It was dark by the time they walked back to the small palace nestled between the mountains. They had made it back to the main trail around the perimeter of the lake just as the sun vanished behind the mountains. How the tin man managed to time that so perfectly was beyond her, and for the time being she was satisfied with the mystery. She was too content to care how he did it right now. That, and she was now pretty focused on her rear end, which was throbbing something horrible. She was starting to suspect she had saddle rash, if that were a real thing. If it wasn't she was sure she had just been the first to ever acquire the malady. Perhaps she would get to name it. At least that idea brought her some comfort as she shifted in her seat.

Cain caught the odd movement, no doubt sure she was about to fall again, and she tried to settle back. Even with a clear face and pretence that everything was fine he wasn't fooled. Tugging on Shade's reins he allowed her to catch up beside him, the path now wide enough for both horses to walk abreast of one another. "You told me you weren't sore."

Studiously avoiding his gaze she pretended to adjust her shirtsleeve. "I don't know what you're referring to."

He rolled his eyes. "Stubborn thing." He turned his eyes back to the trail, more alert now that it was both dark and they were off the apparent safety of the slopes. "You had to know what was up there didn't you? Sore rump or no."

She huffed at him, torn between amusement and annoyance at his commentary. As if he didn't know she would have to figure out was up in that valley when he made it all mysterious and interesting. Curiosity was her main motivation at least eighty percent of the time she did anything. "Would you hush and lead me home before I get blisters, or parts of me fall off please?"

His lip twitched up at the corner. "Alright, Deeg."

She rolled her eyes. "And for the record I do not find this amusing."

He glanced over at her and noted her odd posture. Before she knew what he was doing he had dismounted and grabbed the reins of both horses, pulling them to a stop. "We're almost back. Get down and we'll walk. That should be better than you riddin' all the way back."

She got off the saddle and her legs buckled when her feet hit the ground. He let go of the horses and caught her around the waist as she caught her balance. She grimaced as she straightened up. "Thanks, Cain."

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah." She said as they started walking, now between the two horses. It didn't even occur to her to be nervous as she took the reins back from him. "I'm fine."

"You're a terrible liar." He said for the second time that day.

"Only with you." She pointed out. He gave that one to her and she decided it was time to talk since they had a few minutes. It was likely that they could be swept up into something the moment they stepped a toe into the palace even on a break. She broke the short silence. "You said we should talk."

"Do you want to do that now?"

"It's that or I allow this incredible anxiety I can sense on the horizon take up residence in my stomach."

His lip twitched at her blunt reply before he went serious. "I think it might be best to let you avoid that."

She appreciated his consideration. She jumped right into the biggest issue for her. "You know if we do this, if you're with me, it's a hell of a lot more than me you get. I don't want you trapped again, Cain, and we both know you will be. With the political climate the way it is Az won't ever be able to be queen. Half the country has demonized her. I'm the only other option."

"Is that the only thing you're worried about?"

"That's the big one." She answered honestly. "This isn't the life I wanted. Believe me when I say I wasn't the girl that played dress up or princess when I was little." She left out what she had really wanted to be, mostly because he had asked her that a long time ago and already knew. "I don't want you to be miserable in a few years because of that. It might be roomier and flashier, but it'll be a prison all the same. I don't want to make you a gilded iron maiden. You deserve more than that."

He was quiet for a moment as he turned that over. "Deeg, maybe this isn't what you dreamed about doin', but you chose it. You could have run, or refused to take the throne, you could have gone back to the Otherside to your old life. You didn't do any of that. You stayed here because you care about what happens to this country, not because it was some sort of family obligation. I don't think you understand what kind of person that makes you."

She wanted to make a witty retort to that, but this was too serious. "Cain, this isn't about me, and before you say it is I would really appreciate it if you thought this all the way through. I know how you are, and I love you for it, but I don't want you with me because you think you're saving me. I can save myself even if it means taking the throne by myself and hoping for the best." Her stomach clenched. "Or choosing someone else if I have to."

"I have thought about this." He said. "I've been thinkin' about it for a long time. I thought about it a lot more after your mother started meddlin' with you." Reaching out he caught her free hand as they walked, the palace coming into view as the trail curved around the water. "I understand what you're sayin' to me, and I appreciate the kind of consideration you're showin' me, and how hard it is for you, all of it. I also know the life we might have together won't be easy, it'll be complicated as hell and we both know it." He squeezed her hand. "But all the same, thinkin' about the life we wouldn't have, of all the things I would miss without you, the prospect of endin' up the consort of the realm doesn't sound quite so intimidatin'." He met her eyes as they walked. "You're my choice, DG. What you come with isn't a prison, it's a life. A life is somethin' I missed out on for a long time, the idea of havin' one is a lot less terrifyin' than you might think after what I went through. A good life with a good woman, that's a gift."

She wasn't entirely sure what emotions she was feeling. There were so many jumbled up she simply felt full to bursting. So instead of vocalizing anything she nodded and tightened her grip on his hand. He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. "What are you thinkin'?" He asked.

"That you're too good to be true." She said softly. "Are you sure this is what you want?"

"Yes." He answered. "Set yourself at ease. You know I wouldn't lie to you about this."

"You know this will bug me for awhile."

"Any chance you'll wear yourself out on this?"

She shrugged. "Eventually." She wasn't about to lie to him right now. This might be the most important conversation they ever had. She intended to be sure it was honest. "You know I worry about you."

"I won't say I don't appreciate that too, but with the amount of worry you've already got you're goin' to give yourself an ulcer."

She thought that was most likely true. "I don't know what to tell you about that. I'm not going to change. It is what it is."

He rubbed his thumb over her skin again. "I don't want you to change."

Her lips curled up. "No worries then."

He smiled back and some of the tension faded away from the seriousness of what they were talking about. Tugging on her hand gently he pulled her toward him and leaned his head down to kiss her. She smiled into him and he moved back, kissing her cheek as he went. "Is there anything else botherin' you while we're talkin'?"

"Just the normal nervousness that comes with all this, especially knowing how insane it's going to be once this news hits." She answered as it occurred to her that pretty much nothing about their lives was normal at all. "There won't be any stopping for us. This is a go all the way kind of thing. What about you?"

He gave her a one-shouldered shrug. "I'm not to keen on dealing with your mother about this, but I don't need to worry about that for another week or so."

"Sorry." She said lamely.

"Hardly your fault." He told her. "And I doubt it'll be more than a bit of a ripple in the pond. With her marryin' a wayward slipper she doesn't have much of a reason not to accept me."

"You know she likes you." She pointed out.

"Likin' me as a general and as a son-in-law are a bit different." Even as he said it he didn't seem overly concerned about this. It was more of a mild annoyance or simple issue he needed to deal with. "I also want to be sure I'm not the only one that's thought this through."

She thought that was pretty damn fair. "I have."

"That's all I've got, Darlin'." Looking ahead again they both saw the stables. "Let's get the horses stalled and go sit for a spell."

Liking that idea they kept walking as her stomach settled. She felt a lot better now that all of that was out. At least better in the sense that she wasn't terrified he would come to his senses and bolt on her. And better in the sense that she wouldn't have to deal with any more insanity from her mother. Cain noticed when she calmed fully down, the tension drained out of her and her hand relaxed around his. Pleased that this was taken care of, at least as far as it could be taken care of, she felt her normal spunk and humor returning in a rush.

Now in a much better mood she swung her hand a little in his. "I had a lot of fun today. Even disregarding all the making out."

He sent her a confused look even as he lifted her hand with his, kissed it, and then let her go. She knew why, they were nearing a place where they would be seen and he didn't know what her boundaries were. He was trying to keep up appearances and she was glad of that. As much as she didn't care about rumors, she was aware of the impact they could have. It would be great if her family found out about this when she wanted them too, not before. And then there was Jeb, which was a whole separate issue. Cain should definitely be the one to tell his son what was happing. "Making out?"

Her eyes twinkled. "Smooching."

He sighed. "What?"

"The kissing, Cain."

His lip twitched like mad. "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself."

"I really did." She told him honestly. "I've never seen anything that pretty before."

"What about the mountains in the north country?" He asked.

"Those were magnificent, not pretty."

She had him amused again. "Central City?"

"Stately… and entirely too shiny."

They walked into the stable and as they were about to start taking the saddles off one of the stable hands appeared and took the horses. The tin man didn't argue, although he normally took care of his own horse, and turned them easily so they were going to the palace. She was simply happy that she didn't have to do any more with the horses for the day. "The forests where you landed when you got here?"

"Okay, those are full of tree gnomes. I have to tell you they ruined the appeal."

He chuckled as they went up the sloping lawns. "How about the Papay Fields?"


"Orderly? That's the adjective you want for the Papay Fields?"

"Well, what would yours be?"


She batted at him playfully. "Now be nice. It's not the papay's fault they were so hungry. They've been nothing but nice and cooperative since the fruit started growing again."

"If the munckins can ruin a place for you I think it's only fair that the farmers can ruin one for me." He held the door open for her and she walked in with him close behind her. "I did get a bite taken out of me."

"Yes, I recall that." She said with no little humor. "I also recall you were a bit put off by the location of said bite."

He shook his head and steered her toward their rooms, which were on the third floor. "I'm glad you remember that as clearly as I do." He said dryly.

"Oh, I promise I will never forget any part of that little romp through the field as long as I live. It was madness."

"Then you agree with my adjective choice?"

"Tell you what, I'll let it coexist with mine." She smiled at him. "I have a fondness for the papay."

"You only like them because you were a farmer too." He accused. "Don't pretend that isn't true. I heard you swapping tips about proper soil dampness one day."

"Hey!" She jabbed at him playfully as they reached the top of the stairs. "That was a private conversation!"

"To be fair I only understood half of it. I'd still like you to explain to me how you learned to speak their language."

That was as much a mystery to her as anyone. She figured it was a magic thing. While she did have to work at it, with intense concentration as opposed to grammar books, it had only taken her a week. It was an odd process that no one knew she was doing until she simply started talking to one of the papay matriarchs without Raw's help. At first, when Raw was talking to them, it was like she was hearing odd snippets of whispering. As the hours and days went on she was catching more and more. Then, one day, it was like a switch had been flipped on in her head. She wasn't sure who she shocked more that day, herself, the papay leader, or her family. But one thing none of them would deny was that it was a pretty helpful skill.

"You've got me. Regardless, breach of security."

"I'm a breach of security?" He asked, his eyes dancing.

"As if anyone can trust a general with top secret information on soil erosion."

"You are ridiculous." He said as they got to his room and they ushered her inside. Before she had a chance to take more than a step he had caught her and spun her around to face him. He was kissing her a moment later and she moaned as she grabbed at his holster for the second time that day. He let out a sound that was an odd cross between a growl and a groan and moved forward, pressing her back against the door they had just walked through. She didn't protest as he flattened himself against her, in fact she pulled him closer, as if that were at all possible.

Pressed against one another in the dark room she lost all track of time as he held her. When it became obvious that she was in no way opposed to having him all over her he began to run his hands over her body. As his palm slid from her ribcage to her hip she figured it was a good enough assumption that she could do the same thing back.

Letting go of the holster when she managed to work out that she had to do that to touch other parts of him, and realizing that with the way he was acting he wasn't about to go anywhere, she managed to do it. Running her hands up she traced his chest and shoulders, resting her hands under his collar. He deepened his kisses noticeably and she moaned into his mouth. When they had been up in the valley he had been sweet and affectionate, now, well the affection was still there, but so was lust.

Bending his head he trailed his lips along her jaw, stopping when he reached her ear. Taking the lobe into his mouth he sucked on it, something no one had ever done to her before, and she thought her eyes were going to roll back in her head. "Oh, god." She said in a terribly strangled whisper, acutely aware she was very close to a hallway that got more than a little foot traffic.

One of his hands slid to her lower back while he let go of her ear and he drew her with him as he backed up. She hampered the process as she shoved at his jacket, trying to get it off, and their feet tangled up, nearly knocking them to the floor. There was also the confusion of him not wanting to let her go even though she was trying to strip him out of his clothes. She did note, in their halting and jolting journey, that he was trying to get them to either his couch or his chair. In that moment she decided that she would much rather end up naked in his bed than in his outer room and twisted to redirect him.

He grunted as his leg hit a table and a lamp teetered dangerously on it as a book tumbled to the ground with a thump. "Deeg-"

She cut him off before he could try to take the noble road and drive them both to lust addled madness. "I haven't done this in a long time and I'd really prefer to be in a bed if it's all the same to you." She'd never actually done this in a bed truth be told, wasn't really keen on telling him that, and didn't want to dwell on it. For once though, just this one time, she really wanted to have something go the way it was supposed to go for people.

"If you aren't ready-"

Grabbing his face she kissed him hard even as she pushed him to the bedroom. "I want you. I want this. I just want to be in a bed." She insisted breathlessly. "Can we go to the bed?"

Without missing a beat he bent down and scooped her up into his arms, gaining his balance as he held her bridal style. She put her arm around his shoulder to keep herself balanced, accidently knocking his hat flying with her elbow, as he turned and carried her into his bedroom. Pleased that he was complying with her request she leaned in and kissed his jaw. He hummed as he paused briefly to kick the door shut and then laid her out on the bed. Smiling shyly at him she sat up, going to her knees and wrapping her arms around him. Leaning down slightly he kissed her warmly as his own arms slipped around her waist, tugging her to the edge of the bed and back against him.

Setting his forehead against hers he watched her with warm eyes. "Before we do this I need to tell you somethin'."

Apprehension tore through her but she nodded. "What?"

"I'm in love with you." She jerked slightly in surprise at the statement and he gave her a hesitant, oddly strained smile. "I think I may have failed to mention that earlier." One of his hands came up and caressed her face. "Which seems a bit silly considering what else we've talked about the last few hours."

Pressing closer to him she whispered to him. "I promise not to tell any of your soldiers that you can slip out of awesomely fearsome intimidation mode and occasionally be silly." His smile became much more amused than nervous. "I love you too. I think I have since I met you." His thumb ran over her skin slowly and a strange heat suffused her entire body. Pressing into his touch her eyes hooded and she gazed up at him from under her lashes. "It seems an appropriate time to kiss me again." She said.

He laughed softly and did just that. This kiss was full of promises and when he broke away he was still close to laughing despite the desire. "Are you goin' to boss me about all the way through this?"

She laughed in delight and he chuckled back as he tightened his arm and moved them both onto the bed. A moment later and they were laying next to one another with his arm around her waist and their legs were tangled up together. "Probably at least for a few minutes."

Smiling he kissed her warmly. "Well then-" He rolled her to her back and propped himself over her. "-best go ahead and get started because once I get you naked I'm not takin' your abuses."

She snickered like mad, amazed and delighted that this was going to be as fun as it was intimate, and pecked him on the lips. "The holster has to go. I refuse to explain how one of us got shot if I accidently bump the trigger."

Cain snorted and got off her. "That does seem like somethin' that might occur with you in my bed."

"See? This is me looking after you, not me being bossy."

"Liar." He said with a smile as he finished unbuckling the holster and setting it to the side. Once it was secured on his bedside table he look down at her with twinkling eyes. "Next?"

She hummed in false thought. "Boots." Shaking his head he sat down on the edge of the bed and tugged them off. Before the second one hit the floor she spoke again. "And socks for sure." His lips twitched like mad and those were quick to follow. Before she could say anything else he turned and grabbed her ankle, tugging her to the edge of the bed as well. She squeaked and then giggled as he removed all her footwear as well.

He paused briefly when he spotted her socks, which were a bizarre pattern of yellow and purple zigzagged stripes, which were also crooked. "Alright, what are these?" He asked with a lot less shock than she thought most people would show seeing them hiding under her boots.

"Raw told Az she needed to do something with her hands when she started getting anxious." Even as ugly as the socks were she really did love them. Her sister had switched from playing the piano, which tended to wake people up when played at three in the morning, to knitting. The socks were actually made really well, but apparently her sister had limited color options one night, and this was the result. Despite this, she loved them, the drunken look of them was rather endearing.

There was a brief pause. "So she decided to brutally murder perfectly good socks?" She burst out laughing, her whole body shaking with mirth. He peeled the crazed socks off as she laughed. "Don't let her get near your pants. Ozma knows what might happen."

Still laughing, she threatened him. "You stop making fun of my sister, Wyatt Cain. Those socks were made with love."

"And clearly worn for the same reason." He smiled out, then paused again when he saw her toes. Lifting her foot slightly he zeroed in on her toenails. "Your toes are pink." He stated in disbelief.

She pushed herself up on her elbows as she wiggled them. "Yeah."

He was beyond baffled. "Why are they pink?"

"Because I painted them that color." She replied easily.

"You painted them?" He was truly mystified. "Why would you do that?"

"Because it makes them cute." She tilted her head. "Don't you like them?"

"Never put much thought into toes before." He answered. "But I won't say I don't like them."

She huffed. "You're such a man." He turned his head and gave her a look, but she was curious about something else. "Don't women paint their nails here?"

"Only performers." He said. "If anyone knew you did this you would be a scandal."

"As opposed to any other time?"

He hummed and set her foot down, rubbing it gently, as he looked over at her. "Any other commands?"

She watched him for a quarter of a second before sitting up and crawling into his lap. When she was straddling him she kissed him and began to unbutton his vest. "Enjoy yourself."

"Oh, there's no doubt about that." He replied as he ran his hands down her sides. "Been doin' that since we were up in the valley."

"I'm all set then." She said as she got the last button undone.

"You're not even close to set." He told her as she pushed the vest away. He shook out of it before kissing her warmly and tugging her flat against him. "But we've got all night to get you there as many times as we can."

For the first time she blushed, really and truly, her whole face going dark pink. Cain watched it happen with fascination. No one had ever said anything like that to her before, and certainly not with such matter of fact conviction. The sudden realization that he would not make this a disappointing experience for her, that he expected to make her feel good and was going to put effort into it, had her more than a little excited. All at once she was very glad he was older than her, and had experience with women. That had made her insecure in the past, and if she were honest it still did, knowing she wasn't all that experienced and she might not satisfy him, but for the moment she was pleased. Now she was sure this was going to be good for her, the way most of her former trysts, the very few she'd had, weren't.

Cain must have seen the truth of that in her eyes because it was his turn to hood his eyes. "I'll make you feel good before this is over, Darlin'." Bending his head down he kissed his way down her neck with slow deliberation. "And more than once." A shudder tore all the way down her body at that promise.

Unable to think of anything else to say she began to touch him, her hesitance slowly morphing to confident curiosity as the minutes ticked by. The tin man was taking his time mapping her out over her clothes, his hands rubbing and caressing her all over, starting at her safer areas, like her waist and hips, and radiating outward in all directions. She wasn't quite as bold as he was, staying above the belt, and not metaphorically. Even so she could tell she had more than a little of his interest. He was hot and hard, his erection pressing into the apex of her thighs as she sat over him.

When she let out a breathy moan, his fingers getting the best of her as he slipped them under her shirt at last. The moment his warm skin touched hers her brain all but melted. Encouraged by the sound his fingertips moved further, giving his hands room to flatten all the way over her abdomen. "Wyatt." She whispered raggedly as she began to rock over his lap.

He groaned into her lips as their mouths danced with each other. One of his hands slid all the way around, finding her spine and running all the way up it as the other played music over her middle. For a moment she knew she stopped breathing, mostly because he told her. "Take a breath." He murmured. "There won't be any blackin' out unless I make you."

Whimpering at that had him humming in satisfaction as she began to breathe again. Satisfied with her he stroked her for several more minutes before letting her alone long enough to confront her shirt. Taking the hem he began to draw it up and she raised her hands over her head at once. The fabric was off her in seconds and he tossed it away after their shoes. His eyes swept over her and he liked what he saw, at least until he saw her bra. Much like her painted toes it seemed to throw him. Taking the wheel so to speak, and figuring he could work this mysterious female contraption later, she unhooked it easily. Seeing that it loosened he reached up and slid the straps off her arms. When it was off he dropped it away with his eyes locked on her chest.

She blushed again and he watched in utter fascination as it spread to the top of her chest and then just a little lower. She supposed he was only further drawn in by her quick breathing. Sliding his hand up he touched her briefly, distracting her from his liking of that particular part of her anatomy by going back to kissing her neck. When he was satisfied with his exploration, and she was sure he was looking at her breasts as he kissed her, he twisted them and put her back on the bed. He was over her before her heart could beat and kissing her with drugging intensity.

In that instant she felt her brain beginning to shut down and pawed at the buttons of his shirt, only one real thought registering. They both really needed to get all the way undressed. Her hands, which were normally the most steady and poised part of her body, able to help her create the images she saw in her mind with paint or pencil, began to tremble. Still, she refused to surrender to her body's reaction to his, at least for a few more minutes, and managed to grapple all the buttons free. He shook out of it one arm at a time, keeping himself right over her propped up on the opposite one, refusing to stop kissing her.

Shaking his left arm the garment went flying and then he was moving over her, skin to skin, and his chest hair tickled her in a way that made her own skin twitch and jump. He felt so good against her like this. "Still too many clothes." She stated a little breathlessly.

"Patience." He mumbled into her skin even as he started slipping down her body. When he reached her naval, nuzzling at her skin, his hands snuck down and unhooked her pants. When she felt his teeth lightly scrape over her stomach she jumped and began to wiggle at the sensations. She felt him smile into her and he patted her side soothingly as he scooted lower. When he got to the top of her pants he rubbed his nose over the soft skin hiding just under the seam.

The feeling of him being so close to where she wanted him had her letting out a strange coo as she reached down and ran her hands through his hair. At that Cain sat up enough to get her trousers off of her. Hooking his fingers around the top he began to slide them off her. "Could you get these tighter?" He asked.

Her lips twitched. "Do you want me too?"

He sent her a look as he got her free. "No." He said firmly. "I don't think anyone else needs to get a better idea of what these legs of yours look like." When she sent him a mischievous look he sent her a teasingly warning one. "These are just for me to know about." Something very feminine came to life at that statement and she supposed she understood his territoriality. She didn't exactly want any other women thinking about what he looked like under his clothes either. She was saved having to answer when he tugged her panties off quickly and he began to kiss his way from her knee toward her hip.

She blushed badly the moment she realized what he was about to do and his eyes darkened. No one had ever done this to her before and she wasn't entirely sure what to expect as he put one of her legs over his shoulder. Before she could think about it too much, and her nerves could flash back to life, he acted. Lowering his head he kissed her center. She let out a breathy moan, keeping it as quiet as possible in an effort not to embarrass herself. The tin man put his hand on her hip to keep her from moving and started to lick her. She tried to squirm, clearly something he had foreseen happening, and he held her still. Her heel dug into his back in an effort to make him have her explode or leave her be because this was torturous. She couldn't decide which would be better as sensations shot through her. Reaching down she tangled her fingers in the blankets as her back arched. "Wyatt, please."

He sucked on her harder and ran his hand over her folds. Shifting desperately she choked on a moan as her head moved back and forth over the sheets. Encouraged by the sounds falling out of her he put in more effort, rolling his tongue over her clit and driving her near to mad. Pure pleasure overtook her and light and sound seemed to coalesce inside her, building up to a crescendo. It didn't take him long to make her come after that, another moment of attention and she was lost. Slowly, she came back down from where he sent her. She felt him moving up her body, nibbling his way up her rib cage. She whimpered softly as her body hummed and he moved.

When he got to her face he tangled his tongue with hers and she tasted herself on him. She shuddered under him and he sat up, taking her with him. She found that now she wasn't the only one naked anymore. He must have shed the rest of his clothes while she was distracted. Finding herself back in his lap she decided she was more than happy with this choice of his. It seemed he wanted her to decide what happened next and she was more than willing to do just that. Reaching down she took a hold of him and rubbed him firmly. He let out a low muttered curse and caught her wrist. "Darlin', you do that and this isn't goin' to last long."

Knowing she wasn't the only one that hadn't done this in a while she nodded and shifted closer to him. Cain caught the rather obvious hint at what she wanted and rubbed her between her legs briefly. She let out a whimper and when he was satisfied she was ready he kissed her lovingly as he held her hips and drew her down over him. Letting out a whimper she controlled how quickly he slipped inside her, feeling the stretch that came with years of celibacy. The tin man's hands were clamped hard over her and his muscles were bunching as he tried to control himself. Knowing he had been without a partner far longer than her made her feel a bit more confident in herself. That and she could see his eyes were about ready to roll back in his head as she settled fully over him. When she stilled he spoke in a strangled voice. "Okay, Deeg?"

"Yes." She said in a breathy moan. Her fingers dug into his shoulders and his hips shifted as he used his hands to try to lift her, urging her to move. Complying with the silent request she did, using her legs to control her speed as he held tightly to her. As she moved slowly, savoring this connection, she found his lips and kissed him hotly. Cain groaned into her mouth as his fingers twitched and she was sure she would have bruises in the morning but at the moment could care less. She felt too good, too full, too hot, too complete to care about anything but this act.

It didn't take them long to find a rhythm, no more than a minute or so, and she was trying to prolong this as long as possible with the sedate speed she set. Wyatt stayed with her for several wonderful minutes as her pleasure built up, letting her find an angle that suited her and had her quivering. However, despite the massive control he had it appeared she found his breaking point. His fingers tightened further as he let out an apologetic groan. "Deeg, Darlin' girl, I'm sorry." He held her close and turned them, putting her back on the mattress and ending up over her. "I can't go so slow this time."

Reaching up she held his face and kissed him hard. "It's okay." She wrapped her legs around his waist, driving him deeper. "Just don't stop." Keeping one hand on her hip the other slid up to hold himself up and he found a new pace, this one noticeably faster and less controlled than what she had them doing only moments before. She let out a cry at once, his hips bumping her center and sending pleasure jolting all the way up her spine. He let out a low sound when he heard her and continued to move in her the same way, making sure to stimulate her clit as he moved. After that she knew she wouldn't last, not with him in her so deeply and hitting every spot on her body that made her feel so damn good. Loosing control, her breathing went crazy and she scratched at his back in desperation. "Please." She managed to get out. "Please, please, please."

He grunted as she began to clamp around him, her body going taut as she teetered on the edge of mind-blowing release. "That's right, Deeg." His strained encouragements barely registered over the emotions cascading through her and the feel of his body in and over hers. "Fall for me, Darlin'. I know you're close."

"H-harder." She begged, her legs tightening around him.

He got more forceful at the request and just as he started to loose his pace she lost control. Her nails dug into his shoulders and all her muscles locked as she let out a cry of pleasure. Colors exploded behind her eyelids and she thought fire was racing through her veins for a perfectly endless moment. Distantly she heard Wyatt let out his own muffled release as her body rewarded her very excellent choice in men. Slowly, she circled back down, like a leaf being blown by a gentle breeze, and found Wyatt slumped over her and breathing hard.

Utterly satisfied with everything she ran one of her hands over his back, trying to sooth away the pain she had no doubt caused with her nails. The tin man continued to catch his breath along with her, his cheek resting on the side of her head. As he breathed her hair stirred gently against her neck and she closed her eyes, wondering how long they could stay like this and hoping it was a long time. She wasn't really sure how long they lay there before he broke the silence. "Alright?" He asked.

"Better than." She answered. "You?"

He nodded slightly before gathering himself and rolling off her. Following after him, because after that there was no way he was getting out of cuddling with her, she put her head on his shoulder and snuggled up against his side. Reaching over her he tugged the blanket up over them with a great deal of effort before simply going limp again. Closing her eyes she slid her arm over his chest and felt his snake along her back before his hand settled just above her hip. His head turned and she felt his chin settled at the crown of her head. "You gave me some battle scars there, DG."

"Likewise." She murmured.

He lifted his head slightly. "What?"

"You've got a strong grip. I blame it on the nearly obscene relationship you have with your gun. I've been secretly jealous of that thing for years." He sat up and her eyes came open as he dislodged her. She didn't have a chance to protest this indignity before he was pushing the blanket back off them. Even from her angle she could see the bruises had already started to form, small dark marks dotting her skin where his fingers had been.

He brushed his hand over the marks and frowned. "I'm sorry, Darlin'."

"It's fine." She said, stretching out on the bed since he had managed to get away from her for the moment. "We were both wound up pretty tight." She smiled at him in what she hoped was a seductive manner. "I feel much better now." Lifting one of her legs she ran it along his rib cage, fighting back her natural modesty when she was so clearly exposed to him in every way. When her leg was fully extended she pulled it back, letting it rest against his side when it was crooked up. He watched her with silent admiration until she stopped moving. Lifting his hand he ran it over the inside of her leg, caressing her, as his eyes ran over her.

"Aren't you made right?" He asked after his second very thorough inspection. "You're even more exquisite than I imagined."

"You imagined me?" She asked as she let her head fall to the side, watching him from under her lashes again, knowing that had turned him on.

He smiled slightly, his fingers splaying out over her thigh. "More than was even remotely decent."

She laughed softly. "Is there any decency in imagining a woman naked?"

His smile stayed in place. "There's certainly admiration in it, and a great deal of beauty. With you there was a fair bit of longing thrown in." His smile grew. "I should have known you would be a terrible flirt with me, but the thought never crossed my mind, I can't imagine why."

Her eyes twinkled. "I would never flirt. Such improper behavior."

He rolled his eyes and lowered his head, kissing her leg before lying back down with her. "No, never." Tilting her head up in suggestion had him kissing her affectionately. They tangled back up together and he tucked her hair back behind her ear. "Are you still nervous, DG?"


He looked at her with real understanding. "You know I can tell when you've gotten worked up. You were nervous when you wanted me to take you to bed, and before that, about what being together will mean for us."

"I was." She admitted. "And I will be again before this all blows over, but I'm not right now." She smiled at him. "Right now I'm happy."

He kissed her again. "So am I. And I might be a bit on the tired side."

She loved his honesty, especially when she agreed with him. "I've heard there's a solution to that."

"What might that be?"


He rolled his eyes again and dragged the blanket over them a second time. "Right smart idea." Giggling softly she cuddled into him and kissed his jaw.

"You know, I'm really glad you accidently terrified me with a giant herbivore."

"You're outlook on life fascinates me." He murmured sleepily. "I can see you won't let me get bored, drive me crazy maybe, but not get bored."

"Not even a little."

"Can I ask one favor?"

"Sure." She said, figuring he had certainly earned one after today, and certainly after the last hour or so.

"Let me sleep for a few hours so I can keep up with that outlook of yours."

She smirked. "Since you asked so nicely I suppose I can, but for the record I'm going to introduce you to many more aspects of my outlook tomorrow."

"Interesting. I wonder what it would do to that outlook for me to kiss those bruises better?"

She blushed again despite herself, not at all surprised that she wanted him to do that again. "Promising start for sure." Closing her eyes she whispered one last thing. "Looking forward to that."

"Goodnight, DG." He said with exasperated amusement.

"Goodnight, Wyatt." She said with a smile. Tomorrow was going to be fun.

Author Note: Okay, this one took a few days, but it's super long, so let's call it even. Hope everyone had a great holiday season and happy new year!