Book 4: Rapids.
Series: Light, Water, Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.
Category: The continuing saga of Reflections/ Resurgences/Refractions.
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.
Spoilers: No luck.
Summary: The cat and the coyote bond, Dace gets to know her new girls and Snake-Eyes get personal.
++ Sara ++
I'd had no idea what I was really getting myself into when I had volunteered to help the FBI. It was a relief that my body still remembered the rote of being a bartender so that I could watch the crowd. That's why I had seen the tall figure with our host. The body language had tipped me off that this was one of his favorites, and I had to assume it was Dace. There was something oddly familiar about her, even if I couldn't get a good look because of the erratic lighting. Then Catherine had distracted me and the tall leather angel had melted out of the crowd to make her presence known by grabbing my partner.
Clinging to the heavy leather jacket, Catherine stared up at her captor and I wished that I could see her more clearly. The blonde purred hello while I tried to figure out if I should do something, anything. When Catherine tried to respond, the big leatherwoman ducked down and nipped her lower lip hard enough to make Catherine twitch in surprise. I was shocked by the eroticism of the moment. She murmured something to Catherine that I couldn't make out in the background noise before flashing me a pointed look that turned startled.
Sure enough, it was her. My memory kicked into gear and supplied me with a flood of images. Crime scenes in San Francisco with the intimidating blonde Amazon and her elderly partner looming over me, making me nervous. CD Bogart... what a small, small world. CD... Dace smiled in mutual understanding and made a mental note before returning her attention to Catherine. Head arched back, hands clenched into the leather jacket, all her weight dangling from the powerful grip on her belt, my partner looked good in this big woman's grasp. Since I had wisely refrained from adding my opinion to the burgeoning scene, Dace ducked down to kiss Catherine. It was a warm, loving, get-to-know-you kiss that obviously caught the smaller blonde completely off guard. The mesh of their mouths, Dace's pale lips and Catherine's painted familiar red, made my heart rate accelerate as effectively as the shock.
Then the presence of a raven-haired sidekick made herself known, baring her teeth in something that was as much territorial display as smile and I nearly swallowed my own tongue. Good God Almighty, Jinny Exstead too? Dace let go of Catherine's hair, sliding the black kidskin to the nape of her neck and massaging the muscles there.
Catherine squealed in shock as she was tossed negligently over a strong shoulder before Dace reached out to fondle the two tags clearly framed by my collarbones. "Come with me," she growled and gestured for me to precede her to wherever we were being herded to.
++ Dace ++
Too stunned to clearly contemplate what was going on, I let the shock of a familiar face carry away the overwhelming presence of the beast inside me. She was as out of context as the insane reaction to the stranger I had managed to tear myself away from and toss over my shoulder. The fiery little blonde Coyote was squirming and sputtering, so I wrapped one arm around her neck and used the other to smack her solidly across that fine ass. Her squeak of outrage made me salivate, wanting to take a bite out of her. What worried me is that I didn't know if the urge was literal or figurative.
Then I reached out and grabbed the chunky silver collar of the woman who could only be Sara Sidle, the forensics hottie I remembered from San Francisco. As my human brain reasserted itself from the morass of the cat, the surroundings returning to something that was almost normal.
What the hell had just happened? This bizarre ability to get lost in my heightened senses had been freaky and distracting until now, but the blonde pressed across my shoulder had completely hypnotized me. All I could do was fall back on decades of training. First my idiot mother, then the rough streets of LA, the mean kids at school and around the corner, then Sylvia, then the Scene, then the Academy and life on the thin blue line.
"Come with me," I growled at Sara, alarmed at the rough, feral note in my voice, and distracted by the blonde's alluring smell. Steph was curious, possibly even envious, but nonetheless waved us past the bar into a private area in the back where there were several playrooms. I unloaded my wriggling bundle gently onto the squeaky cot and pinned her with a hard look. "Stay." The growl earned a stubborn glare, but she obeyed. I was forced to admit that I was salivating to knuckle under that fierce pride and explore the burn of illicit thrill in her eyes, but forced myself to turn away and regroup my sanity.
Sara was staring at Jo, who eyed her curiously back, and the hilarity of the situation suddenly made me chuckle heartily. Poor Sara thought that my partner was Jinny! I happily took advantage of the distraction from the other woman. Grasping Sara's chin, I turned her head this way and that in order to get a good look at the familiar features. For long moments, she only blinked owlishly as I stroked her chin and cheeks with the buttery soft kidskin gloves I knew from experience would melt almost any resistance. When she finally made a small sound of surrender and her eyes fluttered, I abruptly grabbed her jaw in a strong grip. It succeeded in focusing her entire attention on me. "It's been awhile, pretty girl. What do I call you?"
"Ummm... Silverback called me Sunshine... ma'am," she hedged sheepishly, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment and heat. "Is it really you?"
"Yeah. I was shocked myself. It's okay," I soothed and shifted my grip again to massage her jaw and neck. "New to this, huh?"
"Mmmhmm," she hummed softly and leaned into the caress. "The Lady Heartsblood and Silverback didn't have much time to break us in."
"And here he says he isn't into girls," I teased and leaned in to nuzzle the dark hair. "How'd you get dragged into this?" I whispered oh-so-softly.
There was a long delay before Sara's response was breathed in my ear. "Umm... I transferred to Las Vegas CSU two years ago. If your perp is the same guy I saw at a crime scene last September, I can visually ID him."
"Senior co-worker. Silverback was calling her Sweetness."
"That man is silly. Is there something you'd rather have me call you?"
She leaned against my shoulder trustingly and I massaged the back of her head. There had been a time, not that long ago it seemed, where I would have loved her to be eating out of my hand like this. Hormones growled like the cat in heat and I swallowed hard. When Sara did finally answer my question, her voice was as hesitant as it was soft. "I get to choose?"
"Sure, we'll say a former mistress gave it to you."
I could almost hear the wheels spinning in her head, and definitely heard the smile when she spoke. "Baskerville."
It was brilliant, considering what she did for a living and I threw back my head to howl with laughter. Sara was smiling bemusedly, pleased with my reaction, and I kissed her warmly between the eyes. "Absolutely inspired creativity, I'm impressed. Your companion?"
Sara's grin deepened. "How about Wildcat? It seems to fit."
Again I laughed and tightened my grip on her to draw her in closer. "Good call. Now relax," I encouraged gently and dug harder into her neck muscles. "My partner is Junkie. She's not really Exstead, just a damn good doppelganger. Call me Dace, or in public, Leonacouer. I'll explain everything later, just let your feral side go and pay attention to your surroundings. I won't let anyone hurt you or the Wildcat here, but you have to trust me, okay?"
"Okay," she whispered and searched my eyes when I leaned away. Once I was assured that she was utterly in my thrall, I flashed a grin at Jo and she visibly relaxed.
Not bothering to pay close attention to my partner's reactions to this situation, I stomped back over to the bed where the fierce blonde lay waiting. She kept wary blue eyes pinned to me as I paused by the bed and raked my eyes over the tense and defensive lines of her strong, slender body. Again that primitive need spiraled up my spine, sharp and electric. Nostrils flared, I drew air in deep across the membranes in my nose and throat, actually able to clearly smell her in the thick air of the club. Her breath rasped in and out with that faint hitch that signaled an ex-smoker. Something in the curves of her fine body, in her smell, in the way she held herself told me that she was a mother. This woman had a cub.
Something in me shifted.
Cubs meant new life and a future. Cubs were to be protected and nurtured. They were the lifeblood of the tribe, the pack.
With a snap, I pulled out of the daze I'd been lulled into and the sounds and smells of the club poured back over me in a comfortable wave. Again? Could Jane be right? Could I be some kind of genetic throwback, attuned to senses and abilities hardly needed by a civilized human society? I didn't understand what was going on inside me and sure as hell didn't like it. So I growled in a threatening way, dimly wondering when the hell I had learned to make the noise.
It was hard to tell if the evil grin that spread across my face scared or thrilled my sly Coyote. But she certainly flinched and then froze when I straddled the narrow cot and settled my weight across her hipbones. "So," I began conversationally and boldly ran both hands over her flat belly and abs. "We haven't met, hough I feel I've known you forever."
Too stunned by my boldness to do anything more than grab my wrists and stare at me, Wildcat only started to squirm and sputter when I tugged the tight velvet shirt out of the painted on jeans. With these clothes, this woman had to have an exhibitionist streak the size of San Francisco Bay. Now it was up to me to see how deeply buried it was. Knowing I was going to have to keep this one on a short leash, I levered my body up and roughly manhandled Wildcat onto her stomach. As I slipped further into character and her alluring smell, it was easy to ignore her sputtered, "hey!"
"C'mere Basker," I instructed as I slipped my leather-covered hands under Wildcat's shirt to feel up her back. Nice musculature padded only just enough to keep her soft and delightfully curvy. Tentatively, Sara came to stand beside me. "What do you like about her?"
When the new kitty was going to add her two cents, I pressed down hard enough to push the wind out of her and force her silence. Holding Wildcat still with one hand and looping the other around Sara's waist, I tugged the dark-haired woman in close.
"There must be something," I coaxed.
"Actually," Sara said slowly. "She drives me a little crazy. She's smart and successful and I have no idea why she agreed to come with me and endure all of this." Shaking off the introspection, she grinned weakly at me. "I'm generally not a people person. It was a pleasure to make you laugh, Dace ma'am."
++ Catherine ++
Shaking off the visceral reactions this tall woman was causing, I tried to concentrate on what was going on around me. I felt like I'd been pulled down by and undertow and was at the mercy of hidden currents. It was really, really hard to shake my disorientation off and concentrate.
Poor Sara sounded so insecure and it was such an unwarranted timidity. She was attractive, smart and damn good at what she did.
But what kind of person was she outside the job?
Only then did I realize that I had no idea. I could just see Dace's soft, indulgent grin that coaxed Sara into bending down to be kissed. My heart raced as I twisted to watch the play of their mouths and Dace's darkly gloved hand caressing Sara's hip and ribs. The gentle caresses continued until Sara made a soft sound that was almost a moan. "Oh, I like you," Dace purred as Sara straightened up and shook herself out. "We'll continue that conversation later."
Dace's strong hands flipping me again onto my back drew my attention back to the unreal scene I'd been dragged into. Sharp blue eyes burned into mine, like she was going to consume me with a look alone. No stranger had ever made me respond this way. Never!
And why the hell did I keep hearing that sharp, undulating cry of a coyote?
It was so weird to be so gently roughed up by this woman of sharp dynamics. There was so much of this persona the tall cop wore that was tough and masculine, but there was no mistaking that this was a woman manhandling me. I was thrillingly confused. "Just relax," she purred like a massive feline and ran those evil hands up my ribcage and between my suddenly too-sensitive breasts. Despite myself, I moaned softly as she leaned over, pressing her weight into those teasing hands.
Breathless from the situation, the teasing, the intense tone of her deep voice, that sexy kiss, and the heaviness on my torso, I moaned again. Dace remained poised above me, letting me breathe in the scent of her breath and stew in the need building inside me. Eyes slit, I watched her cool-hot gaze judge my responses and how far she could push me. I had never in all my years had such an intense and erotic encounter; particularly with a complete stranger I had yet to exchange a word of conversation with.
Then a wicked glint lightened her shadowed gaze and I felt the butterfly-soft pressure of her tongue flitting over my upper lip. Another swipe over my bottom lip and, despite the audience and the strange location and the mystery of this stranger, I felt my mouth tremble open, my body arching into her untamed tease. She breathed me, smelled me, stirred me into a frenzy from crown to toes. Good Lord... who was this woman?
My threatening hiss made Dace grin in delight and give both nipples a friendly tweak. A gasp left me open and vulnerable for the kiss that was flashover made flesh. For an endless moment, she was wet and open and probing, tongue behind my teeth to mark the territory and teeth clinking and locking with mine. It was a raw kiss, I could almost hear her growl, but I wasn't threatened by the animalism of her. Rather, I was shocked by how much the low sound drew me to the wild soul I could feel just beneath her skin. I drank her in for those heartbeats where I was allowed these illicit intimacies. Then she levered away from me and climbed off the rickety cot.
And I was left with my guilty burn and the knowing gaze of my companions.
++ Sara ++
"I'll collect you two before closing time," CD said simply and walked out of the room with her silent partner in tow. Junkie definitely had something going on behind her flashing azure eyes. It looked a lot like jealousy and all I could do was smile weakly.
I'd shivered when CD... Dace had kissed me warmly, slipping me a brief flash of tongue before molesting my partner. After a few long seconds of recovery, I held out a hand to Catherine, but refused to meet her gaze. Her heavy breathing was distracting and I had no idea what to do now. We silently returned to our undercover jobs and tried to focus. The sheer level of weirdness I'd abruptly been thrust into had left me reeling. Watching Catherine writhe under Dace's touch had done something strange to my hormones, had released a need that grumbled deep in my soul. I'd never fooled around with girls, no one had ever given me the chance, and my experimenting with boys had bored me at best. Now my nerves were buzzed, skin too tight, breath heavy in my lungs. Only then did I realize that I had never really felt arousal before, never experienced this pleasantly burning ache. Years of practice kept me on the job even as my mind was doing a million miles away. Multi-tasking was a beautiful skill. Looking back, I could see that perhaps I'd had a bit of a crush on Inspector Bogart. Yeah, me and half the people in the downtown San Francisco Police Division.
"It's closing time," a now-familiar voice rumbled and I jerked my wandering attention back to look up into Silverback's eyes. He appeared mildly annoyed.
"Sir?" I enquired meekly.
"Go attend to your new Mistress. Your attention isn't here."
"Yes sir. Sorry sir."
Jeez, he was scary with that cold glower and I crept over to Dace like a smacked puppy. I was pointedly ignored as she looked over to the big man who had chastised me. Then she stood and walked away with an offhand, "stay."
A long moment passed while I stood at the table and tried to eye the doppelganger Exstead without looking like I was eyeing her. Junkie had no such compulsions and stared openly at me, head cocked off to one side like a curious dog.
++ Catherine ++
I felt her before I consciously even made note of where she was. Like standing too close to a transformer, every hair on my body stood on end in response to her presence. The coyote-sensation-spirit, whatever was suddenly plaguing me, flinched down into a submissive crouch, wanting to whine and lick at the muzzle of this superior hunter. "Finish what you're doing," she growled, her voice a low rumble. "Then come to me."
It took a serious effort to get the empty bottles and glasses onto my tray, much less keep my hands steady enough to move them safely. As I walked back to the bar, she watched me with that lazy, predatory stare. At her negligently splayed knees, I stopped with my head down, and waited. I was so horny from this woman that my guts actually ached. It was humiliating, but intensely erotic. That conversation with Lady Heather all those months ago returned to me. She had told me about the urges that drove people to these kinds of emotional and sexual extremes. I had laughed.
I certainly wasn't laughing anymore.
Suddenly her leather-covered hand snaked into my vision, again curling around my belt to draw me close. The other wrapped around my jaw, forcing my head up, her fingers massaging my skin. There was a stoic, fierce beauty to her; the startling eyes the color of deep ice and the blue heart of a flame. There was stress in her, trapped like agitated water beneath the ground, pulling the corners of her mouth and eyes into small character lines. Gold danced deep in those blue, blue pools, calling me like a woman dying in a desert, offering me haven in her spirit. "Please..." I whispered softly, knowing I was begging and honestly not caring. Dace bared her teeth as my eyes fluttered shut, cutting off the overwhelming power of our mingled gazes. With masterful precision, she flexed the muscles in her arm, the grip on my belt grinding the seam of my black jeans ever-so-subtly into my crotch.
I moaned, rolling my hips into her knuckles, kissing a leather-covered thumb as it brushed over my bottom lip. It was humiliating and exhilarating to know that I could probably reach that ultimate sexual peak with just this stimulation alone. Her thumb slipped between my lips and I automatically started suckling to feel the shape of her flesh beneath and the musky taste of the kidskin. The climax was roaring in my ears, my blood pounding in my veins, the club a distant memory.
"Ah, ah," Dace chuckled softly, pulling away her thumb and stopping that subtle pressure against my clit. "Not until I say."
Moaning wantonly, I leaned against her and felt how wet and swollen I was. This whole situation was entirely too surreal. One hand rubbed the small of my back and the other the curve of my skull, soothing the chaos she'd left inside me.
++ Karen ++
I had known Dace since she was a gangly and angry teen, too young and vulnerable to be on her own. Her idiot of a mother had nearly ruined this fine and wild soul, and Sylvia had thankfully given her the chance to piece together something strong and whole from the tatters. I'd watched Candace Bogart grow from that awkward fifteen year old, into an accomplished Sub, to a brilliant Top, to a terrific cop. I had been as shocked as the rest of our kinky family when she's gone and gotten married to that idiot, Paul, and taken his annoying mouthful of a last name. I'd even attended the wedding even as I knew it was so wrong. Hell, I was the only one that did.
I still remembered Dace snarling defensively that she wanted to just be enormal'. The comment hurt, but I chose to drop it. Thank goodness she seemed to finally be coming to her senses and returning to the subversive life she was meant for. Watching her with the spunky blonde from Vegas was delightful, the chemistry between them enough to burn the club to the ground. There was something odd going on between them, but I'd figure it out in time. After all, who knew Dace better than her ebig sister'?
The blue eyes lit up with delight when she finally noticed me lurking in the shadows not to far from Sara. Pressing Catherine into the seat she was vacating, Dace bounced over like a Labrador retriever and grabbed me in a bone-creaking hug. When the hell had she gotten so strong? It was a long hug, and I could feel the stress in every line of her body. "S'okay," I rumbled gently. "I'm here now. You ready to call it a night?"
"Hafta wait for Zo," she murmured in that child-like voice and my heart ached for her.
"Ah yes, the younger Goldston. She's got to be done by now, so let's collect your pets and get out of here."
A long hug and a few quiet words to Steph had the Vegas CSIs in hand, while Dace and her shadow I didn't know, vanished to find Zo. The two Las Vegas women looked like they were ready to fall over, they were so tired. They were sweaty, physically drained and freaked out by the atmosphere which had obviously gotten far under their skins. I really needed to get Dare into one of these clubs and see what I could coax out of her. My slow grin caught Sara's attention and she stared in carnal fascination before abruptly dropping her eyes and flushing rosy. If she could admit that she wanted it, we could help her out.
A presence at my back made me turn and jump as I saw how close Tiny's enormous bulk had come to my personal space. Goddess, the man was as bad as Teal'c... "Hi handsome." My friendly tone and grin got me a famous Tiny hug, which was kindness, adoration and carefully controlled strength wrapped up in one big package. No one could feel bad about the world in this man's embrace. "I've missed you."
"Likewise, my dear. Silverback knows that the new cubs are going with you and Dace. Their luggage is beside the bar. I hope I can spend some time with you and Dace at some point during all of this." How the hell he could pitch that astonishing voice so intimately was still a mystery to me, all these years later.
"Of course! We'll make time, I swear."
++ Snake-Eyes ++
I hadn't understood the need at first. My weak part kept trying to make sense of something that he had no concept of. Pitiful creatures, these two-legs. There was no concept of their surrounding, they bashed clumsily through their environment like mortally wounded animals. Moving among them was pitifully easy.
If only there weren't so many of them...
The alluring smell trapping me here was growing stronger, a sweet scent that made my lips curl back and breathe deeply. This night something had changed, her smell shifting to a siren song that was irresistible.
There was another one as well. Smaller, calmer, slyer; the counterpoint the raw power of the one that called to me. Another like me? Trapped in this two-legged frame, desperate to run free?
Even the weak part of me had to agree. He held too much power, but there was much in this world I didn't understand and he needed to guide me.
Suddenly, there in the emptying rabbit warren, moved a predator. These two-legs fancied themselves my equal, domineering over others of their own kind. Pathetic. That was why I had chosen these select few as my prey of choice. But this one, this golden creature who moved with a sinuous grace that made me hunker down and growl...
All other distractions faded away.
A female... whose smell I knew. Deep in my wildest places, I knew her smell. This was no mere human, but another just like me! I could see the lines of her, the lean body, paws placed carefully amidst the human herd, tail weaving behind. Her head was low, weary, but the ears still alert and her movements sure and powerful. She was magnificent!
This is what I had been searching for.
And she would be mine!
In time, I would find her away from the ever-present masses of these filthy two-legs.
For now, I would wait.
The hunt had begun.