This was exactly why Charissa wasn't a huge fan of one night stands. Or at least single bouts of casual sex. It was fun, sure; nothing really wrong with it, but the first go 'round, you always spent so much time figuring each other out. The second time, tended to be about testing boundaries, which, again, fun but limiting. But the third time, the third time was what it was all about. She had two whole days off, and she planned to spend both of them in bed.
Face put his hand right there and squeezed just hard enough, and she arched her back and moaned, enjoying the feel of the ends of her hair tickling her shoulder blades. Her breasts bounced and swayed as she leaned down to kiss him again, and he watched them avidly, trying to catch a nipple in his teeth. Charissa laughed and stopped his mouth with hers, then sank down again, flexing around his cock.
One hand on her hip to pull her as far down as she'd go and the other still pulsing right on her clit, Face arced up. He gasped, open mouthed and panting, their teeth bumping, and ran his tongue along her bottom lip before nipping it.
That little spike of pain drove her over the edge, and Charissa whimpered and came again. She could feel his lips curl into a grin, and decided it was time to remind him who was on top here. It didn't take much, just a little rise and fall with her hips and her short nails down his chest, and he screamed. Charissa whispered dark, dirty things in his ear and rode him out.
"Where've you been all my life?" he asked as she slid off, being careful to keep the condom in place. She had to laugh. That was such a line, but with Face it always sounded real. He sounded like he meant, "Seriously, you're amazing. I don't know how I survived without you," too, and she laughed again and kissed him. A girl could get used to over-the-top complements delivered with total sincerity. In fact, she already had gotten used to it, and this was only the third "date." She daily thanked Jesus for horny Army Rangers and no strings attached sex.
"You're not bad yourself, honey," she told him, then decided that was too backhanded in the wake of such fantastic sex, and added, "I don't know what you just did there, but I sure am interested in learning more about it."
That got her that smug grin again, and Face grabbed her shoulder and pulled her down against his chest. He tweaked her nipple with a hand still slick from being inside her. "Mine is an ancient and honourable art that cannot be taught," he said, voice deep with faux seriousness, "Only experienced." Then he winked. "Wanna go again?"
Charissa considered it for a moment, idly rubbing herself against his hipbone. She had a warm, calloused hand on her breast, and though the sweat on her back had started to cool, she still felt comfortable enough to just snuggle down against that fine, muscled chest and pass out.
Except she really needed to go pee.
Sighing, she levered herself up and rolled off of him. "Maybe in a minute, honey. I need to go rehydrate."
"There's bottled water in the fridge," Face called after her as she pushed open the bedroom door. "Bring one back for me, would ya?"
She turned to say that she would, and the sight of him sprawled on top of the sheets, hips canted in a deliberately provocative manner made her breath catch. Licking her lips, she said, "Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back." Then she turned and damn near tripped over the person lying on the floor.
Charissa's brain registered the facts of the situation in the following order. The person was alive. The person was not making any threatening moves. The person was a white man a little younger than Face, wearing a red ball cap and an eye-searing blue-and-hot-pink Hawaiian shirt. The person was looking up at her, not seeming the least startled. The only thing Charissa was wearing were her dog tags.
A thought of trying to somehow cover herself flitted through her mind, but he'd already seen all there was to see, and she still had some dignity. Not much, but some. "Who the hell are you?"
"Murdock? What the hell?" That was Face's voice from behind her. The strange man was too busy trying to get up, not slip on the DVD cases, and keep his hat pulled down over his closed eyes, to say anything. Face dropped the bed sheet over Charissa's shoulders, and she folded it around herself.
"Face!" The man exclaimed, grinning sheepishly. "Sorry for busting in on you. I thought you usually went to the lovely lady's place," he tipped his head at Charissa, "So I came over to see if you had any good movies, and then I didn't hear that you were, uh, here until well, just a moment ago when you..." he trailed off and held out his hand in Charissa's general direction. "Captain H.M. Murdock at your service, Ma'am."
This had to be the wacko pilot that everyone talked about with the same mixture of awe, disbelief and terror that Face's colonel received. On the whole, he seemed a lot saner than the stories made him out to be. Charissa tied off the sheet and shook his hand. "Lieutenant Charissa Sosa," she said. "I thought I locked the door."
"Oh, yeah, you did," Murdock acknowledged, tugging at an ear distractedly. "I picked it. Faceman here forgot to give me a key."
Charissa stared at Murdock for a moment, then glanced back at Face, whose expression seemed stuck somewhere between chagrin and exasperation. She looked back to Murdock, or rather Murdock's hat, which he still had pulled down over his face. She said, "I'm going to go have a very long shower."
The exit would have gone better if she hadn't tripped over the edge of the damn sheet on the way out. She still had to go pee, too.
Fifth times, Charissa decided, could be pretty good too, though she planned to place a pre-emptive ban on any future forth times that might involve weird rock and roll and bad wine.
She had no complaints about this though. She'd brought the CDs, and Face didn't seem to have any problem getting into the Shakira groove. When he wasn't kissing her neck and ear, he alternated between outrageous complements and quoting terrible, terrible poetry in Spanish. At first, she'd laughed at him until her sides hurt then tried to put a hand over his mouth to shut him up.
Which is when he'd tied her wrists to the headboard. So that was the kind of night it was going to be, then. Charissa grinned insolently and tugged at the scarves again, but they felt pretty secure. Kissing his way back to her mouth, Face slid his hands down her ribs. She shuddered as the callouses dragged against her skin, and tried to wiggle her hips against his.
"Na-uh," he teased, kneeling above her. "Not yet. First I'm going to--"
"Face!" The yell damn near rattled the picture frames, and the pounding on the door that followed knocked one clean off the wall. "I know you're in there, sucker."
"Shit!" Face sat bolt upright, eyes wide and panicked.
The door shuddered again. "I don't care what you're doing; you got ninety seconds, then I'm coming in."
This time, Charissa yanked on her bonds in earnest. "I don't know what's going on," she snapped. "But you better untie me right now."
"Shit, shit, shit," Face chanted as his fingers scrabbled at the knots. They didn't budge. "Shit!"
"That line about learning rope tying in the boy scouts was a lie, wasn't it?"
The knots came finally came free of the bedposts, and Charissa scrambled to get under the covers. No way all of Face's alpha unit was getting a free show.
Face managed to get his boxers on backwards and dropped into a line of profanity made even Charissa blush.
Giving up on the underwear, Face threw the bedroom door open, snarling, "Okay, okay. I'm here. Where's the fire?"
"Under your ass." A heavily-muscled black man with a Mohawk and a non-regulation beard pushed past Face. Barely sparing Charissa a glance, he tossed a half-filled duffel bag on the foot of the bed. "Get the rest of your shit, and let's go." He had sergeant's stripes on his BDU. She couldn't read the name, but he had to be B.A. Baracus. Rumour had him as roughest NCO in the Rangers, and the one you most wanted to have on your side in a bar fight.
"We have orders?" Face asked, trying to slick back his hair with one hand and do up his pants with the other. "Since when?"
Baracus yanked open the top drawer of the dresser and started throwing things on the bed. "Since an hour ago. Why the hell'd you turn your phone off?"
"I didn't," Freezing mid motion, Face gaped at him, clearly horrified. "Oh. Fuck. I did. How, uh, how mad is the old man?"
"Pretty mad." Even Baracus looked grimly sympathetic at that. "He said if I didn't get you in twenty minutes, he was leaving your ass on the ground, and the fool could take your rifle for all he cared."
"Okay, okay. Um." Turning in a small circle didn't seem to turn up whatever Face wanted. "Fuck. Bathroom." He bolted out the door.
Baracus apparently determined that he didn't need anything else out of the dresser and started methodically stowing what he had. "Sorry about busting in, Ma'am," Baracus offered, not looking up. He sounded a lot more friendly when he wasn't yelling at his officer.
"Well, orders." Charissa tried to get the scarves off her wrists without making it obvious what she was doing. "What I get for seeing Rangers."
"Yeah, still. Mama would smack me for manners like that." He folded a shirt in crisp lines a drill sergeant would envy, then tucked knife case into a side pocket. "Don't know what's the matter with that boy. He's usually never out of contact." His sideways glance at Charissa seemed half to add, not even when he's with a hot piece like you, Ma'am, and half to apologise for his officer.
Face skidded in and stuffed something in the bag. "Okay. Ready."
"Good." Baracus yanked the duffel's zipper closed and threw it his shoulder. "Let's roll."
"Stay beautiful," was all Face had a chance to say before he found himself hauled out the door.
Rubbing her wrists, Charissa stared after them, feeling profoundly unsatisfied and concluding that if Face had a theme song it was more likely to be "What a Shame About Me" than "Hips Don't Lie."
It had to be close a hundred and four in the shade, and Charissa had damn near wilted on the way over to Face's building. She was afraid that her panties had started to stick. Air conditioning, she decided as she left the elevator, is the best invention in human history. And beer. She'd brought a case of Corona, a bag of limes and a couple old movies. She'd just gotten off a double shift out in the fucking bush, and really hoped Face felt up for something involving the precise application of ice cubes. That and eating this candy underwear before it melted completely.
Knocking politely didn't get a response, nor did pounding on the door. Charissa tucked the DVDs under her arm and pulled out her cellphone. The last text still read, m bck. y dnt u cm up sum tm n c me? It was dated an hour ago and seemed fairly unambiguous to her. Frowning, she decided to give it one more go; if Face didn't answer, she'd clear out.
This time she heard footsteps and the latch clicking back. Finally. She dropped her overnight bag out of sight and got her cheesecake on, smiling, throwing out a hip and holding up the beer. What had been a crisp white shirt when she started out, had crumpled and turned translucent in the humidity. Never mind. Face appreciated a woman who didn't want to bother with subtle. It was one of his selling features.
"You must be the famous Lieutenant Sosa." The voice was deep, sexy and absolutely not Face's.
Charissa snapped to attention, just about dropping the beer. She was off duty, and judging by his t-shirt and jeans so was he, but something about him sent her motor control straight back to boot camp. "Colonel Smith, sir." The Colonel Hannibal Smith, of story and song. The one that Chuck Norris checked for under his bed before he could sleep at night.
He opened the door wider, but didn't step aside. His eyes swept over her, and she shivered, feeling even more disturbed at the complete lack of sexual intent. "Analytical" came closer to describing it. From the way his lips pinched together and his eyebrows came down, Charissa felt pretty sure she'd somehow failed whatever test had just occurred. She wondered if earthquakes were at all common in Georgia. She hoped so. Now would be a superb time for the floor to split open and swallow her whole.
"I imagine you're here to see Face; he couldn't seem to get his mind off you our whole time out."
"Yes, sir. He texted and," and now you sound like a call girl not an army officer. Sex positive, dammit! Because that always went over so well male senior officers. "Well, he said he'd call when he got back in town."
Smith had already turned away, yelling back into the room, "Dammit, who let Face have a cell phone?"
A chorus of voices answered.
"I can guess."
"Are you impugning my honour, B.A.?"
"I'm gonna impugn something, that's for sure."
"Is that Charissa out there? Hey, baby!"
"Stay down! The doc said you weren't supposed to be standing yet, and I ain't letting you."
Shaking his head slightly, Smith turned back to her and raised an eyebrow.
Charissa couldn't decide if she wanted to know or not. Seemed more like not, though. "Sounds like Face has more company than he needs, sir," she told him. "I'll just," Go die of embarrassment, "head back home. Tell Face I'll see him later."
Before she could run away, Smith stepped aside and gestured her inside. When she hesitated, he leaned down and said in a low voice, "Face took a couple hits a few days ago. Nothing serious, but my boys thought they'd keep an eye on him." His lips quirked up. "I didn't realise he'd already invited a friend over, but, please, you're welcome."
Shifting from one foot to the other, Charissa thought it over. Smith sounded genuine, and, other than the tied up and naked thing, she'd liked his "boys" well enough. What the hell? she decided. I can do domestic for a wounded soldier. "More the merrier, right, sir?" she said, putting her best smile on it.
For some reason, that brought back the disapproving frown. "Do me a favour, Lieutenant: never say that anywhere where Face can hear you."
"Yes, sir." Grabbing her bag, she stepped across the threshold. "I'll just go change into something... more." That didn't melt.
"How do like your burgers? Pretty near charred or completely black?"
"Is medium rare a choice?"
"Not while I'm cooking."
"Nearly charred then, then, Captain."
It had turned out to be another scorcher, but at least Face had picked a spot with a couple big shade trees and a bit of a breeze. Of all the places Charissa could be, this one worked pretty well. Of course, so did an all-too-rare Margarita Night with the girls, which was what she'd been planning. Then Face had called up all sweet and sincere and "I just got back on my feet after being honourably wounded in the line of duty; will you come on a date to the park with me, and wear that sexy, sexy yellow sun dress, pretty please with sexual favours on top?" And maybe he hadn't said it quite like that, but that had been the essence of it. There'd also been enough insistence in his tone that she figured he'd had something special in mind, possibly something kinky.
"So, Lieutenant," Colonel Smith popped up behind her, as if he'd slid in through a gap in thin air. "What's in the basket?"
The one thing that Face absolutely had not mentioned, and Charissa knew this because it's the kind of detail she remembered, was that the rest of his alpha unit would also be in the park. He had, in fact, utterly failed to divulge that their hot "date" was actually a team barbecue. However, this time, Charissa wasn't about to let herself get taken by surprise. She wasn't wearing anything but cotton, and had the emotional fortitude to say, "Smoked oysters and chocolate-dipped strawberries, sir," as though that's what everyone took to dinner with her boyfriend's boss.
Without so much as raising an eyebrow, Smith asked, "Dark or milk chocolate?"
"Excellent. That'll save a brawl later. It was nice of you to come."
Charissa couldn't tell if he meant that to be serious or not, so she covered having to answer by taking a swig of her beer.
Offering her an unsettlingly cheerful smile, Smith wheeled and strode down the hill towards the parking lot. It was something of a relief to see that the grass did actually bend under his weight, even if it didn't make a sound. That legend, at least, was total bullshit, not that Charissa had in any way believed it.
"Pass me another one of those?" Murdock held out a hand, and she didn't even have to ask, just handed him a pineapple cooler. Face had assigned her to keep an eye on the goings on at the barbecue, especially in relation to what went into the sauce. So far as she'd seen, it'd been pretty tame, but she wasn't letting her guard down.
"How long do these things usually go on for?"
"You gotten tired of us all ready?"
"No, no." The lie crossed her lips automatically.
"Oh, I see." Murdock's eyes did not flick down over her dress, but she could see him picturing it. "You want some face time with Faceman?"
"Well," Realising how that must sound, she added, "It's not that I don't like you guys. You're great." Completely loony tunes, to a man, but not a bad group of guys.
"What are you talking about? We're batshit," Baracus corrected from behind her. Damn, she hadn't heard him coming either. Charissa had never felt entirely sure how to interact with Baracus, the only NCO in the group, who the junior officers treated more or less like a complete equal. He didn't seem inclined to call her "Ma'am" now that he knew her, and she wasn't going to press the point with anyone under Colonel Smith's command. "'Cept for me, of course. But you must've known that before you got in with Face."
"Your reputation does proceed you guys, Sergeant."
Baracus grinned wolfishly. "Damn right it does."
That reputation had included that Lieutenant Peck was tight with his unit, most spec ops guys were, but not that he expected his dates to socialise with them. Being presented at Colonel Smith's weekend barbecue came a little too close to meeting someone's father for Charissa's taste.
"Burger?" Murdock held out a paper plate with a bun and a charred remnant of ground beef.
"Thank you, Captain." She wondered if any amount of ketchup in the world would make it edible. Taking the plate, she asked, "Why do you always cook–"
"Oh, you do not want to hear that story," Baracus groaned. "I don't want to hear that story, and I was there."
That of course ensured that Murdock would tell her the whole history of beef and his cooking thereof. Baracus had been right: she hadn't wanted to know. This was not how she'd planned to spend her first afternoon off in six days. Despite that, she found herself laughing by the end of the story. She also wondered if this was what Stockholm Syndrome felt like.
By the time Face's arms wound around her waist from behind and he murmured "How's it going, babe?" in her ear, she was about to ask Colonel Smith for something stronger than beer.
"Face, Honey," she said, making sure her tone stayed completely reasonable. "What I want you to do is take me back to your place, pick me up, and fuck me into the wall." She felt Face's throat ripple as he swallowed, and he shifted to nudge his hips against her ass. "Right now."
"But I wanted you to get to know–" he hesitated, and she pressed back. He was hard already. "Give me two minutes to tell the old man."
When they got into the air-conditioned cool, he didn't even take her dress off, just pulled her panties down and thrust into her. It felt fantastic. When they'd done, Face had carried her to the bed and kissed her for almost an hour, and neither of them said a word.
Charissa's knew this little hole-in-the-wall bar about twenty minutes from the base, just across the state line. She only hauled out here when her day had been especially pointless and stupid, and she needed a moment of quiet to gather herself again. Today, she told herself she'd have two drinks then go out for dinner and cool down until she was sober enough to drive back and deal with life on the base.
Being within a hundred miles of Fort Benning, it still had some grunts, but the chances of running into anyone she worked with were minimal. Which was why, when she saw a familiar silver head bent over the bar, she almost turned around and walked out. However, if Colonel Smith had tracked her down, here of all places, he'd just find her again. She might as well get it over with, whatever it turned out to be.
So she plunked down on the stool beside him and said, "You come here often, sir?"
His eyes crinkled into almost a smile. "My first time." He was in his standard off duty jeans and white t-shirt, sleeves cut high enough to show off his Ranger tattoo. Nothing about him looked casual. "Nice little spot you've found, Lieutenant. Can I buy you a drink?"
Charissa glanced at the bourbon on the bar in front of him, apparently untouched. "I'll have one of those, thank you, sir." It was officially the kind of day that required more than beer.
While the bartender poured, Colonel Smith ran his assessing eyes over her again; it felt even more penetrating than the first time. She shifted in her seat, glad to be wearing cargo pants and an army-issue t-shirt. "So," she started, taking a careful sip of her drink, then blinking. The colonel apparently liked the good stuff. "What brings you to Alabama?"
"You did." He paused, and she waited. "You and Lieutenant Peck seem to have gotten pretty close."
"I wouldn't say that, sir." Unless he meant in the physical sense, but that couldn't be worth a comment could it? She tired to figure out where this conversation could possibly be headed and tried, "If you're here to warn me about his reputation, I wouldn't worry, sir. That's why I like him."
She always seemed to hit on the exactly wrong thing to say with him, and he was frowning again. "Quite the opposite, Lieutenant." He paused again, finger tracing through beads of moisture on the bar. "Face's served under me for eight years, and this is the first time he's voluntarily introduced me to one of his dates."
"Oh, shit." She had been meeting the family the day at the park, god fucking dammit. Of all the goddamn things to have happen. She knocked back her drink. Colonel Smith silently slid his own down the bar and signalled for another. She clenched her hands around the glass, trying to imagine out when this had happened. "I'm so sorry, sir. I, I'm not–"
"You are not currently seeking a committed, long-term relationship." His voice sounded as dry as ice, but not unkind.
Charissa kept her eyes focused on the glass in her hands. "Not at this time, no, sir." And if she were, she would probably not pick a spec ops soldier who was off getting shot at nine months out of ten, no matter how good he was in bed. His CO didn't need to hear that part, however. "I need to focus on my career right now." If she wanted to survive and advance in this bullshit assignment, she needed to give it a hundred and ten percent of her attention, with nothing left over for hurt feelings or who was feeling what about who. She'd thought Faceman Peck of all people got that. Every woman she'd met said he was a professional heart-breaker. Why'd he have to go do a thing like this?
Smith's glass clinked against hers, making her look up. "I have a proposal for you."
"Yes, sir?" She responded out of habit, mind still spinning.
"There's a position opening in Arlington, DCIS headquarters," he said slowly. "Interviews start in two days."
"I hadn't heard that." It certainly hadn't come up on her extensive Operation: Get the Fuck out of Fort Benning radar.
He smiled thinly. "It's an internal process, or by recommendation."
"Oh." The old boys club struck again, in the Defence Criminal Investigative Service, no less. "And you're willing to recommend me, sir?"
"I am." He didn't even have the grace to look uncomfortable with his connections. Well, if he wasn't, she decided, she wouldn't either.
"If I'm willing to dump your lieutenant and move to a different state?"
Colonel Smith snorted, leaning back a little to stretch his legs. "You still have to pass the interview, but you're more than qualified." When he settled back onto the stool, he met her eyes again. "In the time I've served with Face, he's made very few personal connections. When he does, he's one of the most loyal men I've even known. He'd walk through fire for us, probably complaining the entire time, but without pause or hesitation. If he likes you as much as I believe he does, he'll only get more attached. Leaving sooner is better than later." He finally took a sip of his drink, adding sardonically. "Unless you're the marrying kind."
Charissa nodded shortly. She was not in fact the marrying kind, at least not right now. Smith was right, if she didn't plan to stay with Face, it would be better to cut ties before she hurt him badly. Being three states away couldn't hurt, either. She wondered again why Face had to go and screw up a good thing by falling in love. They'd been so perfect together, and the worst part was she actually liked him. Hell, his alpha unit had even started to grow on her, in a fungal sort of way. "I can expect a call from DCIS?"
That should have been her cue to finish her drink and get the hell out of there, but on impulse she asked, "Sir, I was wondering, do you normally manage your boys' love lives?"
"Only as a last resort," Colonel Smith said, not answering her in the least.
Charissa sighed and shook her head. "I really am sorry, sir," she said with feeling, but he smiled into his drink and didn't answer.
She let him have the bar. With any luck, she'd be finding a new one in a week or so. Christ, DC sounded good after eighteen months in Georgia.
Her phone beeped just as the Alabama heat took her breath away. Charissa didn't bother checking the number. Who else could it be? She'd give it half an hour and call back and make a date. Maybe by that time, she'd have figured out how to break the news to Face. No matter what she said, she had a feeling it was going to feel something like kicking a puppy. If only, she thought, it hadn't been so good while it lasted.
Reviews warm the heart; flames warm the hearth; constructive criticism welcome.