He was exhausted, dirty, hungry and his entire body ached. But Face forgot all of that the instant he heard that incredibly beautiful word.
Racing towards him was a small, curly-haired moppet, waving her arms frantically. Face dropped his bags, his disguise having been discarded as soon as the cabbie had sped out of sight.
Tonya raced at her father, Face sweeping her up into his arms and pressing his face into against her hair. "Tonya!" He covered the top of her head with kisses, holding his daughter tightly to him. It was a wonderful feeling. Then Mardi came crashing into him, nearly bowling him over. Face shifted Tonya to ground to embrace his eldest.
Erinn stayed back, watching her daughters launch themselves at Face. Her heart was slamming painfully beneath her breast as she looked at her husband, unable to believe her eyes. It couldn't be-was it a dream? How had he survived this long? It had to be a miracle.
And then he paused, allow Mardi and Tonya to step aside. Face smiled, and held his arms out to her. "Erinn," he said hoarsely.
The trance she was under broke. With a strangled cry, she practically flew the distance between them, hurling herself at him. Face's arms closed around her, pulling her up against him, his lips crashing down on her's. His tears mingled with her own. "Garik..." she whispered softly against his mouth, his name the only thing she ever wanted to say.
Face tangled his fist in his wife's hair, breathing in her scent, crushing her body against his, whispering soothing words into her ear. Gods, but he loved her, and how good it felt to be home at last.
Their joyful meeting wasn't to last long. Erinn became aware of gagging sounds behind her. She turned in Face's arms and looked at the girls. Mardi was rolling her eyes and Tonya was pretending to stick her finger down her throat.
"Oh GROSS! BLECH!!!" Tonya grabbed her throat, sticking out her tongue and making vomitting noises.
"You guys are so sick. Gods, you're like OLD!" Mardi snapped.
Face mock-glared at her, then noticed the peculiar streaks of pink in the teenager's hair. "What did you do to your hair?"
Mardi smirked. "What did you do to yours?" she snorted, looking pointedly at her father's freshly shaven head.
They lay tangled in a state of exhausted bliss.
Skin against skin, she lay against him, her hand over his chest, fingers splayed, taking in the slow, steady beating of his heart.
He kept his arms locked tightly around her, his hand at the small of her back, feeling the rise and fall of her breathing.
Erinn turned her head ever so slightly, pressing her lips against his shoulder. "You're going back soon?" Face caught her tone of dispair.
"Two weeks." He laid his finger against her lips. "Let's not talk about that. Not now, anyways," he added.
Erinn smiled. "No, not now." She wiggled a bit closer to him, and Face tightened his hold on her. She yawned.
"Yeah-I feel that way myself." Face grinned. "Not that I'm complaining, mind you." He kissed her forehead, smoothing the silky black curls back. "I missed you, love."
Erinn responded by running the palm of her hand along his thigh and kissing him long and full. "Oh!" she yelped delightedly as his flesh began to harden beneath her fingertips.
"Well, well, well, it seems you're not THAT tired..."
"Not quite. IN fact-oh SITH, Erinn! Keep that up and we'll never get any sleep."
"That's the idea."
"Damn, I love you."
"I love you too."
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