"Do you not have any blankets down here?"

Stopping the tape at the sound of her voice, Lindsey spun his chair around, smiling sympathetically at his bandmate. Curled up in the corner of the couch, arms around herself, Stevie looked completely miserable.

"Lindsey?"

"Uh," he said haltingly, leaning his guitar against the console. "I really don’t know. I don’t think so?"

"So helpful," she said, her eyes narrowing at him, obviously waiting expectantly for something, an answer? a blanket to drop from the ceiling? A long, long time ago he would have offered to help warm her up himself but that wasn’t exactly an option anymore. Not in the same way anyway. But maybe…

"I could warm you up," he suggested, hesitantly, unable to stop a laugh escaping as her eyes widened and she eased herself up into a sitting position with unexpected speed. "Not sex," he clarified (and after fifteen years of marriage to another woman, he shouldn’t have to point that out to his ex), moving over to the couch and sitting beside her. Stevie was trying far too hard to not have any physical contact with him and had been for the past few days. He wasn’t sure whether it was because she really no longer craved his touch or because she craved it too much. Either way, he missed the way her skin felt against his and the softness of her breasts against his chest as they embraced. He wanted for her not to step away from a hug as soon as possible and for her to allow his lips to ‘accidentally’ brush hers instead of just her cheek. They’d always allowed themselves these moments, touches and glances that they didn’t have to explain away or justify. "Do you want me to warm you up?" he asked, trying to be as nonchalant as possible, casual, no, of course it doesn’t matter what the answer is. He wanted the answer to be yes. Yes, please.

"But not with -?"

"No. I have two arms though. And my jacket is warmer than that flimsy blouse you’re wearing."

Her eyes searched his face and he didn’t know what she was looking for and he didn’t honestly care overmuch. Because within seconds of him giving Stevie what he hoped was a reassuring smile, she was curled up against him, her head pillowed on her chest and a small hand flat on his stomach. He extricated his arm from where it was pinned between their sides and casually put it around her shoulder, noting with satisfaction how she emitted a happy sigh as his fingers trailed lightly over the skin exposed by the design of her dark green top.

"Okay?" he asked, touching his fingers to the hand on his midsection, taken aback by how cold it still was. "I still have no idea how you freeze so easily, Stevie."

"I have no idea how you stay hot so easily," she retorted, the words spoken into the soft cotton of his black T-shirt so quietly that he nearly didn’t hear them. He bit back the first thing that came into mind at that comment (she needed to learn to stop being so accidentally provocative) and placed his hand on hers, his fingers finding their natural resting place between hers. Much better. Lindsey felt her stifling a yawn against him and chuckled, letting his right hand tangle in her hair, the slight wave wonderfully enticing.

"Kit will call through on the intercom when dinner’s ready. You can have a rest if you want."

"Just s’bit tired, y’know. You work me hard." She looked up at him for a moment, her eyes sleepy and warm. "I don’t mind, though. It’s nice."

"It is," he concurred, kissing the tip of her nose and laughing as she stuck her tongue out at him. "So childish."

"Mmm, cos you’re so much better, honey," she retorted, her predictable attempt to twist his nipple thwarted by his quick reflexes.

"Go to sleep or I’ll kiss that attitude out of you."

"Tempting but you’re too good a pillow to let this chance pass me by," she replied, grinning up at him.

"Eloquent and flattering, Stevie? I’m impressed."

"Shhh, your voice is annoying me." She nuzzled back into his shirt, her hand dropping to his thigh and proving to be a delightful warm weight there. "Wake me up, okay?"

"Of course. Love you."

"Mmm, you too." And when she pressed a small kiss to his chest, he found himself stupidly hoping that maybe that call for dinner would never come and they could just remain here huddled together, gaining warmth and companionship from each other. Maybe they could just stay all through the long, dark night, embracing each other, embracing all those things they usually had to deny themselves. Denial was supposed to be a good and healthy thing (because she was an ex and he was married - and he shouldn’t have to remind himself of those two very fundamental, basic facts) but, in his experience, it only served to heighten his desire, his craving, his longing.

And so he indulged, holding her close and watching as she drifted into a deep sleep, feeling a swell of emotion overtake him as she clung to him the way he wished she would do in her waking, conscious hours. He wasn’t the only person in this room who lived a life of denial.

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