Summary: She asks him where they're going; he smiles.
Author Notes: This doesn't exactly have a time frame. I just wanted to write something happy for them for the future in a non-transfer related way.
He looks at her from his desk and sees how her hair is brown under the fluorescents, how her face is pale and pinched, how she's losing color in her cheeks. He watches her nod at the phone, pitch her voice at a whisper, deliver messages in her round, neat writing. He watches her and he's so positive that it's not her that he jumps when she turns and gives him a grin that lightens her whole face and his heart speeds up imperceptibly in his chest.
The next morning he intercepts her in the parking lot, takes her by the hand. She doesn't protest when his fingers close around hers warm and firm, loosened around the wrist. Her eyes are wide and wondering when he tugs her into his car with the air of an eager puppy.
She asks him where they're going; he smiles. She loves the way he smiles.
In her bag are her sketchbook and oil pencils. She draws when the mood strikes. She draws when the sun hangs low over the horizon and the colors spread out from the center of the sky like someone's hand flattening a pancake. She draws when it's raining outside and the tulips she's planted are glossy with wet, each individual droplet of water clear and crystalline against the waxy petals. She draws when she notices that he's not looking, that his hair is messy, that his sleeves are rolled up and his top button is undone. She draws all these things.
She likes to draw him sleeping the best, when his eyelashes are frozen against his cheek, his breath coming long and deep against her skin, and the sheets tangled around his waist, their feet. She wants to capture everything she loves about him in one singular image, and it's frustrating her that it's a nigh impossible task. She wants to capture him because he's inexplicably beautiful, because his limbs are warm and his palms are soft, because he makes her dinner and takes her on walks, because he kisses her like breathing.
He keeps the windows rolled down on the highways, and she laughs into the wind when it whips past her hair and he sees it stream back in a flutter of wound curls. She has her bare feet propped up on the dashboard, and she's tapping her toes against the edge of her door to the beat of whatever song's on. He can't hear her humming, but he sees the way her head bounces and her eyes are closed and he thinks that he can feel the vibrations in his bones.
He's learning things about her when he thought that he knew everything. That was a stupid assumption; he knows now. How can he know everything about her? She surprises him, she delights him, and he loves her.
He learns that their bodies fit together when they sleep, her leg thrown over his waist, her mouth pressed against his collarbone. His hands can span the short distance of her shoulders. He learns that she prefers his brand of fabric softener to hers because hers reminds her of what's past. She brushes her teeth with a cup ("A cup?" he had asked, incredulous), and he's trying to teach her how to do it with just your hands and a toothbrush.
She's ticklish behind her knees. The undersides of her wrists are surprisingly cold when she slides into bed beside him. Her hair is same color as autumn leaves when it's wet, and each individual strand is golden.
When he parks the car she opens her eyes and on her face is that perfect smile. They climb out of their seats and their hands find each other against the sounds of the crashing surf and screeching gulls. The day is sunny and the breeze is warm. It's too nice to be wasting it in the office. He loosens his tie with his free hand and when they reach the edge of the sand she takes off her heels and together they walk the line of the beach.
Everybody else are tourists with folding chairs and beach towels. She squeezes his hand lightly and he flicks his gaze over at her and squeezes back. She thinks she can taste the salty air on her tongue and he laughs when she tries, throwing her head back and opening her mouth. His eyes follow the strip of her bare throat, her skin creamy white in the sunlight. He kisses her there.
"Impudent," she calls him.
"Brat," he says back.
She spends more time in his house than her own, even though she still refuses to officially move in. She likes being able to wake up with her nose against his shoulder, to be able to slip in the shower and see his limited collection of shampoo and soap next to her body wash and razor. His shirts are always too big on her, but she has a favorite one now, a faded-out blue button-down that goes down to her knees and the sleeves fold twice over her knuckles. It smells like fabric softener and spring. She makes him waffles in that shirt and he eats them while staring at her.
Mark is away a lot; they're in the house alone. He always leaves messages on the fridge with ABC magnets to tell them to behave themselves.
They have sex against the kitchen counter, her legs around his waist, mouth against his ear. The way he says her name when he comes is enough to make her eyes flutter closed. Later she realizes that she was holding him so hard that she left marks on the back of his neck, little half-moon crescents that show up under the lamplight. He smiles at her and goes to sleep and she lies there stroking his hair and thinking about love and the definition of love and how after forever she's here with him and she knows what it means.
Like it was all just pretend before.
For lunch they eat hot dogs. Hers is plain with just a squiggle of ketchup. He makes fun of her for her conservative attitude towards her hot dog and she reminds him about the hot sauce incident. He puts relish and mustard on his and stuffs half of it into his mouth at once. The sight of him makes her choke and she giggles as bits of hot dog stick to the back of her throat. There's sand in her hair and it doesn't matter at all.
They build a sandcastle while they're resting. He lets her direct him and their hands scrape out turrets and towers, walls and a moat. The big sand dollar she finds is the king and all the other shells bow down to it. She's pretty sure that the bridge of her nose is burned; when she wrinkles it she can feel the sting. He lays his head back in her lap and she just smiles, smiles, smiles.
He doesn't mind going to work so they can steal kisses during breaks. When Michael makes them have a meeting, he threads his fingers through hers and they let their hands drop between their seats. People have said things, Kelly and Michael mostly, though Dwight doesn't mind putting his two cents in here and there. They've registered their relationship with Toby, who sighs a little and gives them a half-smile and says, "Office romances aren't a good idea, but I'm happy for you guys."
Michael has a seminar about safe sex. They sit in the back of the room and she draws pictures to go along with Michael's lecture on her notepad. When Dwight fixes them with a glare and asks what they're giggling about, she tells him that she's writing Important Business Notes for Michael. She says they're giggling because they're trying to cover up their nervousness over how impressive and well-learned Michael obviously is.
After the meeting they leave together. He hooks his iPod up to the tape deck in the car and she chooses their music for the ride home. Once she finds Britney Spears' Toxic. It takes five minutes for her to stop laughing. Actually, four minutes and fifty-seven seconds.
That's his record for how fast he can get her into the house, onto the bed, and undressed.
When she finishes her drawing of the sunset over the ocean they decide to start heading back. Her curls are tangled and heavy. He sits behind her and sifts his fingers through them, helps her pull it all back into a ponytail. She still blushes when he compliments her and he likes that about her. The way she's still shy even though they sleep together, even though he loves her.
She holds out her hand for him and he takes it. His slacks are rolled up at bottom to halfway up his calves. She pulls him towards the water and they walk side-by-side through the low waves. She looks at him and she's just happy. Just happy. And the way it suffuses her makes a shiver go up her spine. Her fingers tighten around his just a little.
Dusk settles in around their shoulders. In the morning there's sand on their pillows.