*****I'm not really sure where this story is going. I just had this idea come to me and thought I would dabble with it. This is a Babe, because you all know that I am a babe all the way. There is really only one male character that I love more than Ranger and that would be Roarke. So, remember to review, but be kind. Cupcakes don't bother reading.

On the Run

Chapter 1

"Late Night Visit"

She awoke to the feeling that someone was in her apartment. A moment of panic overtook her until she recognized the hulking form in her doorway. "Tank?" "Ms. Plum, we need to go." I turned on the bedside lamp and was slightly shocked at the sight of him. His clothes were covered in something that looked strangely like blood.

"Where ....where are we.." She couldn't wrap her head around why Tank was in her apartment. "Ms. Plum, we have to hurry. Everything will be explained. All you need to do is put on some clothes." She jerked back the covers and saw Tank turn fast from the doorway. That's when she noticed what she was wearing. She had gone to bed with a sheer tank top and barely there panties.

She scurried around and yanked on her last pair of clean jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt. That's when she realized she hadn't put on a bra. She heard Tank clearing his throat and decided that it could wait. She stuffed her feet in her chucks and grabbed her purse. She saw Tank getting her gun out of the cookie jar.

He came toward her and handed it to her. "Keep it ready. Rangers in the truck and...he's wounded." The blood washed out of her face. "Tank, tell me what's going on right now and if you Ms. Plum me one more time you're going to be wounded too." He took a deep breath and rubbed his bald head.

"Ms...." He stopped when he saw her glare. "Steph, I don't know what happened. Ranger came in from going after a skip and he was bleeding from a gunshot wound in the abdomen. All we got from him was 'Operation Bombshell'. Bobby stopped the blood loss and stitched him up after he passed out. He lost a lot of blood and we have spent the last hour getting everything ready.

"What the hell is 'Operation Bombshell'"? His expression was pained, "Ranger made provisions for if either of you were in danger, so I assume that one of you is. We really won't know for sure until Ranger is awake and that could be some time. Now, we really need to get going." He hauled her out of the room gun ready and took the stairs to the foyer of her apartment.

When she saw Lester and Hals expressions, she steadied herself for what waited for her in the truck. Tank handed her the keys, "Steph, drive. Don't make any stops unless you have to and then try to stop at places that are off road. Ranger is sedated so he should be out and comfortable for the next twelve hours. Bobby has written down instructions for changing his bandages and taking care of his wound."

He nodded toward Lester who walked over and handed me a duffle bag. "There's a sat phone. You can make a call to your family or whoever you need to tomorrow and let them know that you are taking a vacation. Call us and update us. No names or places. When Ranger is able, we'll figure this out. There's plenty of cash to take care of everything that you need. I stored your emergency bag that Ella keeps for you in the trunk. Any clothes that you or Ranger will need are in there." He pulled her into a hug and whispered in her ear, "Take care of him Beautiful, he trusts you with his life."

The magnitude of this hit her hard. Shakily she turned toward the window that she had been avoiding. She opened the door and brushed her hand across his pale face. His chest rose steadily and that steadied her raw nerves. She leaned in and kissed his forehead whispering, "I love you Ranger and Ill take care of you." She knew her secret would be safe with these men. Closing the door softly, she stiffened her spine and turned toward Rangers men.

She nodded and headed toward the drivers side. Hal came to the window and handed her a bag. He smiled sheepishly, "Donuts and coffee." She smiled at his thoughtfulness. "Thanks, big guy." Stephanie pulled out of the parking lot and saw the signaling flash of their headlights. They were following her to the highway to make sure that she wasn't being followed.

The thoughts were rampant in her head. She couldn't get a handle on all of this. What was her family going to say? At least she didn't have to worry about Joe going on a rampage. They had broken up several months ago. It had been sad and they were keeping a lid on it so that the gossips wouldn't wag their tongues in speculation. However, it was for the best. He was happy and told her just last night that he was going on a date with a nurse from emergency.

She had kind of gone into hibernation. Hiding out had seemed the best route. It had kept her from having to answer questions and had kept her mom off her back. However, this little stunt would definitely have her banned from pineapple upside down cake for life. Well, crap, she would just have to learn to make it herself. Right, that will happen.

Her thoughts kept bouncing for the next two hours. She saw an exit ramp and took it. Her coffee was making an appearance. She pulled onto a side road that appeared deserted. She hadn't bumper peed since she was in college, but she didn't feel safe leaving Ranger in the truck at a rest area. She stretched her legs and wondered what the hell Ranger was thinking when he made these provisions.

She was'nt a nurse and did'nt know the first thingabout taking care of a wounded man. She also wasn't the best at protecting herself much less someone who was indisposed. She just needed to come up with a plan. A plan that would allow them to hide out until Ranger was a hundred percent again. Getting back in the truck, she rolled her neck trying to think where to go. She needed a place that had no connection to her or Ranger.

She started to drive and let her mind wonder. She thought of things and people that she hadn't thought of in years. College friends and faces popped into her head and her brain snagged on a conversation. "So, Teener Weener Beener, what do you do way down south for fun?" Her bubbly friend smiled widely, "Ski!" Stephanie laughed, "But there's no snow in the south." Teena laughed riotously, "No silly, water ski. There's a lake nearby that we all go to. Its called Pickwick Lake and we all gather at the circle on the weekends in the summer. My dad owns a boat store and marina. We take out a ski boat and go water skiing and tubing. Its loads of fun."

Pickwick, Tennessee here we come. She took U.S. 1 toward Hwy. 45 and tried to not think about Ranger lying in the back in pain. She turned on the radio and listened to the classical for only about a minute before trying to find a station that would keep her awake. Her eyes were already bleary and she hoped that she could stay awake for at least ten more hours. She knew there was no way that she could get Ranger out of the truck and into a motel room.

She sang along with the radio in her attempt to stay awake. Every few hours she would find a secluded road and pull over to stretch her legs and use the bathroom. She pulled into a drive-through and got breakfast about six in the morning. It helped her wake up a bit. Her eyeballs still felt gritty, but the adrenaline from the situation was helping to keep her awake. Around eight in the morning, Ranger began to moan a bit and thrash about a bit.

She found another deserted road and got in the back with him. She sat in the floorboard and held onto him until he settled down. It was tempting to lay her head down for a bit, but she knew that she needed to keep going. Reluctantly, she pulled away from Ranger and crawled back to the front of the truck. On the road again, she felt better after holding onto Ranger for a little bit.

Strange the comfort his presence had always provided her. This would be her opportunity to pay him back for everything that he had done for her. She would just have to be careful with her heart. Spending large amounts of time with the man in black was never good for her heart. The tug of her heartstrings pulled tight every time she looked into his eyes.

She certainly hoped that she could look into his eyes soon because she wasn't going to make it much longer. She took the exit to Iuka and headed toward Pickwick. Pulling up the GPS, she found what she thought would be the perfect place. She called the number for the cabin rentals from the sat phone and was relieved that there was a cabin available.

She punched in the coordinates and headed toward her destination. An hour later after paying cash for a week stay, she made her way toward the SUV. Her steps nearly faltered when she saw Ranger sitting up. Stephanie jerked open the door and hissed, "Lay back down. I told them that I was alone." He quirked his eyebrow but obeyed.

Getting in the truck, she felt relief wash over her. "I thought I was going to have to carry you in." He chuckled, "Babe, don't make me laugh, it hurts too much." She rolled her eyes because she hadn't been joking. The road to the cabin was bumpy and she heard Ranger groan a few times as she hit the pot holes.

The cabin was rustic and she had a moment of panic that there wouldn't be running water. She hadn't asked and she was now chewing her lip nervously. The log cabin was definitely secluded and the water could be seen from the front. She parked and got out to help Ranger. "I can do it." She just rolled her eyes at his stubbornness. "Ranger, you might pull your stitches and I dont think that I can help you if you do. You know blood isn't my thing. Just lean on me until we get you inside."

He obeyed and they staggered to the entrance. Inside, Stephanie was pleasantly surprised. It was homey with its country charm. There were homemade quilts on the back of the couch and a crocheted afghan on a chair. Rangers weight was bearing down on her as they made their way toward a door. She hoped it was the bedroom.

She helped him settle in the bed and went back to retrieve their bags. She was running on fumes but she knew that she had to get Ranger his medicine before crashing. With bleary eyes, she read the instructions before returning to the bedroom. Ranger took his medicine with disdain. She helped him to the bathroom, turning her head. "Babe, I can use the bathroom by myself."

'Ranger, just use the bathroom. I am not taking a chance on you falling. I can barely stand myself right now from exhaustion. I feel a little uncomfortable with the thought of trying to get you loaded in the truck and to a hospital." He sighed and took care of his business. Really, all she could think about was thank God that there was running water.

They staggered back to the bed and Stephanie settled him back down. "You need anything?" He took her hand and tugged, Just get in the bed and sleep. I will be fine until you have rested. Besides, the drugs are already starting to take effect. I will probably be out before you. She yawned and curved toward his body, "Don't count on it." She had a thought of comfort moments before the darkness crowded her consciousness. Sleep came hard and long.