It started on Friday night. We'd just returned from a supply run with equipment to build a greenhouse near Command. My guy almost hadn't come through, but at the last possible second, the truck rounded the corner and I'd known we were home free. Toxic dump home free, but home nonetheless. And that had been what made her hug me. Or at least that's the only thing I could think of that could have caused her surprising bout of joyful embracing.

She had asked me to buy her a drink, and who was I to turn down a lady? Commanding Officer, naughty lady, but lady nonetheless. Inside an hour, we had been lip locked under the stairs, excitedly hiding from Sketch and OC and everyone else we knew.

Kissing her was like playing with fire. Sexy, insane fire, but fire nonetheless.

Friday night ended when she got the page.


At Command, she had been cold as ice, and I could only have assumed it was because of the tongue lashing (the non-sexy kind) she'd received from his Nobler-Than-Thou. Barely spoke to me at all. I thought maybe I'd have to live in Friday night memories for the rest of my life, which was a cruel, cruel sentence for my balls, but I busied myself with the new doctor Erin until His Pompousness left. (Wimp.) After that, I couldn't find her anyway and signed myself up for an arms run Sunday.


Still no sign of her. Checked with Dix, who informed me our Chief Commander was incommunicado. Probably a bubble bath or something equally inappropriate for her to spend her time doing. I'd thought maybe she regretted Friday night, but remembering how one of her legs kept getting hiked up around my waist invalidated that argument (what can I say? I'm handsy.).

The arms run went off without a hitch, but despite the fact that she insisted on going and that we were successful, she didn't hug me this time. (She's not very huggy anyway.)

So I had gone to Crash on my own. After an hour of sitting at the bar, listening to her and OC talk about their old roommate and piss and moan about Logan, I had to get the hell out of there.

Found some trouble on the way back to my apartment. Steelheads. Seriously, those guys need a better target. Rawed my hands up making an impression. At least they understood they'd never be welcome in TC.


Don't know what possessed her – maybe the fact I intentionally skipped the morning meeting – but around eleven she woke my ass up with some angry abuse on my apartment door. Ended up getting shouldered open before I was able to even dress myself fully, which had given me the empirical knowledge that she was, in fact, attracted to me – judging by how nervously she tried (and failed) to ignore my exposed skin.

She was furious, maybe more at herself than me, but then she had crossed the room and had started inspecting my hands. When she had asked what the hell had happened, and I had answered I'd impaled my fists on some steelheads for fun, she'd grimaced and yelled at me for not treating my wounds. They'd heal, I had said, and added 'besides, chicks dig scars'.

She'd wetted some rags and draped them on my hands, then said she expected me in an hour at Command.

I'd heard by four that the cyber hack had some ingenious plan that would allow government resources to be redirected to help transgenics. But first he had to gather some intel from a contact he had to personally visit – in Virginia. He'd be a few days.

So I thought I had figured it out when she had invited me to join the group at Crash again. I hadn't wanted to be her replacement; then again, how could I turn down the possibility of kissing irrationally soft lips?

I had said goodnight around one, and at two, I'd found her in the hallway outside my apartment, softly rapping at my door. Softly, this time.

She had done that thing all girls did when they were too chicken to make a move on a guy: touched my arm, lingered, bit her own lip during extended eye contact.

I had given in to her wiles and found myself underneath her sexy stare, straddled on the couch with the neglected TV on Nick at Nite in the background somewhere.

My cell had rung, and I'd cursed myself for leaving it on ring instead of vibrate because she had removed herself from my lap and excused herself for the remainder of the night. Said she'd see me at Command in the morning.

All night I had the taste of her in my mouth and my dreams. Wonderfully, wickedly delicious dreams, but dreams nonetheless.


Nearly all of Tuesday had been a 'Secret Lovers' kind of day. Sneaked kisses and light petting in between meetings, in the unused stairwell in one of the older schools in TC's borders, and on the tallest rooftop in TC at the southeast corner where no one had ventured out yet.

It had been my fantasies come true – well, we were certainly getting there. My fantasies were little more passionate, but there was still time, I thought.

Against the wall in the security office in the abandoned movie theater, she had mumbled she didn't know what she was doing. I'd worried for a minute that it was all a charade, but her hands grabbed at me, and her body bucked against mine, and her lips battled mine for dominance.

Out of nowhere, she'd taken a breath and let out this unintentional moan – sexy as hell, made me ache in all the right places. Made us both freeze, breathless, waiting for one another to decide if we were gonna do this.

But she got scared, ducked out from under my arms, and took off.

Blue balls. Remember?


I hadn't seen her since the movie theater, and spent the morning looking for her. Not at Command, not at the movie theater or the stairwell or med bay or Crash, not at OC's or Jam Pony or the journalist's penthouse, not at my apartment.

It dawned on me she could have been at the Needle, but all-those-steps later, no dice.

Lot of time to reflect on the past few days. Lot of time to ask myself what was going on between us, why was she acting so weird, was it something I'd done or not done?

Figured I wasn't going to see her again until she wanted to be seen, so I went back to Command and tried to distract myself with work. Boring, bureaucratic, paper-pushing, mind-numbing, argument-disputing, supply-listing work, but distracting work nonetheless.

As the night models strolled in for sentry, I had beaten the pavement back to my apartment. It was dark, but all my senses worked fine. It had been her, leaning against my door nonchalantly, with her hands in her jacket pockets.

She'd told me she had been waiting for me. I'd told her I'd been at Command. She'd asked to come in. She'd asked.

We had stood in the small kitchen, clinking beer bottles (it was the only thing I had in my fridge besides mustard, and who would drink mustard?) and neither of us really knew what to say. She came forward, set down her bottle, and took my hand.

I had asked if we're going somewhere in that low voice that I noticed makes her shiver. She handed me my jacket, put her own on, and looked back at me expectantly as she swayed out of the apartment.

I followed her up one flight of stairs until we went through a door marked 'Roof Access.'

Back in the day, this place was used as a posh apartment complex, and it had a gym on the main floor with a pool on the roof. I figured it was too cold for swimming, besides, it was about to start raining (I knew we'd both smelled it), so I wasn't surprised when she pulled me into the pool storage room.

But I was surprised to see it was more like a small pool house. She said she'd spent the day cleaning it up – for us. For us, she'd said.

It's amazing, I told her, and she busied herself lighting a few candles. I'd heard the tick-tick of the rain on the one skylight, and against the rooftop, and I looked around (one bed, smelled clean from here) wondering who got to live in this room. I stared out the one window and thought of how relaxing the sound was – of rain hitting the old pool-water. When I'd turned back around, she stood before me, and she held that same look in her eyes that she had at the theater before she split. I'd asked if she was trying to seduce me. She'd raised a brow and said it depended. On what, I'd asked.

She'd slid her hands under the lapels of my coat and over my shoulders, and suddenly, I was no longer wearing my jacket. And then she had kissed me sensuously, like I was her air, like she needed my taste just to survive.

As soon as my hands were free from my jacket, they were all wrapped up in her. Her leg, her back, her face, neck, hair, and my eyes had shut tight enough to think maybe I had been dreaming.

She'd made those unconscious little moans again, and when my eyes opened again, she was taking something out of her jacket pocket before removing her jacket completely.

What's that, I'd asked, and she showed me the item in her hand. Prophylactics. Said it was what she spent the last two hours trying to acquire. Said it with a confidence I found irresistible.

The bed was much softer than I had expected, and it held up through the night. I felt the pride swell throughout my body when I made her come – long, raking-my-back, toes-curling, screaming and moaning, vibrations wracking her whole body – so many times she'd tell me later she had lost count. For a few hours, we'd been insatiable, but we ran out of protection, and surprisingly, she'd fallen asleep with her head on my chest. This is the best feeling, I'd thought, and then panicked because I thought it was the best feeling, and what did that mean?

With the rain starting to pound down, I fell into oblivion in its comfortable rhythm.


She'd woken and left while I'd slumbered, dreamless, and that action left me with some questions, the most paramount of which was: what does this all mean? Had I just been looking too closely? Had it just been a fling, or was it something more? And when had I turned into a freakin' girl?

I'd dressed, hoping her answers to my questions matched my answers to my questions. But when I got to Command, it was like a repeat of Wednesday morning: couldn't find her. I'd tried not to take it personally, even though we had just spent most of the night screwing our brains out. I'd wondered idly if she was upset at me and if she'd claim I'd taken advantage of her, but then I figured she was probably talking to OC about the nearly-all-nighter we'd pulled.

Except, when Mole saw me, he had yanked me by the arm into the hallway and pointed out a very sensitive wound on my neck, which I found out less than thirty seconds later matched Max's bite. Shit, I had said. As if an aside, Mole also told me Logan was back. Shit, I'd said again.

She had probably been freaking out, just like I'd been. I had known something was different about her orgasms.

Mole reached out to touch the mark, but I had batted his hand away. He nearly giggled, like he had the secret inside info now.

I couldn't handle it. I couldn't even think about TC with the nervous energy coursing through my body. I'd headed home and paged Max.

No answer.

It had been several hours when she called me back. We need to talk, she had said, and I'd dreaded that she was going to tell me Logan found the cure and she was done with the stand-in. I'd told her where I was, but she cut me off. It had to be tomorrow, because she had to spend the night trying to get the hard drive from this electronics company for Logan.

I couldn't sleep a wink through the night. It was a cold night, and I could feel her bite mark tightening in its various stages of healing.


She called me at about 3 AM. I had asked if she wanted me to go over there, but then there was a knock at the door. Got a cell phone, she'd said, breezing past me and discarding her coat. When she turned back around, I saw the edge of something along her collarbone. For a moment, I'd been angry, thinking Logan's stupid mission got her hurt, but when I'd desperately pushed her collar aside, I saw my own bite mark staring back at me. When I ran my fingertips across it, she closed her eyes in painful ecstasy.

I'd apologized and retracted my hand, but it didn't get far before she captured it and put it right back on my mark. She told me she had nearly failed the mission thinking about me. She noticed her mark on my shoulder. She said she had to tell Logan about us. Why, I'd asked.

Because we're mated, she'd said, dragging her fingers along her handiwork. I felt myself grow hard instantly. Is this what the claim does, I'd asked.

Are you gonna make love to me, she'd asked, with a lustful need so sexy I'd felt overcome with clarity.

Absolutely, I'd said. For the rest of our lives, as often and as long as possible, but absolutely nonetheless.