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There was a tension in Jack's shoulders that was unmistakable. Annie watched him chopping up peppers for their dinner: his body tense, his fingers not quite steady. He never really talked much about his work, but Annie knew him well enough to be able to see when he needed comfort.

She went over to where he was standing, caressed his back in between his shoulder blades. Jack answered with a small sigh, peppers momentarily forgotten.

"You wanna talk about it?"

He shook his head mechanically, then leaned into her embrace. Annie held him, and after a while she could feel the tension starting to dissipate inside him.

"We lost Rivers today," Jack suddenly said, his voice low and full of regret. "Stupid mistake, shouldn't have happened..."

Annie had met the young officer for the first time only two weeks ago at one of Jack's work mixers: she had been bright and witty and full of excitement to be posted on the bomb squad. It was her dream job, she'd told anybody willing to listen.

Annie closed her arms around Jack more tightly. At times like these, she was uncomfortably reminded of the fact that her husband's work was dangerous, life-threateningly so. He had always come back to her, and yet she couldn't help but fear the possibility that one day, he might not.

Their only big, ugly fight had been about this: when Jack had proposed to her, Annie had been confronted with this fear so suddenly and violently that she hadn't been able to think straight, and they had ended up screaming at each other for what had felt like hours. It had taken her a while to even work out that the fear of losing him was what lay at the heart of their fight, and not all the other inconsequential stuff that had been said, and then it had taken her over a week to come to terms with the fact that she could take him as he was, dangerous job and all, or give up on the relationship altogether. Annie had made her choice and never looked back, but the fear was still very much there.

"It reminded me of Harry, you know," Jack went on, his voice even more quiet now. "I just keep thinking I could have done something to save her. Should have done something."

"Was there anything you could have done?"

Jack shook his head slightly.

"I don't know, Annie. I keep going over everything—what if I'd waited two seconds longer before walking up to that door? What if I'd told her to stay right behind me? What if..."

Jack sighed, and didn't say anything else.

They stood there for a while, both silent. Annie knew that nothing she could say would make much of a difference, Jack was a person who didn't enjoy unnecessary platitudes. He was very unlike her in this regard: Annie liked him to talk to her when she was feeling miserable, and he always did so. But there was nothing she could say right now that would ease the burden of Rivers' death. The comfort Jack needed was physical, and so Annie held him, caressed him, embraced him.


"Let me take care of you today," Annie said after they'd brushed their teeth, both ready for bed. "If you want?"

She half expected him to refuse: often, after something bad had happened at work, Jack just wanted her to hold him until he fell asleep.

"Yes," he said, however.

Annie gave him a kiss on the cheek, then made her way to their bedroom to get all the things she needed, and laid them out on the night-stand. They hadn't done this in a while, two or three weeks at least, and Annie thought longingly of the sight of her husband when she fucked him, the look on his face—not long now, she told herself, she'd see him like that again real soon, she just had to be patient.

The only lamp she turned on was the one in the corner of the bedroom, it was the lamp whose light was most pleasant. Normally, Annie wasn't overly concerned with such things: her husband and her had fucked in bright daylight and in the darkness of midnight, they had seen every inch of one another and knew each other's bodies by touch alone, and ultimately, the surrounding conditions usually didn't matter too much. Today, however, she wanted to set a pleasant mood, as much as she could at least. It seemed fitting.

When Jack entered the room, he took her hand for a moment and squeezed it. They looked at each other, and Annie could see the pain in her husband's dark brown eyes, the anguish, the loss. There was nothing she could do about what had happened, but she could make him forget, if even just for a short while.

"Lie down," she said gently, and he let go of her hand and followed her instruction without another word.

Annie sat down next to him on the bed a moment later, leaned down and kissed him deeply. She took Jack's face into her hands and placed kisses on his cheeks, his temples, his forehead, his nose, his eyelids. There was nothing hurried about her movements: each kiss was as slow and as deliberate as the next, and Annie could feel the tension in Jack's body relaxing a little. She kissed his lips once more: Jack responded gently, and yet Annie could feel the need in him, the need for her touch, for her warmth, for her love. There was nothing she wanted more than to share these things with him, to hold him in her arms until the dawn of time, to love him until they wouldn't be able to tell where one soul began and the other ended.

"I love you," Annie whispered against Jack's mouth, her own eyes closed, "so much."

"And I love you," Jack replied just as quietly, a tremor in his voice.

Annie didn't waste any time in divesting them of their clothes, but she didn't hurry the process, either. Comfortable shirts and sweatpants all landed on a pile at the foot of their bed, underwear too.

Jack's skin felt hot against Annie's, and a shiver ran through both of them when their bodies finally touched without any fabric separating them. Jack embraced her, and they kissed once more, legs entangled, Annie lying on top of him.

There was an unspoken agreement between them to take their time on this evening. Neither of them rushed the proceedings: they kept kissing for a while, enjoying the sensation of skin against skin, of soft fingertips and low sighs and general warmth.

And when Annie felt it was the right time, she kissed down Jack's neck, nipping at the skin of his throat, darting out her tongue to lick his Adam's apple. Jack rewarded her with a low moan, a sound that Annie loved beyond reason. She placed kisses on his sternum, along his clavicles, took one of his nipples into her mouth, flicked her tongue against it.

Jack sighed in response, a low, needy sound that made Annie shiver with desire.

She caressed the smooth skin of his chest with one hand: sometimes, she found it hard to believe how beautiful he was, even though she was faced with evidence of this fact almost every single day. Not that this was the most important thing about him by a long shot, but Annie did enjoy his physique very much, and unashamedly so.

Annie's hand wandered lower, over his stomach, past his half-hard cock, gently caressing his balls with the tips of her fingers, then lower still. She looked at Jack to make sure they were on the same page, and he gave her a nod, reached over to the night-stand and handed her the lube. Annie couldn't help but smile when she sat up.

"What?" Jack asked, crinkles around his eyes well: smiling in bed was always contagious.

"I just love our teamwork," Annie told him while she spread the lube over her fingers.

"Yeah, me too."

They grinned at each other for a long and wonderful moment. Annie's heart was beating fast, sharing little moments of joy like this with the man she loved was truly one of life's greatest blessings.

"Open your legs for me," Annie purred, making them both grin even harder.

"Yes, ma'am," came Jack's predictable reply, as he followed her instruction.

Annie took her time fingering her husband open, watching his face closely all the while. He always showed wonderful emotions: the initial, natural resistance of his body for a single moment which passed quickly, the way he made himself relax into her touch after that, then the point at which he started to truly enjoy the sensations, and finally the need for more. It was always these four, and Annie loved the predictability of it, always looked forward to each of these. There was something incredibly intimate about knowing her husband so well, just like he knew some things about her body better than anybody ever had, better even than Annie herself maybe.

Back before she'd known Jack, she had used to wonder, sometimes, how people could stand getting married and being with one person for their whole life. Now, the longer she was married, the more she found that precisely this was the appeal, that she had no interest in sharing this sort of intimacy with anybody else, that it was precious because it was the product of years of commitment, years of trust, years of love.

Jack moaned: a low, wanton sound, utterly beautiful. The need in his eyes was profound, and Annie leaned down to kiss him with her fingers still inside him. This made him whimper, and she licked the sound from his lips, a smile on her own.

"I want to hear you say it," she whispered, looking into his gorgeous dark eyes.

"Fuck me, Annie," Jack replied at once, the desire in his voice making Annie's heart beat faster. "Please."

Annie's smile was full of giddy anticipation as she carefully slid her fingers out of him.

"Help me with the strap."

Jack did as she asked: thankfully, this was one of the things Annie had already laid out on the night-stand beforehand so they didn't have to waste time looking for it, as well as a towel for her to clean her hands with now.

His fingers were fumbling a little, his hands shaking with need. And yet the movements were familiar to them, easily traced, quickly found. Jack knew exactly how tightly Annie wanted the harness to be around her thighs, around her hips, and Annie only needed to adjust the whole thing a little before spreading a generous amount of lube over her cock.

"You okay like this?"

"Yeah. You?"

Annie's smile was very gentle now.

"Yes. I want to see your face."

"Don't you always?"

They both laughed as Annie adjusted her position slightly, moved one of his legs a bit to give herself better access.

"I do." She lined herself up, pushed into him slowly. "Just be glad I don't always insist on it."

For a moment, her husband was unable to answer, wholly preoccupied by the sensations. Annie watched his expressions with a sort of rapture, greedy to see every minute detail: every fluttering of his lashes, every labored breath, every little movement, every single moment.

"I am, actually." Jack's voice was hoarse now. She was almost completely inside him, holding her breath in anticipation, going so very slowly, giving him time to adjust.

And then, with a groan and a shudder and a sigh, Annie's hips were pressed against his hot skin, and they both needed a moment to breathe.

Annie grabbed Jack's hip with her left hand, took Jack's own left hand with her right one, intertwined their fingers.


Jack's eyes were sparkling with lust, as they always appeared in the throes of passion, and Annie wanted to get lost in his intense gaze, in the way he looked at her.

"Yeah," he rasped after a moment, his voice hoarse with arousal.

Annie started fucking him gently, slowly, almost torturously so. She'd been intent on teasing him a little more about his preferences, but somehow the words were lost to her now, and no matter: there would always be time for banter later.

Right now, nothing was more important than watching her husband's face, than listening to the little noises he made, than holding his hand. Annie wanted to take him apart very slowly today, very carefully, until he begged her for release. She wanted him to forget everything else, wanted him to be free of the burdens of life, for however long that was possible. If she could give him a single moment of bliss, that would already be a triumph.

Her rhythm was very slow, but there was a rhythm: pulling almost all the way out before pressing in again, inch by delicious inch.

Moans were falling from Jack's mouth: little sounds, lewd sounds, sounds that were for Annie's ears only, so personal that Annie felt like she was listening to a part of his innermost soul. Her heart was beating fast, her own breathing labored, only one thought on her mind—

"I love you," she sighed, gripping his hand tightly, and he returned the firm touch at once.

"I love you," he answered, more out of habit than anything else, but it was this which Annie enjoyed tremendously: the certain knowledge that no matter where they were, no matter what state they were in, he would always give her this same answer, because it was always true.

With a smile, she slowly started speeding up her rhythm, keeping her movements gentle all the while. Jack's face was a sight to behold: his gorgeous eyes half-lidded as his passion intensified, his cheeks flushed beautifully, his lips kept open by sighs and moans and desperate breaths—Annie wanted to kiss him so badly, but she couldn't, not without changing her position, not without pausing her even strokes. Later, she promised herself; later, she would kiss him senseless, later...

She tightened her grip on his hip a little, fucked him harder, and Jack responded so beautifully: he needed this, Annie could see it, he wanted to lose himself in this, he had missed this. For a moment, Annie wondered why they hadn't done this in weeks—somehow, the timing or the mood had never been right—but then Jack groaned in desperate passion and all thoughts were purged from Annie's mind. There was only him, only now, only this.

And then, she did need to kiss him, and she let go of Jack's hip in order to lean forward. It seemed as though they were thinking the same thing: Jack moved his free hand so she could grab hold of that, too, like the other one, and then they were kissing, Annie holding down Jack's hands next to his head, one on each side, her weight on them. The angle was a little awkward since Annie wasn't as tall as Jack, but they were used to this after all their time together, knew exactly how to make it work.

Annie licked Jack's lips and he nipped at hers, and then they were grinning, and kissing again, and grinning some more, and Annie's heart was so full of love and fondness she feared it might burst right inside her chest.

"Fuck me, Annie," Jack begged against her lips, "please."

"Isn't that what I've been doing?"

They both laughed: giddy, breathless, desperate sounds.

"You know what I mean. Please, Annie!"

They looked at each other. Jack's eyes were dark, gorgeously dark in the low light, and he looked at her in hungry rapture, just as she was looking at him. Annie nodded, earlier plans be damned.

"Leave your hands where they are."

She sat up and grabbed Jack's hips with both hands, and then she fucked him.

The groans and whines of her husband were spurring Annie on; the way he did his best not to move his hands, his muscles tightening beneath his skin, a wonderful sight; his hard cock leaking precum onto his stomach; the way his legs were crossed behind her back, a steady pressure pushing her closer towards him...

The angle was just right for her cock to hit his prostate with every stroke, and soon, her husband was a moaning, shuddering mess beneath her, desperate for release.

"Please," he rasped, "please touch me?"

Annie knew what he was asking, and shook her head.

"No," she replied, her own voice hoarse and breathless. "Just my cock, darling."

She gave him a handful of slower strokes, careful to aim right at that most sensitive part inside of him, and Jack groaned in response, a shiver running through his body, Annie could feel it. Her movements got faster again, then, her grip on his hips like iron.

Jack was close now, she could see it in his expression, he needed just a little encouragement...

"Come for me," Annie whispered, "I love you, I want to see you, come for me—"

Jack did. Annie thought him utterly beautiful in his pleasure.

Even after all their time together, seeing him like this still made her heart beat faster, made butterflies appear in her stomach. Being able to share these moments with Jack was a blessing, a gift, a wonder. Annie wasn't exactly religious, but being with her husband sometimes made her think that there had to be a higher power, that it couldn't just be sheer luck that they had found each other.

Annie slowed her movements considerably, but didn't entirely stop.

A groan fell from Jack's mouth, spent, exhausted, sated. Annie let go of his hips to caress his legs, the tips of her fingers teasing the sensitive insides of his thighs. This elicited a whole other sound from Jack, almost pained: Annie grinned wickedly. She knew exactly how much this touch was affecting him.

"You're evil," Jack panted when he had found his voice again. "I love you. Stop, please."

Annie let go of him immediately, almost felt guilty for pushing him like this. But when he looked at her, breathing hard, there were crinkles around his eyes. Annie let out a breath of relief, she hadn't gone too far, thank God. But it had been a close call.

"I love you," she said in response, and it sounded a bit like an apology.

Then, Annie pulled out of him gently, careful not to make the transition too sudden. Jack still gasped when her cock slid out of her, and Annie could relate: she knew first-hand this feeling of emptiness, of illogical longing for more even when the body couldn't take it.

Annie leaned over him once again, kissed him long and deep, and Jack responded desperately. In theory, Annie wanted nothing more than to take her into her arms, to hug him as tight as she possibly could—but before she could do that, she had to take care of herself first, her clit was begging for attention under the strap, she was desperately aroused, she needed release before she could even think of cuddling.

Annie sat up, loosened the buckles of the strap-on, let it slide down her legs, but before she could touch herself, Jack spoke.

"Let me, let me, come here—"

He made a gesture and it was pretty clear what he had in mind. Annie got rid of the strap as fast as she could, then crawled over on the bed until she could sit on her husband's face. Jack didn't waste any time, he licked her folds like his life depended on it, flicked his hot tongue against her clit, and Annie had to grab the headboard to keep her balance.

Her own orgasm rushed through her like a hurricane, shaking her entire being to her very core for a moment, then settling down again. Annie had to take care not to collapse right on Jack's head, it was a close call but she managed not to hurt him. Instead, she fell down on the mattress next to him, lying there for what felt like a solid minute, just letting herself breathe.

Jack's hand found hers, and they intertwined their fingers, and Annie remembered that she'd been wanting to hold him. She still did. Not like this, though.

"Where's that towel?" She asked groggily, her voice still a little hoarse.

"Already got it."

They cleaned up the mess as best they could. The end result wasn't perfect but still a vast improvement. Neither of them wanted to get up and take an actual shower, and neither of them minded.

When the strap and the lube and the towel were on the night-stand again, to be taken care of later, Annie kissed Jack's shoulder.

"I want to hold you," she breathed. "If you want."

Jack's smile was so gentle it made her heart stop for a moment.


After a bit of maneuvering, Annie closed her arms around Jack, his head on her chest, cushioned by one of her tits. She hugged him as tightly as she could, kissed the top of his head, ran a hand through his dark, closely-cropped hair.

"I'm sorry about before," Annie whispered, still feeling a little guilty.

"About what?"

"Pushing you like that. After you came."

Jack shook his head a little, apparently unconcerned.

"You know, for a moment, it felt really great. Don't worry about it, I'm fine."

Annie breathed a sigh of relief. In the beginning of their relationship, they'd sometimes pushed each other too far, and she wasn't keen on making this mistake again. However, they had both learned to get a better feeling for their own limits, to tell each other to stop before the threshold was crossed. And she was glad they had: the last thing she wanted was to make Jack feel anything other than amazing.

"May I?"

Annie needed a moment to understand what Jack was asking, then she grinned and lifted her arm so Jack could close his hand around the breast he wasn't currently resting his head on.

"Knock yourself out."

They both laughed together, then, their bodies shaking and rocking with mirth, and Annie held Jack tighter, this wonderful, precious man. Marrying him was one of the best choices she'd ever made.

After their laughter died down, the room seemed very quiet for a while, and yet the silence was not unpleasant. Annie's thoughts were lazy, muted by her earlier orgasm and the feeling of peace that came with holding her husband. They floated through her mind like slow clouds on a summer's day, fleeting and insubstantial and ultimately of no big importance. If asked, she could not even have said what exactly it was she was thinking about.

Some time later, Jack sighed against her chest, prompting Annie to abandon her non-thinking and turn her attention on him.

"Everything okay?" She asked him quietly, without urgency.

"Yes," he said. "No. I don't—It's complicated."

"Tell me."

Jack sighed again, kissed the smooth skin of her chest, teasing her nipple with the pad of his thumb for a moment. Reflexively, Annie pulled him closer, a shiver running through her at the sensation.

"I always want to come home to you, Annie," Jack said then, quietly. "I don't want to have to stop coming home to you, you know?"

Annie had an idea where this might be going—or rather, she had an irrational hope, and tried very hard to convince herself that Jack couldn't mean what she wanted him to mean. He couldn't.

"Jack, are you... What are you saying?"

He sighed.

"I made a decision just now. I think I'm—" He took a breath as though he was bracing himself for what he was about to tell her. "I'm going to quit the bomb squad. When we talked about it before the wedding... I didn't really get it back then. But today..."

Jack shook his head, unable to continue. For a moment, he was wholly preoccupied by the ordeal of having to breathe. When he spoke again, the pain in his voice was heart-wrenching.

"I was the one who had to call Rivers' girlfriend. And all that time, I couldn't stop thinking about you, if you were the one getting that call... That's not something I ever want for you."

Annie was crying now, and even though she felt for him and his predicament, the sobs shaking her body were not born from empathy; they were sobs of relief. Her hope hadn't been irrational after all.

Jack moved his arms so he could embrace her. They held onto each other with such ferocity that their touch almost hurt—Annie's fingers were trembling, and yet she gripped her husband tightly, she felt like shrieking, like shouting, like laughing.

Despite her tears, despite her agitated emotional state, she spoke almost evenly.

"Jack, I know what that job means to you. I don't want you to give it up for me."

He was crying, as well, much quieter than she was, but Annie could feel it in his breathing, in the tremors of his body as his face was pressed into her chest, in the trembling of his fingers against her back.

"Honestly, Annie... I'm not giving it up for you. I'm giving it up so I can sleep at night, so I can live with myself. It's a selfish decision."

Now, Annie did laugh, a sound that was very close to a sob.

"Thank God you're selfish, then," she whispered, and they kept holding each other for a long, long time.