TITLE: Signals - Homecoming Interlude

AUTHOR: PhaxHalfelven

SUMMARY: A short sweet interlude where Beach helps Cover Girl with some things and gets to show a softer side after his return home from Brazil. Purely well, mostly fluff, and I don't know why it wouldn't leave my head but it's written now and ha! I'm back to what I was working on before. Please R&R.

DISCLAIMER: Don't own the Joes, they belong to comics and cartoon corporations that have much more money than I and they'd laugh if they saw just how little they'd get if they decided to sue me for playing with the Joes, so please don't and well, I am not making money off this so why sue me in the first place.

NOTES: Follows Signals and it'll be as a second chapter on fanfic.net website.

Thirty-six days. Two in March, four in May, and the entire month of April had passed between them since the night he'd helped to load her on a chopper with the other wounded and sent her to safety. Thirty-six days, it was too long to be without her annoying tendency to bring out the part of him that was a sissy-boy in love with her, too long to be without her eyes grinning or more often glaring at him, and definitely too long since he'd heard her laugh and felt her presence.

As Wayne R. Sneeden, better known by his teammates as Beach head, followed his fellow Joes off their ride and back onto home soil finally. He knew that if he'd survived this long a wait he'd survive a bit longer. He was in a dangerously foul mood, more than usual, and only really desired three things at the moment. He wanted to see Cover Girl, take a shower, and spend some time away from the nutcases he worked with on this mission. Namely a certain red-headed black belt Karate instructor. Not necessarily in that order either.

Before he could get to any one of those desires he had duties to attend. First of all was cleaning and stowing his weapons and the gear he didn't keep in his billet. It took him about 20 minutes to take care of that and then he had to be debriefed. Rank hath it's privileges there, he was fourth in line and after about fifteen more minutes he was on his way to his shower. Ten minutes later and two of the three wishes had been granted. He grinned to himself, only one to go, he thought as he pulled on a clean uniform leaving his balaclava aside on a shelf. He finished up and beat a slow, steady path to the Motor Pool, and wish number three.

The sight that greeted him upon entering was quite satisfying. Her nicely rounded rump and legs stuck out from under the hood of her newest project car. It was a rather battered and badly damaged 1969 Stingray L71. It was a primer gray for now, but the engine was shaping up to be a beauty. He'd noticed her working on it for months now. Clutch and a couple other grease monkeys were loitering nearby throwing appraising glances at he blatantly female posterior. Beach sent them a patented Drill Instructor's glare causing them to immediately desist and find things to do outside the motor pool.

The radio was blaring some heavy metal song that Beach didn't know, but she apparently did singing along between curses at her task. He grinned to himself and shook his head, since the guys had been kind enough to leave them alone in the large garage Beach Head decided to play a little. He didn't usually, but he was willing to give it a try if only to see her reaction to it. He sneaked silently up behind her and slid appreciative hands down her sides and over the soft curve of her cheeks.

She started and swore violently when she banged, what he hoped wasn't her head, on something under the hood. "Goddamnit! Clutch! Your balls are mine!" She came out in a rage, socket wrench swinging. He'd been ready for it and blocked her shot easily. She froze at the grinning face before her. "Wayne?" His grin widened.

"Christ Courtney, after a month of not seein' each other I'da thought you'd be happy to see me, not try to take my head off with a wrench." He stepped closer and slid his hands around and down her ass again pulling her close. "And if that Gear Head is bothering you that much I'm surprised he's still standin."

"Well, actually, he hasn't done anything like that since my first days with Joe, and the last time the Torque Wrench was introduced to his manhood." Wayne winced at the image. "But he was the only one around earlier, so I assumed." She was staring openly, his hands still cupped her behind. She didn't quite know how to react to him in this mood. "When did you get back?"

"Bout an hour ago. You busy here?" He glanced around to make sure no one had wandered back in.

"Not really, why?" He slid a hand up her back to her neck and pulled her in to kiss her softly. The wrench dropped to the cement floor with a clang and she wrapped her arms around him holding him to the kiss for long moments.

"Cause, I missed the hell outta you and twenty minutes alone in that tent wasn't near enough time to reassure me that you were okay." She slowly realized that his hands were now on her hips keeping her close. She smiled and let herself rest against his heat.

"I'm fine, Beach, Doc says I'm healing nicely. The bands come off my ribs in a few days." She held him snugly to her for a moment before letting him pull back to look at her in surprise.

"Why didn't you tell me they were broke that night?" He was suddenly tense against her.

"I didn't know, Beach, relax. Doc said there was too much bruising to be sure." She explained.

"Relax? I held you so tight I probably made 'em worse that night." He let go and pulled away.

"If it had hurt don't you think I'd have let you know." She shook her head, 'so he's a regular man worried about the same shit like all the rest.' She thought silently letting a soft smile play across her face. "Come here and help me clear this up and we can get outta here."

Beach Head looked around them at the tools scattered over her workbench and gave her a dry look. "This is your mess Cinderella." He stooped to pick up the wrench on the floor.

"No, not that?" She waved a dismissive hand toward the mess, and pulled him over to the car. "I'm trying to loosen that bolt." She pointed one out that had a second wrench over the nut on the opposite side. "I'm too short to get good leverage though. Help me out?" Her voice was dripping with honey, and she batted her eyelashes playfully at him.

"Why not just ask one of the grease monkeys?" He asked dryly.

"And have to put up with the condescending smirks and chick bashing comments. No thanks!" She snatched the wrench from him and whirled away. "I'd rather work it loose slowly or just work around the damn thing." With a glare for him she ducked back under the hood.

"Shee-it woman, I didn't say I wouldn't help, just wondered why you didn't ask someone sooner." He ducked under the hood and nudged her aside. A few seconds and a little effort later he had it loose. "Looks like you almost had it, Barbie Doll." He looked over to find her staring at him. Not exactly mad, but neither was her look all that happy. "What?"

"Thanks." Her reply was curt and she took both wrenches and the bolt from him.

"Courtney, what's wrong, I did what you asked." He was a bit put out by her manner. He really had thought that she'd be happy to see him. It hurt a little that it didn't seem to be the case.

"Nothing Beach Head." She started gathering sockets and putting them away in a case.

"For the love of...You know what, I don't have time to try to figure out why you're so pissed at me alluva sudden. When you decide you want to explain it I'll be in my billet." He executed a smart turn on his heel and walked off, until he heard the crash of metal scattering on the concrete and turned back.

Cover Girl's slender frame was hunched down over the tool's she'd dropped, but she wasn't picking anything up. She was shaking. It scared the living shit out of him to see that, and he was quickly back at her side. "Courtney? Court, what's wrong?" He took her arms and raised her to face him. She could barely stand when he let go, so he pulled her to him, more bewildered by the moment and still worried. "Want me to take you to see Doc?" A negative shake of the head. "Damn it! What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry." The apology was muffled by his shoulder. "I don't know what's wrong with me, why I did that." Her grip on him was tight, desperate.

"Shhh, you okay?" He decided to try patience for once.

She nodded, "yeah, I feel like an ass, but okay." His arms tightened around her and he muttered a 'thank God.'

"Let me help you get this mess picked up and we'll go somewhere private to talk." He ran his fingers through her hair. During their mission in Brazil he'd noticed that her hair had grown after they'd liberated her, now with a month's extra growth it was almost to her waist, and as richly auburn as it always had been in the evening sunlight.

"You don't have to, it is my mess." She pulled back, but he stopped her from going too far.

"No I don't, but I want to." He really wanted to cup her cheek in his palm and make the haunted look in her eyes disappear, but he knew he'd better wait on that. Instead, he let her go and crouched down on the balls of his feet to start picking up tools. They cleaned up in charged silence and he led her out when they'd finished.

"Where?--"

"Told you some where to talk. I don't want interruptions or busy-bodies pokin' their noses around." They continued on his heading, walking more closely than normal, but not so close as to be overly affectionate. Cover Girl found herself following him to his quarters in the barracks. He opened and held the door for her to precede him through. She hesitated, never having been into his personal space. He shook his head amused at her indecision. "It's okay, Darlin,' my bark is worse than my bite. You know that better than anybody." His smile wasn't large, he rarely did smile, but it reassured her and she walked in, rubbing suggestively against him as she passed. He trailed after her and closed the door behind him.

His quarters weren't all that different from hers. The bed was a little larger, a full size to her twin, but it was shoved against the back wall like hers to leave space for a sitting area. A closet to the side of the bed and a bathroom on the wall opposite the door. A tall dresser against another wall, and a small couch with matching chair in front of a TV on a shelf. A neat row of books stood on the level below the TV, all of them non-fiction, and most dealing with history or the military. A few manuals on combat training and the like sprinkled the collection and a single book on the Watergate trials went with them.

The TV remote and a lamp stood on top of a small refrigerator beside the bed doubling as his nightstand. A book that was half-finished lay there as well; he'd obviously abandoned it for their mission. In all it was what she'd expected from him; clean to the point of meticulous, but surprisingly comfortable. "Want sumthin' to drink? I think Etienne left some cola here last time we watched a game. I'd stay clear of the rest though. After well over a month it's all spoiled. Even the orange juice is bad." He opened the small fridge and pulled out a Coke.

"Thanks," she took it from him and popped the top for a long pull on the carbonated drink. He watched her, seeing the fatigue in her posture, and the dark circles and bags under her eyes. She lowered the cola and he raised a hand to cup her face now that them were alone. She nestled her into his touch, noting that the broad palm was warm and it helped ease some of her tension.

"I never thought I could miss someone this much, Courtney, but God I missed you." She set the drink on top of the fridge as he drew her in to his body. He was warm, solid muscle and she felt safe in his arms. She sighed resting her body near his.

"I missed you too, Wayne. I've talked to Psych about things there, but it never helped, nothing did. This does." Her arms snaked around his trim waistline and held him tightly. He placed his lips on her forehead and started kneading the rock hard knots from her shoulders and neck.

"We didn't get near enough time, that night, in Duke's tent to be comfortably sure you were back safe." His lips brushed her forehead as he spoke, and she sighed against his neck. The worst of the tension in her shoulders eased under his practiced touch. "Tell me what's got you wound up so tight you're about to snap, Cinderella."

"Nightmares." She moved her head down onto his shoulder then and breathed deeply the sharp scent of Dial brand soap. "I haven't had a decent night's sleep since that last night in the Cayman Motel."

Beach Head's hands slid down from her shoulders, now relaxed, dancing soothingly down her back to her slender waist, he pulled her tight to his chest. "Wanna talk about 'em?"

"I already talked to Psych about them." Her voice was quiet and nothing more was forthcoming.

"Did you explain the dreams to him, goin' into detail on 'em?" A negative shake against him. "Would you be willin' to tell me, Darlin?' " He wasn't trying to push her, but he knew enough about nightmares. He had a million of his own. Talking with someone you trust was really the best way to end them in his experience. The question was, did she trust him enough to bare her fears in front of him. He knew it wouldn't be easy for her, his status with the team made him hard to those around him, and it generally meant that the soldiers under him didn't want to show him their weakness.

"Wayne, you don't want to hear what's going on in my head. It's dark and scary in there." He chuckled a little at that, and she grinned at her success. She'd never heard of anyone else that could make him laugh. The most anyone got was a lifting of the corner of his mouth. A sort of a twitch if you will. She hugged him closer for a moment.

" If your head is dark and scary that must make mine down right petrifying. You're right though, if I'd wanted to listen to you ramble then I'd have locked us in my billet." He pulled away and turned to lock the door. "Sorry, my mistake, guess I just did." He said when he turned back to her and leaned against his door. Courtney was watching him stunned. He looked her straight in the eye, as intensely serious as he'd ever been. "I ain't kiddin' around, Courtney, if you want to tell me I'll listen. If you don't we can do sumthin' else."

Courtney studied him for a moment. The intense hazel eyes waiting for her decision, under a brow that too often held a scowl or a frown. The hard chin and soft lips that too rarely saw a smile. His thick neck and broad shoulders bulging in the thin T-shirt. They in turn led to muscled arms the taught sleeves of the shirt straining around his biceps. She could see the veins running down them and followed one line onto his forearms. Those forearms, lightly haired with a sheen of auburn and as built as the rest of him. They made her feel safe when clamped around her, and his broad gentle hands ran through her hair. This thought brought her appraisal to an abrupt end and she nodded to him then. "Okay, I'll try." The left side of his mouth raised in a half-smile for her.

"Make yourself comfortable then, and we'll see about getting you your sweet dreams back." She surprised him then, instead of walking over to his couch or the chair, she stepped forward and rested against him. "What're you doin', Darlin'?"

"This is the most comfortable I can think of being right now, Wayne." She rubbed her face into the hard planes of his chest.

"Okay, it's a start but I meant pick a spot to sit." She could hear amusement in his voice colored with a satisfaction that was very subtle. She realized that it pleased him to be able to offer her, with her capable independence, a safe haven in his arms.

"Really, well then, I pick your lap." She said playfully and reached up to kiss the strong chin. He exhaled sharply, but shook his head in satisfaction at her forward manner and wry humor. It was something he would always love about her. Of course not so long ago it had annoyed the shit out of him, but he'd learned to live with it. He kissed her forehead briefly and deliberately caressed his hand down over her back and slowly traced the curve of her rear, until she shivered against him, to her thighs. He got a grip and lifted her into his arms. Courtney let out a surprised squeak but wrapped her legs around his hips while he walked to the couch.

He settled them in a corner. "Whenever you're ready, beautiful." Her arms tightened around him with that compliment.

"Where should I start?" Her warmth surrounded him, and Wayne took a moment to feel her against him. Her weight on his thighs and the strong legs around his waist now. He could feel the outlines of her breasts soft resting against his chest, and noted that she fit comfortably on his lap, the legs around him seated her perfectly over him. They were meant to be like this, he thought. He ran his hands down her back and back up again slowly.

"First off, are there more than one or is it the same scene over and over?" His fingers twisted and tangled in her hair and smoothed it out soothing her and letting her know he was there for her.

"There are a few. Their effects on me range from merely disturbing to terrified complete with a panic attack." She sighed against him shivering momentarily and he knew that it wasn't in pleasure.

Wayne tightened his hold on her for a bit and his lips caressed her brow this time when she shivered it wasn't in fear. "Start with the merely disturbing and move slowly up to the terrified in sequence. Might be easier that way." He suggested, in high spirits with her in his lap, but as determined now as he'd been in anything else to help her. She sighed again, this time happy that he cared so much about her.

"The merely disturbing takes place during my interrogation, I'm strapped into that damn chair again. My muscles are spasming all on their own again at his will. I'm so tired all I want is to sleep, but the jerking eyelids won't allow that. When it finally stops I can see him, which is weird, I never saw his face while I was down there, I only knew who he was because I recognized his voice. Anyway, he pulls Cobra Commander's hood down over his face and laughs that maniacal laugh." She stopped momentarily and shuddered, Wayne stroked his hands over her upper arms to help with the shudders.

She regained her balance and continued. "I look back to myself and the electrodes are not there any longer. They've changed into vipers and they've got their fangs in me. I can feel the venom pumping into my body making me slow and tired and sick." She was holding tightly to Wayne, less at ease than she had been. He kept his arms moving, hands stroking her soothing her discomfort. "I sometimes wake up mid-scream with that one."

He was quiet for a long moment thinking it over. "Sounds to me like yer mind is trying to analyze the guy. We knew they were working with Cobra even if we couldn't find the connection. The hood being pulled down is you trying to figure out that connection, and the vipers bitin' you is your uncertainty as to the accuracy of you're mind's ideas on it. The sickness and such could be you're feelings over not knowing for sure."

"I was mulling over that connection the first night that one hit me. I suppose you're right." Courtney admitted, taking a deep breath and hoping this would help her.

"We found that Cobra connection. MARS was designin' the weapons you were buildin'. Speakin' of, how's your hand doin'?" She leaned away bringing her hands between them to show him her palms. Her right hand had only a few minor scars that would probably fade in time. The left palm was a different story though. A large, jagged pink scar ran from just outside her pinky through the center of her hand to the heel of her palm, below her thumb. A second scar, smaller than the first, started in the webbing between her thumb and index finger, and went straight down onto her wrist, if only just barely.

Wayne traced them both with the tip of one finger while holding her hand still. He finished and raised her palm for a kiss. Then he caught and held her gaze intensely. Very carefully, his eyes locked with hers, Wayne meticulously followed the scars with his tongue.

"Wayne..." His name was a sigh from her lips and he liked it much better than the scream that still haunted him in sleep. He placed another kiss to the center of her palm and lowered her hand between them.

"Those going to interfere with movement?" He was professionally interested.

"Doc doesn't think so. No problems so far anyway." She burrowed back against him.

"Good, what's next?" He'd purposely distracted her to make telling him less stressful, but he wouldn't say he hadn't enjoyed distracting her like that.

"Well, there are two that I've had they're mostly the same dream, but my role in them is different. I figured them out already, and they've stopped for the most part, but I still sometimes wake up after one of them shivering and scared. I don't know if you'll want to hear them."

"I'll be alright Courtney, but if not you can take a turn helpin' me." He was sincere and cupping her face in his hands again.

"Okay. They have to do with my feelings of weakness and helplessness there in the work camp when I woke up after the interrogation. In the dream I'm too weak to stop the guards this time. In the first one they rape me, and in the second it's a girl beside me. She might be fifteen, possibly not even that old. I knew her briefly in the work house. She was killed in an accident with the metal we were cutting, nearly decapitated." She clung to him now shivering and fighting her tears.

"Shh, let it go, Courtney. I'm here with ya, you need to let it go, that's why you're dreamin' about her," he held her head still and kissed her cheek. "That's my girl, let it all out." She'd started sobbing into his chest and he held her and stroked her wherever he could reach. Kissing and caressing. Later his actions would surprise her a bit, she'd never thought of Sergeant hard ass, bastard, Drill Instructor, Sneeden as being that compassionate with another person. She would feel honored that he let her see that side of him.

It was long minutes before her grief subsided, and she held tightly, silent to him. He was rocking her she realized, and it made her want to weep all over again. He was taking care of her like no one had since she was a little girl. "You didn't talk to Psych about that one did you?" He asked quietly. She shook her head no.

"I tried to, but it was too raw, and too personal. It was almost my head that was in the way. She saw the sheet start to shift and stepped up to stop it, to keep me from being hurt. I had helped her before, to keep the guards away from her, when they tried to rape her that first day I woke up. A lot of them tried to rape a lot of the women. There were two that tried for me, but they didn't count on you're self-defense training to kick in and were both dead before they knew what hit them. Their buddies were going after other women and the girl was one of them. She'd been through it before, many times, and they weren't easy on her. When I killed the first two, the others left their sport and came to punish me. She stuck close after that. Didn't say a word, no one knew her name, but she kept me company for the first few weeks." She stopped then and finally noticed how ramrod stiff he was against her.

"They tried--" He got out through teeth clenched in outrage. She leaned back and cupped his face forcing him to meet her gaze. The golden hue was gone from his eyes leaving them a stormy green rage and she smoothed his scowl away with her fingers and a long tender kiss.

"But they didn't thanks to you and the training you gave me." She kissed him again, needing to feel his lips covering her own. As her lips slid over his, Wayne relaxed and held her to it, turning the kiss somewhat passionate toward it's end. She pulled away breathless but with a saucy smile just for him. "Thank you for teaching me how to take care of myself, Wayne."

"No thanks necessary, princess, you know that torturing the lot of you is my pleasure." He joked with her.

"Do I ever. Can't wait to get back to it either." She snuggled closer resting her head on his shoulder deciding it was time to get back to it. "In the dream I can't move and I'm forced to watch them violate me. Its like I'm seeing it from another's eyes, but it's me that I see." She felt him stiffen again and reached up to pull her fingers through his hair. "I tried to stop them but was just too weak. After the third or fourth time I had that dream, I lay awake and analyzed it. I found that my weakness bothered me more than the violation of my body. The fact that it's my duty to protect those weaker than myself and I wasn't able is what was causing the dream. Once I figured that out they stopped mostly, except when it was the girl I was seeing. I still have that one."

He was tense again, and she brought her hands up to his shoulders. She leaned back to look at him and his eyes were distant. Courtney knew what that haze over them was showing him. "Wayne, look at me. I'm fine. The two that tried didn't get the chance. I shoved one's nose up into his brain and broke the other's neck. I killed two more of them when came to beat me into submission. No one tried me after that. Get that look off your face."

"What look?" His voice was heavy when his eyes met hers she read sorrow there along with the malice toward his imagined foes.

"The look that promises death by a slow and painful technique. There's no need for it, Ranger Man, you taught me well." He took her hands down from his shoulders and held them between them tightly as if they were his life line.

"Sorry, that's one thing I worried most about when we lost you. That they were doin' those things to you, and I wasn't there to help stop 'em. I know you can take care of yourself," he added at the look on her face, "but I wouldn't be any kinda man if the thought of you bein'..." He couldn't finish and took a deep breath in through his mouth and let it back out his nose before continuing. "If that didn't bother me, well, lets just say that it scares me more to not care that it's happening, than it does to know it is happening and know I'm helpless to stop it." His hands slid into her silken mane and pulled her head down to his shoulder over his heart, and he held her there tightly. "I'm just glad you're safe now." His face was buried in her hair.

"You obviously do care, Wayne, or you wouldn't be like this." She felt him trembling, not obviously so, one would never know unless you were pressed as closely as she was to him. She did know though and it made a piece of her ache for him. She kissed his neck and ran her fingers through the short hair on the back of his head. He shivered this time and his arms were like iron bands holding her against him. "Besides those weren't even close to the worst dream anyway." She said into his neck, now clinging to him as desperately as he was her. Her voice was strained and he kissed the bridge of her nose.

"You sound like you need a minute, go get yer Coke."

"Come with me?" She asked shyly, knowing it was all of a few steps, but wanting him near now that the images from her nightmare were roaming over her mind and flashing across her vision. She didn't want to be far from him. She slid off his lap and pulled him up with her. Then led him by the hand back over to the fridge where her Coke can was sitting in a ring of sweat.

He used the ten steps it took to admire her from behind. Her feet were small in the socks, he didn't remember her taking off her boots, but there they were sitting by the door. His eyes followed the slope of her feet up over delicate ankles to her calves. The khaki pants hid them from view, but he knew they were well formed of hard muscle covered in soft skin and shaven smooth. Her thighs were outlined in the tight pants nearing her slim nicely curved hips and he'd never tire of the sight of her luscious rear end.

Her waist was trim in the almost too tight shirt. Her back was smooth under the cotton and her upper arms showed a tantalizing bulge of muscle. It fit with her build though, not the overly garish look that a body builder would have. The auburn-brown hair shimmered down her back in the dim light hiding her graceful neck. Then they were there and she let go of him to take another long drink of her beverage. He moved to sit on one corner of his bed and discard his own boots.

Courtney watched him intently rolling the can absently between her palms. Wayne's hard back was to her as he sat on the end of the bed untying and tossing his boots aside. The play of muscle under his shirt pulled at her. She put the can aside and slipped onto the bed behind him. She slid her arms around under his to rest across his chest and stomach, and she liked how nicely his hips rested in the cradle of her thighs around him. Her head pressed firmly against him, and Wayne stiffened feeling the swell of her breasts squashed against his ribs.

"Courtney, what're you doin'?" His voice had deepened and sounded exquisite in her ears as it rumbled through him making her squirm. Her writhing caused a low moan from him and his hands slid onto her thighs around him. He squeezed them gently and let his thumbs stroke just inside them. She squirmed again before answering.

"Couldn't resist, this last one is a doozie and I need to feel all of you here safe with me." Her voice was quiet, frightened.

"Okay, Darlin' I'm here, tell me about it." His hands moved to cover hers.

"It starts on the chopper, when I slip." His hands tightened on hers and his body went suddenly rigid, she was quick to continue. "Only this time it's a little different. I still fall, but not because they shoot me." It was her turn to go stiff and her voice became haunted.

"You're holding on to me, pulling me up, telling me you won't let me go. We take fire and sparks fly over the rotors above us. Everything slows down at this point, I'm looking in your eyes, and bullets are flying all around us. I see you take a hit in the arm holding mine. I start to fall, and I see the second bullet hit." Her voice was soft now, trembling with emotion. "It hits you in the neck I see the blood spray and your body goes slack hanging half-out the side of the chopper. I scream then, knowing you're dead. That is when I wake up." He could hear her barely holding it together now. Her voice was weak, and she shivered constantly against him.

"I ain't dead, Courtney. I'm right here with you now." He urged her to uncurl from around him, and turned bringing a leg up onto the bed. Then he pulled her legs over, across his and stroked up and down her them. He looked her over taking note of the eyes that were red with restrained tears. "This the one that gives you the panic attack?" All she could do was nod her head, allowing her bangs to fall forward and cover her anxious distress. "Come here, beautiful."

Wayne brushed the hair aside and opened his arms to her. Courtney molded herself to his side. He took her hand and placed it over his sternum, just above his solar plexus. "Breathe with me, Darlin'." He took slow deliberate breaths until he felt her tears on his breast. He pulled her back into his lap then and held her while she cried. He found that this time her tears affected him differently. Before he'd only wanted to hold her and comfort her. Maybe it was because they were tears for him now, he didn't know, but he wanted them to stop. He hated that she was in this pain over him. "All this for me?" He said in wonder, "the thought of me dyin' effects you like this?" She nodded against him, and he pulled her face up with a light finger under her chin. "Courtney, Darlin', I love you too." Her watery blues went wide and he smiled full and beautiful for her. "That's what the dream is tellin' you, you know?" The gold in his eyes was sparkling again.

"Does it? I do, but...I, do." He tucked her hair back again and wiped away the remnants of her tears.

"When you react like that, it's just your subconscious tryin' to let ya know." He was still smiling at her. Through all the turmoil in her mind she noticed that the smile transformed his face. Attractive on a regular day, this man was down right gorgeous with that smile on his lips.

"How do you know that?" She intertwined their fingers.

"All those weeks you were missin' I dreamed similar things about you. When I'd wake up it felt like one o' the SHARCs was sittin' on my chest. Every night 'til I realized I had to care a damn lot about you to feel like that." He shrugged running the backs of his fingers down her cheek. "Then we found you, and I knew it was love, not just carin'." Courtney pulled him down to her for a passionate battle between lips and tongues.

He pushed her back on the bed and straddled her lap taking control from her. Exploring her mouth thoroughly for the first time since that night in Brazil. She tasted sweet, a hint of the cola was still on her breath, but it wasn't unpleasant. He tickled the roof of her mouth and heard her muffled whimper only after he felt it vibrate through his mouth. It pulled a soft groan from him in response.

She broke the kiss and slid back fully onto the bed. He sat back on his haunches regarding her smugly. "Where you think you're goin' Doll?"

"You said get comfortable. I'm comfy now." She sighed resting back against his pillows while he traced intoxicating designs on her sock covered feet. "Wayne, you're the fourth in command here, why don't you have larger quarters?" She asked suddenly curious.

"Didn't really need a lot of space, so I turned 'em down." He answered dryly as though that were obvious.

"You didn't turn down the bed though," she grinned wickedly, "planning on using the extra room?"

"I didn't so much before, just nice to have the extra room to spread out while you're sleepin'. Now, though, I think I might put in for a queen insteada this full." His southern accent was thicker than before, a sign she knew from that night that she was having an effect on him. She grinned again and with a crooked finger beckoned him forward. He shook his head in the negative. "Nope, not 'til you say it out loud." He was deliberately cryptic.

"What, that I want you up here so I can cuddle with you and drive you crazy?" She asked through hooded eyes.

The look played havoc with his sex drive but he reigned it in. " You already drive me crazy, I don't need to be in the bed with you for that. Nope, I want you to tell me what your dream was tryin' to tell you."

"Oh," she smiled shyly at him.

"In all fairness, Darlin', I'll share that I was tryin to tell you in Duke's tent that night, when I didn't know the right words. I couldn't get them out." He gripped her ankles now, lightly massaging her Achilles tendons between thumbs and forefingers.

"I love you, Wayne." She said simply, and he slithered up her body to kiss her powerfully before lying beside her.

"I know, I just never planned on hearin' it directed at me before." He was nonchalant about it, and that saddened her a little.

"Never wanted it?" She asked sliding her hand up his stomach and onto his chest.

"Not exactly, just never thought there'd be a place for it. Hard to have love in your life when you're never around to be in your life anyway. I never expected to find a woman that was as damn stubborn and wonderful as you are, and that would put up with my shit. I ain't exactly a giant teddy bear like Duke, or a poet in disguise like everyone's favorite Warrant Officer." His hand came up to rest over hers.

"Definitely not my type, either of them, no challenge at all." She giggled softly at his snort of amusement.

"Scarlett and Lady Jaye might argue with you on that. As much as those two can be romantic sissies, they are soldiers, career military at that, it makes for hard men." He was being surprisingly honest without his usual critical manner.

"Maybe they've just had enough time with their ladies to mellow out a little. You're being pretty romantic and sweet right now, all evening really." She rubbed his chest with the fingers under his hand, rolling closer to him to throw her right leg over his and wedge it between his thighs.

"Only with you, Cinderella, only with you, and never on the trainin' course." He said softly tracing her fingers with his.

"Never." She agreed with a grin. Her breath tickled his ear, and made his pants seem tighter. He turned his face to hers for a kiss that by the end of it had her astraddle his hips leaning over him and rocking against him as she pulled away. She spread out over him slipping her arms around his when he brought them up to hold her in place.

"You hungry, it's probably around 2000 hours by now." He asked into the comfortable silence that had fallen.

"Not really, you?" She nuzzled his chin with her nose.

"Only for you, Darlin'." His hands smoothed down her back and over the slope of her ass pressing her against the hardness in his BDUs.

"Mmm, so I see." She nipped his chin gently and he swelled against her.

"Woman, don't tease unless you're gonna follow through on it." He squeezed her cheeks, and she noticed that his voice was tight under control.

"Who's teasing, Hard Ass?" She ground down on him deliberately, eliciting a deep groan.

"It ain't my ass that's hard right now, Darlin'." He ran his hands back up and under her shirt onto slick skin until they encountered the bands wrapped tightly around her ribs. Reality slammed viciously back into him, and he sighed regret. "Guess I'll have to settle for holdin' you close and letting our mouths have all the fun for a while."

"Why babe?" She asked with a confused look.

"Don't want to hamper these mendin', I don't want to hurt you worse." She felt his fingers lightly trace the edge of her bandages. "And don't suggest takin' things slow and gentle, 'cause I can promise if it happens tonight that ain't how it's gonna be."

"Okay, then what can we do?" She was pouting now.

"I can hold you like this all night, or," he rolled her off him facing her away from him and scooted up behind her, "like this. Even like this." He urged her to face him and when she did he traced her lips with his tongue until she pulled it in and kissed him fervently.

"This is nice." She said when they pulled back. His fingers were still inside her shirt tracing the skin between her pants and the bandages. "We should have done this in the motel in Brazil." She ran her hands under his T-Shirt, after pulling it free of his pants, through the hair on his belly and around onto his smooth, hairless, muscled back exploring the contours until they both shuddered.

"No way we coulda gotten away with this on the mission. Too distracting, and we'da never got anything done. Besides this is much nicer than that dump was, more I don't know, cozy-like." He smoothed her hair down away from her neck to place a line of delicate kisses on the warm skin. She hummed content that turned into a yawn. "Tired?"

"A bit, mind if I crash for a while?" Even her voice showed her fatigue.

"Not at all Darlin' I'll keep watch for a while, though if you don't mind." He slid his free arm around her waist again and curled the one she was using as a pillow down around her shoulder and flat on her back, keeping her close.

"As long as you don't let me go." She was drifting, he heard it in her voice. She buried herself in his chest. Her arm snaked over his hip and she gripped his rear end briefly before running it back up under his shirt and settling in. "You know that as soon as I'm cleared, you're in big trouble right?"

"Wouldn't have it any other way, beautiful. Sleep, Court, I've got you." He ran his fingers through her hair until her breathing was deep and even, and let his fingers roam until he too slept. Neither of them had problems with dreams that night.