no longer smiled except for a mask of happiness she painted on her face each time she faced the world.

The very world that is so cruel to the hurting. To the beaten. To the broken.

The world holds a belief in equality for the pain that it dishes out to each person. The world does not discriminate. No, it brings pain to the young, the old, male, female. The Universe does not care what you are. It does not care who you are. It only cares who you want to be.

The Universe asks for a toll to cross the river into paradise. A place of beautiful dreams come true. You will go through hell and high water to prove you want it. Come up short and may the Universe have mercy on your soul.

That angel with her crooked halo had died. She was numb. Empty. She never bloomed into the stunning flower she was meant to be. She had been weighed, measured, and come up short.

There was a man tall like a redwood. His head reached up to the sky and constantly he found his mind caught up in the clouds. The dreams he had accomplished. The yearning feeling of what was missing. Who was missing.

He had been weighed, measured, and found worthy enough to reach that heaven of accomplished dreams. Even when he found himself making a living from the sounds of his guitar, the cries of his voice, he did not feel complete.

Sometimes angels fall from the sky into the depths of hell. Sometimes there are the worthy there to reach out their hand a pull them back up to earth. The worthy can lift them up again. They can piece back together the halo cracked with the heat from the holy hellfire.

Andrew had saved Ainsley though he had always felt that she had saved him.

Sometimes life is funny. Sometimes there are two hands reaching down into the fire to pull that fallen angel back up. Sometimes neither man offering his hand wants to let go.

Alex was in love with Ainsley. Fuck, he loved her so much it was like a twist of a knife in his chest when he saw her with Andrew.

Alex damned the fact that Andrew had gotten to her first.

He tried to let go. God damn did he want to let go. Still his hand held there in the flames licking up his arm. That burn felt oh so good as he gripped her hand and pulled her out with simple acts. The late night games of cards. Each time she made him laugh so hard that she eventually burst into her own fit of laughter as he infected her with his happiness.

Once there was a moonflower afraid of the night. Once she found her love. Once she began to bloom just a bit. Once she realized as she had laid naked caught in the trappings of a twisted sheet that she had love for another man.

That moonflower needed saving. Though which hand she would grasp still remained to be seen.

There were two men offering salvation but maybe, just maybe, she’d rather just stay damned.

OoOo

“Walk away Andrew. You don’t want to go down this road.” Alex’s eyes met Andrew’s and the fierce intensity of the love the two men held for the same woman seemed to explode between them.

Andrew resisted the urge to grab Alex by the shirt and shake him until he knocked some sense into him.

Andrew knew that Alex had no idea what game he was playing or the stakes that were on the table.

They each laid down a pair of hearts onto the poker table. It was a stalemate. Still those hearts lay there exposed and vulnerable. Oh how hard it was to be vulnerable.

“I do want to go down this road mate. You have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea what damage you could do to her with suck a childish move. I don’t care if you hurt me but if you break her I will kill you.”

Andrew was fuming. Completely feral he wanted to verbally tear Alex’s throat out. He wanted to go for the kill shot.

Alex flexed his hand once trying to rid himself of the burning sensation to land a blow to Andrew’s cheek. What did Andrew think he was doing? Playing a game?

He would never hurt Ainsley. Not on purpose. Every cell of his being wanted to save her. A job that Andrew did not seem up for.

Andrew had failed her time and time again as those episodes in the night came on. He approached her like a wild animal.

Alex would sit by her side for hours. He would hold her through tears. He would never take it personally when Ainsley landed a blow on him in the throughs of her episode.

He would be there for her if she let him. Andrew be damned. He was not fit for her.

Alex’s stomach lurched at the thought. Since when did he hold such anger tinged with just an edge of hatred for his friend?

“Go back to your room. Take care of Ainsley. For once Andrew just let it go.” Alex put all the weight of his words into the force of his eyes as he stared Andrew down.

There was a split moment where the tension between them popped like a bubble and each man felt the sudden urge to let their fists fly. There were no more words that needed to spoken in that moment.

“Just stay away from her Alex. I’m not joking. Stay the freck away from her.” Andrew fixed Alex with one last glare trying to put the weight of his words into his eyes.

Without another word he turned and stalked down the hallway towards the elevators his long legs taking him quickly away from the confrontation that was still begging to be had.

“I wish I could mate. I really wish I could.” Alex’s voice was a hushed confession of sin that did not reach Andrew’s ears as Alex closed the door of his hotel room.

He turned his back to the door and rested his body against the cold of the metal. Letting his body slide down he lowered himself to the floor.

Running his hands down his face and grinding his palms into his sleep deprived eyes he sighed. With one last word he settled the situation for the moment.

It summed up everything he was feeling and at the same time fell short.

“Freck.”

OoOo

Chapter Text

If they were at home Ainsley would be elbow deep in some type of pie crust or a cinnamon and raisin dough for a loaf of bread.

Her face would be dusted with white splotches of enriched flour.

The dessert would be something complicated that required concentration and steady hands.

She would weave the lattice crust of a cherry pie together as her mind cleared of all the swirling stormy thoughts that threatened to tear her mind to bits like an old farm house out on the plains in the middle of tornado alley.

Instead she had donned her swimsuit.

A vintage looking number it was a classic one piece with white polka dots and a tasteful swath of sheer fabric across the stomach.

It had a sweetheart neckline and was the equivalent of a little black dress in swimsuit style.

It made her feel confident and beautiful which was something she desperately needed right now.

The pool was barely the size of a small bedroom. It posed a challenge to Ainsley to find the space to swim any semblance of a lap however she was a small girl so she made do.

The water was cool but her skin warmed to it easily.

The smell of chlorine was a comfort.

The way the water parted to let her body cut through it’s liquid surface was something she had been yearning for without having realized it.

She was a swimmer once.

Before all this.

Before Jacob.

Before Andrew.

Before all the turmoil.

It took her a few minutes to realize that someone was calling her name.

She stopped short in the middle of her tiny lap and looked up.

Rivulets of pool water ran down her face and she wiped it from her eyes.

Andrew stood at the edge of the pool his face soft with concern.

He looked glorious right then. Tall he towered over the pool casting a shadow over the water.

Still he did not use his height to intimidate.

He had a kindness about him.

Something that people could sense.

He was approachable.

Ainsley knew better than anyone else how sweet he could be.

How fiery.

How sexy.

So many things he could be.

The main one she hoped for is that he would be her’s.

“You weren’t in the room and breakfast is over so I figured there would be only one other place you could be.”

His smile was easy.

So many things about him were easy.

Their relationship had once been that way.

Simple. Easy. Calm.

Then Alex walked in and tossed it into chaos.

“You know me too well.”

She had meant it as a joke but she could hear the serious edge to her voice like a double edged sword.

It cut Andrew as she saw his smile falter for a moment.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

She watched as he leaned down and began pulling off his shoes and socks.

Slowly and lazily he rolled up the cuffs of his jeans.

Sitting on the edge of the pool he dipped his feet into the water and swirled the teal liquid like he was stirring a cup of coffee.

Yes.

Yes she wanted to talk about it.

It would be a hard conversation but it was a talk they needed to have.

Things that needed to be said.

So many things were swirling in her mind like that water that Andrew was stirring up.

She could not force her voice to speak.

To form the word yes.

Instead she pulled herself towards Andrew and rested her head in his lap.

Please talk about it. Please say what you need to. Please don’t make me go first.

Her mind was swirling even more as she silently begged him to open up the communication.

“We’ll talk when you’re ready.”

Andrew gently stroked her wet hair.

The strands were easier to comb when they were wet.

When her hair was dry it was like trying to brush a lion’s mane.

It did not get past him that he had just compared her to a wild animal.

She swore inside her head. Angry at her cowardice. Angry that she could not tell him what she wanted. What she needed.

“You should come back to the room. You’re turning into a raisin.” Ainsley looked at her pruny fingers and laughed lightly at his observation.

“Better yet you should get in.” She put an edge of a dare to her words and he gave her a sharp playful look.

“Ains don’t you dare...” Already she had grasped his wrist and with a firm tug pulled him into the water beside her.

He broke the surface laughing and sputtering as she giggled. He grasped her around the waist and she wrapped her legs around his middle.

For a while they floated like that their foreheads pressed together in intimacy and greeting. Soul to soul they greeted one another.

“Sure you don’t want to go back to the room?” His voice was dark and breathy. A surge of electricity went through her. A chill ran up her spine.

“I think you could convince me.” She shot back to him and he gave a wicked grin. Their lips met like two waves crashing on the shore. Every piece of distance she had been feeling between herself and him dissipated and she felt their bond solidify itself.

“Ains?” Ainsley and Andrew looked up as Alex walked into the pool area. A wall separated people entering from seeing those occupying the pool so Alex would not have seen Andrew and Ainsley cuddled together in the water.

It was the perfect way to end a perfect moment.

Andrew didn’t react. He simple picked Ainsley up and lifted her above the cool water.

Like small waterfalls the chlorine ladened water fell from her body as he carried her to the stairs.

Taking the stairs two at a time Andrew walked past Alex.

“‘Scuse me mate. I’’m going to take this gorgeous beauty to bed.” Andrew’s voice held no sense of bragging. It was simply a statement.

Alex moved out of Andrew’s way to let him pass uninhibited.

Alex swore to himself he would always try to get out of Andrew and Ainsley’s way.

Cold and wet Ainsley cuddled against Andrew’s chest and a small smile graced her lips as the man she loved carried her back to their room.

Only a small part of her reached out and ached for the presence of Alex.

Felt the need for him.

Alex stood on the edge of the empty pool and watched the two go with a look of yearning on his face.

Andrew looked down at Ainsley as she cuddled against him but still his mind went to Alex whom they had left behind.

No one was satisfied in that moment.

They all were not where they were meant to be.

Not yet at least.

OoOo