She is a needy child. This is not born out of love, but out of need, and she realizes it. She thinks that he believes she needs this of him right now, and his hands are moving. She can't stop him, although she knows implicitly that if she tried, he would respect her. That knowledge is the only thing keeping her sane at this moment with his mouth pressed against hers and his hands on her chest. She doesn't seem to remember how to participate in these acts. All she remembers is how to be passive and let it happen. He pulls back and looks at her for the first time, and she wonders if her eyes are begging him to stop, or to continue. Brushing her hair away from her face with a feather light touch, he whispers that he's sorry, and that they don't have to do this. His tenderness makes her cry and he pulls her close and holds her as she begins to sob.
She has only known such gentleness in bed with one other man. Every other time in her life has not been about understanding and caring, but rather about passion and the act. She'd made a promise to herself that she'd never again go to bed with someone if it wasn't going to be about love, and she knows this is not about love. This is about need. This is about her being a needy child, and him being...something. She pulls back and reads the fear in his eyes and realizes that she is not the only needy one in this bed. He moves to kiss her forehead as the tears cease, but she clings to his hand for a moment long enough for him to read the realization in her eyes.
She is a virgin again, something she hasn't been since she was 17, which is just over half of her lifetime at this point. She is a virgin begging for a gentler defloration than she had at 17, at the hands of a boy who didn't know anymore than she had. That boy had thought that sex was all about passion and power, while she had been convinced it was about the secret tingling pain that felt oh so good in that sick and twisted way. She'd thought it was about the pain for years and years, and became as adept at inflicting it as enduring it. Until Adam. That had been pain without pleasure, that had been bondage, or at least as close as she'd ever been to such. Even though she'd always focused on the pain, she'd never been one for true experimentation. But now, now she needed to understand what making love was. She knew sex. She had once announced in the open air in front of compete strangers that she was great in bed. She did not know love. And as his mouth met hers again and his hands took hers to guide them into participation, she realized that this might be as close to making love as she's ever been. Even with Jeff, the only other guy who had been gentle, it had been more about proof of who she was, about the pleasure in the pain. Had they had more time, it may have eventually been about love, not sex, but she'd run before they could get that far. Now, as she reawakens under this new touch and finds that gratifying pain once again, all shivery and surprising, she thinks that she did not break her promise. This may well be about love, instead of need. The thought scares her, but she continues, clumsily. He had heard of her "good in bed" pronouncement and been amused, but she knew that tonight would not be proof of that statement. He kissed away her apologies as he relaxed next to her, his energy spent, satisfied. Whispering softly in her ear as he ran his hand through her tangled curls, he assured her that it was all right, he understood. She cried more because she knew it was true. He held her longer, until she almost fell asleep.
She may well have drifted off, since the next she knew he was guiding her to the shower. He sat on the sink in companionable silence while she showered, then left her to dress hastily in her most favorite faded jeans and an old button down shirt. The clothes hung off her still too thin body as she pulled her hair back, ready to face him again. He leads her from the apartment building they share, and into his car. She watches the night pass as they drive through town. They park at work, in his regular space, and walk down through the Mall down to the Tidal Basin. Sitting on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, there is silence full of words. The words she can't say, the words she isn't sure are true. It feels so cliché. As the sun breaks over the sky, she turns to him and starts to open her mouth. He shakes his head and stops her. "Not now. Let's not talk about this today." he pauses a moment, then says, almost shyly, "Some things can't survive in the daylight. And I'm not certain about you, but I think I might want this to survive. At least for it's first day." She nods. She thinks she too might want this new thing to survive its first brush with the sun.
He stands up and holds his hand out to her. She hesitates and he understands, gives her the moment to think it though. If she takes his hand, she is consenting to this newness, to seeing if they can nurture it into survival. She looks at him, and sees her whole life laid out in his eyes. The pain they've faced together diminished, their strengths combined, the love he's always had for her, even if not in quite the way they'd shared in the dark. She reaches out and takes his hand, deciding that sometimes love can be born out of need, and that perhaps it didn't matter that they were both needy children, that perhaps what they each needed was another needy child.