Book 4: Rapids.
Series: Light, Water, Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.
Rating: R. Things are heating up!
Category: The continuing saga of Reflections/ Resurgences/Refractions.
Pairings: Dace and Jo. Sorta...
Personal disclaimer: Remember Zo? If you don't, you're reading this monstrous fic way out of order!
Disclaimer: "ER", see Chapter 1.
Disclaimer: "The Division", see Chapter 1.
Disclaimer: "The X-Files", see Chapter 1.
Disclaimer: "Xena Warrior Princess", see Chapter 4.
Disclaimer: "China Beach", see Chapter 5.
Disclaimer: "Facts of Life", see Chapter 6.
Disclaimer: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", see Chapter 7.
Summary: Dace lays claim to Jo, and they meet an old buddy of ours in a very unexpected way, before she takes the both home!
++ Jo ++
I felt invisible. But that was my role, even if I loved and hated it equally. When I had finally crept back to Leonacouer's table with the beer in my hands, she had given me a flat stare until I squirmed. Michael had an overbearing and tightly-controlled presence like a drill sergeant. The Lioness-Heart was a caged animal and you weren't entirely sure the bars would hold her back. Both were terrifying and sexy as hell. Blue eyes flickered to the bottle and back to my face, one brow arching in question. "A gift from the Queen of Clubs," I supplied immediately and the woman smiled.
"Is that who you went to see? I suppose I'll be grateful that she let you come back here at all. The Amazons would certainly love to show you some hospitality." The way she drawled that last word out spiked up my already-riled erogenous zones and I fought not to squirm. "So you're mine for now?"
"Good, bend over."
Dace tossed a braided cord that looked remarkably like a miniature bull whip around my neck and pulled it just tight enough to feel against my skin. I was hyper-sensitive to the small weight of the rough leather, and the tufted tip that tickled down my chest towards my cleavage. I waited at Dace's left shoulder and she utterly ignored me. Expecting it, I stood there patiently and worked at keeping my expression neutral. We were both aware that the crowd was watching us. Possibly even the killer we were looking for.
Sure, I loved the way Michael made me feel, but I'd never been public like this. It offended my cop sensibilities and kept my heart racing like a hunted animal. Dunno what I was afraid of. Not like I was anywhere near home where someone might recognize me, but still! Sure, I'd volunteered to help out this woman that Jinny respected so much, but I was getting in deep, and fast. Not that I would back out, hell no! After all, you can't send a cop into this kind of den of sin alone, right?
Except that I knew that little niggling voice in the back of my head was right.
No matter how much this situation freaked me out, I loved this. I wanted Leonacouer to reach up and grab the collar to yank me across her lap. Hold me there, spank me, fuck me, I didn't care anymore. This need was I reason I had been crawling back to Michael for so long. This need was what had allowed the piercing burn of the tattoo. Who was I kidding? I'd craved it... But this trip to Chicago was supposed to be work, and I was getting all turned around by my own kinks and was distracted by the feeling. Yet... Tarzan knew who Leonacouer was... didn't that mean she really played? That this was more than just the job? Could I give myself to a stranger? No matter how damn sexy she might be... I was saved the humiliation of my own need and abasement by a sudden throb of music that set the crowd to screaming. Then Leonacouer did reach up and grab the whip-collar, jerking painfully at my neck, and I tumbled into my chair, desperately trying to ignore that I was swollen and dripping.
A lightshow kicked into the song, but all I could make out was an electronically altered woman's voice singing, "come inside," like a mantra that matched my heartbeat. The crowd was chanting and it took long moments for the noise to become coherent.
"Panther, panther, panther," the crowd's voices repeated again and again until the music swelled over them.
And a svelte figure stepped from behind the curtain. Tall, willowy and with fabulous legs that went on for days, she strutted to the edge of the stage with a sensual sway that enthralled the crowd. Acres of creamy coca flesh glistened in the erratic lighting when she moved. An expansive mane of loose, inky black curls was swept into a topknot above a grin I could see clearly from my seat. Hell, I probably could have seen it from the bar. And as she began to gyrate and dance to the song, a glance at Dace revealed nothing; her eyes focused on the stage with a faint smile dancing on her lips.
The young woman was damn good. The crowd was eating out of her hand as she danced and twirled. While the routine was blatantly suggestive, there was a classiness to her that made her stand out from most of her ilk. Then she leapt from the stage and the audience went crazy. Guess she didn't come out to flirt with the common folk much by the way security was scrambling in surprise. A shake here, a quick caress there, and Panther had worked her way around the people at the small tables by the stage. Then her striking aquamarine gaze settled on Dace and her grin went positively predatory. Beneath the spotlights tailing her, Panther sashayed up to my new partner and they studied one another for a long moment.
The whole place was staring now. It almost looked like a standoff until Leonacouer sat up straighter in her seat and the sexy dancer straddled her thighs. Holy shit...
I'd been a cop for many years and seen a whole lot of shit. But watching this sexy young thing lap dance on Leonacouer's body made me stare like a porn addict. The heavy leather jacket rippled with Panther's movements and she very nearly tipped the chair over in her enthusiasm. Leonacouer's smile had deepened fractionally as she let the girl play. As the music swelled into an obvious crescendo, Panther locked her knees into the blonde woman's ribs and arched back sensuously with nothing supporting her but those magnificent legs. Damn...
While the crowd howled, Leonacouer finally grinned in earnest as Panther's fine ass ground into her crotch and both pale hands rose to hover over the stomach muscles pulled tight by Panther's position. After a moment's hesitation, they came to rest on the sweaty, milk chocolate skin and caress lightly. Panther grinned and hooked her arms under Leonacouer's knees to get enough leverage to flip her body ass over teakettle and land in a crouch. It was a magnificent move that nearly took big ole' Candace DeLorenzo right out of her chair. They smirked at one another before Panther bounced back onto the stage and finished her routine. Still leaned forward in her seat, I barely heard her sarcastic comment over the racket.
"Hell of a way to say hello."
++ Dace ++
Good thing that Jo had been watching the stage, or she might have noticed my shock when I'd gotten a good look at the dancer. This was either the same girl that showed up in some of Bane's family pictures or she had a hell of a doppelganger. Then again, look at the twin sitting next to me... A faint memory of the grinning young woman being an artist in Chicago surfaced even as she plopped her strong body boldly into my lap. I hadn't expected the artist family friend to be an exotic dancer with a lapdance that could give a corpse a hard-on. I know I was still tingling in all the right places. I wanted to ask Jo's opinion on our next move, but I didn't dare. God only knows who was watching. Then her hand moving caught my eye. A quick, uncomfortable tug at the leather collar. Guess that was my cue.
The scrape of chair legs on concrete was lost in the noise as Panther went into her next routine. Jo nearly elbowed me in reflex when I slid my chair into hers, trapping her in the 'v' of my legs. Her temple smelled of shampoo and sweat when I leaned in close enough to run my tongue through the moisture. "We need to find a way to get close to Panther over there. Any ideas?"
A very long beat passed as Jo remained tense and still and a vague suspicion began to form in my mind. One hand snaked up to grab the dangling whip end and yank her towards me. Shock, humiliation and guilty arousal flashed in her gaze. That was a bonus I relished, flashing my teeth in a threatening grin. It was a long, pregnant moment between us, gazes only inches apart, the braided leather tight against her throat. But Jo did her job and dropped her eyes before ducking her head to lean against my chin. "Dunno," she rasped hoarsely. "You could intimidate the bouncer at the stage door."
"I'd rather not make a scene."
"Maybe she'll come to you."
Maybe she would at that. So I gently massaged the back of Jo's bowed neck and continued to watch Panther torment the crowd.
++ Zo ++
There was no way in hell that woman could be the little sister...
I mean, shit, Karen and Darya had talked about Dace almost as enthusiastically as young Emily the last couple of times I'd called to see how the family was doing. There was one particular photo, blown up to a full eight and a half by eleven of Karen and Dace in full leathers beside two beautiful old Harley's, arms wrapped around each other.
It had to be her.
My weird ability to coincidentally be right smack in the middle of everything had struck again. Not that I was surprised or anything. Now I just needed to figure out how to talk to her...
I skipped my shower and change of clothes while I pondered how to get them somewhere where we could talk. Even after being in this building for nearly five months, we still hadn't quite gotten the pulse of the crowd. There were so many people here! That gave me an idea. Hiding in plain sight was always a good idea if you could pull it off. So, perhaps I should go proposition that scary dyke I'd already flirted with. Kerry was going to be so shocked.
In the main room, she was right where I'd left her, and the smaller partner was halfway leaning into her chest. Almost instantly, both pairs of crystal blue eyes caught my movement and remained on me as I approached the table. I had no idea what to say to them. Ah hell, I was damn curious about the rough fringe of the crowd and she was practically family, right?
"So," the blonde woman said in a strong, upper alto voice. "Do you always entice clients like that? It's an... interesting technique."
There was no mistaking the suggestive note in her tone and I grinned shyly. She had a definite arrogant appeal that reminded me of Karen Taylor. No wonder my sister kinda had a boner for the big red-head, even if she wouldn't admit it. Which was probably safer in the long run, anyway. In a moment, I had schooled my features into nonchalance and rested hands on hips. "Client? You can't afford me." Oh, that got her ire up, those sparkling eyes narrowing dangerously and I enjoyed the thrill of danger up my spine. "Unless," I added with treacherous sweetness, "I can get a piece of your sidekick over there."
A long beat passed while the big woman pondered the offer, then she smiled slowly. It was looking into the face of a hungry cougar. "Do you have it in you, little girl?"
Another measured beat passed. Theh-mou, she was good. And I was sweating with nerves and guilty anticipation. Suddenly a concerted rush of movement had her on her feet with her dark-haired sidekick literally in hand. "Okay Panther, you've got my attention. Lead the way."
++ Jo ++
A balk against the pressure of her hand on my collar earned me a yank that nearly sent me sprawling. To rein in well-honed instincts to this kind of rough treatment, I dug both hands into Leonacouer's sleeves and gripped as hard as I could. It kept the cop reflexes at bay, but my vision was getting red. Public exposure was making me tweaky as the Junkie that Michael called me. Panther led us into the claustrophobic back halls of this place, the bass thumping dully through the walls. A pause for her to grab a terry cloth robe and then we were taken to a tiny room under a flight of stairs.
Panther never finished her sentence as I punched Leonacouer in the shoulder hard enough to rock the much larger woman into the closed door. I was too riled up to noticed that she'd dropped the pressure on the collar the second we'd been sequestered. "Dammit!" I seethed. "Are you enjoying trying to take my head off?!"
"Shit, I'm sorry, Junkie," Leonacouer bemoaned and gently tugged the collar over my head. Kind fingers caressed over the sore places, trying to soothe. It felt really good, but I shrugged the thought off. "Habit."
God, what the hell was I doing? I was supposed to be her sub and here I was acting all cop-like in front of a stranger! My new Mistress was gonna take my head off for sure now...
Before I could wrap my brain around her enigmatic comment, and the fact that she had yet to beat me senseless, Panther was beside me, holding a plastic bottle out to Leonacouer. "Oil," she explained shortly and looked down at me. Could I feel any damn shorter in this room? She had to be nearly DeLorenzo's impressive height. "Five ten without the heels." My look of shock must have spoken volumes. What the hell? Was she a mind-reader, or something? Another grin flashed as she looked to Dace. "So am I totally hallucinating, or do you look really familiar?"
Much to my surprise, Leonacouer chuckled throatily. "I was about to ask you the same question."
"You know Karen Taylor."
"I'll be damned, you are the younger Goldston."
The strange woman's voice rippled with laughter. "Zo Goldston, to be precise. And you are obviously the famous Dace. Pleased to meet you at last."
My cop instincts were curious as hell, until... Okay... who gave a damn what they were talking about... Good god almighty that felt good... strong hands massaging warm oil into my sore neck... my knees growing weak. As my eyes drifted shut, Zo tugged on my hands to get me to step forward. Somehow the two tall women got me settled onto the edge of the narrow cot between DeLorenzo's legs where she could really give my neck and shoulders some attention. The abruptness of being drafted into this case had left me tense and skittish. The fact that my new partner was sinfully attractive and my kinks were stoked up was leaving me feeling strung out.
++ Dace ++
It had been easy to be rough with Jo. Too easy. It was going to be tough to remember that this was undercover work. The job. She wasn't mine to dominate. That shouldn't be too hard; I'd never had any Sub look to me and me alone. Not that I wouldn't love the privilege. And there was something magnetic about Jo's wary and needy eyes. This small relief was the least I could do.
It took real concentration to quit thinking about the warm flesh under my hands and focus on Zo. Her aquamarine gaze was calm and vaguely amused. "So what is this hidey-hole?" I asked to help get myself back on track. Zo flashed that captivating grin and I was glad she wasn't my type. Bet she was damn hard to say 'no' to.
"This, generally speaking, is the quickie room. Anyone that watched us come in here will think that's what we're doing. And the bass comes through enough to cover any conversation."
"Excellent. Think maybe you can find a way for us to get back out there? Y'know, discretely? I have some partners in the audience that are gonna freak that I just up and walked off."
Again, Zo chortled mischievously. "I think you two might be stuck for awhile after my very public come on, but we can figure out a way to get word to your buddies." My expression was questioning and she explained further. "I don't pick up from the crowd, like at all. In fact, it's majorly frowned upon, so the staff is going to be really curious. 'Fraid that you're stuck with me for awhile. Though, you'll do damn good things for my reputation."
I couldn't help but laugh along with her delight in the situation. "Okay, you've sold me. Need a ride home, dancer?"
"Yeah, that'd be great. But we should hang out here for at least a few minutes so that people think we were fooling around. What do I call the two of you?" Zo waved at the leather and chrome.
"Leonacouer and Junkie."
"You got it." There was a long pause as Jo grew ever more boneless under my hands. I'd bet she hadn't slept well, hotel rooms will do that, and right now she was nearly unconscious. Zo suddenly smiled wickedly and dropped to her knees in front of us in the tiny room. "We'll have to make it look like we were actually doing something in here. Trust me?"
A glassy-eyed Jo made some neutral noise that Zo took as 'yes' and swooped in. Whoo boy... there was an image that wasn't going to leave me anytime soon. Zo's caramel and cherry mouth snuggled up so intimate with Jo's pale lips in a get-to-know-you kiss. Hot damn! Especially when Jo let loose a vibrating moan under my hands. Between the shoulder rub and the kiss, she was looking quite flushed. Zo grabbed her wrist when she reached up.
"No, the lipstick marks are your cover. So, how about that ride home?"
And damned if Jo didn't look disappointed that the kiss had been all business.
++ Jo ++
Humiliation and arousal flushed me hotly and made my attention scattered. I knew our perp could walk up to me right now with gun in hand and I'd be incapable of more than staring blankly. I was gently tugged to my feet and the collar carefully replaced. When we paused for a long moment in the dim hall, I leaned gratefully into Dace's back. "You okay?" She asked softly, squeezing my fingers. What the hell was I supposed to say? I had been unexpectedly drafted into a dangerous undercover operation a thousand miles from home, torn away from my daughter, thrust into an extremely uncomfortable role, the kinks that Michael had been honing for years were turning on me, my companion was starting to become a serious lust object ... and I wasn't sleeping for shit. Sure, I was just peachy. But Dace deserved better than my sarcasm, and I had to stay in character. So I settled for a corner of the truth.
"Sleepy," I murmured and rubbed my face hard against her shoulder blades and jacket collar. I could still taste Zo behind my teeth, sweet and strong. Once more, Dace gripped my fingers a little tighter in understanding. A door clicked open and I heard Zo's voice.
"'Kay, I'm good to go. Are you driving something big enough to carry a bicycle?"
"Sure," Dace rumbled back. "I rented a truck, like a proper butch."
"Of course. Lead the way."
There was a back way out, thank God, and I breathed in the familiar smell of night-darkened city. Lake Michigan didn't smell like the familiar and filthy Hudson, but it was close enough for the city girl in me. Now in casual jeans and a red shirt, Zo collected a very expensive-looking bicycle from a shed and rolled it over. "Nice toy," Dace commented, sarcasm and admiration mingling in her tone. Zo just grinned.
"My pride and joy." With an effortless heave, the bike was settled carefully in the back of the blue Dodge pickup. "Shall we?"
On the ride, I huddled between my towering companions and zoned. I really was exhausted... and Dace really did have a comfy shoulder...
++ Zo ++
It took less than two city blocks to knock Junkie unconscious. Even Dace's arm moving to shift gears didn't disturb her doze. Dace looked wiped out too, and I hoped I could offer them a safe place to sleep. "You don't really look like you're up to playing," I ventured quietly and Dace flashed a wan smile.
"No, I guess I don't. Raincheck?"
"Actually, I was going to offer the spare room. My girlfriend has been off at a convention all week. It's kinda lonely."
"Yeah, she's the Chief of the ER over at Cook County General."
"A doctor? Nice catch."
"I adore her."
"Sounds like it."
"It's a right here."
Just talking about Kerry made me realize how desperately I missed her. She wasn't due in until tomorrow night and the huge-ass apartment was echoingly empty without her presence. "Are you two partners?" I finally asked to distract myself, forgetting that I should probably keep conversation in character.
"Actually, no. A buddy sent her to me while I'm here."
"So you're not here on business?"
That earned me a sharp look, threat implicit in the blue eyes. Dunno what made me ask it, but I suspected that there was more to Dace's vacation to Chicago. There was something focused and predatory about her that had nothing to do with her sexual proclivities.
"Even if I were, I can't talk about it."
"Okay, that's fair," I dropped it, but not before my big mouth tacked on one last comment. "I was betting you two weren't partners anyway."
"No. Not partners."
There was something in her tone, an old, sharp loss. I could feel it quite clear, a jagged break in that professional bond. I'd lay odds that Dace had lost a partner before and brutally if I sensed correctly. We arrived at my funky old building and Jo woke with a rough start when the engine died. "Wha..."
"Relax," Dace soothed. "We're here. C'mon. Let's walk Zo up."
"I dunno if I feel better or worse now," Jo grumbled as she climbed out behind me and stretched. The parking garage was deserted this time of morning and we headed upstairs. They were silently appreciative of the place and stared at the luxurious bedroom that Elizabeth once inhabited.
"Better than a hotel, eh?" I smirked. "You guys can stay here as long as you like, I mean it. I hate not having company. Oh, and I have a ferret and a macaw, so ignore any weird noises. I'll see you whenever we're all awake."
With that, I walked out, not giving them a chance to refuse my hospitality. Before I could sleep, I knew I was going to have to get my first impressions of them down on paper. And soon there would be paint.
++ Jo ++
"Aw, what the hell," I heard Dace give into the temptation of the magnificent accommodations that Zo had shown us to. I didn't understand the connection between the two, but there was no threat from Zo, that much I did know. So I gave into curiosity and went exploring. There was a bed like something out of a movie, a big, poofy acre of luxury. A library nook was classy, the closet was bigger than my bedroom back home. I spotted the half-open door that had to lead the bathroom as I heard Dace's voice speak quietly into the phone.
"Sorry to bail on you, but I'll be staying with the dancer I left with."
I couldn't hear the reaction on the other end, but I knew it had to be the FBI agents and they were probably unhappy about this turn of events.
"Our sisters know each other. We're practically family. I'll get you the address tomorrow."
Sisters, huh? That would explain what they had been talking about earlier. Not that I'd been paying much attention with those wicked hands massaging me...
"Everything will be fine. I'll talk with you later. G'nite."
"Whoa," I breathed in awe. The bathroom was a palatial affair of gleaming marble and chrome. "Hey, can we stay here? This place is like a palace."
Her presence tingled close to my back. "Hell yes. Wow, you weren't kidding. We can get our stuff tomorrow if Zo's serious about us staying."
"Sweet," was all I could manage to whisper around the lump in my throat, stepping away from her intoxicating heat to use the toilet. From the moment I'd met Dace, I'd suspected that I was in trouble.
Only now was I beginning to realize just how much...