Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Wine".

Chapter 5 :: St. Patrick's Day
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter

++ Monica ++


Even after four years of living here at the Ranch, it never ceases to amaze me how much Dace goes all out for the parties out here. All of the major holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. It doesn't matter what the reason is, so long as there can be some sort of party. It certainly makes things easier as far as designated drivers go.

The Great Room is hopping with all of the families waiting for Kerry and Rachel to signal that the food's finally ready. Most of the kids are still giggling over Karen's dramatic reading of Green Eggs and Ham earlier, particularly since she and Dace rigged up some actual green eggs and ham for effect. William and Michel stared at those eggs for the longest time, completely mesmerized.

"Ready for a refill?"

Darya's voice cuts into my thoughts and I glance up to see her standing there, dressed up like a leprechaun bar wench. Her décolletage is certainly enhanced in all of the best ways by the outfit, and I can't help but stare at the sight. The thought of Dana wearing that same outfit nearly has me choking on my own tongue. The sharp elbow to my ribs stuns the breath out of me.

"Eyes back in your head, mister," Dana mutters darkly.

"Sorry, baby," I reply sheepishly, leaning over to press a kiss to her cheek. "I was just--"

"I know what you were just, Monica Reyes," she says, but the twinkle in her eye belies the gravity of her tone. "And you can just plan on not just, if you know what's good for you. Or you can plan on sleeping on the couch tonight. Capiche?"

With an amused twitter of a laugh, Darya leans over to refill my mug from the pitcher before doing the same with Dana's wine glass. The movement puts even more emphasis on her more than ample chest and I force myself to look away. Only to find myself staring into the malachite eyes of one Karen Taylor. Jeezus, but I am in a world of hurt right now.

"How's the wine, Dana?" Karen asks, walking up to our table. She slaps Darya's ass, grinning wolfishly at the coquettish squeal from her wife. "I'm only asking because I found the winery on my last trip out to San Francisco. Anastasia said she's looking to find a new winery to purchase from and this one's in the running."

"It's actually pretty good," Dana replies, taking another sip. "I’m not nearly as thrilled with it once it starts getting warm though. Maybe that's just this particular vintage? But I was very impressed with it when it was first chilled out of the bottle."

Karen nods, absently presenting her mug to her wife for a refill. "Fair enough, I'll check with Anastasia on the same thing. My wine palate's gone to shit over the years."

"Quarter, Kryn!" Fawn calls from across the room.

"I swear that kid has some sort of sonar for hearing the curse words," Karen mutters, digging into her pockets. "Of course, I'm lacking in change, and I'm not giving that little shark a fiver."

The child in question appears next to us, beaming up at Karen as she holds out her hand imperiously. "You said a bad word, Unca Kryn."

"Yes, I did, but you're going to have to put this quarter on my tab. I have no money on me at all."

Fawn's dark eyes narrow shrewdly as she stares at Karen for a long moment. Finally she huffs a sigh and crosses her arms across her chest. "Fine, but you owe me three dollars and seventy-five cents now." And with that, she stalks off to join Emily, Cubby, and Justin in teaching the smaller kids some sort of bean bag tossing game.

Once she's out of normal hearing range, Karen scrubs a hand over her face and sighs. "That kid is more like her mother than I care to think about. I fear the day she gets any sort of real power."

Dana laughs and takes a sip of her wine. "You better be careful, Karen, or her mother will hear you. And I know just how much you actually fear her mother."

"Wait," Darya says suddenly, turning to face her wife. "You owe her nearly five dollars for the swear jar? Karen Taylor, what have you--"

Anything further she might say is swallowed by the kiss that Karen plants on her. Quick reflexes on my part save pitcher, wine bottle, and Karen's mug from becoming so much shattered glass and ruined alcohol on the floor. Dana pulls all of the items further from the edge of the table, then rests her chin on her hand to watch the show in front of us. In practically no time at all, Karen and Darya attract a small crowd of people. It's not until Sofia catcalls them that they pull away from the involved kiss. Darya flushes hotly with a squeak, the color making its way down beneath the low neckline of her dress, and quickly grabs up the bottle and pitcher to head into the relative safety of the kitchen.

"Where's a video camera when you need one?" Dace calls from across the room, where she's helping Alexis and Tory keep some of the smaller children occupied. "Hey, Bane, any chance you two can repeat the performance for me later tonight after all the rugrats are down for the night? It sounded pretty hot!"

"You know, you can bite my a--" She stops suddenly, feeling several pairs of young eyes turning to land on her, led by the little quarter shark herself. Sighing, Karen digs into her pocket and pulls out the five dollar bill in her wallet. "Here, Fawn," she says, holding the bill out toward the girl. "I get four more after the one I'm about to use before you can come ask me for more. We clear?"

"Yes, Kryn," comes the smug chortle of agreement as the girl snatches the bill from her outstretched fingers.

"Candace Bogart, you can bite my ass," she finally says and turns to bow toward Dana and me. "Thank you both for watching my beer. I'd hate to waste a good mug of beer like that."

With that, she heads off toward the blonde menace that brought us all together in the first place. I can't really deny what she said about the beer, and I take a healthy pull off my mug. This is some of the best beer I've had in a long time. The sound of Dana chuckling tears my eyes away from Karen's retreating form.

"What's so funny, baby?"

"Just this," she replies, leaning closer to snake out her tongue, dragging it along the head foaming on my upper lip. "Mmm, that's some good beer."

"Yeah, it is," I stammer, enticed by the dark promise in her eyes, and hold up my mug. "Wanna drink?"

"No, but I'll have another taste," is all she says as she leans in again for a lingering, exploratory kiss.

Her tongue glides within my mouth, stroking everything it can touch before tangling with mine. The taste of her wine mingling with my beer is definitely a unique taste, and not one that I'd normally consider, but if it means getting a kiss like this, I'll certainly try it again in the future. Her hand slips up to cup the back of my skull, fingers massaging my scalp as the kiss deepens. I know it's me whining when she pulls back from the kiss, but I don't want to admit it. Not even when she lets that dark, knowing chuckle loose again. I am in such a world of hurt right now, and the beer's only made it worse.

"There's more of that for you later," she murmurs in my ear, breath hot on my skin. "Unlike Darya and Karen, I'm not much into the public making out sessions. At least not since we had to do it undercover four years ago. But I can think of a show or two I might be persuaded to give when we're home alone tonight."

Oh god, I hope William gets completely worn out between the games and the food. I think I'm going to be doing a little hunting for Irish gold tonight. And if I'm lucky, I'll get the rainbow at the end of the journey, too.