The warm sand cradled us as we lay on our backs like children and stared up at the night sky. I had come here imagining we might join our bodies under the Strawberry Moon. I hadn't imagined Wesukechak, the Bitter Spirit, would be silent long enough for a different sort of joining— but even the Spirits can't know which two people will be drawn together. Or why.

Mostly he listened at first. I spoke of home and of my family and traditions, and also of the man named Noah. As the shadows grew longer, he began to talk. He was a good storyteller. I learned of the men who'd taken his memories, and the ones who'd saved him on a snowy road, and of the medicine woman he'd wanted who belonged to another man. He spoke of a princess he met in his travels. He was respectful when speaking of her, but his eyes gave him away. She had found much pleasure in his blankets.

He even spoke a bit of a little girl back home who looked at him with stars in her eyes. He didn't say much. He was bitter. And afraid. I don't blame him. Most men are when they can't work something out and he seemed uncertain why she was interested. And damned certain it was wrong. She was a kid and he wasn't. It made him uncomfortable. Her interest made perfect sense to me, but then I'd been a teenage girl once, too.

That he'd run so far said it meant more to him than he was willing to admit. It wasn't the medicine woman or the princess he was trying to outrun. I wondered if he knew what that meant. I don't suppose it really mattered what I thought. He was the sort of man who needed answers to be at peace. No wonder he was so far from home. Sometimes those answers are at the end of a very long road.

He fell silent. Even the roar of the ocean seemed softer, almost sympathetic in the silence. Shhh... Shhhh... Shhhhhh...

"E'kosi." I whispered to him.

He touched my hair. "What?"

I smiled. "Thanks. You tell good stories." If he'd had any idea what a compliment that was, he wouldn't have so carelessly shrugged away my praise. A seabird trilled in the night. We watched each other in silence over a very short span of warm sand. The moon had momentarily disappeared behind the clouds. It was so dark I could hardly see his face but I could feel him exhale when the wind blew my hair across his skin. And I listened to the voices carried on it. Or maybe it was just the song of my own heart that I heard. It sang: Join with him! This is the memory that you are supposed to make.

I sang it to him without words. He said nothing as I moved to straddle his lap but his hands were tight on my hips, holding me to the place where his blood burned. I breathed against his open lips as he rubbed against me and the fire spread to my blood.

Come cry the moon down with me, Mahihkanak.

He smelled of smoke. Like a belt of good scotch. I could taste it on his lips. He sighed into my mouth. His lips were soft and gentle but his tongue was bold, invading me, tasting me. Sweeping a sensual path that made the world spin and my body shiver.

Teeth. On my chin. My throat. And that rough wet tongue, licking. Flicking. Wanting. Making me whimper.

I heard a growl rumble in his throat when I spread my thighs wider to rub with more force where he was hard and swollen. He pulled his mouth from mine, staring up at me from the private curtain my hair made for our faces.

"Let's go back." His knuckles brushed my cheek softly before he threaded his fingers into my hair. I felt his legs move restlessly as he shifted under me. "S'too public here. And too fuckin' sandy."

I whispered a soft, "No..." and opened my mouth to receive his kiss as he lifted his mouth to mine. While I appreciated his desire for a more comfortable, intimate experience where we could slip out of our clothes and roll around naked and entwined in a soft bed, I couldn't let him go. The heat was on me and I wanted it to be this way— a frantic, intense joining here in this wild place where the water broke itself on the land like I wanted to break myself on him.

His passion rose as he accepted what he would have to give up and decided what he would take in its place. That predatory masculine force he exuded at the bar reasserted itself. I could feel his power rising and he was not afraid to show it to me. For long moments he held my face in his big hands, looking up at me as I knelt over him. He exerted just the softest touch of direction, urging me to lift up so my weight was resting on my knees instead of on his cock. He shuddered at the loss of it and chased my mouth with his instead, needing another connection to make up for the one he'd lost.

Rough warm hands slid up my legs, under my skirt and he groaned softly as he cupped the naked skin he found there, one cheek in each big palm. And he squeezed. Hard. Digging his strong fingers into my brown skin and smiling up at me with dark hooded eyes.

"When did you take them off?" he breathed against my throat, sucking a bite that made the heaviness in my belly become a slippery trickle between my legs. My hips swayed.

"I didn't." A breath caught in my throat when he moved his hand down to cup me possessively. "I don't wear any."

I think he liked that even better; a male reaction that always amuses me. I don't do it to be provocative. The real truth is that I grew up far below the poverty line. Our home didn't even have electricity until I was seven. By the time we could afford underwear, I'd gotten used to going bare. Which isn't to say I haven't worn sexy lingerie for the men in my life. I have. But when I'm alone, I always go back to what I like best.

I was glad he liked it too.

He kept touching my soft natural hair and holding me, shivering when I rubbed against his palm and whispering to me how much he liked it and that he still couldn't understand why 'modern' girls would want to shave it all off. He wasn't that old. He didn't even look forty. I wasn't sure what he meant by that— but the rough glide of his fingers was making it was hard to think.

"Hold still." His hand tightened on my hip, holding me where he wanted as he pushed a thick finger up inside. I mewled softly when he added another before he reclined back against the side of the dune for a better look. My skirt and the darkness hid everything. It didn't matter. It was my face he was watching.

I moved experimentally on his fingers, rising up to kiss his mouth and then sinking back down with a whimper. He groaned.

"I'm bigger than that," he murmured softly and with some difficulty he added a third finger, growling deep in his throat at the sensuous feel of delicate tissue stretched so obscenely around his invading fingers.

The hand he had at my hip encouraged me to start moving and I rode his fingers there under the blanket of stars while we kissed. Hidden below my skirt, his hands were rough and demanding while his kisses were so gentle and soft.

He turned my mouth loose when I got close. He didn't want to swallow my cries, he said. He wanted to hear me come. A rude, intrusive push of his fingers made it happen and he watched with dark, hooded eyes as I ground myself down on his fleshy palm and cried my pleasure to the night.

Strong arms caught me and held me close, whispering words that don't exist in the light as he waited for me to come back to him. When I did, he held my face in hands slick with my own essence and told me to open his pants.

He wiped his glistening fingers down the side of my neck and between my breasts while I worked his belt. The buckle was big. The bulge under it was bigger still. I smiled and stopped what I was doing to wipe away the slippery ooze he'd left on my skin, but he knocked my hand away with a rough grunt.

"Leave it." He put my hands back on his zipper, nodding to the wet glisten on my skin. "That's for me later."

I shivered at his words and slipped my hands into his open pants. It was dark and I couldn't see, but my hands were my eyes. He was thick and heavy; wet at the tip and his skin was so hot. Sweaty and ripe. I scratched my short nails into his wiry hair, half wishing I had gone back to his room where I could look upon him in the light and suck and kiss and drink of him until I had my fill. But there was something to be said for wild abandon in the dark, too.

I had to ask for the condom— but he gave it without hesitation. It made me smile. He would have rather been bare, but I'm no fool. I don't want any children now. And something tells me he has known a lot of women since he left home and started walking his lonely road. Part of me found his virility attractive. Another part of me didn't want to think about where else his beautiful cock had been, even with the healing he'd described.

I asked him to put on the condom instead of doing it myself because I'd never known anything in my life as erotic as his hands on his cock. He complied, enjoying my eyes on him and the way watching him made my hips sway.

"Now." He wasn't asking.

"Yes..." I moved over him.

Like the vision in my daydream, big rough hands gripped my hips hard. And his eyes were open. "Sit down on me, darlin'. Take me in. I hafta—" His voice choked off as I rubbed his thick tip between my legs and put the head inside.

He couldn't wait. He pushed my hips down hard, surging up under me as he did. He was so thick. I cried out. He groaned. And he didn't apologize. I didn't want him to. I like a man who's not afraid to show a woman what he wants. And to take it from her when the moment is right. Whatever the future brought, I would have the memory of this night to warm me the rest of my days.

I came again, wild and unstrained. In the morning I would find that I'd rubbed my thigh raw on the teeth of his zipper. My frantic cries inflamed him. He licked at the wet trail of musky fluid he'd wiped on my skin and buried his face between my breasts as my tender lover disappeared into a man desperate for his own release.

His rough grunts became more erratic and then in the deepest part of his pleasure when he held me against him so tightly that I almost couldn't breathe... it was then that his voice changed from commanding man to something wild. Barely human at all. A growl like I've never heard rumbled deep in his chest. It seemed to come up from his soles. He shuddered hard and I wished for a moment that I could feel the hot, wet rush of his seed like I knew he could. The husky strangled cry he made told me it had splashed against the barrier and bathed his sensitive skin in a soothing liquid warmth.

The soft sand shifted under us as we moved apart and he slipped a hand down to pull off the condom, tossing it away into the night. The thought of his seed spilling out onto the barren sand was somehow disturbing. It seemed like such a waste. So I braced myself for the pungent flavor and leaned in to kiss his spent cock, swirling my tongue in the most intimate of kisses.

He grunted as I cleaned his sensitive flesh, but he allowed the intimate touch. His body jerked and he shivered, wrapping his hand in my hair and pulling me up to him lazily. For a long time we lay there, watching the stars. Not talking. Just breathing. And smiling.

After a time, I got up and walked to the edge of the waves, pulling my skirt to my hips and squatting over the rushing water, scooping it up to rinse away the slippery residue he'd coaxed from me. He watched me.

And he lay back and sighed in pleasure when I wet his bandana in the cool water and used it to finish cleaning his soft, sticky cock.

Afterwards, he pushed aside my shirt and touched my breast. "You have a tattoo." He seemed surprised.

I nodded. Typical teen rebellion. White kids get heavy black tribal designs. Indians usually get a howling coyote or a medicine wheel with an eagle feather. He traced the circle with his finger.

"What does it mean?"

I shrugged. "Lots of things." He looked at the circle divided into four equal parts, each with a different color. Red. Black. White. Yellow.

"The four directions. The four elements. The four phases of life. The four colors of people. The four kinds of beings-"

"Four kinds of beings?"

"Two-legged. Four-legged. Swimmers. And flyers." I smiled and zipped him up, caressing the soft bulge affectionately.

"So, nothin' 'bout the kind with two backs, huh?" he teased, pulling me back into his embrace and nuzzling his face into my hair. That was when I noticed the dog tag tucked under his tank. I traced the smooth metal with my fingertip, wondering what else about him I might never know. Things that might always remain hidden by our clothes and by the minutes that were running out.

A soldier and an Indian girl, eh? I wonder how many times and how many others have been here before us?

We sat there, wrapped in each other's arms until the stars started disappearing from the sky. I didn't want to go, but with the light came the responsibilities and commitments we had made to our jobs and to other people.

"I hate this part," I said, standing and brushing the sand from my skirt.

"I don't." He rested his head on my shoulder. "Not with you, anyway," he allowed when I gave him a pointed look. He laughed and then grew quiet. I think we were both afraid to think this was anything more than a pleasant night. Somehow the things we'd talked about made parting more awkward than it would have been if it had only involved our bodies.

Despite that, neither of us wanted to be the one to say it. And the truth was it really was okay if this was all it turned out to be. I could live with that.

"I promised to walk ya home," he said with a smile.

"You don't have to." I said, pushing down my giddy excitement at his words.

"I want to."

"I have a flight to Calgary in four hours."

"I had a meetin' that started forty-five minutes ago," he shot back. "Gumbo's gonna blow a gasket. Heh." He looked pleased. Interesting. He was clearly a man who enjoyed causing trouble wherever he went.

It was amusing in a sad sort of way. "So this is goodbye, then." As much as I wanted to see more of him, this man was not for me. He needed a woman with a stronger totem than mine. Someone who wouldn't break under the force of his indomitable will. He didn't know it yet, but he belonged to someone else. Or maybe he did know and that was why he was running.

He pushed his hands into his pockets. "If you want it to be, then... yeah, I guess so."

I didn't want this to be the end. For a handful of moments, we had touched each other beyond the physical; a surprise and yet not wholly unwelcome. But I wasn't foolish enough with my own heart to imagine joining him on his road. I wasn't strong enough to endure what walking along side this man would entail, even for a short while. All I could manage was tonight.

We stood there, staring at each other in the early morning light, trying to decide what else to say. Trying to decide if there was anything else to say. He shuffled uncomfortably.

"Hey, it's okay, Logan... I don't expect-"

"Look, I don't have an apartment or nothin'. Never stay in one place too long. The phone I have only works here and I'll be leavin' soon... but if you wanna find me," he pulled out his wallet and tucked a business card into my hand. "Someone here should be able to get me a message, darlin'." He sighed and blew out, running his hands through his hair before putting his hat back on and tipping it down to hide his face.

"Thank you," I whispered to him. Thank you for tonight. For the pleasure you gave me. For the memory we made. For letting me know it wasn't just about sex for you, too. For being kind enough to walk away without pretending it was more than it was.

It was real and honest and I liked that, despite the pain. The deep things in life could stand alone, beautiful, without the glitter we put on them to make them easier to bear.

He nodded, but said nothing. I thought that was perhaps a more intimate response than whatever smooth words he usually had for moments like these. He slowly traced the circle of my tattoo with a fingertip instead. That said it all, really.

I took the card he offered because I knew he needed me to. He wasn't a man who opened himself often and I had the sense he needed it to be received with gentleness when he did. He hadn't offered much, just a glimmer, really. But I was humbled to take the stories he'd shared into my keeping.

We shared one last passionate kiss and then he was walking down the beach, presumably to his meeting— and I was heading back the way I came... back to my old life and my old responsibilities. I could still taste him on my lips. And still feel him between my legs.

I turned and shouted a goodbye over the wind.

Walk in a good way, Logan.

He turned and touched two fingers to the brim of his hat in parting.

I knew I would never see him again.

But I had a memory.

When my eyes were gray and cloudy, I knew it would keep me warm as the prairie wind blew sharp and cold.

And when he was gone, when it was just me on the beach in that small sliver of plummy time between the night and the dawn, I held the card he'd given me to my lips. The waves touched my bare feet and I gave the card to the sea, to join the residue of our lovemaking, the salt of my tears, and the soft sigh of a satisfied lover.

Somewhere above, the Bitter Spirit was eclipsed by the rising sun.

Author's Note: Thanks for giving this one a chance, guys. I know it's not predominantly Logan/Marie and that a lot of you were either skeptical or decided to give this one a skim/pass because it wasn't your pairing of choice, but I look at it differently. I don't think baggage and prior encounters/relationships are necessarily bad things. These experiences help us grow and make us deeper people who've lived fuller, richer lives. They help us to have more to bring to the table when we finally find ourselves in step with that special person who turns us inside out and makes us crazy.

I think it's kinda fun to watch Logan on the road to being the man he was at the end of Run. (But then again you all know what a shameless voyeur I am!) Thanks for coming along for the ride! Feedback is love. :)

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