Book 4: Rapids.

Series: Light, Water, Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.

Rating: R, but barely.

Category: The continuing saga of Reflections/ Resurgences/Refractions.

Pairings: Zo/Kerry. Elizabeth/Maggie. Michael/Jo.

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: Let the fun and games begin!

Chapter 16

Casino Night

++ Maggie Doyle ++

Now, Zo Goldston didn't beg a lot. At least, not to me. That was Kerry's job. So when I got her wheedling, semi-desperate message on my voicemail, I merely gave Liz a long look and handed over the phone so that she could replay it for herself.

"Well?" Sighing dramatically, Liz pouted at me and I barely restrained myself from molesting her right there in the doctor's lounge. "Minx." My growl only made her grin coquettishly.

"It sounds like fun, but you owe me a night out."

"With pleasure!"

In the nine months since we'd coupled up, I had to admit that I was having the time of my life. We were a damn good match, which I freely admitted was still a shock. After a quick run to our favorite take-out place, we were climbing the familiar stairs to Zo and Kerry's place. "I wonder why Zo was so adamant that you come," Liz mused and I goosed her.

"Naw, that's later," I leered and Liz paused to kiss me senseless right there in the hall. A familiar and sorta half-expected voice broke up the moment.

"Oh, get a room," Xavier mocked as he stepped out of his nearby apartment and scowled down the stairwell at us. We laughed at our co-worker and he grinned in that charming way of his.

"Hey, long time, no see," I chuckled as he relieved Liz of some of her burden.

"So, what'd you bring me?"

"Hey? Hands off the grub, buddy."

"Ha! You just try and get it!"

That was how we charged into the crowd, X with the brown paper bag full of Thai food, squealing like a girl as I chased him, and Liz cracking up in our wake.

"Here comes the zoo!" Zo crowed and lunged at X as though to tackle him. That was when a tall, good-looking blonde woman stepped out of Zo and Kerry's bedroom with a slender figure draped sleepily all over her and I skidded to a dead halt.

"Holy shit..."

++ Zo ++

Oh, this was too good. Dace's timing couldn't have been any better if I'd planned it. A breathless moment passed while Maggie stared in frozen shock at her doppelganger. Sara seemed mildly confused more than anything else, but then, she'd only just woken from a long, drug-induced nap. "Good grief," Dace breathed. "Who the hell are you?" Her reaction was even funnier when she looked down at Sara as though to confirm what she was seeing.

That was my cue to hand off the mini-bar to Karen and bounce over. Maggie and Liz reeled as I threw my arms around their necks and squeezed mightily. "Wild, huh? I now have living proof that you are indeed, the Evil Twin Skippy."

Despite her shock, Dace snorted with amusement, as did Liz. Catherine smiled weakly where she was hovering nearby, worry clouding her features. Maybe a little jealous that Dace was coddling Sara? Oh, yeah, definitely. Maggie flashed me a mocking dirty look, finally able to shake off the worst of her shock. "Pain in my ass. This is what you were so hyper on the phone about."

"Yes. The resemblance is eerie, huh?"

"Extraordinary," Liz breathed and I caught a mental whiff of a few of the thoughts that were running through her head. Most of them with a definite carnal bent. It shocked me that I hadn't had the thought myself. But then again, I'd never been attracted to Maggie like that.

"Naughty," I teased lightly, slapping Liz's ass as she flushed rosy. Maggie looked over at the woman's squeak and looked thoughtful. Poor Liz never had gotten used to how well I could read her and was always embarrassed by my teasing. Now Maggie was chuckling evilly, having caught the gist of what we were non-verbalizing and stepped closer to her double.

"Hey, good-lookin'. Maggie Doyle, pleased to meet you."

Sara didn't reply, only blinking owlishly. Dace chuckled and spoke up. "She's still out of it from Kerry doping her up. This is Sara Sidle and I'm Dace DeLorenzo, the shadow here is Catherine Willows. Are you more of the doctor friends?"

"Yeah. Can I help?"

"Sure. I'll plop down on the couch and you can take a look. I mean, how often does a person get to touch themselves in public?"

Groans and laughter echoed around the room, including Karen rolling her eyes. The afternoon off had done the tall women a world of good. Some kind of mental block had been chipped away and Dace seemed much more settled inside of her own skin.

Further introductions were passed around with much amusement from the audience as Maggie got to ply her trade with Liz 'supervising'. Considering how little warning everyone had gotten, the turnout was damn good. Besides Dace and her growing entourage, there was the scary Dom from New York and her women sidekicks. Steph had been sent over with explicit instructions to decompress and have fun. I knew this because Jane had called me personally to ensure that I loosened up the bartender. So, I'd been plying the serious woman with charm and alcohol for nearly an hour now. Karen was a huge help, acting as secondary hostess when I was busy. Damn shame my baby couldn't be here, but she was on nights starting today. X was here as the token male, we had plenty to get started and more might be dropping in during the night.

Life was good!

++ Dace ++

The resemblance was extraordinary, until I had a chance to get a good, long look at them together. This Maggie was like a rough 'n' tumble, red-neck version of Sara. She had a great bedside manner, chatting nonchalantly at Sara while she poked at the aggravated, strained muscle. Some shallow bruising had shown up, but Maggie assured the lot of us that it was no big deal. "You're going to be sore as hell for a good week, but you'll be okay. Stay off it tonight and take it easy for a few days, you'll be good as new."

"Thank you," Sara smiled shyly, still clinging tightly to my neck and shoulders. I felt like something an octopus had caught for dinner. There was no escaping her grip. Catherine was hovering, and Jo was thankfully off in Michael's care. Things were weird enough with my strange little pack, and even a short break from all the emotional undercurrents was a relief. Not that I wasn't enjoying the tease of Sara's breathing slow and steady against my neck. The deep potential of her servitude was like raw, fresh bait dangled out for one of my oldest hungers. How badly I wanted to shape this kind of potential to my own personal needs. I'd wanted it since before I could vote.


Oh, I was quite certain that Bane and Fenris thought this was all very cute and kinda sad. Here I was, surrounded by gorgeous women I couldn't keep. Hell, in the case of the Vegas duo, I wasn't supposed to touch at all. Someone at my elbow caught my attention and I looked up. It was Michael's girl pup, all big blue eyes and bottle black hair with electric blue streaks shooting back from her temples. Pretty thing, but not really my type. I amused myself by ignoring her for the moment, interested in how she'd react. This spoiled pet needed to be the center of attention, and that smacked of pride to me. If there was one thing that irritated me more than anything on the Scene, it was an egotistical Bottom. It went against everything that a Submissive was supposed to stand for.

Pai straddled that fine line between pride in her role, and superiority that she was better than anyone else on their knees. Sylvia had honed my innate arrogance to the point where I could move beyond it as easily as pain. It surprised me that Fenris would tolerate this kind of behavior from the girl. She was anxious, eager to get away from me and my cold silence towards her. Unless... that's exactly why Fen had sent her over here.

Hmmm... Let's see. Junkie had been sent here by Jinny, and by sheer coincidence she happened to be in my old buddy's personal stable. By the intimacy of the way they sat close together and talked on one of the couches, I could guess that the feelings ran pretty deep. Like that elaborate tattoo with its white flames weren't proof enough... So they missed each other and wanted some together time. That would make pretty little Pai-gow an offering to me then, since Jo was unavailable for the time being. If nothing else, perhaps I could use the girl as a diversion to my hunger.

Sara finally seemed to be perking up, so I gave her a hearty squeeze. "Hungry?" It was comical at how pathetic-dog eager she looked and how poorly she hid it. So I chuckled and kissed her on the forehead. "Sit with Sweetness here and I'll go scare up something for you both." I wiggled out from beneath her and stood, pausing when I felt a tug on a belt loop.

"Please, CD... sorry, I mean, Dace, ma'am. Please, I don't eat meat," Sara said in a quiet tone that was so little-girl, hesitantly needy that my cunt wetted up like an early morning lawn. Down girl...

"Okay, be back in a minute," I managed to say calmly and stepped away, deliberately thumping my shoulder into Pai hard enough to make the girl step back. With careful deliberateness, I completely ignored both her and the collision, leaving her to stew in her own irritation. If I could make her mad, then I could discipline her severely.

And that might just make my night.

++ Jo ++

I was completely unnerved by Michael's presence. The very familiarity of her was making me jumpy. Rather than the annoyance I expected, Michael seemed amused and melancholy. "I wish I had known that you would be going into, I could have prepared you." I couldn't say anything, but resentment twisted my gut. It was out of my control! It's wasn't like I could have told Jinny no. Before I could get any more upset, a gentle touch on my chin coaxed me to look over. The amber-chameleon eyes were soft and loving. "Not criticism, sweet thing, just... wishful thinking. I could have made the transition to a new Mistress easier. It's very stressful, even with someone as trustworthy as Dace."

The tears broke loose, even as I tried to fight it. I hated losing control! With a sigh, Michael grabbed my shirt in hard fists and hauled me into her body. It was a relief that she didn't let me fight my way out of her embrace, restraining me with the gentle strength I adored in her. Since she had found a relatively secluded corner near the water fountain, I figured this was a private as I was gonna get.

Maybe the last time I had cried and confessed into a soft chest was my mother. I'd been a teenager, hating my life, hating my snotty prep school, hating being away from my family so much, hating being an outsider. The list went on and on, all of my teenage angst eating me alive. Sure, I'd gotten over most of it, but some of those earthquake faults in my psyche still rumbled on occasion.

Michael knew most of them. From the first night she'd cornered me in a bar, on the prowl and headed for disaster, she'd pried every secret from my soul. And I'd just... let her. In time, I'd fallen madly for her, because she held my vulnerable spots so tenderly. Those weak places became strong because she shored me up like a seawall. The tide thrashed at me, but couldn't wash away my foundation. And when I was overstressed, she would punish me in a way that never damaged those soft spots, leaving me calm inside my skin.

Sighing heavily, I roughly ground my face into Michael's soft chest, letting the thin kidskin absorb the last of my tears. Humming in that peculiar way that she said turned her on, I turned the movement into a caress, tucking my nose into the 'v' of her shirt and exhaling like a hunting bear. It earned the throaty chuckle I wanted so bad that my mouth was watering. Even as my lips and teeth closed over the zipper tab, ready to get under that fragrant leather, I felt someone watching us.

I knew the weight of that sharp brown gaze, could see the tousled dark hair and the crooked right eyebrow, a legacy from our earliest beat days. A burglar with more testosterone than intelligence had tried to fight his way past us. It had taken so long to get Liv's bleeding face fixed up, that she'd been left with a faint scar. There was something about Liv's regard that both made me curious and annoyed. Squirming up even closer to Michael's warm body, I pressed a long, open-mouthed kiss on her sternum, before tucking my head beneath her chin and listening to the steady throb of her heartbeat.

++ Karen ++

It wasn't easy trying to keep an eye on what was going on in the cavernous room, but I had lots of practice in herding Emily, and more recently, the Goldston twins. Dace fed her new pets, for no matter the original reasons the two CSIs had gotten involved, they were bonding to Dace in ways none of them were ready to acknowledge quite yet. The one I couldn't quite figure out was the quiet shadow that had followed Fenris in.

Part of me wanted to go grab her and give Fen and her pup some privacy, but something held me back. She seemed to be at some kind of crossroads and I hated to mess with revelations.

"Found it!" Zo crowed and Behbis screeched along with his mom's voice. Steph was hauling the other end of a folding table which turned out to stand only a half-foot taller than the couches. "This way Sara can keep that bum leg propped up comfortably and still join in on the festivities. I knew this stupid thing would come in handy some day. Bought it for a showing of some odd shaped pieces I did a few months ago and held onto it for some reason. Look out Sara."

I came over to shoo Steph away from helping set up the table. "And no tending bar, either," I glared and she smiled sheepishly. "You're taking it easy tonight. X has the drinks well in hand."

"What'll it be, ladies," the man crowed like a circus barker. "Gin and tonic? Rum and coke? Sex on the Beach? How's about a Screaming Orgasm?"

We all laughed at his antics, the table was set up, covered with a sheet, and the poker paraphernalia began to materialize seemingly from nowhere. The curly-haired woman with the clipped British accent that I vaguely remembered was Elizabeth, came over in response to my gesture and smile to shake my hand. "Karen Taylor, pleased to meet you."

"Elizabeth Corday, likewise. Any friend of Zo's and all that. Could you use a hand?"

"Yes, actually. Hey, Sara, we're going to shift you so that no one trips over you, okay?" Nodding shyly, the dark woman looped her arms around my neck when I stooped over. "Don't worry, Elizabeth's another doctor, and she's got that sore leg of yours."

"Okay," Sara whispered, clinging tight.

"I've got her," Elizabeth confirmed to me.

"On the count of three, one, two, three." It was effortless to pick up the almost painfully slender woman, she was amazingly light. "You're too skinny, Sunshine," I admonished fondly. "We've set up the other end of the couch for you with a padded chair for your leg."

"You're spoiling me," she breathed, half teasing, half shy.

"Sweet thing," I couldn't help but chuckle. "This is not the style of pain I enjoy participating in."

I could feel the blush against my neck.

++ Catherine ++

It was a relief to see these big, tough strangers tend to Sara so kindly. With absolute gentleness, Karen settled my partner onto a well-cushioned end of the other couch, and the curly-haired woman set the strained leg onto a chair covered in a folded goose-down comforter. X bounced over to refill her orange juice and provided a little dish of munchies. "Don't eat those," he admonished with a white grin. "That's your currency."


"We play for junk food," Zo explained as she flopped down to one of the couches and set her armload of goodies on the table. "Peanuts are a buck, m & m's are five, Hershey's Kisses are ten, and the Reese's cups are twenty. If you start kicking our asses, the Peppermint Patties are fifty. At the end of the night, you keep what you win. It's like grown-up Halloween."

I liked this bunch, they were good people. Dace returned to me, snuggling down into the couch, pressing against my arm and hip. I was hyper-aware of her, and the magnetism between us. It would be a shock if my junk-food currency would last very long.

Surprisingly, I did fairly well. All my years of observation skills seemed to be paying off, despite the distraction beside me. There was much banter and horsing around at the table, despite the fact that a good chunk of us were strangers. Maggie and Zo sparred nearly as much as Karen, Michael and Dace, and it was quite amusing to witness. Not to mention the carnal curiosity in Elizabeth's eyes as her gaze would periodically stray to Sara. Must be tremendously strange to see a doppelganger of your girlfriend. Titillating too. It was difficult to believe just how closely Sara and Maggie resembled each other. Thankfully, their body language was wildly different, even with Sara still effectively half asleep. A lifetime of overworking was taking its toll on her, triggered off by her injury and the relentless kindness of our new friends.

The butches fawned over my partner, and it was cracking me up. Even Michael had refilled her juice a couple of times. When Sara had nearly drifted off for the umpteenth time, Dace responded beautifully to my loaded look. In a seemingly causal series of maneuvers, we took a group break for more food and alcohol, and when we returned, Sara was suddenly ensconced between the couch arm and Dace's larger body.

I was gratified when Sara immediately snuggled into the blonde's shoulder. I was delighted when Dace grabbed me, tucking me securely into her other side, snuffling through my hair. The game had been fun, but I liked this much better. Her arm was solid and gentle around my torso, her breath hot and sweet against my scalp.

Could I leave her? The thought horrified me, but it was a legitimate question. My real life seemed a fever dream, only Lindsey's pull on my soul giving me any grounding. I felt horrible that I hadn't called her since arriving in Chicago. Sure, it had been less than two days since I'd left Las Vegas, but still...

"Would you like to call your kid?"

Startled, I twisted my head to meet Dace's eyes, oh-so-close to mine. "How did you know I had a child?"

"Smelled her on you," Dace shrugged nonchalantly, but her expressive eyes gave away her lingering stress at the bizarre changes happening around us. "I didn't realize I'd figured out a daughter until right this minute."

"She'll be nine in December," I supplied with uncharacteristic openness. "You remind me of her."

It was an odd compliment, but Dace smiled warmly. Once again, I was struck by how much Dace did, indeed, remind me of Lindsey. It wasn't the nearly identical coloring, it wasn't the winning grin, it wasn't anything that obvious. It was that... presence, for lack of a better word, just under her skin. There was more to Lindsey than met the eye. Only after meeting Dace was I realizing that instinctual knowledge was more than mother-ego.

Could Lindsey be like Dace? This cougar-woman that I was drawn to so powerfully? It would sure as hell explain a few things. She had always been unusually astute in her perceptions, but I had chalked it up to her being merely extraordinary. Lindsey had spent her entire life under fire from the rough relationship that her father and I shared. Eddie was a worthless pig I had been stupid enough to think I once loved. All her life Lindsey had strove to be a perfect kid, to please me and her father.

Perhaps she had squelched down the very same things that bound me so tightly to this enigmatic stranger.

++ Michael ++

After a pleasant quickie with Jo in the gigantic bathroom she'd gotten custody of from our hostess, I was in a far better mood. Particularly with the memories of how Jo had cried and cursed while I played her so well, growling obscene images into her ear. Particularly the one where I told her that, at some future date, she would replay what was happening to her with Dace. That made Jo break, coming all over my hand. There were many people that would not understand that I wasn't jealous of Dace. Quite the contrary, I was looking forward to an opportunity to watch my old playmate work Jo over.

I knew who my sexy cop would come to when called. Her loyalty was as permanent as the tattoo I'd placed beneath her skin.

Then I remembered something, glancing over at Dace. Sylvia had believed that the blonde would never leave her. The crimson diamond I knew hid just below the edge of Dace's tank-top was proof of that. Would the same happen with Jo? Sensing my stare, Dace looked up and smiled warmly. Such a charmer...

Dace had just been a kid when Sylvia found her, barely fifteen years old and headed for destruction. In contrast, I'd been nearly nineteen before I entered the fold. KC refocused my newly-learned and dangerous military skills into something that suited the kinks I'd learned illicitly at the hands of her colonel friend in boot camp. First at the end of lash and rope, before she then allowed me to master them in turn. Hell of a recreation for a U.S. Marine. But, considering how many of my clients were in every uniform conceivable, not such a surprise.

Jo bounced over to the poker table, where Elizabeth had just won the pot to much groaning and cursing, and flopped down into Dace's lap. Butterfly kisses earned the big cop's characteristic throaty chuckle. That was my cute little Junkyard Dog. Poor Olivia looked so torn about how she felt about all of this. That woman needed a vacation, and more importantly, a healthy outlet for all of that intensity.

She had hardly taken her eyes off of charismatic Dace all night. That busy brain was chewing through all the stimuli, alert to every change around her. Goddess, but Liv was such a cop. Snickering to myself, I decided that I could wedge myself in between Maggie and Catherine.

"Archangel Michael," I offered to the sharp look the blonde gave me. "I don't think we were ever formally introduced. I had to meet the conscious half of the package that fascinates the stringy ole' pussy here."

"Hardy har har," Dace mocked me, but Catherine merely gave me an unreadable look, blue eyes dancing with distinctly perverse humor. Oh, I liked her already.

"Catherine. Only half?"

Half? Oh, right. Duh. "The pretty little fawn over there."

"You don't think I'm pretty?" Oh, she had a dangerous burr in her voice now. How I loved the challenge of a woman with brains, beauty and a sharp wit.

"She may be pretty," I flattered. "But you are a full-bodied gorgeous."

Catherine thought the compliment over for a moment, then smiled winningly. "Okay, I won't sic the cat here on you."

I laughed along with Dace and Jo. "Welcome to the family, Catherine."

To be continued…

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