Author's Note: This story is absent one plot and has never heard the word canon. The song "Breathe", denoted by **, is the property of Holly Lamar, Stephanie Bentley & Faith Hill. And as always, Chris and Mary don't belong to me. Bummer.

Just Breathe



**I can feel the magic floating in the air, being with you gets me that way. I watch the sunlight dance across your face and I've never been this swept away.**

He woke to the gentle nudge of the morning sun seeping through the open window, a soft summer breeze accompanying the golden light, silently stirring the lace curtains.

The warm, velvety weight resting on his chest quickly drew his attention from the blossoming day, his eyes traveling to the woman sleeping peacefully in his arms. A contented sigh left him as he drank in the beauty that graced his bed, the sunlight catching the smooth perfection of her skin as it touched her cheek. Even in sleep, she was so lovely it nearly took his breath away.

He sighed again as a renewed hunger began to heat his body. She was his now, finally, totally. It felt so good, so right, that even after two months of marriage he sometimes had to stop and convince himself that he wasn't imagining the happiness that filled his heart and cradled his soul. So calming and fulfilling was her influence over him, on occasion, it felt too good to be true. In a very real way, she was his salvation, providing him with a sense of completion that he never thought he would ever experience again. He was whole once more--with her, and it amazed him how completely he'd been swept up in the unbounded love she offered him. He never thought it possible to get so immersed in another human being, but here he was, utterly lost in the tender beauty that was Mary... Larabee. Chris was still finding that change hard to believe too.

**All my thoughts seem to settle on the breeze, when I'm lying wrapped in your arms. The whole world just fades away, the only thing I hear is the beating of your heart. Cause I can feel you breathe, it's washing over me and suddenly I'm melting into you. There's nothing left to prove, all we need is just to be.**

The gentle creature lying beside him moved, her arms slowly sliding up to wrap themselves around his neck as she lifted her head. The moan that drifted through the air told him of her satisfaction, her contentment, as did the smile that lighted her face.

Planting a quick kiss on Chris's chest, Mary pulled herself up until she was eye level with him, her body lying over his while she nuzzled his neck, the soft swell of her breasts stoking his passion as she hugged him tight. Automatically, the gunman's arms moved around his wife's shoulders in a selfish effort to bring her closer, but it still wasn't enough. The feel of her body pressed to his snatched every rational thought from his head, and all he could think about was the need to draw her nearer, all he could feel was the ache of desire that coursed through him with every beat of his heart.

And her loving attention did little to calm the storm of want that had begun to ravage Chris. Starting at his jaw, Mary lazily scattered light kisses along his neck and shoulder, her tongue darting out every so often to taste the sensitive skin. He could feel every breath she took as her mouth worshiped him, the warmth of her breathing sending a shudder over him every time it hit his wet skin. The sensation all but paralyzed him as he felt himself melt under the tender assault. The feeling was incredible, but he wanted, needed, more, so much more. And he knew, with her gentle touch and glorious body, she could give him more, more than he ever dreamed possible.

Biting his lower lip, Chris tried to rein in the lust that began to build, but he knew it was useless to even try. He could no more control the craving than he could the summer breeze that wafted through the window. And he really had no wish to conquer it. There was no longer a need. His body reacted the way it always did when faced with the enticing manipulations of his precious wife, and Chris felt himself begin to harden.

As Mary continued the leisurely snuggling, Chris found he could no longer stay still. As much as he was enjoying her caresses, as much as he wanted to lay back and let her continue her exploration, being passive was never one of his strong points, no matter what the situation. He wanted to taste. He needed to touch.

A frustrated groan escaped Chris before he took Mary by the upper arms and pulled her away from him. But he didn't pull her too far away. Her mouth hovered over his, a delicious promise curving the petal-soft lips while an answering desire smoldered in the smoky-blue eyes. The passion in her gaze left no room for hesitation, and Chris took her mouth with all the raw need holding him hostage. Mary welcomed his kiss with a hushed moan as she parted her lips and allowed for a deeper caress. He tried to be patient. He tried to be gentle. But the desperate longing that hounded him wouldn't allow for that. Eagerly, he gorged himself on her sweetness until the need for air forced him to abandon her honeyed mouth.

Mary rested her forehead against Chris's, and for a moment, all he heard was the sound of their breathing as they both sought to recover from the desire that had overtaken them. But it had gone too far. Recovery would not come so quickly, nor so simply. He was at the mercy of his love for this woman, and his body's need for her. The dance had begun. He had no desire but to see it through to its gratifying conclusion.

To that end, his hands left her arms to find distractions in other more intimate areas of her body. When he found a breast, she lifted herself away from his chest slightly, supporting herself on her forearms, allowing him better access to the firm pillow of satiny flesh. Closing her eyes, she sighed her pleasure as he rubbed a finger over the sensitive peak.

"I'm hungry," Chris whispered, enjoying the blissful expression on his wife's face.

"You're insatiable, Mister Larabee." The response came in the form of a quiet, nearly-breathless chuckle as Mary was clearly relishing his attention.

A mischievous grin twisted Chris's mouth as his thoughts turned to the previous night. Billy was in town spending a few days with Gloria Potter and her children, and Larabee had wasted no time in taking advantage of the time he had alone with his new wife. Three times during the night he'd awakened Mary with intimates caresses in his burning need to possess her. His grin widened. Her nightgown hadn't survived their second union, his eager hands tearing the cumbersome garment with his ardent desire to feel her skin against his.

"I'm in love, Mrs. Larabee," Chris countered, the admission sobering him. Nothing he'd ever said in his entire life was truer than that simple confession. He was in love all right, so much in love that sometimes it scared the hell out of him.

Mary looked back at him, her unfettered devotion to him a bright gleam in her lovely eyes. "Well, in that case," she leaned closer to him once again, "I'm starving, Mister Larabee."

**Caught up in the touch, the slow and steady rush. Isn't that the way that love's supposed to be? I can feel you breathe, just breathe.**

The kiss that followed Mary's declaration was even more intense than the previous one. Husband and wife straining to get as close as possible to one another through the simple contact, trying to convey the overpowering feeling they held for one another.

But more was needed, and as he continued to have his way with her mouth, Chris's hand began to move over the silky flesh of Mary's body. God, she was unbelievably supple under his touch, and the sensation caused a surge in his gut as he felt himself grow harder, the pressure in his loins quickly becoming more than he could bear.

From her breast, Chris roamed the delicate curve of her ribcage to find the tender flesh of her belly. Over the womanly curve of her hip, he dipped into the sensitive valley of her inner thighs, discovering the mass of curls that shielded the entrance to her womb, curls that were gloriously wet with her desire for him. Slowly, he pushed a finger inside to the center of her pleasure and caressed the engorged button that begged for his touch. The answering moisture that coated his hand caused another rush of hot lust to flood his body, his swollen member straining against his wife's thigh with a merciless need for relief.

Mary's gratified moan was so intense that she broke the kiss and leaned away from Chris, the sheet that covered them pooling at her waist. Supporting herself on hands that rested on either side of his head, she pumped her lower body onto the fingers that continued to fondle the core of her need, eager for the release that seemed to be so agonizingly close. With her eyes closed, and her head tilted back, she panted her approaching satisfaction, the air moving quickly over her parted lips, her chest rising and falling with her accelerated breathing. He loved seeing her like this, knowing that he could bring her to this point, watching her revel in the pleasures of her body. She was a beautiful sight to behold.

When his fingers slipped into her hot core, Mary was lost. Chris watched with heady delight as the waves of fulfillment started to wrack his lover's body, the rhythm of his hand continuing as he sought to draw out her pleasure.

With her body spent, Mary once again rested herself across Chris's chest. For several long seconds, he basked in the feel of her chest rising and falling as she quietly tried to catch her breath.

The touch of her lips on his breast told him she had finally recovered, a short gasp breaking from him as she drew the nipple into her mouth. Closing his eyes, he relished the warm, wet softness of her mouth. As she suckled him, Chris placed his hands on either side of her hips and tried to relieve some of the pressure in his groin by rubbing his throbbing shaft against the soft flesh of Mary's thigh, the slow, steady rhythm bringing him closer to a much hungered for release.

The action seemed to make Mary more keenly aware of her husband's need, and she moved her thigh away from his body, freeing the engorged member from its confined space, allowing herself easier access to it.

When her fingers moved around the head of his shaft, Chris nearly exploded in her hand, but somehow, he wasn't sure how, he kept control over the impulse. He wanted to be inside her when he gained his release. So when she started to run her skilled fingers up and down him, he put a halt to her attentions by placing his hand around her wrist and holding her still.

With the unexpected restraint, Mary's questioning eyes found his, and without so much as a word, she seemed to understand what he needed. With a knowing smile, she placed her lips to his as she straddled his body, her wet, inviting center coming to rest just behind his hardness. Her lips left his, but her eyes never wavered from his face, as she raised herself above him. Taking him in her hand, she slowly lowered herself onto him, taking him inch by inch, allowing him to gradually fill her.

Chris held his breath, pleasure-pain shooting through him as the moist heat of Mary's body engulfed him.

**In a way I know my heart is waking up, as all the walls come tumbling down closer than I've ever felt before and I know there's no need for words right now cause I can feel you breathe, it's washing over me and suddenly I'm melting into you.**

Reaching out, Chris cupped a slightly unsteady hand to his wife's cheek as he savored the sensation of her body joined with his in the intimate demonstration of their love. As many times as he'd made love to her since the day of their marriage, he never failed to be struck by how perfectly they melded.

A subtle smile tugged at the corners of his mouth as Chris lay momentarily mesmerized by the look of pure contentment on his wife's beautiful face. She was blatantly savoring the feel of him inside her body. Lazily, the peacekeeper's hand moved from Mary's cheek to glide down the smooth column of her throat, coming to rest on her breast, the dusky nipple coming to life under his touch. With a gentle squeeze, he lifted his hips and ground himself into her, causing a quiet whimper of pleasure to leave her.

That restrained encouragement was all Mary needed to begin their climb toward the peak of fulfillment, her hips setting the rhythm as she rocked back and forth, riding him. Her movement was slow at first, and Chris closed his eyes, lost in the sensation as she easily slid her body up and down his shaft, the delicious friction pulling him farther up the slop toward paradise. With each stroke the pressure grew, and as he felt it building inside his groin, Mary's hungry moans told him that she was feeling it too, her need for release becoming as urgent as his own.

It wasn't long before her desire for a faster, harder rhythm brought Mary forward, her hands seeking leverage on either side of his shoulders as she raised herself farther off him, lengthening her strokes, rubbing the sensitive bud at her center against his thickness as she came down on him. At the same time, Chris's hands gripped her hips as he surged upward, pounding into her with each downward movement.

Mary was close to the edge, but he was closer. And when he realized he could no longer hold himself back, his thumb moved to her center to coax her into coming with him. With one more upward stroke, Chris bathed his wife's womb with the warmth of his seed. And as the shudders of fulfillment cascaded over him, he felt the muscles of Mary's body contract around him, milking him for every drop as she fell over the edge to join him in blissful contentment.

When the free fall into ecstasy began to slow, and Chris again became conscious of the world around him, the only thing that registered on his ears was the sound of their rapid breathing, the gratifying exhaustion they shared shattering the early morning stillness.

Opening his eyes, he gazed up into the radiant face of his lover as she languished in the afterglow of their union, the gentlest of smiles turning her mouth as she continued to block the outside world from view. And while he continued to revel in her satisfaction, Chris felt the euphoric tension begin to drain from Mary's body, the muscles holding him so tightly within her loosening their grip. With the easing of the tautness, she collapsed to once again lie across Chris's chest, her head coming to rest on his shoulder while her arms moved around his neck.

"I love you." Mary's tender admission tightened her hold on Chris's heart.

"More than I could ever put into words." Pulling her close, the fervent response came easily to the gunman, now.

It wasn't all that long ago when such a vulnerable confession would never have passed his lips, but Mary's entry into his life had changed that--it had changed everything. She'd touched his heart, reawakening feelings he'd thought long dead as she broke through the wall of anger and guilt that had surrounded him. She had rescued him from a life of lonely desolation, and he never missed an opportunity to tell her so, in one form or another.

**There's nothing left to prove, all we need is just to be. Caught up in the touch, the slow and steady rush, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be? I can feel you breathe, just breathe. I can feel the magic floating in the air, being with you gets me that way...**

Raising her head, Mary pressed soft, loving lips to Chris's chin as she lifted her hips from his, gently releasing him from the warm, sensual comfort of her body. Silently, he mourned the separation, but the disappointment was quickly forgotten as she snuggled up against him, once again resting her head on his chest.

Quietly, they lay wrapped in each other's arms as the sun inched its way higher in the morning sky. Before too long, Chris noticed the deep, steady breathing of the woman resting by his side, sleep claiming her. A smile curved his lips as he listened to the reassuring sound. Oddly, he drew a profound comfort from it, hearing the automatic, life-sustaining act. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on the musical sound of the life he cherished so dearly. Sometimes it was all he needed to make him feel safe and secure in the happiness he'd found.

"That's it, Mary," Chris whispered into her silken hair, "just breathe."

The End