By: Jaded Image

AN: Spring term ended and I'm finally done with finals. Yay! Now I can be a lazy bum for the rest of my summer :D I missed The Host, so I wrote this rather long one-shot. I'll be going on vacation on Tuesday, so this is my gift before I leave. Rated M to be safe.

Disclaimer: Not miiine.

I set aside the dough to rise and dusted off my hands. Making my way out of the cavern that served as the kitchen, I wound through the tunnels. Hopefully, Ian will be in our room, readying for our next trip out. The thought brought a warm flush to my cheeks, and what must have been a ridiculously giddy smile to my face.

Even after all this time, Ian still had that effect on me. Merely being in his presence sent my heart racing and my cheeks flaming every chance it got. And recently, the heat I felt whenever we're near each other seemed to intensify. I don't really know how to explain it, but sometimes, when I looked at my partner, there was an…almost tightening sensation somewhere within my host body.

It was a rather strange experience, but not unlike what Mel felt with Jared. And whenever I had questions, I knew I could count on her to enlighten me. So a few weeks ago, I asked her.

The talk that followed was rather startling and something that I'd rather not think about when I was around Ian because he'd think I had a fever or heatstroke.

"You want to jump his bones." She deadpanned when I asked her.


We sat comfortably on the cots in my room.

She rolled her eyes. "You know, getting frisky in the sac. Romping in the hay. Dancing between the sheets. Whatever you want to call it." She gestured meaningfully with her hands.

I vaguely registered that her seemingly random phrases should tell me something, but I just looked at her blankly.

She shot me a crooked grin. "Sex, Wanda. You want some action with your lover boy."

I don't know if I've ever blushed so much around someone who was not Ian.

Is that what I was feeling? A human's primal need for intimacy?

The very idea heated me from within, and I envisioned Ian's face in my mind. But, that was a big step. I didn't know if I was ready for that. I mean, I knew I lied about my age ultimately for that purpose, but…

Wanda, get a hold of yourself, I reprimanded.

Shaking the image of his face from my head, I tried to focus on our upcoming raid.

Over the last few months, our colony grew as we welcomed other groups of refugees as well as humans who were previously inhabited by Souls. With the increase in population, Jared had to either plan more raids or longer excursions from the cave so that we could travel farther for supplies without frequenting the same places. Excavation of unchartered areas of the caves began to accommodate the growing numbers, and I often saw Jeb milling around and surveying the inhabitants with a soft smile lighting his wrinkled face.

And I always smiled when I saw him like that because I knew at least part of what he was thinking. I probably had that same smile when I saw these people who I've shared the past few months with and a year before that in Melanie's body. It was an expression of contentment at our new family, one that was constantly growing.

I had successfully wiped Mel's insinuations from my mind. It was a hurdle I would examine more closely later. Much later.

Suddenly, I heard somebody clear their throat, making their presence known. I turned to see Mel walking up to me as if summoned by my thoughts.

"Something wrong?" I asked her. There was something about her that caused a warning shiver to run down my spine. She seemed uncertain, and her eyes kept darting from my face back to the dusty walls. She was…nervous? "Mel?"

"Are you ready for the raid?" She had completely avoided my question, but I decided to let her be. If she had something to say, she'd get to it soon enough. Melanie wasn't the type to beat around the bush.

"Yes. Ian has the list of what we'll need. Jared told us we're just going to make this a short one and split the trip in two. We'll probably go again in a few weeks." She nodded, and I knew she already knew this. I mean, Jared was the one who planned it, after all.

"I have to say though," I paused a bit as I considered her, "I'm surprised that you and Jared aren't coming."

Melanie shifted a little as we entered my room, looking around as if it had morphed since the last time she was in there. It was strange seeing her like this; a little anxious and slightly uncomfortable. I wasn't use to seeing her so fidgety. It was strange.

Where did the bold and rather violent girl go?

I tilted my head in question, and my light blonde hair drifted over my shoulder. I didn't push her. There was no point in doing so. Ian taught me that patience was essential when dealing with someone who has something important to say.

She sat on Ian's side of the bed and played with the sheet laying near her before her expression hardened into determination. This was the girl I knew, the person I met when I tried to take over her body.

Gesturing me to sit next to her, she turned to face me. "Wanda, I need you to get me some condoms."

I blinked. "What?" Did this have something to do with what I asked her before? Was she pushing me into action? My heart pounded in anxiety.

She sighed, and I noticed her cheeks turn a light shade of pink under her tanned skin. "Condoms, Wanda. You know. Contraceptives."

"No…I know what they are. But why?"

"Well, so that I don't get pregnant."

"Why would you get pregnant?" My mind was still thinking of Ian, but it suddenly kicked in and I felt a rush of heat in my face. "Oh."

Melanie ducked her head slightly in embarrassment. "It's just that we've really missed each other." She replied with a self-conscious shrug. I guess she thought that was a good enough explanation. "I was actually really glad when we had that talk. Now I don't feel so out of the blue."

"Right." I muttered, my cheeks were still flushed at what she was implying. So that's what she and Jared have been doing during those times when nobody could find them. Finally, her full intention hit me and I turned to her again. "So…condoms." I was surprised that I managed to keep my voice steady.

Melanie scoffed even as her own blush painted her cheeks. "Don't give me that look. I mean, I'd expect you would need some too since you're living with Ian."

I would…what?! "Wh-what are you suggesting?" I covered my face with my hands, hoping to hide my beet red face. "We don't do that! We never have!"

She actually had the gall to laugh at me. "Oh Wanda, alright fine. You guys don't. But we would really really like to. And I'm sure there are a few couples here that wouldn't mind getting in on some action." She eyed me speculatively. "I don't need to get into the birds and the bees, do I?"

"Oh, I know about your human methods of reproduction!" I exclaimed. My embarrassment made my voice louder than normal.

"Good. Then that should make it easier for Ian."


She nudged me slightly with her shoulder. "Please?"

I still had my face hidden behind my hands when we both heard footsteps and the wooden door slid against the cave wall. I knew immediately who it was, and Mel turned her surprised laugh into a coughing fit.

"Oh, Wanda, Mel, you're both here." Ian said as he entered the room. He must've noticed me hunched over next to Melanie, and he hurried to sit next to me. "Wanda, are you feeling alright?" He wrapped an arm around my waist to pull me closer, his other hand hovering next to my own as he wondered what was going on.

He was being so caring and gentle, but at the moment, all that brought to mind was something completely, utterly unrelated. At least I knew what kind of lover Ian would be. Ahh, my heart!

My face felt like I was burning with a fever, and I turned my head into the crook of his neck so that he couldn't see it. He wrapped both arms securely around me and drew me closer to him, and I swear, despite my greatest efforts, my mind kept wandering to thoughts that have no connection to his innocent intentions of comforting me. What happened to the innocence of this body?

"She's fine. She's just feeling a little overheated." Melanie chimed in, sounding normal except for the laughter that I was sure was there.

"Really? Then it's a good thing we'll be going soon. You can cool down in the car with the AC on." Ian was so oblivious, with good reason.

"That sounds like a good idea. We should go." I hurriedly slid off his lap, trying to turn my face back to its normal pale color.

As all three of us headed out into the tunnel, Melanie gave me a hug before she went off to find Jamie. Her whisper tickled the hair on the back of my neck. "Just one box, Wanda. Please." Then she gave a light squeeze and walked away.

Ian and I continued to make our way towards the exit to the caves. Taking my hand in his, Ian placed a kiss on my knuckles. "Feeling okay?" His concern for me was endearing, and served to calm some of my nerves.

"Yes, fine." I breathed in deeply as we went out into the glaring sun. This was going to be an interesting trip into town.

"Alright, so we need…three cases of water, three boxes of instant noodles, 2 bags of flour, 1 of sugar, um…snacks if you want, maybe some bread and eggs since we'll be heading back after this." Ian was scanning the list of necessities, but I couldn't stop fidgeting from my place in the passenger seat.

We had a relatively small group this time around since it was suppose to be a short 2-day trip, and our raids were relatively safe now. It really shouldn't even be called raids anymore. I simply walk in with a list and walk out with what we needed.

"Oh, and maybe you can grab a couple energy drinks. Jamie seems to like those." Ian concluded. In my mind however, I added another item to the list.

"Are you sure you're feeling alright? You're a little jittery." His concerned blue eyes examined my expression and I tried to appear calm. Lily, Heidi, and Travis also paused in their conversation to look at me.

"I'm fine. Really. I should get going, it'll be suspicious if we just sit here." With what I hope was a convincing smile, I slid out of the car and headed into the convenience store.

The old woman behind the counter had a kind smile when she saw me come in. The silver in her eyes reflected my own, and I couldn't help but relax slightly and smile back. She looked like a mother figure. This shouldn't be too hard.

I headed for the water first and grabbed a case. With my sleight build, it was a bit of a struggle. Lugging it to the front counter, I offered the cashier a mild grin. "I'm having some friends over for a get together. I haven't seen them since I was in the Singing World." And I nodded slightly back to the car where Ian and the rest of the group sat, waiting.

The woman nodded, her graying hair shook softly with the movement as her kind eyes crinkled even further. "It's so difficult to see friends after leaving a world. I miss my friends from the Summer World. They were such friendly Souls." Then again, all Souls were friendly and sociable.

I returned her smile on reflex. It felt so natural.

By the time I had all the items from the list piled in a heap on the counter, I had broken out in a sweat.

"Will that be all?" asked the kindly Soul. I found out she took her host's name of Grace.

I paused. There was still one more thing.

Looking around, I spotted a stand near the counter where boxes of different colors dangled as if taunting me. I could already feel the heat climb up my neck just from looking at them.

"Um…maybe just a…a few more things." I muttered and shuffled around, grabbing a few bags of Cheetos, candy bars, and Gatorade for Jamie.

Finally, I tried to casually amble over to the stand of condoms, but I felt my hesitant steps just brought more attention to myself. This is normal, I reminded myself.

As far as I knew, contraception weren't widely used amongst Souls, seeing as not many have felt the need to hinder the reproductive process. However, we kept it around for the more flamboyant Souls who liked to…have fun.

I cast a quick glance out the window and saw that Ian was slightly turned to talk with Travis. At least he wouldn't be watching me make a fool of myself.

Rushing forward with a sudden surge of adrenaline, I scanned the assortment and my eyes widened in alarm. This...This is impossible! Why are there so many choices?

I had expected to go in and run out without any extensive thinking, but now, I could see myself pondering indecisively over the variety. Who knew there were so many different kinds of condoms in the world?

I blushed a deep red as I read some of the labels. Trojan Ultra Ribbed. Twisted Pleasure. Colored. Flavored? What exactly do humans do with each other?!

Oh dear lord. My face was a furnace.

Grace looked over at me, her expression slightly concerned but mostly amused. "Are you alright, dear?" She called out.

"Y-Yes." Uh…would Mel want Extended Pleasure? Assorted Colors? Supra? My eyes seemed to be blurring all the words together, and reaching blindly, I grabbed more than a few boxes. Well, at least all the couples in the caves will be covered.I thought wryly.

I had risked my life before to save my family. Stabbed myself to save Jamie. Resigned myself to be buried with my lost friends. Getting a few condoms was no big deal.

With my hands full of condoms and junk food, I hurried over to Grace and dumped it in a heap. The adrenaline was still making my heart pump, but all that nervous energy was tiring me out. I just wanted to get back to the desert and my room. "That's it." I whispered.

Grace scanned the rest of the items then reached over and patted my hand. "It's alright, dear. The first time is always difficult. Or so I recall." She finished thoughtfully, most likely pulling memories from the previous human life.

My eyelashes fluttered in surprise. Does she mean… "No! No, that's not it. It's not for me. Really." My denials, as true as they were, sounded lame.

Grace nodded anyway and patted my hand again. "Just be careful." She placed the boxes of condoms and snacks into a plastic bag and handed it over to me. Looking past my shoulder, her smile widened in delight. "Oh, are you here to help carry all this?"

I turned around and was startled to find Ian standing in the doorway with a slightly worried smile on his face. He kept his eyes downcast and a baseball hat was drawn low over his forehead, just simple precautions even though it's doubtful Grace would notice that he was human.

This was different. Normally, I would carry all these things out onto the sidewalk, and then my friends would load the car. But Ian must've been worried when I was gone for so long.

"Are you ready?" He asked uncertainly, keeping his face slightly turned away from the cash register and baring his light scar as he came to stand next to me. One hand rose to gently run down my arm before taking hold of my free hand. I could see Grace's face brighten.

"Oh, yes. I'm done. Thank you, Grace." I slung the bag on my arm and carried the lighter loads while Ian took all the cases and boxes out. As we were leaving the store, Grace called out cheerfully, "Be gentle with her, Soul!"

I flushed a brilliant red, and Ian cast a curious glance at me. "What were you two talking about?"

"Us? Oh, nothing." I responded, trying to sound casual. I wasn't convincing, but Ian didn't question it. Instead, he placed a kiss on my forehead before we got into the car.

"Alright, guys. Let's go home." There was a cheer as he started the engine.

I felt slightly relieved and tucked the plastic bag closer to my chest.

"You're back!" Jamie launched himself at me as we stepped through the entrance, all our days of shopping piled in a heap behind us. I grinned as he enveloped me in a hug. Whereas before, Mel's body was bigger than his, Jamie could lift me in my new body. Lift and twirl in a circle.

The bag that still hung from my arm swung in a circle with me, and I worried that its contents would go flying. Thankfully, Jamie set me down and went to go welcome the rest of the group. Behind him, I saw Mel leaning against a wall, a questioning look in my direction.

I rolled my eyes, a habit that I picked up from her, and nodded. Her grateful smile brought a warmth to my body, and I almost forgot the whole embarrassing incident. I was about to head over in her direction when Jamie barreled into my back, causing me to lurch forward. "Sorry, Wanda!"

Fortunately, Ian's arms wound around my waist as he pulled me back into him, and I could feel myself relax against his body. He chuckled, and with my back pressed against him, the rumble in his chest sent a shiver running down my spine.

"Watch it, kid." Ian growled playfully. "That's my girl you're roughhousing with."

I couldn't help but smile. One of my guilty pleasures was when Ian showed his more possessive side. It was a human emotion, and I relished the way he said "my girl."

Jamie bowed in compliance before grinning brightly. "What's in the bag, Wanda? Can I see?" And as he reached for the bag, my hand gave a violent jerk. I threw a frantic look at Mel, but she was already hurrying over.

"Later, Jamie. I need Wanda's help with something." She smiled apologetically at Ian who still hadn't let me go.

I turned around to look up at him. "I'll see you in a bit." Standing on my tiptoe, I gently brushed my lips against his. However, as I pulled back, his lips followed mine and he turned the gentle peck into a longing kiss before finally releasing me.

It's a wonder how his kiss completely wipes my mind clean. I didn't remember where I was going or why I was leaving in the first place.

"I'll see you." He whispered.

Melanie tugged on my arm, and I followed her, more or less dazed, out of the storage cave.

She hurried the two of us to the room she shared with Jared and took the bag from my arm. "Let's see the spoils."

I jumped when she let out a crow. "Oh geez, Wanda, you're amazing!"

She gave me a tight hug before sifting through the boxes. "Wow, there's so many. Did you think we had that much free time?" She nudged me and winked, her grin suggestive of what she meant they would do during such free time.

I flushed. "I-I didn't know which one you wanted. So I just grabbed a bunch."

Melanie was already examining a box of flavored condoms, a large strawberry glistening on the plastic covering. She opened it to examine its contents. "Hmm…do you think I should go with this one or the Ultra Sensitive?" She burst out in laughter as she held onto a dark box with a glowing green circle. "Night Light!"

"I don't know! Don't ask me, please!" I waved my hands in desperation as she tried to hand the box over to me.

"Just hold on to that one for me. Ooh! Ribbed. I think I'll take this one. And this one." I ended up holding four boxes of condoms from which Melanie decided she would take two. "I'll come to you when we need more."

"Why can't you just take them all?" I asked desperately. I didn't want these things in my possession.

Melanie shrugged. "I think it'd be too tempting knowing they're sitting right there."

My eyes widened in alarm. She thought it'd be tempting? I was verging on frantic knowing they'll be in my room.


"Please, sis?" She had pulled her final card. She knew how she endeared herself to me when she called me sister. And I really felt like we were two sisters, sharing a secret. I was helping her hide her wild sexcapades with Jared in the deep darkness of the caves.

"…alright. But that's a cheap move, Mel." If I had the heart to do it, I'd have glared menacingly at her. Instead, all I managed was a tired wave of my hand.

"Love you." She grinned and gave me a hug. "Now if you don't mind, could you take these to your room?"

I nodded wearily and gathered the rest of the boxes back into the bags.

Hurrying back to my room, I paused to make sure I didn't hear anybody inside before entering. It was a good thing the room was empty because I don't know how I would've explained a bag full of Cheetos and condoms to Ian.

Taking out the non-sex related items, I placed it on the stand next to our beds. Looking around, I tried to find a suitable place to hide the condoms. But where is one suppose to hide anything when the room is carved out of a cave? I didn't have cupboards or secret niches.

I was suddenly jolted from my thoughts as the door swung open and Jamie bounded in followed by Ian. His face lit up as he saw the treats I brought him. "Gatorade! You know I've been craving that. You're the best, Wanda." He hugged me before grabbing his prizes.

Then he left just as quick as he came, leaving me and Ian to stare blankly after him.

"Maybe it's not such a good idea to get him so much sugar every time we go out." Ian mused.

I was suddenly aware that I still held the plastic bag full of condoms. On reflex, I chucked it under the bed before Ian turned to face me and offered him a grin.

"Are you ready for dinner? We haven't eaten since this morning."

I nodded enthusiastically. Anything to get away from those boxes underneath the bed.

My stomach stretched comfortably from the new food we had brought back. Dinner was especially delicious today, and a quarter of the perishables were eaten. I could see the newcomers revel in the feast.

Feeling satisfied, I stretched in my seat, sleepy after all that food. I felt hands gliding across my stomach before resting on my hips and Ian's voice whisper in my ear. "Tired?"

Leaning back, I nodded contentedly. "Come on, Wanderer. I'm taking you to bed."

Ian lifted me easily from the bench so that I was cradled by his side. We made our way back to our room, and he lifted the door for me to go through. Our room was already dark since dinner ran a little late, and I walked until my knees hit the side of our bed. Climbing in, I collapsed in a heap facing the wall.

This felt really nice.

I was on the verge of drifting off when I heard Ian's quiet voice from across the room. He seemed to be still standing by the door.



"There's something glowing underneath the bed."

Suddenly, I felt wide awake. "…ah?" I nearly squeaked. This just wasn't my day.

"Yeah. Hold on, I'm going to see what it is." And I felt more than saw him crouch down to reach under the bed and grab whatever the glowing object was. In my mind's eye, I could imagine Ian pulling out each box, a look of confusion in his sapphire eyes.

There was a pause while he examined what he found. I held my breath, not even daring to move from where I had collapsed on the bed. That glowing thing was probably from the opened box of Night Light Mel had considered. I screwed my eyes shut, cursing the fact that, of all the possibilities, it had to be one that glowed in the dark.

Then I heard a match being lit and our room glowed with the soft light of a candle. There was some shuffling and then, to my dismay, I heard the crinkling of plastic as Ian drew out my hastily discarded bag.

"This…" He seemed to suddenly choke on air.

I didn't move although I had the urge to knock my head against the wall repeatedly.

Ian cleared his throat. "So, this was what Mel needed help with."

There was a strangled sound that seemed to come from my throat. I coughed, and tried again. "She…she asked me to get some." My normally high voice sounded depressed and pitiful, and I still couldn't move. But I did take some comfort from that fact that Ian didn't think I got it for us.

"There are a lot of choices." He commented lightly.

I sat up and just managed not to huff in frustration at my own ignorance. "I didn't realize there were so many different kinds! Oh Ian, I looked at that stand, and did you know, they have flavored ones? And glowing ones? An-and something about bumps and ridges and – I don't even know."

My hands were waving wildly as my confusion manifested in physical form. I looked over and saw Ian watching me with an amused expression on his face. "What is it?" I asked self-consciously. I was blushing again, but I'm sure he couldn't see.

Laughing quietly, Ian came to sit next to me, the condoms ended up between us as he gently pulled me into a soft kiss. "I just thought you look adorable when you're frustrated."

I smiled and ducked my head. "It was embarrassing." I continued softly. "I don't know what Grace, the Soul who worked there, must've thought."

"Well, I think she thought that I should most definitely be gentle with you." Ian replied in a teasing tone. He was making fun of me. Of all the times and places.

"Which one do you like?" He asked casually, sifting through the selection between us.

I think I must've blushed a shade of red that was nearly purple as I stuttered. "W-what? What do you m-mean?"

He held a box up, and I could barely make out the words Warm Sensations typed in bold font. "What kind do you like?" His smile told me he was still kidding, but his eyes were intense as he watched me.

"I don't know…" I avoided his gaze as I pretended to search for one that I preferred. "I don't even know what half of these mean."

When I looked up at him again, I was startled to see him inches away, having moved while I was distracted.

"It's okay. I can tell you what you want to know." He murmured.

His lips felt comfortingly warm against mine. He made me feel like I was soaring and falling at the same time. But my heart tightened a bit in anxiety. Was Ian expecting more tonight? I knew that as much as I loved him, I wasn't ready yet.

Pulling back slightly, I kept my gaze at his chest, feeling ashamed that I couldn't give him that after all he's done for me.

"Wanda?" Ian called quietly. He stroked a hand through my hair, and I leaned into his touch. My host body adored his gentle touches.

"I…" I cleared my throat and hoped he wouldn't be angry. "I don't think I'm ready for…for a romp in the hay. I want to, really, but I was thinking of some time later."

I chanced a glance at Ian and saw that he looked torn between wincing and laughing. "A romp?" He echoed. "Is that what Mel called it?"

I nodded, blushing profusely. Now that I used it, it sounded silly.

Gathering me closer to him, Ian laughed and kissed the top of my head. "I wasn't expecting anything like that, Wanda. But I'm glad you feel comfortable enough to talk about it with me. I'm especially glad that you're even considering it."

"Really? You're not angry?" This was partly why I loved him.

"Not at all. Although, remind me to have a talk with Mel. And maybe next time, you should tell me if you're going to get something extra when we're out on a raid."

I laughed and pulled back. "No problem. I don't think 'next time' will be for a long while. I got enough to last them and all the other couples for months."

Ian winked at me. "You'd be surprised, Wanderer."

AN: So, I didn't get to edit this properly after finishing it at 3somethin' in the morning. It's not exactly at a level that I'd prefer to submit it at...there's too much going on with the condom thing and the am-I-ready-for-some-lovin'-with-Ian thing. But I wanted to get this out of my system.

1. I actually had to look up different types of condoms. It was surprising the kinds that are out there. I had a laughing fit.
I threw in some WandIan at the end. When I was writing this, I fumbled with the end. It nearly turned citrusy. I've never written a lemon, but there's a chance for it in the future.
3. I know that the likelihood of any sex happening in the caves is sorta low, considering they're in hiding and sex shouldn't be such a high priority. But I just feel like things were a little more relaxed at the end, and people had more opportunities to explore...creative outlets. This is fanfiction. That's my excuse.
4. The idea for this was really simple. Wanda being the only one trusted to go "shopping" for them, what if she was asked to get something embarrassing?