Book 4: Rapids.
Series: Light, Water, Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.
Rating: R+. Dunno if I should give it the next step up, you be the judge!
Category: The continuing saga of Reflections/ Resurgences/Refractions.
Pairings: Zo/Kerry. Still building on Dace/Catherine.
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.
Disclaimer: "CSI", see Chapter 11.
Summary: Karen calls for a night of R&R and Zo happily provides the entertainment while Kerry has to play doctor and Dace spills her guts to her big sister.
++ Catherine ++
Sara abruptly coiling up like a threatened snake woke me from a sound sleep. Hissing in agony, she grabbed her lower leg and dug into the muscles there. Shaking off the cobwebs, I carefully touched her back. "What's wrong?"
"Charlie-horse," she grated between clenched teeth and I winced in sympathy. "God, I hate waking up like that."
The other bodies in the enormous bed stirred from our movements and voices. Last night, Dace informed us that we were going home with her. Fascinated with the tall woman, and feeling the nebulous threat building like a thunderstorm on the horizon, I'd meekly tagged along with Sara in our wake. I'd been too tired this morning to really register that we four were all piled into the same bed. A fact that was obvious now.
Sara flopping down boneless into the bed beside me brought my attention back abruptly. Groaning in pain, she slowly relaxed beside me. "I haven't done that kind of hard work since college," she whispered and I grinned. My own back and legs were telling me the same tale.
She was trembling lightly from the shock of the pain and breathing a bit hard. "Hey, c'mere," I soothed her, surprised when she willingly curled into me and draped her aching leg over mine. I could feel the muscles jumping against my skin. Maternal instincts rose up and I cuddled her slim frame close, tucking her dark head under my chin and stroking her hair. Our bodies fit together nicely and I vowed again to get to know her better. The body at my back shifted and made a small sound. A glimpse of inky hair told me it was Junkie with Dace just beyond.
Sara shifted uncomfortably, and I realized how arousing the press of her lean body was. Like a great hunting animal stretching in the sun, her firm lines shifted beneath her skin. Dace murmured softly, her tone distinctly amused and teasing, and Junkie moaned in response.
Sara grew limp and heavy against me, the outraged muscles in her lower leg beginning to calm. As she relaxed, Junkie was waking up fully, her body stirring against my side. I rolled my head over to watch her nuzzle Dace through the curtain of black hair. What was I feeling? Even sleep hadn't settled me down from meeting Dace and experiencing how she rattled my perceptions and expectations. Bright sunlight poured in from the skylight above, bathing them in warmth. Junkie finally shifted to straddle Dace, stealing frequent kisses. "Good morning," she purred softly and I realized that I hadn't heard her voice until now.
"'Morning," Dace hummed back, smoothing pale hands over the smaller woman's legs and torso. "Sorry I couldn't pay much attention to you last night."
"You were distracted."
Suddenly Junkie's voice went from teasing to plaintive in a breath and a thick New York accent replaced it. "God Dace, I'm so fucking horny right now, I can't play this verbal game."
"Jo, lover," Dace soothed and began tugging clothing loose. "You don't have to beg, not here. Let me give it to you, nice and hard and slow."
Junkie was moaning in earnest now, rocking her hips into Dace's. "Good," she growled. "You're still wearing it."
"Never got a chance to get it off."
And I knew I was in for a hell of a show.
++ Sara ++
It was hell of a sight to wake up to from a nap... 'specially when your mattress was panting like a bitch in heat. A half-naked Junkie was hunched over Dace, hips rocking urgently into the larger woman, who was stroking her breasts and belly lovingly. By the wet noises, I'd guess that the bulge in Dace's pants was more than just for show. Junkie threw her head back, crying out sharply, spine arching with the sensations her lover was causing. "Good girl," Dace cooed and ran a hand between Junkie's legs to finish the job. It worked beautifully as she climaxed, jerking and straining around Dace's pelvis.
I'd never watched a woman in the throes of ecstasy before.
I had to admit that I liked it. A lot. And it was obvious that Catherine did too, as she was practically hyperventilating beneath me. So I gave into the impulse to see how she'd react and rubbed my face sleepily into her breasts as though I were just waking up. Catherine stiffened; her breath hitching and her nipple was hard where it brushed my cheek. Junkie was coming down now, moaning and whimpering in concert to Dace's soothing murmuring. Then a moan rumbled up from Catherine's chest as though in sympathy and I abruptly propped myself on my elbows. "Well, good morning," I grinned saucily and planted a quick kiss on my flushed and staring partner before she could even react. I couldn't even hazard a guess where the audacity came from.
Junkie groaned this time and I looked over to see Dace roll onto her side, catching a glimpse of the soaked dildo jutting up from her crotch and the pink flash of Junkie's naughty bits. "Relax Jo," Dace rumbled softly and there were the sounds of kisses. "Go clean up and I'll join you in a few. Go on." Flushed and pantless, Junkie rolled off the bed and padded silently off to the bathroom, firing us a hot, fiercely proud and embarrassed glare. Dace also sat up with a groan of what was almost pain and I shifted to Catherine's side so that she could breathe easier. The tall blonde stood and after a moment her pants tightened up around her hips and she faced us, all buttoned up neatly. The expression on her face was an odd and disturbing combination of weary and predatory. "I'm leaving now because I'm hornier than hell and you two are off limits," she breathed in a soft, dangerous tone and stiffly walked out.
"Well," I said softly and watched Catherine's startled gaze jerk back to mine. "That was interesting. You okay?"
It took a moment for her to respond in a very small voice, "not really."
"Relax Catherine," I sighed, knowing that we were going to be awkward around one another for a very long time over this case. "If we hadn't gotten turned on by that display, I'd worry about us both."
It made me feel a little cold to move away and settle in next to her. Someone had kindly removed my shoes sometime last night, as I had been too damn exhausted to notice anything around me. Pleasant quiet settled around us, and I settled into a doze. After a few minutes, I couldn't help but smile as Catherine rolled into me, seeking comfort. So I wrapped my arm around her and felt her snuggle into my side.
++ Zo ++
I knew the instant Dace stalked out of the hall that something was wrong. She moved like a wounded animal in a trap. Kerry and I traded loaded glances before I headed for the kitchen. Dace had slammed open a cabinet and was pouring a healthy glass of something amber and probably alcoholic.
"You okay?" I asked quietly and braced myself for what was undoubtedly going to be an explosive reaction. For a moment there was nothing as she stared at the glass. Then she blurred into motion, shattering the glass into the sink with violent force and turning a ferocious glower on me.
"Sure, I'm just peachy," she snarled. "Not only does the goddamn FBI send me someone I know, but I can't do anything to them and yet I'm supposed to stay in character!? And don't even get me started on how that little blonde is making me feel." Pacing now, she really was every inch the trapped predator, gesturing wildly with both hands. "This is pushing every fucking button I have! Duty, hormones, paranoia, and my need to control everything and everybody. I can't tell the goddamn difference between me and the cat anymore." Abruptly, she stopped in her tracks and I froze despite myself. She was more than a little scary like this, so out of control. Her emotions were as real as smoke over my sensitive perceptions and just as dangerous. Staring blankly at the wall, I wasn't certain she was going to break down or explode. "There's someone, or something on my trail and I'm getting scared. I don't know if I can keep this up for much longer."
She looked like hell, tired and worn out and in desperate need of a shower. Raking her fingers through her hair made it stick out crazily. What was I supposed to say? I really liked this woman and I hated seeing her suffer. Taking my life in my hands, I stepped in close. "Dace," I soothed softly, projecting calm and safety, and placed both hands on her arm. "This is all going to work out."
"Yeah, whatever," she murmured disconsolately and messed up her poor hair again.
Everything she said was true. Thankfully, Karen finally decided to make an appearance in the doorway. "Hey punk," she purred quietly. "C'mere."
Dace grumbled something stubbornly. I think it might have been a petulant, "no." She sounded for all the world like Emily and I swallowed a laugh. Karen sighed dramatically and walked over to pull Dace into a hug. For a long moment, the smaller woman remained stiff and unresponsive, arms still crossed tightly. But she gradually gave in and melted into Karen with a sob.
"We need to talk, sis. Alone and somewhere private." A small nod was the only acknowledgement that Dace gave and Karen raised her gaze to mine. "Can you get Jane's number from my phone and give her a call? We're taking the night off. Jane'll tell everyone else and they can contact me if they don't like it."
"But," Dace started to protest and Karen tightened up until there was a wheeze for mercy.
"You're taking the fucking night off, Dace. Deal with it. Chicago and the rest of the universe and that lunatic can wait for one damn night for you to recharge! Get to know your new kids, put your feet up, get in your jammies, just relax. Maybe Zo can provide us with one of her famous poker games?"
"You're in luck, it's Thursday, so we're ready to go. I'll start making confirmation calls as soon as I speak with Jane," I promised fervently. "And you can borrow my truck if you'd like to go find a park or something and relax. I'll even take care of getting the two new girls settled in."
I was nearly to the door when Dace's soft voice stopped me. "Zo?" Her smile was tender. "Thanks."
"You're very welcome, my friend."
++ Catherine ++
Charming Zo Goldston had roused us, handed us our bags and shepherded us off to her own bathroom, since Junkie was still asleep. We'd listened to her and been careful not to disturb the small figure huddled in the bed we'd walked past. Neither of us had spoken and we giggled nervously in the bathroom. "You first," I offered to Sara, who was limping painfully on the leg that had cramped so badly. She only hesitated a moment and climbed into the shower-tub. I was left to examine my ruined makeup and the weariness around my eyes. A pile of clothes was handed out from the behind the curtain and the water turned on. Barely able to make out Sara's shape behind the plastic, I sank onto the toilet seat to wait.
What a crazy couple of days it had been.
This situation I had volunteered for was going to cause problems, I could see them coming. Even the fleeting memory of Dace's demanding hands and mouth made my insides clench up with guilty pleasure. Of course, my brain helpfully played out the tender, erotic moments my bedmates had shared upon waking, and the press of Sara's lean body against me while we had slept. The need to slip a couple fingers into the pulsing wet between my thighs was agony. With Sara only on the other of the curtain, there was no way. Now I would be distracted all damn night.
Wouldn't Dace love that? The thought of the tall woman had something inside of me reaching out to feel where she was. Stress and fragile calm drew my wandering perception to her and a new calm fell over us both. Was this my role to her? Being a source of strength would make me feel like an equal to her, and I liked that. As sexy as Dace's power was, I didn't want to be subservient to that. The subtle push and pull between us smoothed out and I was grateful for both of our peace.
"Catherine?" Sara suddenly asked as the water faded to quiet and I was abruptly jerked out of whatever hypnosis I had been lost in. Damn, I was tired... "Can you give me a hand? I think I may have really hurt myself. Frankly I'm less concerned about my modesty than my leg."
"Sure," I answered with concern and grabbed a towel. There was a brief glance of Sara's greyhound lines as I pulled the curtain aside and wrapped arms and terrycloth around her. "Step out carefully, I'm stronger than I look."
Grunting in pain, Sara leaned heavily on me to hobble over to the toilet seat and sit. "I knew that," she chuckled tightly. The skin on the back of her right calf was red and angry looking, the big muscle visibly bunched up beneath.
"Certainly looks nasty," I commiserated and patted her thigh sympathetically. "Let me get you a shirt and see if our keepers have any painkillers."
The bed was empty when I stepped out. There were voices outside in the hall and I hesitantly moved into the dimly sunny room at the end of the hall. I recognized my new companions from the night before as all eyes came to rest on me, and it took real effort to approach. If not for Sara's pain, I probably would have crept fearfully back to the bathroom, far too afraid of how I felt about this stranger.
"Good evening, Wildcat," Dace said quietly as I naturally zeroed in on her. Since I had no idea how the hell I was supposed to act around her, I decided that it was safest to stay in character as best I could in these casual surroundings. As I walked over, she smiled warmly at me and my heart skipped a beat. It was no mere smile, but an affectionate and sensual welcome that was nearly blinding in its intensity. I had played loose and fast with my heart far too often in my misguided youth and it was charmers like these that always persuaded me to do it. It had been a long time, a very long time since I had felt the thrill of electricity that raced up my spine, and never with this kind of intensity. I had to shake myself out to remember why I had come out here.
"Ummm, Sara Charlie-horsed herself badly. Are there any painkillers or muscle relaxants here?"
"Charlie-horse, huh?" A strangely familiar and yet utterly unknown voice said thoughtfully. "I got it, Dace." Then the small red-headed woman who had been sitting on the couch stood and brushed past me. I dimly took notice of the cuffed crutch that supported an obviously weak leg.
"Okay," my keeper said softly, and drew my gaze back to her. Then her arm moved, and for an insane moment I thought she might backhand me to the hardwood floor. Or maybe grab my belt again... "Inspector Candace DeLorenzo, SFPD." Another gesture introduced her dark-haired shadow. "Detective Jo Polniaczek, NYPD."
They had names? Shaking my head, I mentally slapped myself for spacing out so bad. Somehow, hearing Dace's name and title calmed me. "Catherine Willows," I offered woodenly and met Jo's sharp gaze. "Las Vegas crime lab. My partner is Sara Sidle."
"Why did they send a couple of CSIs?" Jo asked in a tone that was casual with an edge of distaste. Typical cop.
"Sara saw your perp at a scene a few months ago. She can verify the ID on him."
"You're in danger doing this," Dace said quietly and I obediently returned my gaze to hers yet again. "Why did you come?"
"Sara asked me to. I wasn't about to let her walk into this alone."
A teasing glance over my shoulder made Jo clear her throat. "Deja-vu, huh, Junkie?" Dace laughed and climbed to her feet. We were both barefoot and she had to stand at nearly six-foot, making me feel small and overwhelmed. One hand was hooked around my neck to squeeze me lovingly. It was strong enough to hurt, yet tender enough to be coaxing. "I don't understand what's going on between us any more than you do," she murmured softly for my ears alone. "Try and be patient with us both." Those crystalline blue eyes burned into mine and her touch was abruptly withdrawn. It hurt to have that regard taken away... even if it wasn't really mine to have. Was it? "So," Dace said with studied nonchalance and shoved her hands in her pockets. "We have the night off, and there's a regular poker game here. So get ready for some company."
++ Kerry ++
Zo had crawled into bed and woken me with a familiar kiss. Since she woke me every time she came into my personal space, it was natural to snuggle. As I stepped back into our bedroom, I dimly remembered her saying something about meeting Maggie's angelic twin even as I had dozed off again. The dark-haired woman on the edge of the bed looked up and we both froze in shock.
"My God," I heard my voice murmur. Did she sound like Maggie too?
"Who are you?" she asked softly, gaze riveted on me. She did sound like Maggie! Elizabeth would swallow her own tongue in shock if she ever met this woman.
"You must have shocked Zo last night, damn. Oh, I'm Kerry Weaver," I greeted her warmly and shook her hand. Now that the initial shock was wearing off, my practiced doctor alertness and girl-watching skills kicked in. She was too thin and her body language was far more formal than Maggie could ever be. This one didn't get propositioned in bars much, I'd bet. At least not by anyone with any class... or sober.
"Sara Sidle, pleased to meet you."
Yep, formal, I was right. "So, which leg?"
"Your Charlie-horse. Which leg?" Then I chuckled at her forbidding expression. "And here Zo usually brags about sleeping with a doctor."
"Your hostess," I said like she was a bit slow.
"I didn't really get any names last night," Sara sounded bewildered and a bit annoyed so I gentled. She wasn't sassing me; she was just on a completely different page.
"Ok, here's the bullet. I'm Zo's girlfriend, the sultry, dark one with the permanent grin. You'll like her, everyone does." I couldn't help but smile at my amazing good fortune in finding the frisky woman. "By the look on your face, I'll take it Dace introduced herself last night in typical fashion." The suggestive drawl on the last few words had Sara blushing furiously. "Jo's the raven sidekick, you'll like her once she stops glaring jealously. And Karen's the tall red-head. Now, I run the ER at a local hospital, so let me look at your leg." The teasing faded as I leaned heavily against the bed and ran careful hands over her right calf to wince sympathetically at the agonizingly cramped muscles. "There's no serious bruising, so the only good news is that the muscle didn't tear. Let me see if I have any muscle relaxants in my kit."
"But I have to work tonight."
"Nope, you're in luck. Zo and Karen finagled a day off, so you can relax."
"Yep. I'll be back in a minute."
In the bathroom were the tricks of my trade and I rifled through the orange toolbox it was all neatly stored in. "Here we go. Not exactly what I was after, but it will do." As I walked back into the bedroom, Sara eyed the package in my hand. "Don't worry about this, it'll take away all your troubles. I get pain and cramps in my leg all the time."
"Why should I trust you?" Sara asked suspiciously as I tore open the packaging around the syringe and wielded the familiar little needle.
"Because you're hurting and I became a doctor to take away pain. Nobody's going to hurt you here, Sara." She was almost convinced and I sat on the bed beside her. "The FBI isn't going to leave you in the hands of someone who didn't check out. Once you relax, we'll see how that muscle does, okay?"
Sara eyed the needle a moment longer before nodding reluctantly. "Okay, you win."
"Roll onto your side," I instructed briskly and chuckled at her askance look. "Trust me, skinny girl, you'll want to take this in the biggest available muscle. I'm only giving you half a dose for now. If it seems you need more, I'll give you the rest." A firm pinch on the butt earned me a half-hearted glare and the needle was in and out before she even noticed. "Now don't plan on going anywhere."
"Okay," she yawned and suddenly looked at me oddly again. "Where's Catherine?" I knew that look and tone. Kids that were scared and trying not to act like it were like this.
"I'll get her," I reassured her gently and went to the door. "Catherine! C'mere!"
++ Catherine ++
Something made me hesitate, looking to Dace for reassurance or permission... I had no idea. That untamed emotion flitted across her crystal eyes, making my heart race and my lungs constrict. I was in so much trouble...
A nod sent me scrambling for the voice I assumed was belonged to the red-head. The sight that greeted me was breathtaking in its innocent eroticism. Sara was sprawled out boneless, arms above her head with the t-shirt hiked up to show her belly button and the towel bunched around her hips. The doc was kneeling above her with the hurt leg cradled gently in both hands.
"Hey there," she greeted me softly with a smile. "I'm Kerry Weaver, watch the toes," Kerry teased as she turned her attention back to Sara, who giggled breathlessly. In the bent-legged position Sara was in, her toes were tucked up between Kerry's legs.
"Feel better?" I smiled as I stepped up to the bed. In the glow of the diffused morning light, I was struck speechless by the sensual tableau they made.
"She asked for you," Kerry explained gently and resettled her grip on my partner, who hissed in half-hearted pain. "Sorry, I'm not used to doing this on such a comfy surface. At least not this particular position." Sara giggled again and I sat down on the bed to enjoy her unguarded like this. "Painkillers and a muscle relaxant," Kerry explained lightly. "If you'd play nurse for me and keep an eye on her mood, that'd be great. Ah, here we go. I'll bet you're feeling it now, huh Sara?" As my partner grew completely limp, my gaze flickered between her face and Kerry's careful hands. Sensitive fingers prodded into the loosening knot of muscle and traced Sara's knee. "There may be a strained ligament here on the inside," Kerry explained, trailing a feather-soft touch over the inside of that knee. There was a twitch and whimper-giggle from her patient at the sensation. "Now, come on. You can't possibly be feeling any pain. In fact, you should be asleep." Sara hummed wordlessly and nuzzled into my hand where I was stroking her forehead. "No getting friendly, you need to sleep. We're going to prop your leg up and then be in the next room, okay?" Another wordless hum was the only reply.
++ Zo ++
Since I could feel Catherine's hormones rasping across my perceptions like a cat tongue, I bullied her off to my bathroom. A nod at the showerhead on a hose made her flush, but I knew my point had been taken. Water jets were a horny girl's best friend. Checking that Sara was still out like a light, I went searching for Karen's phone to call Tarzan. I could have called the club, but I figured that I should speak to the boss lady directly. After that errand, which included an invitation to the festivities, I dialed the brownstone where Kerry had once lived. When she had finally moved in here, not a day to soon for my needs, Elizabeth and Maggie had bought the place. Susan was happy in the sprawling basement apartment that had once belonged to John, even if she had to share the kitchen facilities. It was the later that picked up the line.
"Frack-woman, what up?"
"Turns out the poker game is on tonight after all. Anyone got the night off? I have company that's desperate for some entertainment."
"Damn. No go for me, but the happy couple had plans you might be able to subvert. Call Maggie's cell, because you know very well that Liz never has hers on her."
"Damn Skippy! All right, you have a peaceful night."
"Have fun with your guests."
Maggie didn't answer, but I left her a long, happy, ranting message in her voice mail. That done, I took food and booze inventory and plopped down on the computer. A visit to the Kroger's website had groceries and supplies headed my way in a few hours.
The apartment felt smaller with Dace now out of it. There was far to much energy in her. It was like she was going to fly in a million directions at any given moment.
Except last night.
When the two new cops had entered the scene, something in Dace had shifted, had... focused for lack of a better word. There was more than just carnal interest between her and Catherine Willows.
As though conjured up by my thoughts, a much more relaxed Catherine stepped into the room. "Hey there."
"Thanks for all of this hospitality."
"My pleasure. And I'm hella better company than a hotel. Can I draft you into getting things set up for company?"
"Bunch of people are coming over to play poker and goof off tonight. You ready for that?"
Catherine looked torn about the whole idea.
++ Karen ++
"You're right," I agreed calmly. "It sounds insane."
Dace groaned heavily and leaned over until she tuck her head between her knees and moan expressively. "I know that! I think I'm going nuts."
She'd spent an hour describing what she called 'the cat'. This half-physical and half-'magical' presence living behind her eyes and under her skin. "Punk," I teased lightly and draped my arm over her back. "I said it sounded insane. I never said I didn't believe you."
Startled, Dace perked up and stared at me. "Seriously?"
"Seriously." Hell, I traveled to other planets in a tunnel of light and had to worry about aliens in people's skulls. Was my life any weirder? "If I could tell you about what I did for a living, you'd realize that your story isn't as strange as you might think."
That made her grin and I felt better that I'd found the right thing to say. Not that it was hard with Dace. She was such a little sister to me, only wanting my approval and love. While we watched the crowd outside the grungy little coffee house we'd found, I thought about what she had told me. I had to run it through several language filters in my head to try to get the meat of what she was saying. Once I'd peeled away the layers of stress and slang and cop-talk, I think I had a fairly solid idea of what she was experiencing.
"Your senses are strengthening?"
My question startled Dace from whatever she had been staring at so intently. The shift in her body language had been subtle, but obvious to me. The blue eyes looked strangely flat and yellow for a split second before she blinked back to the present. "Yeah," she managed to answer my question after a moment to collect herself, her voice a little rough. "And these 'space-outs' are coming more often and stronger every time. It's like... I get so caught up in one sense focusing on something that everything else fades away." One hand gestured off in the direction she'd been staring in. "There was a woman over there, in that grocery store parking lot. She had a gold necklace on that intrigued me."
Twisting, I followed her gesture and frowned in puzzlement. There was a dinky strip mall, bookstore, dry cleaners, a teriyaki place.... "Grocery store?"
"Down the alley."
Alley? Looking again, I saw that there was, indeed, an alley between the teriyaki place and the bank next door. A narrow slice of daylight slashed the shadows there. Beyond, I could see the bustle of people in a parking lot, tiny letters spelling out something on the building beyond. Then what Dace had laid claim to struck me. "You spotted some woman's jewelry from this distance?"
"Don't even get me started on what I can smell now. Or hear for that matter. I think I could always do this stuff, but it was too crazy to be believed."
"So you stopped believing," I filled in, hurting from the pain in her expression. "And shut it down somehow."
"Exactly. Everyone said I couldn't do it, so I convinced myself that was true and became 'normal'." The harsh sarcasm on that last word was warranted, but I winced anyway. "I think marrying that idiot, Paul, was the last step in a lifetime of trying to fit in." Dace's voice was soft and far away. "I remember that the other kids shunned me when I was little. They knew I was different, dangerous. Maybe that's why I was drawn to being a cop." Her bittersweet expression squinched up into something that almost looked like thoughtful distaste.
"A protective urge?" I guessed and she blinked back to the present. "You've always had it. Sylvia always thought that you needed to be protected. I always thought it was just the opposite."
"I needed to protect," Dace mused, turning the idea over and over in her head. "Yeah, that works." That beloved blinding smile was turned on me and I grinned happily back. "That totally works. It explains so much. You're the best, Karen."