Disclaimer: I do not own Human Target and intend no copyright infringement.
What He Didn't Know
Author's notes: Well, it's that time of year again…yup… the "Thanksgiving-eat then shop-because there's supposedly a sale going on- and people camp out 2 DAYS AHEAD!" What the fudgesicle?! It's Thanksgiving! Let's see…what am I thankful for? Ah, we will revisit that. But once again, I need to break it down.
1. NOTHING I want is on sale during this ridiculous frenzy. Not MAC products, not my favorite toothpaste, not the cell phone bill, the electric bill or the water bill! Not to mention…I have yet to see a gasoline sale!
2. It's on sale for a reason. It's either an off-brand, or complete garbage. When was the last time anyone ever actually sold a top of the line product with all the bells and whistles? That's right…never!
3. Random thought….Here Comes Honey Boo Boo..is an actual TV show….just let that sink in for a minute.
4. It's scary that a person would step on another person for $20 DVD player. Guess what, the technology will be obsolete before the year is up. So, it doesn't make a person any more awesome.
5. 2 DAYS! People are camping out for 2 DAYS! Where do they go to the bathroom? Where do they shower? The insanity of it all!
Anyway, I have been riding horses for a very long time. I have ridden most disciplines, but now I ride reining and working cowhorses and I love it! I have been writing fanfic for something like a year and I have NEVER written anything horse related. I blame it on the water. Yea, that's right…you think about that for a while.
But, let me get back to the issue at hand. I like the Chance/Ilsa relationship. I really didn't deny it but I am more open to it now because I like the psychological push/pull between the characters and their attitudes. You ask how I gathered that in 1 season…well...I'm just that good. It isn't that hard. There are some couples that vibe well, while others just don't have the chemistry. They are quite opposite in nature when you get down to the bare bones of it all. But at the same time, they can work well together when they accept the fact that the other has a valid idea.
Winston ran up to Chance as he exited the elevator. "Hey Chance, I need a favor." He lifted up a tall pair of black boots. "Ilsa needs these, but I need to get to the bank before it closes. I agreed to make a deposit for her, but I can't do everything." Chance looked sideways at him. "What exactly are these for?" He shrugged and handed him the boots and a slip of paper. "Here. I guess she rides horses now. The address is there. I gotta run."
As Winston got into the elevator, Chance yelled over his shoulder. "Horseback riding? What doesn't that woman do?" He smiled back at him and chuckled. "You!" The doors closed before Chance could say anything. He shook his head and looked at the address. "This should be interesting."
Ilsa continued brushing out her horse's tail. Since her run-in with Claypool, she had given thought to horse ownership. She had ridden in the past enough to know what she was doing. So she thought the relaxation of it all might help her reduce the stress with her new job. She didn't tell her co-workers about the recent endeavor, but since she needed her boots delivered, at least one of them was going to find out. She tossed a treat into the gelding's bucket. "Well Duke, I suppose our secret is no longer safe."
Chance pulled through the elaborate gates. "As always, she has gone above and beyond." As he drove down the road, he watched several riders exercising their horses. He wondered how she had kept all this a secret. She had escaped once on horseback with him, so either she wanted to build her confidence, or relive the experience. He parked his Camaro and walked up to the office door when a woman walked up behind him. "Hello, can I help you?" He turned around. "Oh yeah. I'm looking for Ilsa Pucci. I have these boots for her." She pointed into the barn. "Sure, she's about halfway down on the right side." He smiled and thanked her.
When he disappeared into the barn, the woman walked into the office. "Oh my God Jen. Tell me you saw the hot guy that is here to see Ilsa!" The other woman got up. "No, where?" They both walked to the other door leading into the barn and opened it. They peered out at Chance, who was a few feet away from Ilsa's stall. The two women looked at each other. "Holy crap! His ass is better toned than mine! Is that Ilsa's boyfriend?" The other woman shook her head. "I don't know. But he is cute. I would totally give him a riding lesson!" That earned her a swat in the arm. "You're awful." She looked back. "With an ass like that..I mean…geez. And you have yet to see his gorgeous face."
Chance looked at the stalls as he walked down the aisle. He finally came to a stall door that was halfway open. He only saw a pair of tightly fitting riding pants graciously bent over. The groomer was meticulously cleaning her horse's legs. Even he had to catch his breath. "Um…excuse me, I'm looking for Ilsa." She stood up and smiled. "You found her." Chance was speechless for a few seconds. The pants had already taken his breath away. She was wearing a fitted black polo shirt and black sneakers. He mentally kicked himself once he realized he was staring. She leaned against her horse. "Well, I guess you know about my secret." He shrugged. "Winston had to get to the bank before it closed."
"Oh, I completely forgot. That was my mistake." Just then, her horse decided to introduce himself. He flopped his lips and turned to smell Chance. "Whoa Trigger. Easy." Ilsa smiled. "His name is Duke. He's perfectly harmless." Chance looked at her. "Yea, if he wasn't the size of a dinosaur." She patted him on the neck. "He didn't mean that Duke." She handed Chance the lead rope. "Here. Can you walk him to the arena while I change my shoes?" He looked sideways. "He better not try to eat me." She smiled as he walked down the aisle.
When he got to the arena, there was a short old woman standing inside. "Ah, Duke old boy. And who are you young man?" He extended his hand. "My name is Christopher Chance. I work with Ilsa." The woman raised her eyebrows. "Ah, Ilsa is a lucky lady. I'm Verona, and I need help getting on this pony." Chance looked dumbfounded. How was this old woman going to ride this huge tank of an animal? She explained how to give her a leg up. Once she swung her leg astride Duke, she set off to put him thru the paces. Ilsa walked up beside Chance as he watched in awe. "So are you ready for a lesson?" He shrugged. "She's good." Ilsa shook her head. "She's nearly seventy years old." His jaw dropped. "Seventy?! I'll be in a powered scooter at that age!" They watched for a few more minutes. When Verona was satisfied with Duke's performance, she walked up to them. "Young man, do you mind?" He walked over and helped her down. "You kids are much stronger than me. Do everything you can before you get old." Verona talked to them for a few minutes learning about Chance and his non-attraction to horses. She had to laugh when he told her about the Claypool ride, and how it might have been the moment horses turned him off. Although it saved he and Ilsa, they still smelled and required work.
"Ok Ilsa, your turn." She turned to Chance. "Would you mind?" He walked over and gave her a leg up. "This would be much easier if you had an extension ladder." Verona smiled at him. "All right Christopher, get comfortable while I yell at Mrs. Pucci for a bit." He looked up at her and smiled then ran his palm across her knee. He could tell this was something she obviously enjoyed. Even though she didn't invite him to stay herself, he took Verona's invitation.
After some time passed, a young man ran into the arena. Verona directed him to prepare a jump course. Ilsa walked over to check on Chance. "Ready to ride?" He shook his head and smiled. "No. The Claypool escape was enough." She chuckled and turned around. "Well, time for some jumping." His smile immediately faded. "Wait, what?" She pursed her lips. "Don't worry Mr. Chance, I will be fine." His instinct for her safety raised ten fold. He didn't know a ton about horses but judging from the size of her mount, his worry was legitimate.
Ilsa and Verona chatted for a few minutes while pointing out areas of the course. When she jogged off, Chance's muscles tightened just a bit. She rounded the course with ease. It was like she had done it all her life. Apparently she had. She worked the course as the young farm hand adjusted the jump heights. When she cleared the last jump, she went back to Verona. They were focused on one particular jump. When she took off again. Chance held his breath once more. She rode smoothly over the course and then turned to approach the last jump. She sped up and Verona yelled to her. "You gotta help him out!"
Duke pushed on and launched over the rail. He cleared it with ease, but when he landed, his front feet fell short. He tried hard to catch himself, but wasn't fast enough. His shoulder fell forward and he went down. Ilsa rolled forward to the ground. Before she or Duke could get up, Chance had hopped the fence and was at her side. "Oh God, Ilsa. Are you okay? Let me help you up." She stood up and brushed off her pants. "I'm fine. Really, its ok." Verona made her way over. "Well Duke, your legs aren't fast enough to catch up to your big behind! Ilsa, you did fine, he is just awkward. Are you okay?" She shook her head. "Yes. Perfectly fine. Let's go again." Chance sucked in a breath. "Um, go again?" I don't think so. This is dangerous." She looked sternly at him. "You can either help me on, or someone else will." He had to concede. This was her territory. "He held her bent knee and hoisted her up. She jogged off and Verona looped her arm around Chance. "You always have to get back on and overcome your fears." They watched as she went around the arena.
She approached the final jump and Verona yelled. "Help him out!" Once again, Ilsa urged the huge gelding forward. This time he moved faster. Chance cringed and held his breath. Both Duke and his navigator had determination on their faces. He tucked his legs as she leaned forward. They cleared it easily and it allowed Chance to breathe. Verona patted his arm and smiled. "You can relax, she's done." He shook his head and escorted her to a nearby chair while Ilsa walked Duke around the arena to cool him down. After a few rounds she stopped in front of them and he looked up at her. "You okay?" She relaxed her gaze on him. She knew he was upset she got back on, but he understood her reasoning. "I'm going to unsaddle."
Chance walked Verona down to the office. When he went back down to find Ilsa he was once again greeted with a gorgeous backside. Even as attractive as he found her, he was more focused on the fact that she was rubbing her shoulder. He walked under the crosstie. "Hurt?" She nodded. "A little. I will be ok. It's happened before. No big deal." She turned back around and started brushing Duke. "You mean to tell me you have fallen before?" She gave a sheepish smile. "Yes. It comes with the territory." He placed his hands on her shoulders. "May I?" She met his eyes momentarily and shook her head.
He began massaging her shoulder and she relaxed in his hands. "Duke might get jealous if you keep that up." He gave a sideways glance at the horse. "That beast will be just fine." He continued massaging her shoulders and upper back. After some time, she turned around and met his gaze. "I'm glad I overbooked Mr. Winston." He smiled at her and leaned in. "Are you going to make me kiss you against this smelly thing?" She slapped his arm. "First off, he does not smell and second, you're hurting his male ego." Just then, Duke whinnied and bobbed his head. "See, even this big baby has feelings." Chance rolled his eyes. "Well tell him to close his eyes because I'm going to take advantage of his mommy."
He leaned in and met her lips as she wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him closer. Her hands managed to find that favorite spot in his hair. It was soft and he enjoyed the feeling. He bunched her polo shirt between his fingers and massaged his knuckles into her back. She could have passed out in that very spot. He pulled away and met her eyes. "Mmmm… better?" She smiled. "My injury or my lips?" He reached up and grazed his thumb over her cheek. "If you're really nice to me, I'll take you home, run you a hot bath and work the rest of that kink out." She leaned up and kissed him. "Somehow I don't think you're capable of working ALL the kink out." He smiled and kissed her back until they were interrupted.
"Ahem." They broke their kiss to find Verona standing with a grin across her face. She pointed to Chance. "You know, that's exactly how I met my husband Harry. He came to work at my parent's farm one day and the rest was history. Now I do the farm work and he stays home and does the woman's work!" Chance smiled. "I'm perfectly harmless." Verona glared at him. "Ha! Harry said he was harmless, and now I have seven children." She whistled down for the farm hand and he came jogging over. "Peter, finish brushing Duke and give him his dinner. Mrs. Pucci has other affairs to tend to." She extended her hand. "Nice to meet you again Christopher."
Ilsa reached down to a nearby bucket and pulled out an apple. She handed it to Chance. "Make nice and give him a treat. He was a good boy today." He pursed his lips and took the apple. When they walked in front of Duke, he pricked up his ears and sniffed at Chance. "Ok, ok! Here!" He took up the apple in one bite and left a trail of apple in Chance's hand. "Oh come on! You gotta be kiddin' me!" Ilsa laughed and turned on the nearby hose. "Here. I can assure you it won't hurt you." Chance washed his hands off. "Gross. Crazy animal." She walked back to Duke and kissed him on his soft muzzle. That earned her a jealous glare. "You kiss your boyfriend with that mouth?"
They walked out to the front of the barn and looked at the sun descending over the horizon. "So. Your place or mine?" She cocked her head to one side. "Well, you owe me a warm bath and a massage, so my place is fine." He bent down to kiss her before they walked to their cars. He looked over at her one last time as her driver opened the door. "Your place is on the way, so I won't be able to change my clothes and I smell like a horse." She smiled and looked back. "Well, I guess you're going to be giving me that massage…naked."
Before she got into the car, she watched as Chance peeled off his shirt and threw it to her. She caught it with ease and took the time to admire his ridiculously chiseled chest. Oh how she loved his chest. It was lightly covered with dirty blonde hair and it disappeared into the waistband of his jeans. It drove her crazy when she touched it. But it was hers to touch, whenever she pleased. She could see the waistline of his boxer briefs...peeking out…beckoning her to take them off.
He pulled his sunglasses on and smiled at her. "I'll see you shortly." As he drove out of the lot, he thought about her. She was the most versatile person he knew. He would have never thought she would be riding horses, or flying around the world, or doing half the stuff she did. But he admired it. He wondered how even he kept up. In the end, she was worth it.
From the window of the barn office, the two women had the privilege of peering at a half naked Christopher Chance. "Holy crap! Ilsa gets that all to herself. I am beyond jealous." The other woman smacked her lips together. "Mmmm..damn..that is one lucky woman!"
When Chance got to Ilsa's penthouse, he collected several candles, glasses and a bottle of her favorite wine. He started running a bath. She had several scented salts and soaps to choose from. "Geez…crazy woman." He chose a vanilla and lilac bottle and dumped it in, then lit the candles and poured two generous glasses of wine. "Hmmm." He walked back to her bedroom and turned on the stereo. He shed his clothing and could hear her open the front door and hurried to settle himself in the warm water.
She walked quietly into the bedroom but didn't see him. The night had crept up slowly, making it dark inside, but still light enough to make her way to the bathroom. She could see the faint flicker of the candles through the partially closed door. She smiled as the music played, knowing full well he had no clue who the artist was. Opening the door she instantly saw him in the tub with a sinister smile spread across his face and the light of the candles dancing across his upper body. When she stepped closer, she was mildly disappointed that the bubbles hid everything below his midsection. He took a sip of the wine. "Won't you join me?" She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. "I'm not sure what's going on here, but I think some good looking man offered me a warm bath and massage. Do you know anything about that?" He took another sip. "Well. I kicked that guy out. So you're stuck with me. I do give a pretty mean massage."
She smiled and closed the distance between them. He handed her the other glass of wine and she took a generous drink. As she stripped, he admired her form, making every attempt to keep his mouth from hanging open. "You know, I could probably die a happy man right now." She laughed. "Well don't die. At least not until I get my massage." He smiled up at her as she started removing her lingerie. "Isn't the matching lace a bit overdoing it for riding a horse?" She stopped removing her bra and glared at him. "Well if it's too much, I can just get dressed again." He shook his head. "No, just wondering why Duke gets the same privileges that I do."
She finished undressing and stepped into the tub and he helped her settle in against him. Her sore muscles instantly adjusted to the water as she stretched her legs. The Jacuzzi tub could have fit a small football team inside, but she chose to get completely cozy with him. She laid her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. He leaned his cheek against hers and whispered. "Drink?" She reached her hand up. "Mmm, thank you." He finished his own glass and brought his hands up to her shoulders. He rubbed deep into her tender flesh, just enough to work the knots out. She wanted to fall asleep, but she also wanted to enjoy the atmosphere. Between the candles, wine and music, she wondered if she would even want to get out.
When he finally finished, he drew lazy circles on her stomach. "Better?" She rolled her head over and laid her cheek against his. "Yes, much. I could get used to this." He gave her a chaste kiss. "Well, you might have to ask one of your other boyfriends to do it. The boss at my job gets angry if I don't spend enough time with her." She gave a slight huff and settled deeper into him. He wanted to stay there and hold her forever, but they were both tired, and she needed to rest. He nudged her. "Hey. Come on, let's go get in the bed." She murmured something and he pushed her up. They rinsed off and he wrapped a towel around her and picked her up. She all but fell asleep in his arms.
He laid her gently on the bed and pulled back the comforter, then went back to blow out the candles. When he returned she was fast asleep. He turned off the last remaining melody of Yo-Yo Ma's cello concerto and crawled in behind her. He pulled the covers over her then wrapped his arms across her midsection. She was awake enough to nestle herself deeper into his chest. As she drifted back to sleep, he kissed her cheek. "Sleep, Ilsa….sleep."