By Tessa 30/03/05

While Mel sleeps Cole is on the job, intent on tracking a different type of fugitive.

What Lives Beneath

Mel popped her sleep-mussed headful of curls outside of her bedroom door, yawning and fighting back the sleep that threatened to overtake her. What the hell was Cole doing in the kitchen? She could hear him shuffling around and clattering about. It was still dark but he had turned on the light over the kitchen stove and she could see his large feet protruding outside of the kitchen door. He appeared to be down on all fours. Mel struggled into her robe as she headed for the kitchen to find out exactly what Cole was up to. Surely he wasn't about to take a life force in her kitchen? Was he?

"Cole?" She was greeted by Cole, down on his hands and knees, his attractively masculine backside poised high in the air as he pressed his head to the floor and peered under the refrigerator.

At the sound of her voice, Cole's head came up and he stood and turned to face her.

"Hello Mel." He said softly. "What are you doing up? It's still dark. You should still be sleeping."

"I know Cole, but you're making so much noise out here that you woke me." She said through a yawn as she rubbed furiously at her eyes. "Why are you looking under the fridge?"

"I'm sorry Mel. I didn't mean to wake you but I'm looking for the little creature I saw run under your fridge when I came in here for some juice." Cole explained as he bent over and continued to peer under the fridge again. "I think it must live under here."

"OH MY GOD!" Mel's voice was filled with terror. "WHAT WAS IT?"

Cole looked up at Mel in confusion, trying to figure out exactly why she had jumped up on one of the kitchen chairs at the mention of a little creature running under her fridge. Her freckles stood out in sharp contrast to the pallor of her skin. Mel was truly horrified!

"Don't worry Mel." Cole said calmly in an effort to reassure her. "It's really tiny. You're MUCH bigger than it is and why are you up on that chair Mel?"

"No kidding Cole, but if it's a… a…. a mouse, then believe me, this reaction is perfectly normal for me, for most women as a matter of fact." Mel was convinced that she'd be a lot less upset if she found an elephant in her kitchen!

Cole was thoroughly puzzled. These human females were very odd at times. Very odd indeed. Why would they be so frightened of a tiny little creature that was SO much smaller than they are? It just simply defied all logic to the Tracker.

"It was about this big." Cole gestured with his hands. "It had a little skinny tail and it was a sort of grayish…."

"COLE, you've got to catch it for me! I just can't have a mouse in here! Especially not in the Watchfire. I'll get shut down if the health department finds out!" Mel was crouching on the chair now, her bare toes peeking out from under her robe, her eyes scanning the floor.

"Shut down? Over a tiny little… mouse?" Cole quizzed.

"Believe me Cole, yes. Shut down. They're pretty clear on that point." Mel pulled her robe more tightly around her and hugged her arms around herself, her dread filled blue-green eyes wide as they darted back and forth at the floor.

"Don't worry about a thing Mel" Cole reassured. "I'll catch it for you." He could track and capture dangerous alien fugitives. Surely a tiny little mouse wouldn't present much of a challenge to the strapping Tracker.

Cole squatted down in front of Mel, perched as she was on the chair. His strong, deft fingers began to stroke the base of her throat. Mel obviously needed comforting. This little mouse was causing her a great deal of distress.

"Relax Mel. There. Is that better?" The Tracker whispered soothingly as he looked up at her with that gorgeous smile that turned up the corners of his full mouth so attractively, and reached all the way up into his soft brown eyes.

Mel closed her eyes, letting the Tracker's supple fingers ease her back into a state of calm. Oh yes, this was most definitely helping her relax and forget all about the source of her hysteria. Those fingers of his were like magic. Mel was indulging in fantasies of those lovely square tipped fingers, massaging other more intimate parts of her body.

"Oh, yes Cole. I think that's just what the doctor ordered." She breathed softly as she felt the warm tingling sensation spread down through her arms and legs like wildfire. She opened her eyes a little, lowering them just enough to take in the very agreeable sight of Cole's muscular thighs spread apart and flexed just below her as he hunkered down. She fixed her eyes on the spot where his jeans tightened so attractively against the masculine curves of his body, leaving very little to her fertile imagination, and silently gave thanks to whatever power or fate it was that led Cole to create his image from a picture of a very well endowed and underwear clad Troy Montana!

"Mel." Cole's voice startled her out of the delicious trance she was rapidly drifting into in response to the combination of his caresses and her observations of his masculine assets.

"Yes, Cole?"

"How do you think I should go about catching this…mouse?" Cole questioned.

Mel shook her head slightly and cleared her throat. Reality beckoned to her. "Well, there's this primitive apparatus called, imaginatively enough, a mousetrap. You put cheese or peanut butter on it, then when the mouse tries to eat it, WHAMMO." Mel slammed her fist into her palm for dramatic effect. "The trap springs and… goodbye mouse! Well it's not very pleasant but it does the trick Cole."

Cole was looking at Mel with a very serious and concerned expression playing across his features. "Mel, that sounds pretty mean to me. It was just a tiny little thing and to tell you the truth Mel, I thought it was cute. It seems cruel to trick it that way."

"Cole, trust me on this. It's not CUTE! It's a pest, vermin, very successful businesses have flourished ridding us humans of these cute little creatures! I guess you could call them trackers. Their job isn't exactly that different from what you do!"

"Come on Mel." Said Cole as he took Mel's arm and coaxed her down from her safe haven on the kitchen chair. "Let's get you tucked back into bed and you can leave the mouse tracking to me."

Mel all but sprinted out of the kitchen and toward the bedroom. "Alright Cole, but PLEASE catch that mouse for me? I can't bear to think of it living beneath my fridge!" She said as she disappeared into her bedroom.

Cole followed her in and stood by as Mel tossed her robe onto a chair and slid into her warm bed, smiling approvingly at thebrief flash ofcreamy silk nightie he was afforded a glimpse of. He pulled the duvet up and tucked it around her chin.

"There Mel." Cole said, brushing a stray lock of hair out of her eyes as she nestled her head into the fluffy pillow. " Now you sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!" Mel loved the way Cole was beginning to pick up endearing little human expressions, and was actually starting to get them right most of the time. She still blushed when she remembered some of the embarrassing ways he had massacred some of those little expressions in the past!

"We've got mice to deal with Cole! Please don't even get me started on bugs!"

Cole smiled and turned to walk out of the bedroom, but Mel's hand shot out and caught his shirt just as he was almost out of her reach.


"What is it Mel?" he answered softly as he leaned toward her.

"I don't think I can sleep Cole, just knowing that…thing….. is skulking around here! I mean, it could even be under my bed!" Her pale eyes widened in terror. "Or what if there's more than one? Cole, what if there are DOZENS of them, all just lurking and scurrying around with their beady little eyes and their little fangs bared and their creepy tails dragging behind them! Cole I'm getting gooseflesh thinking about it….. what are you laughing at?"

"Well, you look very funny Mel, making that face. You almost look like a mouse yourself!"

"Oh Cole! Listen, I'm deadly serious about this. I may never sleep again!"

Cole was well aware that Mel was working herself up into a state of near panic and there was only one thing for it. He tried his best to wipe the grin off his face and sat down on the edge of the bed, pulling her gently into his strong arms.

"Mel, just try not to think about it. You know I'll take care of it don't you?" His voice was husky and deep against her ear as his broad hand caressed her back.

It did feel like nothing could possibly be wrong in her world when Cole wrapped her up in those huge muscular arms of his. She sighed deeply, savoring his warmth and his strength. The softly glowing light from the bedside lamp highlighted his features making flecks of gold dance in the depths of his beautiful dark eyes. Mel was overcome with a sudden rush of warmth and attraction to him that she couldn't fight. She moved her arms up and around his strong neck and pressed her cheek against his, the day's growth of beard feeling deliciously rough against her soft skin. He smelled of clean, masculine soap. Since the day she had introduced him to personal hygiene, to her delighted amusement he had become quite obsessed with it! She snuggled deeply into his embrace, relishing the feel of rock hard pectorals beneath his sweater and the strong, steady beat of his heart against her breast.

Mel turned her face up to meet Cole's eyes and slowly he lowered his head until his mouth was on hers. Soft and tentative at first, but then opening slightly and growing steadily more aggressive, his smooth tongue gently slipping into her mouth as his strong arms pulled her closer. She really had to find out where he learned to kiss like that, unless that particular talent was just part and parcel of the Troy Montana package! Lord knows how many eager partners THAT man has had, she wondered to herself. Maybe that date with Tiffany involved a little more than just Steven Spielberg…..?

Mel drew back slowly and looked at Cole through sleepy eyes. He stared back at her, his face flushed in the dim light and his full lips parted and still wet from the kiss they had just shared.

"Mel…I'm sorry……. I shouldn't have done that….."

"No. No, Cole…I MEAN YES, yes Cole, you should have done that. I think you should do that again in fact!" Mel stammered, a smile playing around the corners of her mouth.

"I loved it." She whispered huskily as she traced the line of his jaw with her fingertips. "And I think I might just have forgotten all about that mouse that we're sharing our kitchen with…..well, almost."

Cole shyly dropped his eyes and smiled, then returned his gaze to meet hers. . "It did feel very good Mel." His eyes sparkled as he smiled at her.

"You have a talent for stating the obvious Cole Hauser, and may I say it's adorable." She replied as she dropped a kiss on his lips, which he had to chase her to return as she pulled back again.

"You've got to get some sleep now Mel" said Cole with resignation. "And I have a mouse to track." He gently pushed her down into the bed and pulled the duvet up to her chin and tucked it in around her again. When the Tracker was focused on a mission he was all business. Mel covered a grin at the fierce look of determination on Cole's face. He might just as easily have been talking about tracking a dangerous alien target as a tiny rodent. It didn't matter what Cole did, he never did it by half measures! That fact always evoked the most enjoyable fantasies for Mel Porter.

"I'll try to sleep Cole, but please, please catch that….thing" she popped her head up. "and KILL it!"

Cole turned in the doorway to look back at her "Don't worry about a thing Mel. Good night." And with those words he closed the door, leaving Mel to fall into a restless sleep, filled with dreams of beady eyed alien rodents.

Warm shafts of sunlight stirred Mel into wakefulness. That and a very strange sound coming from somewhere in her apartment. She'd swear it was Cole's voice, but his usually deep baritone seemed to be raised to a gentle and sweet pitch a few octaves higher. What was he doing? He seemed to be chattering away to someone in this odd voice but she couldn't make out the muffled words.

She hopped out of bed and headed for the door, grabbing her robe on the way. She followed the sound of his voice which was coming from the living room. Mel walked hesitantly toward the room as she pulled on her robe, unsure as to what she would encounter there. As she rounded the corner, she came to a dead halt, her eyes widening at the scene which confronted her.

The big Cirronian was sitting on the sofa. His dark hair was tousled, the ever present soft curl decorating the centre of his forehead. His hand was held palm up in front of his face. On that face was what could only be described as the goofiest expression Mel had ever seen on him. He was smiling broadly as he talked animatedly in that strange high-pitched voice, his eyes soft and gentle and focused on the contents of his palm. In his palm sat a tiny gray mouse, nibbling away contentedly on a cracker and alternately looking up at the big goofy face with the strange voice that hovered just inches away from it.

"Cole". Mel rubbed her eyes hard. She was sure she must still be asleep and dreaming.

Cole was so involved in his interactions with the mouse that he hadn't noticed Mel standing there.

"Cole." She tried again, this time much louder. "What are you doing?"

He heard her this time and looked up, grinning boyishly. "Oh, good morning Mel. As you can see here, I caught the mouse." His voice was quiet, almost a whisper.

"Yes. So I see Cole but…..."

"He's really very cute Mel, don't you think?" Said Cole as he moved his mouse-bearing hand toward Mel to afford her a closer look as she shrank back in horror.

"I gave him a little cracker to eat because he seemed hungry and I wasn't exactly sure what these creatures like to eat."

"I think they like cheese Cole…" Mel sighed and rolled her eyes upward. "What the hell am I saying?"

"You really like that, don't you Zin, hmmm? Don't you!" Cole chattered away at the little mouse in his high pitched voice. It peered up at him, cocked it's head, and returned to nibbling on the cracker.

Mel stopped mid-yawn? "ZIN?"

"Yes Mel. I'm going to call him Zin! He almost looks a little like him, don't you think so…..?