Word Count: 2478
A/N: For the description of Bobby, especially his strong arms I thought about the paparazzi pictures of him and his two sons, taken last year. ;o)
Library of Alexandria – reunion
"Ten pounds, Ma'am," the woman behind the counter repeated in English. I passed an Egyptian banknote and entered the huge area of the modern building complex. "When you visit the Library you must check your luggage," she added, and pointed to my shoulder.
"The lockboxes are in the hall in front of the reading room. You'll need one pound."
I rummaged in my completely disorganized shoulder bag to find my wallet again. I think I'd never been frisked so often in my life. I only wanted to enter a library. In the end I produced the gold and silver coin with the Sphinx. The woman nodded with a smile and I finally pointed my feet in Bobby's direction.
Freed from my shoulder bag and shielded with just his binder I entered the enormous room of light wood, glass and concrete filled with books.
At the counter close to the entrance I asked for directions to the newspaper and magazine section where I hoped to find Bobby with his nose stuck in a pack of new Smithsonian Magazines. But first I wanted to get a better overview. Therefore I slowly climbed up one of the endless stairs of the big hall, my eyes everywhere. Halfway up, a crowd of students passed me, but when I reached the top level, it wasn't crowded. Here and there, people sat concentrating on their books, papers or laptops that were open in front of them. A few stood searching on shelves.
Then I spotted him, my partner, Bobby. He sat at one of the wooden desks with the black blotting pads. A good lookout point, but his gaze was completely focused on a newspaper. I could observe him privately a little longer.
His face was concentrating but relaxed. It showed the same expression I had seen million times over the last nine years on the other side of my desk. Only the tapping of his foot gave away his nervousness. His cheeks and chin were covered with a short full beard. His more salt than pepper hair curled around his bronzed ears and neck. It was too intense. I had to support myself on the handrail.
Bobby turned the newspaper over. The well tanned skin of his upper arms tightened around the strong muscles. He looked handsome and healthy; like him but so changed. I took a deep breath and wanted to step closer, but my legs didn't move and turned to jelly.
Then he raised his eyes and saw me. I walked on air as I closed the space between us. Bobby stood up and went around the desk. I noted how his gaze lingered over my body absorbing everything. In the end his eyes rested on my face.
"You really came," he whispered, and panted for air. His liberation and relief was tangible. I nodded and bit my lips, "Yes, I…I had to. It's my city." And I passed him his binder.
Tiny alley – before sunset
"Careful," Bobby pointed to a quick and lurching moped. I pressed my back against an old, wobbly door to save my feet. We laughed in the blue smoke. What an amazing day. Bobby and I had so much fun. After we had visually checked each other for endless moments, he had shown me the whole library. We had talked and chatted about everything and nothing while walking around the old city of Alexandria. We had acted as if there hadn't been a five months break, but we hadn't touched the topic we both were nervously hiding behind our normal façade.
I didn't know if my gaze had rested too many times on Bobby's beard, but after a light lunch he had entered the first barber shop and had gotten a shave with a razor blade and warm foam. I had protested as the barber had reached for the electric shaver to remove the soft curls, too. "Just a little trim," I had pleaded. I wanted to run my fingers through his hair, digging them inside to pull Bobby's face closer. I had blushed under his intense gaze. Had he read my mind?
We had bought pita bread, figs, grapes and cheese on a crowded farmers marked. A bottle of domestic red wine we had bought in a dusty basement store. Now Bobby had the bag of food under his arm, but I still didn't know our destination.
"We're here." He surprised me and reached with nearly no space around my waist to open the red painted door.
"Oh!" There was still no touching. I'd imaged that we would fall into each other's arms at our reunion, had dreamed of uninhibited kisses. But there was no physical contact only endless gazes which we had brought to perfection during our partnership.
"No hotel..?" I whispered.
"A friend offered his unused apartment for my stay in the city."
I nodded and shouldered my bag.
The advancement began.
Five steep staircases and oriental kitchen scents brought us to the small apartment. Bobby opened the door and let me step inside ahead of him.
"Beautiful," I said, as I looked around. The cozy living room with high ceiling had whitewashed walls and big windows with weathered shutters. The whole room with the dark brown timber parquet was dominated by a colossal red couch covered in green and golden embroideries. There was a little kitchenette along the wall to the tiny bathroom. I could spot another door to a second room. I guessed the bedroom and my bottom lip trembled slightly. In front of it began one more steep staircase. It ended in a tiny door with a skylight above and showed a big wall closet underneath.
I placed my shoulder bag on a table which stood at the base of the stairs leading to the roof. "How long have you been in Alexandria?" I noted a black t-shirt over a chair and washed dishes in the sink.
"I arrived last Friday."
"This is really an amazing place," I said, meaning the home and Alexandria both, and sat down the couch. My feet hurt from all the walking.
"Make yourself at home." Bobby laid the groceries onto the countertop. "I'll take a quick shower and then we can have dinner."
"Okay," I replied, but stood up again, as he disappeared in the bathroom. I couldn't just put my feet up and wait. I would have too much time to imagine Bobby under the hot water. So I washed the grapes and figs and found a wooden plate and a sharp knife for the cheese. I wanted to explore the rooms a little closer, especially the mysterious door at the end of the stairs.
But first I risked a peek inside the bedroom. There was a big bed under a ceiling van – again hospital corners. I giggled about Bobby's organization even in vacations. A beautiful old commode with an offset mirror was the only other furniture. In the bottom left corner of the small mirror I discovered a photo, my loan photo. I swallowed hard. Yes, Bobby really took me with him on his long journey.
I turned around and left the bedroom to climb up the last ten steps. I pulled away the bar as I heard the shower starting. What I found was a feral hanging garden with a breathtaking view. I stepped to the northern handrail and saw the sinking red sun above the glistening Mediterranean Sea.
After a few deep and long breathes of the warm air, I got the groceries from the kitchen for the dinner. I also was looking for matches to lighten the candles. But I couldn't find any. I noted that Bobby must have left the bathroom for a short moment as I was on the roof because his jeans and T-shirt laid folded on the couch. Although Bobby quit smoking two years ago, I knew that he always carried a lighter. I browsed through the pockets and withdrew a red plastic lighter.
Back again on the roof, I set the little metal table between all the plants. I poured each of us a glass of wine and placed myself again at the handrail, waiting for Bobby. The white dress shirt and my hat had protected me perfectly the whole day from the sun. I didn't feel any tightness from sunburn on my skin, yet. Now I was safe. The sun kissed the sea and I slipped off my shirt and pulled off the hat. I shook my head and ran my fingers through my hair, as I heard approaching steps on the stairs.
"Your hair…it's darker," Bobby whispered behind me, „and even longer. I…I like that."
I began to lift my gaze from Bobby's naked feet. He now wore dark blue slacks instead of jeans. The upper part of his body was covered with a white dress shirt which he hadn't buttoned. His tanned skin over strong muscles, the slight chest hair and the white garment was a combination which killed me.
"T…thanks," I stuttered, and swept a single strand behind my ear. Just a short blink toward Bobby before I looked back to the sea. The hairs on my forearm stood on end as he got closer, also observing the horizon.
"It's the most beautiful sunset since I had arrived Egypt." Bobby's words lingered in the charged air as I felt a slight touch on my ring finger. A warm prickling followed the gentle stroking. Our fingers played whimsically with each other. Then Bobby's thumb caressed the pulse point at my wrist and I was out of breath. My legs turned to jelly again and I couldn't suppress the deep moan which escaped my throat. Our palms glued to each other and we held hands.
"W…we need to talk."
I nodded agreeing, but spluttered, "I missed you so much," First tears of relief moistened my cheeks.
"God, Alex." Bobby pulled me closer, against his warm chest and bent down. All the well arranged and million times rehearsed words were gone. The flame of the hand lantern reflected in his endless eyes and then everything turned bright. My hands covered his clean shaved face and my fingers fondled his smooth cheeks. Bobby's soft lips of his hot mouth placed a tender kiss on my lips. This time there was no innocence. There was a little reservation but so much desire and passion. "We really should…"
"Oh, Alex…" I drowned in the gentle playing of our lips. Bobby smelled so familiar but tasted so prohibited. I nibbled at the corners of his mouth and groaned aroused as his hands traveled from my face to my butt, cupping it. To intensify our kiss, I burrowed my fingers in Bobby's wet hair. I pulled him closer and as his delicious tongue followed the curves of my bottom lip, I opened my mouth and we reunited completely, better than every thought and dream about it.
As air was necessary, I snuggled my red face into his strong ribcage, tasting his warm skin. I pressed my body as close as possible against Bobby's, couldn't name where he ended and I began.
"We really need to talk," Bobby purred a little out of breath. I nodded. "I d…didn't want to disturb the mood, Alex," he murmured, and Bobby's fingertips moved along my spine, "but what's going on with Brian?" He held me by my shoulders and looked into my eyes, waiting.
"Good," he breathed relieved.
"Since March, eleventh." I lowered my gaze.
"Your wedding anniversary?"
I nodded and turned around, snuggled against Bobby's large frame and pulled his arms around my waist. He laid his chin on my head and we enjoyed together the amazing view of the purple sky.
"To make a long story short, we were not going in the same direction. I had the feeling that I just gave and gave and gave and he didn't listen to anything in return. Brian wanted children and my mind and body only screamed 'not with him'."
Bobby stroked my bare arms to comfort me.
"Brian didn't fight for our relationship. In the end it was an ugly break up."
"I know how much he supported you and how much comfort he provided to you," Bobby cleared his throat, "when our partnership…was on a knife's edge." He placed a feathery kiss on the top of my head.
"Yes…" I paused, "…but that is over." I tilted my head and smiled, biting my lips slightly. Bobby understood and pressed again his lips on mine.
"I'm so happy that you came to Africa to pick me up. I was so worried, that after the last letter I wrote to you…"
"The love letter," I sighed, and Bobby blushed, "The most beautiful letter I have ever received."
"Beside my confession, which was a huge relief," Bobby said, "I was full of fear that I destroyed everything we built up over all the years."
"No." I shook my head. "Nothing could ruin our friendship, even a confession of feelings. I know we had found a way to move on." I felt that the slight tension in Bobby's body disappeared. He had been carrying restrained stress since we had met. "So much has changed in the last couple of months and your letters." I sighed again. "It wasn't like the other breaks we had. You were around me the whole time. I can't explain it, but my emotions feel so good and right."
"Taking one step at a time."
I nodded and observed with fascination the strong arms around the upper part of my body. "Where have you been hiding these?"
I stroked his shoulders.
"It'd been a difficult time, mentally but also physically." Bobby shifted slightly and I knew that he tried to avoid eye contact. I searched for his gaze anyway. "You won't tell me much about your last months, right?" I asked quietly, and Bobby answered with a deep breath. I nodded understandingly and loosened from his embrace.
"I'm hungry. Let's eat our supper." But Bobby didn't release my hand and sadness shadowed his face. I slipped again in his soothing arms, lost in the power of his body. I got up on my toes and we kissed again. I felt Bobby relax and held him, reassured him.
"I cannot…not yet." His eyes were so far away.
"It's okay. I understand."
Bobby guided me to the table and pulled out the chair. His hands lingered longer than necessary on my shoulders. There was a careful gentleness because he was actually aware of his size and strength and the potential behind. I got a last gentle kiss behind my ear before Bobby sat down.
I took a sip of the smooth wine while Bobby cut the bread. "Tell me everything about the ATF and your new duties."