|A Little Splash (of Color) 1/1
||[Aug. 8th, 2008|10:58 pm]
|||||3 Doors Down - Your Arms Feel Like Home||]|
Title: A Little Splash (of Color)
Pairing: Michelle Dessler/Tony Almeida, John Sheppard/Elizabeth Weir
Word Count: 4,068
Prompt: fanfic100 #021. Friends.
Spoilers: The Entire 'Lantean Manor Series is fair game – Set after Uncharted Waters.
Summary: Tony and Michelle help out their friends, and get a reward of their own.
Author's Note: The previous stories can be found at the Au's community: lantean_manor. Huge thanks, as always, to joyfulfeather, my beta and Pool!fic muse! She's also to thank for this piece's title! Just a note: John and Elizabeth are in this story; they just aren't the main focus. I hope it's enjoyed!
"Come on, Michelle, up and at 'em."
Frowning, Michelle squeezed her eyes shut tighter, fighting to keep the last vestiges of her slumber from being scared off by Tony's entirely too chipper demeanor.
"Miche-elle," he cooed into her ear, rubbing his nose against her cheek, eliciting a shiver from her. "I know you're awake, Michelle. Quit fighting me and get up."
When he settled against her, she sighed and squirmed back into his arms.
"It's early," she whined quietly, feeling him laugh and shake his head.
"It's eleven, sweetheart. Early was over two hours ago."
Tony tried again to pull her up, but she rolled away.
"'M tired, Tony."
"I know, I know. I'm a horrible person, I kept you up all night and I'm not letting you sleep in."
"Stop talking, you're waking me up."
He kissed her shoulder gently.
"That's the point. We've got a lot of work to do today. I made coffee, so get up."
"Ten more minutes," she suggested, taking his hand and wrapping his arm firmly around her and snuggling back into her pillow. She smirked in triumph when he nodded, pressing his face into her neck.
She was too tired, and too comfortable, to let him drag her out of bed just yet. In the three days they'd been house-sitting, she'd pretty much fallen in love with the mattress in John and Elizabeth's room. It was about fifty times more comfortable than the one she had at home, the one she'd taken from her bedroom at her parents' after graduating college. It also topped Tony's brand new king, but not by much. She was happy with her life and her situation, but she sometimes wished she could afford to spend an arm and a leg on a mattress and accessories.
Either way, she loved the bed, and the house (despite its unspeakably gaudy name), not to mention just about everything Elizabeth Weir and John Sheppard had done for her and Tony. If it hadn't been for Elizabeth and her slightly drunken assurances that Tony really was as gaga for her as she was for him, she would probably still be waiting for some hint from the gorgeous man whose arms she curled up in every night.
"Ten minutes is up, Michelle. Awake time."
The gorgeous man, usually the biggest grouch she'd ever met in the mornings, who had suddenly decided to turn over a new leaf on the worst possible day.
Groaning, she turned in his arms, plucking distastefully at his painting attire. Grinning, he picked her hand up off his chest and brought her palm to his lips.
"Come on, I wanna get the first coat done by two."
She shoved him onto his back with a growl, rubbing against him in punishment for waking her as she climbed across his body.
"Wait," he stopped her, tugging her back by the waist so that she was seated on his lap.
She frowned, glaring at him in irritation. She really was exhausted, and as much as she wanted to paint, she also wanted to sleep. He didn't need to be dragging her out of bed only to not let her go.
Tony's hands slipped into her hair – which she was sure was atrociously wild – and tugged her face down to his. Her frown faded at the gentle press of his lips.
"Didn't say good morning."
Smiling softly, she touched his chin. He was forgiven. "Good morning, Tony."
He let her go then, laughing as she pulled her sleep shirt down over her panties and trudged into the bathroom. She wanted to shower, but knew there was no point if she was going to be painting all afternoon.
"I'll meet you downstairs for breakfast," she heard him call. "And no going back to bed!" he ordered as an afterthought.
After she finished her breakfast, Tony herded her upstairs to the room at the end of the hall. There wasn't much furniture in there yet, and the few pieces already there had been gifts from John and Elizabeth's families.
"Are you sure they'll like the green?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest and watching Tony squat down to pop the lid off the paint can and stir its contents.
"You said it looked good. You changing your mind?"
"No, no. It looks good. I'm just making sure we didn't pick the wrong color."
"Well, they decided not to find out, so we had to pick something neutral. The green's good."
Michelle nodded, joining him and grabbing a paint brush. "I'll start with the edging."
"You're just going to watch my ass while I work," he teased, slinging his arm around her waist.
"Maybe so. Whatcha gonna do about it? Huh?" she poked him in the stomach with her paint brush, laughing when he jumped back, landing on his butt.
She shrieked when he reached over, pulling her down onto him.
"I thought you wanted to paint," she asked jovially, rising onto her hands and looking down at him.
"We can paint this way," he assured, dipping his finger into the paint can and worming it across her cheek and down her neck.
She wiped the paint off her face and onto his nose, giggling when his eyes narrowed.
"Don't even think about it," she warned, scrambling off of him and around to the other side of the paint can.
"I'm getting to work," she teased. "Don't even think about painting me."
She added paint to a tray and carried it over to the far wall.
His agreement was dismissive enough to get her attention, and she turned, glancing suspiciously in his direction. Tony just grinned and blew her a kiss.
Once the first coat was done, even Tony looked tired. She could tell his back was starting to bug him by the way he twisted and stretched on the way down the stairs. She saw him wince as he bent to pull the sandwich stuff from the fridge.
"Tony, sit down. I'll get lunch."
"No you're not. Sit. C'mon, I can operate a toaster."
She stuck her tongue out at him when he muttered the word 'barely.' Rolling her eyes at his skepticism, she pushed him toward the table.
"Sit down, honey. I can handle sandwiches. I can't handle a paint roller in a room that size."
Though she made him his sandwich first, he didn't even take a bite until she'd made her own. Hers was gone within seconds; she'd been starving. While he finished his own meal, she moved around behind him, pressing her hands into his back and massaging his tired muscles.
"You gonna be okay?"
He nodded, humming quietly as her hand trailed up his neck, squeezing gently.
"Think we have time for a nap?"
"Well, the paint's not going anywhere."
She leaned closer, draping across his back and resting her cheek on his shoulder.
"I could use a break," she added quietly.
She mewled when he pulled away. She'd just gotten comfortable against him and now he wanted her to move?
"Come on, Michelle."
She took the inside spot on the couch, beckoning him to curl against her in the same general position they'd been in before. Tony did so without argument, snuggling his back into her front and letting her wrap her arms around him. Smiling, she pressed a soft kiss into his neck. She'd been amused to find out soon after they started dating that Tony Almeida was as much of a cuddle bug as she was. It was something he'd never admitted to anyone but her, that he liked being held, and it was a task she really took pleasure in.
"Hey, honey?" she murmured, kissing his neck again.
"I forgot something."
"I love you."
He picked up her hand, kissing her fingers gently.
"I love you, too, Michelle. Now go to sleep. You said you were tired."
Laughing, she held him tighter, closing her eyes against his hair.
He did most of the second coat while she was sleeping, and when she stumbled into the nursery, sleepily smoothing her hair, he grinned.
"Hey, sweetheart. Nice nap?"
She nodded. "You were supposed to wake me."
"I tried, Michelle. All I got was kisses and requests for five more minutes. Enjoyed both, by the way."
She smiled quickly, raising her arms over her head and stretching. She heard Tony groan softly in response to her movements and shook her head.
"You need your eyes checked, I'm a mess."
Michelle picked up her discarded brush, walking around him and reaching out to pat him on the ass.
"Hey, who's Tommy?"
"You called me Tommy when I got up. Something you want to tell me?"
She colored. "My pet turtle from when I was a kid. I was introducing you and he bit you. Sorry about that."
Tony laughed. "That explains why you mothered all over my hands."
Glancing sheepishly down at her feet, she grinned. "Sorry. I must have been really tired to have been talking in my sleep."
"Oh, you talk in your sleep all the time, honey. Every time you're pissed about something I did at work, but you don't wanna tell me, you chew me out at night. I hear all about it," he drawled, slipping his arms around her waist and nuzzling his face into her messy hair.
"Yeah, well, I seem to remember being addressed as Jack Bauer once or twice while in bed with you."
Tony shuddered. "That was not the mental image I wanted, Michelle, thank you."
She laughed, taking pleasure in having gotten him back. Even if the image of Tony's fellow project director was one she also didn't want to have when thinking about sleeping with Tony.
"Where do I need to paint?" she asked, getting to work.
The second coat went on far quicker than the first had, and so they finished much sooner than she'd expected, freeing up the rest of the evening for them to clean up and loaf around. While he stood at the stove, preparing their dinner, she stood behind him, circling her thumbs around either side of his spine.
"Good?" she asked quietly, spreading her fingers to probe another spot on his back. Not even their shower had alleviated his back pain.
"Mmhmm. Congratulations, Michelle, you've just been promoted to my personal masseuse."
"What was I before?"
He turned his head slightly, nodding in acknowledgment. "Very true."
"And what about my pay? What sort of salary are we talking?"
"Lots of sex."
"I already get that." She kissed his shoulder. "What else?"
"What is this, Michelle? Collective bargaining?"
She laughed. "I'm just exploring my options, making sure I get the best possible contract. What about sick pay? Vacation time?" She kissed his neck before going back to rubbing his tension away.
"I'm sure there's something we can work out," he replied, pretending to be irritated.
"I suppose," she teased.
"So tomorrow, you're going to do the stenciling and I'll do the wallpaper?"
"You're sure it'll all be done in a day?"
"It should," she answered, squeezing his biceps gently. "The paper's self-sticking."
"They'll be back Thursday, right?" she asked, resting her chin against his shoulder and waiting for his nod. Her arms wrapped around his torso, and her eyes closed against his back.
"Your head still hurting?"
"Let's get some food in you and see what else we can do after dinner, okay?"
"Sure. I'm sure it's just the fumes."
"I used soap."
After they ate, he suggested a movie to help them unwind from their day. He popped the popcorn while she picked the movie, and they settled in a heap on the couch. Her head was still pounding slightly and he pulled her closer, promising a head rub to die for. She fell asleep curled up against him, feeling the soothing press of his fingers in her hair and against her temples.
Refreshed from falling asleep before midnight, she was the first one up in the morning. Amused that Tony had been able to carry her up to bed and get her changed all without waking her, she actually laughed when she realized that he'd sacked out still in his sweats. No wonder he'd kicked the covers off them in the middle of the night.
Feeling brave, she ventured downstairs in just her nightshirt, hoping that Teyla hadn't decided to come home early from her getaway with Ronon. It was unlikely, Michelle knew, but there was always the off chance that she would have had to come back to take care of something for Elizabeth. Then again, Sedge would have greeted her at the stairs if that had been the case.
Tony was still asleep on his stomach when she returned with coffee. Setting both mugs down on the bedside table on her side, she slid back into bed, settling her head beside Tony's on his pillow and pressing her lips to his nose. He snuffled, but didn't wake, and she repeated the action, giggling when he mashed his face further into the pillow.
Her arm slid across his back, reaching under his shirt and lightly tracing the ridges of his spine with her fingernails. She smiled when he mumbled her name and scooted closer.
"Good morning," she cooed teasingly, reaching her fingers into his hair and smoothing the wild strands of his bed head. "I brought you coffee."
Tony blinked, muttering something unintelligible before pushing himself up onto his hands. She heard him groan when his back popped but laughed when he reached across her for the coffee. She knew yesterday had been a fluke. Here was the Tony she knew and loved; he'd be human in a few minutes when the caffeine kicked in. For now, she was happy to rub his back while he gulped down the beverage.
She laughed when he set the mug back down and settled part of the way on her. His breath was hot against her neck.
Tony nodded, tightening the arm he'd slung around her waist. He'd start speaking English again soon, she knew. If he didn't fall asleep again, that was. She was just grateful that they didn't go through this every morning before work. In the eight months that they'd been together they had been late at least twice a month because of their inability to get up on time.
Finally, Tony stirred again, bunching her shirt in his hand and lifting it high enough off her side to give him access to her skin. She sighed when he started to nibble and suck on the skin of her neck, and whispered his name when his fingers hooked into the sides of her panties.
"We have lots of work to do today," she reminded breathlessly as his other hand somehow wormed its way under her shirt as well, and his thumb lightly traced one of her nipples.
"We'll get it done," he promised confidently, shifting his weight against her side and grinding his groin against her leg.
Regretfully, she sighed, pushing lightly on his shoulders and shaking her head. Tony blinked at her, doing his best to bring his mind out of its lust-induced stupor.
"We're in Elizabeth and John's bed, Tony."
He blinked again, as if he wasn't sure why that fact meant that sex wasn't good. Of course, for Tony, she wasn't sure that he ever had the understanding of that. Well, with the exception of the conference room at work, where she'd been the one to convince him to lock the doors and close the blinds.
"Later," she promised, trying not to encourage him as his hands idly stroked her skin. "Somewhere that's not your friend's bed, okay? Even though we're going to change the sheets, it'll still be hard to look them in the eye if we do this."
Tony nodded slightly, starting to understand where she was coming from. Although they'd fooled around a little when the first got settled in, any actual lovemaking they'd done had been somewhere less intimate than in another couple's bed. Somewhere in there, she made the distinction between locations, and she was going to stick to it.
Reluctantly, his hands retreated to safer territory, smoothing her shirt lightly across her belly as he settled his lips against hers for the first time that morning. Wrapping her arms around his neck and holding him to her, she returned his kiss. She wanted him just as much as he did her, but knew that she wouldn't be completely comfortable until they were back in their own bed.
True to their agreement from the day before, while Tony hung the pleasant, unisex, child-themed wallpaper, she painted scenes from nursery rhymes and children's books on the walls. On one wall she had the 'Hey! Diddle, Diddle,' rhyme, complete with cats, dogs, cows, and silverware. On another she planned to paint a gaggle of baby ducks, waddling after their mother. The other walls she was going to leave blank so John and Elizabeth could choose what to do there, and so they could personalize the room a little more once the baby was born.
About two hours after they started, she took a water break, leaving him cursing as he tried to avoid cutting the long strip of paper to get it to lay flat and level on the only slanted wall in the room. Matching it up on the other side of the corner would be a pain, but as he'd reasoned with himself for fifteen straight minutes, it was better than having to do it again because he'd screwed up.
When she returned he was nowhere to be found, but the border was up where it needed to be, and he'd gone on to finish the rest of the room as well. The task hadn't been hard, she knew, even if he had spent the majority of the time whining. That was probably her fault; not only had she woken him up earlier than what was probably necessary, she'd made him stand down when he tried to get his blood pumping and his body moving, so now he was just shy of crankier than usual.
"There you are. Wondered if you'd gone down to the river for it yourself," he teased, slipping his arms around her waist from behind, taking her by surprise.
"I grabbed a muffin, too. Yours is on top of the changing table."
Lightly kissing her cheek, he moved over to where she'd left the food. Smirking, she went back to her pallet of paints and the stencil she'd taped up on the wall. He couldn't be too mad at her for putting on the brakes; otherwise he might have fought a little harder about her obvious bribe.
"Hey, honey," she glanced over her shoulder quickly before returning her concentration to the soft-yellow duck she was trying to paint. "Can you grab one of the smaller paintbrushes from the box out in the hall? I don't like the way the paint is going onto the wall with this one."
To emphasize her point, she tossed the offending brush onto an open space on her pallet.
She knew he'd acquiesced when she heard him rummaging, but never took her eyes off her creation. When the paintbrush appeared over her left shoulder, she reached across her body to take it from him.
His grip on the brush didn't loosen, even when she tugged harder.
"Come on, Tony, I'm almost done."
"I'll let you finish in a second. Turn around."
Rolling her eyes, she did, only to find that Tony was getting down on one knee, and there was something that looked suspiciously like a ring dangling from the paintbrush she'd requested.
"I've been thinking of ways to ask you since I bought this last month, but none of them were unique enough. And given that we got off to a pretty unique start, I figure it's only fitting to do it the same way."
She laughed tightly, "This is pretty unique, Tony."
She watched as he slid the ring down off the brush, wiping his index finger gently over the blue stone in the middle and then across the diamonds surrounding it. One-handed, he reached for the paints she still held, setting them to the side. Then he picked up her hand, turning it over and pressing a delicate kiss into her palm.
"Michelle, you make my life a better place, and you make me a better person. Every day that I wake up with you, I know this: I love you with everything in me, and I want us to be together for the rest of our lives. Marry me, Michelle?"
Her throat felt tight and it wasn't until she felt her nose itch that she realized it was because she was crying. He had to be the most understatedly eloquent man she'd ever met. For him to have been wracking his brain for the best way to propose, only to choose the day that she'd left him high and dry in bed and was ordering him around as she painted someone else's nursery… she wouldn't have had it any other way. She wouldn't have had him any other way.
"Of course," she whispered, watching as he slipped the ring on her finger and wrapped his arms around her middle in a tight hug. Raising the jewelry up to the light, she returned his hug with her other arm. She felt him kiss her through her tank top, and answered his sigh of affection with a murmur of her own.
"I love you, too."
When their friends arrived home the next day, Elizabeth's eyes immediately landed on the ring. Michelle was just amazed that she didn't mention it until after seeing their handiwork in the nursery.
"We weren't even gone for a week, and you manage to paint our house and get engaged?"
Michelle colored and watched John pat her fiancé on the back. She wasn't sure what to say so she waited for Tony to meet her eyes.
"Tony did it yesterday. While I was painting the ducks," she added lamely, feeling Tony's arms envelope her from the side while Elizabeth studied her engagement ring.
"They're both beautiful. Thank you so much for doing this," Elizabeth teared up, resting her palm lightly against her gently curved belly. "We never could have done such a wonderful job; I have the artistic inclinations of a board, and John's idea of decorating involves putting down fake Astroturf and using a mini, rubber goalpost as a mobile."
Beside them, John snickered, indicating that Elizabeth was indeed telling the truth.
"Thank you, seriously." Elizabeth sniffed. "My mother has been so concerned about us being so far away with the baby on the way, and I keep telling her she has nothing to worry about because we have friends like you." Elizabeth stopped, turning her head into John's shoulder to compose herself. "Thank you so much for this, for the nursery, for watching the house."
"We were happy to do it, and we'll do anything else we can. The house was easy – comfortable place to sleep, pool to swim in, fantastic kitchen." She trailed off. "Though I'll be happy to get home, too."
Tony nodded into her hair, causing her to grin slightly. She knew why he wanted to get home. He'd packed the car almost as soon as they woke up this morning. He'd probably try to best his record of getting her undressed before they were even inside. So far, he'd managed to get her down to her bra and get her skirt unzipped as they hit the door.
Elizabeth and John shared a look, making her grin even more. It was probably best that she and Tony made themselves scarce. Her friends might have been on vacation, but they still had been staying at Elizabeth's mother's house.
"We're going to head out," Michelle announced, reaching for Tony's hand after giving them both a hug. "It's good to have you back."
"We're happy to be back. We'll call you guys tomorrow and maybe we can have some lunch?"
As Tony led her down the stairs, he smirked and called up, "Not before noon, okay? We've already got plans."
The sound of laughter followed them out of the house.