So… this was supposed to go into the drabble box, but, well, I think once a story passes 1800 words and is already spawning a follow-up story, it really doesn't count as a drabble anymore… -sheepish- The Joes are still not mine. Goodness only knows what I'd do with them if they were…

You don't have to have read the G.I. Joe Frontline: Reinstated arc or the Snake-Eyes: Master and Apprentice series for this to make sense, but it's recommended?


Adagio

Summary: After the reinstatement of G.I. Joe, Scarlett finds herself in bed with an old friend…


Shana O'Hara woke up to the slow, easy warmth of a mid-spring morning tucked under a comforter, and the silky feel of someone nuzzling just below her neck with gentle lips. For a moment, it was unfamiliar, dreamy. Hazily, she wondered how vivid memory could be, to gently tug at the neckline of her thin t-shirt until it caught over her arm—to replace cloth with skin, careful, with just the faintest coarse rasp of overnight stubble.

It took a few moments of stillness, of lying wrapped in comfort and warmth and easy sensuality, before she realized. Oh. Her eyes drifted open, watching the sun filter thin and early through the cracked blinds, streaking across the watermarked, industrial-white walls. She felt breath at her back, just barely ruffling her hair—a heavy body dimpling the thin, hard hotel bed behind her. It's real. I'm really in bed with him.

Of course it was real. They'd come back to her temporary lodgings after all the chaos of what had happened—the nanobots, the threat of death, the crisis averted. Nothing new except the people around them, and even those had been so familiar that it ached. They'd sat and shared the terrible coffee the hotel provided, shared what stories they could share—almost more bitter than the coffee.

It'd been a long time, longer than she'd realized. Despite everything, she'd felt her heart hurt for him, had watched his sorrow for her losses cross his eyes.

And then, because she hadn't been able to bear the thought of him leaving, she'd carefully invited him to stay the night. And found herself touched again at the fact that he hadn't assumed that the invitation meant sex. When they'd tucked into the hotel's stiff-sheeted double bed together, it had been clothed—though she'd felt unaccountably shy, tingling, even with her loose sleep-shirt and pajama bottoms on, even with him still wearing his khaki pants.

So little had separated them… but it'd been enough. He hadn't wrapped himself around her, embraced her—hadn't presumed she wanted to be touched that way. He'd leaned over her, yes—her breath had caught in that fluttery blend of anticipation and panic, and she'd found herself trembling when his lips had brushed her temple.

But then he'd reached out to stroke her waist, once, gently, wished her a good night and sweet dreams. That had been all.

She'd lain awake a long while after that, shocked anew by how deeply and how sweetly he could make her feel, even after all the hurt, even though she'd sworn on the day of her broken wedding that she would never again let another person into her that deeply. Shana O'Hara wasn't the kind of girl who broke promises. But the feel of his lips brushing her skin had left her breathless—just that.

He hadn't earned the privilege of sex, Scarlett knew. Not yet. He hadn't earned that trust, not quite—though that was on her, not him. She had a difficult time believing in men, after all that had happened. Even men she'd spent years trusting with her life.

Even men she knew too well.

Especially men she knew too well.

So she'd been surprised to find that she wanted to feel him moving inside her, last night. She'd missed that intimacy—it'd been so long since she'd felt, not just sensed… and she was starting to forget what it was like to feel. A man's touch, his hands. His breath. That gasping closeness. It'd been even longer since she'd genuinely enjoyed, and… she'd known she would.

She'd thought: if she turned and pressed herself against his chest, only one layer of cloth would separate them, and…and then, she knew, that would go quickly.

Had known it was a bad idea, but… nonetheless.

Her last memory before a rich, soft-scented, dreamless sleep was of the line of his back skimming across hers, their spines touching, his skin deliciously warm in the sharp April night. Almost as intimate as lips on her, she'd thought. Almost.

It wasn't even close.

How quickly, she mused, she'd forgotten.

Shana tilted her head—murmured her wordless welcome as his mouth found that sensitive crook where her neck met her shoulder. Ahhh… oh, this was a wonderful way to wake up, wasn't it? With electricity just barely starting to build underneath her skin, those careful touches, the slow ache between her thighs. She watched the shadows flit across the windows as a wind rattled the blinds and distantly noticed how smooth his lips were.

She'd expected it to feel good, yes. She hadn't expected it to feel right.

She could do this. Oh, yes, she could. She'd been cold and brittle and hectic-bright in the years since Snake-Eyes had left her, but with a big, callused hand resting on her hip, the weight of his arm along her side, mouth sliding over to taste her neck with a slow, open-mouthed suck… she could think of no finer way to thaw.

He wasn't overwhelming her with sensation—and he could. She appreciated that, this tentative brush of kisses and almost-chaste caresses. She knew that he thought of her as his redemption—a good part of his emotional insulation against the men lost at his side and under his watch. But she wondered if he realized that she had always considered him her warmth.

Suddenly, Scarlett wondered what he thought of her hair—she'd chopped off her trademark mane two days after the wedding that wasn't, and had never let it grow back. But from the attention he was paying the back of her neck, the way his lips and the tip of his tongue found little spots she'd never known she had… she rather thought he was enjoying it.

She certainly was. "Mmmm," she moaned, softly, and felt him smile against her skin.

She'd been intending to grow it back out, now that she'd finally come face-to-face with the reason for cutting it, now that she'd finally looked into Snake-Eyes' achingly blue eyes and seen the regret there… but… maybe she'd reconsider.

Her breath caught when his hand moved, a soft, feathery brush against her hip. Fingertips found the hemline of her shirt—slid underneath it, slowly, as if unsure of his welcome. Scarlett closed her eyes and shivered all over as, lightly, so lightly, he ran a circle around her belly-button. Slowly, luxuriantly slowly, he felt delicately for the bands of muscle underneath her skin, pressing deep—she'd kept those, even through years of downtime. Scarlett made a soft, unintelligible noise as the hard smoothness of teeth printed gently on her bare nape. He nibbled, and she exhaled—bowed her head to give him better access.. His thumb traced a rib—then his hand slid higher.

Scarlett's breath caught in her throat as his fingertips rasped across her nipple. A frisson went down her back that was sharp and sweet and candy-hot, a shock against the easy warmth. Almost too much.

"Ah… Conrad," she purred, low in her throat.

He froze, fingers still curled, callused and familiar, around the curve of her breast and his lips still brushing the back of her neck, so utterly, utterly still that he displaced less air than her heartbeat did.

A moment later, he was gone.

Or he tried to be. But not before she'd twisted on the bed, reaching out to grab for his wrist as he jerked away—her fingers clamping on the familiar red I-ching Ji-Ji tattooed on his forearm. Scarlett yanked. He stumbled—she found a sort of peculiar victory in making him lose that characteristic grace. When he fell to one knee back onto the mattress, he barely caught himself from tumbling onto her by planting one arm next to her shoulder.

They stared at each other for a long moment—he was near enough to kiss. She almost did.

"Ye of so little faith. You know," Scarlett informed him, wryly, looking up into the beloved, familiar face suspended over her, so close. "It would have served you right if I had gone to Duke for some comfort, you jerk."

He blinked down at her—very, very slowly. A white, straight surgical scar at his hairline crinkled as he frowned. He looked hurt. Shocked. Confused. Then, hesitantly, his face smoothed into puzzlement, and he raised a hand. [Shana…?] he signed.

Fifteen years together, many of them as lovers, and he thought she wouldn't have known it was him from the first touch, the first gentle brush? Just because she'd been half-asleep? She could have been half-dead, and she'd have known exactly who was kissing her. Scarlett shook her head, and tried not to laugh. Failed, and let a chuckle out as she reached up and ran a finger down one of the myriad small scars he still had.

She'd wondered, more than once, what Cobra would have thought about the idea that Snake-Eyes—one of the scariest, most unpredictable warriors the Joes had—was a sweet and often very patient lover. For one, he'd always loved running his mouth down the curve of her shoulders, spending hours doing nothing but touching her, tasting her. Some of their most intimate moments had started with backrubs.

Their reunion was one thing. Watching him say that he loved her, walking into his embrace… another. Realizing that she loved him still, that she'd never stopped loving him, that she couldn't have kept from forgiving him even though she'd wanted, she'd tried, to hate him… a whole different bunch of bananas, that.

Wanting him… well… that hadn't changed. It never had.

But if he thought she was going to let him seduce her straightaway after a broken engagement and five years without words, apologies, or contact, he had another thing coming.

"I've gotta say, pal," Scarlett looked up at him through half-lowered eyelids, grinning triumphantly, "You make it so easy sometimes."

[That,] Snake-Eyes pushed himself upright and signed at her, his eyes narrowed to distinctly annoyed sapphire slits, [wasn't nice.]

~fin~

June 3, 2009


If, for even a moment, I had you going with that "Conrad" line, then you have totally made my day. ^_~

It's called Adagio, by the way, because I got a slow, warm, dreamy feel from the whole environment it was set in. Okay, okay, I know it was a mean story, but it was darned fun. -chuckle- So, I wonder, do I now have the D/S supporters AND the SE/S supporters annoyed at me? No, it definitely wasn't a nice thing for her to do. But… well, what can I say, the idea entertained me… and who's to say that Scarlett doesn't have a hint of a vindictive streak? ^_~

In a nutshell, in case you don't know what the background of this story is: Snake-Eyes and Scarlett were engaged to be married after G.I. Joe was disbanded, but, well, of course, drama ensued. Snake-Eyes' apprentice died, and he ended up, for somewhat unclear reasons, breaking his and Scarlett's engagement. (Ah, the stupid git.) Then he disappeared for any number of years back up to the High Sierras. And, yes, in that meantime, there was the implication that Duke was keeping his eye on Scarlett. (Do I find that slightly creepy? Hm, maybe a bit. But it's fun to play with?)

Scarlett and Snake-Eyes were reunited when the team was reinstated; she eventually forgave him, obviously.

Them ending up cuddled in bed together, however, is totally a figment of my imagination. ^_~