Pythagorean Fidelity: Part Two
A/N: Thanks as always to my beta, Latetolove, who panders to my insecurity and pushes me in the right direction. This is the conclusion to this particular story, as Stephanie has completed her next step in her emotional journey. Don't worry though, there will be more parts to this series, and this storyline! Keep your eyes peeled for a Lester prequel too :D
This will be the last time I will post a story simultanously at FFN and The Plum Archives. Going forward The Plum Archives will be the primary location that I post, if you haven't visited already, then please do head on over and check it out. theplumarchives dot com/fiction I will still be posting here, but there will be a delay between posting at TPA and FFN.
"Oh Jesus fucking Christ will you just hurry up already?"
A low chuckle came from the direction of her feet, and Lester's head popped up over the swell of her breasts.
"We already did how many fingers doesit take to turn on Stephanie's light bulb yesterday." His voice was rough and gravelly and he slid his hands up her thighs. "Now I wanna play how long does it take before Stephanie flicks the switch herself."
"It's two in the motherfucking morning! Can't you just screw me already?" She pushed her head back into the mattress in frustration and gripped a pillow desperately as his hand glanced across her clit.
"Yeah. No." He smirked.
"Holy fuck." His fingers had dipped into her quickly, pads rubbing along the inside from as deep as his long digits reached, all the way to her entrance. She let out an odd combination between a giggle and a moan and lifted her hips off the bed violently, using the momentum to roll over. Spinning on her knees she faced him and glared. "You are really not very nice, are you?"
He raised an eyebrow and moved to push her back to horizontal. She shoved him hard and forced his shoulders backwards, his head nearly hitting the wooden bed end, and leaned over him, hands still pressed against his pecs.
She looked down at his blue striped boxer briefs and frowned.
"Ha ha! Got you now, haven't I?" He raised an eyebrow and strained to look at her hands, fingers twitching against his chest. "What's it going to be? Hold me down or get my pants off?"
She bit her lip and met his eyes, a smidgen of melodramatic panic crossing her face. After a moment she shrugged and leaned down, sliding one hand off his body and onto the mattress beside his head.
"I think we're good," she muttered right before running her tongue up his neck and over his chin, mouth eventually latching onto his full lips.
It was only moments before his hands were tangled in her somewhat sleep flattened hair, pressing her lips firmly against his own. He bit her bottom lip, sucking it into his mouth, and released it suddenly. She whimpered and scratched her fingertips down his torso as she pressed an open mouthed kiss against his neck, quickly dipping a little closer to his ear and nipping at the lobe roughly.
He groaned, arching his back against the sheets, and before he could recover, she had tugged his boxers down far enough to free his desperately straining erection from their spandex prison.
"You really do have an incredible dick, you know," she stated matter-of-factly before grabbing it with the hand that had, moments before, been tweaking his nipple. Suddenly she was sitting in his lap, his cock buried deep inside her as she ground down against his hips. He bit his lip and held back a moan, instead arching his back and letting out what he tried to convince himself was the masculine version of a whimper.
"Yeah?" His abs strained to pull him into a sitting position and he buried his left hand back into her hair, roughly grabbing her breast with his right, mouth hovering just a fraction of an inch from hers. "Well you're just fucking wow all over."
Light filtered through the thin fabric of the sheers and Stephanie stirred, arching her back a little and pressing her fists into the sheets in a vague attempt at stretching. She stiffened as her backside came in contact with a firm smooth piece of flesh and groaned loudly.
"Shit." Her voice was husky from sleep, and she cleared her throat softly. A hand snaked over her waist and slipped towards her breast, gently cupping it. "I can't believe we did it again."
He moved his head to tuck into her neck and gently scraped his teeth against her shoulder. She shuddered and he tweaked her nipple firmly, revelling in surprising her with both soft and rough gestures. "I thought we agreed we like each other."
She arched back into him and groaned loudly as his attention continued to focus on her breast, alternately pinching and scraping his nails against the pink flesh. "You and I tend to have discussions when you either have me distracted, or I'm half asleep."
"So?" His hand slithered down her belly towards her thighs.
"I don't think that's really fair, do y... ohhh fuck." She twitched as two of his rough fingers slid over her clit, the sudden sensation a little too much for her.
"So what? We're not supposed to talk when I've got my hand between your legs?"
She moaned and snatched his hand away, rolling onto her back. Tugging the covers to her chin she turned her head towards him and glared. "Come on, Les. Be serious."
He put his fingers in his mouth and sucked, the gesture both dirty and endearingly innocent all at once. His eyes were wide and he spoke around the digits. "Mmm rrlwaysh sheriush."
She gulped and licked her bottom lip, watching his tongue clean his large, long fingers carefully and without hurry. "Fuck, you are so incredibly gorgeous."
"You're better." His voice was husky and low, and he flicked the covers off her quickly, his eyes trailing down her naked torso all the way to her toes and back up again, eventually settling on her nipples. "Those in particular."
"As much as I'm loving the attention, I can't help but think there is a serious hotness disparity here." She propped herself up on her elbows and he turned his head so their eyes met, his eyebrows raised. "I don't take compliments well."
He chuckled and leaned down, muttering a quick whatever before latching onto one of her breasts. Giggling and arching her back, she pressed her chest harder into his lips and he moved over her, pushing her back down on the bed.
"I have fifteen minutes before I have to be out of here, you wanna kill two birds with one stone and join me in the shower?"
"But bed is so comfy."
"My penis is so hard."
"Hmmm... that is a very convincing argument."
"Fourteen minutes." He ground himself into her hip and she groaned; biting her lip and squeezing her eyes shut.
"Will you carry me back to bed when we're done so I don't have to use up more energy than I absolutely need to?" His lips were trailing over her neck and collarbone, gently brushing her skin and he hummed a positive response. "Okay, but you have to carry me in there too."
Like a rocket he was up, springing off the bed and tossing her over his shoulder in a fireman's hold. She squeaked in surprise and kicked her legs little in an attempt to keep her balance.
"Orgasm guaranteed, gorgeous."
It was eleven before Stephanie made it into Rangeman, sleep overtaking her mere moments after Lester had deposited her back in her bed. Her eyes drifted shut as the elevator began its journey from the parking garage to the fifth floor, only to snap back open at the ding of the doors, picking up a passenger on the fourth.
Lester's smirk greeted her from the corridor and she let her eyes meet his, slightly hooded but still able to glare daggers.
"I thought you were going to be skip chasing today." He stepped into the elevator and pushed the close door button, shuffling into place next to her, his shoulder touching hers.
"I'm too tired for getting thrown off porches and chasing gangbangers." Her voice was deadpan, and she stared blankly at the shiny silver doors as they slid closed.
"What's the matter? Didn't sleep?" He snorted and dropped his arm over her shoulders, giving her a little squeeze.
He chuckled and kissed her on the temple quickly, the elevator already having made its single floor journey. The doors opened and they came face to face with Ranger, his dark eyes lingering on each of them for a moment before stepping aside to let them onto the floor.
"Morning." Stephanie gave his arm a squeeze as she stepped past him, heading towards her cubicle. Lester followed, his own office just past the main control room.
She turned around, meeting Ranger's eyes curiously.
"Can you please take a look at the search list before you start on anything else? There were a couple of large bond FTAs this morning." His voice was as emotionless as the thin smile he wore.
"Sure." Her voice caught a little and she bit her lip. His eyes lingered on her mouth and warmed a little, his smile appearing a little more genuine for a moment, but as soon as the expression had come, it passed. He stepped into the elevator, tossing a parting remark over his shoulder.
"Proud of you, babe."
Her brow wrinkled. "For what?"
He jabbed a button on the control panel and winked at her, the doors closing before she could press him for an adequate response. She made an infuriated noise and stamped her foot.
Lester chuckled behind her, grabbing her arm and tugging her towards the large open space of the control room.
"Is that deliberate or just something he does as a reflex?"
"What do you mean?" Lester ruffled her hair and guided her to her cubby, chuckling to himself. She glared at him out of the corner of her eye and huffed.
"The whole man of fucking mystery thing. Would it be so damn hard to hold a normal conversation?"
Lester shook his head in amusement. "Steph, exactly how long have you known Ranger?" He pulled her chair out for her and she flopped down into it.
"Yeah, yeah, I get your point."
He leaned down and nudged her neck with his nose, muttering quietly in her ear. "You wanna meet me on four for a quickie?"
She rolled her eyes and pulled the chair in as far as she could without knocking the wind out of herself. "Don't even think about it, Randy McRandypants. Besides, I think I need to have an awkward conversation with Batman at some point today."
"If you change your mind, you know where to find me." He nipped at her earlobe and squeezed her shoulder before walking away, the air of careless confidence he exuded leaving the cubicle with him.
Stephanie frowned and jabbed at the monitor's on button, blinking at the sudden brightness against the dim lighting of the control room. She leaned over and flicked on the cubicle lights, and squeezed her eyes shut at the harsh halogen glow.
As she slowly pried her eyes open, she couldn't help but momentarily berate herself, pondering the merits of settling down like her mother with a nice man. Squeezing out a couple of Burg kids, cooking pot roasts and ironing sheets.
She shuddered and snatched up a small pile of papers sitting in a letter tray to the right of the computer. She would rather be hot, bothered and confused over that nightmare any day.
She stared at the nondescript grey door for a good five minutes before she worked up the nerve to put the key in the lock. Pushing it open gingerly, she peeked around the edge, her eyes falling on the light brown of a back she knew to be paradoxically hard and soft. A gentle glow filtered into the kitchen from a couple of lamps in the living area to where he stood, giving his skin a flawless and unmarred appearance that she knew to be deceptive.
"Hey." She let the door of the seventh floor apartment click closed and stood awkwardly in the entranceway.
He looked over his shoulder and met her eyes briefly, not smiling. "Hey."
She frowned, confused by the difference in his normal greeting.
He set the glass he had been drinking from next to the sink and turned to face her, hands leaning on the granite top of the kitchen island. "You okay, babe?"
She nodded sharply, the familiar term snapping her out of the moment of introspection. "Yeah, I'm fine."
They stared at each other, neither willing to make the first move. Shrugging her jacket off and tossing it over a nearby armchair, Stephanie eventually padded towards the kitchen.
"I think we need to talk."
"Oh really?" His back was arched in a cat like posture, his head tilted towards her. Black eyes met blue and she snorted.
"You are such an asshole."
He straightened, heading back towards the refrigerator. "You want a drink?"
His hand dropped from where it had reached the handle and he turned back to her slowly. Gesturing towards the fruit bowl the corner of his lip lifted in a smirk. "Apple?"
She gripped the thin peach tee-shirt she was wearing, pulling it over her head in one movement and tossing it aside. He raised an eyebrow.
"Babe, what are you doing?"
"I was fucking Lester this morning, you know." It wasn't a question. Her arms reached around her back and she flicked her fingers over the clasp of her bra, allowing it to come loose. She let it sit on her chest, the only thing holding it up being her broad shoulders. "How do you feel about that? Knowing I had another guy's cock in me less than twelve hours ago?"
She stood still, waiting for his response. He raised an eyebrow and grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl. Taking a bite he spoke around the crisp white flesh in his mouth. "It's not ideal."
"Right. Not ideal." She let out a breath through her nose and rolled her eyes. Shrugging off the bra, she moved her hands to the buttons on her jeans and roughly pushed them over her hips, kicking them off along with the black ballet flats she had tossed on after her shower.
Standing nude apart from a pair of black brazilians she glared at him, almost daring him to continue with his indifference, eyebrows raised and lips slightly parted.
He took the bait, however insincere, and took another bite of the fruit, walking around the kitchen island and away from where she stood. As he moved towards the living area her eyes narrowed, and she frowned as he picked up the television remote from the coffee table and flopped down on the leather sofa.
"Are you going to stand there all day, or can we do this on the couch like normal people?"
"I'm naked." Her tone was deadpan and she remained in place, glaring at the back of his head.
"Seen it all before, babe."
She grunted softly and leaned over snatching up the tee shirt that she had removed minutes earlier. Tugging it back over her head, she headed towards where he sat, grumbling louder than she realized along the way.
"Why is it so hard to understand what the fuck is going on in your head?"
He raised an eyebrow and glanced over his shoulder. "You don't even know what's going on in your own head, why would you want in mine?"
She flopped down on the opposite end of the large sofa, sticking her feet directly out in front of her and resting one on the coffee table. "If you want to talk, then talk."
"You're the one who showed up at my door and took off all her clothes."
She curled her lip and made a face.
"Not that I'm complaining."
"Sure seemed like it from where I was standing."
"Forget it. You obviously couldn't give a shit about how I feel." She turned her head fully and glared at him. He avoided her eyes, instead focusing on pushing back the cuticles on his right hand.
"So you care enough to talk to Lester about me, decide what's best for me without my input? Fuck you. Fuck you and your fucking holier than thou pile of crap fucking attitude." She scooted closer to him and shoved him hard in the shoulder. He spun quickly in his seat, tucking his knees underneath his body and used the momentum to push her back against the cushions.
"Lester was part of that conversation too, and you were still okay with letting him bang you." His voice was low and lacking any discernible emotion. She looked up at him with wide eyes and gulped. "I fucking hate you sometimes, you know?"
She tried to shove him off, but he was too strong and wrestled her hands back against the leather, his fingers gripping her wrists as he held them on either side of her head.
"I hate you because nobody, and I mean nobody has ever managed to get under my skin like you." Her lips were pressed together and she was flexing her fingers. "You broke me. A fucking white girl from the burg broke me."
He let go of her wrists as if they burned him and shoved himself off the couch. Stephanie lay there as he left the living room, listening to his feet pad quietly across the polished wood floors and into the bedroom. Eventually she regained her voice.
"What do you mean I broke you?" She heard him stop and pause. After a few moments he spoke, the sound slightly muffled through the back of the couch.
"I love you, Stephanie. And for me..." He trailed off before sucking in a breath and continuing, "For me, that's broken."
She lay in silence for a few minutes, calming her breath and steadying her hands. The ensuite shower turned on and she decided to take the opportunity to bolt, hurriedly getting off the couch and collecting her clothes. After tugging her jeans on and slipping her feet into her shoes, she left, slamming the door loudly on her way out.
Ranger winced as he was pulled from his state of reverie. He stood in the shower, one hand leaning against the wall as the scalding water pounded his face and body. Spitting some water from his mouth, he turned the knob as far to the right as possible, blasting himself with cold water. Groaning, he forced himself to stay under the spray for long moments as punishment for deliberately sabotaging his relationship with Stephanie yet again.
Eventually he slammed his hand against the lever, shutting off the icy water. Reaching for a towel he rubbed it over his head and dried off before pulling on a pair of loose fitting sweat pants.
He frowned at the distinct sound of her knock. One rap on its own and three in quick succession, every time. He walked to the door of his bedroom and opened it, looking towards the entrance to the apartment and hesitating, wondering if he really wanted to let her back in.
He grunted as his eyes glanced across a glimmer of silver on the floor near the kitchen island. Her keys had fallen out of her pocket.
He walked to the door, scooping the keys up along the way. Dangling them from a finger he opened the door, eyes immediately meeting hers in an intense glare. He held the keys up and she snatched them from his hand and spun on her heel, this time clipping the small carabiner key ring to a belt loop. He watched her walk the short distance to the elevator with regret, wishing he didn't automatically turn his human interaction setting to 'douchebag' whenever they got too close.
She hesitated, hand half way to the call button next to the metal doors. He took the moment to stride across the small foyer. Reaching out he grabbed her shoulder and spun her around, slamming her into the doors with a metallic clang.
Fractions of a second later his lips were on hers and his hands were gripping her buttocks, picking her up and forcing her to wrap her legs around his slim hips. He kissed her with anger and sadness. Regret, longing and self-hatred mingling together in an attempt to convey how he felt through the physical alone. One hand left her ass as and moved to her tee shirt, shoving up the flimsy fabric and grabbing a breast. She whimpered and gripped his hair, fingers barely managing to maintain a hold on the now short crop.
He pressed her harder into the elevator doors, grinding his crotch against hers and using the pressure to allow his hands to let go of her completely. Moving his upper body away slightly he shoved her shirt over her head, tossing it vaguely in the direction of the penthouse and slammed his lips back into hers. She pressed back, the hand that wasn't scratching at his scalp gripping his shoulder, pulling him as close to her as possible.
Eventually the fog clouding his judgement cleared and he moved them away from the elevator, almost stumbling back to the apartment door. She pulled her mouth away from his and caught his eye, a slight look of disappointment crossing her expression.
"Trust me, babe. You don't want an audience for what I'm about to do to you."
A look of realization passed over her features, and she buried her head in his shoulder, shame overtaking the lust that had just moments before been the only feeling coursing through her. He used her distraction to take a moment to flick the tee shirt sitting on the floor through the entrance with his foot. Stepping through, he kicked the door shut and turned, pressing them up against the solid wood.
"Steph." She remained silent, but pushed against his pecs in an attempt to get free from his embrace. "Steph, look at me."
He felt her shake her head against his shoulder and sighed. They stayed against the door for minutes until she eventually picked her head up and leaned it against the door, meeting his eyes with almost cold resignation.
"This isn't going to work, Ranger."
He gulped and squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. "Please don't push me away again."
"This is toxic. We are toxic." The cool expression softened and she ran a hand up his chest, letting it eventually come to rest against his cheek. "We dance around each other until one of us tries to have a relationship with someone else, and then we realize what we're missing." She sighed. "Tell me how that's healthy?"
He let out a mirthless bark of laughter and let his eyes shift to the wall next to her head. "When have either of us ever done healthy relationships?"
She ran her thumb across his eyebrow and smiled softly. "I love you, you know that don't you?"
"Yeah." His voice was barely above a whisper and he looked back at her, eyes meeting in an intense gaze. "Please don't walk away from this. I don't know how this is going to work, but I know it can."
"Even if I'm fucking Lester every second night?"
"I trust him."
She leaned her head back against the door and laughed. "To do what? Make sure he always makes me come?"
Ranger groaned and knocked his head into the cool wood with a dull thunk.
"To make sure that every morning when I wake up, his fingers are already in my cunt and playing me like a fucking violin?" He pulled his head back and glared at her.
"Not gonna work, babe."
The shit eating grin she wore faded to a gentle smile, and she bit her lip. "Maybe we should just stop talking huh? We're not very good at it."
"Just humor me for a sec, please?"
"Do you like him, or is it just sex?"
She sucked in a sharp breath and looked towards the ceiling, biting her lip and wriggling in a futile attempt to free herself from his embrace.
"Tell me, Steph. Do you feel something for him, or is he just a handy cock?"
She dropped her eyes to meet his, angry tears brimming against her lashes. "I like him, Ranger. I like him a lot."
He nodded. "Good."
"Why are you doing this?" A harsh sob escaped her throat, and she snapped her mouth shut.
"Do you love him?" His eyes searched hers and she blinked hard, moisture trickling down her cheeks.
"I'm trying really fucking hard not to." She shoved against his chest and kicked hard at his thighs but he held tight, wrapping his arms around her waist and carrying her back to the couch instead of letting her free. He sat down on the edge of the black leather cushion, holding her tight against his chest, head buried in her neck.
"Joe wasn't right for you, babe. I'm really sorry I didn't see that earlier."
"Would it have made a difference?"
"Then why the sudden willingness to share?"
"I told you, I trust him."
"I still don't see how that's relevant."
"Babe, who exactly do you think the silent partner is in Rangeman?"
"I dunno... Tank?"
He let out a bark of laughter. "Tank would rather spend the rest of his life in Siberia than be tied down to a business."
"So what, you're telling me it's Lester? That doesn't make any sense."
"No, babe. It's not Les." He lifted a hand up to her head and ran it over her hair, smoothing down the curls that had become mussed from rubbing against the wall. "Ever wondered why there are so many ex-military guys working here? Lester the burned spy, Rodriguez the analyst, Bobby the field surgeon?"
She groaned at her own stupidity, angry for not seeing it before. "You're in bed with the government."
"Now do you understand?"
"Can we please just go to bed now? Have some pent up emotional angry sex, maybe even sleep for a bit?"
She threw her head back and laughed, unexpectedly and loudly. Ranger stared at her in curiosity, surprised by her sudden mirth.
"You two are sooooooo similar."
"No we're not."
"Uh... I think you are."
His arms were back around her waist now and he stood, hoisting her a little higher against him as he carried her towards the bedroom.
She opened her mouth to respond, but was silenced by his lips on hers, stealing her breath and her thoughts all in one desperate motion. He tossed her onto the bed none too gently, body looming over her, hands and mouth lingering in places that made her gasp and whimper. As his hands glided up and over her torso, she remembered his words from earlier that day.
"What did you mean when you said you were proud of me today?" She propped herself up on her elbows and nudged him with her knee. He rested his chin on her belly and looked thoughtful for a moment.
"I dunno how to say this exactly... but you're finally not afraid to be you."
She raised an eyebrow and frowned."I'm always me. Why do you think I'm always dropping myself into crappy situations?"
"When was the last time you did something that felt good, just because you wanted to?"
She dropped her head back on the bed and he moved up her body, latching onto a nipple. He was right.
For the first time, the guilt was gone.