***Part Eighteen***
Word Count: 2,291

February 14, 1986

Claire sat in one of the chairs in the common room, feeling really depressed. It was Valentine’s Day and there had been no card, not even a letter from John. It was an incredibly stupid, selfish thing to get upset about but she just missed him and was hoping for something normal to come out of their time apart.

“What’s the matter?” Ashley asked.

“Nothing,” Claire said.

“Hmm, it doesn’t seem like nothing.”

“It’s not important. I’m just tired."

“Why don’t you go on up and take a nap then?” Betsy said from the other side of the room.

“Because my room is empty,” Claire said.

“Yeah, but you’ll feel better after a nap. At least go on up and change out of your clothes. Put something worthy of a Friday night on.”

“I suppose,” Claire said. She’d been close to tears all day for absolutely no good reason. It was a stupid holiday. She knew that. She knew no letter or card didn’t mean anything with their situation as it was currently, but God it hurt just the same.

She wasn’t the only one without a date for the night so they were having a singles party. Claire wasn’t single, but she was without a date so she’d attend. No couples were allowed. She wasn’t sure how long that would last, but it was a fun concept to try anyway. They even bought punch that wasn’t red to avoid anything tying into Valentine’s Day.

She grabbed her backpack, wondering at the odd looks between Ashley and Betsy. Was her hair totally messed up or something? Or were they just feeling sorry for her? She wouldn’t blame them because she’d been feeling pretty sorry for herself lately. Seven months was just entirely too long. It wasn’t his fault, she knew that but God it was awful not to at the very least hear his voice.

“Hey Claire,” Laura said when she passed her in the hall on the way to her room.

“Hey Laura.”

“You coming to the party tonight?”

“I’m planning on it, yeah,” she said. Unfortunately.

“Well, I’ll see you whenever you get downstairs then.”

Again with the odd look.

Had she done something wrong? Had their house mother written her up for something? She didn’t think so. She always tried to be responsible about her duties.

She opened her door, setting her backpack on the floor next to her desk before flipping on the light. And then she screamed. She thought she heard a laugh or two coming from down the hall so she knew she wasn’t dreaming or hallucinating.

“Not exactly the greeting I was going for, but I guess I know I have your attention.”

“How?”

She had no idea what she was trying to ask. Tears were spilling out of her eyes so uncontrollably she didn’t even try to stop them or bother worrying about her mascara running everywhere in front of him.

“Hmm, maybe we should start with simple things. Like hello. I missed you. Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you. Do any of those things jog your memory?”

She closed her eyes, absolutely certain she was seeing things. He was here. In her room. He’d somehow managed to get here without her knowing. How was that possible?

“Why?”

He closed the distance between them, closing the door behind her.

“Come here,” he said, taking her into his arms. She went willingly because God there was absolutely nowhere she’d rather be at this very moment than in them. He brushed his thumbs along her cheeks, swiping the tears away before lowering his mouth to hers.

She gasped before groaning into his mouth as their tongues met. She still couldn’t stop the tears from falling. It seemed she had seven months’ worth coming out all at once because more than once she’d wanted to cry from the absolute frustration of little contact with him.

“Oh God, you’re wearing a skirt, too,” he whispered against her jaw as he worked the fastenings on his pants. She helped him, too, letting him pick her up when he was ready before wrapping her legs around his waist.

“Fuck,” he murmured as he sank into her.

“Oh God, yes, please,” she said.

“Yes?”

“Oh God, John, that is exactly what I need right now. Just that. Like that,” she said as he pulled out and thrust into her deeply and fast.

He gave her what she wanted. She didn’t guess he minded her saying that was what she wanted. She had no idea when he had to leave, but she knew he’d make it up to her at the very least in a while. She tried her best to meet his thrusts, but it wasn’t as easy with her around him like this. His mouth was at her neck, sucking hard enough she was wondering if she’d have a bruise on top of the hickey. She slid her hand between their bodies, bringing it to her nub since his hands were kind of full and she could tell he wasn’t going to last very long. She didn’t want to last long either.

He held onto her after they’d finished, hands supporting her easily until she moved to unwrap her legs from around his waist. She kicked her panties out from around her ankle. She hadn’t even realized he’d gotten one leg out of them. He picked her up then, carrying her to her bed. A bed that she was very grateful now that she’d made this morning. She didn’t always. He set her down before joining her.

“Are we better now?” he asked.

She nodded, still unsure she was going to be able to string a coherent sentence together.

“You thought I forgot, didn’t you?”

She nodded again.

“I’m sorry, Princess. I thought this would be a much, much better gift than a silly card. Am I wrong?”

She shook her head, reaching for him then. She ran her hand along his jaw, feeling the stubble there that was way beyond what she was used to with him. No doubt she’d have some chaffing on her neck where he’d been leaving her the hickey.

“Yeah, I’ve been up for almost seventy-two hours now trying to get here by tonight so I haven’t had time to shave. Don’t tell my boss, okay?”

“I won’t,” she said.

“Thank you.”

“Three days?”

“Uh huh,” he said, nipping at her fingertip when she finally got around to touching his mouth.

“You must be exhausted.”

“I’m oddly rather awake at the moment. Give me a few minutes and I’ll probably crash and burn. If you’d taken much longer to get back here I probably would’ve fallen asleep.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No reason to apologize, Princess. If you’d known you would’ve been here sooner. That defeats the purpose of a surprise, though, letting you know in advance.”

“How did you get here?”

“Is that what you were trying to ask me before?” he said with a chuckle, grazing her cheek with his.

“Yes,” she said.

“Flew to Indianapolis. After that, I wasn’t sure what I’d do a bus or cab if necessary. I was going to walk here if I had to, but I met a nice woman on the plane who was coming here to visit her son. She gave me a ride.”

“Really?”

“Yes. She seemed to think it was fate or something I got seated next to her.”

“Maybe it was.”

“Maybe so. She said she hoped we have a nice Valentine’s Day.”

“Did she?”

“Uh huh. She asked me if I was going to take you to dinner somewhere.”

“Are you?”

“Can I get a nap first?”

“You can have as long as you need under one condition.”

“What’s that, Princess?”

“I get to take one with you.”

“I suppose if you have to you have to,” he said, kissing the top of her head.

“This isn’t what I pictured,” she said softly a few minutes later.

“Huh?” he asked. He was close to being asleep. She could tell by his breathing that he wasn’t far.

“You coming home.”

“What did you picture, Princess?”

“Certainly not having sex against my door.”

He snorted. “Well, it was the best I could do given how uncontrollable my urges are around you. But, hey, you want to climb on and do the work I think you’d find the necessary parts of me cooperative again.”

She turned onto her side then, sliding her hand along his chest. He had taken off his shirt, leaving his t-shirt on with his utility uniform pants still on.

“I kind of like this better.”

“Hmm. Those seven months haven’t turned you frigid have they?”

“No, did I just seem frigid to you? I just missed you.”

“I missed you, too, sweetheart.”

“Laying here with you is the best Valentine I could have gotten.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes.”

“I guess I won’t give you what I got you then. I can’t take it back, but I can find something to do with it I’m sure.”

“Funny man.”

“That’s me.”

“I love you, John. I’m glad you’re safe.”

“Me, too, Princess, me, too. Give me a couple hours to catch some shut eye and I’m all yours. I heard something about a party.”

“We can’t go.”

“Why not? I didn’t piss anyone off in the hour I was sitting in your room. They actually all thought it was pretty cool, were willing to keep you in the dark about my being here.”

“They did well. I thought I’d done something wrong the way they were all looking at me.”

“They seem nice, the couple I met anyway that I remembered from your thing last year.”

She laughed, tracing a circular pattern over his shirt at his chest. “The party is for non-couples that’s why we can’t go, and I don’t think I could pull off not being part of a couple with you tonight.”

“Oh, well, that’s definitely not us. You were going to go to a non-couples party?”

“Well, the other half of my coupling wasn’t here.”

“As long as that was the only reason.”

“It was.”

“That’s good because I’m too tired to beat anyone with a stick to get them away from you.”

“You should talk, meeting women on airplanes.”

“One old enough to be my mother.”

“You never know.”

“Do me a favor, Princess?”

“Anything.”

“Anything? Really? Wow.”

“Yes, anything. Name it.”

“Take my boots off for me?”

“Is that all?”

“Well, if you wanted to remove some of your items sleeping next to you that way would be nice.”

“I won’t keep you awake?”

“Honestly, I think I’m too tired right now, but when I wake up I will do much better than take you like I have no manners at all.”

“I don’t recall hearing me complain about it.”

“No, in fact I seem to recall you asking me to do something very naughty, Princess.”

“Shut up.”

“I will not. I didn’t realize such thoughts as telling me to fuck you occurred to you.”

“You do too. I’ve said it to you on the phone.”

“Mm, it’s different somehow.”

“Different?”

“Sure, our conversations over the phone aren’t real, kind of I don’t know fantasies I guess.”

“Should I take it back?”

He laughed at that. “Not on your life. I’d absolutely love to hear that again.”

“Hopefully not after you’re gone another seven months.”

“If that’s what it takes…”

“Don’t you dare go volunteering to be deployed somewhere.”

She slid to the end of the bed, working the laces on his boots before taking them off. She dropped them on the floor next to her bed.

“How long are you here for?”

“Until Sunday morning.”

She sighed softly.

“I’m sorry. It’s the best I could do.”

“It’s better than I imagined so I’m not complaining. It’s just not long enough.”

“It never is with you, Princess.”

She slid his socks off, too, draping them over the tops of his boots. She stood from the bed then, shedding the rest of her clothes before joining him.

“How many of your friends here are going to believe that we’re just sleeping in here?”

“You mean the ones that were hopefully not walking past my door a few minutes ago?”

“We were pretty quiet I thought.”

“None,” she said, drawing the blanket around them.

“I will make it up to you later. I promise. And then some.”

“You’re fine.”

“Don’t want my girl left feeling needy or anything.”

“You’re here. That satisfies every need I could have right now.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes.”

“I have one you could take care of.”

“I already took your boots and socks off. What more do you need?”

He smiled, shaking his head against her pillow. “Snippy. I see, I come back to snippiness.”

“What do you want, John?”

“I have everything I want right here, Princess. But I would very much like a kiss.”

“Another one?”

“One where you’re actually aware of kissing me? Yeah, I’d like that a lot.”

She leaned up to kiss him, parting her lips enough their tongues could meet for a minute or two before she broke the kiss. She found his jaw and neck next then his ear.

“I love you,” she whispered before kissing his earlobe.

“I love you, too, Claire.”

She slid her hand under his shirt a little, touching his stomach as she settled against him.

“Feels nice,” he murmured and she knew that was probably the last coherent thing she was going to get out of him for a while. Three days he’d been awake trying to get to her by tonight. She had no idea where he started from, but he’d ended up here and that was all that mattered to her.

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