Eskimo Kisses

Sarah woke up crying.

That was something that hadn't happened in a long time, but right then she wasn’t sure if it was the pain of a new growth on her shoulder or the vague sense of longing she felt from her swiftly fading dream that had drive her to tears. She kind of wanted to blame the pain. She wasn’t used to reacting to emotions like this yet.

She tried to wipe away the tears with her left hand, which resulted in more discomfort as she whacked herself in the face with the flat plate growing from her palm. She realized she’d have to risk waking her bedmate by untangling their hands if she didn’t want him to find her like this.

She separated her fingers from his well enough, and she was almost done removing the evidence when she sniffed.

Just a bit of a sniff, not even a tearful sniff, simply a nasal-passage-clearing sniff, but it was enough.

"Mmm... Sarah?" She froze as Scott’s fingers clenched; when he failed to find her own, he rolled onto his side and opened his eyes, his sleep goggles glowing a dim red.

She sniffed again, trying to turn away, but he caught her head and forced her to face him. "Awwe, Scraps..." he murmured, wiping away tears with his thumb. "What’s wrong?"

Her eyes filled again at the familiar nickname and she felt the bone in her shoulder push through skin. Scott had made it up early in their relationship, when they were both still hesitant about this, still scared. She’d been watching Saturday morning cartoons, the old Scooby-Doos, and he’d started teasing her about it. She’d taken him too seriously, as usual, but he’d just flashed her that little-boy smile and started doing that thing where he attached way too many suffixes to words. "Ah, does Sarah like Scrappy-Doo? Scrappy-Dappy-Doo-a-Booga-Boo? Scrapsy-Wapsy?"

And somehow, it’d stuck.

Right now, though, she didn’t want to have him call her Scraps. She wanted him to go back to sleep, stay quiet and just hold her hand because they made use of all the physical contact they could get. Of course, he wasn’t going to do that. He was going to make her talk. She’d be thankful for that in the morning, but not right now.

"Hey. Milkdud." He tapped her on the nose. "I’m talking to you." She snorted at him, pulling away. "Awwe, c’mon, Sarah," he wheedled. "Talk to me."

The tears came again, and this time she didn’t try to stop them. She reached down, yanking a spike out of her thigh so she could roll over and look at him. "I’m tired of this," she said, trying to keep her voice steady. She waved the bone in his face as emphasis. "I'm just... so sick of it."

He snatched the bone from her hand and tossed it into the small pile that formed over the day near the garbage can. "That isn't anything new," he said, his voice starting to sound a little angry. She wished she could see his eyes, just to make sure. Just like she always did. "Something's bugging you. Tell me."

He was pulling the Supreme Leader voice on her, and a lifetime of being a foot soldier wouldn't let her ignore it. "I'm tired of this, Scott," she said, grabbing his hand and fisting hers around it. "I'm sick of having just this." His fingers clenched around hers and she sat up slightly so she could touch her lips to his hand, tears falling freely now. "I want to... I wish I could... I want to be with you. Like... like a normal woman."

The unspoken words hung in the air between them. Like Jean.

For a second, there was silence as they digested the unsaid. Then Scott opened his mouth to speak.

Sarah beat him to it. "And don't tell me it's okay." Her voice was spiked with anger. "It's not."

He sighed, propping himself up on one arm, then gave her a half-smile. "I wasn't going to tell you it was okay," he said softly. "You're right. It's not. I get just as frustrated as you do, believe me. But we manage." He leaned in to wrap his arms around her, carefully avoiding the fresh protrusion on her shoulder.

She wasn't going to be so easily silenced, though. "See?" She pushed him away. "We can't even hug without being oh-so-careful. The simplest of contacts and we can't have it!"

Scott sighed again. Having known him so long, Sarah realized his facial expression was that of exasperation, but with the glasses, it was hard. He looked down at their clasped hands for a long moment, then finally back up at her. "That's not the simplest of contacts," he said softly, then leaned in. "This is."

She anticipated a kiss.

Not for him to rub his nose against hers.

She pulled back, startled. "What the hell is that?"

He was smiling at her, that teasing little-boy smile that always got her flustered. "An Eskimo kiss," he said. "Come on. Don't tell me you haven't heard of Eskimo kisses."

She stared at him for a long second, then shook her head. "You're making that up."

He laughed. "I am not! You and I need to watch some Mr. Roger's." She gave him another look. "Seriously, Sarah. They're called Eskimo kisses."

"Eskimo kisses, huh?" She smiled. "Guess I could get used to them."

He untangled his hand from hers, taking her chin in his hand and pulling her closer...

...just as a set of bony plates popped out on her forehead, splattering their faces with blood.

"Dammit!" she shouted, pulling away and wiping the red liquid off her forehead.

Scott, though, just laughed. "Man, you're being cranky tonight, aren't you?" Before she could make an argument, he lifted a finger to her lips. "Sh. Let it go." He kissed her, properly this time. "Now, it's late, and I'm supposed to run you lackeys around the Danger Room tomorrow morning. Fearless Leader isn’t allowed to be sleepy."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Yeah, there's the Scott I know and don't necessarily always love." She took his hand again, curling onto her currently spike-less side to sleep. She wanted to snuggle up into him, press her head into his chest and feel him wrap his arms around her and for a minute, for just a minute, she wanted it to be safe.

She sighed, watching his head hit the pillow and his goggles go dark again. She didn't have that safety. She might never have it.

But, she thought, as she let her eyes close and drifted into sleep, at least she had it in her dreams.