"No, I mean here." She waved her hand around. "Up here. In the Arctic. Frozen at that particular depth."
"What do you mean?" He frowned.
"I think it wanted to be frozen."
It took a moment for him to respond. "Are you saying...this substance... is sentient?"
She ignored his disbelief. "I also think it wanted to be found."
He laughed. "I think maybe your fever's back."
"It's everything and nothing all at once." She reached out, opened his fist, and put the test tube in it. He looked down at their hands, and then back at her, his eyes searching. "It's an infinite source. What else, Finn? What else could it be?"
He opened his mouth to deny it, she knew him well enough to know, but she pressed her fingertips to his lips, shaking her head. "Don't think. Just feel. Hold it in your hand and feel it."
It was an incredibly unscientific request, but he swallowed and did as she asked. Shaking his head, looking pained, she knew he was struggling with the part of him that required facts, proof. He had them now in his very hand, and still his mind wanted to deny it. She searched his face as he opened his eyes and knew which part of him had won.
"It's everything. It's nothing." His voice actually trembled and she nodded, silently agreeing. "It's limitless power. For good or evil, that's what this means."
The idea was thrilling, beyond words, and she naively mused aloud for a moment. "In the right hands..."
Finn shook his head, his eyes flashing. "In the wrong ones..."
The endless possibility of that thought hung there between them. Mary closed her eyes with the weight of it, leaning her head back against the wall. She felt like crying, laughing, screaming. It was in her, everything at once, almost too much to bear.
"Are you okay?" His hand was warm on her forehead and she wanted to turn her face to it, encourage him to touch her, to bridge the gap. "Fever?"
"No." She opened her eyes, watching his hand fall to his lap. "Just...it's..." She shrugged, unable to say, but he nodded.
This time it was her voice that trembled when she asked, "What are we going to do?"
Finn closed his eyes again, pursed his lips, that pained look briefly crossing his face for a moment before he looked at her and said, "The right thing."
The right thing.
Mary reached for the test tube, meaning to take it from him, set it aside, but he caught her hand, turning it over. She thought he was going to place the substance there, but instead he lifted her palm and kissed it, his breath hot against the sensitive inside of her wrist, his lips impossibly soft.
She stared at him in wonder, daring to ask, "So, just what is the right thing, Finn?"
"Right now?" His eyes searched hers, looking for an answer that had always been there. "Right now, it's this."
There was no resistance in her. She let him lean in and capture her mouth, press her back and then down onto the cot, welcoming the weight of him. She heard the faint "tink" of the test tube hitting the floor and then rolling as they came together on the small confines of her little bed, mouths slanting, tongues seeking heat.
Never had she wanted him more. If she could have cracked herself open to the core, absorbed him completed into her, she would have. Instead, she wound herself around him by degrees, her fingers in his hair, her legs twined with his, her arms snaking around his neck, her tongue circling the hot recesses of his mouth. Finn didn't object, his hands roaming up under her flannel, exploring the soft valley of her waist, the indent of her navel, and—oh, god, finally—the sloping curve of her breast, the rise of her hardening nipple.
Her room was never warm. She went to bed every night nearly fully dressed, but now she was suddenly hot, more than feverish, her body on fire with a heat that could melt ice. Eager, she tugged his dark turtleneck out from the waistband of his jeans, her hands roaming the hard arch of his back, the wings of his shoulder blades, his muscles tight and thick but melting under her touch. Finn helped her pull his shirt off, and she took a brief, breathless moment to admire the broad, masculine emerging shadow of him above her before her trembling fingers found the buttons on her own shirt, working her way down while he worked up from the bottom, their hands meeting in the middle.
He looked at her and groaned when she revealed herself, shrugging out of the shirt, wearing nothing then but the thin barrier of her panties rubbing against the hard press of denim between her thighs. He caught one of her dark-tipped nipples between his lips, his tongue bathing it with the heat of his mouth, a shocking juxtaposition to the cool air. Her body arched all on its own, her hand moving between them, seeking the softness of her mound and the hard press of his cock as they rocked together.
Finn gasped when she cupped her hand over the denim bulge and then pressed his hips forward hard, trapping her hand, his mouth covering hers, tongue plunging deep. His excitement made her bold and she quickly unbuttoned and unzipped him, maneuvering to slide her hand in and pull the length of him out.
"Oh god," he murmured against her throat, nuzzling there, making her nipples stand up as she stroked him against the inside of her thigh.
Yes, God, she thought, feeling it, something, coursing through her as they moved closer toward coupling, her mind flashing momentarily on the impossible, unknown crystallized substance resting in a test tube underneath them somewhere. She wanted to tell Finn, how incredible it was, how perfectly divine, but when she looked into his eyes, she thought he already knew.
"Off," she insisted, shoving his jeans and boxers down his hips, and he obliged, both of them naked now except for the brush of her panties, which were gone in a whisper as he reached down there to touch her.
She wanted him inside of her, now, forever—she couldn't wait. He was as hard as bedrock in her hand, and she rubbed the tip of him up and down her slit, displacing his probing fingers and making him shudder in response, his hips already moving.
"Please," he begged, looking down at her with half-closed eyes. "Oh, god, Mary, I need you..."
She opened to him completely then, and he took her, his cock aimed to perfection, drilling deep, making her gasp with his precision. She didn't let him go, grinding her hips upward, wrapping her legs around his, seeing him grit his teeth, that pained look crossing his face for a moment, and she knew he was holding back.
"No," she whispered, rolling her hips, meeting his beginning thrusts. "Don't hold back, Finn. Please. I want you. All of you."
He took a quivering breath, shaking his head, his eyes wild, hungry. "If you knew..."
"I do know." She touched his cheek, traced his lips, feeling the pulse of him buried in the hot recesses of her body, every muscle taut, waiting for him to let go. It was beyond pleasure, beyond sensation itself, just out of reach, as if waiting for them to catch up. "I feel it. Don't you feel it?"
"Yes." The look of bewildered longing in his eyes made her slip her hand behind his head, pulling his mouth to hers and kissing him hard as he began to move in her. They rocked together, the heat of their bodies, their breath, filling the little room.
There was no holding back now, their soft cries melting together as they moved toward some blissful destination shimmering on the horizon, and she watched it recede with every motion forward, an aching mirage. Desperate, greedy, she clung to him as if he could take her there, the thick pound of his cock driving her hard against the cot as she begged him for more.
"Harder," she gasped into his ear, her teeth raking his neck, his shoulder. "Oh Finn, please, I'm..."
"Coming," he groaned, thrusting deep and she felt it burst, the energy trapped between them released in a bright, white hot explosion.
"There," she whispered, her eyes closing, her body giving in to the sensation, expanding, contracting, filled with everything and nothing all at once. Eternity had never been so close.
There wasn't room for them both on the little cot, but Finn made himself her bed, rolling beneath her, finding the edge of her sleeping bag and pulling it over them for warmth. There weren't words, and Mary didn't miss them. Instead, she pressed her cheek against his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart, and felt nothing but awe as they drifted off together toward some even deeper destination.
* * * *
"You said we were going to do the right thing."
"This is the right thing, Mare." Finn was heading out the door, and she followed, like she always did, feeling small. "We're scientists. We can't possibly let this discovery go unreported. This is bigger than relativity!"
"And we know how well that turned out," she grumbled, pulling her parka hood closer as they headed toward the snowmobiles. He had loaded the ice cores she'd pulled onto the sled, and now meant to take them to the drop-off point. The helicopter he'd radioed would be there in less than an hour.
"We need bigger equipment to test this with," he insisted, reaching back and grabbing her hand, pulling her with him. "An accelerator, for one. We have to be sure we've found what we think we've found."
Mary stopped, pulling him up short, and he turned to look at her. "You're not sure?"
"I don't know." Finn shrugged. "That's what I want, though. I want to be sure."
"Good for you." He looked defiant, and it reminded her of the Finn she'd experienced the night before, in the lab.
"I know what we found." She caught both of his gloved hands in hers, squeezing so he could feel her. "I know what I felt. I know what I feel."
"What does that have to do with anything?" He frowned, but his eyes softened when he looked at her face.
"It has everything to do with everything." She smiled, wanting to kiss the frown line creasing his forehead. "Finn, I love you. I've loved you for as long as I can remember."
"Aw, Mare..." He swallowed, looking away, down at the snow.
She took a deep breath. "Don't do this."
"I have to." His jaw tightened and he left her standing there, trudging toward the snowmobile. It was running, the headlight a beacon in the darkness. She turned, making her decision, knowing she couldn't go with him and turn their discovery over to the rest of the world.
"Hey!" His voice, calling her, made her turn back. "Mary! Quick!"
She couldn't see well enough in the darkness, but his voice was panicked, and she broke into a run. The snow under her feet was lightly packed, but it had stopped falling at least, giving her a clear path to him.
"What's the matter?" she gasped, and then turned to where he was pointing, his eyes dark with anger.
"Did you do that?" His voice was angry, and she winced.
The bags on the back of the sled were empty. She knelt beside them, running her gloved hands over the surface. The ice cores were gone. They hadn't melted—there was no water or residue inside—and they hadn't evaporated, either, because the bags were completely flat, as if nothing had ever been in them in the first place.
Mary looked up and met Finn's accusing eyes. "I didn't. Finn, I've been with you the whole time!" It was true, and he knew it.
His shoulders slumped, his face falling. "Then what...how in the hell?"
She took his offered hand, letting him help her up. "I don't think we're supposed to understand."
"Oh fuck that." He threw up his hands, reaching over and turning off the snowmobile. "What the hell are we here for, if not to understand?"
"We can't see it...touch it...taste it..." She turned her face up to the sky, completely clear now, the stars even brighter than before. "We can just feel it."
"I don't feel anything," Finn growled, kicking at the sled.
"I think you do." She reached out and squeezed his gloved hand, feeling him give, just a little.
"Fuck," he muttered, but he slipped his arm around her waist, pulling her in closer.
"Look." She pointing to the horizon where a slow, lazy rainbow of colors danced in the sky—the aurora borealis, a rare event this time of year.
"Goddamnit, Mary." Finn's voice was choked as he pressed his lips to her forehead. "I love you. You know I do."
She smiled, her eyes filled with the ever-changing, infinite light of the universe, and spoke the truth with a certainty she'd never understood until that moment.
Now, on to other things...
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