Title: Portraits in a Gallery: Progress
Logan was seated in Xavier's office, and, while he wasn't exactly happy to hear that Scott had gotten squashed by his little car, it would put Chuck off balance a bit, and that could only be a good thing. Logan knew he'd have to carefully finesse how he relayed the details about Sabretooth, and Marie, to prevent Xavier from catching on to the fact that he wasn't divulging the whole story.
"You wanted to see me?" Xavier began.
"Yeah. Scooter OK?"
"He will be. It was very fortuitous that your new discovery was here to assist him."
"Yep." Logan shifted in his seat, and Xavier politely smiled at him, waiting for him to begin. "Found out a coupla things you should probably know. Heard from some old connections." Namely, Marie, who, since he'd actually met her more than a decade ago, qualified as an 'old connection.' Logan knew it was better if he stuck as close to actual truth as possible around Chuck. He had almost as good of a 'lie radar' as Logan did. "And one of 'em told me that Creed's dead."
"Dead?" Charles asked, stunned.
"Dead." When the Professor just gaped at him, Logan elaborated. "Met up with someone who finally go the better of him – government, I heard."
"Dear Lord," Xavier sighed, sinking back into his chair. Logan knew that his sentiments weren't in sympathy for the savage mutant's demise – he was astounded, and afraid, that the government had found a way to kill the bastard. Although as a rule Logan didn't like to over-worry Chuck – his crew of young, green X-Men tended to do enough of that – he didn't mind letting Xavier attribute a little more success to the government than they actually warranted in this case. He never thought that Xavier took the threat from that quarter seriously enough; maybe this would turn him around on that particular issue. "Do you know how they achieved this?"
"Not exactly," Logan averred. "But the source was reliable enough for me to believe that he's gone."
"When? Do you know when? He's been quiet for some time, and we assumed that he was planning something, lying in wait, but………"
"Coupla years back, close as I can figure." Again, Logan thought the vaguer the better. "At least we know he's outta the picture."
"Hmmm……." Charles intoned, thinking. Logan let him. "Whatever they used to kill Sabretooth, we must find it – this thing, it could be a danger to you as well."
"Hmph." Logan tried to appear non-committal. "Dunno."
"Logan," Charles said firmly, leaning forward, "I know that you are fond of thinking yourself indestructible, but you are not. If there exists a force, a weapon, that could bring you down, we are better off finding it, assessing the threat, and pursuing the development of whatever countermeasures there may be. My friend," Charles said in a softer voice, "you also think yourself the last resort, the ace in the hole of this team, and in that you are quite correct. We need you."
"I know. Look – don't worry. Whatever those government fuckers got up their sleeve, we'll figure it out." Relieved that Xavier seemed to take that as an assurance, Logan decided to just move off the topic. "Besides – got somethin' else I wanna talk with ya about."
"Marie," Charles guessed, his eyes already twinkling.
Logan gave a gruff nod and a mock-glare to his boss. "I know you're probably just itchin' with curiosity 'bout her, but I'm tellin' ya – hands off. She's young, she's had a rough life, and she don't have any real useful powers."
Xavier chuckled. "You've just described most of our residents."
"Yeah, well – I mean it. No recruitin' her for the team."
"What *is* her power?" Charles asked, with sharp eyes. Logan frowned.
"It's her skin. It absorbs the life outta anyone who she touches. Can kill 'em if she touches 'em long enough." The shock on Xavier's face was evident, and so was the reason behind it. He hid it quickly, but Logan's senses missed nothing. "Yeah, we are a couple and no, the skin ain't a problem." Now a blush flashed across Charles' face. "What? I'm a creative guy." Logan smirked, knowing full-well that it would prompt a bigger blush and a head-shake. He knew too, that Charles was probably wondering how a man with Logan's renowned 'animal instincts' was taking to a no-touch partner so nonchalantly. It reminded him that Marie really was the first and only person he'd met that didn't have even the slightest question about his ability to rise above those strong instincts. He liked that.
"Of course," Xavier finally said. "Although as to the team – "
"It ain't pleasant for her to use those powers on someone else. It hurts her. I mean it – she don't need to be on the team." He darkened his expression, just to let Chuck know he was really serious.
"Shouldn't that be her decision?"
"No," Logan answered quickly then, seeing Xavier's expression, rephrased a bit. "It's not a possibility for her to join the team, and goin' after her for it would only make her feel uncomfortable. Look, Chuck, I'm in it for the long haul with Marie. I want her to like livin' here, without feeling pressured to join up with the team every second as a trade-off."
"I see." Xavier leaned back, steepling his fingers together. "She means quite a lot to you."
"Then, congratulations – I am happy for you, Logan. You have long deserved someone who can be a true companion to you. I look forward to meeting Marie."
With those words, he knew that Chuck would do as he'd asked – at least for now. Logan breathed a sigh of relief. "Thanks."
"Hmm. So, let's see – Sabretooth, our unkillable foe, has perished, and you, our resident ladies' man, is settling in for the long haul. Any other earth-shaking news? Hell freezing over or anything like that?"
Logan mock-growled at Chuck's teasing. "Didn't hear anythin' about a cure for baldness, but I'll keep ya posted, Chuck." Xavier's laughter heralded him out of the room and, after closing the door behind him, Logan allowed himself a broad, genuine smile. That had gone well. Very well.
Kitty finally caught back up with Hank in the dining hall. He was off in a corner, eating alone, and was on the receiving end of several stares, despite the unusual being quite a bit more usual here than any other student cafeteria. Kitty frowned, berating herself for forcing the poor guy to eat all alone – she'd promised him lunch, then the whole thing with Scott had happened and here he was now, obviously having been too hungry to wait any longer, and totally uncomfortable. That wouldn't do at all – it certainly wouldn't entice him to stay, which was clearly what the Professor was after. And, after seeing Hank's heroics and abilities on display today, Kitty was quite on board with that plan. She had to do something to make him feel more at home here. Quickly grabbing a few items from the food line, she made her way over to him.
His amber eyes caught sight of her about halfway across the room, and she smiled. His answering smile of relief confirmed her fears – he *was* having a hard time of it out here all by himself. "Hey there," she called when she was almost to his table, "mind if I join you?"
"Not in the least," Hank assured, rising and pulling out her chair for her. Kitty nodded her thanks, and found herself truly appreciative of the small, chivalrous gesture at the end of a long, hard day. Yes, she was as feminist as the next girl, but it was still…..nice, somehow, when men demonstrated manners. It showed a certain respect, when done genuinely, and Kitty liked that. "How is Scott faring?"
"He's doing really well. I can't thank you enough for helping him. You were amazing."
Hank's grin clearly said he could get used to hearing that. "As were you. I am glad he is doing well. I must say – I am very glad to have had the chance to assist in his care. Dr. Grey is a marvelous physician, and I would very much like to learn more about all things medical."
"She'd be the one to teach you," Kitty said, trying to keep the tightness out of her voice. She didn't disagree with Hank, but did every male that passed through the mansion doors just *have* to become enthralled with Jean?
"Yes, ah, well – what are you having for dinner?"
Seeing that Hank had sensed her discomfiture, she decided to just follow him along on that complete change of subject. "Turkey, and green beans. I'm doing the whole Atkins diet thing. Well – at least this month." Her smile seemed to set the mood right again.
"Ah, I see. But I daresay that you are certainly not in need of a diet. You appear quite well-proportioned. Not, ah – not that I looked, not that I – "
'Thank you," Kitty interrupted. "But I could stand to lose a few. My thighs – they're my mortal enemy."
Hank's eyes went downward, to the objects of her complaints. "Nonsense," he said, in carefully level voice. "They appear quite nice."
"Well, their evil is concealed by my jeans. Cellulite actually has quite a foothold." She let a laugh escape with the words, and he laughed along. Kitty relaxed a bit, glad that he was feeling less awkward. "What did you get?" She peered at the remains of his plate.
"A little of everything, I am afraid. I have quite – quite a large appetite." In truth, he was more than a little bashful about his consumption. He ate like the proverbial horse, and then some. But Kitty smiled blithely at the words, so he went on. "It was all very good."
"Oh my – if you think that's good cooking, I'll have to take you into town one night. There's a pizza place that's got a pepperoni and mushroom calzone to die for and a Chinese one that has *the* best lo mein and – " She stopped abruptly and for a second, Hank was worried, afraid that she'd been stilled by the thought of appearing in public with him, in all his blue-furred glory, but then she said, " – and I guess we can all see why I need the diet now." Hank laughed in relief. "But seriously, if you're sticking around a while, we'll go out and get you some real food one of these days."
"I would very much like that," Hank said solemnly. They exchanged a glance, and then both dove into their dinners.
'Ro tromped upstairs, more frustrated than she could ever remember being in her entire life. Clouds were already gathering over Westchester; a stinging rain would soon follow. She knew everyone thought she did it to show her power, or to spite whoever had annoyed her, but the truth was that there were times when she just couldn't control it.
Tonight was one of those times – losing ground with Charles just when she'd been on the verge of finally - *finally* - making some progress with him had been maddening. He'd told her yesterday that he'd have an answer for her today, and she knew in her heart that it would've been the answer she wanted so desperately to hear, but now, with Scott injured, Charles had instead told her that she would be leading the team during Scott's convalescence and that, because of that, he felt it inappropriate to pursue 'personal matters' between them now. He'd asked for more time.
'Ro snorted at that – time? All she'd given him was time and nothing but. She wondered if she'd misread him, if he really was using this as an opportunity to put her off. She didn't disagree that a relationship between Charles and the team leader would be a little awkward, and yes, maybe even inappropriate, but she'd also meant what she'd told him before – she couldn't keep her heart on a shelf forever. She honestly didn't know if she could wait the months that Scott's recovery would likely take.
Sighing, and trying to regain some control of her powers, she made her way to the penthouse. Being in the rooftop greenhouse gardens always calmed her. Perhaps it would at least blunt her frustration tonight.
Scott's eyes slowly blinked open. At first he couldn't make out what he was seeing, but then he got it – light. Red, as filtered through his visor, of course, but it was unquestionably a bright light. After a few more seconds, he began to piece together the sights, sounds, and smells to figure out where he was. It was the medlab, but he couldn't remember how he got here. Trying (and failing) to raise himself up into a sitting position so that he could get a better look at himself and his surroundings, he gave out a harsh grunt and then flopped back onto the bed.
"Hey," Jean's voice greeted from somewhere off to his left. "You're awake." She appeared in his line of sight a few moments later. "How are you feeling?"
"Bad," Scott answered, before remembering that he was supposed to be the Stoic Team Leader. "Um, I mean – "
"It's OK," Jean waved him off. "Honest patients are always the best kind. Do you feel any pain or do you just feel weak?"
"Weak," he responded reluctantly.
"Good," Jean responded, reaching over to rearrange his pillows and prop him up a bit. "Weak is better than hurting. Do you remember what happened?"
"Not really. I was……..I was in the garage, working on the car. Kitty came by with – with – that new guy, the furry one. What happened?"
"Well, the new guy saved your life when the jack gave out and the MiniCooper fell on you." Scott's expression froze, and Jean knew that his eyes had probably gone as big as saucers behind the visor. "You've got broken ribs, and you had a collapsed lung. You're going to need several weeks of rest, Scott, and I mean *rest* - you were seriously injured."
"How – how did they get the car off of me?"
"Hank picked it up and moved it. According to Kitty, just like it was a toy car. You were very lucky, Slim, that there was a big, burly mutant around just when you needed one. I always told you that little sports car would be the death of you one day." Scott gave Jean a look. She hadn't called him by that nickname in *years*, not since they first began dating. That, coupled with her warm, easy tone, sent a sudden pang of panic racing through him – he must've been seriously hurt. She was only like this when he'd just come back from some brush with death. "Scott, why don't you just rest now?" He glanced at her, wondering if she'd read his distress. "We can talk later. I – there are some things I think we should talk about," she said unsteadily, and Scott's concern grew. Had he actually died for a few moments or something? This wasn't the haughty, inflexible Jean he'd seen entirely too much of in recent months.
"OK," he replied, still a little dazed by it all.
"Good. Get some more sleep and I'll bring you some food when you wake up."
"Jean – " His voice spun her around just as she'd turned away. "I know you must've worked hard to save me. Thanks."
"It's my job," she replied, turning to go once again. Scott lay back in bed, mind racing, but body demanding more rest. After just a few minutes, his body won out, and he was once again asleep.
Logan woke with the morning light, with Marie still snoozing and comfortably plastered to his side. He ran a gloved hand over her hip, wondering for a moment just how he'd ever managed without her in his life. In her sleep, she smiled at the caress, and snuggled in closer to him. Giving a smirk of his own, Logan rolled them over so that he was flat on his back with Marie nestled atop him. That left both hands free to roam her body. This was a very good thing.
As his caresses became more daring and insistent, Marie slowly woke. With something that sounded a lot like a purr, she stretched, and splayed her legs apart so that their bellies were pressed together, resting one of her knees on each side of Logan's thighs. Since this allowed him to fully cup her bottom with both hands, Logan gave out an appreciative purr of his own.
"What a nice way to wake up." It came out in a sleepy Marie-mumble that wasn't exactly intended to be sexy, but one that prompted an immediate physical reaction in Logan nonetheless.
"Damn straight," he agreed. For a moment, he wondered if he should give in to the urge to thrust his hips up against Marie, to let her feel what she did to him with a few simple touches and that thick, sleepy voice of hers, but she soon resolved the matter by rubbing herself against him. Logan could tell that she wasn't wholly awake yet, that she'd done it just out of instinct, but he couldn't resist following up on that kind of invitation. He left one hand on her bottom and moved the other to the small of her back. Holding her hips in place like that, he rubbed up against her, right where it counted, with deliberate and delicious slowness.
She let out a low groan and arched her back, then raised her head to look into his eyes. Her face was flushed and her brown eyes were dark. "That felt good," she whispered huskily. "But should we…….." Her unspoken request was communicated by a slow grind of her hips, complimented by the tight grip of one hand on Logan's shoulder.
"God, yes, we definitely should," Logan whispered hurriedly.
"But is it too fast?"
Her tremulous whisper, laced with naked passion as it was, wasn't very convincing, but Logan registered the concern nonetheless. "Probably," he admitted in a gruff whisper of his own. "But I needta do more than hold you and kiss you. I need more right now." He almost took back the words as soon as they were out – he was never this open with a lover, never admitted his own need. Moreover, he was worried that Marie would feel pressured to give something she wasn't quite ready to, and the words hadn't come out quite right. He hadn't meant to make it sound like an impatient demand. But she only dropped her head to his chest and began applying soft kisses to the t-shirt covered surface. One small, gloved hand snaked down his body in advance of her lips, eventually working its way beneath the waistband of his sweats to gently grasp his straining erection. "God, yes…….Marie…….."
"Like this?" she queried, making her grasp firmer and her movement faster.
"Fuck," Logan panted, his head dropping back to the pillow as he gave his body over to her touch. "Don't stop." Writhing in pleasure, it took him a moment to notice Marie's intense concentration, and the way her full lips pressed together. Something about the way she was putting so much attention and effort into touching him this way got to him – he bucked his hips in time with her movements once, then twice, then came in a flurry of frenzied movements and groans. When he came back down, he looked to find Marie's lips now curved into a tender smile. She hadn't taken her hand from him, but she wasn't moving it, just covering him, just giving him her touch.
"Is that what you needed?" she asked.
"Exactly." He placed his hand over hers, sliding his thumb back and forth across her knuckles. The thought that something as tiny and delicate as her slim-fingered hand could bring him such powerful pleasure made him smile. "What do you need, darlin'?" This was something new, too – he'd never before asked a lover for their input, assuming (usually quite correctly) that he'd satisfy them by pursuing his own release. But he wanted to know how much and what, exactly, Marie wanted to do now. He didn't want to make a misstep, and felt lucky that his blurted-out confession of need hadn't proven to be one.
Marie didn't answer in words; she turned her hand to grasp his, and rolled to her back. After a soft sigh and a meaningful look, she drew his hand up to her breast and settled it there, then released it. Logan followed her lead, and began gently caressing, squeezing, and pinching her there. She seemed to be just drinking it all in, just enjoying it, and Logan delighted in watching her respond to his ministrations. When she was clearly in the throes of arousal, flushed bright pink and panting, he lowered his mouth to her breast. Sucking strongly enough to make himself felt through the material of her t-shirt, he felt himself grow hard again. Glad that he'd been sated earlier and could manage his arousal, at least for now, he refocused on taking care of Marie.
After a few moments more, she suddenly stopped him, though, pushing his head and hands away. "Darlin'?"
"Sorry. Sorry. Just – I need a break for a second, OK?"
"Sure," he answered, putting a hand across her stomach and lazily stroking it. "You all right?"
Marie nodded. "But I won't be able to stop if I don't – if I don't – "
Logan's soft chuckle interrupted her explanation. He was usually the one unable to stop. "We don't hafta stop if you don't wanna, you know. We're – Marie, we're together now, and all that stuff we said to each other, we meant all that stuff, right?"
"We did, but I do want to go slow, at least a little. I want to make sure you're sure. I – I just………I don't want to rush anything."
"You're not, darlin'." Logan smirked. "Not at all. Trust me." His gently teasing tone belied the words – he *was* ready, but he also knew she was probably a little nervous and overwhelmed. Perfectly understandable, but not something Logan was about to let stand in the way of giving her what she really needed, what they both needed. However, his inflection seemed lost on Marie, who only nodded, and tried again to get her breathing under control. When she'd mostly succeeded, Logan caught her eye and leaned close, deciding to be a little more explicit. Or a lot. "Do you need me to make you come, baby?" That got wide eyes and a big, full-body blush. But there was something in her scent that made Logan press forward, not pull back. "Do you want me to use my mouth or my hands?" She hesitated. "Tell me, Marie."
"Your mouth," came out of her in the barest of whispers. He smirked, and began tugging her sweats down. Use his mouth, he did – nipping and licking his way south until his lips found the delicate lace of her panties. He tugged those off too, then searched around on the bed, nightstand, and floor until his fingers grasped one of her discarded scarves. It was one of the gauzy, thin ones – perfect. He floated it over her, noting that her head was turned to the side with her eyes tightly shut. The blush was still in full effect. Logan allowed himself a smile, genuinely touched by both her innocence and her trust in him.
"Hey, beautiful girl," he called to her, getting a quick glance in return. Logan put both hands on the inside of her thighs and caressed there, all the while slowly, incrementally parting her legs wider. "I can't wait to find out what you taste like here." It came out a lot sweeter than the words themselves could convey. She smiled and reached down to ruffle his hair. Encouraged, he winked at her before settling in to his task.
He began licking at her gently, slowly. It took a few moments for her body to make the scarf moist, and for the taste of her to infuse its gauzy material, but once it did, Logan found himself irresistibly moved to wholeheartedly pleasure her. He plunged his lips and tongue against her heated flesh, urged on each time a new rush of slick moisture was smeared against his face. The scent, feel, and taste of her were everywhere, and if it was overwhelming for Marie, it was doubly so for Logan. That was another first – he'd always been in control during sex, always, and losing himself in her like this was the first time he'd let that unfailing restraint slip.
He heard her moan and felt her body twist in his grasp. Releasing her thighs, which, by now, were parted as far as they would go, he moved his hands around to slide up past her bottom and curl around to anchor themselves on her hip bones. He needed to hold her in place as he took her higher, both for her pleasure and his. Somewhere above his head, he heard her hand smack into the mattress, followed by the fabric-y rasp of her gloved fingers digging into the sheets, but the whole of his universe was encompassed right in front of him at the moment. He paid no mind to anything going on above her waist or below her knees.
Her moans became louder, and the scarf was nearly soaked by now. Logan knew she was close. He kept going, refusing to focus where he knew a release would be immediately triggered. Drawing this out as long as possible, even if that time frame was down to mere seconds in any case, was his goal. He felt her thighs begin to shake, actually tremble, and her body strain more powerfully than he would've imagined in his grasp. Redoubling his efforts to hold her still and keep his persistent, feverishly working mouth on her, he tightened his hold on her hips and shifted his weight to help pin her in place. A few more seconds would do it; he wanted to enjoy every last one.
Finally, with a groan that sounded like it came all the way up from the soles of her feet, she arched and came, those pale, creamy thighs trembling almost violently now. Logan reluctantly slowed his attentions to avoid turning the intense pleasure into the pain of over-stimulation. When he finally came to a stop, and raised his head, she was gasping for breath like she'd just run a marathon and his face was wet from forehead to jaw, from ear to ear. "Damn," he breathed.
"We're gonna hafta do this every day." He'd been utterly sincere, but she gave out with a startled giggle. "I mean it. Every damn day. Maybe twice a day." Soft eyes found his, and he opened his mouth, letting out a little part of his heart. "I loved havin' you that way." That was another first during sex, and, well, during life for Logan. Marie seemed to bring down all of his walls, effortlessly. And moreover – it didn't even scare him that she did. He felt more curiosity and wonder than anything else – just how did she do that?
"Give me the scarf," she breathed, reaching out a shaky hand for it. Logan obeyed, wondering if she wanted a taste of herself. Although it seemed a bit wanton for Marie, he wouldn't mind seeing her sample the scarf.
But she had other things in mind. Moving lazily, languidly, she pushed him onto his back and shifted around until her mouth came level with his belly button. When the wet scarf settled over his renewed erection, he knew just what she had in mind. "Yes," he hissed, waiting to feel the heat of her mouth on him.
He didn't have to wait long. The scarf covered him from base to tip, and Marie took him as deeply as she could, then bobbed her head up and down. She wasn't practiced, and she didn't know what to do to get him off the quickest, but she went at him with an enthusiasm and a desire he'd never experienced before. That, the feel of her own moisture on the scarf wrapped around him, and her little moans and sucking noises more than compensated for her lack of expertise.
After sensing a change in her scent and heart rate, it dawned on Logan that Marie, too, was pursuing her own satisfaction from the act. Her tiny hands were holding him still, just as he'd held her in place, and the way she was exploring him, missing not an inch as she lavished her attentions on him, confirmed his theory. "Yes, baby," he encouraged, "yes, Marie."
He dropped his head back to the bed, and shut his eyes as she rewarded him with a firm suck on the very tip. Dropping his arms to his side, he let her have at him, let her get what she wanted and simply lay back and let the pleasure wash over him. It was yet another first – during sex of any kind, he'd always pursued his orgasm single-mindedly and efficiently. Pleasure for pleasure's sake was an alien experience, but, somehow, with Marie, he felt like he didn't have to rush to climax, like he could relax and let her delve into him, let her get what she desired out of the experience while languishing in the very pleasant side effects of her explorations. It wasn't like he feared she would somehow abandon him or steal his release from him. No, her response to his simple, naked 'I need more' was proof that she would see to the satisfaction of the demands of his body and spirit.
"Mmmm………" Her sighs were becoming outright moans of pleasure, and Logan experimentally bucked his hips, thrusting into her mouth. Her grip on him eased, seemingly granting permission. He bucked again, and she bobbed her head in time with his movements. Soon, he wound one hand around the back of her head, less to hold her in place or control her than to make another physical connection with her as he felt his climax coming closer. Marie responded by increasing the suction and the pace with which she was pleasuring him. He ground out a grunt of approval and met her pace. Normally, he would ask or at least signal his partner before coming in her mouth, but this time, it seemed to him that that was exactly what Marie was pursuing. Hoping he hadn't read her wrong, he threw himself into the sensations, and in a few more moments, came with a loud growl and a twisting, thrusting body. Everything in him felt like it had been stretched taut to its breaking point, then snapped back. He didn't know how long he spent growling and coming, but it seemed like more than the usual few brief seconds of release he'd always known. When he came back to himself, he felt Marie's mouth still on him, delicately sucking. Just the whisper of a lick against his tip, and a few more indescribably gentle sucks, and she was done too. Finally raising her head to look at him, all he could see was her red, swollen lips and flushed cheeks. Logan let out a long, low moan of satisfaction and extended a hand to her. She took it, careful to put a sheet between their naked lower halves, and lay by his side.
"You OK?" She nodded in response to his breathy question and unconsciously licked her lips. "Darlin', we're never gettin' outta bed if you're gonna do that." He chuckled at the scandalized expression and downcast eyes that followed his words. Once again, he opened his mouth and spoke his heart. "I so damn glad I found you. It's never been like this for me, never."
"I'm so glad you found me too," she whispered, eyes shining. "I always wanted to do these things with you, just you, you know? I'm so glad we can do them together." His heart tightened at that – she was so sincere, so open with him. He tugged on her hand to pull her closer and kissed the top of her head before snuggling her to him. "Logan," she whispered, "I think I'm going to fall asleep again. I feel all warm and – and – "
"Satisfied?" he supplied, the smirk coming through in his voice. But Marie wasn't flirting or playing along.
"Yeah," she answered, in a heartfelt, awed sigh. "Satisfied."
"Me too," Logan whispered back, substituting his own sincerity for the previous flirtation in his tone, and giving her a gentle squeeze before they both drifted off.