Book 4: Rapids.

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

Rating: NC17. Enjoy!

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

Pairings: Kerry/Zo. Dace/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.

Spoilers: Non.

Summary: Olivia joins the Swords, and they make quite an entrance to Chicago, while Dace relearns some sorely missed skills with Jo's willing help.

Chapter 10

The Page of Swords

++ Olivia ++

How the hell had I gotten talked into this exactly? Elliot was eyeing me half speculatively and half accusatory. "You okay?"

For a moment I didn't answer, merely gazed up at this big man who'd been my partner for four and half long years. It was going to be disturbing not to have him right here. "I hope so. Listen, Elliot, please be careful while I'm gone. I worry."

He snorted humorlessly and scooped up my travel bag as my phone began to ring. "I'm more worried about you. I mean, what the hell are you gonna do without being able to find a decent New York hot dog?"

I chuckled as I flipped the buzzing cell open. "Olivia?" Came Michael's voice. "We're in front of the precinct."

"Be down in a minute."

We talked about work while we made our way to the mean street. A black limo waited there in the discolored snow and slush. Leslie stood at the door like a proper manservant in his chauffeur's cap and heavy woolen coat. With no warning, I turned and quickly gave Elliot a rough hug. He barely had time to return the squeeze. "Be safe," he grumbled and stepped away, handing the bag to Leslie.

"I will. You too." Elliot gave no indication that he'd heard me, hands shoved deep in his pockets, the familiar figure vanished back into the building. A long moment passed in the icy January afternoon, before I sighed and finally handed my smaller bag to Leslie. "Well, let's do this."

Halfway into the limo, I glimpsed the rest of my companions, but was stopped by my name being called by another familiar voice. So I straightened up and faced my pursuer. Just in time too, as Alex's inappropriate-for-January high heels slipped on the icy stairs and I was slammed back into the big car by her weight.

"Sorry," Alex stammered, pressed in so close that my lizard brain perked up along with certain other parts of my anatomy. "You're leaving?" She sounded like she was going to cry and I winced. Things had been awkward since that night I'd taken her drinking with my pals. The irony that Michael and her pack were in the car behind my ass was not lost on me. Hell, Leslie had practically caught us both and now stood frozen, well inside our personal space, and looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. "You can't," Alex insisted and I couldn't help but look at her oddly. The woman was rattled and disheveled, and neither state was normal.

"Alex, look, I'll miss everybody, but I have to help Michael out. She needs me."

"I need you," Alex whispered plaintively and her beautiful eyes flooded with tears. Okay, now I was really confused. What the hell was going on? Before I could speculate, or closely examine the kernel of hope deep inside, Alex shocked me stupid by curling both hands around the back of my skull and planting one on me. It was a sloppy kiss, desperate and uncoordinated and one-sided, as I was far to astonished to react. It was however, warm and meaningful, that much I got. For a long moment, I was privileged to taste the sweetness of this beauty's kiss, the feel of her narrow hips under my hands. Then Alex leaned back, leaving me gaping in shock, and glared at me fiercely. "I need you, and don't you forget it. Please be careful, and come home safe."

And she was gone, leaving me with more questions than answers.

++ Dace ++

After a great big yawn and a luxurious stretch, I bounced to my feet and loomed over Jo. "Shy girl," I coaxed. "I like looking you in the eye."

"Really?" Jo sounded bewildered.

"Really. If I'm this close, that usually means that I'm interested only in you at the moment. Eye contact lets me tell you all kinds of things."

"Okay," Jo whispered, blue eyes trying to shyly meet mine.

"You really are a seductive thing," I growled and ducked down to kiss her again. There was something about a soft, willing woman that let me dominate her that made me a little wild. When I forced her teeth open to kiss her more thoroughly, Jo didn't fight me at all and I knew that we would get along just fine. When she finally whimpered, I yanked the towel off and roughly shoved her face-down on the bed.

That's when I saw the tattoo. It was a beautiful piece, laying within the shallow groove of her spine, dead in the center of her back. A sword, wreathed in icy white-blue flames, the crossguard and hilt wrought in the distinctive shape of a spade. It couldn't possibly be a coincidence...

"So," I said conversationally as I looked around for something to warm her ass up with. A single, gentle finger-stroke down the tat, made Jo moan like a cat in heat and arch up just as sexy. "Let me ask you a few questions about your New York Mistress."

"Yes ma'am," Jo said breathlessly, but her voice held a question as to why I kept bringing up the mystery woman. Dammit, I'd left my pants with the new belt in the bathroom and didn't want to walk away and lose the anticipation I was building.

Then I realized what I had in my hands and chuckled evilly. Never let it be said that I wasn't the Jackie Chan of leatherwomen. Anything could become a prop in a scene and I began to coil the damp towel while I spoke. "A little tall, dark hair, full mouth, icy surface, makes drill sergeants seem friendly? Head of a group of toughs that have a thing for uniforms? Runs a security company? Has a sidekick? Cute red-haired guy that always smiles?"

Jo tossed her hair aside as she glanced over her shoulder in surprise. "That sounds just like her and Gabriel."

I couldn't help but laugh as the terrycloth coiled tight between my hands. "My dear, you belong to the institution of a woman I know as Fenris, the mythological Nordic wolf that would one day destroy the world. Hell of a woman, that Fenris. I trained side-by-side with her in our younger days, so you understand that now I'm particularly curious what you're made out of." Stepping back, I aimed carefully and felt a lifetime of training kick in. The tip of the makeshift whip snapped out and cracked against Jo's ass. Barking in shock, Jo nearly jumped up, but subsided at my glare. "Just starting, Junkie, better brace yourself and get that pretty ass where I can get to it or I'll start picking far more sensitive targets." Even as Jo thrust her ass up, I lashed out and laid a second red mark next to the first. The towel would leave only shallow welts at best, but I'd sure as hell liked shocking her with the hit. While I rat-tailed her backside, I kept up the one-side conversation. "See, me and Fenris and Tiny and my best bud were all playmates back in the day. So I doubt that she'd care if I work you over. Hell, knowing Fen, she'd be insulted if I didn't send you home worn out and knowing a few more tricks."

All this time, Jo had kept up a steady stream of sharp little noises and groans at the whipping. She was a quiet one, but Fenris always did love self-control. It let her know when a slave was screaming for real.

"Up on all fours," I ordered and Jo obeyed, her breathing not harsh enough for my Toppy ego. I rolled the big towel into a long twisted sausage and grabbed the two ends in my right hand. Experimentally swinging it, I was impressed by the heft of my new toy. What a great tool! It had weight behind it, but wouldn't cause any damage. The rolled terry thumped satisfyingly across Jo's strong ass and I started putting my back into it.

The instant Jo cried out for real, the towel was tossed aside and I pinned her body to the bed with my weight, sinking my teeth into her bared neck. She was drenched and I thrust into her easily with the same hand that punished her. She deserved a nice, thorough fucking for that performance and I nestled our bodies together to do just that.

"Sing for it..."

++ Zo ++

I knew that look. That wild-eyed, sensuous gleam of the freshly fucked. Not merely fucked, but fucked right. Jo was glowin' with startled, wicked satisfaction and it was beautiful. Her body language was better too, more convincing and relaxed. Looked like Dace was a good teacher. Not that I hadn't expected it, the way Jo'd been howling a short while ago. Is that what Elizabeth used to hear listening to me and Kerry? No wonder the woman had been in such a massive state of crush!

As if conjured up by my curiosity, Dace paced out of the hallway, playfully goosing Jo, who jumped and squeaked. I admired the tall blonde as she raised her arms into a groaning stretch. My Chicago White Sox jersey had never looked so good. Maggie would be impressed that her gift had gone to such a great cause.

"You look better prepared," I noted idly and their like eyes rested on me. Bet Kerry was grinning evilly where she sat beside me. "Guess you'll want to stop by your hotel, huh?"

"Why bother," Dace shrugged and lazily rubbed her belly. "You left us clean shirts and we're gonna get sweaty anyway. I suppose I should scare up my cell phone in this palace. My 'students' are probably curious where I am."

I heard her, but was distracted by the shape of Jo's body. In just my snug Indigo Girls concert t-shirt, I could get a good look at her lines with a practiced artist's eye. Deja-vu. The woman was built just like me under the tank top.

"Students?" Kerry asked as Jo squirmed beneath my curious gaze.

"Yeah," Dace laughed. "They're probably mad as hell that I wandered off on my own and left them hanging. What's up, Zo? You're staring."

"Hmmm?" I hummed intelligently. "Just admiring Junkie here. So, are you two going for the daddy and boy look? Or can I help soften her up?"

Jo was startled and shied in closer to Dace's bulk while the big woman eyed me flatly. "What did you have in mind?" Dace questioned in a deceptively quiet tone. This was not someone to be screwed with. I needed to quit assuming anything with them, anything at all.

"I have a shirt that she'll look great in. May I?"

For a long, breathless moment, Dace continued to stare me down before shrugging. "Sure." Sto dheeahvaloh (damn), I was ready to throw myself at her mercy... Instead, I shook off that sexy, cornered-prey sensation and left the room. It took a few minutes to find it, hanging carefully in the back of my closet. There wasn't much in my wardrobe that was too scandalous for me to wear very often, but this was one that demanded something really special.

Back in the main room, Jo was standing rigidly next to the couch while Dace lounged lazily beside Kerry. "Here," I said quietly and handed it over to Dace. She quirked a grin at me before those competent hands explored the leather shape. It was butter-soft kidskin dyed an inky mahogany with an intriguing shade of cinnamon lingering where the light hit. To my surprise, she dropped it back onto her lap and returned her attention to my girl.

"So you think I should change it?"

"Depends on the look you're going for," Kerry answered, matching Dace's conversational tone. "Are you trying to look like one of the boys, or keep a girly edge?"

"I don't know," Dace sighed and pulled at a drooping forelock. "But generally the later. I've never been good at full drag. Dunno why."

"I think that this shaggy, bed-head look suits you."


"Changing it now will make you less recognizable to the locals who have been getting used to you."

A warm grin made me smile and Kerry fairly glow. Big, scary Dace was a teddy bear under all the rough edges. Just like Karen. Excellent. "Thanks Kerry. You ever want to switch careers, you let me know." Then, in the space of a single heartbeat, those eyes turned predatory and rose to pin Jo, who flinched. "Come here, Puppy," she ordered softly and Jo obeyed. The fear and lust in her was a palatable force that flowed across my sensitive perceptions like spicy honey. Poor, poor Kerry was going to be the recipient of all these rampant hormones.

++ Jo ++

I had a feeling I knew where this was going... and my lust would go along with it. Even as my long-battered sense of social rules whined pathetically that this was wrong. "Lose the shirt," Dace purred in that lioness tone that made me wild. There was a long pause before the flicker of the irritated predator in her calm gaze finally coaxed my hands into obedience. Burningly aware of Kerry and Zo's silent stares, I grabbed the hem of the beige t-shirt, took a deep breath and skinned it over my head. Now down to the simple white bra, I waited for the order. Dace was a combination of proud and annoyed at the way our chemistry was playing out. Neither of us would give an inch. "And the bra. Let's see if those marks have purpled up yet."

Dace's arousal made it easier to strip down to my skin and I stood proudly beneath their trio of stares. Kerry's gaze was a startlingly cool contrast to Dace's heat; Zo's look was like a palatable caress on my back and side. "Careful with those hickeys," Kerry commented dryly. "She might need a doctor." Zo snerked and Dace chuckled in startled humor. I could feel the heat in my face as the doctor gave me an appraising glance, an eerie combination of clinical and appreciative. Then she stood and strode to me, ignoring the uncontrolled flinch that rattled my frame. "Relax," she soothed in a low, calm voice and I'd bet patients were very responsive to. Cool fingers traced over the symmetrical bruises, making me flinch again in tickly pleasure/pain. "Teeth marks, Dace?" My partner huffed in amusement again, and Zo giggled. When her fingertips glided over the strong tendons in my neck and shoulder, I shivered. Kerry had a touch like her look, one that was a disorienting combination of warm, curious and detached. "Relax," she encouraged again. "You'll have to get used to being touched, at least in passing, by strangers. Think of it like the dreaded medical exams. You're naked and vulnerable to strangers, but you've got somebody or two that will make sure that you're safe. Would you like a hand with that shirt, Dace?"

"Sure," the butch woman murmured and stood to box me in between their two bodies. Businesslike, but with enough caresses to make my breathing heavy, the two women settled the assemblage of leather strips and straps around my torso. "Very nice," Dace purred, her fingertips gliding hypnotically along the upper edge of my jeans, my skin singing to her touch. "This looks wonderful on you Jo. Brings out your shy femininity." With her hands on my belly, and Kerry tracing the cris-crossing straps on my back, I was badly distracted, and could feel the heat rising on my skin.

"Thank you, Dace," I whispered and she smiled in approval. "Thank you, Kerry."

"Go look at yourself in the mirror," Dace encouraged with an indulgent smile and I scampered off to the bedroom to do just that.

Once I came back, we all sprawled out on the couch with me tucked up securely against Dace's side. Zo flopped down on her other side and muscled the larger woman into shifting over. "Move it, Amazon, it's Saturday night and I have a movie to watch before I have to work. I've been waiting for months for Lord of the Rings." The TV blazed to life and flickered to the DVD logo. "This is possibly the best movie ever filmed. I'm dying for the next two!"

"You sound like a commercial," Dace teased as Kerry mimicked my pose against Zo.

"Hey, I don't argue with brilliance."

Gandalf had just fallen to his doom onscreen, when I saw Zo's legs go stiff where they were propped up on the coffee table. "What?" Kerry asked warily.

"Lemme up," Zo was suddenly aflame with energy, practically flying into the bedroom, charging out a moment later with a battered spiral notebook in hand. Then she threw herself down in front of her fancy computer. "Let the movie run," she called out distractedly and clapped the expensive headphones over her ears. "I'll be over in a minute." Since Kerry had hit the pause button when Zo had bolted from the couch, we could hear the dark woman muttering in some foreign language while she typed furiously. "Please tell me I still have it," she murmured to herself suddenly in clear English while the rest of us watch in bemusement. "Ah ha!" She crowed as various windows opened and closed on the monitor. Checking her watch, she started muttering incoherently again.

"Don't look at me," Kerry answered my questioning glance. "I have no idea what she's ranting about. I've learned to just let it run its course. She's brilliant, you know. Eccentric and unpredictable and a little insane, but absolutely brilliant." It was obvious, the adoration between them.

A few seconds went by when Zo suddenly squealed something that almost sounded musical and Behbis started shrieking his feathered head off. Dace raised an eyebrow and Kerry laughed. Zo leaned over the pad of paper and began to feverishly scribble on it. Even as Kerry pointed the remote at the TV, Zo began muttering again, this time in rapid-fire, incomprehensible, extremely fluent Spanish.

I peeked around Dace to meet eyes with Kerry. "She speaks Spanish?"

"Like a native. Greek and French too. She'll be at that sketch pad for awhile, so we might as well do as she says and watch the movie until it's time for you to go."

++ Zo ++

As much as I annoyed Kerry sometimes by rarely being able to explain myself, she had learned to just let me be. It was rare that my actions had no point; it was just that I had a hard time articulating where they were headed. Rather than be constantly frustrated at trying to let everybody in on what I was doing and why, they usually learned to wait for the end result. So my doctor lover had learned to accept surprises. Mostly anyway. I adored her for tolerating my eccentricities and loving me in spite of them. The blaze of inspiration, or making that oddball leap of logic, was like lightning every single time. It would burn me alive until it found a way out, driving me insane with its feral energy. It was equal parts exhausting and exhilarating, the burn.

Eventually, I returned to the others, flopping down on the floor and resting against Kerry's legs. As much fun as I might be having with the movie, my energy levels were making me vibrate, and I was dying to drag Kerry off for a quickie. Didn't she know it too, trailing a lazy hand though my curls. It was almost a relief when Lord of the Rings was done and I could jump restlessly to my feet. "Just give me a few, and I'll be right with you. C'mon Ker."

Grinning evilly, Kerry let me drag her off to the bedroom for some R&R before I had to go dance. If there was one thing consistent about Kerry Weaver, it was the she was the most amazing lover ever gifted to the human species. Under the laser focus of her passion, there was never a doubt that I was the center of her universe. Be it a long, romantic evening or, like now, a rough quickie up against the bathroom door. There was something blissfully base and visceral lurking under her sweet and endlessly competent exterior, and it thrilled me. Panting like a racehorse, I let my brain settle back into my skull and began unwinding my fingers from her sorrel mane. "Good thing I have strong legs," I sassed as Kerry loosened her death grip around my hips to let my right leg touch solid ground again.

"They got you all hot and bothered, love," Kerry purred as she climbed to her feet and smothered me with kisses. Theh-mou (My God), but I tasted good on her...

"Damn Skippy. I doubt I'll be getting much sleep for awhile."

"The muses are callin', huh?"

"Oh yeah, loudly. I'll come in to say hello later before I paint."

"Thank you, love."

++ Michael ++

"Are we all ready for this?"

Four pairs of eyes rested on me, sober and serious. I had to admit that I was more nervous than the rest of my pack combined. Even with Pai doing her carnal damnest to distract me most of the flight with that wicked mouth and offering her body for love and abuse. The boys were both antsy and calm as well, and we were all feeding on each other's nerves. Hell, even the unflappable Olivia was a little ruffled. Of course, after that scene with Alex, who could blame her.

When still a neophyte on the Scene, I had met the man who became known as Brann, a Celtic name for raven. I was Fenris, the dreaded dire wolf. We were a perfect team, his gregarious friendliness versus my icy discipline. Gramps and the Lady Heartsblood once joked that we were the younger incarnations of them. While in New York, we were the Archangel Gabriel and Michael. It was Brann, Tricky, as Dace used to call him, that kept me calm and sane during times of stress, the ultimate second in command.

We'd pulled Leslie and Sangria off of the mean streets of Hong Kong just a couple of years ago. They were both dangerously close to being ruined by their lives of pretty faces and fine bodies peddled to whomever flashed enough cash. Now they were treasured pets, pampered and protected and well trained to mine and Brann's needs. They were Bootstrap and Pai-Gow now, the completion of my little pack of adored playmates. For now, we'd adopted Olivia into our midst, and she stood co-beta wolf with Brann.

All of us were dressed in our leather finest, even Olivia, who'd I practically had to wrestle into the sleek kidskin uniform that hugged her neck to toe. The playing cards had been based after the tarot deck centuries ago. So, the Suit of Spades were the Swords, as we had always been about the starkness and discipline most obviously shown in the military mind. In honor of that, we were all sheathed in midnight kidskin, only the details of the uniforms showing rank and status. The Subs, Pai and Bootstrap, had their backs exposed, from neck to tailbone, the lashes I'd marked them with showing proudly. A small diamond of skin showed over Brann's and Olivia's sternum, where I'd inked a temporary spade tattoo on the woman to match the man. Only I was completely covered. All of us had hair slicked back, and Matrix-style wrap around sunglasses. How I adored the dark starkness of that movie's look...

The small charter plane jostled to the ground and the engines wailed to brake the vehicle. The minute we were moving slowly enough to move about safely, I silently gestured the pups to me. Instantly, both of them were kneeling at my feet, eyes carefully watching my expression. "Now, you two be on your best behavior," I intoned somberly and they chimed up in perfect unison.

"Yes Mistress."

"Good." As much as I might not spoil them by saying it, I was insanely proud of these characters. First Pai was snugly collared, because she would pout so if she were not always the first. Some days I would pass her over for the sole reason to provoke her, but not tonight. Olivia took her leash, swallowing discomfort at the unaccustomed role. Poor Pai and her insatiable crush on the sexy brunette cop. After running into them at the Chimera on New Year's Day, Pai had been downright subdued around Olivia. Now after seeing the blonde woman she saw as a rival kiss Olivia senseless, she was obviously depressed. Not that anyone but her packmates could see it beneath the rigid training I'd beaten into her. Hard to believe that was only nine days ago, so much had happened...

Once Leslie was collared, Brann took him in hand and we gathered up the smaller items in the passenger compartment. Heavy woolen trenchcoats were pulled over the elaborately simple costumes as the plane slid to a smooth halt and the pilot stepped silently past us to open the door and lower the steps. Cold, bitter wind whipped at the heavy leather of my pantlegs and my thick ponytail. It smelled... well it smelled like Chicago.

++ Jane ++

Goddess, it really was old-home week. First Dace and now Fenris. Sure, I had spoken to my old friend on the phone not that long about business in general, but the reality of her standing just a few hundred feet away was very different. "C'mon, then," I murmured at Steph, who fell into perfect step at my right hand as I headed for the small plane.

"King of Swords," I intoned with absolute seriousness, sensing the sharp gaze behind the mirrored sunglasses. "Greetings and welcome from the Suit of Clubs."

"Queen of Clubs," Michael returned the formal greeting. "The hospitality of the Suit of Clubs is recognized by the Suit of Spades." We shook hands, a powerful grip of fingers and palms between equals, before grinning wildly at each other. The glasses were pulled away and I had a glimpse of Fen's happy gaze before I was yanked into a suffocating hug. "It's been too long. Too damn long."

"Hell yes! Goddess, but it's good to see you, Fenris."

"You too. So, Dace is really here?"

"Wild, huh? And since she's here, no one is going to make me disbelieve that Bane won't be here soon."

"Bane... damn, that would really make this a reunion!" Fenris chuckled throatily and flashed that powerful grin on Steph. "Good to see you, Cheetah."

"Likewise, Fenris."

"Still calling me Fenris?"

"You'll always be the great wolf to us," she chuckled and I blew off the comment breezily before imperiously gesturing for the pilot and two-man ground crew to take the luggage to the limo waiting beyond the fence. "We can talk more intimately in the car." A grin flashed at Brann got me a bear hug the likes of which only Gramps and Tiny could match. "You look great, Tricky. I see you have new packmates. Good looking bunch."

"Oh, I think you'll like them, Tarzan."

In the car, I grinned happily at my old pals and their new packmates. "I'm really jazzed that the Red Queen sent Dace. I think there's more going on than just this reunion, but I'm still really jazzed." A significant look flashed between Fenris and the auburn-haired woman confirmed that something was going on. I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Fine, be all mysterious, but eventually we all need to be on the same page here." Fenris had the grace to look away uncomfortably and I gentled. "I'm glad KC sent you."

"Me too!"

To be continued…

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