Summary: He laughs, the pleasure and the Word curling through his belly like they are the same thing.
Pairing: Justin and Iris
Disclaimer: these characters are not mine
Original story: Damnation by smercy / arenotvalid
He wraps his fingers casually around the mug; leaves his grip loose as the door rattles and Iris steps in, her cheeks pink. "Did you have a good evening?" he asks, his voice even. She does not turn to face him, faces the door instead; spins the lock until it clicks, presses her palm against the wood panelling. She tilts her head and exposes her neck, and the smile she gives him is greeting and fear and challenge.
"It was noisy and dirty," she says as he rises to his feet, and he knows what she means; imagines her in a dance hall, her feet light and her chest heaving, pressed flush against some stranger.
"And yet," he says; knocks the hat from her head and loosens her hair until it waves about her face.
"And yet," she breathes, and he grabs her hair in his hand: presses against her skin whilst she fights; as she weeps; until she submits.
He pushes until she forgets about everything else.
She whispers Alexi, and he kisses away her tears.
He watches her from across the table; the curve of her neck and the movement of her fingers as she eats the morning meal. The breeze blows the lace over the windows, and in the silence, the cutlery clatters. Her necklace swings back and forth: he imagines wrapping the chain around his fingers and puling her across the table; imagines her crying the sins for which he knows she will not sit penance, not unless he asks it of her.
He reaches across the table, loops the chain through his fingers, tugs.
Does not let go.
After supper, Iris sits in the parlour, her book in her lap. She hums, and from his chair across from her Justin listens to the words she does not say. He makes notes in a language they pretend they never knew, and hums along to songs he may never forget.
The world outside falls quiet as the cars drop away, and she drifts off to sleep, her head resting on the chair arm and her legs running the length of the couch. As her breathing deepens, he drops his paper to the floor, drops himself to the floor; kneels beside her, palm flat against her calf and his forehead against her thigh.
Later, he opens his eyes, and she blinks back at him in the bright morning light.
"Justin," she says, "You'll hurt yourself, sitting like that all night." She makes to move her leg, and he tightens his grip against her calf.
He holds her there, and he is trapped with her. The sun is high in the sky, and her stomach gurgles, and the cars rumble by, and still he kneels there, caught.
There is a knock at the door, and in silence, she waits for his example.
He thinks about not moving.
She says, "I think," and Justin slaps her.
"You did not," he snaps, and she stands firm beneath his tirade until he rages against her for old sins, for new sins, for sins she made him commit.
"Justin," she says, and he makes her bleed until she begs, until she relents, until she repents.
Iris cries, and her brother cries with her.
He listens to the murmurs in the church as he tugs the collar around his neck; shrugs into the cassock and slowly buttons himself in. "Justin," Iris says, her voice soft. "The people are waiting for you."
He looks up, meets her eyes in the mirror. "They are waiting for the words of the Lord," he says, stills his hands on his chest. "Could you help me with this button?"
She sighs as she steps across the room and slides between him and his reflection; her hands are efficient as she reaches for his buttons, and he watches the line of her back in the mirror. He curls his arm around her, traces that same line and watches as her body stills, her fingers curled around the final button.
"Justin," she says again. He kisses her ear softly, and she hisses; pushes him away. "They are waiting for you," she snaps, as if she is angry. He laughs, the pleasure and the Word curling through his belly like they are the same thing.
Her shoulders shake as she wobbles past him, and he holds his breath; presses his hand to his throat.
She rests her hand on the doorframe as she pauses; trembles as he pushes past her and into the adoration of the morning crowd.
He stands in the entrance to the Church, greets the worshippers as the file past. "Thank you for coming," he says to them; blesses them and smiles at them and wishes them well as if they are all friends, or family, or beloved.
The sun reflects into the Lord's house, and Iris steps past him, out into the direct light. She blinks in the sun; watches the worshippers as they walk away. "Iris," Justin says, rests a hand on her shoulder. The fabric of her dress is rough beneath his hand, and he rubs it between his fingers.
She steps backwards into the church before he can say another word, though they both know he would never need to. As he shuts the door, she shifts beneath his hand, and he feels the soft skin at the base of her neck.
She blinks in the half light as he presses down on her skin; doesn't look outside again.
Iris presses her palms against the table, braces her feet against the floor to stand and move away. He reaches across the space between them, wraps his hand around her wrist.
She stills; he watches her pulse beating at her neck, and listens to her breath as it hitches in her throat.
"Iris," he says, and she looks over at him, her face quiet, and calm. He tightens his fingers around her wrist; tugs once, and watches as she flexes her fingers.
"Of course," she says; answers the question he never needs to ask.
Her skin is warm beneath his own; he traces the line of her shoulder and breathes her deep.
She never looks away.
He would not ask her to.