She was unaccustomed to the time change. Eight hours separated Seacouver from London, and when she had appeared on his doorstep two hours ago, it had already been past midnight in London. So now, Ami curled up on his bed, asleep. She lay on her side, her hands tucked beneath her cheek, her mouth slightly open. Plaited braids fell partially across her still face, creating a veil of concealment. Her soft, rhythmic breathing mixed with whatever slow song was playing on the radio which wove a magical spell over Richie and the apartment.
God, she was beautiful.
Richie's breath caught every time he looked at her. Every time he found himself staring into those doe eyes framed with long lashes, he lost his heart. The sound of his name on her lips was intoxicating, and her smile made him lose whatever tentative touch on sanity and reality he had whenever she was around.
He was in love, and he didn't know quite what to make of it. Or what to do about it.
Hell, he didn't even know how or when it happened. One minute, he had been minding his own business on a London street and the next - the next he'd found himself willing to offer up his head if it would keep her safe. Richie didn't know if he'd fallen for her at the airport, or at Cleopatra's Needle or - well, it didn't really matter. He had fallen for her. And he had fallen pretty damn hard.
And wouldn't it just figure? Ami was a child, really. She wouldn't approve of that description, none of the Tomorrow People considered themselves children, but the fact was that with her limited knowledge and experience of the world she was a child. Yes, she was eighteen, and she was taking classes at Cambridge, but, compared to him, she was still a relative child.
Innocent, young and naïve. She knew nothing of death, of destruction. Nothing except what Immortals brought with them and introduced into the world of the Tomorrow People.
She knew nothing of love either. Not the way that Richie knew love. Ami hadn't the slightest idea of some of the thoughts that sprang into his mind when he was alone with her. Well, maybe she did, she was a telepath after all; but she couldn't now how those thoughts affected him. She probably didn't have the slightest hint of how much restraint he placed on himself whenever he kissed her, or held her. It was times like those that he received a very plain, and vivid reminder that his body was still at its peak - nineteen forever, with all the perks and pains that went along with it.
He'd taken more cold showers in the past month than he could keep track of.
An innocent. Richie had a good feeling that was part of the reason he loved her. Part of it was that innocence, that purity that was so much a part of her. She didn't have the darkness on her soul that he did - and she never would. The Tomorrow People couldn't kill; sometimes, Richie got the impression that they didn't even understand killing. Yet, they seemed to have accepted it - at least accepted that it was part of who and what Immortals were.
Opposites. That's what they were. Sun and moon. Day and night. Water and fire. The two never touched but for one breathless moment. But when they did - there was always climatic change. The moon blocked out the sun; dawn and dusk gave way to breathtaking paint splashes across the sky; water and fire produced a bubbling and steam. When the two met, things were never the same again. Dawn never gave way to night and dusk never gave rise to morning; fire would always struggle for dominance against water.
Yet, the realization that they could never completely share one another's world did not change his feelings. Richie wondered if there was any power in the world that could turn a heart once it had attached itself to another. Being near her, spending time with her, was a drug. One that he had denied himself by his flight from London; one that he knew someday he would have to deny himself again in order to protect her and keep her safe from the vicious cycle that was the Game.
But not just yet. Right now, they had a few moments, and those were as precious to him as was the sword he carried with him always. Perhaps more so.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Richie brushed the braids gently away from her face. She stirred, but only slightly, turning her face into the warmth of the palm of his hand. She looked so vulnerable there, her head resting against two rather large pillows. So vulnerable - and so entirely trusting.
Richie wondered what gods he had actually appeased in his life to deserve her.
Stretching out, he lay down behind her, wrapping an arm around her slender waist. Ami trusted him, totally and completely and that actually created an odd warmth inside of his soul. He hadn't had much trust in his life before Mac and Tessa and he was still surprised to find it anywhere. But Ami did trust him; she trusted him to lie beside her and not take advantage of her; she trusted him to keep his often-active hormones under control.
He loved her. He was a lost soul, and he knew it, but God how he loved her.
As he rested his chin lightly on her shoulder, Ami leaned into him. She moved one hand from beneath her cheek to rest lightly on top of his own. Her words were murmured, laced with a heavy sleepiness. "Love you, too, Richie."
"Telepaths," he muttered softly into her hair. Then he tightened his arm around her and smiled.
Funny, Richie reflected as he drifted off to sleep, how opposites seemed to go so perfectly together.