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Common Ground

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Chapter 1

 

It had been a long day. It was turning into a longer evening.

“Hawke, I’m fine.” She was fairly certain it was the tenth time she’d said it. Unfortunately, Stringfellow Hawke didn’t look any more convinced this time than he had the first nine.

“Caitlin, you were almost killed today.”

The temper she’d been holding in check for most of the evening flared. “Look buster, I think I know that. I was there, remember?”

Caitlin clenched her fists to hide the shaking. If String or Dom saw the tremors they’d never leave and she didn’t want to explain what was really wrong with her. She had to get them out of her house before the fraying grip she held on her temper snapped, and she said something that was unforgivable. She could just imagine that conversation: “String, you want to know what you can do to help me? Well, I’ll tell you. I’m as worked up as a cat in heat and you are looking like a mighty fine tom.” She bit her lip to hold in the laughter as her imagination conjured up String’s reaction to that scenario. She might have had a fantasy or two – he was a good looking man and he had that whole brooding thing going for him – but String had placed her firmly into the little sister category soon after she’d shown up at Santini Air and there was no getting out of it. As her momma would say, ‘It was a damn shame.’

She finally appealed to the one person in the room who wasn't fussing over her. The one who claimed, at least, that he had stopped in to debrief her, rather than to make sure she was alright. “Michael, will you please tell them that I’m fine and they can go home.”

Michael gave her a lingering stare that left a little voice whispering in the back of her mind that Hawke wasn’t the only tom in the room. A voice she firmly squashed as he rose from his chair. “Gentlemen, I believe that the lady’s mind is made up. She wishes to be alone and our continued presence is neither appreciated nor advisable.”

Finally, sanity among the chaos. Thanks to Michael leading the way, she got the three of them herded out of her door with a promise to call if she needed anything. As the door closed behind them, she sagged against the wood in relief. She loved String and Dom. She really did. But sometimes their overprotectiveness got on her nerves. It was like they could only see her as “the girl” and not as a competent, mature woman and a part of the Airwolf crew. She’d been a member of the Texas Highway Patrol, for goodness' sake. She ran five miles nearly every morning. She knew martial arts. She could field strip a 9-millimeter faster than Hawke could.

Caitlin thumped her head back against the door and blew out a breath. “Yet some guy flirts with you and you turn into an emotional mush ball and get yourself kidnapped.” Maybe they were right. Maybe she was that naive, helpless girl they all saw her as, after all.

She looked down at her hands, which were still trembling just a little. Too much adrenaline. Deciding that self-pity wasn’t going to get her anywhere, she pushed away from the door. It was time for a hot shower and her comfiest clothes, then maybe some television. Given how tightly she was wound, she knew she wouldn't be getting much sleep. “Shower. Clothes,” she repeated out loud, grounding herself before heading for her bedroom.

She was toweling her hair dry when she heard the doorbell. Groaning in frustration, she tossed the towel in the direction of the bathroom and stomped out into her living area. Unlocking the door, she yanked it open. “Damn it, String, if you don’t-” The righteous tongue-lashing she’d been about to deliver died on her lips as Archangel stood on her small porch, his weight resting on the silver-headed ebony cane held in front of him.

Caitlin blinked at him in confusion. She’d halfway expected Hawke to show up before the night was over. She might even have laid odds on Dom, but the possibility of Michael returning was something that had never once crossed her mind.

“May I come in?” he asked, amusement evident in his voice.

She realized she was still standing there in the doorway and backed up with a sigh, gesturing him to enter. As he moved past her, she caught the faintest hint of his cologne, something that smelled warm and spicy. It struck her as being rather at odds with his preferred dress of all white. She would have imagined he’d go for something crispier, cleaner, with a sharper edge to it.

Abruptly, she realized that she was sniffing Michael. Archangel, of all people. She shook her head, banishing those thoughts. Lord, but she had it bad tonight. Why couldn’t they all just leave her alone before she made a complete spectacle of herself?

Without actually waiting for an invitation, he settled into the spot on her couch that Dom had been warming earlier, his ever-present cane set off to one side. Keeping her distance, she walked to the far end of the room, not that it was all that far away in her tiny little apartment. “Michael, why are you here? I thought you agreed with me that everyone should go home.”

“No, technically I agreed that it would be best if Hawke and Santini left. It was obvious from your body language that you were uncomfortable with their presence. Something was bothering you earlier. Something you didn’t want to share with them.”

She took a few strides across the room, needing to move. “So what makes you think I’d want to share with you?” It came out a little sharper than she’d intended, but he didn’t look offended.

He gave her a small shrug. “Because I’m neutral territory? Because I was there today? Because you need someone who will listen without judging you? I had my reservations in the beginning, I admit, but you are part of the Airwolf team. That makes you part of my team.”

She took another turn around the room. Everything always revolved around that damn helicopter. “So, you’re here because you're concerned about the Lady.”

He let out a small sigh and shifted on the couch. “It’s my job to be concerned about Airwolf and anything that might affect her. I don’t deny that. That doesn’t mean that I can’t also be concerned about her crew.” He paused. “Another facet of my job is reading people. It's clear that something is bothering you, and it's something you don't want to discuss with Hawke or Santini. If you want to talk it out, I’m a good listener.” He gave her a lopsided smile. “I’m also fairly decent at keeping secrets.”

“Michael, really, I’m okay.”

“Then why are you pacing around your living room like a caged animal?”
 
She stopped in the middle of the room, shoulders sagging as she gave him a sheepish grin, knowing she’d been busted.  “Okay, you win.  I’m not fine. But it’s not that I’m all emotional and falling apart. I'm not even all that upset.  Not in the way that String or Dom or you think.  I’m just . . . I’m just–”
 
“Just?” he prompted
 
She huffed out a breath and threw up her hands in frustration.  “As everyone insists on reminding me, I was nearly blown up today.  And yes, I’ve been in dangerous situations before and that’s not the part that’s got me all twitchy.  It just eats me that I almost died because I’m stupid.  Because I thought that a man like Ken Sawyer could actually like me.”  Her voice was steadily getting louder but she couldn’t seem to control it as the emotions she’d been holding back tumbled forth.   “And, you know what the worst part was?  I almost died trussed up like a God-damned Christmas turkey.  I couldn’t do anything.  I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t even tell Babe anything about how Sawyer had rigged that bomb because he had me blindfolded while he did it.”
 
“You couldn’t fight back.”  His words were quiet, calm in the face of her frustration and they broke her out of her rising spiral of anger like a splash of cold water against her skin.
 
“Yeah,” she agreed.  She took in a deep breath and then let it out slowly before starting again, this time in a slightly more normal tone of voice.  “All that adrenaline – all that anger – just started swirling around inside without an outlet. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve just got a good case of the F's.  That’s all.”  Even as she was speaking she’d started her agitated pacing again, carefully avoiding looking at Michael, not wanting to see his reaction to her little outburst.  She wasn’t entirely sure he’d understand.  Even in the most stressful situations, Michael had always seemed to be completely cool and collected.  It was rather embarrassing that he was seeing her like this now when all she wanted was for him to go away so she could throw something against the nearest wall and have a good cry to get it out of her system.
 
“The F's,” he said softly.
 
Caitlin suppressed a groan. She could feel her face reddening.  Damn it.  She should have known better than to say that.  Racking her brain for a way to explain away the comment, she finally swung around to face him.  “Yeah. Standard fear response. Fight or flight.”
 
“Fight or flight, Caitlin? Don't you mean fight or . . . fuck.”
 
Crap. Since she had learned it while she was with the highway patrol, she shouldn’t be surprised that he knew the term, but hearing the word "fuck" come out of Michael Coldsmith Briggs III’s mouth sent an unexpected shiver through her.  Which really wasn’t helping.  Nor was the tiny smirk that just lifted one corner of his mustache. 
 
“That’s why you were so adamant about pushing Hawke and Santini out the door.”
 
She made a face, but didn’t even try to deny it.  “If they’d stayed five minutes more I was about to pick a hellacious fight with String and probably get myself fired.”
 
He was studying her, head cocked slightly to the side, that tiny little grin still in place.  “I wouldn’t have expected fighting to be your first choice.”
 
She let out a shaky laugh and scrubbed her hands up through her hair. “Yeah, but when we got out of there, I let my emotions get the better of me and I kissed String. You saw. I kissed him. He didn’t kiss me back.” She gave a half-hearted shrug. “I know where I stand with him. String thinks of me as his kid sister . . . no, fighting would’ve been it for sure.”
 
On her next pass across the room, one of his hands snagged her wrist and brought her to a standstill.  “Caitlin, why aren’t you picking a fight with me?”
 
She was looking anywhere but at him.  “I'm trying to?” Somehow, it came out sounding more like a question than an answer.
 
“You're not trying very hard.” He tugged on her hand, pulling her towards him. 
 
“Michael–”
 
He tugged again, his hand insistent on hers until she was standing in front him. “Come here.” Frowning slightly, unsure of what he wanted, Caitlin shifted so she could sit down next to him on her couch, but he stopped her, reaching out his other hand to her hip. “No, come here.” When he gave another tug to her hand, Caitlin let him pull her down until she found herself straddling him.

Caitlin cursed being a red-head as she felt her face flush with embarrassment, and if she was honest, the beginnings of arousal. She shifted slightly, all too aware of her perch. She was sitting in his lap, and Lord help her, but he felt good beneath her – solid and warm with just a hint of that spicy aftershave teasing her sense of smell. How did she get herself into these situations?

“Now, we can have a proper. . . fight, was it? Or fu-”

“Michael!” She stopped him before he said the word again.

He gave a little huff of laughter before moving his hands to her hips. “I do understand, you know.”
 
Still avoiding his gaze, she stared down at the weave of his sweater as if it was the most fascinating thing she’d ever seen. If he could carry on a conversation with her sitting in his lap, then so could she, although she did wish his thumbs would quit rubbing those little circles over her hips. It was distracting. “D-Do you?” She took a quick breath to get her composure. “You always seem cool and collected. So very in control.”

“You’ve seen me out of control.”

“I have?”

“Germany.” His voice went flat with the word.

That was something she didn’t want to remember. “That doesn’t count. You were drugged.” Drugged, and God only knew what else they had done to him.
 
He shrugged.  “It doesn’t do to see a Firm Deputy Director panic.  It does little to instill confidence in one's people.”
 
Knowing she couldn’t hide forever, she raised her eyes, frankly studying him, much as he’d earlier studied her.  She was seeing him in a different light than she had before, suddenly remembering the way he talked to her, to his staff, even to String sometimes. “You’re good at that.  Instilling confidence in others.” She grinned slightly. “Or, in String’s case, making him angry. Whatever works to keep someone going.” 
 
His expression turned wry and bit self-mocking. “The phrase you’re looking for is manipulative bastard.”
 
She shook her head.  “I thought I was going to be blown into a thousand tiny little bits.  I should have been screaming my head off.  You kept me sane.”  She shrugged.  “It might have been manipulative, but—“ she dared to tease him just a tiny bit – “at least you use your powers for good.” 

With obvious deliberation, he ran his gaze over her perch in his lap. “Only for good? Are you sure?” he asked, running his fingers up the outside of her thighs.

She narrowed her eyes at him. “I do believe that you're manipulating me right now.”
 
The smirk, the one that made her stomach do loops, was back.  “Maybe a little,” he acknowledged. “Although I swear that this--" he made a vague gesture to the way she was sitting on him “--was not my goal when I came back to check on you.  My intentions were noble.”
 
“Were?” she repeated, catching his emphasis on the word.
 
A sort of wicked glee lit up his face. “Were. Most definitely past tense.”
 
She studied him again and wondered at his real reasons for propositioning her.  He was everything that was out of her league – handsome, brilliant and worldly.  She had no illusions; before today, he’d probably given her very little notice.  She had his attention now though.  This extremely dangerous and powerful man saw her.  It was quite possibly the biggest turn-on she’d ever had in her life and she wanted to keep that attention, even if for just a little while longer.
 
“Why me, Michael?  You have any number of--”
 
He stopped her.  “I was there too, Caitlin.  Babe's the expert. I was just as helpless as you were.  Just as powerless.”  He grinned at her.  “Of course, I wasn't trussed up like a Christmas turkey.”  His grin turned into a full blown smile. “Would you believe that I considered picking a fight with Hawke?”
 
She laughed.  “No.  Well, yes.  But then, you seem to do that a lot anyways.”  She turned serious.  “You can’t exactly proposition any of your people, can you?”
 
“No, that would be unwise. For any number of reasons.”

Time had come for a decision, then.  Was she really going to do this? Take what he was offering? If she was honest with herself, she knew it was what she wanted. Sliding forward in his lap, she pressed her hips tight against his.  He was half-hard and she couldn’t deny that it fueled her own arousal to know she’d done that to him, doing little more than sitting on his lap.  With the tiny shred that remained of her self control she kept herself from rolling her hips against him.  Leaning so she was almost nose to nose with him, she stared into that single, very blue eye and let a slow smile spread across her face. “I’m not one of your angels.”

The look she got in return was approval shot through with lecherous intent.  For one brief moment she wondered what she’d gotten herself into, but then he leaned in and kissed her.  It wasn’t the aggressive, alpha-male kiss she was expecting, but a kiss so soft she barely felt the touch of lips and the faint tickle of his mustache against her.  It was enough though to have every nerve in her body singing and for the adrenaline to once again start pounding through her veins.  Whispered words against her left ear sent shivers down her spine.  “Pay attention Caitlin, I’m about to manipulate you.”
 
She shuddered at the words, knowing that was exactly what he’d intended. 
 
“You didn’t have any control today.  You were going to live or die at someone else’s whim.  Do you want a little of your power back?  I can give it to you.”  He paused, building her anticipation, teasing her curiosity. “You’re in complete control, Caitlin.  I’m yours to do with as you please. Anything you want.”
 
As the shock of his words went through her, a hundred images flashed through her mind.  Oh, sweet mercy, he was good. A few simple words and her imagination had done the rest. Still almost nose to nose with him, she decided to test the waters a little. Holding his gaze she slowly rolled her hips forward. She was rewarded for her action with a swift gasp of air. He was fully aroused now, hard and solid between her outstretched thighs. She repeated the movement before leaning in to kiss him, sinking her fingers into his hair.

Soft registered somewhere in her brain, but she was too focused on the lips beneath hers to think of much else. From her position in his lap, she was slightly taller than he was, lending her a sense of power and control that she reveled in. Starting slow, she barely grazed his lips with hers, once then twice. Head tilting to the side for a better angle, she swept her tongue lightly along his bottom lip. When Michael’s lips parted on his next gasp of air, she took advantage, turning the kiss by slow degrees deeper and more aggressive.

She was dimly aware of his hands, warm weights cupping her shoulders and holding her to him. Not that she was planning on going anywhere.

Her fingers, still tangled in his hair, slid down his scalp, her nails scratching lightly. He groaned softly in pleasure as her fingers trailed along his neck. Grinning slightly into her next kiss, she worked her hand down his chest until her fingers could slip beneath the sweater he wore. As she touched him, she felt him tense. Something about his reaction seemed off, and she pulled back slightly, letting her fingertips remain where they were, resting lightly against the warmth of his undershirt beneath the sweater.

“Michael?”
 
His eye was closed and he was panting lightly from their shared kisses. When he opened his eye, the pupil was dark and hazy. He met her gaze and swallowed.  If he was anyone else, she would have said it was nervousness. That was completely ridiculous, considering she’d never known the spymaster to be anything but confident.
 
Reaching up, he brushed back a few strands of her hair, his light touch at odds with the dark emotions she could see flitting across his face. “There's something I probably should have told you up front. This is a bit of a mood dampener I’m afraid, but have Hawke or Santini ever mentioned how I came by my injuries?”
 
She suddenly felt like an idiot, but his injuries had really never crossed her mind. She had never known Michael without the limp or the glasses with the single dark-tinted lens.  They were all just part and parcel of what made Michael – Michael.  Leaning forward slightly, she let the touch she had on his waist turn into a slow caress. “Hawke has never said anything. Dom . . . once I asked him about how Hawke ended up with Airwolf.  All he said was that The Lady’s creator turned on you and the Firm and that he stole her before destroying the test facilities. You came to Hawke and Dom to steal her back.” She shook her head.  At the time, she hadn’t taken Dom's words literally or consciously made the connection, but now it fully clicked in her mind. Caitlin's hand stilled, resting at his waist. “You were there, weren't you? At the test facility.”
 
He nodded. “I was.” He swallowed again. “The first few days, I wasn’t expected to live, but I was too damn angry to die. Moffett had killed too many of my people. I couldn’t allow him to get away with it.”
 
Oh, Michael. She didn’t say anything though, knowing he’d only interpret her compassion as pity.
 
He gave her a small tight smile as he continued. “Not the best of motivations, but revenge was all I had at that point. The doctors couldn’t save my sight and wanted to amputate my leg.”
 
She couldn’t help the quick glance downward towards his still intact leg, a leg she was currently straddling. “They didn’t.”
 
His smile turned fierce. “No they didn’t. We . . . compromised.”
 
“Compromised?”
 
“They saved my leg and I didn’t fire them.”
 
She shook her head with a soft laugh.  “It pays to be the Deputy Director.”
 
He shrugged, completely without remorse.  “Rank and arrogance do have their advantages.  So does brute stubbornness. Three months later I limped out of the Firm’s hospital facility and bullied Hawke into helping me take down Moffett and bring back Airwolf.”  He shifted, bringing one hand up to cover hers where it rested against his ribs. “All of that is history. But I thought that—“ He trailed off as his fingers tightened on hers. The smile he gave her was guarded. “I am still yours to do with as you please. I just wanted to warn you. The scars are. . . extensive. If you wish to reconsider. . . we could do this with our clothes on. . . .”
 
He left the words hanging there between them.
 
“How long has it been?”
 
“I left the hospital two and half years ago.”
 
She wasn’t sure how to ask what she really wanted to know so she just plowed forward, tact be damned.  “No, I mean, has anyone . . . I mean, have you--”
 
He cut her off with a low chuckle. “No. For a while I wasn’t in any shape to--”  He shook his head. “Afterwards, I never put myself in that position. It was easier that way.”
 
“Until now.” 
 
“Until now,” he agreed.
 
Sliding a second hand beneath the sweater, she tugged upward and soon Michael was helping her slip the material over his head.  The undershirt had ridden up and she could just see a tracery of scars, both surgical and not, etched across the skin of his abdomen.  She let herself look and then moved past the marks.

“This,” she said, plucking at the hem of his undershirt, “Has to come off. Lean forward a little.”

“Bossy, aren’t you?” he complained, but he still complied, letting her take the lead. She knew exactly what she was going to do with her sudden new found power. Sliding her fingers against the warmth of his skin she swept the undershirt up and over Michael’s head. She could see more of the web of scars now. They were concentrated along his left side, stretching from his collarbone, across his upper arm, and then down his side before disappearing into waistband of his slacks. As they went down his body the marks changed, becoming deeper and more jagged, his skin the canvas of a mad artist who had painted in blood and fire. It was no wonder that he’d been hesitant about seeking out female companionship.

“Not a pretty sight, is it?" There was a hesitation before he continued. "But by comparison to my leg. . .” He was watching her, she noticed, waiting for her reaction, waiting to see if she would pull away. There were insecurities there, she realized, doubts about whether he was the man he used to be. From where she was sitting, that notion was completely ridiculous. The only thing it did was make him more human – more Michael – and a little less of the intimidating, untouchable Archangel.

She chose her words carefully, knowing the wrong ones might mean he'd never bare himself to a woman again. "You survived. That's what matters. It's the only thing that matters."

Apparently, it was the right thing to say as Caitlin felt some of the tension bleed out of him. It wasn’t enough though. She wanted him to be completely relaxed and unselfconscious with her.

She smoothed her thumbs across his collarbones, realizing for the first time how much strength had been hidden beneath the protective layers of his clothing. And if some small part of him needed her validation that he was still desirable, she had no qualms with giving it. Regardless of the scars criss-crossing his body, she did find him damn sexy. Sliding her hands to his shoulders, she leaned forward to kiss him, pressing herself against his chest.

Her actions brought an answering gasp from him that had her smiling into the kiss. Rising slightly on her knees she shifted her angle until her lips were slanted just perfectly across his. Her tongue stoked his, teasing his senses before retreating and allowing him to follow, only to deftly tangle her tongue with his once more before finally pulling back.

“You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?” he grumbled.

She gave him a saucy grin. “I haven’t even started yet,” she said, before moving on, nuzzling along his jawline, feeling the prickle of stubble against her lips. He tilted his head back with a groan, allowing her greater access to his neck. Nibbling downward, she cataloged every twitch and sigh. He was incredibly sensitive, and she wondered how much of it was because it had been so long since he'd been with a woman. She licked the hollow behind his ear and felt him shudder. “Good spot,” she purred, pleased with his reaction.

Her lips still against his neck, she felt him chuckle. “Shh. It’s a secret weakness. Keep doing that and I’ll tell you everything I know.”

"Guess you're lucky I'm not a Russian agent, then." She moved further downward. Pausing to press her lips against his pulse point, she could feel the beat of his heart, rapid and strong, mirroring the effect her touch was having on him. Continuing, she mouthed along a long ropy scar that slashed across his collarbone. “I can’t imagine what you went through,” she murmured against his skin before she slid backwards, angling herself to keep most of her weight on his good leg.

"Don't."

"Don't?" she asked.

"Don't coddle me, Cait. Please." His hands came up, clasping her around the waist. He slid her over until she was once again seated squarely across his thighs.

"I don't want to-"

"If I need you to move, I'll tell you." His long fingers rested lightly just above her hips. "For now at least, you're fine right where you are."

She gave him a slow nod of understanding. If she didn’t want to be treated like a helpless, naive girl, she could completely understand him not wanting to be treated as if he was crippled.

Letting him hold her steady, she busied herself with his belt, undoing the clasp but not bothering to pull it from the loops. He was watching her again, pupil dilated wide until only the faintest ring of blue showed. She smoothed the back of her fingers up his length through the fabric of his pants just to watch his lashes flutter down.

The button of his slacks came loose easily. The sound of the zipper, loud in the quiet of the room, reopened his eye. He didn’t say anything, but she could see the curiosity there. He was wondering about her intent. Reaching back, she grabbed his wrists from around her waist and placed his hands back on the couch cushions before sliding off his legs and moving to kneel between his outstretched thighs. “Lift.”

There was the tiniest flash of that smirk again as he lifted up his hips. Lord, after tonight seeing that smirk was going to do terrible things to her.

Michael's slacks and underwear slid down easily. The scaring to his leg was even worse than she had expected. Grafted skin covered uneven flesh, hinting at major damage to the muscle and bone beneath. No wonder he limped. It was a miracle he was still walking. But the scars were not what was holding her attention. Michael was full aroused, his erection, long and thick, curving slightly upwards towards his belly. Glancing up, she watched as his lips parted on a shuddering breath. Holding his gaze, she lightly ran her hands up his thighs, her fingers spread wide so that her thumbs traced up the sensitive skin along his inner thigh. Reaching his hips, she curled her fingers against his hipbones, anchoring him into the sofa cushion. Michael had been celibate for two and half years and Caitlin was about to do her damnedest to make up for every moment of it.

Leaning forward she ignored his straining erection for now, instead licking at the curl of fine blond hairs that led down Michael’s lower belly. His stomach muscles tensed and relaxed as he sucked in a gasp of air.

She nuzzled downward, running the point of her tongue along the crease when his thigh and hip met. He bucked sharply, unable to control his reaction. Giving a pleased little hum, she moved further down, pausing to taste the skin along his inner thighs.

“Caitlin.” There was a question there.

“You said anything I wanted.” She blew a stream of air against his thigh where she had just licked.

“I didn’t think you would . . . I never thought . . .”

Caitlin suppressed a smile. It amused her greatly that the great Archangel couldn’t seem to get his words out. "You're trying to tell me you're not enjoying--"

"God, no. Yes. I mean--" He lost the words and simply groaned as Caitlin licked a broad stripe up his erection.

Shifting her hands, one came to rest against his lower belly while the other firmly grasped the base of his erection. Licking and nibbling softly she set about learning everything that Michael liked. Every gasp or twitch was rewarded with more of the same. When his legs fell open even further, she took that as an invitation and cupped his heavy sack, her thumb brushing over the delicate skin in subtle patterns that earned her something that sounded very close to a whimper.

She chanced a glance upward to find Michael, eye closed and his head thrown back on the sofa. His skin was flushed; his chest gleamed softly with a fine coating of sweat. He was utterly beautiful and Caitlin once again thrilled to the knowledge that, at least for tonight, he was hers.

Her tongue flicked out again, following the heavy vein upwards until she reached the head. A broad, flat stroke of her tongue and Michael’s entire body jerked in response. Salty bitterness. Musk. Power. She could get to like this manipulation thing.

His hips were making tiny involuntary jerks upward and she increased the pressure of her hand against his stomach, pinning him back against the couch. Readjusting her position between his outstretched legs, she settled in, swirling her tongue before taking in deep throated pulls, all the while twisting the hand wrapped around him in counterpoint to her movements.

She’d known when she started that he probably wouldn’t last long. He was already close, his hips moving constantly now while whispered words of encouragement tangled together just below her hearing. So close and Caitlin wanted him to fall, and fall hard.

His fingers were suddenly carding through her hair. Not pushing or pulling, simply there. Caitlin looked up. He was watching her again, eye barely open, his lips parted as he panted for breath. A warning then. One which Caitlin happily ignored. She tightened her grip and sucked hard, sealing her lips around the broad head of his cock.

Michael made a sound unlike any he’d made before as his fingers, still tangled in her hair, tightened spasmodically. Then his entire body jerked as his orgasm roared through him, sending him bow-string taunt.

Michael was still taking in great gasps of air as Caitlin sat back on her heels feeling pretty pleased with herself. As he recovered, she quickly stripped off his shoes and socks and finished removing the slacks and underwear she’d simply pushed down earlier.

Rising up to her feet, she gazed down on him. He might have been self-conscious about the scars that now marked him, but she noted that he definitely wasn’t shy about his body, as he sprawled across her sofa with a languid disregard for his state of nakedness.

She couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled up. His eye, half closed in contentment opened. “You know, it’s not considered polite to laugh at a man in such vulnerable circumstances. My ego might never recover.”

Caitlin let her gaze deliberately roam over his body in obvious appreciation. “I don’t think your ego is in any danger. It’s just that you look like a debauched angel.”

“And you are a veritable font of hidden talents.”

She flushed in an odd combination of pride and embarrassment, and then gave him a one-shouldered shrug. “Centerville, Texas. Population three thousand. Bobby Joe Lincoln. My parent’s barn and not a whole lot to do on Saturday nights when you’re seventeen years old.”

He gave her a slow smile full of mischief that she was coming to realize was all Michael and not Archangel. “Remind me to send Bobby Joe Lincoln a nice thank you card.”

He spent a long minute simply letting his gaze run over her. “One of us is very overdressed.”

 

++++++

 

He was relaxed, utterly and completely relaxed.  In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this way.  He’d never imagined that the seemingly innocent Caitlin O'Shannessy would, quite literally, blow his mind.  He was going to have to do some re-evaluation, because he’d obviously underestimated her.
 
Her eyes swept over him in pure feminine appreciation and he felt his blood quicken again. It had been a long time since anyone had looked at him with that type of regard.
 
“One of us is very overdressed.”

She flushed again, as she looked down at the Santini Air t-shirt and sweatpants she’d changed into sometime after she’d sent everyone home. He snagged the edge of her t-shirt and pulled her forward. Twisting his fingers in the hem, he tugged on the shirt and was quite satisfied when Caitlin gave him a slow smile.  She had been a total, and quite refreshing, surprise tonight.
 
He’d told her the truth earlier.  He’d only come back to check on her because she’d seemed agitated with String and Dom in a way he’d not seen before.  It was true, she wasn’t one of “his”, but she was part of the Airwolf team. That brought her under what he considered to be his purview.  He’d also admit to a tiny bit of curiosity about her after today.  He’d never really given much thought to Caitlin as a person.  For the most part she was an extension of Hawke and Santini, and he tended to view them as a unit. He doubted that he would ever do that again.

“What was it you said earlier? Oh yes, I believe it was: Off.”

“Now who’s being bossy,” she replied with a wicked smile. 

Had that always been there, he wondered. And they’d all just failed to notice?

There was no hesitation as she shimmied out of the threadbare sweatpants and pulled her t-shirt off over her head.  She hadn’t bothered with underwear or a bra when she’d dressed.  But then, he was sure that she hadn't been expecting him to show back up at her door, either.
 
Michael let his gaze roam over her, making no attempt at being subtle or circumspect.  She was long-legged and lean with the build of an athlete, not the soft generous curves he usually preferred, although he was quickly deciding that what he'd always considered his "type" might also need some re-evaluation.
 
Holding out a hand, he helped her retake her earlier perch across his thighs.  He took in a breath at the dizzying feeling of skin again skin. He wasn’t surprised when his body began to respond to her again.  A good thing, he decided, as it looked as if Caitlin was far from through with him.
 
He noticed that this time she settled her weight evenly across him.  It pleased him to see that she trusted his judgment, that when he said he could handle it, she took him at his word.  He couldn’t help the chuckle that thought produced.

“What?” she asked.
 
“I think you’ve done more for me tonight than a dozen sessions with the Firm’s shrinks over the last two years.”

"Shrinks like to wag their tongues. I can find much better things to do with mine." She leaned forward, her lips, and that tongue, once again worrying at that spot on his neck she’d discovered earlier.  “I’m not done with you, Michael.  I still have to get at all those secrets.”
 
He laughed again.  “I’m afraid I only have one secret of any note.”  His voiced dropped to a whisper.  “I have at my disposal the biggest, baddest, fastest helicopter in the world.”
 
Sitting back, she gave him a look of feigned innocence. "Helicopter? What helicopter?"

It only took a moment for him to catch the reference. In the beginning, he, Hawke and Santini had denied to Caitlin that Airwolf existed – despite the fact that they were all actually sitting in said helicopter at the time. He shrugged sheepishly. "Sorry. I really didn't want you involved, for your own sake, as much as anything. Although I have to admit, I'm rather glad that you didn't take no for an answer."

"Oh? Why's that?"

"Because otherwise, you wouldn't be sitting in my lap doing unmentionable things to me."

That set her to laughing and having a laughing, naked woman in his lap was, he decided, rather nice.

Her eyes were sparkling and she was wearing that devilish smile again. “I’m enjoying doing unmentionable things to you. Like this.” Reaching downward she encircled her fingers around him. Her grip firm, she pumped him lazily as he fought the urge to raise his hips up into her touch.

“Good God, Cait.” His voice was rough sounding even to his own ears. The word please was there, just on the tip of his tongue when she shifted her weight, the long muscles in her thighs bunching as she hovered above him, the barest touch of heat and wet. Then she was sinking down, driving him up into her body by slow degrees. Michael gritted his teeth and ran through the names of his operatives currently working out of Southeast Asia in an effort to maintain control. It had been so long since he’d felt anything this good. Halfway down she did something that made him clamp his hands around her waist and thrust up. Hard. Control be damned.

She let out a half groan, half laugh.

“Sorry. Sorry,” he muttered, not in the least bit sorry because he was now buried to the hilt inside of her.

Strong hands braced against his shoulders as she lifted her hips up, only to sink back down again. Her eyes were closed and her head tipped backwards as she purred out her approval through parted lips.

“Does that feel good, Cait?” he ground out between gasps of air. “Do I feel good?”

“God, yes. So good.”

He loosed one of his hands from her waist to lock behind her neck, pulling her down to him so he could kiss her. The kiss was hungry, a clash of lips and tongues as each sought to drive the other higher and all the while the rhythm of Caitlin’s hips increased.

The need for air drove his own head backwards and he found he could only stare in fascination as Caitlin rode him, her abdominal muscles flexing with every contraction and release. She was moaning now, a low breathy sound that was forced from her every time she sank down on him. She was utterly gorgeous, the sight enough to snap what little control he had left.

Her pacing picked up, her hips now swiveling back and forth as she sought more sensation. He could give that to her. The hand locked around her nape moved to her hip, his fingers digging into soft flesh as he sought a grip on sweat-slicked skin.

“Mi-chael.” His name was sobbed, broken on a gasp of air as his other hand slid between her splayed legs. Turning his hand, he pressed one of his knuckles upward on her next down stroke.

“Oh!” Her eyes flew open in surprise to stare at him, her short nails biting into the back of his neck as she ground down against his hand before lifting herself up his shaft.

Michael could feel a slow burn start in the small of his back and knew from the tightening in his balls that he was going to lose it soon, but he wanted to watch Caitlin first.

“Damn it, Cait,” he growled, pressing up against her harder. He was rewarded a second later as a shudder went through her whole body. Michael watched in rapt fascination as her orgasm swept through her, the muscles of her stomach and thighs rippling as the contractions gripped her. He wasn’t able to watch for long though, as her contracting internal muscles gripped him hard and pulled him along with her, all blazing heat and scorched nerves.

For long minutes there was silence except for the sounds of the two of them each trying to catch their breath. Only when Michael thought he had sufficient control did he finally groan out, “I was right, you are trying to kill me.”

She breathed out a laugh, between her own gulps for air that ruffled the hair at the nape of his neck, sending another shudder through him. He felt her smile against the skin of his shoulder at his reaction. “Oh, I think you gave as well as you got.” He was pleased to note that the soft Texas twang that normally colored her speech was heavier now. He’d done that. It was complete male vanity on his part, but he couldn’t say he really cared.

Pulling her close, he lazily ran a hand up and down her spine, tracing each knot of vertebra as he went. Her skin was still damp and his fingers slid easily along her body. They stayed that way until their breathing was back to normal. It was good to feel her skin soft and warm beneath his fingers. Almost too good.

“Feeling better now?”

She pulled away enough to regard him with heavy lidded eyes. “Yes. I don’t feel like my insides are going to take flight without me anymore.” She gave him a tiny smile. “Got to say, that was some of the most enjoyable fightin’ I’ve done in a while. Thank you.”

“You are very welcome. It's certainly been my pleasure.” He knew that in entirely different ways, it had been as therapeutic for him as it had been for her. He had needed the release just as much as she had.

She laughed and settled back against his shoulder. “Just about time for you to go, isn’t it?”

“Was I that obvious?”

She sat up straight again. “I’m a big girl. I figured this was a one-time thing.”

“You're okay with that?”

She stretched then, and the sight of taunt, lightly freckled skin made him wonder if he was okay with it. “It’s why I left us here on the couch rather than moving to my bed.”

He nodded in understanding. He had wondered. “A little too intimate.”

“Yeah.”

He helped her up and as she retreated to the bathroom, he pulled on his clothes. She stepped back out a minute or so later, a robe belted around her as he was slipping on his shoes.

He hooked two fingers into the robe’s belt. “Come here.” This time he took control of the kiss, doing everything in his power to send her senses reeling. When he finally pulled back, she was breathing hard and her eyes had gone dark. “I’d say good-night, but it’s closer to morning.”

That devilish smile was back again as she flung up a dramatic hand to her brow. “Oh, Dom. I don’t think I’ll be up for replacing the bearings in the Jet Ranger today. I was just too restless last night and didn’t get a wink of real sleep.”

“Quit taking the acting lessons, did you?”

She thumped him on the shoulder. "Wise guy. Actually, I'd better play it cool, or the guys will—" Caitlin broke off abruptly. "You're not going to say anything?"

He couldn't help but snort. "You really think I want to end up facing the wrong end of Airwolf – again? No, this will be our little secret."

She smiled at that. "Good thing you're a spy."

"Intelligence agent." He grinned, and then hesitated. The banter had given him an idea. "Cait, maybe there's something else I can do. Another way I can give you a little more control."

"What's that?"

"If you're interested, I could arrange for you to sit in on some of the training that my agents receive, tactics, munitions, defensive driving -- even little things like knowing how to pick a lock or hot wire a car can come in handy." If nothing else, it would serve to give her confidence in herself.

She gave him a dubious look. "Do I have to wear white?"

Michael laughed. "You can wear whatever you want."

"The guys don't need to know?"

"I'd just as soon that they didn't." He knew he'd be accused of trying to recruit Caitlin, which wasn't his intention. "This would just be part-time, depending on the classes being offered and your availability. Evenings, weekends. Should I have Sam contact you to set something up?"

She nodded slowly, smiling. "I'd like that. Thank you."

He returned her smile, and glanced reluctantly towards the door. "I'd better go, so you can get at least a little sleep."

Rising onto her toes, she gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Yeah. Before we end up on the couch again."

As inviting as that thought sounded, he wasn't sure he'd even survive another round. He retrieved his cane, and then kissed her once, his lips just brushing her forehead. "You get some sleep. I'll let myself out."