Their feet shuffled on the unfamiliar floor, her steps far more wobbly than his. Hardly any light spilled in from the hallway. They tumbled over onto the bed together. It sagged before bouncing back. Zoë giggled, wrapping herself around Devon more completely.
He untangled her hand from the fur collar of his coat. "I need to get going."
She pouted, "Now? Come on, Dev, stay, stay, please?"
It was dark in the room but he could see her eyes shining in the moonlight coming through the window. Damn, but she was beautiful. Devon smoothed the curls from her face. "I'm on duty tomorrow. And he is outside."
She giggled again. "I love that you're willing to risk my father's wrath but not his."
"Yeah, well, it's less about Oron and more about my drill sergeant." Still, he couldn't quite make himself pull away just yet.
Zoë played with the fur on his jacket, more than happy to stay just like this. "They'll forgive you. What's a few push-ups?"
He groaned, "And two days of kitchen duties. That'd take all my time and then I couldn't come see you." He tickled under her chin, making her laugh.
"Stay, Devon, please!" She dropped her voice, eyes shining bright with mischief. "Just a little while. You can sneak out at 5am and no one will know…"
It was his turn to laugh. "That sounds like fun to you, does it?"
"Well it is for me," she grinned. "Even if I will lose my hot blanket warmer…"
Ah, that look was back in her eye. Devon kissed her, giving in to the desire to stay for just those few sweet moments. She whimpered as he extricated himself, reaching for the lapels of his coat. "I have to go," he said gently.
Zoë gazed up at him, a vision of soft skin and silky hair. Her lashes were already drooping.
Devon tugged her boots off. "You go to sleep, and I'll come see you again tomorrow."
She sighed, but obediently got under the blankets—something she would never do for anyone else, not even her twin. Her coat came off, and was handed to Devon while she snuggled down, still in her party clothes.
"Not going to forgive you," she mumbled into the pillow.
He looked down at her, trying to count how many drinks they had had between them and failing. He did know she'd beaten him again. He bent and kissed her cheek, catching her hand before it could pull him down. "Sleep well, baby."
"Mmm, you too…"
He closed the door behind himself and shielded his eyes. The light was abrasive after so much dark. Devon draped her coat over a chair and went looking for Oron. It didn't take long, the flat wasn't very big. The much larger man was in the kitchen, rattling around in the fridge. Devon felt himself teetering and leaned against the door frame to hide it. "Hey."
Oron closed the fridge, milk in hand. "Hey."
Devon resisted the urge to shift like a naughty schoolboy. "I'm gonna head out now. She's in bed. Should stay there."
He watched the older man prepare himself hot milk. It occurred to Devon then just how much these late nights must be fucking with Oron's routine. He was nearing thirty, after all. No spring chicken. Devon was starting to flag as well, but he was managing. And he wasn't required to keep it up, day in and day out. "Look… if you want to take a break sometime, I can fill in…"
The look he received was vicious. "I do not need 'a break', and if I did, I would not leave her with you."
Devon sighed internally. The barb wasn't personal, he knew. He could appreciate the sentiment. He wouldn't leave a young woman he was supposed to protect alone with a slavering hound either. It would be nice, though, if Oron acknowledged that he saw Zoë as more than a piece of meat. Now wasn't the time to bring that up. "Just saying." There was something about the set of Oron's shoulders… "You ok? Something wrong?" Something I should know about?
Oron turned to face him, folding his arms. "That woman's followed Zoë here. The reporter."
"Merda. You're sure?"
"She was at Adelinda's tonight."
Devon stared at him, feeling stupid. "But… we didn't see…"
"You didn't see because I got in her way," Oron said sternly. The condemnation was clear—you were already drinking. "Why do you think I moved the group upstairs?"
Devon ran a hand through his hair, taking a deep breath. They were in deep shit indeed if this woman got close to Zoë, at all. "Are you going to tell Zoë?"
"No. Not yet."
"What are you going to do about it?"
"Keep an eye on her. Keep her away from Zoë. If she gets close again," Oron shrugged. If she got too close, it would be her lookout.
Devon could feel the beginnings of sickness as the beer left his system. He knew this was a major turn of events that deserved his full attention, but he just didn't have it in him at the moment. He hung in the doorway uselessly. Finally he pulled himself back together. "So, uh, I have patrol tomorrow. I said I'm come by in the evening." That was if he didn't collapse into bed. He had to squint to read the clock over the stove. Deus, after three. He might as well have spent the night for all the sleep he was going to get.
"I'll tell her," said Oron, watching his milk, back to Devon.
That was the best he could hope for. Devon said his goodbye and left, navigating the stairs with all the caution and unnecessary noise of someone who knows he has had too much to drink but doesn't think anyone else knows it yet.
Oron's brow knit, counting the thumps to make sure they did not end in a last crash and Devon passed out at the bottom. He poured the steaming milk into a mug and turned out the kitchen light. His eyes were sore, and heavy. He didn't know how Devon was managing it, out all night and then up at dawn for drills. The door to Zoë's room had been left slightly ajar, and he pushed it open just enough to check on her. It was hard to pick her out in the mound of thick quilts she had insisted they procure upon arrival. Oron shook his head. He'd grown up even further north than this. It was invigorating, actually, being able to taste snow on the wind again.
He took the milk to his room and prepared for bed.