It's too early for you not to be in bed but late enough for you to be almost wide awake; you stare at the ceiling, listening to the rain and the thunder outside. The warm body pressed to your side presses even closer as Sarah rouses and turns herself to face you. She wraps a lazy arm around your middle while the one she lays on finds a home, snuggled between your two bodies. Her head sits by your shoulder, and you can feel her hot breath on your skin as she rests her forehead against it.
4 a.m is the only time this can happen; when the rest of the world is asleep or just waking, when the dawn is still glazed with night and darkened further by a storm. You know her eyes are open without needing to look; you can feel little twin craters being bored into the skin of your arm.
You inhale a lungful of musky, humid air and exhale; a signal she takes.
"Mornin'," she slurs, tired, voice thick with sleep. You're silent, but adjust yourself in bed so that you're laying on your side, facing her. Her eyes find yours and she lets you stare, because that's what you need to do.
Your gaze cements her in your mind, it anchors you to reality; she is real, she is here, she is -
- leaning in, and kissing you, and you're kissing back. It's slow and lazy and everything a good morning should be, and when you pull apart it's with a pang of remorse. You lean your forehead against hers and breathe the air from her lungs for a long minute.
"I..." You feel like you should say something, anything, because she means so much to you in this moment that it would be stupid, in your mind, not to say something (anything.)
"I think I..." But your breath is shuddering and you register a sudden wetness on your cheeks and you're crying, but you don't know why. Because this girl is here for you, she is real, and she is pressing her lips softly against your cheek and the bridge of your nose, against the teardrops ready to stain the white sheets grey.
"You're alright," she husks. "Beth, you're okay. I... I think I do, too. You're alright." Sarah's voice soothes and twists around you like a noose, but softer, sweeter, and of all the things you should've been scared of in your lifetime, this is the one that makes the least sense.
You kiss her, hard, out of fear. You kiss her, hard, and draw a rough, strangled sound from the back of her throat. You draw it from her mouth and into yours, and it fuels you; it feeds the desperate hunger at the base of your spine like gasoline feeds a fire.
You're above her, then on top of her, your legs straddling her hips, and you deepen the kiss to get closer - impossibly closer. She's returning it eagerly, and when you leave her lips to kiss down her jaw and down her throat, to nip at the plane of her neck, you see the flush of her cheeks, the swell of her bare chest as she breathes laboriously. Her response sets your skin ablaze.
Your hand is burning hot trails down the skin of her stomach as your delve lower, then lower still. She is gasping unintelligible words as you venture below the waistband of her underwear: your name, perhaps, or a curse on repeat. She is hot and slick and wet (so wet, you think hazily) when you thrust fingers inside of her. You're closer, as close as you can be now, but the hunger doesn't abate (You’ve been living with it long enough to know that it won't, not now, not ever.)
Each pump of your arm elicits a different sound, and that is what you’ve come to love the most about Sarah; she never does anything the same way twice. She is a wild animal, unpredictable and severe in her movements. Her hands scratch zig-zags down your back before clawing and finding purchase at your shoulders, pulling your chest flush against hers. Her skin blazes against yours as you move together, finding friction at each and every contact point, as you push deeper inside of her, making her cry out.
"Beth," she breathes. You move your head from the crook of her neck and hover above her, looking down at her eyes which open and close randomly before finding and locking onto yours. Her pupils are blown, her lips are parted and damp with the condensation of her breath, and you flick your thumb and curl your fingers just right and her eyes roll back and you groan as she comes and-
You don't stop moving your hand, not until she ceases to contract around your fingers, until the long loud note of a moan she had held tapers off, until the muscles in your forearm start to burn.
You don't pull out until you've slowed and stilled yourself inside of her, until her breathing has evened out.
You don't kiss her until you've wiped your fingers of her off on the sheets and brought your hand up to cup her jaw. When you do, it's soft, but not lazy like the one you shared upon waking; it is careful, with great purpose. You part and she gazes up at you with stars and galaxies in her eyes. You wonder whether or not she would run if you weren't pinning her down, a thigh between her leg, fingertips tethering her in place from where they rest softly at her cheek.
You wonder if she can see the way she looks at you reflected in the way you look at her. You wonder if the weight of a universe in her gaze scares her the way it scares you, too.
Sarah is brave, you think to yourself, dispelling the previous thought. She is brave, and I am not.
It's a simple truth, in your mind: just as the sun rises in east, sets in the west; just as the crash of thunder always follows the bolt of lightning.
But the truth is never simple, so you settle for what is: wrapping yourself in her arms, settling your ear against her chest like it's a conch shell, a line to the deepest oceans inside of her.
You listen to both the dark waters of her heart and the sun-kissed rain of the passing storm while you wait for the day to fully break.