Blink of an Eye
No matter what he may think, this is the way it happened:
You've always found it absurdly easy to mock his fussy manners, to ridicule the meticulous care he takes of his clothes and the over-the-top displeasure he displays when they are soiled. He's been known to throw out a perfectly good suit rather than take it to be mended, and you've never concealed how appalling you find that.
As for his constant dallying, well, you've made no secret of your opinions, of how silly it is, how it smacks of overcompensation, or sublimation, or transference, or some such psychiatric syndrome. You've needled him endlessly, with both good humor and foul temper, about how his unchecked libido complicates your missions and puts you in jeopardy.
The sparring is constant, relentless. It never ends. He makes dreadful puns. He calls you childish names. He tells terrible jokes, leers at anything in a skirt, embarrasses you in front of Waverly, risks both of you unnecessarily, criticizes your driving, acts like an ass, preens, fusses, runs like a girl, hates to get dirty. In response you use that biting, sarcastic wit of yours to insult him, to deflate his massive ego.
Each time you do so, he makes a face, feigns distress, and acts terribly, deeply wounded by your cutting remarks. Each and every time.
Except. . .not this time.
You met under the Caribbean moon at midnight to exchange information, you in your wet suit, he in his tuxedo. Instantly he was rattling off his conquest of the silly girl you roped into the affair. An instant after that, you were silencing him, mocking his sartorial splendor, insulting his taste in women.
He didn't say anything in response. Not a word. Didn't act wounded. Didn't make a face. Instead, he smiled a little wanly, self-deprecatingly, inclined his head in a kind of bow. He turned to go.
It took only seconds, watching his back as he faded into the darkness, for you to recover. He never shows a wound when he really has one. It may be the law of the jungle, the instinctive way a predator hides his weakness, but whatever it is, you knew, suddenly, that this time you'd actually hurt him.
But, you thought, if my words can hurt him, it means they affect him. I affect him. He cares what I think. My words matter—
I matter, you realized. I matter to him.
You hadn't known that. It put a different slant on things, didn't it?
In that instant, that very instant, you knew something else. He's always mattered to you. You don't really want to hurt him. The insults, the mocking, they've protected you from your own wounds, haven't they, when he's gone off with all those silly girls. Instead of you. Your words have pushed him away so you won't get hurt.
Because you more than care for him.
For a moment, you panicked.
And then you called his name.
So now he thinks it has something to do with his charm, or his own intentions. Let him think that. Let him imagine he pursued you for years, wore down your resistance with his tenacity, his vaunted irresistibility. You have a good poker face, as they say. You won't let on that you're mocking him.
Because no matter what he may think, this is the way it really happened: in an instant, in the blink of an eye under that Caribbean moon, when neither of you were looking.
But right now, when his sweat-slick body is pressed tightly against yours and he's groaning your name over and over like a catechism and your heart is thudding and your climax is roaring through you like a hurricane, right now, does it really matter how it happened, or when it happened, or even why, because it did happen, that's the thing, the only important thing, that it did happen, that one moment you looked up and you knew you loved him, and you told him so.
And, funnily enough, as it turned out, he loved you, too.