“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Don’t be.”

He couldn’t be quite sure what he was sorry for.  This awkwardness, the length of time this had gone on?

I’m not sure Taylor knows either, yet she’s pretty clear that he shouldn’t be sorry for… this.

For putting her in a position like this, when she knew he was vulnerable and would have a hard time of saying no?  He didn’t get the sense that she minded.  If she had, he suspected, there would be some sign, some movement, some attempt to pull away.

Taylor isn’t one to let herself be forced into things without a fight.

Maybe he’d said it because it had taken him this long?

Perhaps… it’s been twelve Arcs since I started shipping you two, eight since she made her feelings clear…

But there’s no rush.

He dismissed the doubts and hesitation.

“Can we?” he pulled away slightly, and looked in the direction of the couch.

I recommend checking on the chicken first.

“Um,” her eyes widened a fraction.

“Not… not that.  Just-” he paused, trying to find a way to say what he wanted to say without putting her in a position where she couldn’t say no.

Pfft. Get your mind out of the gutter, Taylor. 😉

“Okay.”  She seemed to get his meaning.  She led him by one hand into the living room.  He laid down first, arranging the cushions into a makeshift pillow.  She took that time to remove the knife, the gun and the various contents of her pockets, placing them on the nearby coffee table.

Right, it’d probably be a bit uncomfortable to cuddle with those in there.

Once he was arranged, he was the one to pull on her hand.  Moving gingerly, as if she expected him to react badly with every motion she made, she found a way to lie across him without lying on top of him, her head on his shoulder, both legs draping across his pelvis, her upper body pressed against his side.  If he hadn’t noted that quirk of hers, how she bent herself at odd angles, he might have thought she’d be uncomfortable.

Maybe Taylor should consider becoming a contortionist?

Or maybe a fake contortionist. The audience thinks the contortionist is wearing a costume that looks like she’s covered in insects, but in reality, the contortionist is made of insects.

As it was, he somehow didn’t feel the need to worry.  He pulled her closer with one arm.

For days, he’d been seeking some way to get centered, to stop that downward spiral where anxiety and fear gave him cause to be more anxious, more afraid.  He’d hurt himself doing it, and he’d very nearly hurt his relationship with Aisha.

It looks like you’ve found the thing that helps center you.

He’d been trying to do it alone.  He’d needed a rock, an anchor.  If he’d been asked months ago, weeks ago, even days ago, he wasn’t sure he would have believed that was true, or that it would be Taylor, of all people.

You need to allow others to help you.

“The stove,” he said, starting to sit up.

Told ya.

Heh, maybe Taylor has used her bugs to turn it off.

“Handled,” Taylor replied, pushing him back down.

He looked over and saw the dials had been set to ‘off’.

By the bugs, like I was imagining? Or did she just do it when he wasn’t looking?

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