PYTHAGOREAN FIDELITY
by nottonyharrison (Kim)
Sequel to Restless Sinner

Genre: Romance/Angst
Pairing(s): Stephanie/Lester, Stephanie/Ranger
Rating: M
Warnings: Language, Lemons, Morelli friendly
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings etc are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

A/N:As requested, we now have a sequel to the story that confused y'all so much. I'm a major proponent of stories just... finishing and not necessarily ending, so if you don't like all your loose ends to be tied up in a pretty bow then my fics might not be for you. It would be a shame though, because I'm actually a pretty damn good writer (yeah yeah, narcissism is a major problem for me, give me a break).

As you may already know, I don't do hearts and flowers romance, so check your fluff expectations at the door. Also, I'm a hot twenty something who has had a lot of sex in her lifetime so there ain't no cringeworthy smut cliches. No throbbing members will appear in any of my stories, I promise! I call a cock a cock and a cunt a cunt so if that offends you then get out now.

Many thanks to Lori (latetolove) for the beta. You are amazeballs.

Please remember to sign up for The Plum Archives, a new Plum fanfic site that welcomes adult content and works in much the same way as FFN - plum . meta101 . com

...

Part One

…...

Despite his words to the contrary, Lester Santos was exceptional at oral sex. So much so in fact, that Stephanie Plum was struggling to keep her voice down, biting into a throw cushion that she had managed to snatch up before things had gotten out of hand.

Lester smirked, slightly sticky lips curving against her as his fingers curled; pressing firmly against the wall of her slick vagina in what he knew was exactly the right spot. She stiffened and one of her legs slowly straightened, foot sliding down the muscular expanse of his naked torso. A wavering moan came from her mouth as her teeth lost their grip on the fabric, and he felt pressure against his fingers as she came, her body quivering as the high dissipated.

"Fuck."

"Yeah," he replied, raising himself slightly and resting his chin on her stomach.

"You really know how to make a woman do what you want, huh?"

"Don't know, you tell me."

She chuckled, and he felt her contract around his fingers again. He smiled and kissed her belly quickly before extracting the digits from her, careful to tease her a little along the way. She wriggled and slid her foot back up his abdomen to his shoulder, shoving him roughly out of the way with her deceptively powerful leg.

"Woah, someone's been working out," he teased as he sat back on the couch, pulling on her leg and dragging her towards him until she was close enough for him to lift onto his lap.

"Why the fuck are you still wearing pants?"

"I got distracted." Indignation laced his voice, and he gripped her waist, roughly tugging her down until he was able to grind himself against her. "Guess I'll have to take them off now, you've totally ruined them."

"Hey, I just came here get my bra. You're the one who shoved your fingers in my hoo-ha."

"For a woman who is an absolutely incredible fuck, you sure are repressed."

"How do you figure?"

"Hoo-ha? Give me a break."

"What? I'm Catholic. Euphemisms are an art form."

His hand slid from her waist to her breast, gripping it roughly and pinching her nipple between his thumb and forefinger. She bit her lip and closed her eyes, head tilting backwards as she thrust her chest into his palm, and her naked crotch into his rather prominent erection.

"What's wrong with vagina?" He asked absently as he watched the nipple pucker to the point of looking painful. He dipped his head and sucked it into his mouth, nibbling on it with his teeth gently until she moaned loudly. Something was huskily gasped in reply to his question, but he had lost interest, instead intent on finding out how hard was too hard when biting down on a woman's flesh.

"Lester!"

His head snapped up and he smirked. "Too much?"

She grabbed her bra from where it lay discarded against the arm of the couch and snapped it on and tugged her loose purple tank over the top. Scrambling off his lap she snatched up her panties and yoga pants.

"Whaddid I do?" He scratched his head, watching her as she pulled the underwear on underneath the long line of the tank, just barely giving him a glimpse of her bare ass.

"Nothing... well... everything," she sighed. "I dunno, just give me a sec, okay?"

The tight three quarter pants were now covering her legs and she sat back on the couch. She pulled a foot towards her torso and put on an ankle sock that she had fished out from between the cushions. "Have you seen the other one?"

Lester raised an eyebrow and pointed at the lamp on the table beside the armrest.

"Oh." Snatching it up and pulling it on, she stood and headed for the door and her shoes.

"Wait, Steph. Where are you going?"

"Right now? Work. In general? I have no fucking idea."

…...

Stephanie's fingers tapped against the keyboard, the only sound rising above the muffled ambient noise coming through the acoustic barrier of the cubicle walls. Fingers flying across the keys, she did her best to appear busy, refusing to feel guilty about retyping an already complete report.

"I thought you had already finished that report."

She jerked violently in her chair, and it rolled back a little on its wheels at the unexpected voice and swore loudly. Turning a little she shot him a narrow eyed look. "Stupid fucking Linux OS you're running on these machines's got a bug in it. Screwed up my formatting so badly, it's easier just to start again." Pulling herself back towards the desk with one hand, she grabbed an a4 clear pocket and waved it towards the man in the doorway, eyes back on the wide LCD.

His arms were crossed over his torso, and he was propped up against the entrance to the small cubby with his hip, his demeanour intense but yet almost playful. He stepped forward and perched himself against her desk, resting in the space normally occupied by her wireless mouse.

She glowered at him momentarily before continuing the transcription of the document she'd thankfully had the forethought to mess up before printing. She needed the extra wages this week for some new tires.

He remained sitting on the desk as she continued typing, her mind wandering towards him but her focus appearing to remain on her work. She didn't need to look at him to know a smirk was beginning to sneak across his lips. Her top wasn't exactly modest.

"Stop staring at my boobs."

"They're pretty fucking fantastic boobs."

Stephanie squeezed her eyes shut and tried to ignore the reminder of two evenings before, his words eerily similar to Lester's.

"You get a good workout this morning?" His eyes drifted to her backpack, the purple tank top poking out from beneath the zipper.

"I needed to work off some aggression."

"I think we need to talk."

"I'm not in the mood."

"Fine." He stood and pushed away from the desk, ruffling her hair as he left. "Let me know when you're sick of internalizing everything."

He left as quietly as he had come, and she stilled, letting out a soft groan as she dropped her head to the keyboard.

"I am so royally fucked."

…...

"I'm such a slut."

Joe laughed, patting her on the knee as he reached across for another slice of pepperoni. "No you're not. You're a thirty-four year old woman whose finally realized sex and love aren't mutually exclusive."

"Wow, listen to mister intellectual over there. Oooh, Steph, sex and love aren't mutually exclusive, You should bang everyone who strikes your fancy." Stephanie rolled her eyes and picked up the crust Joe had dropped back into the pizza box. "Thanks, Freud. Next time I need validation, I'll remember to call you."

"What did you expect me to say?" he asked, incredulously. "Yes, Stephanie. You're a total ho. Stop enjoying yourself."

"Considering the way you acted when we were together, yeah. That is kind of the reaction I was expecting."

"Oh come on. I wasn't that bad."

She looked at him with incredulity, eyebrows raised towards her hairline.

"Okay, maybe I was a little territorial."

She snorted and swivelled on the couch, flopping her legs over his and reaching in vain for the beer that was sitting on the coffee table. After a few seconds of pathetic arm waving, she put her hand on the floor and reached over with the other, managing to get a tenuous grip on the neck of the bottle.

"I just don't get it. What the fuck is wrong with me?" She righted herself on the cushion and drained a third of the beer in a couple of swallows.

"What do you mean?"

"Well when we were together I couldn't bring myself to do the nasty with both of you at the same time-"

"Wow, Steph. I didn't know you were into that kind of thing."

"Shut up, you know what I meant." She glared at him and took another sip. "I mean, with you and Ranger I would always avoid one of you like the plague if I was spending any kind of... intimate time with the other... wait. No, that's wrong. I avoided Ranger when you and I were living together."

"You avoided me when you were hanging out at Rangeman, too."

"Uh, no," she replied sarcastically. "I hung out at Rangeman when you were being a total douche canoe. You dug your own hole there, buddy."

"Fair enough."

"I don't understand why it's taken this long to get rid of the fucking Catholic guilt."

"Are you sure it was Catholic guilt?"

"What the hell else would it be, mister psychologist?"

"Maybe you just felt regular guilt, because you knew I wanted to marry you and pump out a bunch of crazy haired bad tempered kids?"

"I'm glad at least one of us can make fun of my disaster of a life."

"You wanna make out?"

"Ew. No."

"See? You're not a total slut."

She reached into the pizza box, again almost falling off the couch and grabbed a piece of pie, flicking it in his direction before he had a chance to react. The slice sailed over his head and hit the wall, pizza sauce dripping down the wall in fat red globs.

"Nice shot."

"Shut up."

"Why are you so chill now that we're not together?"

"Because I don't have half the 'Burg asking when I'm going to make an honest woman out of you. It gets a bit frustrating after three years."

"So all the hating on my job and needling me to become a housewife was out of some kind of weird sense of self-preservation?" She chuckled and shoved his leg with her foot.

"Cupcake, I just want you to be happy."

"I'm never gonna be happy if I keep getting involved with two men at once."

"Maybe you always need a backup for when you break one."

"Can you imagine when I have kids? What are they gonna say to their friends? My mommy has two boyfriends?"

"Do you care?"

She huffed out a breath and tilted her face back towards the ceiling. "Not really." She took another sip of beer. "You know what? I don't even know why we're discussing this. Ranger isn't interested in any kind of normal relationship, and Santos is well... Santos. I'll probably die alone except for the company of millionty-twelve hamsters."

"I'll make you a deal. If you hit forty and decide you're ready to be a stay at home mom, I'll set you up with a hot young rookie."

"Ewwwwwwww." She screwed up her nose and drained her drink.

He reached for the remote and turned up the volume of the television, effectively ending their conversation as the Rangers ran out onto the field. "Hey, don't say I didn't offer to help."

She grinned and turned her head. "Don't worry, Morelli. With that deal on the table, I will go out of my way to avoid being forty and single."

…...

"You're not just a piece of ass to me."

She rolled over and slowly opened her eyes, squinting at the tall silhouette outlined by the thin curtains. Lester.

"I want you so much. I want to be... fuck." He groaned loudly and rubbed a hand forcefully over his closely cropped hair. Stephanie closed her eyes and rolled back towards the opposite wall. "I want to be with you, Steph. I want it so fucking bad I feel like every time I see you there's some kind of... I don't know. I've never felt like this before."

She reached behind her and flipped the covers back, a silent invitation for him to join her. "It's the guilt, Les. It makes you do stupid things. Trust me, I'm an expert on the subject."

There was silence behind her, and she turned over to once again face the window. Even in the dim light she could make out his intense demeanour, eyes locked on hers, not blinking. His white shirt was wrinkled and the top three buttons undone, faded jeans hung low on his hips and were tucked haphazardly into the ankles of scuffed brown work boots.

"No. It's not guilt. I feel like... I don't know like I'm trying to jump out of my skin or something. Every time I see you I just want to push you up against something and..." he sat on the edge of the bed, hands on his knees leaning forward a little. After a moment of silence, he turned his shoulders and head and looked down at her, her eyes were wide and curious. "I just want to be in you, Steph."

He realised the extent of his inability to articulate his feelings a moment later.

"And not like that."

"Like that feeling when you hear an incredible song and want to climb inside the music?"

"Yeah. That one." He turned back to the window.

"I feel like that about 'When the Levee Breaks'."

He laughed and kicked off his boots. After toeing off his socks he slipped under the covers and lay on his back stiffly, eyes on the ceiling.

"Big bad mercenary realized he has feelings, huh?"

"I wasn't a mercenary, Steph."

She laughed, continuing to stare at the ceiling. "Yeah, yeah. You guys are all the same, trying to convince yourselves that you were doing what's best for the world."

"I was CIA."

She turned her head to face him, expression closed and voice deadpan. "Get the fuck out."

His eyes met hers, and he spoke quietly. "I was recruited in my third year at Rutgers. Apparently being multilingual is a useful skill in the espionage game." His mouth quirked into a small grin.

"What happened? How did you end up at Rangeman?"

"I was burned."

"What, that shit actually happens? I thought that was an only in the movies thing." Her eyes were wide, and she had turned fully onto her side, head resting on her right hand.

"I was in Arauca trying to get through the border to Venezuela. I was meeting an asset on the other side, but I was arrested by the DAS at a checkpoint. They beat the crap out of me and dumped me in the middle of the jungle."

"How did you get out?"

"Dumb luck. I woke up momentarily and we'd stopped for fuel. All I remembered after that was travelling uphill. After they tossed me out of the ute and into a ravine, I stumbled down the hill for half a day and eventually found the village."

"Why? Why did they burn you?"

"Honestly? To this day I still have no fucking idea," his voice was gravelly and his mouth had set itself back into a stern line. "I'm guessing I was a fall guy, I heard some rumours a few years ago about a rogue DEA agent being captured and charged with treason, but it's kind of hard to catch chatter when nobody around you is talking."

"So why Rangeman?"

"Ranger. I lived down the street from him when we were kids. His mom used to force feed me pan con lechón after school 'cos we were too poor to buy meat. It took me a while, but I eventually managed to make my way back to the US, I figured getting back to Jersey would be my best bet."

"How did you make it back?"

"You don't wanna know. And I'm not entirely sure I want to tell you that story."

She nodded. "Yeah, fair enough.'

"You don't seem fazed much."

"I'm still half asleep."

He chuckled and shuffled closer, wrapping an arm around her waist. She tucked her head into his chest, her lips resting lightly against his breastbone. "How many of the guys know?"

"Just Ranger. I want to keep it that way."

"'Kay"

They were silent, both closing their eyes in an attempt to drift off, silently praying their overactive brains would calm down long enough for at least a few hours sleep.

"Lester?"

"Yeah?"

"Exactly how many languages do you know?"

"Eight."

"Oh."

"Although my Mandarin and Cantonese are a bit rusty, I picked those ones up for fun."

"Why so many?"

Lester was silent for a few moments, and Stephanie pulled back a little, watching his face as he pondered the question. Eventually he spoke.

"I dunno, really." He ran his tongue over his lips and smacked them softly, "I guess the plan was to get a job in either international relations or to work for a corporation that traded a lot in South America."

"South America?"

"I majored in Spanish and Portuguese with minors in French and Dutch."

"Oh."

They fell into a comfortable silence, the white noise of the New Jersey traffic drifting through the still partially open window. Lester had almost drifted off when Stephanie's voice once again broke the quiet.

"Les?"

"Mmmm?"

She paused and cleared her throat. "This is really awkward..."

"Awkward is your middle name, spit it out."

"What's your heritage?"

"Beg pardon?"

"I mean, what race are you? Every time I see you in a different light I get more confused..." she trailed off and hid her face in her hands. "I'm sorry, that was really rude."

"It's okay. But why does it matter?"

"I'm just curious, I guess. And I feel like for once I'm learning about you rather than blathering on about my own life."

He laughed and reached over, ruffling her hair. "You don't blather on."

She uncovered her face and looked at him with raised eyebrows.

"Okay, maybe a little." He smiled and wrapped his finger around a lock of wavy hair. "I'm a real mixed bag. My mom is Cuban and was born and raised in Union City. My dad is part Native American, part Italian and part African American. Basically my family completely broke all the racial barriers in the mid part of the twentieth century."

"Wow. That must have been an intense household."

Lester smirked wryly and let out a sharp guffaw. "Not really. My mom left when I was a few months old."

"Do you have any siblings?"

"Nope."

"So just you and your dad?"

"Yep."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked."

"It's okay." He was smiling softly, hand still gently playing with her hair, and they lay in silence for long minutes, Lester watching her while she stared unfocused at the ceiling.

"Les?

"Mmm hmmm?"

"You know I... like Ranger, right?"

"Yeah."

She was still facing the ceiling, body rigid and arms tight to her sides. "I think I might like you too... a lot."

"Okay." He propped himself up, head resting on his hand, elbow against the mattress.

"Okay."

They went quiet again, the only sound coming from his breathing as his fingers lingered against her bare shoulder blade, and trailed down her side. Her own breath was shallow, barely enough to register a puff of warmth against the cool winter air. Her eyes were still fixed on a slightly dark patch on one of the ceiling tiles, the appearance of 'feigning ignorance' easier to hold up with a vague shape to focus on.

"Steph?"

"Mmm?"

His hand had reached her hip, his touch cool against the warmth of her blanket covered body. "I like you, too... a lot."

"Oh."

His hand had splayed across her thigh and he had leaned over, his lips dangerously close to hers. "You need to stop overthinking everything so much."

Her eyes cut to his and narrowed. "Considering you guys are always complaining about how I rush into things, shouldn't this be an improvement?"

"I like you, you like me. You know what most people do when they like each other?"

"Have sex?"

"Well, yeah. I was going to say spend time together, but that works, too." His lips had curled into a smirk and he licked his lower lip, the familiar expression sending a flush of heat through her body. "You wanna have sex?"

"Do you have any birthday cake?"

"No."

"Then yes."

"Why did you rush out on me this morning?" He was nose to nose with her, hazel eyes staring intently into hers. She scowled.

"I only came up to get my bra, which you deliberately hid."

"Did not."

"Don't lie."

He rested his forehead against hers and let out a breath. "You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?"

"I already made it easy for you. You two have just confused the fuck out of me."

"Who, me and Ranger?"

"Yeah."

His hand moved from her thigh and to the other side of her torso, allowing him to hover directly above, blocking her view of the ceiling. "We've talked about this. I like you, you like me, you like Ranger. Big fucking deal, let's have more sex."

"You know something?"

"What?"

"When I first started working for Rangeman, he said to me that if any of you tried to get it on with me, he'd fire you."

Lester chuckled and grinned. "He can't fire me."

"Why not?"

"His mom wouldn't speak to him ever, again. She likes me more than him."

In a flash her hands were against his chest shoving hard, but he didn't budge. "That's beside the point, and you know it."

"Steph, think for a minute." He settled down on his elbows and buried a hand back in her hair, stroking the side of her skull gently. She huffed and rolled her eyes. "What do you want from Ranger?"

"I don't know. I used to want everything, but now... I don't know if I can be bothered any more. He's always contradicting himself and taking advantage of situations when he's sworn he's not interested in sharing..." she trailed off.

"But you still want something?"

"I told you I... like him. Duh."

"So... maybe he's trying to offer you a way to have a relationship with him that doesn't mean a picket fence and a minivan?"

"He's fucking talked to you about me, hasn't he?" She stiffened and turned her head away to face the window, wincing as his fingers caught in her hair.

"I've been attracted to you for a long time, Stephanie."

"Wait...what?"

"I don't exactly hide it. We've had... a discussion."

"What kind of discussion?"

He tilted his head back and grimaced. "Fuck this is going to sound corny."

"Spit it out, Santos."

"We uh... came to an agreement. A while ago."

"An agreement?" She clenched her teeth at the mention of the phrase Ranger had used in the parking garage just the previous morning. The phrase that had caused her to consume an entire box of jelly doughnuts.

"Do we really have to do this now? Can't we just have some insanely hot sex and talk tomorrow?"

"No."

He sighed and rolled off her, returning to lying on his back with his hands stiffly by his sides. "Ranger loves you, but he's emotionally stunted. I... like you, and am sort of emotionally stunted, but not as much as him. We figured that between us we're kind of a... whole person... I guess." He took a breath and turned back towards her. "Also, you kind of have a habit of getting bored with one dude."

She slapped him on the shoulder and smiled wryly. "True that."

"Please can we do it now? I'm really fucking horny."

She laughed and tugged his head towards hers. "Are you sure there isn't any birthday cake?."

He grinned. "There is definitely no birthday cake."

…...

Ranger stood outside the open door, leaning against a wall that appeared faintly spattered with pizza sauce. His usual blank expression was instead radiating warmth, the scene in front of him a surprising departure from what he had expected of the evening.

Santos had beaten him to it. And instead of the small amount of jealousy he had expected to feel, he just felt... nice. Happy even.

Relieved.

Even if Santos had been a bit crass and inarticulate, he had dealt with the conversation better than Ranger ever could have. He had gone over it in his head a hundred times and every one ended in Stephanie either shooting him or kneeing him in the balls. Or with him repeatedly bashing his own head against a door frame.

A tinkle of laughter came from the bedroom, and he turned to leave, allowing a soft smile to creep across his lips. If one of them fucked this up, then his mother was going to refuse to speak to both of them for the rest of their lives.

End part one