Title: Scorching Heat

Author: Mooncat

Summary: The unthinkable has happened: Ranger has finally sent Steph to a third world country - or not?
Rating: K+
Spoilers/Warnings: Angst, some hot scenes.

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters.

Scorching Heat

(It was the cucumber's fault!)

Chapter 1

I can't believe it! He did it! He really did it!

I mean, yeah, I joked about it… well joked with a little bit of real worry in there, but actually I knew he'd never do it actually!

Guess I've been wrong.

Slowly I stood up and looked around myself in disgust. It was all so… tone in tone. So sandy. So reddish brown beige… ugh. And would someone please put on the air-conditioning?! It was hot here!

I swapped away some of the sweat threatening to fall into my eyes and wished I could find some shadows to get out of the burning sun as I could feel it burning up my skin. And I really wasn't much protected from it in my shorts, a shirt and a sports-bra. At least I had my running shoes on my feet. Ok, if I'd get a sunburn he was sooo gonna die!

What was he thinking? Leave me here all alone, without sun cream, without more clothes, hell not even with water!

The thought about water made my mouth dry. God, what wouldn't I do for a gulp of cool fresh water right now?

Again I looked around myself. What should I do now? Sit here and get baked by the sun until Mr Wiseass thought I had suffered enough? Or rather try to find some help? Or at least some place to give me protection from this stupid sun?

Ok, I rather tended toward the last two options. But there was already the next problem: just where the hell I should go to? It all looked the same. As far as the eye could see there was sand. Well, there were some dunes ahead and left from me, but it still looked all the same. With a sigh I looked up, with a hand covering my eyes from the sun. The sky was deep blue and except of the sun there was nothing to see up there than blueness. Ok, so no stars to direct me. Not that I'd known how to follow them.

Well, what was a girl to do then? Right: Follow the nose. I sniffled. And sneezed. Damn sand… getting into all places you really don't want any sand in. Well, it smelled hot and sandy, if that was even possible. But telling me where to go it did not. Ok, what next? Ah yeah… the good old gut. With a sigh I looked around myself again, trying to see if some of the direction felt better than another.

It did not.

Finally I shrugged and started to walk forward, the sweat running in creeks and soaking my clothes. Hmm, they had been dry when I woke up here. But then, that wasn't so strange. If you get flown out to a third world country I bet it takes enough time to get your sweaty clothes dry.

Yep, that's where I am. In a fricking third world country!

At least that's where I think I am. I mean sure, we have some desert in the US too, but I've been there a couple times. It didn't look like it does here. It wasn't so wide and it hadn't so much sand in it. Ugh. And I bet it isn't as hot there as it is here.

If I'd have to guess I'd think I was in the Sahara. Hmpf. No idea which country that one is in. Darkly, I think I remember that the big desert stretched over more than one country. And that it was in Africa. But which countries? Nada.

I groaned. Already, my legs started to get tired of walking through the sand.

Why did he do this to me?

Sure, we had a fight, a pretty big one as it was. But to throw me into this godforsaken land?

'He'd never do that.'

I pushed the little nagging voice in my head away. I didn't want to listen to it. If I did…

Oh well. I started to think about ways to pay him back. And non of it involved any sexual activity. No, rather some sort of castration… After all, I wouldn't need his dick anymore after this episode. A snowball in hell would have more chance to survive than my dear husband to get back into my bed.

Too bad. He was really good in there… and out of it. Alone thinking back to this night… well, if it had been this night, made me hot all over again. Despite the hot torture I was already in. Oh, damn him to hell!

My skin itched and exasperated I started to scratch one especially bad part on my arm. I looked down to it when it didn't minder one little bit and gasped. Already the skin was crayfish red. Just how long I was already here? Quickly I looked to my other arm. Same red color. The panic growing, I inspected my legs. Again red was all I could find. Slowly I straightened up. Shit, this was going to hurt like a bitch. And wasn't it even possible to get seriously sick by being to long in the sun? Could I get real burns from it? A heat rush? The image of badly burnt people conjured up before my eyes with screaming red skin and heat blisters all over it and I couldn't help but whimper. Was that my fate now? And what about a heat stroke? That could happen as well…

Suddenly terrified I picked up my speed a bit, desperate to get out of the scorching sun.

Just how did I land here?

Right. Because of a cucumber.

Damn this cucumber! See if I ever in my life will eat one again. They were banned from my life as of right now!


I hadn't picked up my watch before I rushed out of our house but I knew I must have been stumbling through the desert now for at least more than half a day. Even though it felt like a lifetime. I was tired and had trouble to keep myself on my feet. Time and time again a foot would give in or I'd stumble over some little heap of sand. My skin burned like hell and my eyes were glued with sand and burned as well. Ages ago I had slipped out of my shirt to wrap it around my head. Sure, it uncovered even more of my skin, but I felt as if I needed at least some protection on my head. It hadn't taken long that I got a real bitch of a headache and the level of pain had only augmented since then.

And I could kill for a drop of water.

Unfortunately neither an oasis nor any help was anywhere in sight. I started to wonder when I'd be starting to see fata morganas. And I wondered how I could get out of here and not die and this desert becoming my unmarked grave. All I knew was that I doubted that I'd get out of here alive without help. I mean, I'm pretty good at surviving, you know? But this was when I was on my own turf and yeah, usually I had help as well. Like my hubby riding to my rescue like the dark knight he was.

Then where was he now? And how could he have let me be taken here at all? Was one little fight really enough for him to go that far?

Oh, I knew deep down that it hadn't been him who brought me here. I knew he loved me. And he may be dangerous, but he'd never hurt me. But it was easier to believe it had been him. Because as long as I could tell myself that it had been him, then I knew I wasn't in any real danger. He'd be watching over me, somehow.

But while I wouldn't put it totally out of question that he would pull a stunt like this one, just to teach me a lesson he deemed necessary to my survival, he'd never have left me without water and making me dress into more suitable clothes.

So the time where I could delude myself into believing that he was responsible for my current situation had passed long ago. It hadn't been him, so much was for sure. Unfortunately, that left me with the reality that someone had kidnapped me, had flown me over half of the world to then drop me here to die a slow, suffering death. Either the heat would kill me, or I'd die out of thirst. Boy… whoever it had been, he sure had gone to great lengths to kill me.

I wonder what I had done to deserve all these efforts, just to kill poor little me.

Did Ric know that I had been taken? Probably. He already flipped out when I was unaccounted for for more than thirty minutes. By now almost two days must have gone by and I bet he was sick with worry. Probably. Maybe… Oh I didn't know. The fight… it had been the worst one we ever had, worse even than the one we had after he sent me back to Joe after our first night together. Well, not that we actually had fought back then, but it had been a bad time. And it also had been worse than the one we had when he lost control after the Slayers had gotten to me. Or when he had accused me of having no back bone and much, much worse than when I told him he could go to hell if he didn't lose his mystery shit he was pulling time and time again.

What if he thought that I left him? Would he believe that? Sure, I had mentioned something like that, something like if that was his attitude then I could as well pack my things and leave because I'd never agree with him on that point. But that had been in the heat of the argument, not really serious. Well, I was serious that I wouldn't just let him do what he wanted, but first I'd have tried to make him see my point of view in this matter. We'd have worked it out with time. We will, I corrected myself. And only if that failed and we'd have tried all we could to get over this would I perhaps consider leaving him.

I very much doubted that it would come to that though. I just loved him too much for that. I needed him and I couldn't live without him. And I knew it was the same with him. We've taken our time and it hadn't been easy to find our way to each other but now... We belonged together. We were soulmates and partners in every way of life.

Still, he perhaps thought I had gone away to fume and calm down again before I'd be back to discuss our problem. Wouldn't be the first time either of us would do such a thing. Not since our weeding four months ago, but it had happened often enough in the year we had been together before then. Or the three years we knew each other before we became a couple.

And even if he knew I'd been taken, how was he going to find me? Here, in the middle of nowhere? Sure, he was good. Who was I kidding? He was the best and between him and the Merry Men there was almost nothing impossible for them to achieve. But to find me now? Lost in the desert? First he'd need to find out who my kidnapper was, where said kidnapper had taken me to, then he'd need to figure out at which spot I got dropped and then he'd still need to trace my track to find me. A track that surely will have faded by the time he'd get here – if it hadn't already. I sure was not a genius in geology, but even I knew that a desert like the Sahara was in constant movement.

No.

I trusted Ric implicitly and I still tended to believe that he had some sort of super power. And I bet he'd find me one day. But would it be before I died out here?

No, no I couldn't think like that.

In that moment I stumbled over another heap and went flying into the sand. Exhausted, I stayed there for a while. It was really difficult to find any strength to get up again and not just continue to lie there. But I never in my life have given up. As a child Dad wouldn't let me, always urging me on until I was through this or that crisis. He had taught me that failing wasn't bad. Not if I had given my best and never just gave up. Sure, there had been times when I didn't believe in that and hated myself for failing in whatever it was. But I never gave up. Never. Not after my first marriage with the Dick was over before the ink was even dry on the certificate, not when I lost my job, not when I had to go up against psychos like Ramirez and Abruzzi and not even when there was a hit out on my head. Yeah, after the Slayer incident there had been a short time where I lost myself for a while, but Dad and Ric got me back on the track again. Since then I had gotten stronger and more confident and with the help of Ric and the Merry Men even pretty good at my job as well.

And I wouldn't start to give up now. I owed it to Dad, I owed it to Ric and I owed it to myself to get up and go on, not stopping again until I found some sort of safe place to rest until it was night. They said it got really cold in the night in a desert. Well, hard to imagine when you were being nicely baked second by second, but I trusted the unknown people who're saying that. Once I'd have rested a bit I would go on. Or stay there until someone would find me if I'd find a place with water and trees or something to keep me out of this sun. Yeah, that was what I was going to do.

Tiredly, I struggled back onto my feet and continued to move forward. One foot after the next.

Soon I kept myself going only by the monotone rhythmic. Step, step, step, step, step, step…

Sometime, I had no idea after how long, I had reached the top of a dune when suddenly I stumbled again and I fell head over down the dune. When I finally came to a stand still I laid there, panting and again face down in the sand. Slowly, I pushed myself up with my arms and shook me head to shake at least some of the sand away. Not that it was of any use. Sand covered my entire body for a long time now, sticking hurting to my already burning skin thanks to the sweat I was pouring out of all pores on my body. God, how much I longed for a shower!

Aching all over, I once again pulled myself up onto my feet, but the moment I put some weight on my right feet I went down with a yelp again.

No!

Please God, not that! Not now! I couldn't need a broken ankle now! I needed to move, to get to safety! Very carefully I wriggled with the foot. Pain shot through me, but at least I had been able to move it. So it wasn't broken. Still, obviously it was sprained, and that wasn't much better right now either. Fighting back the tears, I slowly got up, careful to not put any weight onto the right foot. Once I was standing I started to hobble forward. I managed perhaps six hobbles before I went down again. But I got up again and continued to hobble forward. This time I made a few hobbles more before I once again went sprawling into the sand again.

A sob broke out of me and I finally let myself wallow in my self pity. I didn't want to gave up now, but I simply couldn't go on any further anymore. Not like that. Hiccupping on tears, I pulled my knees to me and buried me head in my arms. I wanted to be home in Ric's arms, wanted to feel his arms around me and I wanted to hear his velvet voice telling me that all was going to be all right. And then I wanted him to lean down and his lips taking possession of mine and some long, slow love making. Make up sex - still really the best part of any fight.

But here I was, lost in the desert and about to die here, alone and miserable and without ever being able to tell Ric how very sorry I was about our fight and how much I loved him.

"I'm sorry, Ric. So sorry." I whispered into the stifling heat.


TBC!

(Author's Note: Rereading all the Plum-Novels before delving into the newest book I got out this old story of me, brushed it up a bit and am now posting it here on FF as well. Hope you enjoy it!)