Out of Africa
SPOILERS: none if you're up to date
ARCHIVE: Yes please
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to NBC etc, no infringement intended
AUTHOR'S NOTE: First try. Practising for my first novel. Hope you like.
SUMMARY: A what-if post 'kisangani'
The lights seemed too bright and the city almost unbearably electric compared to the darkness of the country he'd just left. The cab pulled up at the familiar front door and Carter leaned over and paid the driver. Exhaustion swept over him in waves, but he gathered his bags and awkwardly got out of the car. Swinging his bag up onto his shoulder he ascended the steps to the apartment slowly and deliberately.
Letting himself in, he dropped his bags to the floor and moved slowly through each room. Images of what he had seen and done kept swimming about in his head as he stepped silently in to her bedroom. And there she was, as beautiful and peaceful as he had imagined her while he was away. He reached out and stroked her hair from her cheek. Her skin was soft and cool, coated with a thin film of the moisturiser she used each night. He leaned in and kissed her on the forehead, inhaling her scent and thanking god that he was back, here, amid this entire normalcy that only a few weeks ago he had spurned. Tears welled in his eyes. How could he have left her? He needed her so badly and she needed him. He sat on the edge of the bed next to her and put his head in his hands.
Abby woke from her dream with a sharp intake of breath and the distinct feeling that she was not alone. As her eyes flickered open she saw him sitting there. He looked tired and broken and she ached to make him better. Wordlessly she reached out for him. She noticed that he was shaking, and without removing her hand from his arm, she went and stood in front of him. He looked up at her, standing before him, wrapped in her white sheets, his eyes full of so much sadness. Abby pulled him to her, his head resting against her stomach, and stroked his hair softly till he stopped crying. Then she knelt down and kissed him deeply on his mouth, following with softer little kisses down his cheeks and neck.
She took his hand and stood up, he followed her in to the tiny bathroom, where she left the light off, but turned on the taps and begun running him a bath. He was too tired to talk, so he waited motionlessly, while Abby poured sweet smelling bubbles under the tap and went in to the kitchen to make some coffee. While she was gone he stared straight ahead, not really seeing anything at all, just thankful to be the one taken care of.
Abby returned a few minutes later to see John sitting just as she'd left him, looking shattered from the inside out. She barely remembered what they'd been fighting over. It all seemed so pointless when she looked at him. She wasn't there for him when he needed her, that was it, and she was sorry, but she would make it up now if she could, if he'd let her. She handed him the cup of coffee and he took it without making eye contact. After checking the temperature of the water, she turned off the taps. She took the coffee cup from his grasp and placed it by the side of the bath. Then she unbuttoned his shirt, pulled off each of the sleeves. "Arms up," she requested. He lifted them and she slipped his tee shirt over his head. She knelt down and undid his laces, pulled off each muddy boot in turn and threw them in to the hallway. After unbuckling his belt, she pushed his trousers down and gently asked him to step out of them. He did this and then, with his first voluntary movement since she had awoke, placed both his hands on her cheeks and stared in to her eyes. "Thank you," he croaked.
"It's not a problem," she whispered in reply. "Think of it as a plus that comes with dating a nurse."
She removed his boxers and helped him into the stingingly hot water. He lowered himself in gently, feeling the water removing the layers of dirt he had accumulated. Abby turned to leave the room. "Don't go," he asked, his eyes full of pleading.
"Okay," she replied and, unwrapping the sheets she was wearing, she stepped in to the bath and lay between his legs, her back resting on his chest.
He stroked her arms and ran his wet hands through her hair, as though he could not quite believe he was here and she was real. After a while she sat up and turned round to face him. She knelt up in the water and he could see how perfectly formed she was, her skin all creamy with a few bubbles frothing on her stomach. She kissed his forehead; reached for and filled the jug she kept by the bath and poured it over his hair. He wiped a little water out of his eyes and enjoyed the feel of her massaging his scalp with the shampoo. It was like she was scrubbing Africa in to the past. He felt another load of water pour over him as she rinsed the bubbles away, the dirt and the fear following, too.
Abby clambered from the tub and wrapped herself in her towelling robe. Carter climbed out after her and she handed him a large, fluffy towel to wrap round himself, while she dried his hair with a hand towel. She noticed he'd lost weight while he was away, but that it served only to make his lightly toned muscles more noticeable. She realised she was aching to sleep with him again. Two weeks felt like a long time apart, not to mention the lack of anything remotely related to loving in the week before he left.
She wandered out of the bathroom. Picking up his half drunk cup of coffee, he followed her back to her bedroom. The weight of his sadness was still with him, pulling him down. He felt a sudden need to purge his pain in her beauty, in something real and powerful.
Abby felt him reach round her waist as she bent over to right the sheets on the messed up bed. "Don't bother," he whispered in her ear. She turned in his arms and reached up to stroke his cheek. "Promise you won't leave me again," she asked, and suddenly she was the one needing to be saved. He kissed her, long and hard on the lips, by way of an answer. He tugged at the belt of her robe until it came loose and pulled her to him, feeling her hot, still slightly damp skin against his own. She moaned quietly in anticipation of what was to come. He kissed her neck and down to her chest, while his hand slid up her inner thigh till she moaned a little louder. Running her nails up his back, she caused him to shiver in pleasure, more so when she ran her hands down his front. He picked her up round her waist, and, kissing her all the while, carried her to the still rumpled bed. Abby shook off her robe and Carter pulled off the towel he had been wearing and pulled the covers over them to keep warm in the Chicago night.
They made love slowly, wanting to feel every sensation perfectly. They were fastened together: her arms around his neck, legs around his body and their eyes locked all the while.
When they were done, Abby slept peacefully in his arms as he stared wide-awake at the ceiling, feeling, for the first time in a long while, content.