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can't breathe until we're skin on skin

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As soon as she walks through the door, Stanley is on her. 

This isn’t particularly noteworthy— it happens at least once a week, where she’ll come home a handful of minutes after him and find him antsy and waiting for her. He will look up from the couch, where he’s hunched over the coffee table and his laptop and books, and be on his feet in a flash. Often, he crosses the room to meet her before she’s set down her bags and kicked off her shoes. 

What do you do, she had asked him once jokingly. Just sit and pine for me?

Yes, he had replied, deadly serious. Always.

And she’d had to kiss him breathless, like she’s kissing him breathless now. 

Stanley’s big hands clutch at her waist, then slide down to her ass, and he pulls her against his front roughly. She grins against his mouth while he gasps and continues kissing her, over and over, like he’s trying to swallow her whole. Their noses mash together harshly, and she never gets tired of this. Will never get tired of this, not even if they both live to be a hundred years old.

“Mm, Pats,” Stanley sighs, then tilts his chin to lick across her lips.

“Stanley,” she returns, and breaks the kiss to tug at him. He bends down obligingly, and she bites his ear firmly, the way he likes, and he gasps and moans gratifyingly. His hands flex against her ass and she sighs, then bites down his neck. He hunches forward eagerly, tipping his chin so she has more room to work. 

Laughingly, she sucks a hickey into the base of his throat while he pants heavily. “Let me set my keys down, sweetheart,” Patty tells him, and then bites him again. She’s in a biting mood, today, but Stanley won’t mind.

“Can’t,” Stanley tells her, sweeping her hair off to the side so he can kiss across her jaw.

“And why not?” She asks, sliding one of her hands beneath his shirt and the other into his hair. She pulls at his curls the same moment she digs her nails between his shoulder-blades. His hips jump against her stomach, pushing hard.

“You’re killing me,” Stanley moans. “You’re killing me, babylove, do you want me dead?”

“You’re so dramatic,” Patty giggles, even though she knows what he means. Sometimes, when she looks at him, she feels like she’s burning alive, feels like her heart will burst out of her chest and try to crawl into his because she loves him so much.

“Patty,” he gasps, and she crashes their lips together again.

Immediately, his tongue is against hers, pressing and twisting. She sucks on it, slides her lips against the tip of it like it’s a popsicle or something better. Stanley slides his hands around to her belt, fumbles with it for a moment, and finally gets it loose. He unbuttons her slacks in a heartbeat, sliding his hands under them and back onto her ass with a sigh of relief. 

“You’re ridiculous,” she says.

“I’m burning alive,” he answers. And then he kisses her again.

She throws her arms across his shoulders and pulls him down so quickly they almost collapse onto the livingroom floor. He thrusts his thigh between her legs and she pulls with her arms and suddenly he’s holding her, her legs around his waist. 

“Bed,” Patty gasps. “Right now.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Stanley says, giddy.

A fond grin steals across Patty’s face, because Stanley is always so smug when he gets his way. It’s endearing. It’s always been endearing. There’s nothing for it but to kiss him again, then again, and again, until they’re both clutching and pulling at each others’ hair and clothes, panting and moaning and giggling.

There is a universe where neither of them stop, and Stanley Uris carries his wife up the stairs in the late afternoon light, and then carries her back downstairs for dinner, and sits on their couch and puts together a puzzle until his cell phone rings, and then takes a bath and leaves Patty Uris heartbroken. There is a universe where that happens.

But it’s not this one.

In this universe, something tugs at Patty, like a hook beneath her ribs, and she pulls away after a few more kisses— maybe only ten more, or twenty. Thirty at most. In this universe, Patty wiggles out of Stanley’s arms and teasingly presses her hips against his, laughing when he groans in protest.

“Let me set my things down,” she says for a second time. 

Stanley frowns. “If you want to stop—”

“I would say so,” Patty tells him firmly. “And I don’t. I just want to set my things down, sweetheart.” She grins at him wildly, something right and almost magical filling her up until she thinks she might overflow with it. It feels, strangely, a little like floating. 

It feels holy.

“I’ll meet you upstairs,” Patty says, pulling out of Stanley’s arms. He lets her go, his blue eyes searching for a moment before that strange, wonderful feeling seems to take him over, too, and he grins, boyish and bright. 

“Want me to get ready for you?” He asks, eyes twinkling. He bounces on his heels and pulls teasingly at his tie, striking a pose. He looks ridiculous.

Patty smiles helplessly. She loves him, loves him, loves him. “Whatever you want, Stanley,” she says, feeling indulgent and so tender for him it just about splits her in half. “Whatever you want tonight.”

Stanley giggles giddily and swoops in to kiss her seven times before he turns and bounds up the stairs. Patty watches him go, a smile stretching across her face. Little by little, a weight she’d been unaware of carrying is lifted from her shoulders. When he trips halfway up the steps, she can’t help but laugh.

Caught in that magical, floating feeling, Patty watches him disappear— he glances over his shoulder at her no less than six times— and then yanks her jacket from her shoulders as she walks into the kitchen, throwing it sloppily over the back of a wooden chair. Stanley’s phone sits, abandoned, on the table next to their morning coffee mugs. 

“I’ve been thinking about you all day, baby,” Stanley calls from upstairs.

“You do that every day,” Patty responds, her voice ringing joyfully through the house. She slaps her wallet, keys, and phone onto the counter, fumbling with her earrings for a moment before sliding them off. She still gets giddy, still gets nervous and excited for him, just like she did at nineteen. 

“Today was worse!”

“How was it worse?” Patty rolls her eyes, jerking her watch from her wrist. It’s better to get all the jewelry off now, because as soon as they’re in the same room again, she won’t want to take the time to do it. 

From the corner of her eye, she glimpses a yellow blur. When she turns, there is a tiny, vibrantly colored yellow-breasted chat bouncing around their flower box.

“Because today I didn’t get to kiss you before you left, and it threw off my whole routine—” 

Patty lunges for his phone, half-listening. “One of your birds is outside the window!” She shouts, snapping several blurry and haphazard pictures before finally getting a good one.

“I don’t care!” Stanley responds.

Patty rolls her eyes again. “Yes you do!” She begins the tricky process of taking a selfie with the bird behind her. Several tries later, she has one she’s pleased with, and she sets it as Stanley’s phone background.

“Babylove, come up here,” Stanley demands. “Or I’ll start without you.”

“No you won’t,” Patty says confidently.

A pause comes. “No, I won’t,” Stanley confirms.

And then: “Are you punishing me?” Stanley asks, voice carrying through the house.

“Do you want me to be?” Patty returns, grinning and setting Stanley’s phone on the table again. After a moment, she powers it off— neither of them will want to be interrupted.

“Not tonight, dear,” Stanley responds, voice getting deeper, rumbling with laughter and something else, too. Something exciting and familiar, and she can’t stand being away from him for a moment longer.

“And what do you want?” She asks, half-giggling as she hurries up the stairs, then reminds him, "you pick tonight."

She says this last part as she rounds the corner and enters their bedroom, and has the pleasure of watching Stanley blush pink. 

“Baby?” She asks, eyebrows raised.

Stanley stares at her for a moment and then quirks one side of his mouth and raises his eyebrows back at her, up then down, very fast. An uncontrollable, irrepressible smile spreads over Patty’s face, and she barely keeps from pumping a fist into the air triumphantly. 

Stanley rolls his eyes.

“What?” Patty says, fighting to keep her face even. It’s no use: she can feel a flush creeping up. She pulls her shirt over her head to keep him from noticing.

“Well, that’s just not playing fair,” Stanley tells her, and then pulls his own shirt off. 

Patty laughs, because she just can’t help it, and wiggles out of her slacks. Stanley matches her, and suddenly they’re making faces at each other in their underwear, Stanley crossing his eyes and Patty sticking her tongue out stupidly. And then, like a rubber band snapping, Stanley squeezes his eyes shut, flexes his hands, and stalks across the room to her. Patty catches him, throws her arms and legs around him, and meets his mouth eagerly.

He tips onto the bed and they land on their sides, pressed together chest to toes. Stanley squirms closer, bare chest heaving already, and Patty can’t stop laughing. She doesn’t even know why. She feels like she’s leapt from the tallest diving board, hit the water with her lungs burning, and finally came up for air. She feels like she’s stepped off a ledge and found a surprise trampoline to land on. She feels like she’s climbed off a rollercoaster, head spinning, and realized the ground was sturdy beneath her. 

She feels like she cheated death. Like she dodged a fucking bullet.

Stanley grabs her, his hands swallowing her waist, and pulls her until she’s on top, cradled between his spread knees. She kisses down his neck sloppily, feeling half-drunk. He gasps and claws at her shoulders, then slides his hands down and unhooks her bra. Impatient, she throws it off and it lands somewhere near the window. When he buries one hand in her hair and uses the other to tug her panties down, she bites his collarbone then dives for a nipple. 

Patty brushes her teeth across it gently and Stanley trembles like he’s caught in an earthquake. 

“Patty,” he breathes, “babylove, baby, it’s— I’m— there’s something— it’s—”

And she knows he must be feeling the same as her. Skin too tight, and hot, almost itching with how much wanting there is inside, bursting to come out. How much need. How much love.

“Holy shit,” Stanley gasps.

Patty agrees.

“Inside,” Stanley says. “Inside, inside, inside. Come on. Fuck, babylove, I’ll beg.”

“You’re so needy,” Patty teases, even though she feels like she might explode just from looking at him. She dives for the bedside drawer and emerges, victorious, with the lube and strap.

“It’s my pick tonight,” Stanley says, trying for haughty but landing somewhere near whining.

“It is,” Patty says, her heart tender for him. “It’s your pick tonight, sweetheart. Anything you want.”

“Then get over here, angel,” Stanley tells her, and then keeps going, because he’s always been too charming for his own good. “Darling, baby, most beloved. Honeypie, cherry-sweet.” He’s half-giggling and half completely, bone-deep serious. 

She crawls on her knees to him, pausing briefly to pull her panties off all the way, and then climbs between his legs again. “Spread ‘em, Uris,” she giggles, trying for a tough-guy cop-voice but not landing it. Mostly, she just sounds in love with him.

“If you do another Voice I’m going to divorce you,” Stanley tells her. 

“Is that what we're calling them?” She asks, and then points out, “I get it from you. You do them all the time.”

“No I don't, no I don't, never mind.” Stanley makes a face, all screwed up like he sucked on a lemon, then shakes his head. “Ew.”

“What?” Patty blurts, confused, and then is overcome with giggles.  

Stanley blinks rapidly, frowns, then groans and covers his face with his hands. “Fuck that was a mood killer, that was— batshit insane, I don’t know why I said that." He looks at her from between his fingers, red and apologetic. "That wasn’t directed at you.”

“I love you so much,” Patty tells him, helpless to stop the words.

Stanley takes his hands from his face and stares at her like… Patty doesn’t know. Probably like she stares at him. Like the sun would fall out of the sky if he ever left her. She lunges up and kisses him, because she loves him so much she doesn’t know what to do with all of it. 

“Call me nice names again,” Patty tells him, licking across his mouth. 

“Honey,” Stanley says immediately. 

“Just like that,” Patty smiles, and Stanley shudders

“Darling,” Stanley says, when she kisses back down his neck.

“Angel,” he says, when she bites at his hip bone and pops the lube cap open.

“Babylove, please,” he says, when she presses him down and slides a finger inside.

Patty licks across the line of his thigh, which flexes against her tongue. Stanley’s legs tremble, tiny, shivering movements, and she slowly, gently moves her finger. Strokes in, slides out, presses and twists and searches until— there. Yes, there. 

Stanley moans, throwing his head back, and she smiles. She does it over and over again, coaxing him until he’s laughing, breathless, his eyes screwed shut and his hands clutching at her hair, pulling and then apologizing and then, helplessly, pulling again. She loves him so much she laughs and shakes, too. She can almost feel it, how good it is. 

After a moment, she pulls away and moves to grab the strap, but Stanley catches her.

For a long moment, he stares silently. Patty holds very still and waits him out. “Just you tonight,” he finally says. “Just us, Pats.” His eyes are bright and alive in the late afternoon sun, his hair almost gold in the light. He looks younger, younger by years and years, looks like the nineteen year old boy who sauntered up to her at a party, drunk enough to fall, and said, sorry, I think I’m in love with you. 

What? She had sputtered, confused and intrigued and already half in love with him, too. It was love at first sight for both of them.

I think I love you, Stanley told her, or, at least, I will very soon. And I couldn’t stand not telling you. I was driving myself crazy.

What’s your name? She had asked him.

Stanley Uris, he said, and something clicked into place inside her chest, something magic and very like love. 

They were married eight months later. 

“Just us,” Patty agrees, blinking very fast around a sudden burst of emotion. She abandons the plastic toy and pounces back on top of him, her chest feeling cracked open. He wraps his arms around her tight, so tight she goes breathless, and kisses her wildly. It’s all tongue and spit and heavy, panting breaths, like they traveled back through the years and stumbled into their teenage bodies. 

Stanley crushes their lips together then pulls back to blurt, “I love you more than anything,” and kisses her again before she can respond. She smiles against his tongue and then wiggles against him, a slow writhe, and he moans unashamedly. 

It makes her laugh. Her Stanley, quiet and serious but never shy. In another life, he would’ve been an exhibitionist, she’s certain of it. 

She had asked him about it once, of course, when they were much younger. He had frowned at her, as solemn as ever, and said, I wouldn’t mind it for myself, but I’m too jealous of you, babylove. I’d die before I shared you with anyone. 

Maybe a better woman would have offered to share him, would have offered to watch while he went off with someone. But she would rather die than see that— her and Stanley were similar that way. Are still similar that way.

Good, she’d said, fiercely. You’re mine forever, Stanley Uris.

A peaceful look had taken over his face at that, permanent and right, like a lock tumbling into place. After a moment, he had laughed, almost startled, like he’d surprised himself.

What? She had asked.

Did I ever tell you, I once wrote a letter to my parents, Stanley started to explain, winding his arms around her. They were worried about me when we first moved down here, thought I would be taken advantage of— get swallowed up by those corporate bastards. That they would end up owning me.

Yes? She prompted, confused.  

He smiled, so brightly and sweetly it reminded her of honey in the morning sun. I told them nobody would own me except for you.

Her chest had squeezed tight, had been flooded with love and awe. There Stanley was, vulnerable heart in hand, confessing something more intimate than anything she’d heard before. It had felt, in that moment, like a daunting task: taking care of him, keeping him close. Loving him. It was a blessing, and a heavy one. Something difficult and wonderful to carry. But it was never too much, he was never too much, never even once.

Her two Stanleys— the too-confident, too-breakable boy and the settled, sturdy, passionate man he grew into— blur in front of her eyes, blending together, circle scars matching up. She stares until he’s himself again, just her Stanley, her husband of twenty years.

“Oh, I do love you,” she sighs, gazing at him. 

He smiles at her, sunny and blinding. “I love you too.” And then he stares back at her for a moment, eyes twinkling, more carefree than she’s ever seen him. “But I’ll die if you don’t touch me soon.”

“Nobody is dying tonight,” Patty tells him. The words ring in her ears like bells, clear and sharp and joyful. Stanley pulls her down strongly, until their chests are flush. The carpet of his chest hair scratches at her and she giggles.  

“No,” Stanley agrees. “No, nobody is dying tonight.” He leans up to kiss her but she leans back, still giggling, wanting badly to tease him. Huffing, he flops back onto the bed, one brow quirked, his smile significantly more wry, and says, “only being tortured.”

“If that’s what you want—” Patty starts to say laughingly, but Stanley finally loses patience and heaves her over, rolling until he’s pressing her into the bed. 

“It is not what I want,” Stanley tells her solemnly.

“And what do you want, deartheart?” Patty asks him. 

Immediately and unthinkingly, Stanley blurts, “to love you forever,” in response, and her heart soars. His arms cage her, his eyes pierce her, and the late sun lights his hair on fire. He’s beautiful. He’s always been so incredibly beautiful.

Gently, softly, Patty reaches up to cup his face, her fingers stroking over his scars. Stanley leans into it, mouth dropping slightly, his eyes fluttering. She guides him down and kisses him, their lips pressing together easily. He presses harder, until their noses squeeze and their chins rub and she can feel his teeth against her mouth. 

One of her hands wanders down the slope of his spine and back to his ass, and he huffs and bites her. Patty smiles against him. 

“What do you want?” Patty asks again, but this time her voice is a whisper.

“I already told you,” he whispers back.

“You didn’t,” she responds, so quietly he has to bend closer to hear.

He takes a deep breath then sets his full weight on her, like a heavy blanket or a mound of soil, covering her completely. She takes it easily. 

“I want you to— it’s—” Stanley frowns thoughtfully and cuts himself off. He takes a moment, picking his words carefully and lining them up in his head the same way he organizes his puzzles. 

Patty waits for him. 

“I want to be inside you,” Stanley tells her. “But not— it’s— I want to live there. Under your ribs.”

“Oh,” Patty says, feeling like she’s been struck by lightning.

“Sometimes I can’t breathe until you’re touching me,” he confesses. “But not in a bad way. I’m not certain how to explain it.” He takes a moment, frowns thoughtfully for a while, and Patty smiles at him, feeling peeled open and tender like a fruit. She thinks maybe her heart is bleeding like an orange.

“It’s love,” he decides, smiling ruefully. “I’m sorry, I know I’ve already said that. Sometimes I think there should be a bigger word for it, because it doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s all I’ve got. I’m not a poet; the only word I have is love. I just love you so much.” 

Patty laughs. Not because he’s being funny, but because she can’t do anything else. Everything is so big in her chest, so expansive and emotional, that it all comes bursting out joyfully. “I love you too,” she tells him, for maybe the fourth time that night.

She'll tell him ten more times, twenty, a hundred. Whenever he wants.

He shifts against her, still naked, and hard enough he’s leaking, a puddle forming in the groove between her stomach and hip. Patty trails her fingers back up his spine, then down, and palms his ass again. Stanley traces down her neck with a single finger, taps twice on her collarbone, and then wanders down to her breast. 

His eyes twinkle and he grins, wicked and sparkling, looking like the best sort of trouble. “You want to know what I want, babylove?”

She quirks a brow at him.

“I want to fuck you,” he finally answers, and then kisses her neck sloppily, blowing raspberries and mouthing at her her wildly, and she shrieks with laughter. “And then I want you to fuck me.” 

“Now, was that so hard to say!” She says, then half-screams when he digs into her sides with his fingers, tickling her horribly, and she giggles for so long she cries. When he finally stops, he stares down at her, his face just as flushed as hers, and then rolls his hips a couple times, like he can’t help it.

Patty presses one hand to his chest, pushing him away and making eyes at him. They re-situate themselves, Stanley rolling back down onto the bed gratefully, his chest already moving faster. She climbs across his lap, straddling him easily, and rubs herself against his stomach a couple times, just because she wants to. Just because it feels good, and drives him wild. Sure enough, Stanley squeezes his eyes shut as his mouth drops open, his eyebrows lifting together. He’s so expressive, her sweetheart. Her only love. 

Slowly, Patty rocks her hips while her hands trip down her chest and over her stomach. She slides two fingers down and around, sparks shooting up her spine. Her hips move again and she sighs. Under her, Stanley trembles, and when she looks at him he’s staring at her, holding still like he’s afraid he’ll startle her into flying away.

Patty bends down the same moment he tips up, and their mouths meet in the middle. On a whim, she collapses to the side, and he almost tumbles over after her. She rolls until she’s half on her back, her head tipped so she can see his face. There’s less space between them, this way, and she wants that desperately. Wants all that empty air gone. Stanley seems to agree because he rolls in closer, tossing her thigh over his hip. Twisting slightly for a better angle, she squirms into him. And then, easy as anything, the way it’s always been, Stanley slides into her body. Slides home.

Stanley shudders all over, a long noise rumbling out of him. Patty smiles, her eyes slipping closed. Finally, finally: skin under skin, him inside her, one of the best things she knows. She gives him a moment, because he always needs one, and they breathe in unison. 

They’re squeezed together everywhere, and Stanley buries his nose in her neck. She tips up until she can kiss over his face, and he squeezes her tight, arms flexing. His hips twitch, once, helplessly, and she smiles.

“Ready?” He asks, half-laughing, trembling eagerly.

Patty reaches back and knots one hand in his hair, slips her other hand into one of his, and breathes deep. She can feel him in her throat. “Move,” she tells him, and he listens beautifully. He always does. 

A deep, powerful rocking starts, Stanley flexing from his hips and thighs and core. This part always feels wonderfully embarrassing: the movement of it, obvious and desperate, can’t be mistaken for anything else. He humps into her, and she moves back, and it’s fucking. They’re fucking, clawing closer and gasping. Stanley pulls her tighter against him, his hand twisting out from under hers and sliding down her stomach to her clit. She clenches her hand in his curls and he bites her neck. They both pant, and twitch, and moan, their hips hitting together, almost smacking. They’re fucking; it can’t be called anything else.

But it’s not without love. No, there’s so much love in this it fills Patty up, winds her tighter and tighter until she’s close to exploding. 

“Stanley, fuck baby, sweetheart,” Patty breathes. “Just like that. Just like that, you feel so good.” 

When she speaks, his hips slam into her particularly hard, and his fingers slip a little on her clit, and he groans against her neck. Patty smiles, her eyes squeezed shut, gasping with the feeling. 

“Oh, sweetheart, just like this,” Patty tells him. “You’re so good.” 

He lets out something near a whimper and humps his hips up hard, his nose pressing almost painfully into the dip of her shoulder. 

“You first,” he says, but the words come out shaking, and tremble into a question instead of a statement. “Pats?”

“Me first,” she tells him firmly, her voice bouncing with the movement of their hips, which are rolling together powerfully. “Touch me, baby, you can do it.” 

Stanley breathes out hard, and then takes a deep breath, centering himself. Patty smiles and leans into the feeling, focusing on the way his fingers rub in circles, focusing on the feeling of him inside her, the angle shifting until it’s perfect, perfect, right there, Stanley, baby, fuck; right there— 

She gasps, goes tight, and then the feeling sweeps over her in a wave, pulling her under until she’s drowning, rocking and trembling. He moves her through it, hard and punishing and then gentler, gentler, until he’s still and shaking inside her. Stanley smacks desperate, loving kisses against her neck and shoulder while she breathes and comes back to herself. 

“Fuck,” Patty says, then laughs. 

“Good?” Stanley asks, and she can feel the curve of his smug smile against her skin. He slides the hand that was on her clit up, cupping her breast soothingly. 

“The best,” she tells him, enjoying the way he twitches a little at the words. 

Gingerly, she edges away from him until he slides out of her. They both gasp, her at the empty feeling and him at the motion itself. She turns to face him fully, and looks him up and down approvingly. His curls are a riot on his head, his eyes blown wide, his cheeks red and shining with sweat. Her eyes travel down indulgently, over his arms and chest, lingering on his heaving stomach, then fixing on his cock: straining and shiny-wet, beads pearling at the tip and rolling down slowly. Patty licks her lips. 

“You’ll kill me,” Stanley tells her, screwing his eyes shut. His hips jump and push against nothing, and he bites down on his bottom lip.

She grins wildly and opens her mouth.

“Don’t say it,” he sighs, but he’s smiling, so Patty ignores him.

“Only a little death!” Patty cheers, shimmying a little, and Stanley huffs indulgently before he laughs, because he always laughs at her jokes, even when he doesn’t want to. She lays one hand on his chest, stroking her fingers through the thick hair there. “Lay back, sweetheart, you’ve been so good to me. It’s your turn.”

Relief paints over his face, and she laughs again while he falls over himself trying to get situated. He fumbles for a pillow, setting it beneath his hips before pulling a second beneath his head. After a moment, he folds his hands primly across his chest. 

It’s impossible, how much she loves him. It’s wonderful. 

Stanley stares at her eagerly, chewing on his lips and fighting a smile. Patty crawls to him, hands and knees, and clumsily edges between his legs, settling on her stomach. She pulls the lube back over and snaps the lid back open, kissing his thighs over and over. They tremble when she touches them. 

When her fingers are slick, she shoulders further between his legs, kissing over his stomach before licking the tip of his cock. 

A wild groan tears out of him. His legs move like he wants to clamp them together, but he holds still, his hands twisting in the sheets. Sensitive, she reminds herself. Careful, now, Patty. Gently. Don’t hurt him. 

She slides her fingers down, rubs them tenderly and encouragingly across him, until she slips up and in easily. In the same moment, she sets her mouth back on him, tonguing against the slit of his cock, and Stanley twists his fingers in the sheets. His knees clamp together around her shoulders briefly before he forces himself to relax. 

“Ba-by-love, uh,” he says, all the syllables emphasized, almost stuttered. Eyes closed tightly, he licks his lips, chest rising and falling quickly. 

Oh, but she loves him. She loves, loves, loves him. “You lay back, lover. I’ve got you.”

He laughs, half a moan. 

Patty leans down and gets to work.

Soon enough, everything is wet and slipping, spit down her chin and lube down her wrist. Patty flexes her fingers, pumping and searching, finding that spot again and then rubbing it over and over. She relaxes into a rhythm, bobbing her head, sucking on the stroke up and cupping her tongue against him on the slide back down. 

Stanley gets very loud, very quickly. He always has, from their very first time: all sweet words and sweeter, more muffled noises, and then harsher gasps and moans as he falls further into the feeling. At his end, he always shakes all over, jittery, gasping and crying out. It’s flattering every time. 

Patty works at him patiently, stroking her lips and tongue over him soothingly, slow and steady, and rubs him in lazy circles deep inside. She loves doing this for him, every part of it. Loves the stretch of her lips, loves the way he clenches around her fingers, loves the way he looks at her, like he’s being swallowed whole. She loves to love him.

“Patty, Patty, shit, Pats,” Stanley says. He says her name like it’s special, and Patty twists her fingers inside him. 

She builds the rhythm up little by little, enjoying herself, and Stanley lets her. He lays back and lets her do whatever she wants without complaining, even while he shakes and laughs and fists his fingers in the sheets. The sunlight coming through their window lights him up, paints him over in shades of yellow and orange.

After a while, Stanley starts shaking and thrusting up against her, trying to get her fingers deeper, trying to get further inside her mouth. His heels slip against the bed and he throws one hand into his hair, pulling on it desperately. Rapidly, his throat works, like he’s trying to swallow back the feeling. “Patty, babylove, sweetpea, please,” he says, voice cracking. 

Patty stares up at him, mouth busy, and he looks down at her and immediately snaps his eyes shut, his hips jerking wildly. Helplessly, she laughs, the sound vibrating through him, and he gasps, his hand clenching in his hair again. 

“Patty, please, all day I’ve been— all day, all day, I’ve been thinking about you for— please, fuck, Patty,” he blurts, the words tumbling out of him thoughtlessly.

A tender feeling cracks her open, and she takes him in deeper, pushes further. His back bows, tense, and a high, bursting giggle explodes out of him. He sounds shocked at how good it feels, almost overwhelmed, and Patty’s eyebrows flick up. He really must have been on edge today, then. Must have been waiting a long time. 

She laves at him with her tongue, buries her nose at the core of him, nestles into the clean curls, and pumps her fingers quickly and firmly. A new, quicker pace starts, and Stanley pushes into it, his voice arcing louder and clearer. Babbling words trip off his tongue, none of them making much sense, and his thighs tremble. 

His hips hump up, then thrust down, all of him squirming like he’s trying to feel as much as possible. He starts thrusting, hips moving, and Patty pulls off and replaces her mouth with her hand so her throat doesn’t bruise. Stanley doesn’t mind— in fact, she suspects he likes her fist better, when he gets wild like this. He likes to move his hips, her Stanley. Likes to hump up against her until he can’t, until his legs and stomach tense and all he can do is collapse and shake and jerk against her. 

He tries to warn her, when the time comes, but he can’t seem to make full words.

“It’s alright, Stanley,” Patty soothes, smiling. “Lovebird, let it go.”

Stanley laughs, breathless, and gives a few more shaking, grinding thrusts into her hand and back onto her fingers, then says, oh, oh, half-shocked. His hips tremble, and then he’s wild with it, humping strongly against her, and comes so hard he paints his chin white.

He’s tense, straining against nothing, his neck flexing and eyes screwed shut, and then he collapses backward. When he opens his eyes, he looks dazed, a blissed-out smile on his face. 

As gently as she can, Patty pulls her fingers from him. He barely twitches. He pants, trying to catch his breath, staring at the ceiling like maybe he’s glimpsed heaven, or found religion all over again. She giggles and bounds off the bed to the bathroom, cleaning her hands before bringing back a washcloth.  

Stanley hasn’t so much as twitched in the time she’s been gone, and Patty laughs again. 

“Are you alright?” She asks, climbing back into bed.

“Lover,” Stanley says, tone lazy and drawling, a satisfied smile taking over his face, “I have never been better.” 

He reaches a hand out to her and she catches it. When he pulls her in and kisses her fingers, she smiles, and softly sets the washcloth on his stomach, wiping him off gently. She stares at him for a moment and then leans forward and swipes her tongue across his chin. 

“There,” she tells him, satisfied, while he stares at her with dark eyes. “All clean.”

 After a pause, he nods firmly, like he’s decided something and won’t be swayed, no matter what. “I think we should have dinner in bed,” Stanley declares.

“It’s still light out,” Patty laughs.

“So what?” Stanley asks before kissing her deeply. 

“Mm,” Patty murmurs, agreeing, then kisses him some more.

After a handful of minutes, Stanley presses her back into the pillows, his lips traveling down her chest, down her stomach, then down further. He starts their second— but not their final— round of the evening off with a bang.

Downstairs, Stanley Uris’ phone sits, powered off and silent. 

It stays that way the rest of the night, and well into the morning.

When morning does come— and it seems to come very, very early— Patty and Stanley jolt out of bed, already late, and elbow each other in the bathroom, panicked and laughing at themselves. They rush down the stairs, Patty trying to braid her dripping hair while Stanley attempts to button his pants, tuck in his shirt, and tie his tie all at once. 

He stumbles out the door, shoelaces undone, shirt still partially untucked, with several blooming hickies on his neck. Patty waves him off, toast clutched in her teeth, trying desperately to put her earrings in without a mirror. 

Stanley staggers home that evening, tie loose, thoroughly sheepish, and confesses he broke his phone on the way to work— a freak accident, Pats, I’m not even sure what happened— and bought a new one on his way home. Patty frowns and frets about the lost photos, and Stanley smiles and says oh, they back those up to the Cloud, babylove, and Patty sticks her nose in the air and says, I don’t know what that is, while Stanley tips forward and giggles into the crook of her neck. She swipes his phone from him and, satisfied, sets the selfie of her with that yellow-breasted chat as his background. He grins wide and boyish when he sees it, and talks excitedly about his birds for thirty minutes.

Three perfectly normal days pass. And then, all at once, something magic happens:

Stanley remembers. 

The memories come pouring in late at night, when they’re curled up together on the couch, half sleeping, half listening to each other breathe. Patty has her fingers twirling through Stanley’s hair, stroking soothingly, when Stanley stiffens, his eyes opening wide. His face turns ghost-white, and Patty’s heart nearly stops. 

“Are you having a heart attack?” She asks him, one hand on his cheek, squinting at him carefully. He’s the right age for it, or is close to the right age for it, and just two years ago Stanley’s father was sent to the hospital for clogged arteries, so it wouldn’t be completely out of the question—

But then he starts laughing. 

“Don’t scare me like that!” Patty breathes, then kisses over his face. He catches her in his hands, leans up, and kisses her deeply. 

“What?” She asks, grinning and caught in his sudden good mood. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” Stanley says. “Nothing, babylove, love of my life, angel, h’aim sheli. Nothing, I just— I just remembered something.”

“Something good?” She asks, confused but happy for him. 

“I think so,” he says, looking dazed. “I really think so. Oh, Patty, they’re just going to love you.”

“What? Who? Stanley Uris!” 

But he’s already rolling off her, leaping to his feet and half-running to the kitchen. She sits up and pokes her head over the edge of the couch, watching him curiously. He’s near bouncing in place, and he glances at her, giddy, and gives her an absurd thumbs-up. 

The moment he reaches his phone, it starts ringing. Stanley smiles, like he knew it would, like he expected it, and lifts it to his ear. After a moment, he beckons her closer and puts it on speaker. 

So curious she thinks she might keel over, Patty creeps to his side. On the other side of the line, a deep voice comes, cautious and so hopeful it almost hurts to hear.

“Hello?” A man says. “Uh, I’ve got— the screen says— Stan the man, is this you?”

Stanley grins so wide she thinks his face will split down the middle. “Mike Hanlon,” he greets, eyes twinkling. “I think you must’ve had one hell of a week.” 

And then, sudden and ear-splittingly loud, a chorus of voices leap over each other, and she realizes a handful of people must be shouting very loudly. 

“Is everyone there?” Stanley asks, delighted. 

Who? Patty exclaims silently, waving her arms. Stanley puts a hand over his mouth to smother a laugh and then buries his face in her hair. 

“Stanley fucking Uris!” A different man shouts joyfully. “I knew that clown didn’t fucking get you, I fucking knew it—”

“Eds, I’m trying to hear Stan speak, get your mouth off the speaker—” A different man, laughing so hard he almost sounds like he’s crying.

“Stanley, Stanley, you son of a bitch—” A woman shrieks excitedly.

“Bev, let go of my arm, I can’t feel my—” Another man, this one with a calm, happy tone.

“St-Stuh-Stan, I’m guh-oing to mur-r-der you!” A final voice exclaims, and then bursts into tears. 

“Not if I do it first!” Patty finally explodes, smacking at Stanley’s arm. He breaks into laughter, belly heaving, and throws his arms around her waist. He picks her up and spins her around and around, joyful like he was on their wedding day.

For a moment, there’s silence on the other end, and the only sound is Stanley’s giddy, high-pitched giggles and Patty’s own helpless, half-frustrated laughter. 

And then the voices start up again.

“Now, who is that, Staniel!” One of the men says, his tone so gleefully teasing Patty laughs harder when she hears it. 

“Oh my God, Stanley, is there a girl with you? You’ve got a girl there with you?” The woman teases— Bev, Patty thinks one of the men called her Bev. 

“Everyone shut up I want to hear Stan speak—” This voice is fast-paced and has a vague New York accent. 

“You s-s-shut up, Ed-d-die, you’re t-the one talk-ing—”

“How about we all shut up,” Stanley interrupts, “and let my wife yell at me.”

“I’m not going to yell at you, Stanley,” Patty says, throwing her hands up, still hanging in his arms and near laughter. “I just want to know what’s going on!” 

All at once, the noise on the other end of the phone dies a violent and swift death. Patty barely notices, because Stanley is looking at her with so much love and awe and patience that it steals her breath away. He swoops in and kisses her abruptly, and so passionately it makes her knees a little weak. 

“Patty,” he says on a gasp when he pulls away. “These are my friends, and they’re going to sound off for you, and they aren’t going to embarrass me.” Everyone is quiet on the other end. “Mike gets to go first,” Stanley says magnanimously, “because he’s my favorite.”

“Oh fuck you, man,” somebody says.

“Shut up, Richie,” Stanley says, grinning wildly, and Patty commits that name to memory, too. Richie, Bev, Mike, she lists, determined to remember. 

“My name is Mike,” Mike introduces, his voice rolling and warm like the sun. “I’m a real old friend of Stan’s. We grew up together— we all did.” There’s a beat of silence, and then a muffled noise, like somebody was elbowed in the gut. 

Stanley rolls his eyes. Patty muffles a giggle into his shoulder, baffled and intrigued and outrageously, irrationally happy. 

“Bill goes next,” Stanley says, and Patty silently adds Bill to her list of names. 

“I-I-I’m Bill, and I c-can’t be-lieve Stan’s guh-got a wife,” Bill says, absolutely gleeful, like he wants to pounce on Stanley and press him for details, the way Patty did when she was thirteen and at the biggest, best types of sleepovers.

“Okay, somebody go next—” Stanley blurts, glancing at Patty, like he’s certain Bill is about to embarrass him, and Patty grins so widely it hurts.

“Oh, me next, I’m Richie and I am absolutely puh-leased as punch to meet you, Mrs. Uris.”

Patty laughs loudly while Stanley sighs. “Suppose I couldn’t keep you two apart forever,” he muses, and then, as an aside to her, “Richie is going to be your favorite, because I know him, and I know you, but babylove, I’m begging: please don’t let it go to his head.” 

“I’m what!” Richie hollers, sounding like he’s jumping in place, and Stanley muffles a laugh into her shoulder then says, completely deadpan, “Patty’s got horrible taste. It doesn’t mean anything.”

Patty shrieks with laughter. Three other people introduce themselves: Eddie, the fast-talking New Yorker from before, Ben, who seems sweeter than pie or peaches, and Bev, who Patty befriends immediately. 

“We’ve got another girl,” Bev breathes, sounding like a weight’s been lifted from her. “Thank fucking God.”

“What?” Patty asks, baffled but still smiling.

“We’re in a little club— we’ll explain it later. But you’re going to be our eighth member, I can just feel it. I know it.” And then she sighs, relieved, and says, “thank fucking God,” again. 

“Alright, Stan, introduce us to your wife! Come on!” Richie cheers, and everyone else agrees. Ben and Eddie, in particular, seem particularly intrigued to hear from her.

Patty doesn’t know what to say. She feels, abruptly, like she’s standing in her pajamas, unprepared, before a board of judges at the most important interview of her life. She turns to Stanley, pleadingly, and he kisses her forehead soothingly. 

“Go on, babylove,” he tells her. “They already love you.”

“That doesn’t help, Stanley,” she hisses, but everyone has stopped speaking.

“Babylove?” Ben asks, sounding choked, like he’s near laughter or maybe tears.

There’s a handful of muffled noises: someone coughs into their sleeve, trying to disguise a laugh, and someone else whispers, holy shit, while a third person smacks someone else. 

“That’s me,” Patty says, and then waves at the phone even though they can’t see her. “Uh, hi!”

“Does he… does he call you that? Often?” Richie asks, voice high, and then he tries to transform a burst of giggles into a cough. 

“Almost always,” Patty says, grinning at Stanley, who’s got his eyes shut, looking like a man on the gallows resigned to his fate.

Patty quirks a brow at him and, when he opens his eyes, he shakes his head at her, looking oppressed. It’s karma, he mouths. And then he ruins it by smiling, so bright and wonderful she can’t look away. Patty leans over and kisses him, and he kisses her back, eagerly.

“Oh, gross, are you guys making out over there?” Eddie asks.

“Ew, man, what the fuck?” Richie says. “Dude, we are right here.”

Stanley pulls back abruptly, his eyes going wide. A realization comes over him, dawning bright and strong, and suddenly he looks like a man vindicated, looks like a righteous martyr standing in front of a crowd. He looks like he’s won an Olympic prize, or pulled off a long con.

This time, he says it out loud, and he says it gleefully, not resigned at all. “Oh, this is karma.” He throws his head back and then kisses her on the mouth again, then again. “I love you so much,” Stanley nearly sings, almost dancing in place. 

“Karma for what?” Patty asks.

“I’m sure you’ll find out,” he answers with a long, happy sigh, and then kisses down the line of her throat.

“What are you doing?” Ben says, sounding baffled. In the background, Bev says, wait, oh my God, this is going to be so fucking funny, while Mike says, what’s happening? After a moment, Bill seems to realize whatever it is Bev did, and blurts o-oh my God.  

“Stop being gross, man,” Richie says, and Stanley pumps a triumphant fist into the air, looking smug and vindicated and still kissing her. He kisses across her throat, then back to her mouth, then kisses her forehead, then dives back to her mouth, half because of whatever bit he’s starting, and half because he loves her. He loves her so much. He always has, from the first time she met him, and he stumbled to her drunk and blurting I’m sorry, I think I’m in love with you.

When he finally pulls away, he looks dazed, and now Patty is the one who kisses over his face, kisses every circle scar that she can reach.

“No,” he declares at the phone. “Absolutely the fuck not, absolutely the fuck not, not when I sat through all six of you pulling the most annoying repressed love bullshit in the history of fucking ever for actual years of my life—”

Patty watches her husband shout into his phone joyfully, and listens to everyone talk over each other, and is so filled with love she thinks she might float away.

Outside, beneath their flower box, a satisfied turtle creeps toward the lettuce plants in Patty Uris’ garden, ready to eat its fill. It’s been a busy three days, after all, and the turtle has been working very hard. It deserves a reward.