@joz-stankovich here you go! I hope you like it! Also, it is slightly NSFW, just for you ;)
Also, also, it is long, and I am not sorry. And, you can blame Hozier and Snow Patrol for the feels, all right?
“We shouldn’t be here,” Sara whispered.
Reyes put a finger to his lips, silently telling her to keep quiet. The smuggler was stealthy, but she could see the excitement in the slight flush of his cheeks. Or maybe it was the humidity.
“Seriously, Reyes,” she continued. “If Evfra finds out we were here…” Really, the more she thought about it, the more she thought Paaran Shie might be the bigger problem. Or the Moshae. Sara blanched at the thought, but allowed Reyes to pull her through the dense foliage of Aya’s jungle.
The trees were stout, with thick trunks and broad branches that blocked out the sun. They walked along the faint trail, dodging whip-like branches and vines, the humid chill of the dense forest clinging to the skin her tank top left bare.
“Where are you even taking me?” She asked as they clambered over a particularly large root structure.
“It would hardly be a surprise if I told you,” he chided. “Plus, this way you can claim ignorance if we do get caught.” He said nothing more, but took her hand to help her down from the large, protruding root they climbed over. Once she was on the path again, he didn’t release her hand, but laced his fingers through hers to pull her along after him.
They walked in silence, Sara trying not to let the looming fear of ruining the Initiative’s relationship with the angara just so her boyfriend could surprise her ruin said surprise. Reyes was careful, and all about control. He wouldn’t have brought her here if he thought there was any real risk. She hoped.
The sound of rushing water was her first clue. Though the jungle was far from quiet, with giant tree limbs creaking in the wind, and the Ayan equivalent of birds calling to one another, the roar of the waterfall was loud. She gasped as the sound registered, and he looked back at her with a grin. Her trepidation fell away as they stepped out into the sun.
The waterfall fell into a large, blue pool that trickled off in multiple directions via streams and creeks. The tree line grew into the water on one side, providing shade, while the rest of the pool was ringed in large river rock, except for one spot that had worn down into pale white sand. It was there that a familiar aqua and purple blanket was laid out with snacks and drinks waiting for them.
She spun to face Reyes, who had fallen back to observe her reaction to his surprise. “How did you…?”
He grinned. “I called in a few favors,” he said. He led her to the blanket, and then kicked off his shoes. His t-shirt went next, followed by his pants, until he wore just the black boxer briefs Sara loved so much. “The spot is ours today,” he said. “We won’t be disturbed.”
That was all she needed to hear. Sara stripped down, pausing as she reached back to unclasp her bra. “You’re certain it’ll just be the two of us?”
He raised a dark eyebrow at her. “You think I’d go through all of this and not be sure to have you all to myself?”
His words raised the hairs on the back of her neck and she unhooked her bra. She dropped it to the blanket, then stepped out of her underwear as Reyes did the same. She watched him, enjoying the view, and then asked the question that bounced around her mind relentlessly.
“What’s the occasion?”
He shrugged. “No occasion,” he said. “With Scott and Gil on their honeymoon we could use a small vacation of our own.” He glanced at her and smirked. “And I know how much you like skinny dipping.”
Sara groaned. “That was one time, when I was sixteen!”
“And yet, here you are, completely bereft of clothes.”
She rolled her eyes at his grin, but couldn’t fight a smile of her own. She took his hand and led him to a rock that jutted out over the water. The sun warmed the dark stone, and its heat on the soles of her feet felt so good that she wasn’t sure she even wanted to get in the water. It had been so long since her skin had felt the heat of the sun, so many months spent holed up on her ship or bounding from office to office to deal with finicky officials. She sighed. Reyes was right; she needed this.
She leaned in to him, kissing his jawline, and he hummed appreciatively. “Thank you,” she murmured. “And, I’m sorry.”
Sara pressed both hands to his bare chest and shoved him off the rock and into the pool. She laughed as he spluttered, cursing her in Spanish. He lunged for her, trying to pull her in, but Sara dove over him. The water was cool and the shock of it stole her breath. She broke the surface with a gasp, then cried out when she heard Reyes swimming after her. She laughed and they splashed at each other as she led him on a chase around the pool.
She’d always been a strong swimmer, she could have easily kept out of his reach, but it was so much more fun to be caught. She headed to the sandy shore but once her feet found the bottom she waited for him to catch up.
Reyes practically collided with her. His hands latched onto her hips, lifting her with ease to wrap her legs around his waist. She gripped his shoulders and dropped her mouth to his, eager to taste him after all the built up anticipation of the day. He carried her from the water, his mouth focused on her neck until he they lay down, dripping on the blanket.
He murmured against the skin of her neck, then her collarbone, then her sternum as he trailed down her body, his hands roving in contrast with the determined path of his lips. As his mouth wound its way even further south, Sara’s eyes closed and her vision flashed white behind her eyelids to match the glow of the sun above her.
Reyes was right; she really needed this.
He watched her lay on the blanket, the one he’d picked out just for her when he’d built the casita, and tried to settle his nerves. She was perfect. He always thought so, but in this moment he’d finally convinced her that she should feel that way too. The breeze was gentle, and now that they were dry it was sweet relief from the Ayan sun. It played with her still damp hair that was so much shorter than he’d grown accustomed to. Not that it mattered, her hair had been even shorter when they first met.
This moment, sunbathing and dozing in the sun, relaxed and sated, was perfect. He wasn’t sure he could orchestrate one better, which meant there was no time like the present.
He fumbled through his pant pockets, still piled on the sand, until he found what he was looking for. He stared at the delicate silver band for a second. It was simple, unadorned save for the subtle wave pattern engraved on the outside to match her family ring.
Looking at it, he suddenly felt foolish. He wasn’t even sure she really wanted to get married, it wasn’t something they’d talked about in any certain terms. There’d been plenty of talk about someday and after she was done being the Pathfinder, but his time on the Tempest with her had proved to him that they couldn’t count on time being there for them. If she was willing, he wanted to take advantage of the time they did have.
He swallowed down the anxiety that clawed at his throat and settled down beside her. Instinctively she turned so that her back pressed to his chest, and she hummed happily as his arm draped over her side. He held the ring out in her line of sight, but she didn’t react.
“Sara,” he whispered against her ear. His voice shook, but he ignored it. “Open your eyes.”
Her body tensed against him, and her breath caught in her throat. Even he stopped breathing as he waited for her reaction. She didn’t say anything for a long moment, but her breathing picked up, and he heard the distinct sniffling sounds of her crying.
“I don’t want to rush you,” he stammered. “I don’t know what you want, but this doesn’t have to mean anything more than you want it to.”
“Absolutely not,” she said through her tears.
Reyes’ heart plummeted. He’d had his doubts, but he definitely hadn’t expected outright rejection. “What?”
She took the ring from him with shaking fingers and slid it into place on her left hand. Then she rolled in his arms to face him. “You are not talking your way out of this one,” she said. Her blue eyes were so bright, and the green centers seemed to glow through her tears as she stared up at him, waiting for him to continue.
He cleared his throat, struggling to regain some sort of composure. “Sara Artemis Ryder,” he breathed. “Will you-”
“Yes!” The word bubbled out of her as she nodded, and he was so relieved that she’d interrupted him that he didn’t even argue when her mouth met his. They kissed, lying together under the Ayan sun, the wind rustling the trees as the waterfall roared behind them. It was perfect, there was no way Reyes could have planned a better moment.
And then she slapped his chest.
“You said there was no occasion!” She glared up at him, though her eyes still sparkled with unbridled joy.
He grinned at her, his own heart feeling suddenly buoyant in his chest. “I lied.”