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Cold Mornings

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MC pressed her face against Gavin’s chest, whining softly as he tried getting up.

“I’m just going for my run,” he murmured, gently trying to pry her hands from around his waist.

No ,” she whined, curling against him, pulling him back against the blankets. “Gavin, you’re so warm.”

“You could always come with me,” he said, tracing the line of her jaw, sending butterflies dancing through her chest.

She groaned, tightening her embrace. She couldn’t imagine anything less enjoyable than getting up to run, at least not when the bed was so comfy and Gavin was right here .

She peaked up at him, giving him what she hoped was an incredibly adorable pout, earning a low chuckle that sent warmth scattering through her.

“You make it so hard to go,” he breathed, stroking his thumb across her cheek.

“Then don’t. Stay here with me.”

He chuckled, brushing her hair back from her face. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

She sighed, loosening her grip on his waist as she realized she wasn’t winning this argument today. “Promise?”

He pressed a kiss to her forehead before sitting up and sliding from beneath the sheets. “I promise.”

MC rolled onto Gavin’s spot, clutching the pillow against her chest as she listened to him changing, preparing for his early morning run.

It was the same ritual every day, Gavin slipping from bed early before the sun had fully risen, running for an hour before returning home, his cheeks flushed and sweat clinging to his skin.

Sometimes he’d try crawling back into bed like that, and MC would kick him out, telling him to shower first, despite how badly she wanted to be back in his arms. He would whine then, and she would often find herself dragged into the shower with him.

Some days she was able to convince him to stay in bed, and she would smile as she fell back asleep until their bedroom was awash in warm morning sunshine. Although those days were so rare, MC couldn’t help wondering if she’d only dreamed them.

Gavin paused by the bed, leaning down to press another kiss to the top of her head. “Just wait for me here, my love,” he murmured, his words twining in the messy strands of her hair.

And then he was gone, leaving nothing but the lingering warmth of his lips and the echo of his heartbeat in her ears as she heard the door to the apartment close behind him.

MC puffed out her cheeks, pulling the blankets up around her ears, hugging Gavin’s pillow against her chest. This happened every morning, and yet she couldn’t help picturing the days when she could convince him to stay. When they both lingered in bed as the day stretched out before them, tangled in each other’s arms.

She hummed, closing her eyes, imagining cuddling him again. She didn’t even realize she’d started dozing until she felt a hand brushing against her face, tugging her from hazy dreams of twining fingers and starlit skies.

She cracked her eyes open to see Gavin standing before her, a brow arched as he grinned down at her.

“I’m sorry,” he breathed, tucking her hair behind her ear. “Did I wake you?”

She shook her head, tipping her head back as she smiled at him, happiness dancing in her heart.

“I think I might still be dreaming,” she murmured, reaching out to tangle her fingers with Gavin’s. “Don’t your runs usually take longer?”

He shrugged, perching on the edge of the bed. “I missed you.”

“Do you not miss me every day?”

He chuckled, bringing her hand up, scattering kisses across her knuckle. “I missed you even more than usual.”

She hummed. “I missed you too.”

Gavin leaned closer, his cheeks still flushed, his ears a bright red, his hair mussed from his run. “Does that mean you’ll-”

No ,” she snapped, pursing her lips as she caught the way his eyes were sparking.

“But-”

She shook her head, glaring at him. “No, you’re not getting back into bed until you shower.”

“But I missed you ,” he whined. “And you’re so warm and-”

“And you’re covered in sweat ,” she said, cutting him off. “I just washed these sheets, too.”

He sighed, collapsing on top of her, and MC squeaked, biting back the laughter that bubbled in her throat. She couldn’t let him know she found this funny, or cute. She couldn’t let him know how utterly endearing this was.

“You’re being quite dramatic this morning,” she muttered, digging her nails into her palms to stop herself from grinning like a fool as Gavin nuzzled against her back.

“I want to hold you,” he said, his words muffled as he pressed his face against the blankets.

“You can hold me after you shower,” she said, struggling to shove him from the bed. “ After you’re not stinky anymore.”

“I’m not stinky.”

“Gavin I love you, but you smell.”

He groaned, and she felt his arms trying to wrap around her waist, securing him against her back.

No ,” she squealed, wiggling in his grasp. “No, go shower!”

“In a minute,” he muttered, his eyes fluttering closed.

“No, not in a minute,” she said, struggling to pry her arms from his grip.

Gavin ignored her, holding her tighter.

“Gavin,” she said, saying his name very, very slowly.

He hummed, a brow arching high as he opened his eyes. “Yeah?”

“You’ve left me no choice.”

His brow furrowed, but before he could say anything else she shot her hands out, reaching for the spots that always made him squirm.

Gavin’s eyes widened and he tried to pull away, gasping with laughter as she tickled him.

H-Hey! ” He gasped, his eyes squeezing shut, his body tensing as she continued her assault. “Hey! I’m - I’m ticklish!”

MC snorted with her own laughter, watching as his face turned to a bright crimson. “I know!”

“St-stop it!” He cried, laughing so hard a hiccup cut through his words. “Why are you doing this?!”

“You left me no choice, Gavin!” She sang, sitting up as he fell backwards, reaching towards her underarms. “You should’ve taken the shower!”

“I just wanted to cuddle you!”

“You can cuddle me after  you shower!”

His eyes snapped open, bright as sunshine as they fixed on her. He tried reaching for her in kind, but she doubled down on her attacks, Gavin’s laughter turning to snorts and some of the cutest sounds she had ever heard.

Fine ,” he shouted, gasping for breath. “Fine, I’ll shower!”

MC paused, resting her hands on his chest as it heaved. She leaned forward, close to his face, holding his gaze.

“Really?” She asked, grinning wider as he narrowed his eyes. “You’ll go shower?”

He nodded. “After such an attack do I have much of a choice?”

MC giggled, shaking her head. “I thought it would be a good way to persuade you.”

She didn’t notice that his hands had indeed reached towards her sides, to her own ticklish spots as she grinned down at him in what she’d thought was triumph.

But then Gavin was pushing her back, and she was squirming beneath his hands as he retaliated.

Gavin!” She shouted, her breath flying from her lips as she squeaked out laughter.

“This is my revenge,” he said, musical laughter dancing in his voice. “For attacking me!”

She scrunched her eyes closed, trying to wiggle away from him, but he was much faster and much stronger than she was, and he held her in place for what felt like an eternity as he tickled her.

And then he stopped, the feeling of his hands vanishing from her sides.

She was still shaking as she cracked her eyes open, glaring at Gavin as he smirked down at her.

“Okay,” he said, standing slowly. “I think I will take that shower now.”

MC rolled her eyes, watching him carefully as he made his way towards the bathroom, pausing when he reached the doorway.

He turned back towards her, his ears a soft, rosy pink, his brows arching high beneath his bangs in question.

“Did you want to come with me?” He asked, pink staining his cheeks now, too.

MC hummed, curling back beneath the blankets. “But the bed is so warm.”

Gavin crossed his arms, his gaze flicking to the floor. “The water will be warm.”

MC narrowed her eyes, watching him carefully as crimson flooded his face. He shuffled his feet, the only indication that he was feeling nervous as he waited for her to respond.

I want you to come with me,” he muttered, lifting his gaze to meet hers.

MC felt herself melting then, any resolve she had to stay snug beneath the blankets falling away as he peered at her. It was hard enough pushing him away when he tried to cuddle her after his morning runs. But this? His eyes glittering with starlight and hope, the quiet plea in his voice, the way he held his arms open, just wide enough for her to fall into them.

She didn’t really want to stay in bed any longer anyways, not without him.

She sighed, cool morning air biting against her skin as she shoved the blankets away.

“Alright,” she said, setting her feet on the floor. “I’ll come with you.”

Gavin was across the room in a heartbeat, sweeping her into his arms, scattering kisses across the top of her head.

She giggled, wrapping her arms around his neck as he carried her into the bathroom.

“Gavin,” she murmured, sleep still clinging to her mind as she nuzzled against the crook of his neck. “You’re such a baby.”

She didn’t really think much of it when his heartbeat picked up speed, or how his breath caught in his throat as he set her down.

He coughed, tugging his shirt off before hooking his fingers beneath the hem of hers. “I’m not a baby,” he muttered, helping pull her shirt up over her head.

“You just whined about not wanting to shower alone,” she teased, poking him in the side, right where she knew he was especially ticklish. “You’re just a big baby.”

“I am not,” he grumbled, and she could have sworn she saw the beginnings of a pout on his face.

MC blinked, watching his face carefully, at the way his eyes shot to the floor and how his bottom lip stuck out in the ghost of a pout.

She tipped her head to the side, an idea beginning to take form in her mind.

“Gavin,” she said, saying his name slowly.

He paused, peeking up at her. “Yes?”

“You’re babey.”

If his face had been red before it was nothing compared to the bright scarlet that washed across his face now. His eyes grew wide, his mouth opening and closing as though all his words had escaped him.

It took him a very long moment to recover, and she could have sworn she caught a stammer in his voice as he muttered, “No I’m not.”

She cupped his face with both hands, standing on her toes so she could press her forehead against his. “I think you are.”

He snorted, poking her sides, a squeal slipping from her lips as she jumped away.

“I am not a baby,” he said simply, grinning as he made his way to the shower, turning on the water until it started to steam.

“Whatever you say, babey,” she said, earning a glare even as he held his hand out to her.

A grin crept across her face as he tugged her into the shower, and she found she couldn’t stop thinking about how red his face had looked for the rest of the morning.

 

***

 

MC began to test the nickname in small doses, sprinkling it in while they were cooking or when they were out peering up at the stars. Little instances of “Babey, can you pass me the salt?” and “Babey, have you seen my book?” and “I’m cold, can you hug me a little tighter babey?”

Each time his face would flush and he would stammer, his brow drawing low over his face as he tried to refute the nickname.

“I’m a police officer,” he complained one night as they had dinner. “I’m in a lot of dangerous situations, and I work with very dangerous people. I’m not a baby.”

MC only hummed, swiping a piece of pork from his plate before he could stop her. “Still babey.”

“Can a baby do this?” He asked the next afternoon, lifting her up so her legs dangled in the air.

MC only laughed, wrapping her legs around his waist and running her hands through his hair. “Did you want to hold me?”

He quirked his mouth to the side, looking confused. “Well yes, I like holding you-”

She shrugged, smirking. “Then that is very babey of you.”

And at night, when he wrapped his arms around her, holding her as close as possible. How he whined if she was too far away, wanting to cuddle her all night long. How he insisted she face him as they both fell asleep, wanting the last thing he saw at night to be her face as she nodded off.

“Goodnight, babey,” she yawned, curling against his chest as he stroked idle circles against her back.

He paused for a moment, and MC cracked an eye open, wondering if he was preparing to complain again. But then she heard a quiet huff of breath, felt his lips brushing against the top of her head as he returned to rubbing her back.

“Goodnight,” he breathed, and she could hear the smile in his voice as she fell into the world of her dreams.

 

***

 

MC awoke to a scene she unfortunately knew all too well. One where the light was still pale and watery and the shadows stretched long across the walls in ghastly shapes. It was a scene where Gavin was already stirring, his eyes cracked open in golden slits that reminded her of the sun at the cusp of dawn.

He smiled, tracing the line of her jaw, one hand still wrapped snugly around her. “Good morning, sunshine.”

She yawned, nestling against his chest, earning a warm chuckle that sent butterflies fluttering through her chest on wings of buttery sunshine. “Good morning.”

“I didn’t wake you, did I?” He murmured, his fingers threading through her hair.

She shook her head, her fingers twisting into the material of his shirt, holding him as tightly as she could. “No, I was just excited to see you again this morning.”

He rested his chin on top of her head, his body curling around her. “But you see me every morning,” he breathed.

“It’s the best part of the day,” she said, her words muffled by his shirt. “Getting to wake up and see you.”

She didn’t have to see his face to know he was blushing. “Well,” he said, stroking her hair, sleep still clinging to his voice. “It’s the best part of my day, too.”

MC grinned, pressing her face against his shirt as she wiggled her shoulders, the happiness spilling from her heart making her feel a little silly.

Maybe this scene was different. Maybe it was one of those rare mornings she cherished so much.

They both grew quiet, and it felt like Gavin’s breathing had grown even again, that he had fallen back to sleep. MC hummed to herself softly, sliding her arms around his sides, wanting to hold him as he slept.

But then he shifted, and she felt him pulling away, his eyes narrowed as they fixed on her. “You’re not trying to tickle me again are you?”

MC pouted, feeling like she’d lost the opportunity to hold him close, just as he always held her when she was asleep.

“I just wanted to hold you,” she grumbled, splaying her fingers out on his back.

He chuckled again, his expression growing softer. “I like it when you hold me.”

She flushed, ducking her head so he wouldn’t see as her cheeks burned.

“No, wait,” he murmured, taking her chin in his hand, tipping her face back to look up at him. “I want to see your face.”

The butterflies in her chest were turning into a hurricane of gossamer wings, and she felt her breath catch in her throat as he peered down at her.

“I want to see every expression on your face,” he continued, stroking his thumb over her bottom lip. “I want to see every beautiful, wonderful expression.”

She wanted to curl against his chest and hide herself as heat bloomed across her face, as she felt like she was being set aflame. But she wanted to kiss him, too, wanted to press her lips against his and hold him close for the rest of the morning.

Gavin moved closer, his breath brushing against her mouth, and she thought that perhaps her wish was coming true. That he would kiss her now, in the cool dawn air, and he would hold her until golden sunshine warmed the room and the air was filled with the songs of morning.

But instead he brushed his lips against her brow before pulling away, heaving a very long, tired sigh.

“I need to get up,” he said, looking entirely unwilling to move. “I have to go for my run.”

MC whined, clutching him tighter, not wanting to let him go.

“I have to,” he murmured. “I want to stay here with you, but-”
“Then stay,” she pleaded, her hands balling in the fabric of his shirt. “You don’t have to go for a morning run! And you do so much training already!”

“I thought you liked my muscles,” he teased. “Didn’t you tell me yesterday how much you liked it when I-”

She released his shirt to cover his mouth with her hands, mischief sparking in the depths of his eyes.

“I do ,” she muttered, flushing as his eyes began glittering, his brow quirking. “But surely missing a few runs in the morning can’t be the worst , can it?”

Gavin gently pushed her hands away, pulling them close to his chest instead.

“It’s all about staying healthy and fit,” he said, stroking his thumb along the back of one of her hands. “And maintaining my training.”

“But you can train in other ways,” she whined, not wanting to let him go, not wanting him to leave. “There are other ways you can get exercise and stay fit”

“Are there?” He teased, his eyes flicking to her lips, the brush of his fingertips sending butterflies scattering through her heart. “And do any of these ways involve you?”

She squeaked, squirming as his breath tickled against her skin as he leaned his face closer.

“I mean there are lots of ways to train,” she said, her voice coming out in a breathy rush.

“Did you have a particular one in mind, princess?” He murmured, his voice growing warmer, deeper. She felt his heart beating faster beneath her hands, a hurried tempo that her own heart had begun to echo.

She didn’t even realize her grip was growing so loose, not as he nuzzled against her, trailing kisses along her neck.

“Gavin,” she breathed, heat blooming across her face like flowers beneath the summer sun.

He lifted his head, his lips just barely brushing against hers. It was soft, featherlight, and it sent her mind spinning. She felt like she was drunk from just the feeling of his lips against hers.

And then he was pulling away, fast, very fast, cold morning air washing over her so suddenly that she shivered in his absence.

MC’s eyes flew open to see Gavin already perched on the edge of the bed, the sheets shoved to the side. He grinned down at her, that teasing light making his eyes glow.

Hey ,” she cried, pouting as she watched him stand. “That’s not fair.”

He was still grinning as he moved around the room, collecting his shirt and jogging shorts.

“It’s perfectly fair,” he said, crossing his arms as he turned to look at her. “I had to use every weapon in my arsenal to get up.”

She stuck her bottom lip out further, earning a quiet chuckle. “I thought you liked snuggles.”

“I do,” he said, his voice softer now, reminding her of the lullabies he sometimes sang for her when she couldn’t sleep. “That’s why it was so hard to get up.”

“Then why did you trick me ,” she continued, sitting up so she could glare at him.

“I didn’t trick you,” he said, his expression softening. “I just knew that I wasn’t going to get up if you were still holding me.”

“I’m not-”

He paused next to the bed, smoothing her hair back from her face. “I like being held by you too much”

She ducked her head as her face flamed, earning another chuckle from Gavin as he brushed her hair behind her ear.

“I’ll be back soon,” he said. “And I have the entire day off, so we can cuddle as much as you like.”

MC furrowed her brow as Gavin turned away to get changed.

“How could you do this to me, babey,” she said. “How could you betray me like this?”

Gavin paused, his back to her, his shirt dangling from one hand, and she could have sworn she saw his ears turn red.

“I’m not a baby,” he muttered, his voice cracking as he spoke.

“Babey, you broke my heart,” she continued, complaining louder. “I’m so cold and lonely now.”

Gavin turned to glare at her, and she saw that his face was turning a bright, cherry red. The colour washed across his cheeks, reaching up beneath his bangs, reminding her of the little flowers that bloomed on the cactus by their bedroom window.

She tipped her head to the side, watching him curiously as he stammered.

“I’m still here,” he said, seeming to struggle to find his words. “You’re not alone. And I won’t be gone that long.”

“I’m so lonely,” she cried, balling the comforter in her fists. “My babey’s abandoned me and I’m all alone.”

“I haven’t abandoned you,” he said, looking like his defense was cracking. He took a step towards her, his shirt still hanging from his hand, completely forgotten.

She heaved a long, sad sigh, fighting against the smile that was tugging on her lips as his expression grew more distressed. “Babey, I miss you already.”

“I’m still here,” he muttered, his blush reaching down his neck now. “And I’m not a baby. You-”

She pouted again, and his protests died quickly, the last of his resolve crumbling.

“Wait, angel,” he said, his words rushed as he made his way to the bed, dropping his shirt as he perched next to her. “Don’t pout.”

She did, in fact, continue to pout, sticking her bottom lip out even more, slumping her shoulders forward.

Gavin sighed, pulling her against his chest. “I’m here, your babey is here.”

She pressed her face against his chest, grinning as he kissed the top of her head.

“Does this mean you’ll stay with me this morning?”

He chuckled, rubbing small circles against her back. “How can I go out now, knowing how sad it will make you?”

She wiggled in delight, joy dancing through her like sunshine and starlight. He was staying, he was going to cuddle with her for the rest of the morning.

Gavin snorted, pulling away to peer down at her. “You don’t have to look so pleased with yourself, princess.”

She giggled, cupping his face with her hands. “I’m just really happy.”

His eyes widened, his ears growing red again, but he was smiling too. “I’m happy too. I love spending time with you.”

Now it was her turn to blush, her face growing hot as Gavin leaned down, pressing his lips against hers.

She smiled into the embrace, threading her fingers through his hair, pulling him just a little bit closer.

He was smiling too, and she felt it even as he pulled away, his lips still hovering barely an inch from hers.

“If I’m going to stay though,” he said, his hands falling to her waist. “Do you mind sharing the blankets again?”

MC nodded, shifting to let him slide back beneath the sheets. Gavin laid back, pulling her close again, cushioning her head against his chest.

“How’s that?” He breathed, running his fingers through her hair.

She snuggled against him, pressing a kiss against his skin. “It’s perfect.”

Gavin sighed in contentment, and everything grew quiet except for the birdsong beyond their window and the sound of their even breaths.

“You know,” Gavin murmured after a while, his arm growing tighter around her waist. “I’m going to have to do some extra exercise this evening to make up for not going for my jog.”

“Tell you what,” she said, stroking lazy circles against his chest, earning a small ripple of laughter when she brushed against a ticklish spot. “Whatever you end up doing, I’ll go with you.”

He hummed. “You will? No matter what it is?”

She nodded, sketching a heart against his bare skin. “Absolutely.”

“20 laps at the pool?”

“Yeah.”

“Running three kilometres?”

“If that’s what you want.”

“Playing one-on-one basketball?”

MC wrinkled her nose then, remembering the last time she’d tried playing against Gavin in any sport. But she still nodded, scattering a few kisses against his chest. “Of course. Nothing could possibly be bad when it’s with you, babey.”

He snorted, playing with her hair. “Alright well, we can decide later, too. But if you’re okay with a few rounds of basketball.”

“We can do that,” she said. “I’m happy with whatever you decide.”

He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Okay. We’ll go in the evening then.”

“Just don’t throw the ball at my face, I’m still not very good at catching it.”

He snorted. “We can work on that.”

“And if you stay in bed tomorrow morning,” she said, fighting to keep her voice neutral, to keep the sliver of hope that glittered in her heart from spilling into her words. “I’ll go with you tomorrow evening, too.”

Gavin hummed, holding her tighter. “You will? Even though it’ll be working out?”

She nodded, echoing the words he had spoken to her earlier. “I love spending time with you.”

“I think,” he murmured, shifting so he could press his brow against hers. “That I’m going to have to start reconsidering my morning run.”

“Oh?” She asked, blushing as he held her gaze, the gold of his eyes reminding her of starlight, of liquid joy.

“It’s already hard enough to get out of bed in the morning,” he said, holding her tighter. “And I’d much rather spend my time with you.”

She wiggled again, happiness washing through her, so strong she could hardly contain it.

Gavin laughed. “What are you doing?”

“I’m just so happy,” she sang. “Because now I can spend more time with you.”

He blushed again, a pallid, rosy pink dusting his cheeks. “You might not be saying that later when you’re running with me.”

“Oh I think I will,” she said, cupping his face.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure,” she breathed. “Because babey, everything is better with you.”