over the river and through the woods
I woke early the following morning... just not early enough to have the pleasure of finding Heero beside me.
In 5 years we hadn't succeeded in synchronizing our internal clocks; his waking him a good hour before mine roused me. It has its advantages though. While I found my mornings at bit hurried on workdays, I always left plenty of time to eat the breakfast that Heero had taken the time to prepare.
I looked around the campsite finding him no where in sight, but I could see the small aluminum pot on the table, steam still rising from its spout. I grabbed my shorts and slipped them on, seating myself at the table and pouring a cup of coffee. The warm liquid drove the morning chill from me as well as waking the parts of my body that were still resisting. Once fully awake, I realized that I was in desperate need of a shower; memories of last nights activities bringing a huge grin to my face. Figuring that that was probably where Heero had gone off to, I gathered everything I needed and headed down stream.
I was thankful there was running water. Our discovery of the primitive toilets yesterday had us both a bit apprehensive about the showers... even going so far as to question if there would even be showers. Fortunately, there were, though they lacked any modern conveniences. I'm not talking massaging shower heads here, I'm talking ceilings and shower curtains... there weren't any.
Walking briskly as I made the nearly half mile trek to the showers, I arrived more in need of one, making use of the toilet first. I applauded the people who planned the meager facilities, they had enough foresight to put a good distance between the pit toilets and the showers, the idea of them doing otherwise slightly sickened me. I left the small wooden enclosure and finally exhaled, walking a bit further till I reached my destination.
From the minute I entered the space, it was apparent that Heero was not here. He had been here though..... the pleasing aroma of his soap was in the air to greet me; it's sandalwood, he gets it at the local natural, hippie-type store. It's rare and it's Heero, I inhale deeply and close my eyes; disappointed that he has already left.
The shower building... and I use that term in its loosest sense, was a 12X12 space with two shower stalls separated by a thin fiberglass wall. Each shower had a pre-shower area, presumably for privacy while one undressed and bathed, the major flaw here being that there were no curtains.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a particularly modest person, but I'm not stuck on the idea of getting butt naked and having just any Tom, Dick or Harry being able to watch. The world is full of perverts and while I may be one of them, I have Heero now and he more than fulfills my needs; after all, it's how we ended up together in the first place.
Setting my clothes and stuff down on the small bench, I removed my shirt and dropped it to the floor, using it as a bathmat, the tile beneath my feet slippery with cool mud. I shudder and continue stripping, grabbing three quarters from my pocket before tossing them onto the bench. Unadorned and my hair hanging loose, I step into the stall, depositing the first quarter into the slot, turning the dial as directed.
I can hear the water banging through the pipes at the same time I hear a familiar voice. "There isn't any hot water."
My body spasms in shock as the cold water hits it. "Shit!" I cry out, shivering as I step back, glaring at my grinning lover. "Couldn't you have warned me *before* I got in here?" I ask, turning to find Heero more than amused outside my stall.
"What fun would that have been?" he wonders aloud. I have to agree... I would have done the same to him.
"You took a shower in this?" I question him, his wet hair a testament to the fact that he indeed had.
"Hai." he responds, "You get used to it."
"I doubt that." I squeak, stepping into the icy water with trepidation.
I ignore the fact that Heero is watching me, intent on completing the task at hand as quickly as humanly possible. It's times like these that I wish I had given in and cut my hair; the thought of having to wash it and the time the chore entailed, pissing me off even more than I already was.
"I swear, Heero." I warned, "I'm gonna cut it all off.", throwing my head back into the water to wet it. My entire body was trembling now, I'm shivering.... even my teeth are chattering. I reached out toward the small shelf, blindly trying to locate my bottle of shampoo. The slim bottle finds its way into my hand on its own, a meek voice accompanying it. "Want me to wash it?"
It's somewhat of a rhetorical question and we both know it. Heero removes his clothes, stepping into the stall behind me.
Within the hour we find ourselves back in the campsite, Heero with his coffee cup in hand, me with my arms still full wet clothes, towels and toiletries. "Well, that sucked." I remarked unloading everything onto the picnic table and plopping down onto the bench.
Heero remained silent and I looked up at him and the questioning look on his face.
"Most of it sucked, the hair washing part was nice." I correct myself. "Thank you." I tell him with due sincerity. I doubt I would have done the same for him and it makes me feel a bit guilty. I put on a smile and rise from the bench. "How about I make breakfast for you this morning?"
He nods and adds more wood to the fire, then sits at the table and watches me; silently taking in my every move. It isn't until I've set the plate of french toast down on the table and seated myself across from him that he finally speaks.
"Why do you hate the cold water so much?"
Now... I realize that after nearly 30 minutes of silence, that doesn't seem like a very profound statement and I myself am a bit surprised at it. Trust me when I say that there is more to that question than meets the eye. He is beating around the bush, it's atypical. Whatever it is he really wants to talk about.... is something he really doesn't want to talk about.
I look up at him, holding my fork with two small squares of french toast just outside my mouth. "Why do you like it so much?" I counter, my eyes still on him. He wasn't expecting that. "I don't." he returns. I take the fork into my mouth, chewing slowly as I wait for him to continue. "Things like that don't bother me." he finishes, looking down at his plate.
"They do me." I tell him, but he already knows that.
We continue eating, Heero poking at his breakfast more than anything. And then it comes out.
"You aren't serious about cutting it, are you?"
Ahhhh... so there we have it. I'm tempted to smile at the expression on his face, but I repress the urge; he isn't looking for a quick brush off or cocky comment. "No." I reply. It's not the most reassuring answer I could have given him, but he nods and lowers his gaze, accepting it for now. I know him well enough to know that this conversation won't end here.
Having finished breakfast and its associated chores, I drag the sleeping bag a bit closer to the river and out into the sun and take my brush from the tent. "Any ideas on what you'd like to do today?" I ask, starting to run it through my hair.
"I thought maybe we could go into town this morning. You up for it?"
"Sounds great." I return with a smile. "I'll be done here shortly." I tell him, making my way over to the sleeping bag and seating myself.
I could hear Heero fumbling around inside the tent, figuring he's most likely emptying out our backpacks. We'll need them to lug the food back down here. I've only just begun brushing my hair when I hear his footsteps behind me. I pretend not to and wait until he seats himself behind me and pass the brush back over my shoulder; not saying what is on my mind until he has lost himself in the task. "I do think about it, you know."
It's one word. It's tinged with sadness. He continues brushing it, fanning out the completed strands to dry in the sun.
It's a tremendous chore and every few months, I seriously think about cutting it; maybe not all the way off, but something significant. I usually verbalize the desire even though I know that it upsets him; perhaps that is why I do it.... so he can talk me out of it. It's almost as if its become sacred; the hair and the ritual.
"It takes so much time..." I begin, soon rambling on about all the things that go through my head when I am in one of these moods. He doesn't speak, not pausing or hesitating as he continues his task, simply letting me vent my frustration.
"Are you finished?" he asks softly a minute or two later.
I nod and let out a sigh. I does make me feel better, though it hasn't completely squelched the urge.
I don't respond right away, I hate it when he does this; he knows it. I wait until he has set the brush down and hand him a hair tie. It's a red one this time... it matches my eyes; he curls my fingers back around it and pushes my hand away. I inwardly accept his plea to leave it unbound and rise, tucking the tie into the pocket of my jeans.
"Ready to go?" I asked, offering him a hand.
He is still waiting for me to answer what wasn't initially a question but hangs in the air as one. I don't understand how it came to be so important, but his eyes confirm the fact that it is. He had taken on a good portion of the responsibility years ago; the chore of brushing it was strictly his, washing it as well more often than not.
He has never once complained. It's almost as much his as it is mine.
I smile and bend down to take both of his hands, pulling him to a stand. His eyes meet mine expectantly.
"I promise." I assure him, sealing my vow with a small kiss.
I quickly put on my socks and boots after deciding to change into a pair of shorts. It's still early and the temperature seems to have risen rapidly the past hour or so.
Heero eyes my outfit suspiciously as I exit the tent.
"You're wearing those into town?" he asks.
I look down at my shorts. They are a bit skimpy and perhaps tighter than they used to be, the denim worn fairly thin. "Yeah." I smile, "They're comfy."
We grab our empty back packs and head out of the campsite. The hike out won't take us nearly as long without the weight of our packs and I'm looking forward to exploring the town. Heero is walking several paces behind me and knowing him, ogling my ass. I gather my hair and pull it over my shoulder, giving him a better view and adding a little wiggle to my walk.
I swear I can hear him groan.