Melody for Maladies

Three: After Sex

He didn't do much talking during the action, just some facial expressions, seemingly in pleasure, so much that his forehead crinkle and his eyes closed tight.

But I had wanted him to look at me.

How do normal couples do it? Do they stroke their spouse's face, kiss their neck while the frictional pleasure engulf them into the blinding oblivion of pleasure? Surely they'd call each other's name, hold hands and reach the peak together. Not like us, eyes closed, pure silence where the female softly cry the name of the male.

Do not be mistaken, our sex life is healthy. Three or more times a week. Bizarre, I know, but it happens. He would come home from delivery. At times when he's home from a trip of several days, he would climb into bed, under our covers, and kiss me softly, look into my eyes, undress me and finish it.

I wonder if it was his male libido needs, or him feeling neglected, but I'm not complaining. Love makes the mundane job enjoyable.

We've passed the phase of teenage love, when hearts race, faces flush and jealousy seemed romantic. Like the slow fermentation of fruit juice into wine, our relationship is changing into something else. Maybe it's a female thing, but insecurity surfaces at every juncture of the relationship between Cloud and I. Will I not be as appealing to him anymore? Will he not see me as what he did during our Avalanche days? At 29, I could vouch, with the eyes that projected lust shining my way, that I have yet to wither.

"There's a festival celebration at the children's school. Will you come?"

"It depends…"

Through the billowing steam from my mug, I inhaled the aroma of the coffee and waited for him to continue. The conversations between us had diluted from emotional chats about childhood promises, memories, Sephiroth, to Marlene and Denzel's schooling, phone bills and map routes for his deliveries.

When he didn't continue, I laid down the mug and sighed. "Find some time. It's not good for young psyches when they feel less privileged than the other kids."

"When is it?"

"Next week, Saturday."

It was his turn to sigh. "Weekends are the peak for deliveries…"

A careful sip of the coffee and I left the dining table. Before I walked out, he muttered, so softly I barely made out what he said. "I'll try."

'Try.' Maybe it was that simple, to try.

I hope he'd let me try.

Later that night, Cloud slept beside me, wordless. I wonder when did this tension slip in between us, tearing our harmony into solitude. We had always been together, but what was that suffocating loneliness? Did he feel the same way?

xXx

"Thank you, Cloud."

"What for?"

"For coming…"

Denzel had always been closer to Cloud. I knew it wasn't enough when I turned up for parent-teacher meetings, or school activities. He wanted to be closer to his hero. I'm glad Cloud went.

He smiled and ruffled the little boy's hair.

This family business… I want to try it out too. I stepped forward and linked arms with Cloud, joining him in ruffling Denzel's hair. The young man blushed and smiled at us. I know what he's thinking: Family warmth.

"I'm glad you came, Cloud!" Marlene squeaked. "Tifa always wanted you to come!"

I flushed a pinkish tint and hugged the little girl. "Was it fun?"

"Sure is!" She jumped happily, landing beside Denzel and hugging him from behind. "Denzel's here, Tifa's here and Cloud's here too!"

The children of the planet are facing an anathema left behind by the series of catastrophe: Meteor, sector 7, Geostigma, Deepground… I hugged the two kids tight in my arms and whispered a soft promise to always be with them.

In our world, safety and peace comes with immense price.

I turned over to Cloud, I wonder if he could recognize the slight pleading in my eyes.

'Can we cherish all these… more than now?'

xXx

When I finished tucking Marlene and Denzel to bed, Cloud was waiting for me in the bedroom. His hair was still damp from the shower, but his eyes were burning sapphire.

He was wearing nothing but a pair of checkered boxers, laying on the bed, arms crossed beneath his head. We had sex twice this week, so this was third.

I laid down beside him and shifted to fit into the crook of his neck.

"I'm glad you went."

"Did you suppose I wouldn't go?"

"You didn't sound like you were…"

He turned and moved his hands from under his head to stroke my cheek. "I…" He searched for the words but found nothing.

I signed and kissed him softly on his lips. This time, it was my turn to try. "You're not good with words, I know." I muttered against him and I could feel his body relax under my touch. "We… were getting used to each other…"

He opened his eyes and looked at me.

"Used to drink coffee together, sleep together, talk through silence, sex…" I softened at the last word. "We've gotten so used to these… how do I say this…"

He kissed my forehead lightly and continued where I left off. "So familiar, we became unfamiliar."

We've known about this, we just didn't confront it. "Yeah…"

He breathed in deeply, but I cut off whatever he wanted to say. "I want to know you again."

I rolled on top of him and touched his muscular chest. "The touch of your skin…"

"The feel of your lips…" A soft kiss against his lips.

"Your taste…" A slide of tongue against his lips, parting them. We meandered in each other's mouths, exploring as though it was the first time we're touching. He sighed softly into me and straddled me onto him, holding my hips. It's been so long since we've so meticulously …feel… each other.

The next few moments, we found ourselves fondling, teasing, caressing places we've touched so many times, as though it was our first. His hand on my breast, light as a breeze, my lips on his ear, tickling like a soft feather on his skin. It felt like hours, we explored the light traces of wrinkle on our faces, the cuts on our fingers from years of fighting, chipped nails to prevent injuries, scars left from our foes… everything there was to know about each other.

When he finally rocked into me, I nearly exploded.

The way his breath hitched and moans escaped from his usual silent routine, I knew he felt good, better than ever. It was simple sex, but it was a different experience. He was staring into my eyes, his eyes wet from unshed tears of joy and bliss. Mine was flowing down reddened cheeks between ragged breaths. His name was a torn cry when we came, together, filling me up, burning within me… our passion.

After sex, he rolled me into his arms, and softly mumbled the three little words he would always reword.

"I love you."