Welcome To The Harem

Mapping The Veins by She Who Hides
Summary: Alex needs Marita's help, much to his dismay. Conversation, battle, and smut ensue. Post-Requiem. NC17.

Title: Mapping the Veins
Author: she who hides ( shewhohides@m... )
Archival: Ok for Spookys, Gossamer, Xemplary and Ephemeral.
Others, please provide URL. I will say yes, but I like to visit.
Rating: NC17
Categories: Krycek/Marita
Spoilers: A little bit of a lot of things. Spoiler virgins for
the end of season 7 might want to step away.
Summary: Alex needs Marita's help, much to his dismay. Marita
doesn't care to provide it. Conversation, battle and smut ensue.
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me and I won't make
any money playing with them, but damn, they're fun. :)
Notes: Big thanks to Vanzetti, who beta'd every last asyndeton
out of this fic (much to my delight), and Janet F.
Caires-Lesgold, who provided a very nice final polish. The Mess
That Is My Grammar was particularly atrocious before they took
this fic in hand, so not only do I owe them bigtime, everyone who
reads this story owes them. ;-)
Warnings: This story is set after Soul Purpose, but reading the
first isn't really necessary. There's not a lot of cross-over
between them. Also, I'm having horrible, horrible problems with
formatting. After hours of trying to get it to work right (I know
how, but mail.com kept changing the #of characters per line every
time I set it at 65, and then nothing would wrap...anyway), I
finally decided it was hopeless. I hope that it comes out all
right but if it doesn't, I stored the story here:


Currently, that's pretty much the only thing up at the site.
Ok, I'm gonna stop talking and let you all get to the fic. Enjoy!


"I keep thinking," she murmured, "that at any moment, I'm going
to fall out of this life and into the suburbs."

Alex turned away from the computer and looked at her. She was
standing just inside the doorway, in a patch of light. He
wondered how long she'd been there before she spoke. "Are you
going to have a breakdown?" he asked, then tapped his fingers
against the arm of his chair. "I really don't think you have time
for a breakdown, Marita."

He smiled when she glared at him, kept smiling as she turned
away, noting how out of place she looked in the dusty study. In
her dark linen suit, she seemed too thin. Light hair was drawn up
into a tight, uncomfortable looking bun, and her heels were high
but chunky. In pale light pouring through the windows, her
long, slender legs should have gleamed healthily, but they

The effect was very businesslike, very professional on the
surface--but it was like a thin disguise. A facade. She somehow
still managed to seem ethereal. A woman who was drifting, from a
distant dimension into life and back out again.

I suppose I ought to feel pity for her, he mused. And maybe a
part of him did, because she wasn't the woman she had been. But
most of him was just mildly annoyed, because he didn't believe in
giving up.

Marita didn't seem to see things his way.

"We don't have a lot of time before the pieces of the Consortium
consolidate, and we need to finish them off before they get that
chance." He stretched and winced as his back cracked in a dozen
places. He was good with computers, but that didn't mean he liked
to sit down in front of one for more than an hour or two. It took
too much effort to type with just one hand. And he much preferred
being out on the streets, building things--or destroying
things--by hand.

It was easier for him to manipulate people and their comfortable
enviroments. Much easier than decoding the hidden financial
records of groups that weren't even supposed to *exist*, much
less receive government funding.

"Fall out of this life," he muttered, flexing his fingers.
"Jesus, Marita. Are you that weak?"

Like a ghost in dark linen, she slipped out the door.

Alex groaned and swiveled back to his computer. A cursor blinked,
then the screen flashed with numbers arranged in nearly
incomprehensible sequences. He set his hand back on the keyboard
and blinked a few times, shook his head before starting to type
at a furious pace.

He added all of three sentences before he pushed away from the
desk with a grunt and a muttered curse.

He stomped out the door that his unwilling partner had used,
headed through the hall, down to the first floor of their
temporary headquarters. The front door was open; Alex grabbed a
key, turned the lock, and stepped out onto the porch. Then he
turned and scanned the area.

The Gunmen had found this place for them. Small, old, in good
shape. It was hidden in the middle of a huge, wooded plot on the
shores of a man-made lake, accessible only by water or a long
trek down the narrow, rutted drive. A perfect vacation cottage,
now being used to aid in the destruction of an organization so
vast and secretive that billions of people lived under its shadow
without knowing.

Marita wants to go live in the suburbs, he thought with
incredulity. After playing a part in the formation and the
destruction of this organization, she yearned for the suburbs. He
would never understand the desire to live a 'normal' life, with
eyes closed against the truth. It was no better than desiring
death, as far as he was concerned.

Of course, Marita's will to live wasn't proving to be too
powerful anymore.

Sunlight filtered through the trees in golden patches, but there
really wasn't enough of it for him to see far beyond the porch.
Leaves and needles crunched underfoot as he stepped down; small,
chattering creatures darted on the ground and in the branches
above. Alex started cursing again as he headed down the path to
the little dock. There were too many eyes in the forest, and even
if most of them were no more aware of destiny than the average
suburbanite, they still made the hair rise on the back of his

His gun was tucked into the waistband of his jeans. One shot
fired into the air and all the little things in the woods would
take their beady eyes and bushy tails and run for safer ground.
He seriously considered doing it for a moment as the pathway
narrowed, the tree limbs arching over his head and nearly
blocking the sunlight completely. But he didn't want to give
Marita a reason to disappear, and didn't doubt that she would.

That's not allowed, he thought, striding down the path more
quickly. She's not allowed to just *quit*. No one quits until we
win, or until everyone is dead.

Those were two very different things, very separate outcomes. But
he was getting the feeling that for Marita, their deaths were a
given, and fighting was pointless.

The path widened and the trees finally parted. Golden sunshine
poured down on his head, and he paused for a moment to look
around. Despite the annoying animals in the trees, the woods were
better than the sunny, open space--there was no cover. No good
vantage points. There was just blue sky and sand, pebbles and
larger rocks. There was just a creaking wooden dock being gently
bumped by a small boat and lapped at by clear water, and a woman
sitting on a bench that perched on the very edge.

Crossing to the dock, he vowed to himself that he'd carry her
back to the house kicking and screaming--or unconscious. He'd
chain her to the fucking computer until they'd gotten deeper into
the records, if it was necessary.

The wood creaked beneath his feet as he stalked across, coming to
a halt directly behind her. She didn't move or react to his
presence. Her head was bent, her hands in her lap. Very demure,
very ladylike, and the bright sunlight made the back of her neck
look translucent and delicate. He could see the faint blue paths
of her veins just beneath the surface and had to hold back from
the temptation to trace them with his fingertips and then bite
into her.

"You've been like this since that first night in Tunisia," he
said, tucking his hands into his pockets. Dragging her back to
the house seemed like less fun, now that he was looking at her
and couldn't help seeing her fragility.

"No, I haven't. I helped you kill Spender, deal with the agents,
and hack into the files. Now I just want to... take a moment to
sit and think."

"You're always thinking, Marita. No way to turn your brain off,
which is part of what makes you so effective. That's also what
wakes you up at three in the morning and doesn't let you sleep
again until exhaustion drags you under."

"And here I thought it was you that woke me up," she murmured,
memories staining her voice with bitterness.

That too, he thought, shifting because his body was too eager to
respond to his memories. Screw the fact that she was trying to
make him feel guilty. "But I'm not what makes you feel helpless.
I'm not what makes you weak."

"Aren't you?"

"I'm a handy excuse." Alex stepped a little closer to her, rested
his hand on the back of the bench. His shadow slid across the
back of her neck. "You're blaming me for something I can't
control. That'd be fine if you were going to hate me and fight
and show a little spirit. But you're just... sulking. It's
fucking annoying, and pointless, and there's no *time* for it."

"You don't know anything," she said, and Alex laughed.

"Jesus, Marita, how old are you? Five? Seven? 'You don't know
anything,' like I just yelled at you for taking the last cookie."
He stroked the back of her neck, tangling his fingers in the thin
blonde wisps that were beginning to fall out of the pins she'd
used in her hair. "I might have played the eager assassin and
errand-boy, but you know better than to think I'm stupid."

She turned her head, looking up at him over her shoulder,
squinting against the glare of the sun. "Stupid, Alex? No, I
don't think you're stupid. But you don't know all the details;
not about what was done to me and what I did to survive, not
about what I did to escape..."

She trailed off, and turned away.

Alex studied her reflection in the water. One of the Gunmen was
due to come down in the next few days, and he still needed their
trust to put his plans into motion. There were a thousand things
he had to finish, and he needed her help for at least half of
them. That meant coercing her to get a spine, or pissing her off
enough to inspire a frenzy of activity.

It might have been fun to play with her mind and get what he
wanted; he certainly was good at it. But it took a lot of time,
and maybe just encouraging her to air out her memories would be

I don't care, he told himself. But if it'll get her to stop
fucking around, it'll be worth it.

"So, tell me," he said abruptly. "Pretend I'm a psychiatrist, one
who won't commit you because the stories you tell are insane.
Even better, one who's lived a lot of what you lived."

For a second, she was motionless, and then her shoulders shook.
He thought she was crying, and was ready to stalk away and tell
her to forget everything and just go. But then he realized she
was laughing silently, and he gritted his teeth, fought the urge
to wrap his hands around that delicate neck and squeeze.

She rose while he was still working on restraint, and came around
the bench. "No," she said simply, and smiled. It was just a
semi-cruel twist of her lips, bittersweet around the edges. For a
moment, he wanted to taste it more than he wanted to kill her. "I
don't need to tell you anything, Alex, except to go to hell."

He hadn't expected her to actually fight back in any way, was
almost startled by her reaction. But he smiled to cover his
surprise, then tilted his head, considering her. "I might just if
you don't get your ass back up into the study and help me out
with those codes," he said smoothly. "Of course, it wouldn't just
be me--there'd be about six billion people all going to hell at
once. But I'm sure I'd get to lead the pack."

"I don't believe your motives are altruistic. If I help you, I'll
just be furthering your personal agenda, slipping handily into
one of your half-assed schemes."

"I let you in on all my plans, Marita," Alex murmured, watching
her eyes carefully because that was a blatant lie. He never let
anyone in on his plans--sometimes he wasn't even sure what he was
doing until it was done. But that method had kept him alive for a
long time, and he'd refined it after losing his arm. It didn't
need to be changed further.

The bittersweet smile came back. "You told me we'd work together,
take the bastard down, and put ourselves in a position of power."

"And we're working on doing exactly that."

For a long moment, the only sounds were those of water lapping at
the dock and birds calling. Then Marita laughed.

"You're working on something, that's for sure. And I don't want
to be a part of it. I can't be a part of it."

"Growing a conscience, Marita?" Alex taunted. He doubted it, and
even if she *was*... well, it wasn't like he was working for Them
anymore. Maybe he wasn't going to be the prince on a white horse
in this story, but he was no longer the evil henchman. He was his
own man.

And he was going to make sure he stayed that way.

"Nothing so dramatic." Marita circled around him, putting herself
between him and the shore. He allowed it because he was watching
her so closely it was almost like being inside her. He'd know she
was moving a heartbeat after she thought about it, and he'd take
her down.

He was paying attention to the laters more, a vast improvement
over only paying attention to the now. It felt good. It felt like
a step in the right direction.

"This seems pretty dramatic to me," he said, and smiled. He
remembered other occasions when Marita had been so... over the
top. And he remembered the results. He might be looking at the
big picture but that didn't mean he'd overlook the most
interesting details.

"I just want to live. I want to forget that I helped create an
organization that has done and will continue to do horrible
things mainly because it can."

Alex grimaced, shook his head. The woman in front of him
definitely wasn't the same woman he had admired for her
deviousness. She was much closer to being the woman he'd seen in
that facility, desperate for help, protection and escape.

He hadn't provided any of that then; he wouldn't do so now.

"That is *so* fucking stupid. 'I've done bad things, let me
forget?' No. No, you dowrong by the world and you either carry
through or you repair the damage." He shook his head, angled his
body closer to hers because she'd stiffened. "Listen to me," he
growled, curling his fingers around her chin. "You want to throw
in the towel? You want to look at the world around you every day
and pretend you're ignorant of the fact that an incredibly small
army is working feverishly to save the world?"

She didn't respond, just stared up at him, expressionless. His
grip on her chin tightened; he flexed his fingers and imagined
her pale skin shadowed with a bruise, a reminder of this moment.
But he dropped his hand. Bruises faded too quickly.

"I never expected you to be so weak," he said, tone deliberately
dismissive and snide.

For a moment, he thought the barb wouldn't pierce through her
defenses. It was like he hadn't said anything--the silence
between them was so deep that it seemed to stifle the birdsong,
slow the lap of waves on the shore.

He counted his heartbeats and waited.

Fifteen beats, then her eyes flashed with frustrated rage; a

A second later she was moving, her hands shoving hard into his
chest, but he'd used that split second of advance knowledge to
brace himself, and her actions had little effect. Alex wrapped
his hand around her wrist, gripping tight, but her other hand
fisted, and she threw the punch before he could move to block
her. He took the blow with a hissed curse before grappling to get
her arms behind her back and both her wrists wrapped in his hand.

It was a fierce battle. Marita fought silently, using her teeth,
trying to shove him off-balance and over the edge of the dock. He
couldn't get a good grip on both her wrists, was starting to feel
the sharp edges of her teeth, so he changed his strategy.

Stepping forward, he half-pushed, half-tripped her, and they both
went down. She managed to keep her head from slamming into the
silvered wood of the old dock, but he didn't give her enough time
to gather herself for another serious offense.

He covered her body with his, quick and hard so that he knocked
the breath out of her. It was easy to catch her wrists above her
head then, while she was trying to hit him again and still
fighting to suck in oxygen. She coughed a few times as he
tightened his grip, pressed his hand down against the dock, and
caught his breath quickly.

He could have cursed his lack of a second arm, the fact that he
was surprisingly unwilling to really hurt her, but he was too
busy cursing himself. He'd hardened during their brief
struggle--his cock seemed to have a mind of its own.

And he was too pleased by her flash of spirit. This was what he
wanted from her. This was what felt... right.

To find her a challenge, a strong adversary, very nearly his
equal when it came to combat--it sent a powerful, delicious shock
of adrenaline surging through his body. If she had been
practicing and working out instead of sulking, he probably
wouldn't have been able to get her on the ground without losing a
little skin.

"Did that get your blood pumping, Marita?" he panted, shifting
his body to rest more completely over hers, enjoying himself now.
"Was that good for you?"

Beneath him, her body jerked sharply, and he met the movement
with a thrust of his hips, pinning her back down. If he let her
twist around like that, she'd end up with splinters in her thighs
and ass. And with his luck, she'd end up piercing her skin on a
nail and he'd have to find a way to get her a tetanus shot.

Besides, it felt good to press himself against her.

Maybe chasing her down here wasn't such a waste of time, he
thought. He could feel the tightness left in his muscles after a
morning spent at the computer desk gradually easing away, thanks
to the warmth of the sun on his back and Marita's cool, slim body
underneath his.

She cursed him as soon as she got her breath back and tried to
twist her wrists free of his manacle-tight grip on them. "Nothing
involving you is good for me, you bastard," she hissed when he
responded to her efforts by stretching a little more, dragging
her arms out perfectly straight and leaving her with no leverage.

"That's what you say now," he murmured, and grinned down at her.
"But if you let me get you naked, that tune would change."

"Not likely. I'm so sick of your roughness." She gave up on her
arms and shifted her attention to trying to free her legs. He had
to move quickly to pin them closed, but since he was left with
her nylon-clad thighs shifting between his, sliding silkily
across the denim of his jeans, he just continued to smile down at

"I'd go easy if I didn't think you'd go right back to feeling
sorry for yourself, Marita. I remember going slow with you a few
times--before you betrayed me."

Colors deepened in her eyes, touched her pale cheeks, and he was
certain that she was remembering too. Her body loosened beneath
his, some of the tension bleeding out as sensations came back,
dug free from under the layers of denial and repression where
she'd buried them.

"I told you in Tunisia, Marita, that we worked well together
once. And we got things accomplished when we came back, even
though you were more interested in moaning about what had been
taken from you than in figuring out what you could do to avenge
yourself." Her body relaxed further, and Alex rewarded her by
bringing her arms down a little, so that she wasn't stretched out
so tightly.

But he wasn't about to loosen his grip on her hands--her eyes
might have darkened and perhaps even warmed a little, but he
wasn't stupid enough to forget that she *could* still be devious.
Her mind was always, always going, and if she had decided to lull
him into a careless state...

"I really think that if you just let go of the past for a little
while and worked with me, you could eventually have Them
helpless. Destroyed. Imagine it, Marita." His voice dropped to a
persuasive whisper, and he watched her eyes carefully. "Imagine
using your knowledge to get Them in a position where you could
issue a direct challenge." She stared up into his eyes, and
nodded. Apparently, the need for vengeance was still alive inside

"All those horrible tests that were run on you could be adapted
to torture Them," he assured her smoothly, playing on that need.
"They could be subject to your punishment. You could let your
little inner sadist have free rein."

She closed her eyes, and he balanced more of his weight on his
knees; a sigh shuddered through her as soon as she could breath
deeply enough. "Alex..." she said slowly, dragging his name out
to a million syllables despite its simplicity. "There is no inner
sadist. There's just a woman who wants this to be over."

He studied her face. Her lashes were pale but cast deep shadows
across her cheekbones, the slant of her eyes obvious and exotic.
Her full lips were nearly colorless. "That woman will never get
what she wants if she quits now," he told her quietly, simply,
for once not coloring his voice with sarcasm or anger. "If you
disappear, you won't forget. You'll try, and fail, and hate
yourself more with every passing minute. And if you didn't know
that somewhere inside yourself, you would have left already."

After a second, she went completely limp beneath him, and seemed
to hold her breath. He could hear his heart thudding gently,
could feel hers beating a little more frantically, could hear the
water and the birds and a plane in the distance. He could hear
her mind working.

Her lips twisted, and he knew it was over.

"I want revenge, Alex," she whispered, and sighed again when he
covered her lips with his.

Because her body was nearly fluid beneath his, he went slowly. Or
maybe it was just to prove a point; he couldn't be sure. But he
spent a long time nibbling delicately on her lips, the tip of her
chin, the soft skin behind her ear. She twisted her hands and he
let them slip free of his grip, trusting her for the moment. And
for the first time since they had been drawn back
together, she held onto him, hands exploring the sharp planes of
his back, the hollow of his spine.

Licking the curve of her neck, he smiled. He'd remembered her
drama and the quick, dark passion that came with it, but had
forgotten the deeper, molten pleasure she could induce when she
forgot to hate him. Carefully, he nipped at the hollow of her
shoulder, then pushed back.

Against the silver wood of the dock, her pale skin and light hair
gleamed. The dark suit was out of place, the blouse beneath too
confining. And the fact that the pins in her hair had held
through their brief battle annoyed him. But he could feel the
roughness of the wood even through the thick material of his
jeans, and knew that stripping her to the skin right there on the
dock was a bad idea.

Gracefully, he rose to his feet, and then held out his hand to
her. "Let's take this somewhere else, Marita," he murmured.
"Where we're less likely to get lockjaw."

She hesitated, sprawled out on the dock. Her gaze flickered from
his face to his hand, to the straining zipper of his jeans and
back again. Come on, he urged her in his mind. You don't have to
trust me, not completely. All you have to do is take my hand and
watch my back while we scatter the Consortium's remains...

Slowly, her hand rose, and he wrapped his fingers around it,
aware that she was almost shaking, that her fingers felt delicate
and strong, fragile and powerful all at once. Then she was
standing in front of him again, and he nudged her backwards, kept
her going, followed her off the dock.

Hunger gnawed in his stomach as he kept his gaze locked on hers,
the same dark and greedy hunger that had followed him from that
jail cell in Tunisia all the way to this cabin in the US, that
had been born many years and many betrayals earlier.

The cabin is only a few hundred yards away, he thought,
calculating that they could be there in only a few minutes. But
the rough sand of the small beach gave way to soft grass only
twenty feet or so past the end of the dock. And as uneasy as
being in the open made him, walking a few hundred yards with his
cock compressed by his jeans seemed even worse.

Plus, Marita had less time to change her mind if he took her down
on the grass. He had a feeling that once he slipped inside her,
her course would be set--but until then, there was a chance that
she'd try slipping away again.

As soon as they reached the grass, he stopped her. Her gaze
dropped to his fingers as he maneuvered the buttons in her
blouse, and she shrugged out of her jacket while he reached for
the zipper of her skirt. She stepped out of her heels, then out
of the puddles of fabric her neat, professional suit had made on
the ground.

Alex toyed with the elastic band of her stockings, considering
the feel of the material against his bare skin, but decided he
wanted her completely naked.

He wanted skin to skin.

When she was naked, he stepped back to admire the silky gleam of
her skin in the sunlight. He was surprised by the fact that she
hadn't tried to hide herself from his gaze or put up a fuss
because they were outside, in a secluded but not entirely private
area. But then she looked up and met his gaze, and he recognized
the look in her eyes. Pure heat, a very physical
and blunt kind of passion, the fire that he had seen in her years
before. He had brought it forth in Tunisia, but almost not
expected to see again.

He smiled at her, comfortable under that heated, sharply alert
gaze, and began to strip. Boots, socks, jeans, his white shirt,
all were discarded as quickly as he could get rid of them. His
nondescript clothing mingled almost companionably with her
expensive suit when he kicked the whole pile aside and stood
before her.

Then he took a step towards her and touched her, the back of his
hand sliding down her torso, from her neck to her stomach and up
again. The darkness of his need rose again, and he tried to fight
back the urge to dominate, to conquer.

But with his hand on her shoulder, he urged her down to her
knees. It wasn't in his nature to battle back his urges for long,
not when it came to sex and Marita, in any case.

She smiled knowingly and folded onto the grass, her hands sliding
down his body, across his hips. Alex began to drag the pins out
of her hair as she kissed her way down his stomach to his cock,
and then wrapped the loosened strands around his fingers as she
took him into her mouth.

The warm sunlight continued to beat down on his back and ass as
he stood with his head tilted back, enjoying the incredible heat
of her mouth and the skilled touch of her hands. The first time
Marita had done this for him, he'd nearly lost his mind when he
came and had hardened again in just a few short minutes, as if he
had never come at all. He'd wondered if she could keep him going
for days with just the pressure of her lips and tongue on his
cock, and then decided that he could keep himself going just by

But still, in the years since, he had forgotten.

"If I had thought about this while I was in that jail cell," he
said to her, "I wouldn't have minded being locked in with all
those men so badly." He tilted his chin, looked down as she
slipped her mouth free of his cock and looked up at him. Her lips
were wet, and seductively reddened.

"I don't think I'm flattered," she murmured, and Alex smiled,
then knelt down with her, putting his mouth over hers. He
absorbed her taste, found it mixed with his.

"You *should* be flattered," he said against her mouth. "Or you
could just... be fucked."

He pushed his hand between her spread thighs, testing her. She
was wet but not quite wet enough. He slipped two fingers up
inside her, curled them. Her head fell back, her skin flushed,
and he set his teeth against the warm, pink curve of her neck,
feeling her pulse pounding against his lips.

If I get any harder, he thought idly as he rotated his thumb
against her clit, I'll probably never be able to get off. I'll be
wearing loose pants and long shirts for the rest of my life.

He lost the thought, and his restraint, when Marita pressed her
hips forward, driving his fingers in deeper, and moaned. Slow, he
ordered himself, but it was impossible. In just under a second he
had her on her back in the grass and was hooking one of her legs
over his shoulder. The other he caught behind the knee and urged
up, stretching her open. Her fingers wrapped around his cock and
she guided it in, massaging as she slowly slipped inside her and
then releasing when her hand prevented
him from pressing all the way down.

When he was as deep as he could go without hurting her, Alex
paused and held himself back waiting for Marita to move. When
she'd adjusted, she pressed her hips up into his and he braced
himself a little higher against her, getting a better angle. Her
body closed around him and seemed to fight to draw him deeper.
The friction of every movement sent sparks through his nerves,
and left her gasping and clutching at the ground. Within three
thrusts, she was convulsing, her head thrown back and her body
stretched out taut.

He closed his eyes to absorb the sensation of her body rippling
around him, molten and demanding. For a split second he
considered not giving in, holding on to see if he could make her
come again. But then he lost himself and thrust again, putting
all his pent-up frustration and power into the movement.

Once, twice--then the heat inside him boiled over and he arched
his back, ground his hips down, spilling inside her.

He dropped over her when his spine had finished melting out his
cock, let her legs slide down. When she was flat beneath him,
still gasping, he rolled onto his back and draped her over him.

"We should go back into the house," she said against his chest
almost immediately, her breath puffing across his skin. His hands
were exploring the soft skin and tight muscles of her back and
ass, so he didn't answer.

So much more fun to touch her than to just manipulate with words,
he thought, but cleared his mind and closed his eyes when he felt
her push back.

"Alex." He half-opened his eyes when she said his name,
pretending laziness, genuinely displeased because the sun was
shining down over her and into his face. "Alex," she repeated,
and pushed further back. She settled on her knees, straddling his
hips. "We should go back. We need to crack some of those codes
before the Gunmen come down."

Good girl, he thought, and sat up so that she had to tilt her
head back and he could look down into her face. "You're ready to
get to work?" he asked her, keeping his voice cool even though
his body still felt the heat of hers. "No more stalling? No
more sulking?"

Her eyes flashed. "Watch what you say," she murmured, voice
already cool and controlled again. "I could sabotage your work
with almost no effort, and disappear just as easily."

He cocked an eyebrow. "With billions of lives at risk, just
because I insulted you by reminding you of your behavior. You
think you could escape that, and me?"

No reply, but her expression was resolute.

"Good," he said, and smiled at her. "Nice to have you back,

She smiled back, that now-familiar bittersweet twist of her
mouth. "Let's hope you can keep saying that until this is all
over, Alex, and I'm off in my safe little dream world." Smooth
and lithe, she rose and began to gather her clothes together.

And Alex was left trying to assure himself that he hadn't woken a
monster, and the tingle at the base of his spine wasn't a


I have to confess that while I'm writing, I don't read much. So
I've heard there've been some really excellent fics posted of
late, but haven't gotten around to many them. I've noticed that
my characterization tends to differ from the normal perception...
I can't change that without feeling like I'm doing myself a
disservice. So I shall have to hope that you guys care enough to
write and say, "Why, swh, you're not so far off that I can't go
with you," or, "Why did you bother to rename BillyBob and
Joe-Anne for XF characters?" Send a note to win my eternal
gratitude! :)

Crawling back under her rock for now :)--
she who hides