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After all the excitement was over, Mary started calling him up at three in the morning to talk about nothing.
Soft voice in his ear, murmuring questions and not waiting for answers, echo of empty rooms behind her. Probably down in the kitchen while Ray and the kid slept soundly in their cushy beds.
Far as he knew, he'd only known the woman for a couple months. Weird-ass months, too. But he could tell his voice did something to her. She remembered them together. Lifetimes. Hell, centuries.
So she wanted to call him up and tell him that Aaron skinned his knee, the palm tree out back was dying, she could hear some bird singing before the sun came up, she remembered him floating on the ocean in the Miami moonlight and how pissed he'd been when the invulnerability slipped enough for a mosquito to bite him, did he remember?
Sometimes she got so quiet he wondered if maybe she was crying.
She loved Ray. She wasn't lying about that. You could hear it in the way she talked about him, not lovey-dovey stuff but how he stayed up too late and then drank too much coffee and she worried about him spending so much time in the car and did Hancock think it was true about cell phones causing cancer? You could tell she wasn't faking that.
Only she loved Hancock too.
It hadn't bothered him, being alone. Well, all right, it had sucked, but he'd been used to it. He hadn't been moping around like Mister Lonely. He had work to do.
But his place seemed different now that somebody had been in it other than him. He'd walk from trailer to trailer, touching things she'd touched, looking at things she'd looked at, and then the phone would beep in the middle of the night and he'd hear her voice.
She knew so many things about him that he didn't know about himself. Foods he wouldn't eat ("I won't?"), weird stuff he liked in bed ("I do?"), old stupid movies he'd loved ("I did?").
It was a shitty thing to do, letting her do that behind Ray's back. He knew it was a shitty thing to do. He could imagine how it would make Ray feel to know this was what his wife got up to while he slept.
But Hancock was too hungry for what she was offering -- the stories of the lost years, the knowledge that he wasn't really alone after all.
He didn't remember anybody ever loving him before. Not his fault he fell in love back.
One night she said, "Ray misses you."
"Hey, tell him I miss him, too." It had been kind of cool having a friend. That was something else he didn't remember. But it was tough on a friendship knowing you and your friend's wife were the only things in the world that could get each other killed.
"I could bring him out to your place," she said. "He should be safe there."
If she carried Ray out, Hancock would get to see her twice: once when she dropped him off, once when she picked him up. She was more streamlined than Hancock -- smaller, narrower in the shoulder -- and watching her fly made him think of some kind of little brown birds he sometimes saw in the brush, the way they'd go straight up at top speed and not even open their wings till they were almost out of sight.
And it would be cool to see Ray again.
"I'll pencil him in."
By the time Hancock had gotten up out of his recliner to say hello, Mary was airborne. Had to fly before she couldn't. He watched her till she was a speck on the horizon.
Ray had his hands in his pockets when Hancock finally turned back. "Nice place you've got here."
Hancock looked at it. The chair kind of stank, actually. "Peace and quiet. That's the main thing."
"Mhm, mhm, I hear you. Nice view, too." Ray shook his pockets, making something jingle. There was a long silence. He wondered if Ray even knew what to say to him if he wasn't telling him how to fix up his life, and then he smacked himself for being a jerk.
Ray could talk his way through any kind of awkwardness. It was his job. So they had plenty of small talk. It was just sometimes hard to forget that the only thing they had in common was that they were both in love with Mary.
"Yeah," Hancock finally said, looking out over the gold hills. "So I was thinking pay per view."
"I used to tell him about you," she said when she called that night, and then went on over his sputtering: "Years ago, before you ... When I thought I'd never see you again. When you were sort of my ex. I'd tell him things."
"What kind of things?"
He had a bad feeling about it, and he turned out to be right, because she said, "Stories, you know. In bed."
"Why the hell would he want to hear about your ex in bed?"
"It was a -- look, married people do that. Sometimes. You and I used to do it. Tell each other stories. Lovers we'd had, wild things we'd tried."
Married people did that, huh? It was kind of hot, in a weird way. "He's into that, huh? That turns him on, makes him --" and then he stopped, because this wasn't some unknown guy. This was Ray.
He imagined her lying beside him instead of Ray. Kissing him, telling him things. Married people sex -- no need to hurry, no wondering if you were doing stuff right. Lying there in the dark telling him about something Ray'd done to her, what it had felt like.
If she was his, it wouldn't make him jealous. He thought even if she was still with Ray sometimes, it would still be OK. It would make her and Ray into something that was sort of part of her and him.
Ray probably didn't feel the same way about it, did he? But if he wanted to hear stories, maybe he wasn't so different. "Why'd you quit?"
She was silent for a long time, and then she said, "It wasn't the same when he knew who you were."
Before Ray came back again, Hancock went and trash-picked a kitchen chair. He started to sit in it and let Ray take the recliner, but he got embarrassed about how much it smelled like his own sweat. So Ray leaned the straight-backed chair up against the side of the trailer and began to talk about something or other.
When he was looking off into the distance, telling the story of some touchdown in some football game that neither of them really cared about, Hancock was thinking about him with Mary. Looking at his mouth, the way his hands fell on his knees when he stopped talking.
Hancock told him about the chair, and about finding the trailers and carrying them up, and about how he picked this spot, and all. He tried not to think about whether Ray was watching his mouth.
When Mary came to get Ray, she touched down hard enough to send up a puff of dust. Her hair was all over the place. She used both hands to lift it out of her face. Seemed like a stupid haircut for somebody who was going to be flying -- the air currents were pretty serious up there. But then, she hadn't been planning on doing any flying ever again, he guessed, until he'd come back into her life. She shook her head till all that pale soft hair fell back, looking like it probably looked all spread out over the pillow when --
Ray was looking back and forth between them, head turning slowly. Something was wrong in his posture, but he straightened right up when Mary came for him.
Hancock looked at them together for a second. "Later," he said.
"So I been thinking. We should try some things. Experiment. How close we can get before we go all mortal. How long we got before it takes effect."
"We did that already," Mary said. "Around 1910."
"Well? What'd we find out?"
"We had about a city block. Back then. Or about forty-five minutes. It built up, you know, time and distance."
"Hm." Forty-five minutes was --
"But this time around you spent one dinner across the table from me, and that was enough for you to get a bruise. The effects -- it's happening faster."
He sat silent for a long time, thinking. For a place to be safe enough for them to be without superpowers, it would have to be isolated. If a place was isolated, they probably couldn't get back from it without superpowers.
Plus she was married to Ray.
"Hey." Her voice was sad, like she'd been thinking about the same thing. "Does your phone have a camera? Send me a picture. I just want to see your face."
The next time, Ray came with Tupperware. He looked around, probably wondering if there was a table, or dishes, or napkins. Shrugged and got a fork out of the pocket of his work trousers. "Couldn't let you miss spaghetti madness. Which, by the way, Aaron says he wishes you could share with us all. He saw you on the news."
Hancock had prevented a plane crash at LAX a couple days back. That kind of thing got attention.
"What did you tell him?"
"I didn't have to tell him anything, actually. All by himself he arrived at the conclusion that you're my friend, but you and Mary have a troubled relationship. Which in a strange way is not too far from the truth."
Ray looked like he'd like to have his arms crossed over his chest, if he hadn't trained himself to have that confident body language all the time. It had to suck to be him, and to be standing out here where everything reminded him and nothing distracted him. Hancock gambled: "So how's All Heart?"
That did it: first genuine smile of the day. "I had a big publicity boost a while back, as you know --"
"Nah. I don't read the business section."
Ray gave him one of those smiles with the downcast eyes that he must have learned from Aaron. Cute as hell. "Well. It's gotten me a little more attention. I've been able to run spots on some of the local stations, and a few smaller clients have come on board. Mosquito nets, water purification tablets. Still an uphill battle. The paradigm is unfamiliar. But people want to help. They want to change the world."
Then why's the world still the way it is? But Hancock didn't say anything about that. "And Mary? She doing OK?"
"Since you talked to her early this morning?" Ray rubbed his hand over his eyes, and his voice gentled: "Sorry. I'm sorry. I know I have no reason to be jealous. I trust Mary with my life, and I trust you, Hancock." His eyes came up at that, and Hancock nearly flinched away. Seemed like Ray's trust got heavier every time he laid it on you.
The kind of asshole who wanted to fuck his only friend's wife. Of course he was.
"Look," Ray said, "I have to be perfectly candid and tell you that I am having some difficulty with this." He'd lost some weight, looked like. Lines on his face were deeper. "I mean, I care for you, and I understand that you have very -- I mean, I can't make the decision that leaves you entirely alone in the world, Hancock." He was pacing, or doing this thing where he'd take a step off in one direction and then catch himself and come back. "And at the same time, I can't entirely keep myself ignorant of the fact that, bluntly, my wife is in love with you."
"She told you that?" He was trying to go for mild curiosity, but he was pretty sure what actually came out was more like raw hunger, and Ray gave him a look that said, Your honor, I rest my case. "No, no, listen, man, she's not going to cheat on you. She -- I mean, we can't. Not that we would, but even if we were the kind of people who would do a shitty thing like --"
"Not as comforting as you might think, Hancock," Ray said, "knowing your wife loves somebody else but she can't sleep with him."
"She loves you," Hancock said.
"She told you that?"
She tells me every day at about three in the morning while you sleep in your bed alone. He didn't say anything else.
"You're not talking to him about all how you miss me or some shit, ar you?" he said when Mary called.
Mary's voice went cold. "I have nothing to hide from my husband."
"You better have something to hide from my best friend if you're married to him and in love with somebody else, woman."
"I love Ray." Mary's voice was softer, with a little break in it, and, christ, it was just what he'd been asking for, so he ought to just shut up. "Do you know why I went to him when he was in the grocery with Aaron?"
"Figured he needed rescuing. Like he said."
That got a bitter laugh. "Right. Look, I hadn't seen your face for a human lifetime, and every time I helped somebody, I got a little more disenchanted. I broke up a crack house, and two days later there were different people running a different drug out of the same house. Some asshole tried to rape me when I went jogging. After a while, I got to the point where I didn't care whether they lived or died. A while after that, I was almost ready to kill them myself."
She just breathed for a minute, and Hancock thought about park benches and jail cells and booing crowds. "Yeah."
"So I'm in the grocery store, and I'm pissed off because some guy just tried to put his hand on my ass, and I take the turn too hard and my cart knocks a box of tampons off the shelf, and it knocks off another box, and they're all falling down -- yeah, he always leaves this part out," she said, because Hancock was snickering. "And he's standing there with Aaron strapped to his chest so all I can see is this tuft of blonde hair, and when he sees me, he drops both boxes of diapers and runs over to catch the boxes before they fall on me."
Oh, yeah, he could see it.
"Aaron wakes up and starts crying, and Ray rubs his hair to calm him down. He was such a small baby. Ray's hand covered up his whole head. And with the other hand he's still shoving tampons back onto the shelf, and he says, 'Let me help you.' "
She sniffled a little. "He saved me."
Ray had a bag in his hand the next time. "Mary said you like this color."
It was a button-up shirt the color of the inside of a sweet potato. "I do?"
"I guess she would know. It does look like it would suit you."
Hancock pulled his T-shirt off and put the new shirt on. It had a straight bottom, so he didn't have to tuck it in. He held out his arms, ready to turn and let Ray pretend to care whether it looked good on him or not.
But Ray was looking at him with his jaw set and his lips thinned out, and Hancock let his arms fall as Ray took three long strides, two to bring them face to face and the third to crowd him back against the wall of the trailer.
"You know what?" he said through his teeth. He smelled like mint and leaves, some aftershave shit Mary probably ordered from a catalog. Hancock edged back away from the bulk of his body, trying to figure out how the hell he was going to get free without hurting the guy. Did he think he was going to be able to beat up a superhero? "That's not really what Mary wanted to give you. What Mary wanted to give you would be more along these lines."
When his face vanished, it took Hancock a second to figure out he was on his knees.
What the hell was he -- But some part of Hancock already knew, even before Ray's hands were in his shorts, even before the shorts were open and Ray's mouth was on his cock. Some part of Hancock's body had adjusted his stance and let the wall take the weight of his shoulders, like it had figured out what was going on here as soon as Ray said Mary's name.
Christ, this was what she'd be sending him. He could feel it. Hot, sweet -- sincere. Tender. He shuddered back against the hot metal of the wall, easing his hips forward just a bit, and Mary -- and Ray took it eagerly, like he knew what he was doing and liked it. "Fuck," Hancock said.
"Pretty good mouth, huh?" Ray only lifted his face far enough to get the words out, a shock of breath on his cock, and then went back for another long suck, down and up and off again, knocking the breath out of Hancock like a punch. "Mary says so, too. -- Knew she had a little -- little more experience -- but she says it's -- sensitivity that counts," each phrase punctuated by a slick slide of his mouth.
Hancock looked down and shuddered with another shock of pleasure. Ray's eyes were closed. His face was red. He was going so slow, like he wanted to do this all day. He looked like he was praying. Like Hancock was some kind of god. He had one hand on Hancock's ass, squeezing -- squeezing hard, sort of moving the flesh from side to side -- and what do you know: Mary was right about that one. It was weird, but fuck, he loved it.
"Sensitivity," he said, and put his hand on Ray's face, and the feel of stubble under his fingers didn't stop him from coming like a bomb going off.
Ray swallowed. Of course he did. Sensitivity. Fuck. He stayed there on his knees for a minute, eyes shut and head bowed, and then he stood up and looked Hancock in the eye. "And now I'd like you to take me back to my house, please."
"Uh -- I can --" Hancock made a flailing gesture at Ray's pants without actually looking at Ray's pants, like there was some non-gay way to offer to make another guy come.
"No," Ray sighed. "You can't. I've carried my message. You can take me home, or I can walk." And he turned around and started walking away, down the mountain, more or less in a direction that would get him to L.A. in seven or eight hours.
There was no way to fly him home without touching him, but Hancock did the best he could.
When Mary called and said, "Did you like it?" Hancock laughed until he fell out of the chair.
He had to crawl around on the ground to find the phone where he'd knocked it under the ragged skirt of the chair, wiping the tears off his face with his dirty hands, and Mary was all making confused noises when he finally got back on, and he said, "Your husband gave me a shirt and a blowjob."
He could hear Mary's breath going in through her teeth, and then she said in a low voice, "I thought he was a little more intense than usual. God, I wish I could have seen that."
"You people," Hancock said, "are crazy, and I wish I had never gotten involved in y'all's crazy life."
"Did he kiss you?" Mary said. "He's a wonderful kisser, Ray is. Very focused."
"Do you want me to fuck your husband to make up for not being able to fuck you?" He could hear noises, like she was walking through the house with the phone. Walking from room to room, looking for the planet where the shit in her brain made any sense. "You gotta know this is killing him."
She didn't say anything, but he could hear her breathing. Fuck her, then. He had the courage, if she didn't.
"Don't call me any more," he said. "This shit isn't worth it."
Hancock stopped eight murders, thirty-one fires, one hundred and twenty-seven robberies, and one tractor-trailer collision. He watched a reality show about some family of losers so many times he actually started to care whether the squinty girl was going to get back together with the asshole that couldn't grow a decent beard. Hours of stupid TV that afterwards he couldn't remember what it was, and every now and then an All Heart commercial. He always watched those. Stupid: it wasn't Ray's face or his voice. He'd probably been the one to write the script, though. It sounded like him.
Sometimes Hancock tried to sleep all day like in the old days, but that didn't work so good without the Stoli, and if he drank, he'd wake up with the phone to his face, half of Mary and Ray's number dialed.
He thought about the velvety tone Mary's voice got when she was turned on, when she was remembering things they used to do together. About Ray's thumb stroking Hancock's hip, over and over, like even when his brain knew it was an attack, his body still wanted to do it sweet.
Mary still called him every night. He'd sit there with the phone cupped in both hands, like he could feel her, listening to the factory-default ringtone ping out its horrible tune until it fell silent.
Sometimes the same number rang in around dinnertime, and he thought that was probably Ray. Hi, how ya doing, miss you, buddy. Just don't ask me to carry any more messages.
After a couple weeks, Aaron texted him. HOPE UR OK MISS U U STILL GOT MY DINOSORE?
He threw the phone so far he was pretty sure it burned up on reentry. But he bought another one the next day. Just in case he decided to reply.
Back when it hadn't been too dangerous to talk, Mary'd told him she was doing some experiments on using her powers on the subvisible level. Stopping mudslides, directing lightning strikes, easing underground pressure before an earthquake started. She was good at weather.
Hancock wasn't, but he figured out how to make an EM pulse and use it to disable the engine of a speeding car.
When he got bored with that, he went down and got a bunch of the kind of guns the gangs used -- he was pretty sure that would make the evening news -- and screwed around with them till he could flick a piece of a paperclip with enough force to jam the firing mechanism at thirty feet. It took days.
Then he started spending a lot of time hanging out on fire escapes in South Central, effectively disarming every idiot he saw. They never even saw him. Probably thought he was a ghost or something.
That wasn't the kind of thing that ended up on TV. Preventive nonviolence. He wished he could tell somebody. Ray would be proud of him.
He wished he'd kept the old phone. He wished he'd taken a picture of the three of them.
"Working together." Montage of people piling up sandbags, smiling toothless African women in headscarves, little white kids dropping money in piggy banks, suits opening boxes and handing out pill bottles. Hancock knew each and every one of them by now. He'd given them names: here was Otis in his ball cap, shaking hands with a guy in pinstripes with a hundred-dollar haircut. Hey, Otis.
"We can change the world," the voiceover and Hancock said in unison, and the All Heart logo came floating up.
Hancock said, "This message brought to you by," but the voiceover said, "And, Hancock, if you're listening? Call. Please."
He sat there staring while the theme music for some stupid midnight infomercial came up, because you were really nuts when your television called you by name.
But what if that was a cry for help? What if Ray and Mary were in trouble, if --
He was on the front porch in less than a minute, scoping the area with one sweep of his eyes. Car in driveway, no sign of forced entry unless you counted where Mary had thrown him out through the front wall, no screams.
Ray came to the door in a striped bathrobe, carrying a big stone paperweight. Probably the closest thing to a weapon he'd allow in his house. He blinked when he saw who it was, licked his lips, let the paperweight fall noisily onto the table. "Hancock?"
"Got your message. You in trouble?"
"No -- oh," like it was just now crossing his mind that Hancock might have heard that as a distress call. "No, no, it's not an emergency; nothing like that. I just wanted to, you know, talk to you."
Now the adrenaline ebbed back and Hancock could relax. Ray's hair was all rumpled with sleep, sticking up on one side. He looked OK. "So we'll talk." Hancock took a step toward the house.
Ray blocked him. "Alone. In private. I'm going to leave Mary a note, and then I want you to take me up to your house."
It was cold in the air. Ray had on pajama bottoms but no shirt under the robe, and he was shivering under Hancock's hands by the time they made it into the hills. He kept on making brr noises for a couple of minutes until the residual heat from the day warmed him up. Hancock felt bad they hadn't at least stopped to get his slippers, but Ray when he wanted something was a force of nature. "All right," he said, and marched right into the first trailer.
He'd never been all the way inside Hancock's place before, and Hancock was the first to admit it was kind of a maze, but he walked with total confidence, throwing words over his shoulder as he went. "We tried option one, which was to attempt to keep the relationship between you and Mary at the level of friendship. I think we can agree that we did not hit the target on that one. We tried option two, which was to opt for no contact at all. I don't know how well that worked out at your end, but at our end there's been a lot of staring out the window and sighing, which I could have done without. And --" Hancock could hear him swallowing. He turned, and Hancock saw shadows on his face like he sometimes saw in the mirror. "And I missed you."
With only a couple of wrong turns, Ray got them all the way into the corner of the back trailer, where even Mary'd never been. Where the bed was. "Now, the obvious option three would be for the two of you to get back together, but the mysteries of alien anatomy rule that one out. So I'm proposing a fourth option, the one we were headed for before I unfortunately got cold feet and pulled the plug."
He seemed to think that meant something. "Which would be?" It was doing something freaky to Hancock's brain, having Ray in a bathrobe standing next to his bed.
Ray in a bathrobe, carefully turning his whole body to face Hancock, hands hanging easy at his sides, chin up, seeking eye contact. Hancock realized he was seeing Ray's presentation style. Ray had some proposal he wanted Hancock's buy-in for. "Which is that Mary stays with me and Aaron -- because she loves us; I truly think that. And I -- go back and forth."
Hancock could see Ray's pulse in the hollow of his throat. "You want to --"
Ray's hands made a hastily aborted movement inward. Self-protection, controlled by pure willpower, and Hancock felt like he had ice in his belly. Oh, jesus. He didn't want -- well, you couldn't tell what the idiot wanted. He wasn't here because of what he wanted. He was here --
"To carry messages from Mary to you and back again. Carry, you know. Anything you two want to send."
And it was just too much, because Hancock wanted -- it was nothing to do with Mary, he just wanted --
Hancock carefully unclenched his fists. He took a step forward, just that one intimidating inch inside Ray's personal space. "I'm not having any of this self-sacrificing bullshit. I do not fuck a man because I got a thing for his wife."
Ray's mouth went tight. "One of us has to be willing to do what's necessary to --"
"No, no, listen to me, listen." Hancock took hold of Ray's shoulder, still shockingly warm through the thin cotton robe. And Ray leaned into him. Jesus, his eyes went sleepy. Hancock hadn't been wrong. Relief nearly made his knees buckle. "I do not fuck a man unless I got a thing for him."
Ray was shaking his head, but his mouth was coming open already. Hancock kissed it.
Fuck but this was what he'd been needing, starving for. "Ray," he said into Ray's gasping mouth, scrabbling at his robe, hauling him closer in total disregard for human limits, because he had to understand, he had to. "You," he said to Ray's bare chest, shaking off his clutching hand, and, "you" to the snap on his pajama pants, and "you" one more time because not even Ray was fool enough to think Hancock was thinking about Mary with a mouthful of cock.
It was good, it was good, it was amazing. Ray was going to let him do this for him -- for him, not for anybody else. Ray was going to take it.
"Gotta save me." Hancock grabbed where Ray's hand wrapped around his own cock and turned his head, rubbing his lips on the smooth wet tip. He'd had no idea this was going to turn him on this much. "Save us. Every goddamned time."
Ray sucked in a long breath and let go to rub hands like greedy mouths all over Hancock's hair, his ears, his mouth where it was wet. His voice was shaking when he said, "Somebody has to."
Hancock opened his mouth wider. "Oh, jesus, jesus, Hancock," Ray said, more breath than voice, and then huffed out a pained-sounding laugh when Hancock went too deep and choked a little. "No, no, look, you can --"
"I'm a superhero. Fuck that. Don't even need to breathe," Hancock snapped, but Ray had one hand holding his face back and the other one wrapped around his cock, with only a couple inches sticking out.
"Just -- mm, yeah, like that -- christ, yes -- easy, go easy, Hancock; it's sex, not an endurance competition. Take a breath, for crying out loud," and he pushed Hancock's head back again, slow, so that Hancock could tighten his lips and feel Ray's cock go sliding slowly out of his mouth.
He was still holding Hancock's face away. "You gotta -- come on," Hancock said, nuzzling blindly for his cock. "You gotta keep saving both of us, Ray. You gotta let us -- let me -- christ, yes," because Ray had finally let him go, had finally threaded his cock into Hancock's mouth, and Hancock took it like it was something he needed to live.
"God. The way you look." Ray's hands were on his face again, thumb rubbing his lower lip where it was pressed outward around Ray's cock. "Do it slow." And Hancock did it slow, till he was tasting salt on every upstroke, till Ray couldn't find words any more, till his mouth felt softened and sensitized like it could come, till he had his left arm wrapped hard around the backs of Ray's thighs, and at last till Ray couldn't stop himself from pushing, grabbing, goddamned taking for a change.
He tried to push Hancock off instead of coming in his mouth, but super strength was good for something.
"Christ." Ray smoothed his hand over Hancock's hair.
Hancock shoved the pajama pants the rest of the way down. They were pale gray-green with a pink stripe running through them. "Mary buy you these?"
Ray's face went pink. "Yeah."
"Look good." He stood up, rubbing as much of his body on as much of Ray's as he could manage.
"She's, I'd have to say she's got an eye." He licked his lips, gave Hancock's sweatshirt an upward tug. "You, ah, planning to let me ..."
"Let you do anything you want, don't you get that yet?" He pushed naked Ray down on his bed and laid his fully clothed body down on top of him. "We're invincible, Ray. Ain't nothing we need but you."
Ray's hand went to a fist in the back of Hancock's shirt. He ran his other thumb in a shaky circle over the hinge of his jaw. "You've got me."
When the phone beeped, he was drifting, not really sleeping, with Ray tucked into a tidy curve against his side with his head on his shoulder.
"Yeah." He spoke softly, but didn't bother whispering. Ray was pretty much out cold.
"Well, you sound relaxed."
He couldn't help smiling. "Shut up."
Mary took in a long breath and let out a long sigh. "Is he asleep?"
"Yeah. Pretty much wore him out."
"Uh-huh." Skeptical tone. Well, she knew what it took. "I won't ask if it was good."
"Good, because that would be creepy."
"I wish --"
"Yeah," he said when she didn't finish. Yes to the kiss he'd never shared with her. Yes to giving her husband back to be hers alone. Yes to figuring out whether Ray could tell whose mouth was whose. Yes to everything they could only have at the cost of their lives.
"Maybe -- you know -- someday?"
He only remembered about eighty years. It wasn't enough. But she remembered centuries. "You getting tired?"
"I was," she said. "If you'd found me before Ray did --"
He rubbed his chin over Ray's hair and let his thoughts wander. Maybe one day it would seem worth it. Or maybe they'd figure out a way around it.
"Hey. Send me a picture?"
Even the flash didn't wake Ray. Hancock looked at Ray's head tucked under his chin, his own softened face. "This winds up on the internet, you're gonna face the wrath, woman. Words cannot describe."
"I can take you." There was a smile in her voice.
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October 11, 2008