Some things are easier to talk about in the dark. 

A sequel to Escape Velocity. Rated M..

He had vowed never to bring her flowers, but when she opened her front door that night and found him standing there with one hand behind his back, that's where her mind went, for just a second. "Hi," he said, in the over-bright awkward tone that defined their interactions these days. "I saw on the news about the transformer blowing out, and I thought you might need these."

She saw then he was holding a different sort of bouquet: a collection of flashlights. "Thanks, but I have some," she said, waving the one she had used to find the door.

"Oh." He hunched his shoulders inside his leather jacket. "Right."

"The phones are still working," she pointed out. "You could have called."

"I wanted to make sure you were okay."

He wasn't talking about the power outage, and they both knew it. Self-conscious, she tugged the sleeves of her robe down to hide the abrasions on her wrists. Frank Lassiter had been dead three days now, but it was still his face she saw when she closed her eyes.

"I'm fine," she said. Even in the low light of the street lamps, she could read the skepticism on his face. "Really. It's just a temporary power outage." She straightened up for emphasis. "You don't need to rescue me."

"Call it a habit," he said, but his tone was mild. He peered around her into her shadowed living room. "So can I come in?"

She hesitated another second before fully drawing open the door. "Sure. Come in. I warn you, though—it's dark in here."

"Fortunately, I came prepared." He switched on one of his flashlights and trained it on her briefly. She shielded her eyes and ducked out of the way. The beam shifted here and there around the room as he studied the place, taking it in as if for the first time. "Is that water running?" he asked eventually.

She bit back a curse and hurried to the rear of the house where the master bathroom was. Hunter trailed after her. The bathroom was warm and steamy, flickering with candlelight, but the bubbles were threatening to overflow the edge of the large soaking tub. As she reached down to shut off the faucet, she heard Hunter chuckling from the doorway.

"You want me to go back out so you can get in there with your gun?" he said.

"If you like," she said as she stood up again. "Of course it would be loaded this time."

He put his hands up. "I come in peace."

She took up one of the candles from the vanity and walked past him into the bedroom again. He watched from the doorway as she set the candle at the bedside and took a seat on one side of the bed. She was careful to curl her legs under her, conscious of the fact that he was fully dressed and she was wearing just her underwear and a robe. "So why are you really here?" she asked.

He hesitated a second and then shrugged out of his leather jacket, which he deposited on a nearby chair before lowering himself to the other side of the bed. "I told you. I wanted to see how you were doing. I thought…I thought maybe you might want to talk or something."

She closed her eyes briefly, exhausted by the very thought. "About which part?" she asked him finally. "Andy's suicide? Frank Lassiter? Or the part where I quit my job."

"God," he said, leaning back against the headboard. "When you put it that way…it's been one a hell of a week, hasn't it?"

They sat in silence for a few minutes as the candles created shadow puppet theater across her bedroom walls. She hadn't invited him there, but she had to admit it was kind of nice, having him warm and solid and only a few inches away. In a week full of anguish and terror, it was the loneliness that was the hardest to shake.

She shifted a little closer, and she thought she saw him smile. Then he heaved a sigh. "Well, if you change your mind about the talking," he said, "give me a call. I have some free time."

She gave him a questioning look.

"Suspended," he replied. "Five days."

"Ouch," she said with sympathy. Apparently catching Frank Lassiter was not enough penance, not when his brother Rudy had died at Hunter's hand while in police custody. "Sorry about that," she murmured.

He shrugged. "Could have been worse. At least I didn't get fired."

"What would you have done then?" She couldn't imagine him as anything other than a cop.

"No idea." His gaze flicked over her. "What will you do?"

She felt herself flush and hoped he couldn't see in the dim light. "I don't know," she admitted. She'd had only one thought—get out, now—and acted on it. At the time, it had felt like she was saving her own life. She'd fled and left everything behind, including him.



There was one thing she wanted to say, one part that made her feel so guilty she'd been avoiding it ever since she'd walked off the job. "I'm sorry…I'm sorry about the way I quit." She swallowed. "I'm sorry about…about leaving you alone like that. You know, with everything."

If he'd done it to her, she would have been shattered.

He cleared his throat. "It's okay. I mean, I wish you would have talked to me about it first—but I understand why you did it."

She blinked back tears. There was no way she could have sat down with him and reached the same decision. The slightest bit of resistance from him and she would have caved. "Look at it this way," she said with a sniff. "Now you don't have to keep coming after me."

"Hey." He touched her hand and waited until she looked at him. "I will always come after you."

She nodded, too overwhelmed to speak, and he tugged towards him.

"Always," he repeated as his arms closed around her. She hugged him tightly, practically burrowing into him with relief. There was so much up in the air right now: their relationship; her job; her whole life. Hunter's voice was warm and reassuring against the top of her head. "There is nowhere you can go that I won't find you," he said, and for a few moments, she didn't feel so lost.

She shuddered once and then relaxed. It was quiet outside with all the electricity gone, so she heard only Hunter's heartbeat, reassuring and strong, beneath her ear. This connection, she realized, was what was missing from her life. How long had it been since she had held someone like this and allowed herself to be held in return?

She couldn't stop herself from drinking in the sensation. She rubbed her cheek against his warm cotton T-shirt, nestling even closer, and maybe possibly allowed herself to pet his stomach, just a little bit. He didn't seem to mind. She felt his cheek against her hair and his hand took up a slow caress against her spine.

Eyes closed, she let herself drift away from the recent terrible episodes, back to happier times when she felt safe and good. Pressed up against him as she was, his scent right under her nose, it was only natural she recalled the last time—the only time—they had been together in a bed this way. It was so many years ago now that the memory seemed to wink at her from a distance, like starlight from the night sky. They had kept their one night together such a secret that she barely admitted it to herself that it had happened. You can't want what you never had.

Her body remembered it, though, growing warmer with each pass of his hand down her back. She really ought to move away now, but he felt too damn good. She felt good. And that hadn't been true for a long, long time. A murmur of satisfaction escaped her, and Hunter answered with a squeeze.

"I thought maybe you were asleep," he said.

"No, just thinking."

He pressed his lips to the top of her head. "What about?"

If only he knew. Heat flared across her cheeks and she shook her head against him. "Just…nothing." They had never talked about it, not even once.

"What? You can tell me." He sounded concerned, and she felt a flash of guilt; he thought she was wrapped up in trauma, when really she'd been remembering him naked.

So maybe it was her conscience, or maybe curiosity, that made her admit some version of the truth. "Do you ever think about Curaguay? I mean, not the part with Mariano…but after."

From the way he stiffened in her arms, she knew she had her answer. "Uh, yeah, sure," he said after a beat. "Sometimes. " His tone was cautious. "Why?"

"No reason," she eased away from him and kept her eyes on her lap. "I just wondered. We've never talked about it."

"You never said anything."

She glanced at him. "Neither did you."

Hunter frowned and shifted to face her. "I thought that you—" He stopped himself abruptly and started over. "Was there something you wanted to talk about…now?"

She shrugged. "Not especially. It's just that sometimes I wonder if I made it all up—you were the only other person there, and if you didn't remember…"

"I remember," he cut in. His eyes had gone dark in the low light.

"Okay," she said, ducking his gaze again. "Good. That's all I wanted to know."

"I remember everything," he murmured. He touched her cheek gently with his fingertips, and the sensation made her suck in her breath.


"Hmm?" He was still stroking her.

"I believe you. It…it happened. It was a very nice favor you did."

He dropped his hand away from her face. "Is that what you think it was?"

"It wasn't?" She looked up, searching him. She'd watched him date a hundred women since then, pretty much all of whom could have been answering a casting call for "Anyone Who Is Not Dee Dee McCall." She was, plainly stated, not his type.

He shook his head slowly. "Not to me. I guess I thought you knew."

"Knew what?"

He hesitated a moment and then took her hand to pull her closer again. His embrace was tender, like it had been years ago, and the intimacy of his voice near her ear made her shiver. "It's one of my favorite memories," he said.

She squeezed her eyes shut. It was so tempting to believe him.

He kissed her temple and gathered her up against him, until she was practically in his lap. "When you said that you wanted it to be me, I realized how badly I wanted that too," he said.

"You did?"

"Sure. Some other guy—I couldn't trust him. Who was he to come in and share that with you after everything we'd been through? He wasn't going to know you like I did. He wasn't going to love you like I did."

At the last bit, a small sob escaped her, and she clutched him tighter, hiding her face in his neck. He rocked her as his skin became wet with her tears.

"Like I said, I thought you knew." His voice was hoarse with emotion. "I thought that's why it happened, because you felt the same way."

"I did. I did." She wiped at her cheeks quickly and then returned to hugging him. "I'm sorry."

"Shh." He kissed her head. "Stop apologizing to me."

"It was just so long ago now. It seems like another lifetime."

"Sometimes," he agreed as he stroked her hair. "Sometimes no time at all."

Yes, she agreed privately, like now, when she was wearing very little clothing and wrapped in his arms. Why didn't they do this more often?

She reached up to touch his face, and he turned so he could kiss her fingers. "You're right," she told him. "There has never been anyone who understood the way you do. You were…you were wonderful."

She felt him smile against her hand, and he squeezed her close. "I was shell-shocked," he said.

Well, yes, she thought. They had nearly just been killed. "It was a scary time."

"No, I mean with you in bed," he said in a low voice. He cupped the side of her face and stroked her cheek with his thumb. "After the rape, I couldn't believe how hard it was, and I mean for me. Of course it would be horrible for you. That made sense. You were the one it happened to. But somehow I had the same anger and helplessness and depression and just nowhere to put it. There was no way to turn those feelings off. Instead of hurting for you, I hurt with you."

"Sorry," she said, her eyes still wet.

"What did I tell you about apologizing?" He nuzzled her and she smiled.

"Sorry," she said again, this time deliberately.

"Anyway," he said, "I didn't realize it went the other direction too. Not until it was happening."

She'd started tracing a random pattern across his chest. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," he said, leaning down until his face was right against hers, "that I didn't just feel your pain like it was mine. I felt your pleasure too."

Her mouth went totally dry as she remembered just how much pleasure there had been.

"It hasn't been that way before or since," he said as his lips grazed her brow in the barest of kisses. "So yeah. I remember."

She bunched fistfuls of his T-shirt in her hands. Probably she should have just thanked him kindly and gotten out of the bed, but the power of their connection held her fast. "It was the same for me," she confessed softly. It was easier to do this in the semi-darkness, leaning heads together so she didn't have to look into his face as she said it. "There have been other guys…"

"I know," he muttered. "I wanted to run few of them over with my car."

She drew back. "You did? I never knew that."

"I didn't want you to," he said, and she wondered what else she hadn't known.

She took a breath. "But it wasn't the same with them—the history, the shared feeling, it counts for a lot." She risked a look at him, considering how much to say. "It scared me a little, I guess," she said, picking at some imaginary lint from the comforter. "Maybe that's why I never brought it up. It was—it was hard to walk away."

"Come here," he said, gathering her up again. She wound her arms around his neck and hung on tight, the way she'd wanted to do so many years before. Hunter rocked her gently and made shushing noises, even though she wasn't crying. The shushing turned to kissing as he pressed his lips to her temple, her forehead, her cheek. She shifted with each touch of his mouth, trying to catch him with hers, but either he was avoiding her or their rhythm was off.

Finally she grabbed his head with both hands to hold him still and put her lips on his. She felt his sharp intake of breath against her mouth and then the moment when he agreed. His hands, which had been clutching her tightly, relaxed and started smoothing over her body. It was a gentle and loving kiss at first, but their mouths grew more parted and the tempo slowed and then his tongue was sliding along hers.

She made a hungry sound and pressed closer, which made him gasp and back away. "What?" she breathed, hurt by the sudden loss of contact.

He rested his head against hers and caressed the side of her face. "I didn't come here to take advantage."

"Oh," she said with an embarrassed little laugh. "I, um, I thought I was the one who was taking advantage."

He gave her a slow grin. "Yeah?" She nodded. "Well, proceed away, then."

She looped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him backwards with her into the pillows. This was asking for trouble but she really didn't care. Her life was a mess right now, so it might as well be an enjoyable mess for once. He kissed her nose and made her giggle. He kissed her neck and made her sigh. The best part about being with Hunter was that she could turn her brain off and just feel. Feel his tongue teasing hers. Feel his hand stroking her thigh. She ran her hands down his body, and the ripple of his muscles under her palms was just as delicious as she remembered. Her robe fell open at the bottom and his heavy, hard thigh came to rest between her legs.

Hunter pulled his mouth from hers. "You know, I'm feeling sort of guilty," he said as she started to rock against him.

She put her fingers to his lips to stop him from talking, but he nipped at them and pushed her hand aside. "I told you…"

"I interrupted your bath," he said, cutting her off. He leaned down to kiss her again, and she immediately lost the thread of conversation. She made a noise of protest when he moved away again. "I've been watching you in those damn bubbles for years. I think it's time I found out what all the fuss was about."

Arousal made it hard to think. "You want to watch me to take a bath?"

"No," he said, his voice low near her ear. He bit her neck lightly. "I want to get in there with you."

So this was how she found herself standing in the candlelight in her bathroom, watching him shuck his clothes as the tub filled up again. "Could be a tight fit," she told him as he removed his shirt.

"I bet we can make it work." Their eyes met and held as he undid his jeans. For some reason, she didn't look yet. Maybe she was afraid. Maybe he didn't want her as much as she wanted him.

She killed the faucet and then there was quiet. Hunter touched her arm as he climbed into the tub. The bubbles swallowed him to his waist.

"Your turn," he said, his gaze greedy. He had no compunction about looking.

She swallowed with difficulty and then shed the robe and underwear. Hunter extended a hand to help her in, although there was not much room left over. He drew his knees up so she could sit between them. As his arms closed around her from behind, he placed a soft kiss at her nape. His erection prodded the small of her back, and she shifted to gain more contact.

"Ah," he said, sucking in a breath. "You are the worst tease."

"Who's teasing?" She stroked his forearms and leaned back against him with a smile.

But despite his obvious interest, Hunter wasn't in a hurry. His hands moved over her arms and up her legs in a decidedly non-sexual way. She relaxed, her eyes drifting closed. The water was warm, the bubbles delightfully ticklish, and his embrace, the best kind of sin. "I think I am beginning to see the appeal," he said from behind her.

She smiled without opening her eyes. "This is not usually how they play out," she replied.

"Right," he said. "There's supposed to be washing." He jostled her a bit as he stretched forward for a facecloth. "Jeez," he said, eyeing the various bottles lined up against the edge of the tub. "Don't you have, like, a bar of soap some place?"

She plucked out the bath gel. "This one."

She settled back against him as he worked the gardenia-scented gel into a rich lather. "What service," she said as he began running the cloth from her shoulder down he length of her arm. As before, his touch was slow and gentle but not especially arousing. This continued until she became aware he was dragging the cloth everywhere but her breasts or between her legs. The more he avoided those areas, the more she wanted it, until she was practically squirming in his lap.

His breathing had deepened and she felt his hot mouth briefly on her neck. "Now who's teasing?" she murmured, arching into his touch.

"Mmm." His voice vibrated over her bare skin and he kept up his caresses.

Finally, she couldn't take it anymore, and she guided his hand beneath the bubbles to find her breasts. The first touch of the terrycloth made her gasp with pleasure. He rubbed them both thoroughly, increasing the pressure and then pinching her nipples through the cloth until she was making near continuous sounds of delight.

"You like that?" he said against her neck. "What about this?"

The cloth moved lower, inch by inch, dragging across her belly and down, down, down between her parted thighs. She bucked when he made contact, sloshing the water, and he used his other arm to hold her around the middle. "Careful, careful," he murmured as he started stroking her.

Her head lolled back against his shoulder, and he used the opportunity to kiss her. They exchanged deep, open-mouthed kisses as the cloth floated away and left nothing but the feel of his fingers between her legs. He moved them back and forth, in and out, until she had no breath left to kiss him. Instead she reached back to hold his head against hers, his hot face in her neck as the waves in the tub grew stronger, stronger, and she rose like the tide to his touch. She cried out, the sound sharp and joyful as it bounced off all the porcelain in the room.

Behind her, Hunter laughed with glee. "I'm definitely switching to baths," he said as she sagged in his arms. It took her a few moments to be able to speak again.

"Mmm," she said, turning in his embrace. They kissed as she rewarded him with some stroking of her own. The bubbles had receded slightly with their vigorous activity, and the eager tip of his cock poked out from below. He was breathless when she pulled away. There was no way to take things any further in the tub. She had nowhere to put her knees. "I think we're clean enough now," she said.

"Fair enough. I'm starting to prune."

They wrapped themselves in fluffy towels, but then he scooped her up in his arms, caveman-style, to carry her to the bedroom. The candles were burning low by now, the scent of hot wax thick in the air. He set her down gently and opened her towel. His already lay discarded on her bedroom floor.

Bed itself was fraught with tension for her. She both loved and hated it. When it was warm and comfortable, letting her sleep with sweet dreams, there was no place better. But there was no getting around the fact that she'd also been tortured in beds, even recently, and so some nights she found only demons between the sheets.

Hunter always seemed to know this, and thus his touch was gentle as he lay himself on top of her. "Okay?"

"Oh, yes." They kissed and touched, and once again, he was teasing her, because she felt the hot length of him probing between her thighs but going no further. She was considering flipping him over and going for it herself when he rubbed his face in her hair.

"I want you so much my teeth hurt," he said. "But I did not come prepared for this little party."

"Wha-?" She was still trying to feel him closer.

"Condom," he spelled out for her. "I don't have one."

"Oh! Uh…medicine cabinet, maybe?" It had been so long she was no longer sure. Condoms supposedly had an expiration date, didn't they? It had to be too dark to read the label, and she found she really didn't care.

"We're in luck," he called from her bathroom.

She nearly teared up in relief as he climbed back over her. They said everyone was the same height lying down, and it wasn't quite true, but close enough so they could kiss while he positioned himself between her legs. She waited for the thrust, but it did not come. He slid teasingly back and forth until she was whimpering into their kiss. "Rick," she said, running restless hands along his body. "I thought you wanted…"

"I do," he answered. He kissed her. "When you're ready."

"I'm ready. I'm really ready." She put her hands on his backside and tried to urge him in, rocking gently against him in invitation.

He laughed against her mouth. "Kiss me," he said.

She gave up in frustration and held his head, kissing him deeply as they moved together. Finally, on one firm pass of his cock, her body seemed to suck him in. "Ah," she sighed, and he answered with a quick, deep thrust.

This was what she wanted. Hard, fast, so fucking fantastic it took her completely out of herself. Dimly, she knew she was a cliche, fending off death with sex, but it felt so damn good she did not care. The bed shook. The candles waved frantic shadows on the wall. She shut her eyes, held him tight and they moved together until there was nothing in her head but: yes, yes, yes.

Later, when she looked again, the lights were back on. The room seemed harsh and bright. She squinted at Hunter, who was lying naked and sweaty in her arms. His hair was askew and his breathing was still unsteady. Her skin sparked everywhere they touched.

She felt teary all of a sudden. He was right. It had been a hell of a week.

"You okay?" he murmured, stroking her cheek with one finger.

She nodded. "You realize," she whispered, "I'm still not coming back."

He was quiet for a moment. "I can live with that," he answered finally as he gathered her tight against him. "As long as you don't walk away."



I know, I know: it's a story with no redeeming social value. But I can't believe there isn't more bathtub sex in this fandom. I mean, really, people. It practically writes itself. Someone has been falling down on the job! ;)

© syntax6 2015