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i had hidden myself somewhere in your charm

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She knows it should go without saying, but the thing is Tessa just really really likes her boyfriend.

She likes the way he says her name. 

He doesn’t use a nickname - no ‘Tess’, no ‘T’ - he calls her Tessa, and while normally her full name makes her feel like she’s in trouble, with him it feels like something more. There’s a respect inherent in the way he says it, a reverence embedded in the syllable shift after his lisp to keep the ‘a’ at the end. She finds that she calls him by his full name too, it feels like ‘Mo’ is for other people, but somehow ‘Morgan’ is for her. (Or, when she’s drunk or in the mood to particularly annoy him, ‘Momo’ but that’s a whole other thing.)

She likes the way he is with her family. 

He honest to god blushes the first time he meets her mom. When she asks him about it later, he mutters something about looking her mother in the eye the day after he did what he’d done to her the night before. Tessa just hides a smile and gets him to do it again. 

He has no problem kicking her brother’s asses at street hockey. She feels like most guys would probably try and gain favor by making it something more like a fair fight, but that’s not how he works. He destroys them on Thanksgiving and grins at her, pressing a sweaty kiss to her cheek when she asks if he’s proud of himself as he walks back into the house. 

He’s a little bit afraid of Jordan.

He hadn’t meant to do it, but sometimes she wonders if Jordan will ever really forgive him for breaking the barre. He’d been trying so hard to make a good impression - had agreed to Tessa’s (half kidding) suggestion for him to join them for a class without hesitation - but in the end he’s not someone trained to shift his weight the way he’d needed to, and the barre had been the unfortunate casualty (along with some of his dignity).

She knows that at the end of the day, Jordan doesn’t hold it against him but does take enough joy in his skittishness around her to continue the charade.

She likes the way he is with his family. 

As much as she’d had the requisite anxiety about meeting his family, some part of her trusted they would be as lovely as he told her they were. They had raised him to be the man he is after all, and had done it well. He’s proud - truly proud - to introduce her to his mother, and the delight in his eyes only grows the longer the two of them exclude him from their conversation, happily falling down a rabbithole of chatter about books and travelling.

Dinner that night feels wonderfully safe and comfortable, something akin to what it feels like at home with her own family, and she finds herself full not only on the home cooked food, but on the warmth from those around her. Morgan’s joy at seeing her fit so easily into his world is contagious and she can’t stop smiling. 

She’s worried she fits almost too well - too good, too much, too soon - but when he pretends that it doesn’t bother him that Maggie chooses to curl around her rather than him while they fall asleep that night, she knows it’s just right.

She likes that he gets what things are like between her and Scott. 

Part of her finds it annoying that it’s even something that still has to be dealt with in her relationships, but she supposes it will never really go away. After all, there is a part of her that will always belong to Scott. But it doesn’t seem to bother him, he never lets the way she and Scott perform get to him. He gets along with him, something that never quite seemed to happen with anyone else she had dated. Scott grins and gives her his “Official Approval” after Morgan makes an appearance backstage in Mississauga, and Tessa rolls her eyes and reminds him that she doesn’t need his permission, but she admits - if only to herself - that on some level it matters. 

In fact, Morgan almost doesn’t let it bother him too much. The night she and Scott accidentally kiss during ‘Sway’ she showers and collapses into her bunk to see a message from Morgan  that simply says: 

You told me it wasn’t like that with you guys anymore. 

It’s followed by a picture someone must have posted online during the show. It’s grainy, but it’s clearly her and Scott, lips touching, and her heart sinks. She calls him immediately, growing increasingly frustrated at every ring until his voicemail picks up. She finds herself filled with a unforeseen desperation at the thought this might be the thing that takes all of this away. It’s bad enough that she and Scott are having trouble looking each other in the eye without laughing, but now she might lose this special, lovely piece of happiness because of something so meaningless. It’s in that moment, when she’s afraid it will disappear, that she realizes how far in she is. 

Her phone flashes in her hand and she opens another message from Morgan. 

I’m hurt. 


I’m wounded.


I may never recover from my heartbreak and torment. You have ruined me for all other humans. 

This last message is followed by a gif her wiping away the tear that had fallen as she and Scott stood on the podium the night they’d won in Pyeongchang. She lets out a strangled laugh of relief and surprise, before she responds: 

I knew I shouldn’t have taught you how to use gifs.

His response comes in the form of a gif of her giving the camera two thumbs up.

She likes that their relationship is new. 

He didn’t know her when she was six or fifteen or twenty-two, and it’s freeing. She gets to choose which parts of herself get shared - and when. She doesn’t want to hide things from him, but it’s nice to be able to open up on her own terms. It’s been a long time since she’s allowed herself to trust someone that wasn’t already in her inner circle - Marie and Patch were probably the most recent - but he makes it easy for her. 

He shows her his flaws, and while she doesn’t always exactly like them (dirty socks everywhere ), she likes that he’s not perfect. It makes it real, rather than some imagined fantasy of a relationship. He’s not pretending. She doesn’t have to wonder who he is or what he wants from her other than her. 

He gets to discover things like her favorite color and her favorite food and that she’s afraid to spend too much time at home because she’s scared of the silence. He’s not afraid to ask the questions everyone always seems to avoid, and accepts it when she doesn’t want to answer them. 

She realizes one night when they’re curled up on her couch watching Schitt’s Creek for the third time around that she wants to tell him the things hidden in the back of her mind. Those things that only Jordan and her mom and Scott have ever been privy to, the ones that hurt and the ones that echo with joy inside her. He has his feet up on her coffee table (again, flaws) holding hers in his lap, and she nudges his wrist with her toes. He looks at her, and she smiles. He’s so open to her, so bare, so trusting, and she knows without a doubt that she’s safe if she tells him. 

He pinches the arch of her foot and asks, “What?”

She licks her lips and says, “What’s your second favorite color?”

He laughs. “My second favorite?”

“Yeah,” she grins. He pretends to think about it, screwing his face up in concentration and she giggles. 

“I would have to say...yellow,” he says finally. 

“Yellow?” she asks incredulously. 

“Yep,” he nods. “Like sunlight.” 

“Ugh, how am I supposed to make fun of you if you’re cute like that?” 

He tickles the bottom of her foot. “My evil plan is working.”

She bites her lip, the more serious question lingering in her mind. He wraps a hand around her ankle firmly, as though he can sense that she is trying to say something, and waits, warm and solid, for her to be ready. 

“What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?” she asks quietly. 

He sucks in a sharp breath and squeezes her ankle impulsively. She panics and goes to pull away, already telling him it’s fine, she didn’t mean it, he doesn’t have to answer, but he snags her legs and keeps them close to him. The look on his face is both soft and intense, not letting her back out of the conversation she clearly wanted to have. 

“Um,” he starts, voice low. “My knee.” 

She nods slightly, encouraging him to keep going if he wants to. He does, “it wasn’t the pain - I mean that was pretty fucking brutal, but - it felt like the end of the world. The end of everything, you know? I didn’t know if I was going to come back from it and I was so close , and all of a sudden the thing that I thought was finally in reach felt further away than ever.” 

She gives a ragged breath. “Oh.” 

“I know you understand, you don’t have to tell me anything. I know.”

“No, it’s just,” she starts, “I hate that you felt like that. I mean, I do know what that feels like, I get it, but I hate that you went through it too.”

“I hate that you went through it,” he says. “And yours was way worse.”

She sits up, grabbing his arm. “Don’t do that. It’s not a competition. What happened to you is the same as what happened to me, regardless of the circumstances. I understand, that’s what matters.” He opens his mouth to argue, and she shifts forward onto her knees, covering his mouth with her hand. “No. Shh.” He nips at her palm playfully and she drops it to her lap. 

“You’re not the boss of me, you know.” 

“I’m not?” she asks, her eyebrow raised. 

He chuckles and pushes her hair behind her ear. “Well. Not all the time.” 

She smiles, the words she wants to say stuck in her throat. He grasps her chin between his fingers lightly and looks at her thoughtfully. “Your legs,” he starts and she nods, “that wasn’t the worst thing that’s happened to you, is it?” 

She swallows heavily and shakes her head. 

“What was?” he asks quietly. 

“I was fifteen when Scott and I moved to Canton,” she starts. “And I thought I was really mature, I mean honestly I was mature for my age, but I wasn’t as mature as I thought I was. I thought that I could handle whatever happened. I mean, I’d been living away from my family for years already, but it was… it wasn’t the same.”

“What happened?” he presses gently, pulling her into his side.

She settles against him, and continues, “It wasn’t so bad at first, I mean I’ve always been shy, so that adjustment was hard, but I’d started coming out of my shell a bit, made tentative connections with a few people that weren’t Scott, but that changed after we started winning.” 

He takes her hand and squeezes it, reminding her that he’s solid and there and he’ll catch her. 

She takes a deep breath, and she tells him.

She likes that he skates differently than she does. 

It’s rougher, more aggressive, but he still makes it look graceful. 

Whenever she’s put hockey skates on it feels like she’s wearing her shoes on the wrong feet - she could use them as intended, but not well, her security and balance ever so slightly off. 

They never skate together. It just wouldn’t feel right, and they both know it even if they’ve never acknowledged it. Their relationship started and grew at the same time that she was leaving skating behind - they aren’t built on skating, but he still understands her relationship to the ice, understands what she feels when she’s on it, how her life developed intertwined with it. 

He understands that part of her, even when he doesn’t share it with her directly, and that’s enough.

She likes his thighs. 

She wants to make it a broader statement, something like ‘she likes working out with him’ which is true, but in her mind all she can think is that she likes his thighs. 

It starts one night when he finally convinces her to spar as part of their workout. He’s been telling her for months that it would be a much more fun way for her to get cardio (that doesn’t involve nudity) than anything else given how much she hates it, and she can’t fight it anymore. 

They start slow, gentle taps and pulled punches, but the third time she avoids kicking him in the leg in favor of tapping his hip, he grabs her ankle and grins as he keeps her trapped. 

“You can kick me harder, you know.”

She shifts her weight to her left foot as he stretches her leg up toward his shoulder playfully. “Why would I kick you harder?”

“Because I can take it. Have you seen my thighs?” he asks and she laughs. 

“I have, in fact,” she replies. “So?”

“So you can kick me harder,” he tells her. 

"It sounds like you want me to kick you harder.”

“Maybe I do.”

She narrows her eyes and smirks. “Interesting.” 

“Isn’t it?” he replies, keeping her gaze boldly. Then he curls his fingers up to tickle the arch of her foot gently, fully aware of the reaction he will get, and she jerks her leg back to aim a swift kick to the outside of his thigh.

“There it is,” he says, his voice taking on a daring edge. He continues to pull his punches, obviously not keen on punching his girlfriend in the stomach no matter how strong the muscles in her abdomen are, and she finds her competitive side flaring up. She can take it - and her frustration grows as he won’t give it to her. Her kicks and punches land just a bit harder with each gentle tap he gives, and her attention zeros in on the way his eyes darken.

He has the same dichotomy that she does. He looks like an angel, but behind that he’s ambitious and competitive and truly, utterly filthy when he wants to be. 

And sometimes, like her, he just wants to fuck.

Even Scott, who knows her body almost as well as she knows it herself, wasn’t able to make her feel like this. Scott could make her weak and desperate with need, but at his very core he was wired to protect her and it stopped him from fully letting go the way she ultimately needed him to. 

Morgan doesn’t have that problem. 

She realizes that if he isn't going to give it to her, she's going to have to take it herself, and so she does. 

He ends up on his back - which she knows is exactly where he wanted to be - with her hands clenched tightly around his thighs, nails digging into his skin, as she rides him hard and fast. She arches her back, letting him see all of her as she takes him in again and again, leveraging herself against the firm muscles of his thighs as she begins to tremble, her orgasm swift and strong. Her arms give out and she finds herself bent fully backwards, her back on his legs, a fleeting thought of pride at how much flexibility she’s been able to maintain passing through her mind. His hands are wrapped tightly around her hips and she can tell that he’s holding back, waiting for her to be ready. With effort, she pulls herself up, twisting her hips ever so slightly and enjoying the way his jaw clenches. She leans forward and nips along his jaw before murmuring into his ear, “I took mine, you can take yours.”

Without another thought he pulls her toward him and rolls her onto her back, looping her left leg under his arm and begins to fuck her earnestly. She wraps her free leg around him and loses herself in the firm, steady thrust of his hips. She can feel his thighs clenching tightly between hers with every thrust and feels her orgasm building again, growing within her in leaps and starts every time she feels the muscles in his legs contract. 

He grasps roughly at the side of her neck and tangles his fingers in her hair, pulling, as he spills inside her and she follows, her back arching and nails digging into his shoulders. He drops his head to her neck, panting, and she runs her fingers through his sweaty hair, scratching her nails lightly against his scalp. 

After a moment, she laughs and he looks up at her. “What?”

“I thought this was supposed to be cardio without nudity,” she replies. 

He laughs and nuzzles into her playfully, nipping at her earlobe. “Are you complaining?”

“Not really, no,” she says with a smile.

She likes that he’s from the west coast. 

Despite living in Toronto for so many years, he still has a childlike wonder about him when it starts to snow. It fades with every centimeter that builds on any available surface when it becomes time to get anywhere, but she catches him more than once gazing up out the window transfixed by the flakes falling past him. 

One particular night, when she finds him leaning against the window frame in his living room and watching everything below turn a gentle shade of white, she can’t help herself and wraps her arms around his waist, laying her head against his back. “You’re precious,” she says. 

He gives a grunt of indignation as he threads his fingers through hers and tilts his head back. “Excuse me?”

She squeezes him and replies, “You’re like a little boy when it snows.”

“I am not!”

“You are too, and you know it.”

She sees him bite back a smile as he turns his head to look back outside. “I know. I just think it’s neat.”

She chuckles. “Neat?”

“Yes, neat.”

“See? Little boy.”

“It’s not like I said it was ‘neato’. For all you know I could have meant that it was tidy.”

“I think if you were saying the snow was tidy we would have a bigger problem,” she says, burying her face in his shoulder. She pauses for a moment, before she adds softly, “It’s nice, seeing this part of you that people probably don’t see.”

He ducks his head shyly, pulling her arms around him tighter. They stand in a comfortable silence before he murmurs, “No need to be telling anyone about this.”

“Aww,” she says with a grin, nudging his shoulder blade with her nose, “big bad hockey player doesn’t want people to know he’s a little boy at heart?” 

“No, I’m good with that staying between us.”

“But it would make you so popular with the ladies,” she jokes.

He turns in her arms and pulls her tightly against him. “I’ve already got the lady I want.” 

She tucks her face into his neck, letting him feel her grin. “Okay,” she says softly.

She likes his beard. 

It gives his round baby face an edge. She runs her nails over it when they kiss, smiles when she feels it against the back of her neck when she wakes in the morning, and aches to feel the scratch of it against the softness of her inner thighs. The tenderness it leaves on her skin is a reminder she carries with her out into the world of how he made her feel when it was the two of them lost in sheets and sweat and each other.  

One of the biggest shifts in their relationship, when they become something more, is when he lets her shave him the first time. They don’t talk about it, but one morning as he’s lathering up his face, she steps into the bathroom and slides between him and the counter, hoisting herself up to sit on it and pulling him to stand between her legs. 

She holds out her hand out gently, waiting for him to decide, and her stomach flips when he hands her the razor without hesitation. For the next five minutes the only sound in the room is their breathing and the soft scratch of the blade against his skin. When he tilts his head back, baring his neck to her, she panics - just for a moment. It’s too much, they are too much. She knows that she’s the one who started this, but she didn’t think it would feel this intoxicating. 

He knows her well enough now, so all he does is tighten his hands on her hips, tipping his head back down to make eye contact with her, and she settles. 

They look at each other for a moment, him letting her find her balance, and after two slow deep breaths, she slides her hand into his hair and pulls his head back, revealing the arch of his neck again. 

She’s careful and focused as she works, and each scrape of the razor along the stubble and softness of his neck feels like another promise that they’re making.

She likes watching him fight, and she hates it. 

She knows that it’s archaic, but the first time she’s in the stands when he takes a swing at the other team, she finds herself clenching her thighs together tightly. The longer the fight goes on, the harder the punches are, the moment his opponent hits the ice and he follows, arms swinging, she feels herself flush, her breath taking on a ragged edge. 

She tries to keep it together enough that Jordan won’t notice, but, of course, fails spectacularly, setting herself up for what will likely be years of teasing. 

Hockey players had never done it for her before. She’s been around them her entire life - you grow up in ice rinks it’s inevitable - and she’s never had a reaction like this before. In fact, all of the big talk and machismo has been more annoying than anything else. But it’s different with him. 

Which is why one morning when he’s making her breakfast after a particularly aggressive game, her eye catches on one of his jerseys draped over a chair by the kitchen table. She moves toward it and runs her fingers along the letters of his last name stitched across the back. 

“Can I ask you something?” she says. He turns and leans against the counter, an eyebrow raised in question. She continues, “How many girls have you slept with while they were wearing this jersey?”

He snorts and moves toward her, “This particular jersey or?”

She shoves at him gently when he wraps an arm around her waist and kisses her cheek. “Any jersey that had your name on the back.”

“Honestly?” he asks, bringing his fingers up to scratch awkwardly at his cheek. 

She nods. 

“Honestly, none.” 

She scoffs. 

“I’m serious!” he says. 

She raises a skeptical eyebrow at him. “Mm-hmm.”

“It just never really did anything for me,” he shrugs. “I know a lot of guys are into it, but I never wanted to feel like I owned a girl, you know?” 

She smiles softly. “Of course you didn’t.” She’s quiet for a moment before adding, “So what you’re telling me is that if I put this jersey on right now, it wouldn’t affect you at all?"

He flushes and she grins. “Uh, nope,” he says, shaking his head and turning around to move back to the stove. 

“Right,” she says, enjoying the way he pointedly keeps his back to her and keeps cooking. She bunches the blue material in her fist, warmth pooling low in her belly. “Then it wouldn’t affect you at all then if I took my shirt off?” She sees his shoulders hunch as she does just that and pulls the jersey off the chair. She continues, “And then put this on?” She knows that he can hear the shuffle of the material as she slides it over her head and lets it settle over her torso. If she shifts a shoulder so that it slips off, ensuring that her collarbones and freckles will be on display when he turns around, well, no one would blame her. She’s swimming in it, the fabric dwarfing her small frame, but it feels good . She feels taken - wonderfully and wholly his. She never wanted to feel like she belonged to someone, certainly not a man - in fact her whole life had been avoiding people assuming she belonged to Scott - but this isn’t that. It’s not that she’s a woman who is the property of a man, it’s that she is choosing to be his, specifically his, choosing to let him have her. And the jersey feels like a symbol. 

She can see the way the back of his neck has flushed bright red, and slides her hands up under the jersey to push her sleep shorts off her hips. She steps out of them and moves toward him, curling softly into his back as she pushes her underwear off too, letting them settle at his feet. He lets out a soft groan, flicks the stove off, and turns to look at her, his eyes dark and hooded as he grasps her hips tightly, letting his nails scratch over the material. 

Their faces are close enough to kiss, but she just nudges her nose against his and lets her breath run over his lips hotly. She reaches up to gently run her fingers across the bruise that had blossomed over his cheekbone after the hit he took to his face the night before and feels herself clench around nothing. She presses against the small cut under his eye and she gives a small grunt that’s not entirely pain and more than a little pleasure. He moves a hand to the back of her head and pulls her in for a deep, nearly desperate kiss that she returns. 

All she has been able to think about since the first swing the night before is dropping to her knees and taking him into her mouth, so she does just that. He groans loudly as she releases him into her hands and mouth, dropping a hand down to tangle in the hair at her the base of her neck. She keeps her eyes on his as she takes him as deeply as she can, and moans around him when he shifts to grasp the jersey around her neck in his fist. 

Tilting her head over so slightly back, she lets her mouth fall open, relaxing her throat. He takes the hint, knowing her well enough to know when she wants to be taken roughly, and begins fucking her mouth. This is exactly what she’s wanted since the night before. She’s letting him have her entirely, but on her own terms. When his hips begin to stutter he pulls back and she whimpers at the loss, but it turns into a moan as he pulls her to her feet and bends her over the counter. He reaches between them, sliding his fingers through her wetness, pushing two fingers into her, making sure she’s ready for him. She bucks her hips impatiently and he replaces his fingers with his cock. She expects fast, out of control thrusts, but he surprises her by holding her hips down and giving hard, even, measured thrusts that have her moaning each time he fills her entirely. He’s fully in control and it makes her mind spin. His other hand comes up to twist in the jersey at her hip, pulling it taut against her. His thrusts pick up speed as he gives a harsh groan and she realizes he’d made sure that he can see his name splashed across her back. Her nails scrabble against the marble of the counter, trying to find traction, unable to grasp onto anything, compelled to lie there and take it the way he wants to give it. It feels incredible, her mind is clouded with pleasure, every nerve-ending focused on the feeling of him inside of her. She comes loudly and unexpectedly, so focused on the feel of him that she didn’t realize how close she was. He fucks her through it, his hips losing their rhythm as his pace quickens. He comes with a loud groan, one hand at her waist, the other spread widely across the letters on her back. 

She leans her forehead on the cool stone of the counter and tries to catch her breath, feeling boneless and sated, but he pulls out of her and grabs her to turn her around, wrapping his arms around her tightly. He can tell that her legs aren’t stable and lifts her to sit on the counter. His grip tightens as he burrows into her neck. “You - are fucking amazing,” he pants, pulling back to give her a fierce, biting kiss, before resting his forehard against hers. 

She smiles weakly, her hands coming up to grasp at the hem of his shirt. “ You are-”

He cuts her off with another, somewhat gentler kiss, and shakes his head. “No. This is all you. I -” he stops himself, swallows hard. “- you are a dream come true.” 

She flushes. Even though he’d had her bent over the counter not five minutes before, this feels far more intimate. She wraps her arms around his neck tightly, and places a soft kiss to his neck, unable to articulate what she’s feeling, and scared to say it aloud.

She likes that he knows what it’s like to have enough drive to want to skate when he’s injured. 

The girlfriend in her wars with the athlete in her, bouncing back and forth between telling him he needs to take care of himself and not push too hard and accepting that she understands why won’t and doesn’t really blame him when he doesn’t. 

His mood darkens as the weeks pass, and she knows not to take his sullenness and general tetchiness to heart, but the longer it goes on the more annoyed she gets. She feels bad for him, she knows how it feels, but she also knows that the more you curl inward with it, the worse it is for everyone. 

She lets herself into his place - a key exchange long since past between the two of them - and finds him on the couch, dressed in rumpled sweats and a plain black sweatshirt with the hood up, his foot out in front of him on the table. He’s not wearing the boot and she’s not surprised, but it’s the lack of a Leafs hoodie that really gives her pause. 

“Hey,” she says quietly as she drops her keys and bag by the door. 

“Hey,” he replies, looking at her long enough to kiss her hello before he turns his attention back to the TV. 

“How are you?” 

He gives a humorless chuckle. “Oh, you know, useless.” 

“Hey,” she says sharply. “Stop it.” 

“Stop what?” he replies. “Stop saying true things?” 

She sighs and grabs the remote, turning off the TV and waiting for him to look at her. He makes her wait longer than he normally would, which gives her an indication of just how far down he’s gone - he never makes her wait - but finally drops his head back to the couch and rolls his head to the side, making eye contact. 

“You aren’t useless,” she says firmly, enunciating each word clearly. 

“I sure feel like I am.”

“I know you do. I understand, remember?” 

He chews on the inside of his cheek before giving a small nod. 

She continues, “I know you feel like you want to cut off your foot or burn your skates, maybe even burn down the whole arena. I get it, but you have got to cut it out, you’re driving me nuts.”

He lets out a surprised, “What?”

“You,” she says, shifting so that she can pull on the strings of his hoodie, “are being ridiculous. You’re out eight weeks, maybe less.” She punctuates her sentence by yanking the strings so the hood closes tightly around his face, only his nose and mouth visible. 

She can see him fighting a smile as he shoves her hands away and loosens the hood. She reaches up to push it back off his head and cups his face. “Cut it out, you big goob.”

He finally laughs, a proper loud one, and nods, shifting so he can lay his head against her shoulder. “My girlfriend is very supportive.” 

“Yes, I am, you’re welcome.”

She likes how he looks in a suit. 

She knows she isn’t needed on set while they shoot his RW&Co campaign, but she decides it’s necessary regardless. He disappears behind the divider to get dressed and she looks around before slipping back there with him. He’s staring at the suit, hanging, waiting for him to slip into, his fingers gently tugging on the hem of the jacket. He jumps a little at the feel of her hand on his back and turns to smile bashfully at her. She knows that he’s feeling a little out of his depth, he’s been so unsure of taking on an ad campaign like this, but she knows that he’s going to be great, and has made sure to tell him so as often as she can. It’s not like he’s not used to wearing a suit, after all, even if he more often than not wishes he could wear sweats to the arena. 

The nervousness creeping into his gaze has her reaching to squeeze his hand before sliding under the hem of his t-shirt to pull it off over his head gently. He looks so vulnerable in that moment, and she wants him to know how she sees him, how everyone will see him. She runs her hands over his chest and he flushes. They don’t have the time or privacy for her to show him as clearly as she wants to, but this will have to do. She keeps her eyes locked on his as she reaches down to undo his jeans, pushing them to the floor and urging him to step out of them, leaving him in just his boxer briefs. With one hand on his side, she reaches with the other to pull the undershirt from where it’s hanging and he lifts his arms so she can slide it over his head. Next, she reaches for the pants, the material soft but firm, steamed free of wrinkles, the fabric smooth, and lets him take them from her and she reaches a hand up to his shoulder, scratching her fingers over his neck, not wanting him to lose the connection to her, the spell that they’re weaving together in the silence amidst the chaos of the shoot going on around them. 

The button-up follows, sliding over his shoulders with a soft rustle of fabric. She pushes his hands away stubbornly when he tries to start buttoning the shirt himself and he smiles softly, his cheeks tinged pink. Slowly but purposefully she slides each button through the hole until the shirt fits tightly around his chest. She keeps her hands on his shoulders, pulling at the shirt collar as he reaches down to tuck the shirt in behind him, moving around to the front. She reaches for the button and fly on the pants before he can and purposefully brushes against him with the back of her fingers while she draws up the zipper. He gives her a warning grunt, reminding her that he has to go out in front of people in those pants in a minute, and she smirks. He’s kidding himself if he doesn’t think he’ll have a bulge anyway, regardless of how tight his underwear are. 

The next part is her favorite - the tie. She runs the silk through her fingers before reaching up to loop it around the back of his neck. He takes the opportunity to learn forward and leave a gentle kiss to her cheek and her heart skips ever so slightly. His gentleness still amazes her sometimes. Carefully, she begins to tie it, purposeful, the complexity of the windsor knot pleasing to her. His eyes never leave her face while she concentrates. When she finishes and pulls it tight, she finally meets his gaze. His eyes are soft, full of something she’s not ready to define and she tugs on the tie, bringing his lips to hers firmly. Before they can get lost in each other, she steps back and grabs the jacket, urging him to turn around so that she can slip it over his shoulders. She runs her hands over his back and steps around to face him again, smoothing down the fabric. She tugs at his lapels, asking without words if he’s ready, and he smiles, nodding. Straightening his shoulders he walks out ahead of her and she takes a moment to watch him go. 

She really, really likes how he looks in a suit.

She likes that he appreciates it when she dresses up. 

Ryan didn’t want her to look too pretty and Scott truly liked it better when she wasn’t, but Morgan knows how much she likes to get made up and put on something beautiful. It’s not as though he needs her to be done up and gorgeous at all times, but he takes his time with her when she is, appreciating all of her, knowing that she’s dressed for herself and not him, but finding himself lucky to be the one she’s with. He likes to remove only what is necessary to take her on those nights. He knows better than to ruin her clothes, but he loves to dishevel her everywhere else. He takes pride in leaving her outfit pristine but her hair tousled and her lipstick smeared, dark marks that only he will be allowed to see forming on her hips. 

He watches her get ready on the nights when it’s just her and her mirror. When it’s Kelly and Matthew and stylists everywhere he makes himself scarce, showing up to appreciate the final look, but when it’s her alone, he sits on the bed and watches her. 

His eyes meticulously follow the movement of her hands as she puts on her makeup, tracing the lines and brushes she makes. It’s not just about desire, though that is a part of it, it’s that he likes to watch the way she enjoys herself, the way she takes the time to make herself feel good. It’s sensual and incredibly erotic, but there’s a tenderness to it that makes it more than that. She’s always aware of his gaze on her, but she tries to keep her focus on herself, enjoying the process of dressing up, doing it for herself, but letting him watch. 

Only at the end does she acknowledge him and let him be involved. She pulls off her robe and lets his eyes rake over her body as she slips into whatever she is wearing for the night. She always allows him the final task, beckoning him over and turning around so that he can pull the zipper up on her dress. 

She would feel beautiful whether he was there or not, but the soft kiss he always presses to the nape of her neck as he finishes thrills her.

She likes that like becomes love so gradually and gracefully that she doesn’t notice it until it’s happened.

It’s never declared, not in some big romantic way. Not in the way she always thought she’d want it to be. Instead, it’s so simple it makes her ache. 

They have a routine they’ve slipped into whenever they get to fall asleep next to each other. Neither of them can fall asleep on their left sides, and Tessa sleeps on the left side of the bed - always. It’s something she can count on no matter where she is in the world. But that leaves them unable wrap around each other as they drift off. He holds out for as long as he can, curled around her, face pressed into her hair, his fingers curled tightly into the hem of her shirt, but it’s only a matter of time before he has to sacrifice holding her for sleep. When he inevitably rolls away, she pushes her feet out backwards toward his and that’s how they sleep - back to back, tangled up in each other as best they can. 

One night as he shifts to turn away, he places a kiss to the curve of her neck and murmurs - so soft, “Love you.” 

She opens her eyes at the words, but doesn’t move. Then, as easy as breathing, she replies, “Love you.” 

She wonders for a moment if he realizes what just happened, but as he settles onto his side he shifts backward, his back pressing into hers insistently, and she lets out a giggle. She feels him laughing against her and knows that it was intentional. 

They love each other.

And she likes that.