*tink. Tink tink. TINK*
Sam's eyelids drag open like he's got sand stuck to his eyeballs. His glasses dig into his temple and the bridge of his nose at a weird angle, and he can feel his forehead pulsing back into shape from the flatness the window pane imparted on it.
He fell asleep with his head mashed into the glass and his trap open, a nice marriage between an old man and a kid on a school trip. Wonderful.
He curses barely above a whisper on reflex, his voice hoarse and unaware, turning his gaze more than his head towards Ruth, sleeping quietly on the seat next to him.
He knows she's probably awake. Nobody's that still and dignified when they sleep. Also, he'd always imagined her sleeping face to be more.. peaceful, possibly. Not that she looks troubled, necessarily, but Sam believes he's seen enough of her facial gymnastics to know that she can look more peaceful than this. Whatever that means.
Then again, what the fuck does he know. Maybe he's just buying himself some time so he's got an excuse to stare at her face without her knowledge some more. Maybe he's just very tired and he doesn't give a shit. Who knows. Who cares, mostly, but also who knows.
This is bullshit.
He clears his throat, her left eyebrow twitches and maybe he wouldn't have been able to tell, had she not tried to stop herself.
"Ruth. Come on, I know you're not asleep"
She doesn't open her eyes just yet.
"How could I ever be, with your glasses rattling away like a jackhammer"
His body jerks a little with the huff of laughter tumbling out of him, unexpected. He's gonna be sore when they get off this godforsaken wheeled can.
His smile fades, reluctant.
She stretches her neck, her chin drawing an invisible figure eight in the semi-darkness, and exhales, deep, through her nose. Letting the back of her head roll against the backrest to face Sam, her eyes open slowly, as if the two movements are propelling each other forward.
The natural light outside the windows has gotten dim enough that Sam can't really tell what color her eyes are, but he can still make out where the dark circle of her pupils start. He doesn't know why that particular small-scale event-horizon gives him a little jolt down his spine, but there you go.
He wonders, for a lethargic second, if he does remember what color her eyes are. She blinks. He does.
"Sorry" he half-whispers, his eyes prat-falling down the stairs of her nose, mouth, one of the slight bumps where her collar-bones meet, the last weak rays of sun like a tiny spotlight on it.
The laziest smile tugs at Ruth's lips, and her eyes crinkle at the edges as she mumbles something akin to "it's alright".
Her head naturally starts falling towards Sam's shoulder, as if the rumble and tumble of the bus has specifically been bumping their bodies around for them to wind up in this perfect geometric predicament.
In the split second gravity gives her to adjust to the physics of it, Ruth realizes her big dumb dome is too far down to gracefully retrieve it, so she rolls with it. And besides, everything is gloomy and hushed and she's too sleep-buzzed to care that much.
Sam doesn't seem to be spooked by the sudden cushioned warmth weighing down on the right half of his torso, but he pulls the breaks on his breathing all the same, like a child with a dove on his open palms: he goes to turn towards her, reconsiders, keeps staring at his own hand wrapped around his right knee, head firmly in place. Upright.
A minute goes by in barely stiff silence before Ruth breaks it.
"So are you nervous?"
A small crease pulls Sam's eyebrows together. His heart sprints into a light jog.
"What do you- about what?"
"Directing a live show"
"Oh. Sure. I mean no I'm not, why would I be"
"Well, it's a pretty different thing than directing a TV show or a movie. No cameras, no cool shots. You know, none of that stuff"
He chuckles her last two words back at her, feeling her neck twist against his shoulder, so she can shoot a look at him, before he registeres it with his eyes.
The sternness thaws away from her face instantly, the small quake of his laughter spreading to her body. She rubs her temple back and forth against the fabric of his sweater, both of them settling back into their previous position.
He sighs, traces of a smile still caught on his stubble.
"Nah, I'm not nervous"
He moves his head to get a strand of her hair away from his nostrils, breathes in a little too purposefully in the meantime. She probably noticed that, but honestly, fuck it.
"And besides, if one of us should be nervous that's definitely you. You guys are gonna be the ones that'll have to perform in front of a shitload of people. Live. Fuck-ups and all."
A second passes.
Ruth pulls her head up just enough so she can properly look Sam in the eye, fighting a smirk with little flares of resentment in her eyes.
"Are you trying to freak me out on purpose?"
He really wants to not be grinning like an idiot right now and keep up the act, but god damn him to hell and beyond if he can do that.
He gives a light shrug and does his best not to burst into giggles like a school girl, yanking his eyes away from hers and back down to his knee, bumping into hers every goddamn time the bus so much as brushes a pebble on the road.
He can feel her stare still on him though, so he takes a moment to calm his stupid self down, then looks back up at Ruth, twilight masking the warmth he feels pushing up behind his cheekbones.
"I'm not, I swear"
Complicity is the word he wishes would come to his mind while he tries to read her expression. Words tend to fail him when he's tired and distracted, his brain resorting to describing scenarios with abstract feelings or textures or shapes that he can taste in the back of his skull. He also wishes he could stop being so ridiculous, but what are you gonna do.
She huffs one more time, then puts her head back down, shifting her whole body just an inch closer to his, their knees and shoulders flush.
It's almost completely dark outside and inside.
"So you don't think we- I can do it?"
His voice comes right away, firm but soft enough that she almost misses it, behind a bump in the pavemenet rolling away beneath them.
"Of course you can do it, don't be ridiculous"
She smiles to herself, biting down on the skin of her lower lip.
Something in her chest feels warm, heavy with blood and a feeling that's like tightness, but that also pushes outwards between her lungs, trying to climb its way out of her windpipe. She exhales and hope Sam doesn't feel the small stutter in the airflow.
If he does, he does his best to defuse the puff of tension that that stutter builds.
"Do YOU not think I can do it?!"
A beat. A hiss. Then a quiet "Ehhhhhhh" makes its way uphill between the two of them, both starting to laugh before it can even achieve the desired and full sarcastic effect. A valiant effort none the less, he's gotta give it to her.
Ruth purses her lips and takes a moment to acknowledge what she's about to do, than lets her left hand slide from her lap to Sam's right knee, fingers tightening once before she looks up at him.
"I do believe you can do it, you know."
He swallows, very conscious of the way his breath makes the hair above her forehead tremble. He's never been so aware of the way she smells before. Or maybe he has but his moronic lizard brain can't remember right now.
Right fucking now, that's all he can process.
"Thanks Ruth" he croaks, and what is he doing trying to make his voice deeper so that it's.. what, 'sexy' enough? As if this bus is not full of other people, as if he hasn't made this very tiny mistake just days ago?
Because that went well, did it. Jesus.
Her hand on his knee speaks to him in another tone, though, and he doesn't have enough energy in him to shush it right now. Or he probably does but he doesn't have the energy to admit that he does and to actually go look for it in the jangle of his insides.
So he does nothing insitead.
Lots of things happen simultaneously.
Ruth's forehead creases with what seems like worry and a twinge of uncertainty. Her eyes dart down to nothing in particular. She pulls both of her lips inside her mouth and lets them back out, damp. Her hand crawls half an inch up Sam's thigh.
She speaks in their laps' general direction.
"I'm not taking advantage of you am I"
Sam pushes his chin into her hair, his lips brushing against the warm resistence of the top of her head. He realizes the tightness of his fists, his arms loosely crossed over his stomach. He relaxes his fingers.
"I wouldn't say so but it really depends on what you plan to do next, Ruth"
She breathes in and out, deep, slow. Her fingers flex against Sam's thigh, and she hears his throat move as he swallows right above her ear.
She knows he's tilted his face down, waiting for her to commit to what she's started. She also knows he wouldn't resent her for backing out now.
Ruth feels frozen in place and fear for a very long time, but she's aware of the microscopic movements her body is making on, seemingly, its own accord. She knows where the trajectory of her subconscious is leading her. She'll get there.
Wat she doesn't know is if she hopes Sam will be patient enough to wait for her or not.
It really is beyond him how everything that's on the bus, right now, is not shaking like a leaf, following the rattling pounds of his heart against his own ribcage.
At least her head is not laying directly in contact with his upper body anymore, or he's afraid he would have snapped her neck in half witht the sheer force of his nerves. Anticipation? Whatever this chemically eingeneered pressure at the root of his tongue is.
He has no idea which way to tilt his head. Does he close his eyes? Is she gonna close the gap or should he do it?
Will people see them? Is that gonna stir some shit?
Does he really want this or is he just.. just?
Of course he has to go and spoil himself that rare moment of anguish where you should just make your thoughts shut the fuck up, that peculiar pang you feel only before a kiss that means something to you. And you know it means somehing because there's the pang. And the pang is there because it means something to you.
Both Sam's pang and annoyance at his own spoilage of the pang itself get muted by the gentle double knock of the tip of Ruth's nose against his and her breath against his lips.
So he takes a breath himself, before closing his eyes in the complete quiet inside his brain and pushing his jaw forward just enough to kiss her, his crossed arms suddenly impossible to keep in place, unfurling slowly.
She's first to press harder before backing away to make it undeniably a kiss, signed and stamped by the sound of their lips parting, but it's just a formality to get out of the way before she can go back in, Sam's stubble scraping against her chin. She's not sure who's the match and who's the abrasive strip here though.
One of Sam's hands comes up to cup her cheek, a broad thumb brushing against her earlobe and catching Ruth completely off guard, momentarily snapping her out of her initial daze.
She barely has time to register the heatwave swooping down on her body before realizing she's letting her mouth open slightly, catching his upper lip between hers, his tongue burning a wet path along her lower one.
A soft moan jolts out of her chest, but she catches it in time so that it comes out as just a little more than a sigh, harmless enough.
It hits Sam right at the mouth of his stomach all the same, and he pushes his hand forward, to slide his fingers in the hair at the back of Ruth's head and slowly curl his fingers into a loose fist. He pulls her closer and can't help the low, short hum that escapes him when she opens her mouth, sliding her tongue against his for one, scorching hot second.
She sags forward and into his space, but her forehead pushes downwards against his to pull their mouths apart. She shakes her head almost imperceptibly, but far enough that Sam can feel her breath on his forearm, laying on her shoulder.
He can hear both the smile and the vague hysteria in her whisper.
"I- okay, I know"
She pulls away an inch, raising her eyebrows at him in the pale darkness.
"But do you?!"
"I- alright listen."
His hand stays where it is, the pads of his fingers combing back and forth along the nape of her neck, tracing the spot where two slim tendons meet the base of her skull.
Her eyes are as big and dark as the moon.
He keeps their heads close, breathing in deep so she does the same. He grabs the hand she kept on his thigh and presses it against his chest, looking into her wide eyes with what he hopes is the most uncomplicated expression in his oh so varied catalogue of expressions.
"Look. We're both very tired and excited and nervous and very very tired right now. Everyone is either sleeping or doesn't give a shit and you clearly have some sort of a boyfriend whom you care a lot about."
Ruth's brow furrows for a moment, but Sam's hands are way too warm for her to be able to elaborate clearly right now. She wants to look at his eyes but she keeps slipping down.
"What I'm saying is" he takes a break to close his eyes and touch his forehead to hers, whispering a curse before pressing their lips together once more because shit it might as well be the last time he's allowed to do that.
She kisses him back so un-reluctantly that it's almost impossible for him to go back to speaking words.
"What I'm saying is. This doesn't have to be anything. I mean it can just be what it is but we don't have to make anything out of it."
Her eyelids are back down to a normal level now, her shoulders not as tense. But there's also a small spike of.. something, hovering just above the bridge of her nose.
"Okay, what do you mean okay? Like okay you're okay or okay this is gonna come back and bite me in the ass okay?
Ruth laughs inspite of herself, inspite of the pointy tingle she feels spreading from her chest to her guts. She can't tell the slightly-bad feeling from the good-enough-to-almost-be-bad one, but she's not even sure it matters. So she shimmies and fumbles until she's almost completely facing Sam, hoisting her left knee up and over his right, catching him by surprise and probably making way more noise that they should be making in a situation like this.
He makes a show of shushing her and both of them huddle down as low as they can. They gradually settle down into a charged quiet again, half lidded eyes and faces so close that their breaths become a slightly damp cloud enclosing just the two of them, a shroud of body warmth.
One hand still tangled in her hair, Sam brings his other one to the leg Ruth has hooked over his, mid-inner thigh, the move maybe just a touch too bold, but Ruth doesn't seem to mind at all.
She huffs as she moves in, kissing him open mouthed, heated, a smugness in the slow circle of her tongue that she herself can't tell the origin of, and that shoots like an arrow through Sam's chest, his liver a burst balloon full of blood that comes crashing down, southward.
He shifts his hips, only to find the solid weight of her thigh right against the insistently growing hard-on in his jeans. He full-on groans into her mouth, grinding up into her, and her body follows the movement, a rising tide.
He tightens his grip on Ruth's curls, gathers all the air he can manage through his nostrils, and gently pulls her lips away from his, the wet sound of it pulsing between his legs. He clears his throat for dignity.
"Alright. We gotta cut it out."
They both look down in the darkness where their tangled legs are. "For now." He adds pointedly with a little crack in his voice.
She swallows, hands planted on Sam's chest and the joint between his neck and shoulders.
"Yeah. I really like these pants, you know"
They both laugh, trying to dissipate some of the vibrations still ringing so fucking loudly through their bodies.
Ruth half-smiles up at him, but doesn't really look into his eyes.
"Yeah. Yeah I do too"
"You mean my pants or yours?"
With his hand still dangerously high on her thigh, Ruth wiggles around in her seat to go back to an almost facing forward position, but her leg stays where it is, in Sam's lap.
She lets her head fall back on his shoulder again, tilting it so her lips brush the spot where jaw fades into earlobe.
"I'd say both yours and mine were at risk"
Sam sucks in the biggest mouthful of oxygen to block the incoming, strained moan clawing up his windpipe, his right arm now spread over Ruth's shoulders, curling around her neck.
The implication alone would have been perfectly fine, but she had to go and lightly blow it into his ear.
He manages to bite out a breathless "fuck" and keep almost all of his composure, but he can tell his dick is so angry at him that it's gonna take him weeks to make it up to it.
"Hmmm. No. See? Don't do that. That's exactly what you should NOT do if you care about our pants' well being. We clear?"
Chuckling, Ruth pulls her head forward so that her mouth stays far enough from Sam's naked skin, crossing her arms over her stomach, shivering when he presses a kiss to the top of her head.
Their cheeks are so fucking tired but neither of them can seem to wipe away the grin plastered to their faces, rolling towards Vegas into the quiet, clear night.