Chapter 12: The Something Inside

A/N: Joss finally lets the something inside her soar during an evening with Reese.

Thank you for your patience and the wonderful reviews and personal messages about this story! I am deeply humbled.

The usual disclaimers: Nothing you recognize belongs to me.

"You sure you want to do this, Joss?"

"Yes…as long as we can keep this between the two of us, ok?"

"Well, I can understand why you'd like to keep this quiet, Detective. Why should I?"

Joss gives him a smile so incredibly sensual and seductive that Reese fumbles with his lock picking tools. Quickly recovering, but not before he sees the glint in her eyes letting him know that she caught his little bobble, Reese unlocks the door to her apartment.

Joss reaches past him, opens the door. She turns and extends her hand to Reese, her face suddenly soft and vulnerable. As they step across the threshold, they stand there for a moment, gazing into the living room – other than the remnants of lunch, some pillows and a throw on the floor, there is no hint of what happened today, no sense that everything has changed.

Reese takes his free hand and cups her cheek. Joss closes her eyes and Reese takes her in his arms – they won't be together tonight, he knows, but they will be together soon.

That was twelve days ago.

After a brief return to real April weather that Sunday afternoon, the warm spell returned with a vengeance the next day, and Joss had a corresponding increase in non-premeditated homicides. A husband and wife organizing their garage, two master gardeners debating pruning techniques, a fight over a parking space at a yard sale – it was as though the entire city had suddenly shifted to the short tempers and petty feuds of August - or as Fusco cracked, taken spring cleaning to an entirely new level. The killings were city wide, including precincts that had not seen a murder in decades, so all homicide detectives were pressed into service, even those on the Task Force. Joss was busy almost round the clock as the murders multiplied like crab grass.

The temperatures soared into the nineties, humid with thunderstorms and high winds causing power outages across the tri-state area. Stores rushed to stock air conditioners and the beaches, opening early, reached capacity and had to turn people away. The media tried to come up with the perfect name for the weather event and a contest to see if you could fry an egg on the sidewalk drew hundreds of contestants.

There were however, no numbers.

"A premeditated Death Takes a Holiday*, Mr. Reese," Finch mused. "Go do whatever it is you do. I'll call you if anything changes."

Reese went through his entire arsenal, cleaning and polishing every item, arranging and putting them in precise order.

He ordered two new suits.

He reviewed technical journals and websites for updates in weaponry and surveillance tools.

He impersonated an aviation technician and took a helicopter for an early dawn flight around the city, watching the heat shimmer off the water as the sun rose.

He asked Finch to create a persona in case Joss's ex-suitor tried to inquire about him.

He spent a scorching afternoon playing basketball with Taylor, the sweat streaming off their bodies – both wanting Joss there watching them, applauding and chastising them as they tried to outdo each other on the court.

He cataloged new surveillance cameras and new escape routes.

He touched himself more than he believed possible since he was a teenager hunched over a stack of well-worn girlie magazines. He didn't go blind, but his head swam, his hands shook and his cock ached at the thought of making love to Joss, his fantasies turning into vivid scenarios that left him spent and gasping.

He even read one of the books Finch had given him when he was recuperating after getting shot by Snow's partner. The book was incredibly boring, but it was worth seeing the startled expression on Finch's face when Reese's casual comments let the other man know that he had actually read it.

He started slipping into Joss' apartment on the third day, at first for a few minutes, then longer and longer each day, watering her plants, washing her dishes, the little chores an indication of how rushed Joss has been. On the fifth day, he started putting salads and cold soups, muffins and fruit in her refrigerator. On the tenth day, he went into her bedroom and stretched out on her bed, his fingers curling around a strand of her hair clinging to her pillow. Closing his eyes, he listened to the sounds of her room, the curtains billowing in the warm breeze, the ticking of her old hand cranked alarm clock, the rustle of her bathrobe as it swung on a loose hook.

He wanted her, needed her, more importantly he missed her.

As the temperatures began to cool on the eleventh day, the red mist of anger faded from the city's eyes and the murders abruptly stopped. Bookies did a booming business taking bets on when a murder would occur in the next twenty four hours, but as the clocks ticked and no killings occurred, everyone, even the bookies, breathed a sigh of relief.

On the afternoon of the twelfth day, Reese was sitting in the library when Joss texted him. She's meeting a friend for dinner, then is off duty until Monday.

"Prince Sirki is still at the villa, Finch?" Reese asked, grabbing his jacket, using the name that Death, who assumes human form in the film, takes as he falls in love with a mortal woman.

Finch turned from his screens. "Yes, Mr. Reese, it appears he is still enjoying the attentions of the one woman who knows what he is, but isn't afraid of him."

Their eyes meet. Reese nods. "Have a good evening, Harold."

"You too, John. I'll only call you if it's an emergency."

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The stifling heat didn't bother Joss. While the rest of the city sweated and cursed through the heat wave, Joss handled the crushing workload with her usual efficiency, her muscles loose and languid. Joss loved the sun on her skin, the warm air riffling her hair, even the little prickles of sweat trickling between her breasts as she worked crime scenes.

She kept bottles of lotion in the refrigerator, relishing the feel of the cold creaminess on her skin. She left the windows open in her bedroom as she slept for the few hours she was home, her naked body stretched out on a diagonal across her bed, eschewing the air conditioner. She closed her eyes during her all too brief conversations with John Reese, imagining he was lying in the dark beside her.

Every night, when she came home, she wondered what new evidence she would find of his presence in her apartment. At first, the little tasks that she didn't have time to complete, then takeout food, then enough groceries for a week – or at least for a few days, with her bottomless pit teenager.

A clean apartment and a fully stocked refrigerator – foreplay, John Reese style, she thought smiling, was much more erotic than any romantic dinner or sweet words he could have whispered in her ears.

One evening she found a short gray hair on her pillow. Her dreams that night were passionate and intense and she almost called Reese, almost went to his apartment.

Wait, she told herself, wait, the right time will come.

Then everything started to fall into place.

Taylor volunteers to help her mother prepare for a congregation-wide yard sale at her church. He gives her a knowing look as he tells her that he will go straight from school to her mother's house Friday afternoon and he won't be home until Saturday evening.

After catching lunch from a sidewalk cart, Joss walks by a little boutique and sees the sales clerk putting a beautiful red dress on a mannequin. The dress is simple, perfect. For once she doesn't question the cost, walking out ten minutes later with the dress in a garment bag over her arm.

The temperatures start to cool on Thursday and the murders suddenly subsided.

The weather Friday is fantastic, in the eighties with no humidity.

Her union rep tells her that afternoon she has comp time she has to use up this month or she will lose it. She's off duty until Monday.

She texts John, tells him that she's meeting a friend for drinks and dinner, then she is free.

That evening, she takes the new dress out of the closet, realizing she is wearing it for herself, as much as for John. As she looks at herself in her full-length mirror, she sees not a mother, not a cop, but a woman, a woman who will be with her lover, soon.

She pins her hair up in a loose chignon, slips on a pair of black strappy sandals, then pulls a long strand of freshwater pearls from her jewelry box. Each pearl has been dyed a different color – black, forest green, navy blue, dark amber, wine – shimmering softly as she winds the necklace around her neck, swinging it around so that it trails down her back. The restaurant is just a few blocks from her apartment, so she decides to walk.

As she approaches the restaurant, a spring fair is in full swing. Streets have been closed off around the park and the old library and thousands of people are shopping, eating and milling about in the perfect evening weather. A bandstand is being set up for a concert later that evening and magicians, jugglers and performance artists are entertaining the crowds.

Candace Braithwaite waves to her from a table by the restaurant windows. Barely five feet tall, she bustles with that frenetic energy unique to petite women, practically jumping up and down as she opens her arms to give Joss a big hug. The two women have a standing monthly dinner date, but haven't been able to connect for months.

"You look wonderful…not that you don't always, but something's different," Candace said, her soft accent indicating an early childhood growing up in the Caribbean. "Tell me that you have fallen in love."

"Candace, since you met Asher, you think everyone is falling in love." Joss teased.

"It doesn't mean it's not true," her friend shot back. "If you're not in love, you're definitely in lust, my Jocelyn – you're glowing. Perhaps the man Michelle saw you with at the luncheon?" The shrewd dark eyes that had skewered witnesses in court now focused on Joss. "No…I think someone else. You'll tell me eventually – we may be old ladies in a nursing home by then, but you'll tell me."

"Sexy old ladies, Candace," Joss smiled.

"Right – those old gentlemen won't know what hit them,"

After dinner, Joss walks her friend to the subway stop. They hug and kiss and Joss promises to visit Candace and Asher at Asher's home in Connecticut soon.

The something inside Joss senses a change in the air. Smiling softly, she starts to walk home.

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After leaving the library, Reese went to his apartment to shower, shave and change. He rode the Ducati through the heavy Friday night traffic, parking with his usual caution in a garage several blocks away from Joss' building. He could have waited for Joss at her apartment, but he wanted to see her, wanted to be with her as soon as she was free. Reese walked slowly through the fair, blessing the extra anonymity the thousands of people offered as he neared the restaurant.

He saw her first from the back. She had on a dark red dress made out of some silky material – her only jewelry was an incredibly long strand of multicolored freshwater pearls that swirled around her neck several times, then trailed down her spine, anchored by a long tassel that nestled in the small of her back.

Reese moved down the street, finding a spot between two vendor's stalls where he could watch Joss unobserved.

She was mesmerizing.

Her hair was up and her neck and shoulders were exposed; the upper curves of her full breasts rose and fell as she laughed; when she crossed her legs, the hem of the skirt fell back and he saw that the underside of the dress was a brighter red that shimmered against her taut thighs. Her slim calf flexed as she rotated her right ankle, and when her friend Candace said something that made her explode in laughter, she threw her head back, eyes closed in delight.

As she adjusted a narrow strap that had fallen off her shoulder, Reese somehow recalled the style she wore referred to as a slip dress, which he assumed meant it resembled a slip, but all he could really think about was slipping it off her body, watching it drift over her breasts, ghost down her hips and pool around her ankles, before he pulled her into his arms.

He watched as Joss and her friend Candace left the restaurant, following them as the two women walked together for a while, until they reached the subway stop, then her friend hugged Joss and she left.

Joss turned, her eyes searching the crowd. Smiling softly, she started walking in the direction of her apartment.

Reese followed her.

She wove her way through the crowds, the strand of pearls mimicking the sway of her hips as she walked. At one point, Joss bought a small container of strawberries, her sharp white teeth attacking the plump fruit in precise, even bites. A spurt of juice fell on her chest – Reese stifled a groan as she wiped off the juice with her fingers and then held her fingertips to her lips, her eyes closed.

He was so intent in watching her, he didn't change his position when a vendor suddenly moved a display stand.

Her eyes opened and she saw him.

Heedless of the danger, heedless of everything, he started walking towards her.

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He looked incredible, Joss, thought, simply incredible.

Reese was dressed in his customary button down shirt and dark pants, but tonight the shirt was sky blue, the rolled up sleeves exposing his strong forearms. The sun had kissed his skin, highlighting his high cheekbones - she grew giddy with the thought of seeing where else the sun had touched his body, his wide shoulders, his muscular back – she saw her hands drifting down his broad chest, over his taut stomach, tracing the line where the skin grew pale again, then daring to go lower.

The something inside her was humming, purring like a cat whose ears were being scratched.

The band begins to tune its instruments and the crowds start surging towards the bandstand, buffeting her as she stood there, transfixed by his graceful movements, his long strides as he came towards her.

He stood close to her, not speaking, not touching her.

"Let's go home," she whispered.

His eyes blazed at her, at first full of desire and need, then something deeper, something indescribable. He grazed the back of her hand with his fingertips.

They begin walking against the crowd, walking towards the shadows.

They cross the street. Reese takes her in his arms and Joss puts her head on his chest. Standing in the darkness with Reese, she looks across the street, at the bright lights, the sounds of the fair, the thousands of people. Raising her head, she takes Reese's face in her hands and kisses him, at first gently, then her lips became hot and demanding. His hands run up her bare back, fingers pulling the pins out of her hair, cradling her head as they melt into each other.

Reese's lips trace across her jaw, down her throat and along her shoulder, drawing her dress strap aside with his teeth. She gasps when his tongue licks the exact spot where juice from a strawberry touched her chest. Grabbing his hand, she begins walking quickly, almost running to her apartment.

The streets were empty, the only noise the sound of Joss' heels clicking along the sidewalk. They hurry up the stairs to her building, barely getting the door to her apartment closed before Reese lifts her up in his arms and carries her to the bedroom.

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Joss' bedroom was simple, consisting of her bed, a gliding rocker, a small nightstand and a large mirror leaning against a wall. The windows are open and light from a lamp on the nightstand illuminates the room. The bed is already turned down, red sheets glowing in the soft light.

Reese sets her down on the bed, bending down and removing her shoes. Joss swings her legs up and on the bed, kneeling on the mattress. She looks like a classic Hollywood pin-up, her hair wild around her head, lips stained red with the juice from the strawberries, the straps on her dress lying across her arms. He watches as she draws the top of her dress down, exposing her full breasts. Joss pulled the strand of pearls around, slowly rubbing it back and forth over her dark brown nipples. Reese groaned as he watched them harden before his eyes. Leaning back, she slips out of the rest of her dress and her panties, then lies back along the sheets, wearing only the pearls, watching him undress.

When he is naked, she opens her arms to him.

He lies next to her and for long moments she runs her hands over his torso, while their mouths meet. When her hands try to go lower, Reese pushes her back, raising her hands over her head with one hand, while his other hand cups her breast. His long fingers begin drawing circles on her breast, coming close to her hard nipple, but not touching it. Joss' eyes close and she lets her arms fall back, her breath quickening. Reese releases her hands, bringing his hand down to her other breast, where it begins the same circling, coming so close, but then circling away.

His tongue replaces his fingers, while his thumbs and forefingers slide along her glistening mound. He anoints her nipples with the elixir from her essence and then finally tastes them, taking them deeply into his mouth, his lips and tongue claiming, then releasing them over and over, while her body arches and twists beneath him. When he runs his teeth gently against a nipple, Joss moans aloud and when his teeth closes around the other nipple, she shouts, her body shuddering.

While her body is still shuddering, Reese parts her legs, murmuring how sweet she is as he tastes her, his lips first just kissing her mound, then his tongue gently explores her, teasing the sensitive bud, delving deeper and deeper inside her. Her hips buck as she cries out over and over again, her vulva quivering against his mouth. Dizzy with the touch, the taste, the scent of her, he lets Joss push him on his back, watching her as she takes off the strand of pearls.

Joss draws the pearls against his cheek, his lips, his Adam's Apple, down his chest, then over his stomach. She wraps the pearls around his cock, her hand slowly rubbing them up and down the shaft, while her lips encircle the head, sucking deeply, her tongue swirling around the tip. She brings him close to release, then sits back, teasing him, not letting him know when she'll touch him again, over and over until his body is covered in sweat, fists twisting the sheets, his moans low and guttural.

The torture is exquisite and when he can't take anymore, Reese pulls Joss' body against his, kissing her while the pearls unspool from his cock, spilling off the bed and clattering on the floor. Their eyes met and Joss leans back against the pillows, legs parted, opening her arms to him again.

Reese enters her slowly, and it feels so good, so right, that he shakes his head, thinking he doesn't deserve this, doesn't deserve her, but she wraps her arms and legs around him, and their hips now move in that ancient rhythm they mimicked all those days ago on her couch. As the wave of his release builds, he says her name, first in his mind, then as a whisper, then as a roar, for she is everything, his warrior, his lover, his queen, his Amina.

As the wave crests, he cries out, "You're mine, Joss, mine." A plea, a warning, a declaration, a vow.

She presses her face against his chest, her lips soothing his raging heartbeat.

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Joss isn't sure what awakens her – perhaps it's the heat from John's body, perhaps she's just not used to having someone share her bed. As she slips out of bed, Reese stirs, reaching for her, and she whispers to him that she'll be right back. She sits in the gliding rocker, letting her eyes flow over John Reese's naked form.

He's lying on his stomach, his right arm and leg stretched out as if they were still covering her body. She's amazed at the scars that cover his back, thighs and calves, even, she smiled softly, a crease on his right buttock. The play of the dark red sheets against his pale skin turns him into sculpted marble, the areas were the sun has touched him highlighting his muscles and sinews. The contrast of his strong body with the vulnerability of his sleeping face, his long dark lashes casting shadows along his cheek, causes the something inside her to surge through her.

She closes her eyes, touches her lips with one hand, while her other hand drifts over her stomach.

A soft sigh escapes her lips. She hears him shifting, knows he is awake.

"Come sit with me, John." The rocker glides back and forth as her hands slide between her breasts, over her thighs. Parting her legs, she arches her back, feeling her nipples harden.

Growling, he swiftly crosses the room, pulling her to her feet. Sliding into the rocker, he draws Joss onto his lap.

Where before Joss received pleasure, now she took it, plundering Reese's mouth with her own, drawing his hands over her body, throwing her head back in abandon as she reached release over and over.

She feels his arousal and wants, needs him inside her. Standing, Joss leans back, taking Reese's cock in her hands, his fingers around her hips steadying her. She draws him into her essence, gasping at how good he feels inside her. Sitting on his lap, she presses her back against his chest, her head lying in the curve of his throat, eyes closed. The rocker glides back and forth faster and faster as their bodies move together.

"Open your eyes, Joss," Reese whispered.

Joss is all sensation now, feeling his lips against her hair, his hands on her breasts and the bud between her thighs, his cock moving deep inside her.

"Open your eyes, Joss," Reese says again, and this time his voice is insistent, urgent.

Their naked bodies are reflected in the large mirror - male, female, hard, soft, colors and shapes and forms shifting over and around each other as they move together.

His eyes meet hers in the glass. "See how beautiful you are, Joss...so beautiful."

Her hair was tangled, body covered with sweat, mouth open and gasping.

Her face was flushed with desire, body undulating against his, sinuous, elegant, and yes, beautiful.

The something inside of her soared and as an explosion raced through her, longer and stronger than anything she had ever felt before, she knew that she could get lost with this man, this arrogant, infuriating, passionate, caring man and that they would find their way back together, bring each other home.

She stands, turns and straddles him, pulling his cock back into her body. Her arms go around him and she kisses him, more deeply and completely than she ever has before, tears spilling over her cheeks as she tries to make him understand, with her lips and her arms and her pulsing heat bringing him even deeper inside her, tries to tell him what she can't say, may never be able to say.

He nods. He understands.

They come home together.

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While Joss is sleeping, Reese slips out of her apartment, retrieving a pannier with his shaving kit and a change of clothes from the Ducati, then stops to get coffee for the both of them before returning…

Home, she said home.

Joss is sitting in bed, the sheet wrapped around her body. Her clothes have been put away and her hair is in a loose ponytail, skin dewy from a quick shower.

He sits next to her on the bed, hands her a cup of coffee - she grabs it out of his hand, sipping greedily.

"You're welcome, Detective."

"Take a shower, get that scruff of your face and I'll show you my thanks," she retorts, lowering the sheet so her breasts are exposed.

Minutes later as he slides into bed, he spots a key on a red ribbon on top of the nightstand. It wasn't there the night before.

She picks up the key, slips it in the nightstand drawer. "When you're ready."

He pulls her into his arms, holding her close.

They get lost together.

A/N: *Death Takes a Holiday is a 1934 movie in which Death, takes human form and spends several days at villa, wanting to learn more about why men cling to life. During his time as a mortal, no one dies. While a number of women are attracted to him, they sense his true nature and shy away, afraid. Only one woman knows who Prince Sirki really is and loves him anyway. The 1998 film Meet Joe Black was a version of this story.

Steven Piascik wound up being a much stronger character than I had originally envisioned – so strong he pushed his way into a threesome with John and Joss in the story She Doesn't Have to Choose…yikes! Some folks loved him, others liked him and quite a few absolutely hated him – the reactions were funny and thoughtful.

Steven will appear in a story inspired by a review by persnikitty5, tentatively titled Weekend in New England and Steven, Michelle Hayward and Candace Braithwaite will appear in a story called The Engagement Party.

Thank you again!