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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:45 pm 
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"Am lucky I get away with a lot of things," he answered more under his breath than anything else. Hell he was damn lucky he got away with flirting with half the women they spoke to half the time, he knew that most partners didn't like there partner doing such a thing. But it was a part of who he was, it was a bit part of who he was and he was so very fortunate that Claire let him carry that on, that she hadn't asked him to stop it.

Because in all honesty he wasn't sure he would have been able to and that would have just made them both miserable in the long run, it was the same in the fact that he wouldn't ever ask her to change a thing about herself, again cause it would make them miserable.

Caleb couldn't help the fake small pout as Claire refused to go and get him more food, honestly he was pretty sure they could keep up this fake pouting and being silly with each other for well for a very long time. Being silly was what made him smile so much, especially with Claire, it was something he hadn't actually had with his previous relationship the ability to be silly with each other.

"You'd see us both starve, hmmm....some partner you are," he said, not quite wanting to use the terms he had been using, but not wanting to use girlfriend or wife either. Neither them words would fit for what he wanted to call her, but the word Rawiri had taught him, well he wanted to be on his own with just Claire around to hear him say that, maybe later when they were on there own just the two of them.

"Besides I got this pain, right here, needs a doctors attention," he added, pointing to the side of his face, hoping she would plant another kiss there. It was that silliness that had sparked up again, one that even thought he knew Rawiri was right there in the small room with them, he couldn't help letting out.

Caleb laughed when Claire said she wasn't going to have any secrets left, oh she may not have secrets left by the time him and Rawiri were through chatting, but Caleb had definitely gained a secret himself in learning some Maori for her. He was pretty much excited to have learnt that word, he was looking forward to putting it out there for Claire to hear, it was excitement that started travelling through his body at that thought.

"Secrets? There no secrets left, sorry, we both know all now," he said, teasing her back just as lively. That wasn't true but well he could tease her about it, besides she was just as likely to get her own back on him. Which she did in spectacular fashion of course with her next parting comment.

"Ah now I know why your dad brought me in here, he wanted you to have all the debauchery to yourself! Now I know, you can't hide it any more," he said, face unable to stay straight as he broke into the widest grin ever and broke into a fit of laughter.

He wondered for a moment what Rawiri thought of the pair of them acting as though they were two teenagers joking around as they currently where instead of being two grown adults that were about to go on an adventure to another galaxy. Maybe that was what had done it, the fact they were leaving Earth, leaving the Milky Way altogether, they got be this silly because they were leaving it all behind.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:19 pm 
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Rawiri frowned for a moment as Caleb muttered something under his breath, unsure whether he was supposed to have heard something or not. "What was that, e hunaonga," he asked, his tone mild. Maybe Caleb had been joking about something that had been pushing the envelope a bit, maybe something that wasn't suitable for a father in law. Might as well find out if it was something he wanted to share, though.

He laughed as he watched Claire and Caleb start teasing one another, heading to the fridge and grabbing three beers, popping their caps and handing one each to Claire and Caleb, before taking his seat back on the sofa. He twitched an eyebrow up at Caleb and gave him a knowing smile at his use of the word "partner".

"Hey," laughed Claire, mock swatting at Caleb's leg, even as she snuggled in deeper, her back hard up against the sofa. "Who's the one who's been hiding away in here having a fine old time, eh? I've been out there enduring the ninth level of hell!" It hadn't been that bad, but she knew where she would rather have been, that was for sure.

She rolled her eyes, leaning her head back, as Caleb pointed to his cheek. She looked across at Rawiri, a broad grin in place. "See, he's a real softie for a navy bloke," she teased. "Forever asking me to kiss things better." She didn't tell her dad that was how things had started, instead reaching behind her to pull Caleb's head down so that their lips met. The kiss was soft and warm, and far more chaste than Claire would have liked. Her eyes sparkled as she released him. "Better now?"

Claire blanched for a second as Caleb said that she had no secrets left. She glanced momentarily at Rawiri for confirmation, and he couldn't keep a straight face, chuckling the while. She tried and failed to look furious. "You are a right pair of buggers, you know that," she laughed, resting her head on Caleb's knee. She could quite happily stay there all evening, and sod the party.

Rawiri loved watching Claire and Caleb like this. They were obviously completely comfortable and relaxed with one another, and totally in sync. Claire had never been like this with anyone else, and Rawiri was far more pleased than he could have imagined he would have been.

"The debauchery starts later for you, e ipo," chuckled Claire, he eyes closing as she snuggled closer to Caleb's leg, her head still resting on his knee. "Trust me, you don't want to go out there at the moment." She grinned, and Rawiri wondered what they had been missing. He didn't need to wait long to find out.

"Hari and Hone are going at it, hammer and tongs. Not only did she give him hell for calling Caleb my fuckboy in front of her kids, but she's ripped into him for getting munted - " Claire glanced up at Caleb. " - stoned - earlier this evening since arriving here. Quite an amusing show, all in all, but she's right at the point where she could get dangerous."


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:51 pm 
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Caleb shook his head when Rawiri asked him what he had said, he didn't need to share with Rawiri what he had said, there was no need. He didn't think the bloke would find it amusing in the least and well without getting into his own sordid past - which he also didn't think Rawiri needed to hear about - he didn't say anything again.

He just put a smile on his face as Claire pretty much bounded into the room, sat down in front of him. He did catch the look Rawiri gave him when he called Claire 'partner' instead of what he had been practising, but he offered up a small shrug almost as though he was saying 'it's not the right time yet' before he pinned his attention back to Claire.

Despite being away from each other for only roughly about an hour or maybe it was less time, he really didn't know, it had felt like so much longer and he realised that stupidly enough he had actually missed Claire. So he couldn't help the fake pain look that crossed his face when she swatted at his leg, "That's it am bruised again, you're going to have to kiss that better now as well," he said smiling overly sweetly at her. Honestly the amount of times she had swatted him he was surprised they ever got any work done, but it was brilliant just to see her smile when he did.

"I will have you know Doctor Te Atua, that we haven't been having a 'grand old time' of it in here," he started in fake protesting, trying to sound serious but failing miserable, "We've been having very serious conversations about...well about very serious stuff," before he couldn't keep the straight face any more and cracked up laughing. Of course if Claire had asked he would have kept her company through the 'ninth level of hell' gladly, but well he was pretty sure that the talk between him and Rawiri had needed to happen and Claire had needed to see to her family without him there.

Of course when she leant up and kissed him far to chastely for his liking, his hand momentarily drifted up to the top of shoulder, towards her neck where his fingers barely brushed against the chain the tags rested on before she was pulling away and he was almost snatching his hand away from the chain.

Caleb quite happily accepted the next beer that Rawiri gave him, taking a sip, "I only ask you to kiss things better cause you keep bruising me," he said, smiling at her as he shook his head, "I mean you are a doctor after all, other than the shiny pointy object obsession you have to care for your patients right?"

He was being cheeky and he knew it, but well it was a night for that and he just couldn't seem to help himself at the moment, maybe it was the rush of being so readily accepted by Claire's family. Maybe it was the fact they were moving to another galaxy in less than 20 days, he didn't know, he just knew it was a rather heady feeling and one he didn't really want to be letting up any time soon.

There was another round of laughter as Claire called them out on there 'no secrets' left remark, he was pretty sure he was going to pay for that later and couldn't help planting another quick kiss on her head in a small apology to her.

Of course then she promised him debauchery later that night, the smile was less nice and more flirty again, "Promises, promises," he whispered to her, leaning down so only she could hear him, "That list of yours is getting quite long now." Before he kissed her neck quickly, almost as though he was striking out, it didn't last more than a second, there was no need for lingering whilst her father was around after all. The briefest of touches, but it his own promise for the night ahead, that was if they had any energy left by the end of the party.

His smile slipped slightly as Claire explained exactly what was going on outside, his stomach turning sour slightly as he thought that it was him that had sparked that off. He was use to people calling him out on his crap, and the amount of women he'd had, but he hadn't thought it would cause two other people to argue. Not only that but he couldn't imagine how Emere must be feeling, after all the young girl had brought the word to his attention in the first place. The happy feeling was so much bubbling away in him any more, it was more making him feel a bit like he had swallowed a whole host of lead bullets.

"I'm sorry about that," he said, rubbing the back of his neck slightly, a nervous gesture that he had when he felt like something was his fault.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 10:40 pm 
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Claire returned Caleb's smile, even as she settled between his legs, glad to be back with him. She would have loved it if he had been at her side while she made the rounds with the cuzzies, but it was important that he and her dad had gotten to know one another. There had been some mutual respect going on during the Skype chats, so she had been certain they would get along. However, it was great to see that the two most important men in her life had bonded so well and so quickly.

She laughed as he looked pained. "You are such a bloody big baby," she giggled, shaking her head and looking across at Rawiri, who returned her grin. "Looks like you've started something, my girl," he grinned, shrugging. "Give a man a kiss every time he gets hurt, soon enough, he'll want..." He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "A hug, too."

Claire laughed uproariously, wrapping an arm around one of Caleb's legs, turning her head and kissing his knee. "There we go, duty paid," she grinned, raising an eyebrow at Caleb's assertion that he and Rawiri hadn't been having fun. "If you weren't having fun in here, then you weren't in here with my dad." It had been obvious to her that Rawiri had taken a shine to Caleb, and, as such, she had needed to allow them a little time to bond and get to know one another. She was glad she had, even though she had had to put up with the noisy gathering on the lawn.

It had been great to talk to her mum, and a few of her family, although Āwhina had clearly shared her husband's views on Caleb. Claire and Āwhina had always clashed a little, despite the closeness between Āwhina and her twin. Hariata had always been the little sister she had bonded with, and Claire always felt that Āwhina had never quite forgiven her for that.

Claire sucked in a sharp breath as Caleb's fingers brushed her neck, loving the moment of almost intimate contact between them. A quiet smile slid into place as Caleb teased her about the kissing things better thing. "Wuss." She punctuated that with a sip of the fresh beer that her dad handed to her. She loved that Caleb felt comfortable enough to tease her in front of her dad. It meant more than she would be able to put into words.

Rawiri, for his part, just watched their interactions, loving seeing Claire so free spirited. That part of her had seemed to wither and die while she had been with Tama, so to see it restored made him a very happy man indeed.

Claire shivered as Caleb whispered in her ear, following that up with a kiss on the side of her neck, something that she was sure that Rawiri wouldn't have missed. He seemed to be watching them like a hawk, although not with any interest in stopping them. "Maybe I ought to give you two a little space," he chuckled, getting to his feet and slugging back a little beer.

The only thing that stopped him was Claire starting to recount what was happening outside, and he sat on the arm of the sofa, quietly sipping his beer. "Hone is a prick," he asserted, his voice calm and final. "It's a good thing that at least two of the Te Atua women have the bollocks to keep him in check."

Claire frowned as Caleb apologised, kissing his knee again. "Why are you apologising, e te tau," she asked, her voice confused. "You've done nothing wrong. He's basically been an arse, calling you names in front of kids, and he doesn't even bloody know you! You're ten times the man he is."


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:01 pm 
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Caleb was thoroughly enjoying himself now as Claire had joined them, there was just something so right about the atmosphere in the small room that they were all occupying at the moment. He once more had a mock pout on his face as she called him a big baby, and was wondering what he could 'complain' about to get another kiss, that was until Rawiri spoke up and well, well he couldn't stop himself from laughing. He was going to make a point of remembering that saying from here on out, honestly he could have so much fun teasing Claire about 'hugging' him now.

"Duty paid? Doesn't that just make it a small deposit?" he asked as cheekily as Claire placed a kiss on the side of his knee. He could feel the pressure of where she had kissed him through his jeans but that was it, nothing else. But then he really didn't want to be feeling much else, they might be in a private room but they still had her dad with them, he didn't want anything unexpectedly to pop up.

"I have," he answered quietly, as he found himself blushing slightly, "had fun with your dad." It was true, he had, had a good time talking to Rawiri, he found he got along with the bloke famously, and well despite the bloke being Claire's father Caleb hadn't really been treated as though he was the bloke who was stealing a daughter from her father.

He had been treated with respect, with open arms and really he appreciated that, it was very different from the last father he had met, but he didn't want to think on that too much, he didn't want to bring the mood down. He just squeezed Claire's arms gently, telling her everything she needed to know about what he felt for the time he had spent with Rawiri.

Of course the place started to feel a little hot, when he placed the kiss on her neck, he hadn't exactly planned it that way but well there was just something about kissing Claire's neck that was incredibly sexy to him, even more so now that she was wearing his tags. Which were a constant source of pleasantness for him when they were together.

That was right up until he apologised for the altercation earlier, both Claire and Rawiri told him it wasn't his fault, that Hone was the one that was at fault. But well, despite that fact that Rawiri didn't know about his past, Caleb knew that there was a small bit of truth to what Hone had called him. Not that he would ever be anything like that to Claire, never in a million years - which also still terrified him if he thought about it too long - but that was essentially what he had been before he'd realised his feelings for her.

He couldn't help the slightly sad smile that graced his face a little bit, before he tucked it away, now was not the time, now was time for celebrating, so what if he didn't quite believe that it wasn't his fault. Well it wasn't his fault, but he had a reputation for a reason after all, he wasn't going to think about it.

"I know, you're right," he answered smiling brightly at her, even if it didn't quite reach his eyes. "He should be taught some manners not to speak like that in front of kids, I know us sailors can swear but never in front of kids."


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 10:52 pm 
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"Christ, you're a sulky bugger tonight," laughed Claire, once more kissing his knee. She was warm and content, and would be happy to stay there for the rest of the evening, until they could quietly slope off to bed. That wouldn't be an option, though, and Claire felt their quiet time slipping away from them like sand through an hourglass.

She leaned her head back into Caleb's lap, twitching her eyebrows upwards in a flirty tease. "Maybe, maybe not," she replied, her voice challenging and her eyes laughing. Rawiri chuckled, shaking his head. It was very obvious that these two had a loving, passionate relationship and weren't afraid of who knew. In a way, they reminded him of he and Mary, and he couldn't wish for better for one of his daughters. Two, if he counted Hariata and Hahona. He was a lucky man indeed.

Turning, and leaning her arms on one of Caleb's legs, Claire smiled as he admitted he had had fun with her dad. "I don't think he believed me when I told him you wouldn't bite," she giggled, resting her head on Caleb's thigh. She wished that this didn't have to be the last time they got together like this, but she didn't dare dwell on it. She had to make the best of the time she had with her family, and had to be glad that Caleb had gotten to meet them before they left for Atlantis.

She smiled as Caleb squeezed her arms, and she settled more deeply into his lap. Tempting as it was to climb up, slide her arms around his neck and actually sit in his lap, she decided it was best not to with her dad there. She'd save that for later, along with a couple of other little surprises she had in store for Caleb before they went to sleep that night.

Claire's eyes flickered shut as Caleb kissed her neck, and she swallowed deeply. The slightest touch could send ripples of desire through her, and this moment was no exception. Wrong time, wrong place, though, and Claire pushed the desire down. It could wait. It would have to wait.

Watching Caleb's face as both she and Rawiri told him not to worry about Hone being an arse, Claire frowned as his smile became somewhat sad, never reached his eyes. She wondered what was going on inside that head of his. "Fuck it," she muttered, getting up and sliding onto Caleb's lap, fitting herself as though she belonged there.

Rawiri didn't bat an eyelid, merely sipping his beer. "You're a good bloke, Caleb," said Rawiri, tipping his beer at the younger man, before getting to his feet. "I'd better go and see what Mary's up to," he said, smiling with more than a little mischief. "You two stay here, I'll let you know when the coast's clear, eh?"

And with that, he left them alone, the quiet of the shed wrapping around them. "So... what's up, e ipo? Why so sad?"


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:11 pm 
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"Am not," he replied, almost in a child like way as though pretending to be defiant in against what she had said. But well like most things that night, he just couldn't seem to keep a straight face, maybe it was the beer in his system, the fact that he had travelled for well over twelve plus hours that day, he didn't know, but things seemed like he couldn't really stop smiling at times.

He just shook his head as she said maybe, really the woman didn't even have to be flirting with him to be a tease. It was a good job that he was sat rather far forward in the seat, because any further back and everyone would be able to partially kind of see what effect she was having on him. "I think you just like to watch me squirm at times, sweetheart." he teased back affectionately.

Of course there had been times when it had been less of a tease, Claire had a way of making him squirm in the most nicest of ways and it was something that even when he was as tired as anything, if she said something just in that right tone of voice, gave him a certain look or hell if she just stood there in front of him. He wouldn't be tired in the end.

Caleb sort of seemed to zone out to his own thoughts after he had apologised again about Hone, or rather half agreed with Claire and Rawiri. He spotted the look Claire gave him, even as he saw Rawiri give them some space, he should have known that Claire wasn't likely to let him just make a comment and forget it.

It was the moment he found himself with a lap full of Claire, one that was not unpleasant in the least, that he knew he was just being stupid. Just he knew that when Hone had made the comment and had made Emere 'overhear' that it was more of a poke at Claire than himself. But he knew that there had been a time when he had essentially been that for some women in the past, he had picked them up, slept with them and was gone the next morning. If that didn't scream 'fuckboy' to someone then he didn't really know what did.

He couldn't help bringing up a hand and pushing some of Claire's hair away from her face, sat there looking at her now, it was like he was two separate people, the one that had been that bed hopper for several years and the one he was now. It wasn't that he wanted to go back to the one night stands, he wouldn't do that to Claire for starters and he really didn't think he would be satisfied if he did, it was just difficult to combine the two of him into one person.

"Not sad," he said quietly, although he couldn't help adding, "Maybe a little. What Hone said, you realise he was right, before I realised I loved you, I was exactly what he had Emere repeat to me. I was everyone's fuckboy." The words tasted wrong on his tongue, he wasn't one for swearing at the best of times, so saying that was just not a nice thing for him to be speaking.

"Can't be angry at someone who has basically just told people exactly what I was," he added with a shrug. "Yes Hone needs to watch his language around kids, cause no child needs to hear that....ever. But he wasn't wrong, Claire, you know that."


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:53 pm 
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Claire rolled her eyes at Caleb, before looking up at Rawiri, who was laughing quietly. "See what I've got to put up with," she chuckled, even as she turned to drop another kiss onto Caleb's leg. Rawiri took another slug of beer and realised his bottle was empty. "Bugger," he muttered. That was the moment he decided to give the happy couple some space. Not before he had a little fun, though.

"E hunaonga, the time will come when you learn that all women like to watch their men squirm from time to time," he said, his voice deceptively innocent, but a wicked grin directed at Caleb. Claire almost sat up straight at the sound of her father calling Caleb "son in law", and she wondered which one she would have to poke to admit what had been discussed between the two of them that evening. It sounded as though the conversation had been a humdinger.

Still, Claire didn't like the way that Caleb quieted down after the discussion about Hone, and her dad seemed to notice the shift in his mood as well, making himself scarce. Her dad was as good as she was at sensing moods, and she was forever grateful for that as they were left in peace.

Sliding her arms around Caleb's neck, she snuggled in, dusting kisses along his jaw for a few seconds. She wondered what it was that had gotten him so rattled. Maybe he had felt that telling off the niece of his "wife" the first time you met her family wasn't the done thing, despite Claire and Hariata being perfectly happy that he had done so. Claire discounted that, though. Caleb had seemed perfectly comfortable with assuming the role of uncle, and that included certain responsibilities when your nieces and nephews were swearing in front of you.

Claire held Caleb's gaze as he brushed hair back from her face, his fingers stroking the sensitive skin of her cheek. She quirked an eyebrow upwards as he told her he wasn't sad, before relenting that he was, even if just a little. The frown deepened, turning to a look of disbelieving sadness as Caleb admitted that he had felt that Hone calling him a "fuckboy" had been justified.

She let him say his piece, his sadness evident on his face and in his words, and Claire turned to straddle him, cupping his face in her hands. "Hone is a fucking prick," she asserted, her voice full of quiet, controlled fury. "I don't care what he said. He doesn't know you." Claire kissed him, her lips soft and insistent against his.

"I know you. And the Caleb Williams I know is a good man."

Claire knew about Caleb's past, every sordid year of his decade of one night stands since Rachael broke his heart. And she couldn't care less. He was a different man now, happy to be settling down at last. "You..." Claire kissed him again, teasing his lips apart with her own, even as her hands slipped to the back of his neck. "...have never been..." She kissed him once more, with more insistence this time, her tongue dancing over his lips, both a promise and a reassurance. "...my fuckboy..."

Sure, they had a passionate relationship, but it had been built on a solid basis of a warm, close friendship. As far as Claire was concerned, they had never fucked. They had made love since the first night, even if the words hadn't tumbled from their lips.

She kissed him again, her fingers twisting in the short hair at the nape of his neck. "You're..." Another kiss, pulling Caleb closer. "...my fuck man..." One more kiss before she pulled away and rested her forehead against his. "Kei te aroha au i a koe, e te tau," she murmured, her voice warm and her gaze sincere as her eyes met his. "I love who you are now."


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 11:55 pm 
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"Yes you have to put up with me all the time," teased Caleb, his smile bright enough that his face was beginning to hurt from actually smiling as much as he had been. Honestly since he had been with Claire he was sure he had smiled more, laughed more, yes had sex more, and had just found himself enjoying life again.

He didn't realise exactly what he had been missing, jumping from one person to the next, not making any real connections. Sure he had been good friends with Claire before they had jumped into bed together, but even that friendship had started out with him trying to quite literally sleep with her, of course he had been injured at the time but that hadn't stopped him. He just hadn't realised that there had been something missing until he had, had it pointed out to him, now well now he didn't want his life to continue without that missing link. Without Claire.

Of course then Rawiri had to go and call him 'son-in-law' again and well he couldn't help the slight flush that rose across his face. He also didn't quite say to Claire that he knew what that meant, of course he was sure she would expect him to ask, but he didn't, he kept quiet, he was wondering if she would pick on the fact he hadn't asked about it.

Caleb just shook his head as Rawiri made his exit then, now wasn't the time to reply to him or to explain to Claire what had been discussed between the two of them. Especially when matters turned more serious, and well Claire was suddenly sat astride him, his hands automatically holding onto her her hips, despite the fact there was no worry of her falling off any time soon. It seemed his hands were most comfortable when they were touching her, it didn't matter where about just so long as there was some comfort.

He felt silly for even saying anything about the 'fuckboy' comment now to Claire, he knew he wasn't that to her, didn't even want to be that for her. But well he guessed it was kind of a wake up moment for him, yes he had told Claire every detail of his past - hell there was probably a time she had caught him sneaking back into the mountain one night - but he himself hadn't realised how his actions would look.

So hearing what Hone had called him, what was clearly being talked about, he realised that although every partner he had, had been consensual and both parties had agreed it was just about the release it clearly wasn't the best thing in the world. Caleb had been proud of his reputation - a small part of him, a part that was dwindling every day now thanks to Claire - had used it to his advantage, and yes he still used a lot of charm with people when he was around them, but he knew now that it wasn't necessarily pride that he had over the reputation.

Of course he was all prepared for Claire to tell him to stop being so stupid, to not think like that, and he was prepared to follow her instructions, what he hadn't counted on was the kissing between each word. As though she was determined to make them stick in his mind, he found he had closed his eyes half way through her little speech, his hands had held a bit tighter to her hips as she had kissed him.

The authority with which she claimed to 'know him' the dead certainty that he was a 'good man' sent a shiver up his spine, no one in a very long time had ever told him that - especially a partner - no one had said they knew him. Knew every inch of him the way Claire did, he didn't want anyone else but Claire to know him and well if when he opened his eyes again to just drink the sight of her they were a little misted over then well she wasn't going to tell anyone and he most certainly wasn't.

"It been a long time since someone called me a good man," he whispered back to her hesitantly.

Even the Maori words she whispered to him caused him to hold her tighter, he knew he wasn't anything what Hone called him to Claire, but his past was still there for a reason, he just...well he guessed he just needed to hear that.

Smiling he rested his head against her, his fingers tracing small circles against her body, he was sure he had heard them words before, was sure she had uttered them to him before. Either that or he was beginning to jumble all her Maori words up in his head, which he didn't think was possible - for one she would hit him for that - he knew the difference it was mostly in tone.

"E hoa wahine," he whispered, surprising himself with the fact the words had slipped out so naturally in the moment. He hadn't been expecting to say them yet, had wanted to save them for a better time, a more private moment but, well now had seemed right, it felt right.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 3:08 pm 
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Caleb teased back as hard as she had in the first place, and Claire chuckled low in her throat. It was nothing more or less than she had expected, even in front of Rawiri, and was glad that Caleb had felt comfortable enough to tease her in front of her father. It was situation normal, despite the abnormal situation.

Rawiri grinned disingenuously at Caleb as he called him his son in law, despite the fact that Claire could hear every word. Knowing his daughter, she would have picked up on every syllable. Still, it wasn't going to be his place to explain it to Claire. Caleb could do that. After all, he was the one to whom Rawiri would be handing his daughter. It was only fair that her new husband would be the one who explained shit like that.

Claire placed that question aside, though, preferring to focus on what had gotten Caleb so rattled. She hated seeing him like this, his confidence stripped away to leave the raw man on full display. She knew that this alone would make Caleb feel uncomfortable, and was glad that her dad had chosen that moment to take his leave.

She settled astride him, Caleb's hands coming to her hips, and caught his soft brown gaze before breaking up her encouragement to him with kisses. Caleb was the best of men, exactly who she needed and who she wanted. So what if he had screwed around before they had gotten together? He wasn't screwing around now, and that was what mattered. She was his, and he was hers. That was what mattered.

She watched as Caleb's eyes flickered open, misty with unspoken emotion and unshed tears, and Claire brushed her thumbs underneath his eyes for a moment. "You are a good man," she asserted, her voice quiet and filled with certainty. "I know you're a good bloke. Hell, if my dad says you're a good bloke... you've more than earned it." She dropped a tender kiss on the end of Caleb's nose.

"Are you worried that someone's going to find out about what you were like," she asked, her voice gentle, her eyes full of concern. "Nobody's going to find out, because we're not going to tell them. I want my family to get to know the real you, and not have their perceptions coloured by your past. You're a different man now, someone I'm proud to call my best friend, even prouder to be with, and prouder still to call my husband."

Maybe not in words to other people, but certainly that was how Claire and Caleb viewed their relationship.

Claire shivered as Caleb's fingers drew little circles against her hips, the fabric of her dress causing a delicious friction. If he wasn't careful, he was going to get her too fired up for them to make it back to the party at all. It didn't take much for Caleb to turn a flickering lust into a raging fire, and he knew it. Still, this moment between them wasn't about the sex, or about the passion. It was about the partnership, the togetherness, and mutual trust and love. That was what mattered at the moment.

Jerking back in shock as Caleb uttered three words in Te Reo Māori to her, three words that Claire wasn't sure that she'd heard at all. "What was that," she asked, the tiniest of incredulous smiles twitching on her lips. "Did you just say what I think you said?" If she was right, it was the first time that Caleb had ever called her his wife. He must have asked Rawiri to teach him, meaning that Caleb had admitted to him that they were effectively married. And that meant more to her than she could ever put into words.


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