Okay, so I don't usually write fanfic's, but I do occasionally like to come and read all the great Plum works you all write on here, and really I should have used my day to write 6,000 words on my WIP... but I had this idea and it was bugging me so I just got it out of my head and now feel compelled to share it.
It's bound to be a bit OOC, and Cupcake fans probably won't enjoy it at all. Hope the rest of you enjoy, Thanks!


Do you remember sitting around the campfire when you were young, getting lost in the flickering flames that were contained in front of you? If you were like me, you were also melting the bottoms of your brand new expensive sneakers that you had just managed to talk your mother into buying for you as you dazed wondrously at the flicker of lights playing.

From experience, I know that fire can be the cause of life changing occurrences. It can wipe out your wardrobe if your house catches fire, it can make you infamous for burning down a funeral parlor, it can get you involved with a gang in the form of a Molotov cocktail, it can be in the form of a bomb strapped to your middle by a psycho, it can be used as a threat to my body as a flamethrower, it can relieve you of a rented cello you lied about being able to play and, in my current predicament, it can send your car to heaven. Trust me, I know.

It can also in some inexplicable way, as you become hypnotized with the flames, cause you to look at things and people (or life as you know it) in a different light. No pun intended.

Maybe I should explain a little more. My name is Stephanie Plum and I do the super-hero-esque job of relieving the streets of rogue criminals. In other, less exciting words, I'm a fugitive apprehension agent a.k.a bounty hunter. Exciting, right? You have no idea. Of course every once in a while (okay, okay, a lot of the while) those damned FTA's (failure to appear's) tend to be slightly dangerous to not only my health, but to the health of my cars as well. This time is no different. Willie Woodcock, charged with drunk and disorderly, indecent exposure, and assaulting a police officer, just blew up my new (to me anyway) Toyota 4-Runner.

Which would be why I'm sitting on a scalding piece of cement curb, in a Trenton heat wave, watching the flames grow higher and higher, and waiting for the routine I knew was about to follow. I've been through it enough by now to have it memorized. Sad, isn't it?

Some nosy nearby neighbor would have called the cops, so any minute I would hear the sirens of a couple blue & whites and the Fire Department (ambulances would only be called for later, if needed). They would make some remarks, exchange betting money, and finally make sure there were no casualties. All in a days work.

Sometime during this, after two dozen phone calls to his cell letting him know about my most recent disaster, Joe Morelli would pull up in his unmarked police issued P.O.S. and would begin yelling, arms flailing while making arguments for me to quit my job so I could marry him and become a stay at home typical 'Burg mom. Even if we were currently in another one of our off-again stages of our relationship (like we were), his reaction would be the same… and so would mine. I would respond back with my own Italian temper making an appearance, not letting my own gestures and yelling get upstaged, as I argued back.

Of course, at some point during the ruckus, my own personal Batman (a.k.a. Ranger a.k.a. Ricardo Carlos Manoso) would pull up in one of his expensive black cars to make sure I hadn't died. All of my cars suspiciously gain a GPS tracker that reports straight to Rangeman (Ranger's security company) and when I forget to call after my car goes offline (like I always do) he'll pop in to insure he's not needed to save the day. He will either amble over, look me over for injuries, say 'babe' and leave… or if I was really lucky he would whisk me off in the current Batmobile with a ride back home so I could clean up and he could steal a few kisses that would give me the strength to complete my day.

Staring into the dancing flames I thought about the routine I had become so familiar with, and the feelings it always produced. It seemed like my life had become one giant, confusing, frustrating, breathtaking, sometimes scary, emotional twisting rollercoaster. Like Space Mountain. Fun, yes. Scary, yes. In the complete dark so you never know what's coming up next, yes. It's not that I was unhappy in my life, but I wasn't happy either.

Joe and I had a relationship that I couldn't define, but a part of me recognized that Ranger was right about our 'unhealthy pattern of behavior' that stemmed from not being able to even date for too long at a time without breaks from each other. Really, what does that say about us? Besides the fact that even when Joe and I are together I'm lusting after another man, even to the point of allowing him the occasional poach. I would never literally cheat on Joe, but probably poached kisses are a form of cheating… not to mention being mentally unfaithful.

 

Screeching sirens jolted me out of my reverie and I couldn't resist a long sigh. I noted I had been doing more than my usual amount of defeated sighs lately. Maybe I needed a vacation… far, far away from Trenton and being the 'Bombshell Bounty Hunter' for everyone's entertainment purposes.

Carl and Big Dog angled out of the first Blue & White on scene with matching grins. I smiled back and waited for the comments to start. I didn't have to wait long.

"Damn Steph!" Big Dog grinned, hands on hips, looking at what remained of my car. "How long did this one last? If the timing's right you might have made me rich today." I smiled back but didn't answer, instead watching Carl walk the perimeter, beginning the report. I watched in silence as the fire truck pulled up at the same time as the second blue & white, followed after a few minutes by Joe's beige P.O.S.

I guess its time for the screaming match of today's entertainment.

Morelli angled out and paused to look at the charred car, running a hand through his brown hair that perpetually need a haircut, and shaking his head as he headed my way. Morelli looks like Hollywood's version of a detective, boasting classic Italian good looks and a hard lean body. Women all around Trenton use Joseph Morelli as their ultimate fantasy… he wasn't voted as having the best ass for nothing after all. Personally I don't have to fantasize anymore, and lately the sex isn't worth the effort of all the arguments that tend to accompany it. Sad, I know. I didn't bother to stand up yet, knowing once I got good and pissed off my anger would make me jump to my feet, so there was no need to waste the energy doing it now.

Joe stopped in front of me, hands on hips, jaw ticking; I sighed.

His stance reminded me of our last big argument, the one that had turned the on-again into the off-again stage for us after finding out about my Rangeman panties. I had Grandma Mazur to thank for that one, bringing them up at the dinner table in front of my entire family and Joe, asking all sorts of embarrassing questions. Needless to say Joe wasn't happy about the discovery, and I had let my mouth run by telling him it was his fault anyway for asking Ranger to take care of me. It had been a pretty bad fight, even for us.

Growing up it used to be that I craved seeing Morelli; since I was six years old and he taught me the 'choo-choo' game, to the time I was sixteen and he finagled my panties (and virginity) from me on the floor of the Tasty Pastry. Not to mention when I was eighteen and I nicked him with Big Blue upon seeing him, breaking his leg. Then of course, there was the time he was FTA and my first official skip to bring in, making me want to see him for a different reason all together (like 10,000). Lately however, I realized we had gotten to the point where I associated seeing him at my crime scenes with seeing my mother at dinner when I'm single; pure dread. I love my mother, and I love Joe (probably always will, no matter what), but I don't love being nagged and berated which is something they both do. Sad, but true… and actually pretty scary that I've lumped someone who wants to marry me in the same category as my mother.

"Jesus, Cupcake… what happened this time?" My back instantly stiffened.

"Willie Woodcock squirted my car with gas and then flicked his cigarette at it." Well, that was the bare facts anyway. No need clouding up the story with things such as the fact that he's running around in my cuffs and threatening revenge.

"God, this is just not normal…" Joe grumbled, running his hand through his hair again. "I need my Maalox; you're giving me an ulcer."

"No one said you had to come here to check on me, Morelli." I gritted, jumping to my feet. "I'm not your girlfriend anymore… go take your Maalox in private."

"Cupcake…"

"No, don't start Joe, it's too damned hot, and I don't have the energy to fight with you." I cut him off, throwing my hands in the air with a sigh. I was being honest too, getting into a heated Italian temper tantrum right now was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to surround my self in coolness and zen-calm.

Ranger's apartment flashed in my mind and I determinedly forced it out. I was so not going to go there right now.

Then, as if the thought alone had conjured the man himself, Ranger's black Porsche pulled up at the curb feet away.

I felt a small smile grace my lips despite everything. I tuned Joe's grumbles out and focused on watching Ranger approach, gathering the attention of every female and cop in radius, for very different reasons. Women tend to walk into walls and trip over themselves when they see Ranger, and law enforcement tends to keep an eye on his mood hoping he won't do anything illegal in front of them that they would have to ignore. Everyone watches to make sure they're not in harms way… Ranger simply screams hot and dangerous. He was dressed in his usual bad ass bounty hunter all black today, trading the painted on shirt for the painted on wife-beater with his cargos (thanks to the stifling July weather).

And yes, I really did send up a prayer of thanks for the heat that allowed such a wonderful sight of glistening muscles. Even if it did make my hair frizz, my clothes stick to me and my deodorant work double over time.

I had my head turned away from Joe but I could feel the tension raise a few notches at Ranger's arrival and could picture the narrowed eyes and clenched jaw. Not that he'd be surprised to see Ranger show, and not that we're together anymore, but I know for a fact Joe will never be fully comfortable with any sort of friendship I have with Ranger. It's one of the biggest things we fight about, lumped in with my choice of jobs and my refusal to marry him. It seemed to have escalated ever since the Scrog incident. For some reason Morelli hadn't liked a few of the pictures of Ranger and I and had definitely hated the 'intimate' implication of my role. Not even mentioning the fact that Ranger had walked prepared to die for his daughter and I to be free and I had been absolutely inconsolable watching it happen. Of course it was followed up by the shattering of my trust in Morelli during the Dickie incident while Ranger stepped in and took care of me, causing the Rangeman panty fiasco. I sighed again at the new level of alpha-male testosterone.

"Babe." Was all he said, sliding off his mirrored sunglasses and running his eyes along the length of my body. I'm not sure if he was looking for injuries or just trying to heat my blood… but he definitely achieved the latter.

"Yeah, I know, I'm fine." I answered. I've learned over the years to translate what Ranger doesn't speak out loud, especially when it comes to the word 'Babe' that can equal half the words in the dictionary the way he says it.

He didn't respond, didn't quirk an eyebrow, he just stared at me willing me to answer him again, but truthfully this time. The man of mystery was obviously intent on showing off his 'I can see your soul' powers.

"I just need some happy, I'm scary low on happy right now."

Ranger raised an eyebrow, his already dark chocolate eyes turning almost black as a smile hinted on his lips. If we had been alone he probably would have sidled up so that there wasn't room for air between us, and huskily whispered in my ear his offers of 'happy' followed by a kiss that would have turned my legs to jelly. Unfortunately half the 'Burg was watching us like Must See TV.

"I know." I let out another sigh in response. "Don't go there right now." What I left unsaid of course, is that he shouldn't go there right now because I was sorely tempted to jump his bones no matter who happened to be watching.

I was in a bad state, it's been a very long month, my shower massager wasn't up to par anymore, and a Ranger-Induced-Doomsday-Orgasm sounded like a very good way to get happy. Until, of course, the morning after. Even naked, sweaty mocha skin couldn't make up for the way I would feel as Ranger walked away the next morning. Again. Been there, done that, and the jury was still out on whether the juice had been worth the squeeze.

"Babe." Apparently his ESP was working today. I blushed.

"I need a donut." I blurted. There was a slight shake of his head that equaled exasperation in Ranger non-talk.

"I know, I know… that stuff will kill me." I didn't care, I needed to get my hormones under control and the only non-man way to do that was a Boston Cream donut. And if I stayed around Ranger too much longer, looking as yummy as he did, I'd have to make it an even dozen to avoid eating him up instead. Ranger knew it too, I could tell by the almost-smirk he had on his face. "Shut-up."

"Cupcake, the fact that you're having a completely one sided conversation and that it's obviously making sense to both of you..." Joe's voice interrupted, and then trailed off, obviously not wanting to go in that direction. At least, not in front of so many witnesses.

Huh, he's right. I can almost have a silent conversation with the man of mystery. Maybe I do have ESP!

Ranger's hint of a smile tilted up a little more and his eyes crinkled at the corners, he was laughing at me. I guess I should start paying extra attention to the things he doesn't say and see how much I can pick up with my newly discovered ESP abilities. His smile got a bit bigger.

"Shut-up." I told him.

"It's scary how well you're getting to know him." Joe stated.

"Scary for who?" I asked, making Ranger actually flash the 200 watt grin and Joe shake his head and walk away. I'm pretty sure I saw an innocent bystander faint at the sight of Ranger's smile out of the corner of my eye, but I couldn't pull my eyes away from him long enough to check.

"You need anything?"

I wasn't really sure I could simply ask for an earth shattering orgasm… and more importantly I really wasn't sure I wouldn't chicken out if I did.

"No, that's okay, I'll wait for Eddie to finish the report and then I'll give my dad a call so I can grab Big Blue." I grimaced a little. Big Blue was indestructible, but it was also the size of a tank and about as attractive. Needless to say I only borrowed it in dire car emergencies only… needless to say I ended up driving it a lot. Sad, but true.

Ranger would loan me a car if I asked, but I can't bring myself to risk another Ranger-car. I may not have any control over him bleeding money ordering his Merry Men to baby-sit me when I find trouble, but I can control driving one of his cars that will surely die in my possession.

Ranger nodded before disappearing out of the commotion like smoke and leaving me hot, bothered, alone, and dialing my dad.

Some days I wonder if I've pissed God off with the overuse of my shower massager and I'm being punished.

 

I drove back to my apartment that evening with the beginnings of a headache that can only be achieved by a night at the Plum household for dinner after one of my infamous disasters.

My mother spent the night pointing out friends' daughters that don't have dangerous jobs, crossing herself, asking about my getting married to Joe, and tippling every 10 minutes. She had spent the day fielding phone calls and ironing everything in the house.

Grandma Mazur spent the night trying to get intimate details about my relationship with Joe or Ranger (specifically, their respective packages) that she could tell the girls down at the parlor. I could only thank Heaven above that Valerie, Albert and girls weren't there because there would have been no way I would have survived the night.

Although, all the questions Grandma had been asking about packages and details about said packages had brought forward the orgasm cravings with a vengeance.

Ranger had once told me that if Morelli was out of my bed for too long, he would be back in it, but he had left that ball in my court and I had been aimlessly dribbling it around trying to decide what to do with it. We both know he could convince me in 10 seconds if he tried, so it was nice of him to leave it as an open invitation and the standard pressure he applied.

Don't get me wrong, just the thought of an orgasm from Ranger contracts my nipples and breaks my skin out in goose-bumps, but I'm weary. I may have become a nymphomaniac, but I do require some sort of commitment from the person I'm sleeping with, and Ranger seems intent on driving home the point that he's very non-committal oriented. It's left us at an impasse that is filled to the brim with sexual frustration, stolen kisses, poaching and, oddly enough, a deep friendship.

I decided as I shoved through the door of my apartment, that what I really needed was a pint with my two favorite men Ben & Jerry. I sang hello to Rex as I dropped my handbag on the counter before snagging my ice cream and a grape for Rex out of my barren fridge. My hamster scurried out of his can, snatched the grape, scurried back into his house and wriggled his butt in thanks for his tasty treat. I brought the ice cream into the bedroom with me so I can savor the Cherry Garcia and change into my Vickie's knit boxers and tank at the same time. When I had finished, I grabbed the pint and fell onto my bed and straight into my thinking position.

Maybe I should just call Joe, ask if the boys miss me, and get an orgasm.

Or, maybe I should stop being a chicken and force the issues out in the open with Ranger so we can finally stop dancing around each other. Sometimes I wonder if we're ever going to be on the same page.

Suddenly, like a cartoon light bulb flicked on over my head, all the mini-epiphanies I'd had in the back of my head all day fell together and completed the big picture. I had been so intent on listening to Ranger's words throughout the years (maybe valuing them more since they were so rare) that I allowed them overshadow what his actions said.

"Unh!" I did a forehead smack.

I remember asking him once what he would call his position in my life, and he had desert… something that could never be the base of my food pyramid. Now, that makes sense for his food pyramid, but he knows me well enough that desert is very much the base of my food pyramid, I had just never argued the point with him. At the time I had assumed he was confusing our food pyramids as being similar… but maybe not. Batman doesn't confuse things very often.

The fact that his love came with a condom instead of a ring, well looking at it objectively, was what I wanted. Joe kept offering me a ring and I kept freaking out about it, but the offering of condoms I was perfectly okay with as long as it was exclusivity of condom sharing.

He had mentioned he wasn't family material, but I wasn't anywhere near ready in my own life to start a family either. Considering I wanted one at all, they jury was still out on whether or not I wanted kids.

The whole lifestyle not lending itself to relationships was stating an honest fact and not necessarily saying they're impossible, just more difficult in his line of work. Looking back, I've probably gotten Ranger hurt more from people coming after me than the other way around, and we both know I attract more crazies. Anytime I have someone after me he brings me closer to him, protecting me with himself, his men, and sometimes his apartment. We both know the closer I am to him to safer I am, making the relationship argument that much more ridiculous. Besides the fact that everyone outside the 'Burg (and probably most of the people in it too) associated us as a couple already. If you thought about it even more, most of the semi-psychos I've had to deal with would have probably left me alone in fear of him, and not being an 'official' couple hadn't stopped the occasional bad guy in the past from trying to get to him through me, so obviously it wasn't too much of a secret that he loved me.

He loved me, I repeated again in my head with a smile, and even though he generalized it as being 'in his own way' I wouldn't have it any other way. I've been experiencing his way of love through his support, guidance, protectiveness, sacrifices, respect and tenderness for years now… and it's perfect.

Well, it could certainly be improved on with nightly naked-sweaty-Ranger, but besides the lack of intimacy, the relationship we have is exactly what I've been looking for my whole life. Hell, he at least had the guts to actually say the words to me, which is more than I can say for myself.

There is still the problem of his overactive mysteriousness, although it seemed like the more time we spent together, the more he shared. Besides the fact that he's already proven he'll tell me a lot more about himself than the majority of people know. Probably if we did end up in an actual commitment type relationship he'd be more inclined to share himself. Knowing him, he wouldn't share all his secrets with someone who happens to be dating someone else, no matter what he might feel… probably he saw it as not a wise move for the man of mystery with the deep dark secrets to blab unnecessarily. I'm not sure why, but I have a feeling he associates life long commitment with sharing intimate details. Something to look into.

I propped myself up and took a bite of ice cream, staring into nothingness as I fully realized the extent of my stupidity. Well, Ranger has some fault in the mess, but I still should have realized all of this a whole hell of a lot sooner. Oh boy, think of all the Ranger-Orgasms I've missed out on! I was going to have to rectify that as soon as possible.

It was on that sinful thought that I heard the locks tumble on my front door and I grinned. Thank the Lord for Ranger's long distance ESP. He materialized from the hall, leaned against the doorjamb, and ran his eyes over me in a caress.

"Did you get your happy taken care of?" he asked, noting the sly smile that I couldn't seem to wipe off my face.

"Not yet, but I will." I responded, keeping my eyes locked on his so I could watch them darken.

I slowly stood up, allowing the force field that always surrounds him to pull me closer, until you couldn't slip a piece of paper between us and Ranger's back was flat against the wall. His eyes hadn't left mine and they reflected a mixed pool of desire and something I might have to call confusion. I was never the pursuer between us, and Ranger was obviously going to wait and watch to see what I was going to do.

Probably we should talk, probably I should run through the things I had discovered with him... but since we were both pretty non-talking-about-our-emotions types of people, I decided to skip straight to the orgasm and for once let my actions do some talking for me. We could talk later, when we were naked and in bed and endorphins had mellowed us out. If I'm going to have to spill my guts and be emotional I'm at least going to get my doomsday orgasm.

And I'm going to eat my dessert first.

I brought my hands up to his shoulders and slowly trailed them down each side of his ribs, unconsciously wetting my lips with my tongue. When my hands reached the waistband of his black cargos I used the belt loops as an anchor as I slowly stood on my toes and softly brushed my lips across his. I felt his body tighten and so I did it again. I never realized how turned on I would be by taking the driver's seat between the two of us. Knowing, feeling, watching something I did affect him was the best aphrodisiac on earth. I pulled back a hair so that I could look into his eyes, and the depth of desire and love that was reflected there made my heart start pounding. This was right, and there were no way to argue it. My body instantly responded and before I knew what I was doing, I had my hands on the back of his neck pulling his lips to mine in an overheated kiss that poured out every ounce of my love for him. I felt more than heard his groan reverberate in his chest over the blood pounding through my body, and instantaneously his hands were everywhere. One of his hands buried itself in my hair while the other slid down my back, cupped the curve of my bottom, and pulled me hard against his length. I arched my hips into him and emitted a groan from both of us that echoed in our mouths. He turned us, switching our places and pushing the weight of his body into me and wet heat instantly pooled between my legs. His hands used the curve of my bottom to pull me up, pinning me against the wall with his full weight as my legs wrapped around his waist. His lips left mine, traveling across my jaw line and trailing down the cord of my bent neck to give him better access. He nipped lightly and my nails dug into his shoulders as I ground my hips hard against him in an attempt to relieve some of the building pressure.

"Dios, babe." He gasped against my collarbone, making me shiver as his breath sucked in and out again against my damn skin. I couldn't handle much more, and judging from the fact that it felt like Ranger's cargos were going to burst with the pressure of his hardness, I didn't think he could either. As if reading my mind, one of his hands crawled up my spine to the back of my head and commandeered my mouth in a tangle of tongues that made my head spin, obviously distracting me enough that I hadn't noticed he had carried me into the bedroom until I felt the mattress on my back. I immediately grasped at the thin fabric that covered his chest, craving the skin on skin contact, and he complied by pulling away only enough to remove both of our tanks. Seconds later his lips were back on mine and arched deliciously into his chest, reveling the feeling. Before I even had the chance to comprehend that his lips had left mine I felt his mouth, his lips, oh God, his teeth, on my nipple. My body pushed into him on its own accord and my eyes were lidded with the pleasure, trying to get as close as possible, knowing it wasn't anywhere close enough, not yet.

"Ranger, please…" My brain wasn't working well enough in its lust induced fog to articulate that I needed him to be inside of me, filling me.

"What do you want Babe?" His voice rumbled over my skin as his head trailed down the flat plane of my stomach and I let out an involuntary breathless moan when I realized where he was headed. I felt the tiny boxers being tugged down my legs followed by Ranger's hands whispering back up the length until he paused at my core.

"Tell me what you want Babe…" His breath whooshed over my damp folds causing a shudder to wrack my body. I forced my eyes to open and lock with his as I answered, knowing everything I felt for him would be written in my eyes.

"You."

He growled low in his throat, his eyes flashing in the dwindling twilight as he instantly shoved two fingers inside of me, directly where I needed it most, nipping at the bud of my desire softly. The sudden intrusion, the feeling of his mouth on me pushed me over the edge and I felt my body tighten around his fingers tightly.

I heard Ranger's soft voice grumble something but I couldn't understand what it was over the pounding of my heart.

In the next instant I felt his hard length quickly slide into me until he was buried to the hilt, his hands gripping my hips as if holding onto his life line. The sensation on my already hyper-sensitized body ripped a low moan from my chest and caused my eyes to fly open, instantly locking with Ranger's across the length of my body as he kneeled between my spread legs. My breath caught at the pure emotion I could read in them, for once his blank face was completely gone and I etched the look onto my heart; no matter what happened in the future, I would cherish this moment forever. He broke the moment first, pulling himself almost completely out of my body before thrusting back in. The force of the feelings had me grasping at his shoulders, begging him silently to come closer, to let me feel as much of his skin as I could against mine, to feel his lips against mine, to feel our hearts beating so close. My body felt like nothing more than a ball of heightened senses; my skin prickled at his touch causing constant shivers of pleasure to course through my body, squeezing his length as he slid agonizingly slow in and out, rubbing his body against me. Bulgari mingled with the scent of our sweat and desire, permeating the thick air around us, enveloping us. Our combined ragged breathing and pounding heartbeats took over, effectively shutting out anything outside of my bed. Nothing else mattered, nothing else existed but the two of us wrapped up fully in each other. The wave that had been slowly simmering beneath my skin suddenly boiled and I claimed Ranger's mouth impatiently, nipping his bottom lip, sucking on his tongue, dueling. A low guttural sound escaped from his chest and he was instantly pounding into me the way I needed. I broke away from his lips, needing to let loose the moans that his actions caused on my body. His fingers lightly grazed my bud and it was all it took for me to shatter again, my body clenching and shuddering almost violently with the force of my release. Ranger followed immediately as my body milked every last drop of his desire and he collapsed over me in a sated heap of mocha-toned glistening muscle.

 

I must have dozed because the next thing I remember is Ranger arranging me so that I was cuddled on his bare chest, his arms banded around my waist holding me close, and our legs tangled. Even completely sated I wanted to be as close as I could, knowing full well nothing would be close enough unless he was buried deep inside of me. I couldn't control the shiver that the memory provoked.

"Are you cold babe?" Ranger's husky voice asked. I shook my head no and laid a small kiss on his chest in response. His arms tightened again and I smiled. "So, are you ready to talk now?" he asked a minute later causing a burst of laughter to escape my mouth. I should have known Ranger would have understood perfectly.

"Are you?" I asked with a grin, tilting my head so my chin rested on his chest and I could see his face in the soft light from the hall. He raised an eyebrow. His eyes had gone molten, his angular face had softened, and his usual tightly coiled body was relaxed into the mattress. "I love you." I stated simply with a shrug. If nothing else, he deserved to know that. I felt his body tighten, squeezing me tighter against him and watched as his molten eyes turned to black with emotion. In an instant, I was pulled up his chest and his lips crashed upon mine in a hard kiss that was tender enough to speak volumes about what my statement had meant to him. When he pulled away, I was breathless and warmth had pooled in more than a few places on my body.

"Babe." I smiled at the one word that could convey so much.

"Not that I didn't already know that," I continued once I had caught my breath. "But I did finally make some other important realizations regarding us." His eyebrow quirked again… Batman was intrigued. I took a deep breath, noting that I was not nervous, odd for me when it came to discussing my feelings. "I thought back to all the things you've said to me over the years that I had used to build the wall standing between us and re-evaluated. First, I realized I had been paying entirely too much attention to your stupid comments and not enough to your actions." Ranger looked a little taken aback at that; probably no one had called his comments stupid before. "Besides, all your talk about your life not lending itself to relationships sounded silly compared to my life, especially when everyone and their mother already assumes we have a relationship… not to mention the fact that you keep me as close to you as possible if I am in any sort of danger. It's obvious I'm safer with you than without you." I took a breath and tried to gage Ranger's reaction so far. Other than the widening of his eyes ever so slightly, it hadn't changed. I'm pretty sure I'm shocking the man of mystery… not easy to do. "I know you don't want to get married and do the family thing, but neither do I right now… if ever." I gave a little shrug. "There were more, but long story short, all your arguments were canceled out, and you love me." I finished simply. "All the red tape sort of fell away and everything became a lot simpler, so I finally allowed myself a Ranger-Induced-Orgasm figuring I could make you see reason." At that last little part both eyebrows raised, which on anyone else would equal a full jaw dropping gape. Hmmm… maybe I shouldn't have sounded so sure and matter of fact, and probably the word 'made' was a bit much. I'm not completely convinced anyone can 'make' Ranger do anything. Probably he loved me too much to ship me off in a crate to a small third world country, but I guess I would be finding out for sure.

"Explain 'making me see reason'." He said after a few heartbeats of silence that had me mentally squirming. Well, he hasn't jumped out of the bed and ran naked for the door yet, probably that's promising.

I decided the conversation needed some levity. That, and after all that feelings talking (not to mention the heated kiss that had gotten me ready and willing again), I figured I deserved another Ranger-Orgasm as a reward.

"Well…" my voice sounded husky even to my own ears as I slowly slid my skin across his, arranging myself so that my legs were straddling his hips and our chests met. "I thought maybe I could show you the benefits of adding exclusive sexual rights to the relationship we already have." His body hardened, and lengthened, in response and I stretched so our lips could meet in a sensually soft kiss that held nothing but love and promises.

"You never disappoint Babe." He whispered against my lips as he slid inside of me. I smiled.

"Neither do you."

 

And they lived happily ever after…