Merry Men Mutiny
Written by Sasha.
A/N: Response for PP challenge and RW challenge. Babe Short. Cupcake unfriendly. Some strong language, minor sexual themes, reference to weight gain/obesity. Rated M.
Big thanks to Jenny for beta-ing.
When I'm asleep and my phone starts ringing, I worry. No, that's not right. Initially, I deny it's ringing in the first place, and then I just ignore it until it stops ringing. It's when it starts to ring again that I worry. I become nervous, my palms start to get sweaty and fire shoots straight to my doo-dah.
Confused about that last one aren't you?
Well, you see, the Batman ringtone is singing, and I haven't heard, seen or spoken to Ranger in six months.
Six months ago, I quit bounty hunting and moved in with Morelli. Forever. That was the day I cut all ties with Ranger. He had never called, never asked, never checked up on me; well, that I can be sure of anyway. Anyway, less than two months later, I had had it up to HERE with Joseph Anthony Morelli and so I moved out. So much for forever.
Not just out of his house either. Out of the Burg. Out of Trenton. But I'm a Jersey Girl at heart, so I remained in New Jersey. I had moved to Robbinsville. It was only about twenty minutes from Trenton, so I felt like I was keeping my roots without being smothered by the Burg. I was definitely trying to avoid Joe; I was done with him, for good. And my mother. And Ranger, if I was being honest. He had left me feeling a little bitter the last time we had spoken.
The phone fell silent once again. I rolled over onto my side and hit the light switch. Blinking my eyes to get used to the sudden light, I got up and scrounged around for my phone. It was in the pocket of my flame retardant trousers. I trudged back to my bed and sat down heavily, phone resting in my palm, waiting.
I bet you're wondering about the pants.
No, they aren't simply a safety precaution. After moving here more than four months ago, I signed up for the Robbinsville Professional Firefighters Association. They were short on staff and welcomed me aboard, even with my lack of training. Apparently I came from a career with similar stress levels; they took a chance on me. I had completed six weeks on-the-job training, passing with flying colours, and was now completing my probationary trial.
I enjoyed my job. We never were doing the same thing, and it was a rare day that I found myself behind a desk. But I could do without working twenty-four hour shifts, with forty-eight hours off. I also was constantly covered in burns. Not serious ones, most of the time, but I had already managed to singe my eyebrows and some of my hair off. My hair was now only just long enough to fit in a ponytail; it just fell past my shoulders. At least my body had never looked better though.
Unfortunately, we were really short staffed at the moment and I had worked a double shift yesterday, and I was having a great deal of trouble staying awake right now.
The phone started ringing again. I answered it after the first ring.
"Plum speaking. Who died?" I grunted, rolling my stiff shoulders and wincing as I poked a few fresh burns on my arm. They weren't too bad. I'd had worse.
My initial answer was the unmistakable pow of gunfire.
"Stephanie. No one died. I'm sorry to be bothering you. It's a bit of an emergency." Stephanie. Not Babe. Not a good start to the conversation, although more words than anyone usually heard from him when on the phone I suppose. He didn't sound at all worried about the gunfire though... maybe they were doing a training exercise or something. I doubt Ranger would be on the phone to me in the heat of battle.
"Well Mr Manoso, what exactly is it that I can do for you?" I wondered, yawning heavily. Listening to a loud zing which was followed by a zzzzt and a zonk. "Santos is fried and down!" I heard a voice shout. My bet was he'd been stun-gunned, probably because he shot at Ranger. Wonder what he fell into to make that sound...
"Babe. Why are you tired? It's eleven am." I rolled my eyes and slowly relaxed down into my bed. My muscles were screaming for more rest. I'd only had five hours sleep.
"I worked a forty-eight hour shift yesterday. Don't judge," I snapped rudely. I wasn't in the mood for anyone's shit.
"Steph..." I cut off whatever he was about to say, his tone sounding apologetic.
"Can we cut to the chase, Ranger? I start work again at six am tomorrow. I need to sleep." I tried to explain. My brain wasn't working so well in my sleep deprived state, however I couldn't find the energy to care whether I was being snotty or not.
"Babe. I need your help." He growled through clenched teeth. I heard a loud bangin the background that sounded like a heavy door slamming shut. All background noise on his end fell quiet.
"I will do anything for you, Ranger. I owe you my life many times over. What is it that you need?" I asked through another yawn.
"You to come back to Trenton." I sucked in some air.
"Ranger?" He needed to explain himself.
"I. Need. You. To. Return. To. Trenton. Permanently." His voice was slow, yet had an underlying emotion that I couldn't place.
"Ranger, that's not possible at the moment. I have a serious job, responsibilities to the community and my team," I replied, wondering what the hell he needed me for.
"I've found two men to replace you. Your chief should have already signed your dismissal papers. I'll be there in fifteen. You said anything." Click.
I gaped at the phone.
I resisted throwing my phone into the wall and instead turned it off and curled up in bed.
Ranger could go fuck himself for all I cared. He couldn't just change my entire life like that without even asking me, or giving me a moment's notice!
As soon as my eyes slid shut, giving way to tears, I was asleep again.
"Babe." A soft spoken word and a warm, rough finger caressed my face. I hardly stirred; only just barely identifying the voice and who it belonged too. "You're hurt." I could detect a frown from him, yet I was still half in the land of dreams.
Two strong arms slid around my body and I found myself pressed up against a memorable chest. Bulgari flooded my senses and I fell into an even deeper sleep, the last thing my weary mind registered was the quiet thud of a door closing.
"Bobby, please check her over. I want to know how serious her injuries are." Ranger's voice re-entered my subconscious.
"Have you told her yet?" Bobby demanded, before I felt his hand on my forehead then carefully prodding my burns.
"Do it soon!" Bobby suddenly shouted.
I flinched away from him and sat up, rubbing my eyes. I was in Ranger's bed. On the seventh floor of Haywood.
Holy hefty Batman!
"You put on weight?!" I gasped, staring at Bobby. Gone was his precise muscle definition. In its place was soft muscle... although he was still more toned than any normal man, he wasn't exactly up to Merry Men standards.
"Good to see you, Bombshell!" I found myself pulled into a tight hug before his lips pressed against my forehead.
I sat there completely confounded. I had just insulted him, and he gave me a hug and a kiss.
How long have I been asleep?
"Babe, over five hours in my bed." My eyes shifted to Ranger and I had to check for drool. He was standing in front of me in nothing but his silk boxers. His body was still toned to perfection, his muscles rippling as he approached me, sitting next to me and brushing a few curls out of my face.
But I was mad at him. I quickly slapped his hand away and scooted back from him.
"Don't you dare touch me," I hissed, folding my arms. Splat!
Grinning sheepishly, I stared at the plate of pancakes that had just landed on the ground perfectly upside down.
Huh. Five second rule, right?
I heard a swift smack, and next thing I knew the boys were on the floor wrestling, Bobby landing the majority of punches.
"What the fuck Ranger?! You finally grow the balls to go get her and you already fucking screw it up?!" Bobby raged. Ranger swiftly disengaged himself from Bobby and staggered back a few feet. Rising to his feet, Bobby glared at Ranger. Both men panted heavily.
My eyes darted between them. Apparently there was revolt going on. I had no idea what would posses Bobby to clash with Ranger, but I guess it did make for good entertainment.
"Get the fuck out," Ranger growled. I jumped off the bed and was headed to the door instantly, but found a strong arm around my waist and a muscled chest pressed against my back. "Not you. Him. You stay." I sighed and watched Bobby escape to freedom.
I shivered a little when I felt Ranger's breath tickle my ear.
"We need to talk, Babe," he whispered calmly, brushing his lips down my neck before I was released and nudged in the direction of the living room.
Walking on legs that felt like jelly, I sat down heavily on the couch. I was wearing Ranger's shirt, my panties and nothing else. Great; so much for escaping.
I watched cautiously as Ranger knelt down on both knees in front of me. His hands found my hips and suddenly I was sitting on the very edge of the couch. Squeaking out an embarrassing yelp, I watched Ranger's lips smile gently before he pressed a kiss to my stomach, gazing up at me with tender eyes. I was finding it incredibly hard to maintain my anger towards him.
Gulping, another shiver racked my body and my hand inadvertently rose and began to run through his hair. It was so silky and smooth; I loved it when he wore it loose like this.
"Babe." My eyes drifted down and met his. He was still smiling at me, which was becoming unnerving. I had never seen him smile for this long before.
"What?" I questioned, my hands moving to rest on his shoulders.
"A firefighter? With your record?" I made a move to slap him, but found my hand encased in his. He brought my fingers to his lips, kissing each one lightly before settling my hand back on his shoulder.
"Ranger – " I started.
"Carlos?" I tried it out slowly. What was up with Batman? He was acting...weird?
"I love you," he suddenly announced. I choked on air and my mouth opened and closed unattractively. "I have for awhile. I want you. Here. In my life." I shook my head slowly. This was impossible. It couldn't be happening.
"But – "
"I was an asshole, Babe, and I am sorry for that. I apologize for the way I spoke to you. For anything I ever said that hurt you. Please stay." His eyes were begging me, his hands tightening on my waist.
"I...you upended my life," I stammered out, shocked to the core. Was I telling Batman no?!
"Babe, I couldn't risk you saying no and having something to go back to. I need you, Babe. My life is...dark without you." I watched hope fade from his eyes with each passing moment.
Isn't this what I had always wanted? A relationship with Ranger? Is that what he was offering?
"Just, uh, to be clear?" He nodded at me, his eyes sparkling again. "You want a relationship with me, right?" His answer was a laugh and I found myself crushed against his chest briefly, before he set me back down.
"Yes, Steph, that's what I want," Ranger agreed.
"Okay," I shrugged. He raised his eyebrow.
"Okay?" he asked. I nodded and smiled gently.
Suddenly, we were spinning around the room and kisses were being rained over my face.
"But there need to be some ground rules," I added, feeling Ranger slowly coming to a stop.
"Done." I blinked at him once.
"What if one of them was for you to always walk around naked?" His lips tilted mischievously, and his boxers quickly slid to the floor.
"Done." I laughed and shook my head as he swept me off to the bedroom.
"So was this the big emergency? You needed a roll in the sheets?" I questioned exhaustedly, a few hours later, from some serious love making.
"Stephanie. You are never just a roll in the sheets. Ever. Do I make myself clear?" I nodded and lifted my head until I could place a kiss on his swollen lips.
"I was making a joke, Carlos," I murmured, collapsing back down onto his chest, tracing patterns over his skin.
"C'mon Babe." He shifted out from under me and moved to his closet. I was amazed he could still move. I doubted I would be able to walk.
Once dressed in his usual badass black, he produced an identical outfit for me and sat it in the bathroom, leaving me to dress with a heady kiss.
After a quick shower, I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and dressed, emerging in the kitchen.
Ranger was standing there, simply smiling. I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get used to that.
"You're going to enjoy this, Babe." His arm wrapped low around my hips, holding me against his side, we descended to the fifth floor.
My jaw dropped to the floor, and my eyes bugged out of my skull.
A loud roar erupted from the group of men before me.
I was still trying to process what I was seeing.
Before me, in different states of pudginess, were what were once Merry Men. Apparently it wasn't just Bobby. All the men had mutinied.
"What?" was all I managed to choke out.
"They all went on the Stephanie Plum diet. They wanted you back, Babe, and I was being a hardass, apparently. I wanted you back. They got my ass into gear." Ranger laughed in my ear, carefully closing my gaping jaw.
"The Stephanie Plum Diet?!"