COLOR - A DEGREE OF DARKNESS
Leonid grumbled in his sleep ,murmuring groggily, he turned onto his side, hand automatically sliding on to the mattress to reach for his wife. Only to encounter nothing but cold sheets. Still woozy, he opened his eyes and slowly sat up straight, looking about the empty bedroom washed in the soft dim lights.
Confused, he rubbed his gritty eyes and turned to look at the bedside clock. 3:18 AM, it blinked.
Figures, he mused and sighing, climbed down and headed towards the terrace garden. As he had predicted, he found her curled up on the chaise, gazing up at the stars barely visible in the gleaming faraway lights of the city that never slept.
Not bothering to put on a shirt, he purposefully strode out onto the terrace and went to stand behind the chaise.
Smiling to herself, Natasha continued stare ahead.
"You should be in bed."
"And you should be there with me," Leonid retorted before leaning in to peck her on the forehead.
"I couldn't sleep," she mumbled, not quiet meeting his gaze.
Saying nothing, he walked around and stretched out next to her. Silently, she scooted over to make room of him and then curled into his side, tucked her legs left bare by her night shirt next to his and rested her head onto that perfect spot on his shoulder. In a move made graceful with practice, he wrapped his arms around her and started to gently trial his fingers through her unruly hair, trying to dispel the stiffness of her back and shoulders.
For a long while, the two of them stayed quietly cuddled in, letting the gentle breeze, fragrant with the aroma of night blooming jasmine wash over the two of them. Lost in thought and observing the kaleidoscopes of restful constellations that shimmered above them.
"You don't have to tell me about it if you don't want to," he whispered after a pause and felt the tension finally leave her on forlorn sigh.
Exhaling, Natasha draped an arm across his chest and snuggled into him.
"I just didn't want to wake you."
"You didn't have to," Leonid said gently.
"All you had to do was hold onto me."Unable to counter that, she closed her eyes.
"I'm sorry," she muttered against his neck.
"No, baby, don't," he said and pressed a hard kiss onto her forehead.
"There's nothing to be sorry about. I just wish you won't leave our bed every time you have a nightmare."
"I can't help it," she murmured and angling her head towards him, cupped his cheek. "You know it has nothing to do with trust, right? I do trust you, Leonid, I just..." She trailed off and shook her head, once again burrowing into him.
"I know that." He tightened his arms around her.
"I know you trust me, I don't doubt it. Not for a single second." He paused for a breath and forced himself to voice thoughts that nagged at his inside.
"What I don't understand is why you insist on hiding this part of you away from me."
"Because I don't want this darkness inside me to touch you!" Natasha scrambled away from him and towards the stone railing, taking deep breaths as she tried to calm her ragging heart.
Quietly, he walked to where she stood and wrapped his arms around her from behind, "Don't call it that," he whispered against her temple. "It's not a darkness, Natasha."
Sighing, she leaned back against his chest. "I beg to differ for its nothing but," she replied softly. "The dark obscurities of my blurred memories have covered everything I have ever had for as long as I can remember. I couldn't even save my brother from them," she said in a hoarse voice. "Every time I had a nightmare, I couldn't help but reach for him. But with you," she sighed and turned his arms to look at him with misty eyes.
"With you it's the opposite, Leonid. Now, when I wake up with a scream strangled in my throat, I just want to run. Run to a place where you won't be able to hear it." She buried her face against his heart, hands clenched across his bare back.
"Somewhere, anywhere where my past does not catch up with you. Can you understand that?" She tilted her head to look at him, imploring him to understand.
"My weakness almost smothered the lights of my brother's childhood. I can't allow it to touch you and affect what we are building here."
"Why not?" He countered gently, making her frown at him. "I have quiet a bit of a darkness of my own, too, you know. And it has touched you time and again." He cupped her face in both his hands. "Has it changed the way you look at me? Changed anything that hasn't been for the better? No, right?"
She shook her head. "That's different."
He arched an eyebrow. "Is it? How so?"
"Because... because it's... it's you!" Floundering she moved away from him and began to pace.
He leaned against the parapet and crossing his arms across his chest, frowned at her. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Just that!" She responded passionately and continued to pace back and forth, hands flapping in the air. "It's you... there are so many shades to you. Every time I turn around, I come across a hue I've never seen before."
Flushing a little, Leonid cleared his throat and shook his head. "That's... not me."
"Of course it is!" Scowling, she faced him now, hands clenched along the sides. "Even your supposed darkness... there's a... a fire to it. You... you're like a thousand rainbows," she whispered, looking into his darkening gaze. "No amount of darkness could ever diminish you."
Lips pursed, he watched her silently for a breath or two. "You know what?" He began sardonically. "I think you've lost your bloody mind!"
She gawked at him. "What?!" She scowled at him mutinously. "How dare you, you stupid beastly cat -"
"Don't call me that!" Very well aware of her churning temper, he reached out and quickly yanked her to him before she could flounce away angrily to look for something new to throw at him. "Shut up and listen. Everything that you just described, all of that is you. And no, shush, it's your turn to listen now, Natasha," he said in warning, wrapping his tightly around her waist when she tried to wiggle away. "I think that you are forgetting the man you are married to," he said suddenly and froze her struggles. "The one who's rude, obnoxious, snobbish and egoistical, remember?"
she tried to interrupt. "But that's -"
"Shut up," he warned again and continued when she closed her mouth sulkily and nodded. "I am the man who takes what he wants, consequences be damned, yes? The one who doesn't smile and isn't polite? My only saving grace is that my rigid smolder happens to be very sexy."
The roguish grin on his face was so infectious that Natasha couldn't help but chuckle. Smiling, Leonid rested his forehead against hers.
"I am a darkness sprinkled with diminutive beams of light," he whispered, looking into her apprehensive gaze. "You are a light tarnished with spots of dusk. I am not the rainbow, darling, you are. You are the gold to my gloom," he murmured, gently swiping away the lone tear that trailed down her cheek. "I, the shadow to your sun. Together, we form a shade and a tint. Two pigments on the opposite corners of a color wheel, maybe, but connected nonetheless." He gently cupped her face in both his hands. "And what you call darkness, I think of it as a refraction of sorts. One that just makes you that much more dazzling to me."
Unable to stop herself, she buried her face in his neck and held on to him. Sighing, he wrapped his arms tightly around her and pecked her on the forehead.
"Don't turn away from me, Natasha, don't hide yourself," he muttered against her. "There's no part of you that is not beautiful to me. No corner I wish to leave unexplored."
Sniffling, Natasha nodded against him.
Cupping her chin, Leonid raised her face to his. "Do we have a deal?"
A radiant smile glowed across her face as she looked at him. "We have a deal," she whispered and rising onto her tiptoes, gently set her lips on his to seal it. Linking her arms across his neck, she kissed him with all the tenderness she could muster, trying to tell him without words all the things she couldn't say.
Sighing into her mouth, he tilted his head to deepen the kiss even as he picked her up, making her wrap her legs around his waist. Mouths still fused together, Leonid tightened his arms around her and carried his wife to bed.