Author: A. X. Zanier
Rating: R (Language, violence, adult situations)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story ideas to 'The Invisible man'. Any additional
characters or story ideas are mine to do with as I please.
Timeline: # 8 along with "Some Good-byes/Darien.
Immediately follows "Whether You Will" Original Post 10/25/2000 @
Spoilers: References to various eps from Season One. Anything very speciifc and I'll give you a
Comments: This is the revised version of these two stories. The original was done as two separate
stories told each from Alyx and Darien's POVs. In this revision I'm combining them, but still
keeping the separate POVs and will mark each flip of POV.

I've included an edited version of 'A Lesson in Lock Picking' to flesh out the story a bit more(pun
intended) as well as an entirely new section. The rest has just been tweaked and expanded a bit.

The beginning quote is by Darien the end quote is by Alyx.

This was originally going to be the last Alyx Silver fic I was going to write. Boy, did I goof that
one up.

Thanks To Rebecca(WorkerCaste) for her usual excellent job as a Beta reader and forcing me to
correct problems I was too lazy to deal with when I orginally wrote the story.

Some Goodbyes Are Easier Than Others

So this guy Bach -- no, not that one -- said, "Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is
necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for
those who are friends."

Or for those who are, perhaps, a bit more. What happens in between will be remembered forever and
can insure that you never wish to say 'farewell' again. -- D. F.


Some days just should not happen. And of all the days I've had like that, this one was tops on the
stop-and-rewind list. Well, the majority of it was, anyway.

I spent the morning being poked and prodded by Claire, the Keeper, who had decided today was the
perfect day for a physical. That turned into a major battle in our ongoing war; there were some
things I wanted her to know nothing about, even if she was my doctor. I didn't keep wiping my
medical records just so she could find out this way. My life might not have been entirely my own
any more, but I did have some rights and some things I still wanted to remain private.

When it was finally over, I was in no mood for attitude from Bobby Hobbes. He had decided that
today, on orders from the chief himself, was the perfect day for a snipe hunt. We -- that is,
Bobby, Darien, and myself -- spent the afternoon chasing our tails, stuck in the Agency's heap of a
van. In the end, the information we'd been looking for was in the place we had started, where Bobby
has insisted it couldn't be. I felt like I had spent the day being lead around by my nose, just to
kill time and justify the report I was going to have to write.

I proceeded to tell Bobby just that, in no uncertain terms. From there, it turned into one of our
better shouting matches. No matter how much I might like the little nutcase, some days he just goes
too far. It took a major intervention by Darien to keep me from literally peeling back Bobby's skull
to check if he actually had a brain. I ended up walking off and making my own way back to the
office. Things went downhill from there.

Eberts got my attention as soon as I walked in the door and escorted me into the Official's office.
I didn't say hello, didn't smile, didn't ask what he wanted. After all, this is the guy who
essentially blackmailed me into working for him. We've kind of made a working arrangement -- he
gives the assignments, preferably through a third party, and I do them. Period. I'm real big on
avoiding social interaction with him.

"You're being placed on a special assignment," the Official said, handing me an envelope. Thumbing
through the package, I discovered it contained plane tickets, among other things. "Your contact
will meet you in D.C. He has been given full disclosure about your abilities. You will cooperate

I looked at my tickets, noting the flight time of late tomorrow morning. "How long?" I asked. After
the day I'd had, I was not in the mood to deal with shit like this.

The Official cleared his throat.

"There is no exact time scheduled for your return," Eberts said. "You will assist in this matter as
long as necessary."

"You've sold me to another agency," I stated, though I had the feeling that this was not the
Official's idea. Not that it mattered. I already hated it. I was finally learning to deal with this
new life I'd made here, and now he yanks the rug out from under me again. The story of my life
lately, it seemed.

"No. You are simply on long-term loan to them," Eberts said.

"Are you going to tell me, or do I get to guess?" I was not thrilled, and was making sure they both
knew it.

"Your contact will give you all the information. Pack what you need for the trip. They will handle
the rest," Eberts answered.

"Fine," I said, feeling anything but. "Anything else?"

"That should do it," the Official said, ending the conversation.

It wasn't until later, when I was packing the silver photo album of my kids, that my brain suddenly
kicked in. I was leaving, possibly for good. For all that there were days I hated working for the
Agency and the Official, there was at least one person I would miss, really miss. I felt the sudden
need to do something about it.

I finished packing, then looked at the time. It was late. Nearly midnight. I couldn't. I shouldn't,
I.... No matter how much I argued with myself I knew I wanted to. After all this time, after
everything we had been through, I wanted to resolve the situation. I had actually made the decision
days ago, but hadn't yet come up with a good enough excuse. It's not exactly a topic one can bring
up while on a stake-out. Especially not with Hobbes looking over our shoulders.

That was a topic in and of itself. He'd given us 'The Lecture' about a week after we got back from
Florida. Blah blah blah, company pier, blah blah blah, co-workers, etc. It was even worse than his
now-infamous 'need to know' speech. I'd read the damn rulebook. Had the stupid thing memorized
thanks to the way my mind worked. You know what? I didn't care.

I didn't care why I had been brought here. Didn't care about the Official's little long-range plan,
which was now looking to be non-viable given the current situation -- hell, it was most likely
non-viable anyway, given that I knew something the Official obviously didn't. I didn't care that it
might be the stupidest thing I had ever done in my life. I wanted -- no, I needed -- to let him know
how I felt, especially now. If I was really leaving for good, I couldn't leave this unresolved or it
would haunt me for a long time to come. No matter where I went, that connection to him would remain.
I knew that now. I couldn't let it be a painful one.

I packed the last few items, made sure I had my ticket and contact info, and left. I tossed my bags
into the back of my silver Jag and, after a single moment of indecision, I started the car and drove
into the night.

I stood there wrestling with myself for five minutes outside his door, trying to convince myself
that he wouldn't send me away, no matter how justified he would be in doing so. I finally cursed
myself for a fool and knocked. When Darien flung the door open, a rather irritated look on his
face, I swear my heart stopped.

"Oh. Hey, Alyx. Sorry, I thought you were Hobbes checking up on me again," he said. "What's up?"

"Can I come in?" I asked, my voice sounding amazingly calm to my ears. What a shame it wasn't true.
I was anything but calm. In fact, my heart was pounding hard enough that it was a good thing I
didn't have Darien's quicksilver gland. He wouldn't be seeing much of me right now.

"Yeah, sure," he said, stepping out of the doorway. I walked past him and into his apartment. I'd
been over a couple of times before and not much had changed. I placed the six of Corona on the
counter -- my peace offering for stopping by so late. He shut the door and came over, looking at me
with raised eyebrows.

"A bribe," I said, trying to keep my voice calm. It wasn't easy. "It is late, after all."

"A bribe? Do I want to know?" Darien asked, picking up a bottle and examining it for a moment.

I shrugged. "I can't answer that, actually."

I watched him crack open the bottle and lean against the counter, taking a drink. I removed my
jacket and tossed it over the back of a chair. We'd been working together for quite a while now,
and it had been a tumultuous experience. Trying to balance our working relationship and our
personal one had been a challenge.

We had discovered that we worked very well together, our skills and abilities complementing one
another. Thanks to my talents, some things had been easy. With some practice, for example, he had
become reasonably comfortable with our keeping in touch mind-to-mind during our more covert
assignments. Since gaining full control, I rarely had to worry about getting more than I intended
when I touched his mind. Not that it mattered; I had gotten more than enough already to ensnare me.

That other link, the one I tried to ignore, was always there in the background. Some days it was
all that kept me going. I knew I shouldn't let it, but what could I do? It invaded even past my
shielding, no matter how tight it was. I just did my best to ignore it and not let it influence me.
Some days were more successful than others.

It was our personal relationship that had its problems. It wasn't that I didn't like the man, the
gods knew that. If I were any more attracted to him I'd be a drooling mess on the floor. Yet I'd
felt obligated to keep away from him. Between the Official's little plans, which I wanted no part
of, and things that still haunted me from my past, getting involved with him had seemed like a bad

It had taken time, perhaps too much time, but I didn't care anymore.

I was finally willing to admit exactly how I felt about him, but suddenly I wasn't sure how to go
about it. I chuckled at the thought. I'd spent so much time pushing him away that I wasn't quite
sure how to switch gears. I also wasn't sure if he'd still be the least bit interested -- up until
a couple of weeks ago, we'd pretty much done nothing but argue and grouch at one another. Neither
of us was able to keep our feelings about various things inside for very long, at least not when we
were near each other.

I walked over to where he stood watching me. I took the bottle from his hand and took a long drink
from it. Then I placed the bottle on the counter.

"Alyx?" he said quietly, sounding both surprised and confused.

I couldn't speak; I just looked at him. It seemed to go on forever, but just as I was ready to
break, to pull away, to leave once again, his hand came up and caressed my cheek. I sighed and
closed my eyes for a moment. Thankful the he'd been able to do what I, obviously, could not.

When I opened my eyes he was looking at me, somewhat bewildered. I took his hand in mine and his
looked changed. I knew what he was thinking; we'd been through this so many times before. But
instead of moving his hand away, I kissed his palm.

He looked startled but recovered quickly. His hand slid back along my face and into my hair. He
closed the last of the distance between us, his other hand coming up to lightly grasp my chin, and
he said in a quiet voice, "Alyx, are you sure?"

"Do you really want me to talk?" I retorted. So many times before, I had managed to talk both him
and myself out of doing this. If he didn't do something quickly, I'd probably do it again.

He chuckled, and it sent electric tingles of pleasure up my spine. "No. I guess not."

Then he leaned down, burying both hands in my hair, and kissed me.

A moment, a day, a lifetime passed. Ah, gods, I'd wanted this for so damn long, and I was beginning
to wonder why I ever bothered fighting it. Then he pulled away. Our foreheads pressed together, we
both tried to catch our breath. My hands had moved at some point; one lay against his chest,
feeling the beating of his heart, the other was round the back of his neck playing with his hair.

"Darien...." I began, wanting to explain why I was here, that I was leaving.

Placing a finger on my lips, he silenced me. "No. No more talking."

I wasn't about to argue.


It had been a hell of a day. I had spent the morning cooped up in the office I shared with Hobbes
-- who was not in the best of moods -- because Claire was checking Alyx over for no reason we could
discern. She'd had no major control problems for a while now. Maybe it was just to make sure she had
completely recovered from the effects of that damn shock collar she'd been forced to wear.

Not that it mattered. She was back home, and that was all I really cared about. Even Bobby seemed
pleased that she'd come out of it all right. Not so long ago, he might have preferred it if she'd
gone down with the ship, and might have even done his best to help it along. But not anymore. So
when Alyx finally poked her head into our office and said the boss wanted to see us, he actually
smiled at her.

Things went downhill from there, though. Even I thought this little mission seemed like nothing but
busy-work, but Hobbes insisted on following it exactly the way the Official had said to. Which meant
we ended up chasing our tails all day, when we could have finished the job in about twenty minutes
if he had listened to Alyx.

Bobby still didn't quite trust her abilities and instincts on some matters. Either that, or today
he was just being stubborn because he could. All I know is, when we finally got the information we
were after, back at the place we had started, Alyx nearly took him apart. I had to step between the
two of them before they really started going at it. Luckily it didn't get beyond the creative insult
stage before she walked off, but boy can she get creative. She needed to remember to keep them in
English, though, if she wanted Hobbes to understand them.

Somehow she beat us back to the office, but she hadn't handed over the information. That was a bit
odd, but we passed it along and got an impressive grunt of approval from the Official. That
convinced me, more than anything else, that the afternoon had, indeed, been nothing but busy-work.
With a sigh I decided to head home rather than spending another hour or so doing paperwork. I would
still be expected to fill out a report on this complete waste of time and hand it over to Eberts for
eventual burial in the basement archives, but I'd do it in the morning.

The things I'll do for a paycheck.

I had zero plans for the evening. It wasn't that unusual, but this night it bothered me for some
reason. After eating dinner, I found myself with nothing to do and bored out of my mind. Since
getting back from Florida, I had made a point of not going over to her place. No more surprise
visits. I had taken up some hobbies, simply because I had no life outside of work these days, but I
couldn't find enough energy to attack even one of them.

I was seriously considering going to sleep out of sheer boredom when someone knocked on my door. I
groaned, figuring that it was either Hobbes, who still had this annoying habit of checking up on
me, or the woman from down the hall who just wouldn't get the hint that I wasn't interested. Her
latest tactic was to deliver food or coffee at odd hours of the night when it was obvious I was
still awake at two in the morning.

So I have to admit I was feeling rather annoyed when I pulled the door open. Boy was I in for one
hell of a surprise. Alyx stood in the doorway, looking rather shocked at my less than pleasant

"Oh. Hey, Alyx. Sorry, I thought you were Hobbes checking up on me again." It was midnight; what
the devil was she doing here? "What's up?"

"Can I come in?" She stood there looking up at me for a moment, and I wasn't sure what was going
through her mind.

"Yeah, sure." I moved out of the way and she walked past me, placing a six-pack of Corona on the
counter. I didn't know she even knew that I drank that. I'd never told her and she hadn't been over
here more than a couple of times, usually just in passing. Picking me up or dropping me off for
work, stuff like that. Making a surprise late night visit on me? That wasn't her style.

She looked over at me. "A bribe. It is late, after all."

"A bribe?" I raised my eyebrows at her. "Do I want to know?" I closed the door and walked over to
the counter, then picked up one of the bottles and looked at it for a moment. Something was up with
Alyx, but for the life of me I had no idea why she was here. She'd made her position clear ages ago,
and no matter how many times I'd tried to change her mind, she had remained steadfast. I had to
admit, since returning from Florida, she'd been different towards me, but I had stayed away this
time. She needed to decide for herself. I had finally figured out that I couldn't make the decision
for her, no matter how much I wanted to.

She shrugged. "I can't answer that, actually." She removed her jacket and tossed it over the back
of one of the chairs. She was wearing a white tank top and a pair of broken-in jeans that sat low
on her hips. I opened the beer and drank quickly. Damn, the woman dressed for comfort and still
managed to drive me nuts.

She was giving me this odd look and began to chuckle lightly to herself. I had to wonder what was
going on in her pretty little head this time. She walked over to me then and took the bottle from
my hand. As I watched, she drank about half of the contents and then set it on the counter.

"Alyx...?" I couldn't believe she had possibly come over here for anything like that. Could she? I
ran my hand along her cheek, caressing it. She closed her eyes and sighed, and I just stood there.
In shock, I guess. We hadn't really talked much since getting back from Florida. She'd had to spend
some time recovering; they'd done quite a number on her. Heck, I still wasn't at one hundred
percent, either -- my shoulder was still a bit stiff -- but I forgot about all of it when she
pulled my hand away from her face yet again. I could feel my heart sinking. Once again she was
pushing me away. She looked me in the eyes and then kissed the palm of my hand. My heart skipped a
beat. Several actually. I moved my hand and buried it in her hair, stepping closer to her. She
didn't back off like she usually did, so I grasped her chin with my other hand and tipped her face
up to look at me.

"Alyx are you sure?" I wanted to hit myself for asking.

"Do you really want me to talk?" she said with a smile.

I chuckled. "No, I guess not." Then I buried my hands in her hair and kissed her. Like I was going
to be dumb enough to ask her again, to wait, to give her a chance to decide yet again that she
didn't want to do this. Although I had to admit this was nice, heck, way beyond nice. This was a
dream, a fantasy, a reality. I felt her hands move over me. One playing with my hair and the other
lying gently over my heart, which I was trying to keep calm. Good lord, it was difficult. And this
was just the beginning. I pulled back slightly and rested my forehead against hers trying to catch
my breath.

"Darien, I..."

Oh no. I wasn't going to let her talk herself out of this, not this time. I'd waited too damn long
to get her alone and willing and I wasn't going to let her get away again. I placed a finger
against her lips. "No. No more talking."

She closed her eyes and kissed my finger tips, biting them gently. I guess she wasn't planning on
running tonight. Opening her eyes, she stood up straight and bit me gently on the throat. I sucked
in a breath. Crap. Control. I had to maintain control, but it was damn hard when she was, ah god,
doing that. I put my hands on her shoulders and moved her away slightly. I closed my eyes trying to
calm myself. I had no idea it was going to be this hard.

I didn't want this to go like the last time, like with Allianora. That had been sheer foolishness,
combined with a desperate need that, at the time, she had been the only one to fill. I was feeling
trapped at the Agency, even after my act of rebellion, and she supposedly felt just as trapped by
Chrysalis. For that night, that moment, we were able to find a bit of release from the lives we
lived. It didn't matter who or what we were, just that, for a moment, we needed and wanted
something we were usually denied.

Wish it had been that simple. Of course I ended up being used, yet again. Hell, you could argue I
used her as well, and I guess I did, but she shouldn't have had to pay with her life. There were
days I felt any relationship I had was doomed to one failure or another. I didn't want that to
happen again.

I opened my eyes to look at Alyx. She had this sad, almost fearful, look on her face, obviously
misinterpreting why I had moved her away, why I had held still for so long. For an instant I was
tempted, can't deny that, to push her away, tell her to get out, go home...but only for an instant.
I trailed my fingers down her arm and took her hand. Pulling her with me, I backed across the room
and towards the bed. "C'mere you."

I didn't want to rush through the motions this time. Didn't want to watch her through quicksilvered
eyes, to be unable to really feel her because of the quicksilver between us. I was jealous for an
instant, knowing she would not have the same difficulty, but only for an instant. Then I simply
wanted to lose myself to her.

She didn't resist, got this smug little smile on her face as I pulled her in close again. I took it
as slow as I could, but it was difficult. I wanted to simply tumble her onto the bed, strip her
bare, and take her until she cried out in pleasure. But I had to take it slow, this time anyway,
for myself as much as for her. My heart rate wasn't cooperating though.

When she kissed me, slid her tongue inside my mouth to find mine, I groaned. She seemed to find
this amusing and changed her target to my ear. I could feel her hands working on the buttons of my
shirt, sliding across my stomach once she had them all undone. There was a tingle, like a mild
electric shock and she pulled her hands away with a jerk. When she brought them back it was onto
the cloth of my shirt and not my skin, which I found odd, but couldn't really say anything about.
The fact that she was here was taking up the majority of my attention.

I decided to find out how she'd react to similar treatment. I moved my hands down to her hips and
slid my left hand under her shirt, moving upwards to trace lightly across her rib cage. She froze
in place, hardly breathing it seemed, just waiting. I kissed her on the temple and slid my hand
further upward, causing her to moan softly.

My control slipped.

"Aw, crap," I muttered as the quicksilver flowed involuntarily across my body. I tried to pull away
but she stopped me, not letting what must have been a very cold hand move away from her. "Alyx..."

She shook her head. And then she quicksilvered herself and went from black and white to this
glowing outline to my sight. "There, now we're even." She was laughing lightly. "What's the

How the hell was I supposed to answer that? She was the problem, and she would continue to be as
long as she stood there refusing to let me move my hand. "Sorry," I muttered, trying to convince
the damn gland to stop doing what it does. The stupid thing wasn't listening.

She gave me a gentle push and I found myself sitting on the bed, watching her. "Don't be. It's a
compliment." She leaned in, resting her head against mine. "Think about something else," she
whispered releasing my hand. She slid my shirt off and stood back holding it. After a moment, the
quicksilver hardened on it and she gave it a quick shake, scattering the flakes about the room like
snow under the lights at night. Seconds later, she did the same to herself.

I was still unable to regain control, but the more I tried the more difficult it became. Maybe I
should just give up trying to remain visible. It wasn't going to get any easier. "Like what? I
kinda have one thing on my mind right now, and it's causing the problem."

She laughed. "Try thinking about picking locks."

I shook my head. "Are you crazy?"

"Probably. Just try it. Think about each step in detail." She had moved closer, almost but not
quite touching.

It was worth a try anyway. I was going to have hard time explaining my 'unauthorized use' of the
gland to the Keep as it was. Bureaucrats. I took a deep breath and thought back. I'd picked some
annoying locks in my time.

"Close your eyes," she said.

How'd she know they were open? But I complied, picturing the lock in my mind and then running
through the process step by step. The feel of the picks in my hands. The delicate touch required to
feel what the tumblers within were doing. The slightest movement being translated back through the
metal picks to my fingers, where I had to interpret the meaning and decide what to do next.

"Touch me, Dare." She was right next to me and I could feel her breath on my ear, brushing through
my hair.

She took my hand and placed it on her side, and that's when I realized I could feel her. Her
warmth, her skin. I opened my eyes to see her. See her in full living, breathing, color. The
quicksilver had fallen away and I hadn't even realized it.

She had removed her top while I was thinking of other things and I almost lost control again.

"Cold," she filled in for me. "But I think you can fix that."

I was pretty sure I could too. I pulled her closer to me and kissed her throat, causing her to gasp
in reaction. Her hands came down on my shoulders, and once again I felt that tingle of energy at the
contact. But this time, I also got emotions. Hers.

She jerked her hands away again. "Damn."

I didn't let her move away. "Problem?" I moved lower and slid my tongue around her navel. She
shuddered as I slipped it in.

"Let's just say you're not the only one with control issues," she muttered.

"Hmmm," I commented intelligently, as I went to work on removing her jeans. "I don't seeing you
dealing with 'involuntary invisibility.'"

That earned me a small laugh. "That would be far easier to deal with." Her fingers were playing
with my hair. Who knew that just hands running through my hair could make my heart jump so high? It
had never happened before.

I had the jeans unbuttoned and felt her shift as she kicked off her shoes. She leaned over a bit
and rubbed her face into my hair with a sigh. I slid her jeans down her hips revealing the purple
scrap of cloth beneath and I had to swallow. Did she have any idea what this would do to me? I
hooked one edge with a finger and tugged on it. "What is this?"

"Silk," she answered.

I had figured out that much on my own. It was also illegal in several southern states, I was quite
sure. "Please tell me this isn't what you normally have under your clothes?"

"Uh, huh. I like them," she said as sucked gently on my earlobe.

So at work she'd have these under her clothes. Every day. "Ah, d... damn." I took a deep breath
and returned to the damn lock-picking, my head leaning against her stomach. I had to run through
the routine twice on two different locks, but when I looked up at her I knew that I hadn't done the
disappearing act on her.

"Imagery a bit too vivid, huh?" She was smiling at me.

I watched her eyes as I slid her jeans past her hips until they fell to the floor with a soft thud.
She pulled her feet loose and kicked them aside. And only then did I look to see what was revealed.
Silk and lace, covering only what was absolutely necessary. I had to take a moment to make sure I
stayed in control.

Her hands came down to hover over my shoulders. I wanted her to touch me. To feel her hands glide
softly across my skin, to make me shiver and squirm with her touch, but it was like she was afraid
to. So instead of revealing what was barely hidden beneath that scrap of silk, I took one of her
hands and moved it to rest on my chest. She resisted for a moment, then closed her eyes and
swallowed. There was that tingle and then I heard music.

"What?" I didn't recognized the song, but that didn't really matter.

"Crap," she muttered and the sound faded. In its place I felt mild irritation wash over me, and
that's when I realized what was going on.

"Control issues, huh?" I tried to keep it light and she responded to it that way.

"Yes. I still haven't quite mastered that control in certain situations. You'll feel everything I
am as long as I'm touching you." Her other hand had moved to join the first. "And I'll pick up
everything you're feeling."

Her hands moved lower and she leaned down to kiss me. She was right -- I could feel her enjoyment,
her pleasure, her need radiating from her. It was a new experience, and it gave me some small idea
of what she lived with every day. Most of the time she avoided touching other people, especially
strangers. On more than one occasion she had gotten more than she bargained for from a casual
touch, and it made her wary. Hell, I knew she knew things about me that I had never directly told
her and I hate to admit it did sometimes bother me. But not now. Now I was more than willing to
experience whatever she was willing to share with me, and if I gave up a bit more than perhaps I
should about what I was thinking or feeling, so be it.

I leaned back onto the bed, bringing her with me. My hands drifted down to rest on her hips and,
for some unmeasured length of time, I lost myself to the sensations, both hers and mine. I could
feel what she wanted, what she was longing for, so I rolled so that she lay beneath me.

"Is it always like this for you?" I asked against her throat. As soon as the words were out of my
mouth, I regretted it. I wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer.

"No." Her voice was hushed, breathless. "Only with you."

Only with me. I brushed my lips across hers and felt her heart jump beneath my hand, lying in the
valley between her breasts. With light stokes, I teased her mouth with my tongue until she lay
moaning beneath me. Eventually I had to give in to her need as well as my own and the teasing
stopped, becoming far more serious, deeper, sensual. She had one hand buried in my hair and the
other sliding up and down my back in seemingly random patterns.

I gave her what she wanted, what we both wanted.

Later, much later, I lay on my side looking down at her, amazed at both her and myself. I had
managed to somehow maintain control over the gland, in a situation where control is most definitely
not the goal. I tried to slow my breathing, knowing that I'd lost myself to her and not just for the
night. I had discovered that I was just as addicted to this woman beneath me as I was to the
counteragent. This night was going to be the first of many, if I had any say in the matter.

I shifted slightly and ran my hand lazily across her stomach, feeling the muscles contract in
reaction. She chose to be a smart-ass.

"Well, you're still with us I see." Her hand came up to mangle my hair worse than it already was.

I snagged her hand and kissed it. She blinked sleepily up at me. "Yup. Still here." I lay back and
she moved to rest her head on my chest listening to my heart as it began to slow its rhythm. Before
she could fall asleep, I got us rearranged and under the covers, knowing that although we felt warm
enough now we wouldn't later. She curled back up against me with a sigh of pure contentment, her
fingers tapping out a complicated pattern along my ribs.

"Sleep, you. I'll still be here in the morning."

Her hand stilled its random motions. I wondered why my statement caused her sudden reaction.

"I hope so," she said quietly, her hand beginning to move again.

Within minutes she was well on her way to a deep sleep, but I was still awake, not quite ready yet.
I ran my hands through her hair, wondering what had changed her mind. What had brought her here
tonight. What kept her from running away again.

I chuckled. Picking locks. Only she could have thought of that. I yawned then, sleep finally taking
notice of me. The morning, I decided. I'd ask her in the morning.