A/N: Thought it was a dead story, didn't you? No. It's not. A couple of things have held this storyline up, though. First, I've been consumed by a Doctor Who fic called Temptation that won't stop going. It's not a bad way to go, really. I'm a long-time Who-fan, so it's fun and very unexpected to find that I can write for that, too.
More than that, though, to be honest, I got really mad at IPS at the end of this last season. Yes, it was still wonderful, and yes, I still enjoyed it, especially how some things in Mary's life did come to a positive conclusion. I thought they went a long way toward humanizing her this season. However, I also kept feeling like they were just setting her up for something bad for no good reason with Faber, and I didn't like that. Maybe I just have a suspicious, fan-fiction-writing, plot-twist-creating mind...
There were other things, too. The season finale...well...that put the icing on the cake for me. I knew how it was going to end when Jinx brought out those damn brochures. Anyway...It's taken me a long time to get back in the IPS groove. I saw yesterday that they've renewed IPS for two years. Maybe if I'm patient like Marshall always is, it will all work out well and they'll quit jerking everybody around.
You'll never see another author's note this long from me, but there are an awful lot of you who have been waiting far too long for this update, and I felt like you deserved to know why. And now, on with the show. I've been saving these lyrics for just this scene.
Well, I wanna make love to you tonight
I can't wait 'til the morning has come
And I know that the time is just right
And straight into my arms you will run
And when you come my heart will be waiting
To make sure that you're never alone
There and then all my dreams will come true, dear
There and then I will make you my own
And every time I touch you, you just tremble inside
And I know how much you want me that you can't hide
Can I just have one a' more Moondance with you, my love
Can I just make some more romance with a-you, my love
~ "Moondance" Van Morrison
The frothing water felt like heaven against Marshall's aching back. He leaned back against the jets, opened his eyes to stare up at the stars and the moon, and sighed in relief.
"See? I have good ideas, too."
He rolled his head on the padded rest and looked at Mary.
"Have I ever implied otherwise?"
"I believe you insinuated this was a ploy on my part to separate you from those godawful pajama pants..."
He grinned, arched a brow.
She matched his smile.
He laughed. "See. I knew you had ulterior motives." He shifted slightly, closing his eyes again, rolling his shoulders, trying to get the remaining stiffness out.
She eyed him, taking in the expanse of his chest, the strong column of his throat, the high cheekbones highlighted by the brilliant moonlight, and she felt a curl of lust uncoiling. "Mmm. I did indeed have ulterior motives." But the pajama pants were the least of them... "Still sore?"
"A little. It's loosening up. These jets are helping a lot. I could do with one of these at home."
She continued to drink in the sight of him, continued to plot. Now to get him out of the hot tub and into the bed...
"You know...just the hot tub by itself is not going to be enough to get all the kinks out."
He opened his eyes and looked at her, a wicked grin appearing. "Ah, Mare. I would never have presumed a hot tub could get all the kinks out, but I was hoping that it was going to at least bring out some of them..." He reached out and traced his fingertips down her arm.
She laughed. "Idiot. What if I tell you I'm not having sex with you in this hot tub at all?"
He looked at her with soulful blue puppy dog eyes, reached out and took her hand, brought it to his lips. "Really? You'd do that? You'd be that cruel? You'd sit here naked in the froth and silvered by the moonlight like Venus rising from the sea and then tell me no?"
She made a face. "Ever had sex in a hot tub, slick?"
A wry smile twisted his lips. "Um, no. Can't say that I've had the pleasure. Yet." He kept her hand in his, stroked his thumb across the knuckles, turned it over, kissed her on the inside of her wrist where the veins and arteries joined.
She closed her eyes briefly at the sensation, paused a moment before continuing. "Well, it's not all it's cracked up to be, actually. The temperature is too high, you see. Can't enjoy anything because everybody's about to explode and not in that good way."
He slipped his hand up her arm, pulled her gently toward him through the water situating her so she slid across his bare thighs to sit on his lap sideways. She did not resist. The bubbles fizzed and hissed around them.
"So...while you're not interested in hot tub sex..."
"Might I interest you in something like this?" And he leaned down and captured her mouth. She made a little noise of welcome, opening for him, and he swept his tongue in immediately, hers coming up to clash, to stroke against it. He twined his fingers into her wet hair, cradling the back of her head.
When he broke the kiss, she made a little noise of irritation, and he smiled. "I take it that's a yes, then..."
She stared at his mouth, licked at the taste of him on her own lips. Her hand slid up from his shoulder into his short dark mane to grip a handful ungently. "Marshall." It was a growl, a warning, but he did not fear her, had never feared her. If his heart beat faster, it was only in desire.
"And if you find that acceptable hot tub behavior, what about..." His fingers lightly grazed her nipple. He felt it peak for him, tighten as he circled it with just the tip of his index finger. He lowered his gaze to watch the motion of his hand on her body, watch the bubbles froth around the erect crest. When his eyes came back to hers, they were hot enough to burn, and she pulled at his hair again.
"Marshall...if you don't..."
"There's that threat again," he murmured. "Always so fast with the race to the edge of danger." He kissed her, teasingly, lightly flicking his tongue in and against hers, away. "Sometimes I wonder what you'd do, how far you'd actually take it..." She felt his hand skimming down her body, just his fingertips touching her stomach, tracing her bellybutton, little touches like red-hot branding irons, somehow even warmer than the water.
"Don't push me, or you're going to find out." She squirmed on his lap, pulled against his hair hard trying to bring his mouth down to hers, trying to get closer to him for what her body truly craved.
He refused her. "But you made it clear you didn't want hot tub sex, Mare." He cupped his hand over her golden curls, and she arched her hips in wanting, legs spreading in invitation. He sucked her bottom lip and slipped one finger down to explore her. Her eyes slid closed and she let out a noise of choked pleasure, continuing to pull at him.
"I don't know. Is this going too far?" He murmured it against her ear just before he sucked the lobe. His finger was lazily circling. She couldn't answer. It just felt too good. Then it stopped.
Her eyes flew open. He was looking down at her with eyes of blue flame. "Tell me. Wouldn't want to cross any lines. Is this going too far?"
"Going. To. Goddamn. Kill. You."
He flicked the swollen bud of her with his finger and she arched, moaned. "That's hardly an answer, now, is it?" His voice was husky, dark, wicked. He resumed stroking her, added a finger that pressed, teased, circled, then barely slipped into her where ached for hard, full penetration. "Do you like it, Mare? Do you want me to keep going? Because I can stop..." And he did. Again.
She writhed in his arms, would have come up and wrestled him and taken what she wanted, but his hand in her hair fisted, held her in place suddenly, and this, this unexpected tease, this unexpected bit of darkness from Marshall was burning her up completely.
He's going to make me say it...Oh God. He's going to make me tell him... I... I...
Those insidious fingers resumed their torment, and she bit her bottom lip, arching into them, straining for release as he began to use his thumb to caress her swollen nub, slowly stroking, gently gliding, firmly pressing, lightly fluttering. Again as before, the tip of one finger teased her entrance, slipping in the slightest bit before slowly withdrawing. Then, it slid in just a bit more and with aching slowness circled and slipped out. Her hips began to move against his hand, and then...
"Damn you. Going..to...kill... you... Gun. Want my gun..."
He kissed her throat, biting lightly. He laughed hoarsely.
"Give me, Mary. Tell me. Tell me you want it. Tell me you like it." His voice was somehow different when he said it. There was something there...
He wants to hear it, she realized. Not just a tease. Not just fucked-up frustrating foreplay. He really wants to hear it. Maybe needs to hear it... He wants me to say I want him. That I like him.
She suddenly understood, and some of the wrath at his delay melted away. She gave herself up to it.
"Again," she whispered locking eyes with those brilliant blue ones. She felt his thumb circle her, felt his index finger slip inside her just as far as the first knuckle. She arched against his hand with a moan.
"Just like...that..." His hand began to move more quickly and she saw his lips part. "You want me to tell you? Tell you that I like it, Marshall?"
She released his hair, draped one arm around his neck for support, braced her foot against the seat, arched her entire body in a beautiful muscular bow that crested the water, foam tracing over her as her belly, her breasts, her upper body shone in the moonlight.
"I like it, Marshall. When you're touching me that way, I feel..so...good. Shall I show you how much I like it? Let me show you what I feel..."
She ran her free hand up her own torso as the pleasure from his slow, deliberate touch coursed through her, cupped her own breast, stroked her thumb over her own nipple in an imitation of the motion of his finger against her below.
His eyes were almost completely black with arousal as he raked them over her, taking in her gleaming flesh, her hand on her own body.
"Mare," his voice was a growl, predatory, hungry.
She moaned, plucked and rolled the nipple, staring at his mouth. His eyes were riveted on the motion of her hands on her own body. His finger that had been teasing thrust hard into her and she cried out. At the same time, he leaned down to suck the erect peak she'd been teasing with her fingers deep and hard into his mouth, and she felt his wicked fingers between her legs promising ecstasy. She writhed in abandon on his lap, gasping as he slid a second finger inside her as the movements of his hand continued, got harder. She wove her fingers through his hair, skimmed her short nails across his scalp, down his back as she felt his teeth nip at her.
"I'm...so...close...Just...Just like that...Marshall..." she moaned.
His hand between her legs picked up its pace, his mouth at her breast intensified its pleasurable suckling, and as she looked down at him, her eyes met his. He was looking at her like she was the living embodiment of desire. Like she truly was Venus risen from the sea. Like she was everything any man could ever want. Like she was sacrosanct and fuckable all at the same time. It was the most erotic expression she had ever seen in any man's eyes because she knew it for what it was. It wasn't just lust, desire, need although those were present, white hot. It surpassed that. It was worship. It was devotion. It was Love. It overloaded her circuits and sent her right over, screaming his name.
Mary woke beside him in the big bed. The late morning sun was falling across the floor of the room and she looked at Marshall's profile as he slept.
He'd carried her in from the hot tub and they'd spent the whole night exploring each other slowly, sweetly. They'd fallen asleep curled together sometime after the moon had set. She didn't want to move now, didn't want to wake him, didn't want to disturb this feeling of peace that surrounded her.
Almost as if he heard her, his eyes opened and he turned his head to look at her. A sleepy smile spread over his face.
She scooted over slightly, just enough so she could lay her head on his shoulder.
He hesitated a moment, and then he wrapped his arms loosely around her. She smiled. This felt good.
"I could get used to this," she murmured, enjoying the warmth, the sound of his heartbeat.
"I most sincerely hope so," he rumbled, running his hand slowly down her back.
They continue to lay like that, still and lazy, simply enjoying the feeling of being together until she heard his stomach rumble. She looked up at him, grinning.
"Say you might feel up to some breakfast, hmm?"
Again, that lazy, sleepy grin crept across his lips, but he didn't open his eyes or stir.
"I could probably eat."
She snorted. "When could you not?"
He laughed softly. "The lady has a valid point..."
She lay there just a moment longer before slapping his chest lightly. "Okay, cowboy. Get up. Let's go see what kind of breakfast you can whip up."
"Me? Why am I doing all the cooking?" He mock whined and grumbled as he rolled to a seated position.
She was slipping on her robe and heading for the bathroom. She paused in the doorway and looked over her shoulder at him. "Which one of us will be doing most of the eating, do you think?"
He gave that a moment's thought as he watched her stride out the door to take the first shower.
"Again," he said to the now-empty room, "the lady has a valid point..."
They were both clean, fed, and sitting at the table talking when a knock at the front door startled them. Instincts honed by years of keeping both themselves and others alive had them both reaching for their absent sidearms, and they looked at each other sheepishly.
"Creatures of habit, much?" Mary said.
"And paranoid ones at that." Marshall said, arching his brow as he pushed away from the table.
"It's not paranoia when they're really out to get you." Her voice trailed after him.
At the door, he lifted the curtain and looked out. A little grin appeared on his face, and he gestured to Mary that it was okay. He undid the locks and opened it. On the porch stood the wild-haired little man from the repair shop. When he saw Marshall, his wizened face creased into a wide smile.
"Well, you are in here. Good for you, young man. I got to worrying last night, and when I told Francis about you, she gave me the very devil about not making sure you had a place to stay..." He broke off as Mary walked into the room and he caught sight of her.
"Ah, hello there! You must be the young lady Marshall here was so worried about getting here to see last night."
Mary smiled at Marshall. "Was he now? Hmm. I guess it must have been me, then, unless he's got a girl stashed out back that I don't know about yet... I'm Mary Shepherd. Won't you come in, Mr...?"
"Mr. Padget. It's nice to meet you. And, thank you kindly, but no. I'm not here to intrude. I just wanted to check in on Marshall and ease my mind a bit. Well, my mind and Francis', too, I reckon you could say. Marshall, the parts are on order, so we should be looking at getting them in tomorrow evening when the truck runs. I'll get them on just as soon as I can after that."
"That's fine, Mr. Padget. I'm in no rush." Marshall looked at Mary, a slight smile on his face.
"Ah. Well. Young love. Hope you know how lucky you are, my boy."
"Oh, I do. Believe me, I do."
"Well, I'll get myself back down the road, then. Got a garage full of work this morning."
Marshall walked him down the long porch to his truck.
"She's a real beauty, Marshall. I can see why you were so anxious to get up here and patch things up. Did you tell her all the important things, fix everything that was broken between you?"
Marshall glanced back toward the house. "We're working on it, I think. We're making good progress."
Mr. Padget smiled and patted him on the arm. "Good. Good. Perfect setting to get everything settled here." He climbed into his old truck and slammed the door. As he put it into gear and began to back up, he brought it to a stop one last time and turned his gaze from the rearview to Marshall one last time.
"Should it all go to hell in a handcart, though, boy, Francis still has that guest room waiting!" He honked the horn, cackling loudly, backed up, and pulled away smoothly.