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"Yes, ma'am."

Annie sighed against his shoulder, lids fluttering shut.

"Can you keep doing that?"

"Doing what?"

Jack kissed her neck again, softly, much more softly than she might have expected of him, had she not seen him so vulnerable just hours before.

"Saying that. Taking my orders."

He looked up at her, eyes dark, a slight smile on his lips.

"Why? You get off on that?"

His face seemed so easy to read in this moment, so different from the way he carried himself out in public, when he was a cop. Almost guileless, almost innocent—Annie was sure that he was hoping for her to say yes.

"I—" She shook her head, ran a hand through his hair, his soft dark hair which she loved so much. "Maybe. I think so."

This was new to her: she had never really been into giving orders. For a moment, Annie questioned everything she was doing. They'd both had a hell of a day, they'd survived an unspeakably awful experience, they probably weren't in their right minds...

"Annie, you okay?"

The look of concern in his eyes... Annie wanted to devour him, wanted to hold him to her chest and never let him go, wanted to find peace in him. Jack caressed her face in his hands, his eyes meeting hers, like he really cared about her, truly, actually cared.

"I don't know," she admitted, very quietly. Already, she could feel him slipping through her fingers, already she could sense him leaving, like everybody else, because she was fucked up like that, because she drove them all away.

"We don't have to, you know," Jack said gently, almost carefully, like the words were a blanket around her shoulders. "I don't mind."

This took a second to get through to Annie's brain. He wasn't leaving. He was still there, gorgeous torso between her thighs, gentle hands on her face, dark eyes looking right at her. He wasn't going anywhere.

"You wouldn't mind?"

"Course not, Annie," he told her, with such honest sincerity that she believed him.

And this was what helped her make her decision.

"But I want to," she said, suddenly having found her confidence again. "I don't know if I'm okay. I don't know if this is a good idea. But I want you so much it hurts me..."

There was a fire in those dark eyes, a sort of raw intensity that made Annie shudder with lust. Again, she felt the need to command him, to be in charge.

"I want you to fuck me, Jack—fuck me until I can't think straight." In a quieter, more vulnerable way she added, "Say yes."

"Yes." His voice was low and hoarse. "Yes, ma'am."

His kiss tasted like desperation, like loneliness and longing. She was gripping the nape of his neck greedily, pulling him closer, like this was the last kiss of her life.

She had had some sort of fantasy involving her bed earlier, but no, she had changed her mind: She wanted him to fuck her right here, right now, on her old kitchen table. She didn't want to feel romantic or happy or safe, she wanted to feel desired, wanted to hurt in a way that had nothing to do with bombs and abductions, wanted to hurt by her own choosing.

"Rip my top off," she commanded.

Jack looked at her for a moment, as if to make sure he hadn't misheard. She nodded at him.

"Yes, ma'am," came his answer, and she watched his muscles strain as he ripped the fabric of her shirt. It had been one of her favorites, before today. Now, there were bloodstains on it and she hated it and she didn't want to wear it ever again.

Jack's easy obedience made Annie feel powerful in a way that she needed, in a way that she craved. Before today, she had never really tried doing anything like this, never really seen the need for it, never understood what the appeal was. But she was beginning to understand now, she understood almost too well.

She never wanted to feel so helpless again, so small, to feel the way she had felt on that train.

Annie reached behind her back to open the clasp of her bra, flung the garment into a corner of the room. She'd find it at some point and throw it out. It was a shame, she had liked wearing that bra, before today.

Jack was staring at her with longing.

"Take off your shirt."

He obeyed wordlessly, but at once. His bare chest was a thing of beauty, his abs seemed to be made of pure muscle, delicious. There were scars, too, unsurprisingly. Jack was a reckless, hotshot cop. It would have been more surprising if he didn't have any scars.

Annie explored his chest with her hands, slowly, deliberately, followed the lines of his scars with the tips of her fingers. Jack stood there, letting her touch him, holding back his own desires, waiting for her next order—and this, this was the best thing he could have given her, the most perfect, wonderful gift. Annie wanted to tell him but couldn't find the words.

It all suddenly felt heavy, too much, her own thoughts unbearable, and she desperately wanted to feel, to drown her world in pure sensation.

"Grab my tits so hard it hurts," she told him, looking into his soft eyes. "Bite my lips until I have bruises."

"Yes, ma'am," he whispered against her lips, before biting down.

Annie shuddered against him, whimpering at the sudden pain, and yet relishing it, welcoming it. The pain just let her be, let her exist, no matter what had happened to her, no matter the danger she had been in. The pain made her aware of the here and now and nothing else, until she could only feel Jack's touch, could only hear his breaths, could only taste his kisses. This was where she wanted to be, where she needed to be: in the present.

She grabbed one of his hands with her own, squeezing her own breast together with him, and it hurt so good, so incredibly good.

"Get these clothes off me, now..."

Annie didn't let go of his hand, and she could feel him struggling to open her pants one-handed. But it made her feel powerful, made her feel in control, and she needed this feeling more desperately than she had ever needed anything in her life.

She wiggled on the table to help him get rid of the rest of her garments, her whole body pulsating with her need for him inside her, fucking her until nothing else existed in the world, nothing else.

Her skin was sweaty and hot, and so were Jack's hands, and in the dim light, his pale skin almost seemed to glow. Jack was beautiful, so beautiful, like a work of art, and she felt strangely possessive of him, even though they barely knew each other, she wanted him to be hers, hers, hers.

Finally, her pants and panties came off, were discarded somewhere, Annie didn't care to check where. She took his free hand and guided it to her lips, looked deep into his eyes as she sucked two of his fingers into her mouth, pointer and middle finger, swirled her tongue around his digits to coat them in moisture. Jack watched her raptly, as though she actually had some sort of power over him, and the sight made Annie moan.

She kissed his wet fingers before guiding his hand to her vulva, so that his middle finger was a hair's breadth away from her clit.

"Touch me."

"Yes, ma'am."

There was a hitch in his voice when he touched her, a hitch that she wanted to hear again and again, and there was that possessive feeling again: hers, hers, hers.

His fingers were soft on her skin, tentative, exploratory, and she didn't want them to be, she wanted them to be hard and fast and unyielding. But there was something in his eyes that told Annie he was cautious for a reason, afraid of hurting her too much, that she would have to give him time to adjust, to get to know her body.

His middle finger pressed down on her clit and Annie sucked in a sharp breath, her eyes falling shut. Jack gently circled it once with the tip of his finger, eliciting a low moan from Annie, then ran his fingers through her folds, still exploring, still somewhat tentative.

Annie opened her eyes again, ran her own free hand through his hair: she loved the feeling of it, the texture. Jack looked at her and there was a slight smile on his lips, a smile of trust, like her touch was some sort of relief. It made Annie feel strangely protective of him: there was a vulnerability in his smile that was so at odds with his tough cop exterior that it made this moment feel more important, more personal, more intimate in a way that was both humbling and wondrous.

Jack's fingers were gliding easily through her folds, aided by Annie's own wetness, and he dipped one of them into her, just a little, to gauge her reaction.

Annie sighed with burning desire, unwilling to hold back her wishes any longer.

"Be rougher with me. Please."

He kissed her, hard, and did as she asked. Soon, he had two fingers moving inside her, his thumb rubbing her clit in irregular circles, each one eliciting a moan from Annie. He kissed the moans off her lips, then bit her again, and Annie held onto his shoulder as a loud whine escaped her.

"You okay?"

Her nods were frantic, the movement felt almost senseless.

"Yes, yes—don't stop..."

Annie threw herself into the sensations, into the pleasure and the pain, so that she didn't have to think, didn't have to remember. Her skin was burning with her desire, and Jack's touches felt electric, all the places where his skin pressed into her own were tingling with a strange sort of intensity.

With a groan, she made herself stop holding onto him; after all, she needed him inside her, needed him so badly her whole body seemed to be screaming for him. There wasn't a shred of elegance in the way she opened his pants, no patience, no second thoughts. She wanted him, right now.

Annie pushed Jack's pants down just enough to get her hands on his cock. She could feel him shudder when she closed one of her hands around his length, and she couldn't help the moan that escaped her own throat at the sensation. Annie used her other hand to grab hold of his chin, commanding him with a single, simple movement to stop kissing her.

Jack let himself be commanded. The longer this went on, the more wondrous it seemed to Annie, that Jack would submit to her so easily, so readily. It was like being able to drink after being thirsty for hours—a need so deep, so primal that its fulfillment was almost spiritual.

Annie looked into Jack's eyes, her heart beating fast.

"Condom. Now."

The gift of speech had left her somewhere along the way, the ability to form complete sentences had been taken from her by being naked on her kitchen table, naked in Jack Traven's arms. Annie didn't care.

Jack nodded, his eyes very dark. She could see the desperation in them—he needed this just as much as she did.

The pack of condoms had been pushed far away on the table by their frantic movements, and Jack had to let go of Annie to be able to reach it. The loss of his fingers inside her was only bearable because Annie knew that she had his cock to look forward to. Nevertheless, the emptiness inside her made her shiver and groan involuntarily, the need for him overpowering, all-encompassing.

Before Jack reached for one of the condoms, however, he licked his own fingers clean of her moisture. The sight was lewd and wonderful and it made Annie crave his touch even more desperately. Jack smiled at her in a way that was completely disarming, and then he winked: in that moment, Annie would have done anything for him, anything, no matter what.

His smile was contagious. It was one of Annie's favorite experiences ever, sitting there, watching Jack fumble to open the plastic wrapper, grinning at each other like two lovestruck teenagers. Well, with Jack she did feel a bit like a hormonal teenager again—the key difference being that Annie wasn't panicking over the proceedings, wasn't worrying about how she looked or what Jack thought of her. She probably looked like a mess, and that was the way it should be. And there could be no doubt that Jack was just as happy to be here with her as she was to be here with him.

Finally, the condom was in place.

"Fuck me," she said, more softly now, but just as determined, just as desperate as before.

Annie was looking right into Jack's eyes, still smiling.

"Like this?"

"Exactly like this."

There were such beautiful lines around his eyes when he smiled, his whole face seemed to go soft. Annie loved to see him this way, loved loved loved, her heart was beating fast.

"Yes, ma'am."

And then, it was so easy, like their bodies were made for each other, like two magnets finally clinging together. Jack was careful, more careful than he needed to be, but when he was fully inside her, Annie knew that she didn't need time to adjust, she didn't need to be coddled. She just needed to be fucked.

"Don't hold back," she instructed, her voice already a little hoarse.

Of course, he still did, at first, to adjust their position slightly, to find their rhythm.

Then, their bodies were aligned, their movements made sense together, and Jack held her in his beautiful, strong arms and he fucked her.

Annie's eyes fell shut, she couldn't do much more than hold onto him, onto his arms, his shoulders, the back of his neck. Her legs were closed tightly around his hips, threatening to cramp, but she didn't care, there was no space left inside her for caring. The hard kitchen table hurt her butt, and Annie relished in this, her body was all sensation now, nothing else, as pain and pleasure once again mingled inside of her.

There were different kinds of sounds, but they all seemed to merge together: her sighs and her moans and his grunts and his groans and skin against skin and the creaking of her old kitchen table.

Annie closed her eyes and let her mind be washed away. In this moment, everything that had happened seemed unreal, like it had been somebody else behind that wheel, like that had been another life, another reality altogether. The truth was only in the here and now, in the overwhelming, painful, wondrous present, in the way her pleasure was building inside her body, in Jack's hot skin against hers, in his hands, his arms that were holding her. The truth was all sensation, and the past was a barely remembered nightmare.

After what might have been a minute, or an hour, or a decade, she began to laugh. She was clinging to Jack desperately, unable to stop laughing. She was crying also, she realized shortly after, and she didn't care, couldn't care. This felt right, this was the release her body needed. Annie opened her eyes just in time to meet Jack's gaze, who looked at her questioningly, even though he did nothing to slow down. She was thankful for it—nothing would have been worse than for him to coddle her in this moment, to give her space to think. Annie didn't want to think, that was the whole point.

"Don't stop." She let the words fall out of her mouth, just to reassure him, to make sure he wouldn't change his mind. "Need this—need you..."

Jack obeyed her. She was laughing and crying, clinging and shaking and hurting, a mess of feeling that to her didn't even seem to make up an actual person, and yet, he obeyed her.

If felt amazing. It felt terrible. It felt everything in between. Annie's mind seemed to be fragmented, unable to come to terms with her present reality. There was the pleasure, still reliably building inside her, closer to release now, there was the pain, sharp and acute, there was the looming dread of memory, of thought. Both her building pleasure and her numbing pain were keeping her from thinking back to the events of the day—made it easier to shut them out—she didn't want to stop, didn't want to think, didn't want to get off the table, ever, she wanted to be present in her body and not her mind, she wanted—

Jack kissed her, and that hurt, too, in a different way, and this pain put a stop to Annie's spiraling thoughts. One of his hands found its way between their bodies, searching for her clit. He didn't know her body very well, and Annie helped him almost automatically, guided his hand with one of her own right where she needed it, a shudder of lust running through her entire body when his fingertip was in the right spot.

"More pressure," she sighed, as her mind was already half-way to bliss, "faster, Jack, please—"

She wasn't laughing any more now, nor crying. She could not have said what she was doing, even if her life depended on it. All she knew was the feeling of helpless, overpowering need, the way her soul seemed to extend past her body, the brink of pleasure, fast approaching, the terrible beating of her own heart, and Jack... Jack all around her, inside her, in front of her, his dark eyes and his strong arms and his diligent fingers and his hard cock.

Annie came with a groan and a heavenly moment of utter emptiness inside of her mind, a moment that might have been an eternity.

Then, she could feel his own orgasm in the stuttering of his movements, and Jack held her, bodies pressed together, until they both could find reason again.

There were tears in her eyes, Annie noticed, now with some detachment, tears that were falling heavily onto her cheeks.

"Thank you," Annie sighed against Jack's skin, voice hoarse, paying no mind to the shuddering of her own body. He tightened her arms around her. "I really—I needed that. Thank you."

**

Annie wanted nothing more than to fall asleep in Jack's arms, but first, she made herself take a piss and brush her teeth and search for a spare toothbrush for Jack. Her legs were wobbly, and her whole body ached in different ways—most of all, it ached for Jack to hold her, to comfort her.

However, on the whole, she felt a lot calmer now than she had only an hour ago. Like the storm inside her had died down, like breathing was easier. The events of the day had shaken her, that was a fact, but Annie felt like she had regained some of her inner equilibrium. Now, all she wanted was to fall asleep in Jack's strong arms.

She remembered that she didn't even know if Jack wanted to stay the night. Between medical attention, debriefings, showering and sex, they hadn't really talked about what this meant to them, at all. Sure, the word relationship had been mentioned, but that had been in the heat of the moment, during an experience that was so far away from Annie's normal that she could barely comprehend it even now.

Annie donned an oversized sweater which was so long it fell almost to the middle of her thighs, and nothing else. She stepped out of the bathroom in search for Jack, suddenly gripped by the irrational fear that he might have left. But no: he was still in her kitchen, dressed again, filling a glass with water. At the sight of him, Annie let out the breath she'd been holding, relief washing over her.

"Hi," she said, somewhat sheepishly.

Jack turned around, with that beautiful smile on his face, and a shudder went through Annie that had little to do with the sex they'd just had, somehow. She returned his smile, her heart beating fast.

"Found a spare toothbrush for you," she held it out to him, "bedroom's the first door on the left."

Jack set the glass of water down on the counter but didn't take the toothbrush from her.

"I'll be right there."

He stepped towards her to place soft kisses on her swollen lips, her cheeks, her forehead, embraced her so one of his hands was between her shoulders, the other on the small of her back. Annie ran the fingers of her free hand through his hair, hoping that his hand would find its way further down, wanting him to know she wasn't wearing anything under her shirt.

Jack did not disappoint.

"God, you're perfect," he mumbled against her temple when he found her skin bare beneath her shirt, making her laugh.

"Wait until you get to know me," she retorted easily. "You'll change your mind soon enough."

"I highly doubt that."

She groaned when he squeezed her left buttock, it still hurt from being fucked on the table, but in a way that she loved, in a way that she needed today. The sound made Jack let up at once.

"Are you okay? Did I hurt you?"

Annie felt her whole heart going soft, how could he be so imposing and so caring at the same time? There was that word once more, dancing around her brain unbidden, love...

"Yeah," she said with a grin, "but I wouldn't mind if you did that again."

"I don't know if I'm up for a second round right now."

They both laughed, and Annie handed him the toothbrush.

"Well, you know where to find me. Bring condoms, just in case."

**

Annie is sitting behind the wheel of a bus, and there are children in her way, why are there so many children? They keep running into the street right in front of her, and Annie has to make the bus jump into the air in just the right moment every time. Blood is running down the windshield, Sam's blood, terribly red, still warm. Annie has to get him to the hospital, but there are so many children she has to avoid... Somebody grabs her from behind, arm around her neck, almost gently, but her whole body trembles in terror. She sits there, frozen, forced to drive. If she moves even an inch, he'll kill her, Annie knows this with chilling clarity. The blood is obstructing her sight, it smells of iron and of death, and the grip around her neck tightens, tightens, tightens—

Annie awoke with a yell and a shudder that made her entire body convulse. Something was on top of her, an unfamiliar weight, and she struggled to get away, she had to get away before he killed her, before he closed his arm around her throat and pressed down.

She was trapped, though, unable to escape, she was bound, she was handcuffed, she was back on the subway, he had found her, he had found her and brought her back there to kill her, and Annie screamed in terror, screamed for help.

"Annie?"

Jack's voice made her pause. It took her a moment to realize where she was, why there was someone in her bed. Her limbs were tangled up in the blanket, that was why she hadn't been able to move earlier.

"Shh, Annie, it's okay, it's just me, everything's okay..."

Jack caressed her face, and Annie realized she was crying, her entire body shaking with ugly sobs. He helped her untangle from the blanket, until she could lie in his arms, face pressed against his chest, lips trembling, hot tears falling onto his skin.

"It was just a dream, Annie," he told her gently, "you're safe, you're safe, shhh, it's alright..."

Annie wasn't sure how long it took until her tears subsided. Even then, her whole body was still trembling, even though she wasn't cold. She was clinging to Jack, clinging to him until her breathing was back to normal, or at least as close to normal as she could hope for. Jack was running his fingers through her hair, a soothing motion, and she tried to concentrate on this. His calm voice, his comforting embrace, his loving touches all helped to ground her in reality: there was no bus any more, no subway, no children, no blood, no murderer.

Annie's breathing was still hard, even long after waking up from her nightmare. How many times had she cried in front of him, now? Annie hated herself for being so weak. Usually, she wasn't a person who cried a lot.

When she felt up to it, she leaned up to grab the box of tissues from her nightstand to clean up the mess her tears had left behind.

Even though the room was almost completely dark, Annie avoided looking at Jack's face. She was ashamed, suddenly, of her outburst, afraid that she might see pity on his face, that she might be nothing more than a victim to him.

Her breathing was still hard, labored. On the inside, she was torn: she wanted to get away, wanted to prove to herself that she was strong enough to suffer through this without Jack's help, and yet she also craved the solace of his embrace, the warmth of his touch.

"You want to talk about it?"

With gritted teeth, Annie shook her head mechanically. Jack ran his hand through her hair again and suddenly, the will to fight left her. Annie surrendered to his gentle touch, laid her head down on his chest and allowed herself to accept his comfort.

He didn't ask again. The room seemed strangely quiet, somehow, and the details of her dream were already blurry. But one thing that stayed with her was the terror: it was lodged deep inside her heart, poisoning her from the inside, and she was unable to escape its might. The worst moment had been waking up, feeling like she was back on that subway again—Annie checked her wrists automatically, the need to reassure herself that there were no handcuffs was overwhelming.

There were none. It was a truth that her mind provided but that her heart didn't accept.

"What if I can't ride the bus any more?"

Her voice was very quiet, almost timid, although Annie hated to think of herself as being capable of timidness. It clashed with her opinion of herself, her experience of her life, it wasn't her. And yet, here she was, waking up crying in the middle of the night, so afraid that the fear felt suffocating.

"You don't have to," Jack said, his voice low and even. "Some people go their whole life without ever riding a bus."

"But I don't have my driver's licence. How will I get to the office?"

Annie felt panic rising within her: what if she couldn't go to work? What if she couldn't buy groceries? What if she couldn't pay her bills? What if—Jack's arms tightened around her, and Annie could feel her body trembling like a leaf in the wind, her heart pumping terror into her veins.

"Don't worry, we'll find a solution. I can drive you to work tomorrow."

"You can't give me a lift every day."

"Why not?"

There was a sort of absurdity in this that made Annie pause. They'd known each other for what, all of sixteen hours? Jack didn't know her, not really. And with her crying all the damn time, he hadn't even met the real her. His statement was perplexing, even if it wasn't really surprising—he had been willing to risk his life for her, hadn't even tried to save himself, had put his arms around her and held her instead of running away... It was just that Annie hadn't expected him to stick around, not really, not after they were out of danger.

She leaned up on one elbow, now she did want to see his face, wanted to see him desperately. Her eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and Annie could make out his features just well enough.

"You really mean that?"

Her own voice was vulnerable, more vulnerable than she would have liked, but it was the middle of the night and she was too tired and afraid to control her emotions.

Jack looked at her, and Annie got the feeling that his expression was also more unguarded, more open than it would have been during the day.

"Yes, I do."

They stared at each other in fright and wonder, as the meaning behind these words settled into their minds.

"I'm not—I'm not good at relationships," Annie whispered, suddenly anxious for a whole host of reasons that had nothing to do with the events of the previous day. "I'm, I'm messy and complicated and no one—no one ever wants to stay."

Jack smiled at her, that kind smile he had and barely showed, the one he usually kept hidden beneath his tough exterior.

"I want to stay."

He caressed her face with the tips of his fingers, and Annie leaned into his touch, close to tears again. What the hell was happening to her? She couldn't respond, her throat felt glued shut.

"You think I'll change my mind?"

Annie herself had joked about this earlier, but deep down, she had very much meant it, and now she nodded. Jack looked at her serenely.

"I can be very stubborn. I've been told it's one of my worst qualities."

This statement was so unexpected that it made Annie laugh, and Jack laughed with her, and just like that, the whole thing seemed to be so much easier, so much lighter, and there was hope: hope that this was an actual possibility, that Jack might actually want her. Her throat felt fine now.

"You really are stubborn," she teased him. "Even I noticed that, and I've known you for less than a day."

Jack grinned at her.

"Told you."

She kissed him and it hurt, her lips were still a little sore from earlier. Annie winced.

"Annie," Jack breathed, his hands gentle on the sides of her face, "what's wrong?"

His concern made her heart beat faster, but Annie couldn't help but laugh again.

"My own damn fault," she told him, shaking her head at her own stupidity. "Asked you to bite me and now I can't kiss you."

Jack's lips split into a grin, as well.

"We shouldn't do that again, then."

"Yeah, you need to bite me somewhere else next time."

**

Annie woke up in Jack's arms. Judging by his slow, steady breathing against her shoulder, he was still fast asleep. The conversation they'd had in the middle of the night came back to her, and a smile played about Annie's lips. She wasn't sure what it was about Jack that drew her to him so much—well, she could name a lot of things, he was gorgeous and heroic and loyal and brave and, most of all, kind—but the word love was bouncing around in her head again and she was perplexed that she'd fallen for him so quickly, when they barely even knew each other.

He'd told her he wanted to stay with her, and Annie believed him: despite years of experience telling her that these promises never lasted, she wanted to believe him desperately. Right on cue, Jack sighed in his sleep and tightened his arm around her. Annie let her mind rest in the blissful warmth of it, concentrating on the rhythm of his even breaths, her thoughts sluggish.

A while later, she could feel Jack stir awake, and she took his hand into her own. Annie wanted to touch him, wanted to touch and be touched. She kissed his knuckles, her lips almost didn't hurt any more. His movements were that of one who has just woken up: clumsy but purposeful.

Jack helped her turn around in his arms, kissed her temple, her cheekbone.

"Good morning," he mumbled, and Annie smiled brightly at him, wondering how she had ever been able to stand not waking up beside him. You couldn't miss what you'd never had, but now that she'd had it, she wanted to keep it, hers hers hers.

"Morning," she replied.

They just smiled at each other for a long moment, the light of the early morning highlighting Jack's perfect features just so, and Annie's heart was beating fast, her stomach full of butterflies. She raised a hand to his face to trace the lines of his temple, his cheekbone, his jaw; never taking her eyes off his gorgeous brown eyes. The warmth in them was palpable: he looked at her with so much love that Annie would almost have blurted out those three big words right then. But it was too early, she told herself firmly, much too early for that, and she didn't want to scare him away, no matter what he'd promised.

"You want breakfast?" She asked instead.

There was a mischievous look in his eyes.

"Depends what's on the menu."

She needed a moment to get it. Then—

"Oh." Annie grinned widely, suddenly fully awake. "Anything in particular you have in mind?"

"How much time have we got?"

Annie raised an eyebrow. This was getting very interesting. She checked the alarm clock on her nightstand, and to her delight discovered that it was still pretty early in the day. Normally, she was the sort of person who habitually overslept.

"Half an hour until my alarm goes off," Annie told Jack. "What about you?"

"I don't have to be in before ten today."

They were both smiling again. The butterflies in Annie's stomach were insistently crashing into each other. Additionally, there was also that unmistakable feeling of lust building up between her legs, she wanted him, she wanted him so much, in so many ways.

"So, what would you like?"

Jack looked at her playfully.

"What, no instructions from you this morning?"

Annie answered with a grin.

"You know, I believe in equal rights. I called the shots last time, so it's your turn now. Just make sure to tell me beforehand if you want to do something kinky, I have some very hard limits we'd need to talk about."

This made Jack laugh.

"What if I want to go real slow, actually get to know your body this time? That something you want?"

Annie nodded at once.

"Yes, please."

Jack kissed her gently, helped her out of the shirt she'd slept in. He was wearing his boxers but nothing else, and Annie couldn't help but stare at his beautifully toned body, his well-defined arms. This man was a work of art, plain and simple, and she wondered how in the world she had gotten lucky enough to share her bed with him. A crude thought crossed her mind: this was definitely worth not being able to take any bus ever again...

And he hadn't exaggerated: when Jack had told her he would take his time, he'd meant it. He kissed her, caressed her, like her skin was fragile and she might break, slowly exploring her whole body. At first, Annie felt a little frustrated, she was horny and what he did felt like he was making her wait. But after a few minutes, she began to understand that this was really important to him. Jack didn't kiss each of her fingertips in order to tease her, but because he wanted to. He didn't run his fingers gently over her wrist to make her wait, he did it because he was genuinely interested in seeing her reaction.

When she understood this, her frustration vanished. Annie let herself relax into the sensations, after all, there was enough time, for once in her life she didn't have to rush. It was unlike anything any of her previous partners had done: sure, most of them had tried to find those spots that made her shiver, made her lean into their touches, but none had ever been so single-mindedly methodical about discovering them.

It was very typical Jack. He was persistent, and he was stubborn. That morning, Annie decided that she loved his stubbornness.

After a while, Annie's bones felt like they had about the same consistency as pudding. Her throat was producing a low sound, almost like a hum, but close to a moan also. Jack was kissing the upper-most part of her right hip-bone currently, the part that stood out a little just above her leg, and this sent a shiver all through Annie's body—a hitch in her breath, a louder moan—she loved being touched there. Jack kissed the same spot again, caressed it with his fingers for good measure: Annie could feel the moisture pooling between her legs and the single, overwhelming need for Jack to touch her clit, to move his mouth just a little to the left...

"Please, please, please," she kept mumbling over and over. She was perfectly willing to keep enduring this torture for Jack, but he didn't exactly need to know that as long as he didn't ask.

"What do you want, Annie?"

His voice was low, but unmistakably affectionate, and Annie's hips buckled at the sound.

"I want to come," she begged, that last word almost a whine, "please, make me come!"

"Open your legs for me."

Annie obeyed at once, eagerly, glad that he wasn't asking her to wait any longer. With soft but confident touches, Jack positioned her legs the way that worked best for him, and then, nothing happened.

Annie made herself open her eyes, and found Jack looking at her cunt, an expression of wonder on his face.

"You're so gorgeous, Annie," he breathed, meeting her eyes for a long moment before looking down again, "absolutely beautiful."

A smile spread on Annie's lips. Nobody had ever told her in these certain terms that her cunt was beautiful—once again, she wondered how she had ever lived without this man.

And then, Jack leaned down and his hot tongue was right where she needed it and there were no more thoughts inside her head.

Her body was all sensation, all electricity. Her blood felt hot inside her veins, her pulse racing, her heart pumping as though she were running a marathon. Annie trembled with lust, her legs shaking: Jack was holding them, steadying them, which she was just barely able to notice.

Jack's tongue felt wonderful, and even now he was methodical about figuring out what she liked. Annie was all too eager to help him with this: she had always been rather vocal. Using sighs and moans and desperate, nonsensical pleas, she told him what she liked, unable to form coherent sentences in this moment. She had just enough mental capacity left to decide that they should have a talk about their likes and dislikes before having sex next time—somehow they hadn't gotten around to having an actual conversation yet.

Despite what she'd just noted, Jack had an enthusiasm to him, a dedication that had nothing to do with methodical analysis. Annie could feel it in the way he touched her, the way he licked her like her cunt was the most delicious thing he had ever tasted, and she could feel her orgasm approaching fast. And although she might have wanted to experience this feeling for hours on end, she didn't resist her climax, didn't tell Jack to slow down. There would be time for a slow build-up later, Annie was sure—

Her orgasm felt a little like falling from a great height, weightlessness and velocity crashing into each other, and for a moment, Annie could feel the expanse of the whole universe beneath her skin. She shook and moaned and begged and convulsed, her body no longer under her control. The feeling was glorious.

An eternity later, she found herself lying on her bed, Jack kissing the inside of one of her thighs gently.

"Fuck," she groaned, the first thing she could think of. It made Jack laugh.

"You good?"

Annie took a deep breath, trying to steady herself.

"Good's an understatement. Kiss me?"

Jack smiled at her, that beautiful smile she loved so much. He pressed another kiss to her thigh, then leaned up and closed the distance between them to kiss her on the mouth. He tasted like her, still, and his chin was wet with her moisture. Annie ran her hands through his dark hair, relishing in the feeling. Oh, she could get used to this.

For a while, Jack just held her in his arms while Annie's heart rate slowly returned to normal. For the first time, Annie really noticed his scent—and how much she liked it. She had never used the word stoic to describe a scent, but that was what it was, just like the man it belonged to: stoic, kind, stubborn, and utterly perfect.

"I'm not into blow jobs," Annie told him once at least half her brain had returned to normal function. "That a problem for you?"

She'd had a boyfriend who had straight up refused to go down on her as long as she didn't want to return the favour.

"Honestly, I've never really seen the appeal," Jack replied easily, "so no, it's not a problem."

Annie smiled into his shoulder, the three big words already on her lips, and this was the moment her alarm went off. With a sigh, she scrambled to silence it, but the moment was ruined.

She turned back to Jack.

"How's a quick hand job sound?"

"Aren't your colleagues used to you being late for work?"

His teasing tone made her grin.

"Oh, shut up."

Annie kissed him, ran a hand over his chest, his stomach, his abdomen. She could feel the muscles beneath his skin, and was once again amazed that she had gotten so very lucky. She guided him to lie on his back for this.

"But seriously," Jack went on, a wanton edge in his voice when Annie pulled down his boxers, "I want a rain check on getting to know your body. I wasn't even halfway done."

Annie closed her hand around his already hard cock, started to jerk him off.

"You got it."

She leaned down to kiss Jack again, rather lazily, and even though they were still technically in bed together, Annie couldn't wait to be with him again, preferably this evening, to have sex for more than a measly half hour, to not be disturbed by her awful alarm clock. Unlike yesterday, Jack was rather quiet now, she didn't get much more from him than low sighs, and she made a mental note to ask if this had any significance, or whether it was just dependent on his mood or the time of day.

It didn't take long until Jack came. Annie watched his face, thrown back a little, eyes half closed: he was beautiful in the morning light, beautiful in his pleasure, so very beautiful.

"I love you," she blurted out before she could stop herself. Jack opened his eyes, looking at her intently. "I'm sorry—I know we don't know each other that well, but I really—I really love you."

Jack sat up with a purposeful motion, took her into his arms and kissed her, so hard that her lips smarted again. Annie didn't mind, on the contrary: she kissed back just as hard, just as desperately.

When they broke apart, Jack took her face in his hands, gently brushed a strand of hair behind her ear.

"I love you, too."

His voice was low, but full of emotion, and the butterflies were back inside Annie's stomach suddenly, making her feel as though she were riding a rollercoaster. His eyes were extremely sincere.

Annie understood his words for what they were: more than just a statement of feeling, they were a promise. A promise he intended to keep.