After Joe

"No!!!!!" Steph screamed and shot up bolt upright, frightened eyes staring into the dark of Ranger's bedroom, sweat pouring from her body. Her wild hair plastered to the side of her head. .

"Babe!" Ranger was immediately awake and clasped her to him, stroking her hair as he held her tightly, rocking back and forth on the bed. He noticed the sheets were scrunched and balled showing physical evidence of the nightmare she'd obviously had.

"You're alive, Ranger! Oh God! It was so real! I thought you were dead!"

"Shh, Querida, it'll be OK. I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere." He started whispering Spanish love poems to her and it wasn't long before she started to relax in his arms.

They lay back down on the sheets which felt uncomfortable now that they were sweat and fear laden. Ranger pulled her into the side of his body and she laid her head onto his shoulder, absently trailing her hand across his sculptured pecs and sighing deeply.

Ranger glanced at the clock on his bedside table. 5.25. Another 15 minutes and he'd have been in the gym. Christ. He could have missed being able to comfort her.

"Wanna tell me what happened?" he ventured.

"I don't know. All I do know is that you were dead. Ranger, it's only been a year since we hooked up and I couldn't bear to lose you. Not after..."

"I know, Querida. I'll try not to follow in Joe's footsteps. It was only a dream, Babe, I'm still here."

"I know. I'm just being silly." She snuggled into him, the warmth and strength of his body seeping into her.

A few minutes later the alarm went off. Steph, gave him a nudge "Off to work, Cuban Sex God" she said. Changing her mood in an instance. "I need this bed all to myself for at least the next hour so that I can catch up on my beauty sleep." She continued, knowing full well that it would be at least two hours before she surfaced again.

"How's about give the gym a rain check and show you how alive I really am." He said with a big grin on his face as he rolled over and pinned her to the bed.

o0o0o0o0o

"Officer on Deck!"

"I'm going to have to have words with my cousin" thought Ranger as he exited the stair well, shaking his head. "Santos! My office. Now!" he said forcefully as he strode onwards. Lester followed behind, smirking. "I can see that smirk, remove it!" Ranger yelled as he turned left into his office and behind his desk.

"Shut the door, we need to talk."

"What about, Cuz?" Lester said, his blank face in place.

"I'm worried about Steph. She's been having a lot of nightmares recently about me being dead. I have to say it's scaring me, Les. I don't know how to help her. Who is the best person for her to talk to?" Ranger put his lower arms on the table, palms down and looked directly at him.

Lester sat down in the chair opposite him. "Well, there's Sherfield or Baxter who immediately spring to mind, but I can ask at back at base - I'm sure they've someone who they could recommend."

"I'd be grateful. I always knew I'd hurt her if I wasn't careful, but it's been over two years since Joe was shot. I'd have hoped we'd be good by now."

"You are good. Perhaps that's the problem. Maybe the more she loves you the greater the fear becomes."

"That's what I figured too. Ok, morning meeting's about to start so if you could look into it afterwards I'd be grateful. Oh and another thing, Les."

"Yeah?"

"Drop the shit about officer on deck will you?"

Santos stood up smiling and left.