Log:Falling is Like This
The ride over to the house isn't very long, but the odd quiet hits again once they're out the door. "So, you know? I didn't see that coming," only gets out of her mouth after a few minutes, once they're pulling into the driveway. She glances toward the back seat, and the duffels and rolling suitcase full of 'gear', and her nostrils flare for a moment. "I'll haul that in... tomorrow, after school." The very idea of lugging it all around again makes it seem like they've been awake at least six more hours without rest or much to eat.
"Let's get inside, and I can check that out, clean it up some?" she offers, nodding down to his hand as she opens the car door, and stretches slowly to a stand like her bones are creaking all the while. "Then some rest. I must have... something. But. That first."
Already, her feet are shuffling along on autopilot toward the door with the shortest route to her bedroom, through the back patio.
Zane's quieter when he gets to a certain level of tired, and after all the excitement of last night and now well over 24 hours awake as well... yeah, he's pretty quiet, right now. "Which part?" he asks when she finally speaks, "'cause... I didn't see any of it coming, like, not the vampire thing or anything after that." He follows her glance back, and gives a tiny shrug, and somewhat less tiny smile. "I got it," he says, tired or not; he's starting from a better point as far as lugging things around in any case, right?
He opens his door, preparing to do just that, and glances at his hand when she nods to it. "It's not that bad," he says, "I mean, it's mostly just kinda bruised up." Mostly. It probably could use a good looking at, though. First, though, he's moving to get the duffels and case. Even if he weren't, probably best he's not going to be attempting the balcony-scaling method of room entry this time.
She's not entirely surprised to find the door locked, but she waits there for him, taking one of the duffels off his hands once there, and slings it over her shoulder as she opens up to let them step in. There's a sharp click as it locks again; rarely is that sound so reassuring as it is lately. The house is strangely quiet, save for the distant hum of appliances, the crack and rattle of ice in the fridge completing a cycle, the muffled chatter of one of the personal assistants on a call in an upstairs office on the other side of the house flowing through the vents. It's all so normal that it somehow seems strange, like some other world once she steps through the door.
There's a brief flicker of distress on her features at the realization that it's anything but, that the heavy security may not be immediately visible, but it's there. That last night, her cousin and sister tried to walk out, just like Arthur and Cash had. "Let's get this stuff upstairs." Like it's contraband, all plausible excuses be damned.
It's a blessedly short walk from the patio entrance up to her suite, more workroom than ever. She drops the duffel, staring at it for a moment as Prince Prance meowls plaintively from the still-made bed. "Fuck it," she says, and knocks a bolt of fabric right over onto the duffel, effectively burying it in studio camouflage. The quiet thump is enough to send Spook in a zoom from the pile of sunbeam-basking velvet off to hide under the sewing table with a skitter of paws on the work area tile.
She doesn't even really stop after that, just going through the motions of unzipping her boots to kick off and heading off through the gauntlet of hangers and costume storage that leads into the bathroom, where she can presumably best attend to his hand. It's only halfway through that colorful road to costumer Narnia that she pauses to look back, apology written all over her face, even if she doesn't know what it's for just yet.
Zane carts things over and up; he's okay letting her take one of the duffels, and just follows with the rest. He makes a decent pack mule, really. A simple nod answers the remark about taking it upstairs. It's pretty much what he'd assumed they'd do, so it's easy enough to agree. Weirdly comforting, even. A thing that's still behaving the way it's supposed to.
So are Prince Prance and Spook, and the former's reaction makes him break into a proper grin, and meow right back at the massive cat. Sometimes, if he gets it just right, he's managed to start a conversation, not that he has any idea what either of them might be saying. The fallen fabric gets a considering look, and then he eases the suitcase in between two draped forms where it's nearly concealed, and finds similar nooks to stash what remains. It means he's a fair bit behind by the time he trails on through the forest of fabric after her. It'd be even farther if he stopped to untie his boots, but that can wait a minute yet. Years of friendship have taught him it's a bad idea to wander the place without shoes when it gets this crowded with work; you don't have to discover stray pins and beads and the like that way too often before sticking with something more protective than socks becomes a habit.
That expression leaves him confused, though. It's not like he stepped on one yet today. "You okay?"
The other downside of 'fittings season' is that the flip-flops she keeps around for just such purposes end up tucked away in the damndest places, and it takes the better part of the next year to find them all again if they haven't simply migrated onto the balcony. Some have gone missing to never be seen again. "Are any of us?" is really the only answer she can offer, but there's a soft, helpless laugh. She waits right where she is, shadowed and crowded in by a hundred colors and textures on both sides, with the pale ivories and frosted glass of the bathroom softly bright behind her, casting her expression into deeper shadow where she stands.
And she waits. Waits until he catches up with her, as though whatever it is she has to say can't be said in the light just yet. Maybe it needs to be said surrounded by a slightly-uncomfortable security blanket of the familiar made of thrift store finds, formals of days gone by, and a three-dimensional catalogue of costume parties past going all the way back to elementary school.
When the words finally come out, they're barely a whisper. Mona doesn't do 'sounding small', but she does now. "You almost died last night, Zane." She's suddenly all too sober, and oddly grateful the hitch in her voice catches the tail of her words rather than somewhere in the middle, when they might have choked them off completely.
"I... " There are too many ways to end that sentence. Her jaw works in silence as she struggles over which one to pick first.
Zane closes the space, head cocked as he walks, and he comes to a stop more or less the usual distance away. He ends up a step nearer when she talks so softly, and there's that hitch. "I didn't, though," he says, "and I was-- I barely was outside at all. Art and Silvio were in more danger. And Amy and Ashley..." He trails off, lips pressing together, and looks a bit more stricken, suddenly, running things through his head again with the benefit of not being focused on trying to keep his twin from throwing himself into vampire jaws, and the perspective has him more shaken for one reason or another. It probably isn't the same thing, quite, that's bothering her just now.
He takes the other step in necessary to hug her, and assures quietly, "But we didn't. We're all okay. Okay?"
"I know," she says, sure of every single word except the last few. There's been a lot of hugging in the past 12 hours or so, though it's the first time there are solid words and real conversation involved. For long moments, she buries her face in his shoulder, eyes tightly closed.
"Maybe?" It's a long time to come up with such a non-answer. "Or. We will be." It doesn't matter how quiet she may be, the determination in those words is indicative of her usual spine of steel -- even if she is shivering. From the moment they first talked to Mr. Chen, she dove straight into problem solving mode, without a desperately needed pause to feel instead of simply do. She has to know on some level that it's for the best, that it had to be done, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a long while of storing up a whole host of fears and revelations to hit later.
"We have to be." There is no other option. "Because I-"
Goddammit, Mona, pick one!
"-I can't lose you. I just fucking can't." It's the easiest answer, and entirely true.
Zane likes hugs, at least, and they've been pretty comforting today, to tell the truth. He's happy to go with them now, too, and just keep his arms wrapped around her while she buries her face for a little. He closes his eyes as well, and his head tilts to rest his forehead against the top of her hair. It just feels about right. And she's shivering. That's not right.
"We will be," he echoes, also quietly, and his own determination echoes hers as well. "And you won't lose me. ...we won't lose anyone. I think Mr. Chen has an idea and he knows what's going on more than anyone, right? So we'll just, you know, we'll work with him and be careful and smart." Just like he said.
In that position, she can't see the way his teeth catch his bottom lip and worry it for a couple silent seconds. He's been focused mainly on trying to help with the practical issues of all this since he found out as well, with only a brief pause to near-panic about discovering his twin was drawn into this stuff and he hadn't even known. "Mona? ...I'm really glad you didn't drink that stuff too."
Slowly, her hands find their way around his sides to lace together at the small of his back. She's not going anywhere, at least not right now. More and more over the course of the day, she's almost become clingy and that's a stranger thing than vampires by no small stretch. Right now, the idea of being any further away seems likely to make her cringe outright.
There's a tiny sniffle she'll never admit to before she manages to speak. "Yeah?" And then, she manages an even smaller chuckle. It's real, though. "Pretty sure I." He can probably feel the smile starting in the flex of her cheek, though it'll be a moment more before she starts to slowly raise her chin and let it actually show. "Am doing a good enough job of being the invisible Marchant triplet." The swallow is hard but it comes with a quick gulp of breath that's part hiccough and laugh at once. "That they never actually realized I existed at all until yesterday." It is funny, after a fashion.
But then, she's actually looking at him, and her lashes are wet. Dammit. He's seen her cry before, likely more than anyone other than her siblings, and odds are good they're all roughly on par with one another there. It's still rare. She's simply too good at throwing herself into the next project, the next idea, the next adventure to dwell on misery.
"M'glad you didn't either. Because." She sucks in a breath and attempts to strengthen her posture, but it false starts. "I don't really give a shit what Father says. I would have chained you to the-" She just stops right there before working herself up any further, and manages a smile that's as shaky as the rest of her. "...pretty sure you wouldn't be allowed to stay over any more, after that."
Zane is okay with this. The clinging bit, at least. Okay, it's a little bit weird, but of all the weird things going on, this is the one he feels least inclined to complain about. It's a relatively comforting kind of weird.
"Yeah." She might feel a faint ebb of tension at the chuckle and the starting of that smile, and when he feels her start to raise her head, he lifts his as well to look at her. It gets a tiny smile back, though he wrinkles his nose a little at the invisibility thing. "I kinda don't think they noticed me before last night either, though. If they even did!" And he's never really been the invisible one of anything.
There's crying, though, and what little smile there was dims, one arm unwinding to lift a hand and brush a thumb just below lower lashes to try to collect the wetness from there. It stutters slightly when she gets to what she would've done if he had drunk, his cheeks flaring about as pink as they did when they went shopping for last night's supplies. "Um," he says eloquently, and after a beat a tiny laugh escapes mostly through his nose. "Prolly not, no."
Her expression begins to evolve the moment his hand rises toward her face, something about it easing and tensing at once. It's a strange look, and for a moment it would be easy to mistake it for the weariness of the past few days catching up to her as her lashes start to sink, and her head tilts ever so slightly toward his hand. Mona exhales in a tiny stutter that grows into a tiny chuckle; his own laugh becoming contagious no matter how small.
The cluttered and unglamorous stretch of costume-lined hall between the main room and the bathroom has always been where Mona squirrels away her secrets and treasures -- the ones that really matter, anyway. There are favorite movie stubs tucked into shoes, airline ticket slips from her first trip to Paris with her siblings, programs from the shows they've caught on Broadway, stacks of spare posters from ones they've done together.
It makes it the right place, or maybe the only place, for what she says next, her lashes still at half-mast. "I would have done anything to stop you from going with them, you know," she whispers after a moment. "And if I couldn't stop you?"
"I would have begged them to take me, too."
Just how much she means it terrifies her, but the only part of her shaking is her lower lip, which seems unable to stop trembling even as she raises her eyes to look at him again. So maybe there was something she felt she'd have to apologize for, after a fashion.
Zane watches the shift of her expression, and the faint movement of her head might be missed if he couldn't feel it against his fingers. A tiny tilt of his own head as she whispers that, and his lips part, then close again, and he shakes his head.
"...no," he says, "You can't-- I mean, if something happened and-- if I was-- you can't." Other people's words are easy. His own, sometimes not so much. No wetness on his own lashes as yet, but there's a shine to his eyes that threatens things could do that way if he isn't careful. "You can't go be undead, you have to live. And I wouldn't-- unless I thought going'd really make them leave you and my brothers and everyone alone I'd never-- I wouldn't leave you." It's a strange thing to be saying. It's a strange thing to be thinking. And feeling, for that matter.
His gaze has trouble not being drawn from her eyes to the movement of her trembling lip, hand still half-forgotten against her cheek and the side of her neck. Instincts and impulse and untold numbers of plays and movies and stories of all kinds all come together in one ineluctable decision he isn't entirely aware of making, and likely won't recall a single thought leading up to later.
He leans that remaining distance in, and kisses her.
She doesn't actually say she's sorry. Mona meant every word and as much as it scares her, what it means is somehow even larger. She even seems to know the words for that, too, even if she can't quite get them out, either, because the more he speaks, the more that lip quivers, and her own eyes shine back at him, too wide.
"I'd never, either, not ever-" she begins, but silence fills that space of too-loud heartbeats that seem intent on hammering against the inside of her head. Her fingertips tighten at the small of his back, as if in reassurance, and somehow, everything falls into place just so.
Maybe it's just that they've been going to the very same movies since either of them can remember, or seen the same shows, listened to the same songs, but something about it doesn't surprise her. Something about it feels right, like the laws of the natural order simply insisted this must be so on a level that could not be denied.
The part that surprises her is entirely different. The part that surprises her is that in that flicker of an instant in which she can feel the warmth of his breath against her lips, she can feel the temperature of her own blood palpably rising. It's that the trembling stops the moment they make contact, and that stillness and steady certainty, no matter how gentle, drains all the worry out of her almost immediately. She is not a worldly girl, so much as she imagines herself to be, and so somewhere in the back of her head, her inner cynic is doubtless dumbfounded to discover that -- like every romance novel ever written, including the ones they'd all dare each other to read passages from over the years with her siblings while keeping a straight face -- she really does feel like butterflies were just set loose behind her ribs, and locating where her knees went would be on par with a quest for the Holy Grail, because she's quite sure she no longer exists from mid-thigh down and has learned to levitate at the very same time.
She had been so very certain all of that was utter nonsense, and never in her life has Desdemona Marchant been so utterly delighted to be wrong.
She kisses him back without so much as the smile she can feel eagerly waiting in the wings to disrupt its earnest tenderness. Her fingertips curl into his shirt the more she tugs him closer, and when she runs out of room there, she leans in close, unwilling to stop yet.
Zane has kissed people before. Zane has really enjoyed kissing people before. People he's spent weeks or months badly wanting to kiss before anything happened, even, whereas this... has never been that. Hadn't even really crossed his mind until a month or so ago, and even since it's all been confusion and uncertainty and the universe slightly off-balance.
And this isn't that. It feels right. It feels necessary. And it feels like what he wanted it to feel like before. Electric. Maybe some of it's an artifact of the fear from the night before, or the fresh contemplation of it now. Maybe some from the part of his brain with reasons for its uncertainty. But if the universe is still slightly off-balance, it's in a different way, and it seems to have narrowed itself down to consisting of only them for a moment. And his heart probably won't actually burst. His arm tightens around her, working with her grip on his shirt to pull her in as closely as he can.
The kiss breaks, finally, and he draws a few inches back, enough to be able to stare at Mona without getting a stellar demonstration of how she might look as a cyclops, and silently does just that for a couple uneven breaths, lips gently parted.
"I... maybe shouldn't've done that," he murmurs, and promptly tries to do it again.
For what seems like forever, she wavers as they have to come up for air, eyes still closed with lashes fluttering through the urge to rise and a complete unwillingness to do so. Like it would mean waking up from a very good dream to a very angry alarm clock, and perfect as this moment is, as exhausted as they are, it would be time to turn right back around and head back to school.
But she feels him drawing back, even before she hears the words. The view of her face is a strange one; he's doubtless seen it before when they've all passed out somewhere, that dreaming look, and the slow tug toward consciousness as it begins to fade. Her lips remain parted, brows raised as though her eyes should be wide rather than only starting to flicker open now.
She's not hitting him! It's a good start!
It's the words that wake her up, and it's like falling back into her body. Her eyes are suddenly too wide and her response is a fully melodramatic flail encapsulated in one tiny, desperate noise before her apparent inner pirate queen kicks in to summon up the proper words for an answer.
"Don't be ridiculous," she whispers back to him, still seemingly breathless.
The words aren't even out of her mouth before her eyes are starting to close again, and she's trying the very same. It will be a wonder if they don't crash their noses into each other any moment now. One hand begins to work its way up from the base of his spine with a crawl of fingertips as she leans in, awake and dreaming at once.
That view of her is oddly mesmerizing, eyes on hers as they flutter and finally flicker open. Not hitting him is definitely a good start, though the part of his brain that might worry about it is not really online just at the moment -- or if it is, other parts have their hand over its mouth to stifle it right now. Don't be ridiculous, she says, and those parts nod and shove the other one firmly into a box and sit on it a while. His gaze has dropped to her lips by the time she's replying, and if 'kiss her again' hadn't already been winning, that would probably have pushed it over the top.
Wonder that it might be, there's no collision -- not of noses, at least, only of lips. And that one's decidedly intentional. The arm around her stays right where it is at first, the hand at her cheek sliding further to the back of her neck, fingers sneaking up into her hair. He pulls her in close against him again, in no hurry to stop kissing her again, and gradually becomes more aware (again) of that... vampire-resistance ensemble she's still in, the top in particular, when his hand slides upward and rediscovers the fact that the halter's backless. Oh. Oh right.
His turn for a tiny little noise, muffled in the kiss, and his other hand drops down to her waist, then both a bit lower where they can get enough of an arguably somewhat fresh hold to lift her enough to turn them and step, nearly like dancing, backward into the hanging clothes. No need to stop kissing for this. Or to let her any farther away. There's enough packed in there for now that, be it an accurate assessment or good agility or pure Bloomquist luck, as he leans back into the dresses and robes and brings her right along, it does seem to support them.
At least for now.
She can't hide the grin entirely; it's fully visible in that instant before their lips collide once again. It's only after that that his hand slides up over the edge of the halter's low-slung back -- and, oh, that's right, it's not a bra day, is it -- that there's another tiny sound of a whimper lost into the kiss at the strum of his fingertips over the bare skin of her back. The blush is surely half that, and half the recollection of why there's no strappy interruptions en route upward. Even her wardrobe seemed to see this coming, which makes their present location somehow all the more appropriate.
Not so long ago, she described what got her sent home from summer camp a few years back, and ultimately, it wasn't the flashlight. It was the noise. It was a very good noise, and it's the very same noise she makes just then, even if it's muffled in delivery from the tip of her tongue to his. Good timing, too -- his luck is holding as well as he's holding her -- because her knees completely stop cooperating beyond the bare minimum to dance backward into a swath of velvet skirts and cloaks from their forays to the Renaissance faire a handful of years prior. They're abundant with pads and quilting, because friends don't let friends wear hoops.
One of those rebellious knees slowly rises along the outside of his thigh once he leans back into the crush of plush fabric, and she tilts to pitch forward right into him, letting him support more of her weight. She doesn't even hear the hangers straining or clanking, and for possibly the first time in history she gives not one single damn about the contents of the closet aside from him. Her hand at his back escapes the skirting to dart forward to his cheek, fingertips drifting over a cheekbone until they thread back into his hair.
For just an instant, she draws back, swallowing a breath, her face brightly flushed. She doesn't even open her eyes as she whispers, "No wonder," between kisses that continue to fall around the corners of his mouth, "this never made sense with anybody else." There would probably be a touch of rueful humor in that voice of hers, if she wasn't so awed and breathless.
Really, really a good kind of noise. Yes. Yes, that is a good kind of noise. More of that noise, please. Though it's not the only reason Zane's hand continues sliding up her back again, over the warm skin and the spot extra straps definitely aren't. Possibly not even the main reason. His other hand remains lower, surely entirely to keep helping to support her and not at all because at the moment he really, really wants it right there, firmly appreciating the way those leather pants fit her.
It probably does make the balance easier when she draws that knee upward. And that movement definitely has an effect on his own knees; they sag a bit as that noise of hers gets a quiet little echo. His back slides a few inches down along the velvet, and he doesn't open his eyes immediately when she briefly draws away, either. She can't see that he's fairly flushed as well, but she might be able to feel it beneath those scattered kisses. The breathlessness doesn't need to be seen at all. "That's, um." Words? Words. "...this's better," are the ones he finds, nothing to rank with the bards and poets but about as sincere as it gets. To be fair, he's been awake a long time, but really, talking is not what his mouth is most interested in doing right now anyway. A tiny kiss or two falls beside the corner of her own lips as he turns his head enough to try to catch them again, with a still-breathless, "Come back."
The friction of his weight against the velvet strains the hangers some more, one of them actually breaking with a groan and a ping. He pays precisely no attention to it, even as their angle with the vertical eases a little more obtuse.
ROLL: Mona rolls finesse for: : x2 (Pair) : x2 (Pair) -- Match Value: 2 (Raw: 2 2 6 6 -- d6)
"So much better," she confirms all too quickly and with endless conviction, the smile returning for an instant until that quiet request is met not with words, but the return of her lips to his in a far more eager answer.
The increasing angle has her pitching further forward, not that she immediately notices. What she does notice is the squeak of leather against leather of her top to his jacket, and for whatever reason, that simply will not stand (either), as it catches the leather in ways that suddenly start to feel very much in the way. She starts to tug at it, increasing the friction between them and the padded pouf holding them marginally upright as limbs start to jumble up together in ways that might be ruinous were it not for all those gymnastics and dance lessons over the years.
She really needs to be paying more mind to that one remaining knee holding her up from her end of things, but she isn't. As a result, it wobbles with the instinct to rise along the other side as her hips sway, grinding her backside against his palm before her bare toes dart back down for the ground, only to land on a platform shoe and start to tumble.
Then, there's another noise. It's also a good noise, even if not in the same way. It's the sort of chirpy squeak of sound that some day they'll be telling their grandkids about while giggling like teenagers and embarrassing their children. It's the kind of noise that says she is about to go toppling down, down, down, danger!
...but through some genuine miracle -- or maybe that luck is rubbing off by sheer proximity -- she manages to recover her balance purely by hanging on to him all the more tightly, and a levering of that leg that threatens to spin them sideways into the costume pile. The look on her face as she starts to topple is good; the look on her face as the world starts to pitch 'round again is somehow even better and all the more surprised. Hangers rattle wildly above as the downward skid progresses, and more and more of the closet's contents start raining down onto the floor.
ROLL: Zane rolls finesse for: : x1 : x1 : x1 : x1 -- Match Value: 0 (Raw: 2 1 5 3 -- d6)
Good answer! Zane sinks right back into that whole kissing thing, and possibly down slightly farther against the fabric too, but that's still going okay until the whole jacket thing gets involved. Not that he notices at first. No, at first there's a moment of ? and then the fact that she's trying to take his jacket off him sinks in and seems like an unimpeachable idea, except for the part where it means he has to move his arms from where he's got them. Reluctantly, he starts to unwind the one that's wrapped around her back, though that pauses when he gets somewhat distracted by the swaying and the way it presses against his other hand. Which is, in its way, for the best, because surely that should help him keep her balanced!
In actuality, when she makes that noise and he feels things shifting more thoroughly than they had been, his grip on her does tighten, which should have been a good start. But it transfers more of that movement to him, and that makes the leather slip more against the velvet, and that makes his foot shift to try to shore them up, and that makes his boot hit and slide on a ballet flat, and that makes him yelp in an amplified version of her earlier squeak, wide-eyed as everything starts to collapse substantially more quickly... not least, him.
The bad news is that he ends up pretty much flat on his back on the closet floor, most of the breath knocked out of him, and he hadn't been oversupplied with breath at that point to begin with. The good news is that most of the velvet came too, that he managed to hold on and shift enough that Mona ends up on top of him rather than taking much of the impact, and arguably, that now she can slide her knees up as much as she might like, 'cause there isn't any farther they can fall.
Well, all those novels did talk about the room spinning at some point or another, didn't they? Leave it to them to get literal about it. As they twist their way down to the ground with a thud atop a mound of Tudor skirts and petticoats, more bits and pieces rain down atop them in a slow progression of thuds, thumps, and whooshes.
They land, and there goes the vintage mink coat further down the line. She rattles her head as if to shake her wits back into it, but they seem to be lost somewhere in the sea of frilly skirts, two more of which whisper down like ghosts at either side of them, followed by a cheerful jangle of now-empty hangers on the railing overhead. Managing to blink down at him, still wide-eyed and startled to a fault, she swallows a breath, whispering a worried, "Are you all right?" She won't actually laugh until she knows that's the case, even if something covered in feathers on one of the shelves seems to have given way, and one by one, a flurry of them starts to rain down from above behind her.
She leans up by a fraction, propping herself up on one hand as the other roves across his chest like she's very seriously checking for broken bones in all the wrong places until she realizes what she's actually doing and the absurdity of it, and stops to lean over him, looming with concern.
From the mouth of the closet, there is an inquisitive mew, followed by a rustle, then a thump. Then another thump. Another. The thumps grow closer and closer as, through the narrow space between her chest and her upraised arm, Prince Prance can be glimpsed as his immense bulk begins trying to capture feather after feather.
Zane blinks. Twice. "Ow," he says, still breathless enough that it's barely audible, but he looks more startled than actually hurt. It means the tiny laugh at the situation is also near-silent, and brief, and he doesn't get a lot of chance to recover breath as those feathers start falling and the Prince arrives to start trying to catch them, and Zane goes from a few sharp little breaths of laughs into a full-on case of giggles, that don't appear inclined to stop right away even if he's starting to feel a little more light-headed than the kisses themselves can account for. That roaming of her hand may have actually helped, since it drew a couple deeper breaths between the more disconnected laughs, before they turned into a continuous quiet sound shaking the territory she'd been exploring.
"I--" he starts, and has to stop for another round of giggles before he can try again, hands lifting to run down her shoulders and arms, then sneak their way beneath them to find her waist, "I, uh. I guess I just fell for you." He dissolves back into the giggles, giddy and maybe just a little pleased with himself for thinking of that, as he grins up at her. His hair is ridiculously tousled, and the overall impression could be very romance-novel roll-in-the-(possibly-literal)-hay, if he could just stop giggling and try to smoulder or something instead. But giggling's what she gets.
Sleep deprivation: it is real. The moment he begins to laugh, so does she. She can't help it. The giggles are as contagious now as they were when they were five. They probably always will be. They would likely never in their lives live this down and she doesn't remotely care.
Finally she hears one of the thumps, and turns, hair sweeping over his face like a tickling curtain before she spills toward one side, regarding her not-at-all-graceful cat engaging his finest hunting tactics: sit on it to death. And then, she's practically wheezing, grinning down at him even as she's tumbling down to finally collapse against his side with her head resting on his shoulder. "Oh, god," she chokes out, clutching at his opposite side as she's torn between the observation and the intensely proud look on Prince Prance as his prodigious flouf flattens a feather.
No, there will be no more attempts to move around just now. Or maybe for a few hours, really. Somehow, the giggling, shared, muffled in the closet, only seems to bring that utterly adoring look in her eyes out even more. This part was never in the books, and to her reckoning, the books will forever be the lesser for it.
Craning up her head, she presses a soft kiss to the line of his jaw, and her head ducks almost immediately after to bump her nose along the same line as another tiny giggle catches her off guard. "Pretty sure that's completely mutual," she murmurs, and there's a sincerity and warmth there that's reflected in the enormous breadth of her smile. "...think we're sleeping here. We good sleeping here?" She's not moving, and she's half atop him, one leg still sprawled over his hips, so the question is more of a pronouncement than an inquiry. Pushy Marchants!
So make that two things that she believed to be impossible proven to be wholly real in the past 24 hours: vampires, and knee-thieving stomach butterflies.
Giggles feed on giggles; this is well-known. And they probably never would live it down. They'll just have to hope no one heard that crash. Benefit of a ridiculously big house and all the fabric acting as sound-dampener in these rooms? Though the truth is that he doesn't care right now either, or wouldn't if it happened to come to mind.
What he does care about is the tickle of hair across his face that makes his nose wrinkle and the giggles entirely fail to subside, and the triumphant cat, and the fact that Mona's cuddled half-atop him and looking at him like that. The way he looks back is similar, if interrupted by a faint blush and a duck of his head as the giggles finally do start to behave, the smile as his gaze lifts back toward her oddly shy. It spreads further at the soft kiss, and when she bumps her nose there he turns his head, angling it to kiss her temple while it's just right there.
Luckily, he kinda likes pushy Marchants. "Can sleep here," he agrees, as though his input might actually be necessary, then hesitates. "Sec though." Wriggling beneath her, as he awkwardly pulls his arms out of the sleeves of the jacket. It can stay underneath him, that's fine. But down to the t-shirt, his bare arms can wrap around her, one hand settling against her back. He closes his eyes with a little sigh. "You didn't hurt anything?" he asks somewhat belatedly, but she seems okay...
Later, there may be things they need to talk about. Knee-thieving butterflies. Vampires. Breakfast. Right now, though, a few minutes horizontal and he's already nearing half-asleep. Tch.