" Run! " Sofie yells to them from where she's battling a giant cockroach, and run they do. Ricky tosses Esther over one shoulder and crashes through the window with the other. They burst into the humid midsummer evening and Esther watches behind them. Sofie casts one last spell that brings the ceiling of the warehouse crashing down. A wave of dust and smoke and probably asbestos follows them into the street. The monster lets out a miserable death shriek as Ricky comes to a halt a safe distance away from the collapsing building.
"Are you okay?" He asks, swinging her off his shoulder and into a princess carry. His eyes rove over her face and body quickly, like he's worried she's not all in one piece.
"Yeah. Are you?"
He nods, now watching the rest of the warehouse come down. The others all stumble out of one of the alleys together. Rowan is very dramatically limping and Pete is supporting her and they're completely unsubtle about how handsy they're being. Not that Esther's really in any place to be throwing stones; Ricky still hasn't set her down. Pete gives her a capital-L Look and wiggles his eyebrows. Rowan winks, Sofie flexes her biceps jokingly before whispering something to Rowan, and Kingston very generously pretends not to see all of this.
"Ricky," Esther hisses to him. She doesn't really want him to put her down, because his chest is warm and broad and his arms are tight around her and he smells nice, but she also doesn't want to make any kind of scene. "Put me down?"
"Everybody good?" Kingston asks, as Ricky mumbles an oh, yeah, here you go and sets her feet down gently. Everyone nods. "Okay. I don't know what the fuck that was but it can't be good."
"Bet he could bench-press you," Rowan says one day when they're at lunch, dragging her straw around her mouth suggestively.
"He can," Esther says, before she can even really stop herself. Sofie snorts soda out her nose and Rowan cackles with delight even as she slaps Sofie's back to stop her coughing. Ricky definitely can, he's done it once or twice as a joke. It had been impressive, but it kind of hurts where his hands dug into her side and thigh to hold her. Besides, holding his feet to get kisses at the top of sit-ups is way more fun.
"Hot," Rowan says smugly as Sofie sighs dramatically, fanning herself.
"Rowan you want to fuck Kingston so bad; what would you know about hot?" Esther snipes back. Rowan splutters and starts trying to argue her case and the attention is mercifully deflected.
She wakes up in his arms. It's dark and Esther can't quite tell where they are, so she jolts in surprise. "Hey," Ricky says; he must have felt her moving. There's the click of a door shutting behind them. "You fell asleep during the movie and you always complain about your back when you sleep on the couch."
Esther recognizes where they are now, can see the familiar glow of light around the blinds in their bedroom and the red numbers on Ricky's alarm clock. "Yeah," she says, cracks a huge yawn. Everything is a little fuzzy, but she's warm and can feel Ricky's heartbeat right against her ear, so there's no reason to be concerned. "Thanks."
"Anytime," he says, and sets her down on the edge of their bed with a sweet kiss. Ricky goes to pull away, but she snakes her arms around his neck and pulls him down on top of her like a big muscle-y blanket. Prestidigitation is a perfectly acceptable toothpaste substitute and right now she's very interested in falling asleep after some quality cuddle time.
She sprains her ankle pretty badly while they're getting off the subway, just catches the heel of her combat boot wrong and nearly wipes out altogether. There's far too many normal people around to do any kind of magic and some well-meaning soccer mom insists that they go to the ER about it.
Thank god St. Owen's is the nearest hospital. It's far easier to bear the embarrassment of Ricky carrying her into the packed waiting room when Kingston is there to do his Vox Populi thing and quickly rush them into a private room.
It's easier until they run into Emiko, who's holding a stack of clipboards as she does her rounds. The three of them freeze and must look unbelievably guilty and today has been long e-fucking-nough for Esther as it is. Emiko also stops dead in her tracks to take in the sight of her brother carrying a pissed-looking-very-much-in-pain Esther and Kingston trying to usher them into a back room.
"Ricky, what the fuck?" Emiko asks and Esther doesn't even have to look up to know that Ricky is making his Guilty Face.
"Uh," Ricky says, but Kingston quickly cuts him off. Esther can feel the tendrils of his people-magic extending to soothe Emiko's curiosity.
"All good here, Emiko. Ricky's just worried about Esther and he's, uh, overreacting," he says, and Emiko blinks a bunch and then nods.
"Feel better?" She says, sounding a little confused, but she pats Esther's arm and continues on her rounds.
Ricky scoops her up the second they're inside their apartment and presses her against the newly-closed door to kiss her breathless. They're just home from date night, and while Esther couldn't convince him to make out in the back row of seats at the movie theater, she could send him increasingly lewd suggestions via message while they were at dinner and then very deliberately place her hand pretty high up on the inside of his thigh on the cab ride home.
She wraps her legs around his waist and sinks into the kiss. His hands slide firmly to support her thighs and she tries not to smirk too much against his mouth.
Ricky can have his moral high ground about PDA in movie theaters. Esther has him right where she wants him.
Ricky's absolutely toasted. He hardly ever drinks, but tonight was Rowan's birthday and he'd decided to let loose a little. Esther's just a little buzzed, so she's doing all the hard work of heaving him in and out of their cab and then carrying his limp body up the stairs to their apartment. It's like carrying four suitcases through a packed JFK, and she ends up having to use mage hand to grab his other side to lug him in.
She deposits him on the couch, and he slumps there smiling dopily up at her. "Think you're gonna puke?" He shakes his head and she can't help but smile indulgently because he's kind of cute like this, like a lost floppy puppy. "Okay. Let me grab you some water."
He's such a faker because while she's standing at the sink running up a glass for each of them he stumbles up behind her to drape himself over her and presses a sloppy kiss to the side of her neck. "Hey," he mumbles against her skin, and she passes him a glass of water, which he slurps at. Esther's just got enough room to turn in his arms so they're pressed together facing each other. Most of Ricky's weight is leaning on her, but holding him here is far easier than hauling him a few flights of stairs. He's still got his face pressed into the side of her neck, and she can't hear him when he mumbles something to her.
"What was that, babe?" she asks, petting at his hair, which is a little crunchy with gel. A problem for tomorrow's hungover shower.
His head turns a little so his mouth isn't pressed into her skin, but she can still feel his lips move as he says, "Can't wait to marry you."
Oh. Oh my god. They talked about the future, in a very abstract sort of way, when they had been dating for a year, but had agreed that they would revisit the conversation when it was closer to two. Which is coming up, but isn't here yet, and Esther is just drunk enough to throw caution to the wind and be a little nosy. Plus, if it's a good answer then it'll be far less scary when they do talk about it. "Oh yeah?" She asks.
"Yeah," his breath is warm on her collarbone and she can feel his lashes flutter against her neck. "Me'n'Pete'n'Kingston were in a jewelry store 'n' we looked at rings a lil' bit."
"Mhmm," nothing committal, just encouraging him to keep talking. Her chest feels tight, like she might cry because this man.
“You’re just so good for me,” he says, and he looks up at her with glittery brown eyes because he’s crying a little bit. “I love you so much. More than working out.”
She presses a kiss to the crown of his head because that’s easier than saying all the things bubbling in her chest. “I love you too. More than magic.”