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The man is a plague.

She was working alone while a DRD chittered around her feet. Not much to do, really, but let Talyn heal. But she could find chores, things to check. There was usually something to fill up the days. Later, off duty – those times were easy. Get alone with Crichton, they never ran out of things to do, there was always more. Whole crew has to know what's going on, then. Crichton couldn't keep anything quiet. He'd wake everyone in his barracks. That had been a surprise. The man had control. He could hide what he had to. But alone with her, he abandoned it all. Nothing held back. At first that had startled, alarmed her. Now it gave her a guilty thrill.

Every one of them knows. Crais still ignored them, stiff and correct, never a word. At least he knew how to behave. Rygel muttering, sniffing – Stark beaming, wet-eyed – which one was worse? Oh, frell them all blind. What did it harm?

She caught a trace of John's scent on her skin, and it made her smile. He made her smile. Made her forget what she meant to do, made her feel reckless. Frell, made her jumpy, like she was counting down to a sortie – she could feel that edge, that tension – wanting to be there already, wanting to let it cut loose – and it mixed with this... safety. She had something, here. Had him. She had an interest in what he did, what bed he slept in. He put it all out there, just held it out, offered it to her – so naked, so eager. Tears with an orgasm, laughter with sex. Words with everything. He watched her so closely – his eyes might bleed from looking so hard, his heart might stop, he might forget how to breathe.. This man who could blow up a gammak base, burn up a moon, die to the world in her arms –

"Hey, you," he said.

She jumped, then collected herself. "Hey."

He was right there by her, looking at her – that long, appraising, satisfied look, taking her in, like coming across her was wonderful news, like he hadn't seen her for arns.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Fine," she said, casting a look at the DRD – but, no, it kept working, not stopping to watch.

"Getting much done?"

She pointed at the conduits. "Just checking these."

"Ah," he said. "Don't need me, then?"

Not for this. "No, I'm all right."

He ran his fingers around the back of her neck, under her braid, as he leaned to kiss her. Just the touch of his hand, his mouth, a brush of his face over hers. "Then I guess I'll check back later."

"Mmmm," she agreed. She busied herself as he walked away. Right out here, on duty. Like that was his right. It would be all over the viewers, all over the tapes. If there still were tapes. If Talyn was watching.

She felt his breath on her neck and whirled around, a flush of warmth in her cheeks. "Hey!"

"Frell it," he said, reaching for her. "I'm worthless today.";

"What are you doing?" she said.

He found her mouth and kissed her again. "I'm cruising you, babe. I'm looking for trouble." He was speaking in bursts between kisses, plaintive: "I really want you. Here. Now."

She had met his kiss fiercely, grabbing the back of his head, her tongue in his mouth. A moment later she shoved him back. "John ? Not now ?"

"That? It can wait." He kept himself between her and the archway, easing her toward the wall.

"Crichton, you –"

"Why not?" he asked softly. "Tell me why not." He touched his brow to hers. "I'm sure not getting a damn thing done. How about you?" He bent to nuzzle her shoulder, her neck, taking his time, murmuring into her ear. "C'mon, baby. Play hooky with me." She stifled a laugh at his tone, and that hint of a laugh was enough. Before she could speak, his hands were slipping down her body, caressing, stroking.

She shivered and thought, Tell the truth. You've been thinking of this all day. "All right, then," she said, and grabbed his hand as she moved toward the passage. The transport ought to be empty now, this wouldn't take long –

"Not so fast." He dropped to the ledge and flung out his arms, holding tight to her hand. "This is good, right here."

She looked around. It was only an alcove, no hatch to close. Anyone could walk by.

His eyes followed hers. "We can keep it under their radar," he said. "You and me – We're trained professionals, babe. We can be quiet. Stealthy, even." He kissed her again.

She had to laugh. "WE? Can be quiet?" She was shaking her head. "I could be quiet, Crichton. But YOU?"

He was pulling her down to join him. "Try kissing me harder – I might not make as much noise. Like this." His mouth covered hers.

"Take a lot more than that to keep you quiet," she muttered, but she was still laughing.

"Why don't you take off those boots?" he said. Such a reasonable voice. He was blocking her way, posturing at her, ready to dive if she made a break. She leaned back, casually judging the angle.

"Don't be silly," she said, lifting an eyebrow. One good jab, and he'd be unconscious. Could be a valuable lesson in that. "Do you actually think you could make me?"

"Not a chance in hell," he said with a grin. "But I'll bet I can make you like it."

Well, that's probably true. Deliberately, slowly, she lifted each foot to remove her boots.

"Good girl," he breathed. His hand ran up her back, and he drew her close. It was a reflex to grab him, his leathers so smooth on her fingers, a second skin, cooler than his. Their breathing was suddenly loud in her ears. He opened her pants and his fingers slipped under her waistband. Then he dropped to his knees on the floor. He edged her pants a little way down, just below her hips.

He opened his mouth, his lips to the cloth of her calvins, and exhaled heavily. Hot, moist breath – it made her squirm. He worked his face down between her legs, the beginnings of stubble just barely scratching her thighs. He held her firmly and breathed again, heating her more. She reached to shove him away, but her hand went instead to his face, running around to the back of his skull. He rolled his head back and forth as he breathed. She felt his soft hair on her palm. His mouth through the cloth felt warmer, more wet –

"What are you doing?" she gasped.

"Nothing bad, I promise." She shook her head, but he wasn't watching.

She tried to move, but he held her firmly, moving his lips, working his tongue against the thin fabric, rubbing it, making her shiver.

His voice came softly, daring her. "Just tell me it doesn't feel good, and I'll stop." No wager there. He knew the answer already.

"Someone will hear us," she managed, gasping. "They'll miss us. They'll know."

"Like they don't already?" He laughed again. "That train left the station a long time ago. I believe they've all got it figured by now."

She tugged at his hair. "Are you making fun of me, Crichton?"

He looked up, and reached to stroke her jaw. "No, baby, I'm not." His voice had gone tender. "I'm playing with you. You make me happy. You get that?" He was searching her face, as if he could see all her thoughts. She opened her mouth to speak, and he brushed his fingertips over her lips. "Aeryn. God. How often does anything feel this good?"

She loosened her grip. "Then let's do it right. There are places –"

"But this is more fun." He waited, locked on her eyes.

Moving slowly, she unsnapped her vest and shrugged it off.

He smiled as he lowered his head again, mouthing her clit. Heat and that touch of wetness. The cloth on her skin, soft and rough. He reached to slip her pants down her legs, and she lifted her feet to help free them. Slowly, smoothly, he ran his palms down her thighs and then spread his hands, pulling her open, settling his body between her legs. She pushed inward, against him, feeling his shirt on her knees, her legs, feeling the solid mass of his body. She sat upright, braced, willing herself to silence and stealth. He bent his head down and ran his teeth lightly over her edges and bumps. A different feeling – indirect, muffled, tempting. Such strange things he thought of, such things he wanted to make her feel. She was squirming again, but squirming against him, not moving away, just a fractional motion, wanting more.

His hand was slipping up under her shirt, finding the curves of her back, her breast – her nipple so hard, his thumb brushing over it made her shiver. His hand swept back down the curve of her waist, concave, convex, came to rest on her hip. Then it edged under the band of her shorts, and she lifted her hips as he stripped those off, finally freeing her body. Cool air. He looked up, smiling, hands homing back to her thighs, and skimmed his hair down her chest as his mouth headed back to its target.

She sighed and leaned back, her weight on her hipbones, the floor hard against the balls of her feet, against her heels. She felt that solidity, planting herself. His palms on her thighs, squeezing those muscles, and then a hand was flickering over her lips. Things went in different directions, he tugged and pressed and swirled and opened. That wet pressure, that sweep, that heated caress. So much. She let it happen, she let it go on, she yielded to it.

She touched his forehead, his hair, his ears, the dip of bone at the edge of his eyes. Her thumbs rested there, her fingers tracing his hairline, the bones of his face. She could barely touch him, barely reach – they were doing nothing for him, they were just – he was so intent. He closed his eyes and then opened them, scanning her, blue, so blue. She buried her hand in his hair while he licked her, mouthed her, tugged at her deftly. Things were building, insistent. She wanted to rise up against him, she wanted to do things – wanted to frell him, wanted something she knew. Oh. His fingers were in her, his strong warm fingers, stroking inward, pressing under that tension, setting off echoes, finding the spots that took her further. Heat, more heat.

Her feet strained at the floor. He was leaning into her body, his weight bearing down on her thighs. Her back to the bulkhead, nowhere to shift, no momentum, no motion except her hands skimming over his hair, the sweat moving down her face, her neck. But inside, moving, vibrating, jumping. Waves and beats and a long. Shuddering. Deep. Breath. Wet on her neck, her legs, she licked the sweat from her lips, tasting the tang of salt. His fingers, inside her. Deep inside. Grasp him, grab, oh to come against, around. Her eyes stretched open, and then shut tight. Purple. Indigo. Deep blue-black. She was pulled off center, her legs boosted up as his shoulders lifted and spread her thighs, his shoulders so good to weigh against, his mouth everywhere. "I FEEL that," she said, sharply, urgently. Head thrown back, open-mouthed, staring over his shoulders, up at the curves of the wall as she felt herself jerking – Frell, are there viewers back here? She couldn't remember. She couldn't – It doesn't matter, she thought, and the thought was so clear, so calm, so shocking. I NEED him, Talyn. I showed you THAT. She closed her eyes and her hands came to rest on his shoulders, brushing the pulse in his neck.

Her breathing steadied. He hadn't moved. His tongue just lay on her, warm and soothing. The walls seemed to vibrate, just out of her hearing, a resonance chamber, repeater, their energy bouncing back and forth, from one wall to another. Here in the light. In the open. She could feel his delight, another vibration, his pleasure in her.

"You bastard. Get up here." He paused for one more contrary kiss, his tongue sweeping over, around, that wet warmth. Then he gripped her knees, pushing up to his feet. She leaned forward to meet him, just wanting to grab something more than his face – wrapped her arms around him, her cheek on his belly, her arms pressed tight on his waist, his back.

He bent down, reaching around her, raising her up to her feet. She swayed, off balance. He caught her, held her. He could handle her weight. She just let him hold her in place, let him kiss her eyelids, her cheeks, ah, her mouth. She pulled his shirt out of his pants, reached up under it, finding the planes of his back. Haven't touched him there for arns. He lowered her gently back to the bench. She sat, a bit dazed, reaching up, seeking.

"You want something, baby?" His voice came through to her, tender, still teasing.

"I can't reach you," she said. Her voice was unsteady. He stepped in closer and stroked her hair. She breathed, "I want more."

His hand kept stroking, steadily, softly. "Whatever you want."

She unfastened his pants and fumbled them down, just freeing his cock. She kept her face on his skin, eyes shut, breathing deeply. I want. She was seeking him blindly, rooting along his skin, through his curling hair. Want you. She found his cock, mouthed it, greedy, relieved, the shock of that warmth, his salty taste. Wanted so much, needed to have him, to take him, to take him in –

"That's right," he whispered. His fingertips found her shoulders. He shifted his weight, swaying slightly, bracing himself. Now she had him, securely, deep in her throat. She wrapped her arms around his body, grabbed him roughly, urgently, hands made clumsy by her desire, harder than she had meant. It all fell into place – how his butt curved into her palms, how her palms fit the leather, her throat so loose, while her fingers were driven to clutch him tight. His legs were tense, those big muscles straining to hold him still. His arms hung loosely, hands barely grazing her, lifting her hair, just keeping himself right there, just letting her take what she wanted. Let him try keeping still. He shivered and rocked on his heels.

"Goddammit to hell!" he said sharply, under his breath.

She was startled. She pulled her head back, brought her hand to his cock. "What?"

"Oh, crap." He wobbled, and tightened his hand on her arm. "Give me a minute, okay?"

"John, what?" She was still breathing hard, but her head had cleared fast. She knew an alarm when she heard one.

He tucked himself back into his pants and grabbed for her hand. "Don't –" he said urgently. "Just – I just need a minute." He dropped to the bench beside her, pressing the back of his head to the wall, kissing her hand as he held it. He nodded at her, with a look that did not reassure, and he let his eyes close. Then he was grinding the heels of his hands across his temple, his head.

Oh, frell, she thought. His head. In his head. She moved just out of his reach, alert, coiled tight, ready to grab him, ready to take him down.

Not again, she thought. Not now.

Harvey, you shit! The clone leaned in close, squatting in front of him. God, but that pissed him off. Harvey made a production of sniffing John's face, his nose just a micron away from his skin.

'Why, John,' he purred. 'What have you been up to?" His tongue snaked out to slurp a line up John's mouth and nose. John recoiled. Backhand. Reflex. Harvey was slammed to the floor. He picked himself up with a venomous look, a trickle of blood on his face. 'You know better than that,' he snarled. 'Our Officer Sun has warped –'

You leather-faced fuck! John clawed for his arm, caught the clone's elbow and yanked it hard.

They were jogging, running, hell-bent, feet pounding. Somewhere on pavement. Somewhere very bright. Sunlight glaring. John kept his hand clamped, dragging the clone as they ran down a sidewalk. HOT. Really hot. A line of bushes grew over their heads, heavy with flowers. Branches dripped over wrought iron fencing, a riot of vines creeping out to the street. Harvey stumbled but John wouldn't pause. The air itself was wet and heavy, crowded with smells, tropical, swampy, rotting wood, whiffs of something mildewed and spicy. Mosquitoes whining, gnats in their panting mouths.

'What is this, John?' the clone demanded.

N'Orleans, Harvey. He forced the words out between gulps of air. High Noon – on the Fourth – of July. Only a fool – comes here – in the summer. He gave his arm a vicious jolt. And us – out here – with no hats. How do you – like it – buddy? '

'I don't. Let me go.'

He had found a good pace. Feel how that air kind of – sticks in your lungs? That good old sweat – running right down – your skin?'

They were cutting across a parking lot, no trees above them, no shade. The heat shimmered off the expanse of asphalt, distorting the air. The black surface sucked at the soles of their boots. They were running, running. Back on the sidewalk, under more trees, a bit of shielding, no breeze, not a whisper, no thin spots in that terrible air.

The clone broke in: 'John, you can't –'

Can't keep up, ass-wipe?

He'd been a kid when they made that trip. Showing off, running when Coach said to pace, daring the others to catch him. Give a grownup a fucking heart attack, to run like that. He paid for it, sure, but he made his point. And here it was, coming in handy again. Precious memories, how they linger, how they warm my weary soul... He smiled as the tune ran through his head. Fuck you with those old gospel songs, fuck you with anything I've got.

The clone was choking, retching, struggling for breath. 'Do you have a point?'

John whirled around, tackling him suddenly, slamming him onto the black iron fence. It was hot to the touch. Here's the point. Here's the goddamn point. Here's where we're coming – straight here – next time I'm with Aeryn – and hear one fucking peep out of you.

Harvey snorted. John slammed him again. You sorry sonofabitch, he hissed, I know how this works. I know I can't kill you. But I'll hurt you as much as I can. I WILL. Every way I can think of. I'll parboil your ass. I'll remember this day just as sharp as I can, and I'll drag you through it. Comprende?'

The clone waved his hand, but John had him pinned. You ever, EVER, touch Aeryn again – His throat closed up. He hacked and spatt on the ground. Naked with Aeryn –that's holy ground. You keep your filth the fuck out of that. You go play on the freeway, you go to hell. Don't give a good goddamn what you do. But you NEVER – He looked at his hands, and paused, surprised how far his thumbs dug into Harvey's neck – Never again – His voice dropped, barely audible now. He loosened his thumbs but held them in place. I'm a reasonable guy. I don't ask for much. He felt his own pulse in his thumbs, his throat, his ears. His pounding heart, his sucking breaths, the gasps of the clone. Hell of a back-beat. We need to talk about privacy, boy, I'll find us a place. I'll do it right. We can run harder, I'll strap on some weights and baste you with hot-sauce. I'll think of something. We clear on this?

The clone's lip curled. You sicken me, Crichton. Enjoy your day off.' He vaporized out of his hands. John doubled over, clutching a tree trunk, struggling to catch his breath.

Cool hand on his arm. He jumped.

"John." Aeryn. Alarm in her voice, held deliberately flat. "What is it?"

"I'm good. I'm good," he gasped.

"You don't LOOK good. Is the clone – ?"

"No. Not anymore." Get it under control. He stripped off his shirt and mopped his face, his neck, his clammy hands. He felt queasy, lightheaded. Still panting, he held the shirt to his eyes. They were burning, dry. Finally he made himself look at her. "Thanks – thanks for sticking around."

"I wouldn't leave you with... that," she said. She was watching him closely, not moving yet.

"I?m okay," he lied. He reached for her hand and kissed it. Have to do better than this, he thought. She's not buying it yet. His head was throbbing. Had to squint to see her, strain to keep her in focus. He'd forgotten she had nothing on but her shirt. There she sat, half naked, ready to tackle his ass if he got into trouble. Good friend to have. He dropped his head to her shoulder, turned to bury his face. He kept breathing, smelling her, centering everything on her. She pressed her face to his hair, stroked the back of his head, his shoulder. He sighed. Then he moved to kiss her, still feeling shaky. She met him, held him tightly. Safe. Finally he pulled himself away and leaned his head back to the wall. "Oh hell, where were we?" he asked.

She sat quietly, while he clasped her hand in both of his own.

"Baby, I'm sorry,' he managed. "You didn't plan on a mental case. Got a boyfriend who's full-bore bat-shit crazy. Gotta save some room in bed for the voices." He shook his head sharply. Don't cry, don't cry.

She searched for words. "John, it's not – It's only the clone. It doesn't scare me."

"You should be afraid." His voice was bitter. His face was haggard, ashamed. He sat there, eyes closed, shaking his head. At last he looked up, and he put a hand on her head. He ran his fingers down from her part. "Here. Feel this." He guided her hand to a spot in her hair. "You've noticed this, how it's shorter, here?" She nodded, perplexed. "Do you know why that is?"

She had thought it was strange, but what...? She shook her head.

He absently fingered her hand, the hair, looking away. "I cut some off. When you were in your coffin."


"It's a thing – My people do it. I needed... something of yours." His voice trailed off. "It burned my hand, your skin was so cold."

She felt the strand. "It hasn't grown out."

"Hasn't been that long. God, it was yesterday." Very soft voice. She strained to hear him. "Bending down over you – Everything got very clear. So clear. Too late." A pause. He let go of her hand. "I'd rather go back in the Chair than stand there again." No drama. Plain facts. "I did that to you." She shook her head, but he wouldn't look. "I couldn't stop him from doing that. As much as you meant to me."

It took her a moment to speak. "John, that was the chip. You're stronger, now."

"How do you know? How do you know we can trust that?" His voice was so weary.

They sat in silence, shoulder to shoulder. She settled her hand on his thigh. He slid down to lie on the bench and collapsed with his head in her lap. He rolled so he could nuzzle her stomach, brushing his nose up under her shirt, letting it fall in his eyes. She stroked his hair, her other hand on his side, his waist. He pressed his lips to her skin, just breathing, warming her skin with his breath. Her hand cupped his skull, and the other rested over his shoulder.

"John, that time – When I blew your brain."

"What about it?"

"You said it scared you."

He shifted, embarrassed. "Sort of. At first." He kept his face where it was, not looking at her.

Her hands held still. "It wasn't something you wanted to do."

"Didn't know if I could handle it." He was mumbling, his brow on her skin. A pause, a small laugh. "Didn't know I would like it so much."

"But you let me." She was stroking his hair.

"You... wanted to," he said helplessly. She sat in silence, waiting for more. "Aeryn, baby –" He took a deep breath. "Nothing I've got is off limits to you."

She nodded, satisfied, looking down at his head in her lap. "Right. I suppose that's how."

He looked at her blankly.

"How we know we trust it," she explained.

He shook his head, and then he relaxed. We're in this too deep to make sense. She nodded again, and he pushed himself up, kissing her. He wrapped around her, body to body, pulling her into his skin. His exhaustion moved her. She wanted him back. She missed his teasing. Couldn't you please annoy me some more?

"Hey," she said, leaning over him.

"Hey, what?" he said, rousing.

"About that hooky?" She hit the "h" firmly.

"What about it?"

"We could go to my quarters. Engage the privacy mode."

"You'd do that?" he asked.

"Why not?"

That got a smile. "Makes perfect sense. No problem at all." He swung around, setting his feet on the floor, watching her dress. She scooped up his shirt and tossed it to him. He caught it, startled.

"Come on, Crichton. Let's get some clothes on you. Or off you."

He heaved himself to his feet, the shirt wadded up in his hands. "You bet," he said, heading out. She still felt worried, watching his movements. He was running on fumes now – dragging along with his worries, his guilt. Needs a jolt, needs a boost. And his waist did look good, where his shirtless back met his leather pants. The curve of his butt was inviting her hand.

The sharp CRACK of her palm on leather bounced off the walls as she took off running, echoing down the passage. She didn't look back, but she could picture the shock on his face, picture him shaking it off. Her laughter rang down the passage. She got a good lead before his boots started pounding the floor. Gave it all that she had, and got to her quarters before he grabbed her. He caught her shoulder and spun her around, wild-eyed. "You are BAD," he gasped, and fastened his mouth on hers, stifling her laughter, laughing with her, breathing hard. He was sweaty again, but not confused. His light was back. He was there.

He lay on their bed, wrung out by Harvey, caressing the hairs at the nape of her neck, those thin little wisps that always escaped her braid. Made him think of that fierce little girl in the creche. Felt so good to lie flat. She pulled him over. He lay on his side, against her, half on her. Her arm curled under him, hand kneading steadily, finding his tension. Another hand on his eyebrows, his temple, stroking his face. Somehow his pants had come off. They were necking softly, moments stretching around them. Kiss in slow motion, lips drifting over her face, their bodies weaving together, her skin on his skin. No focus, no goal, just a happy blur.
He'd been quiet since they had gotten to bed. "John?" she said.

"Mmmmmmm," was the only sound she heard. It dawned on her that he was dozing, napping, drifting to sleep between kisses. Strange that she felt so relieved by that – just to know where he was, to know he was resting. She brushed her face on his shoulder, enjoying the contact. Her hand crept to his abdomen, palm fitting to that slight, solid curve, and she bumped his cock. It lay sleeping, too. Compact and curled beside the boys, together making a little oval. She slipped her fingers around it, wrapping it loosely. Even more warm that the rest of his skin. Such an inviting texture, when it was dry, like very soft suede. Her fingers were drawn to skim across it, but then she had to squeeze it, lifting its curve.

Seemed so strange the first time she got a good look. Shocking, all wrong – too wide, too exposed, not at all discreet. Now it seemed like a perfect shape, every line just right. She felt it jump when she squeezed again. His body responding, following her, his energy building outside his awareness. Unless he was dreaming. Would this go into his dream? She thought, I should stop. But his voice came to her: 'Nothing I've got is off limits to you,' and she moved closer, smiling. His cock brushed her fingers, and she brushed back. It knew her hand, it pushed against her. Just her and his body.

Now he slept heavily, flickers under his eyelids. A happy dream, if her hand were in it, wouldn?t it have to be? She was breathing slowly, all her attention on how this touch felt, how he looked, how his skin touched hers, how it was to have him here in her bed, here for whatever she wanted. He'd outgrown her hand. Slickness leaked, one drop at a time. I know how that tastes. She bent her knee, ran her leg up and down his body. The hair on his legs brushed her skin, her senses so open. She was craving more. She slipped her arm from under his neck, and shifted, and stretched.

Her tension was rising, stirred by the pure response of his body. She felt edgy, alert. She let her hand drift to her cunt, just checking conditions. Ah, she was swollen – from this? From all his games on the ledge? She ran her fingertips lightly and slowly, the way he would do it at first. Not her old efficient finishing move, but testing, exploring. Her fingers eased inward. Her lips and her cunt were primed, alert, her nerves were ramped up. There was so much beyond that first release, there were things that went right off the map. When she got like this, just a flick of his tongue could set her off, just his heavy breath, any one of those silly Crichton maneuvers could send her over the edge. If this were his hand, she'd be writhing, gone. Seemed odd, how different this felt. It should be the same. Still fingers and flesh, but no surprises, no wondering what would be next. Not the touch of that other person, that person you want. He'd said that, hadn't he? First time she'd done him: 'So much more fun, when your hand does it.' Fun, he said. Like doing her on the ledge had been fun.

She felt her flesh around her fingers, they plunged through softness to reach inside. All these textures, so different from skin. Something like reaching inside his body, but more resilient, more robust. What did feel the same was how slickness cushioned the pads of your fingers, letting you feel every micron. The warmth inside, touching the places you couldn't see, the places the world never saw, the privacy of it. Just between us.

She felt his cock twitch, in her other hand. She'd been holding it loosely, hardly paying attention. Now she squeezed his shaft and felt its girth. Its weight in her hand made her cunt squeeze back at her fingers. What surrounded her hand was active, demanding, stronger than she had noticed before.

He groaned in his sleep and his body shifted, his cock flexed again. She lay there, feeling them both, so much overlapping – curve and curve, wanting and wanting. It would feel so good. His cock, so much more than her fingers, or his. Everything wants you. I want you, inside.

Just swing up over him, drop right down –she could have him this microt. Both their bodies, straining to go. No agonizing, no arguments, no talking on about babies and risk. He'd wake up already thrusting in her – She thought of his face, blissed for a moment, pure delight – but then his shock – Frell. It wouldn't be right. This rule he'd made that he wouldn't break – to take that away – Too much had been done, too many things he didn't want. Have to find some way that satisfied him.

She let his cock slip out of her hand, reached across his waist to pull him closer, shaking her head, resting her forehead against his chest. He lay naked, unconscious, without defense, available for any desire. And what she wanted, more than release, was to see him happy and safe. A plague. She sighed in frustration. You win, Crichton. You win again.

Here they were in privacy mode. That word seemed right. Everyone knew that they were together, they slept together, they had a bond. Nothing to hide. What they did was between them, for them. Not for the others. Ours. Before, in barracks, the regular way – it was feelings, then, that had to be secret . You tried not to have them, you acted like nothing had happened. Sex wasn't a thing that could change you. If it made you change, you were doing it wrong. They watched how you managed. They'd watched her whole life. My whole Peacekeeper life – and it hit her. Of course. Crais had said it. He got my file. It all had to be in her file, somewhere. What the med-techs did. The protection, the details he needed to hear. Of course it was. It would clear the way to do what they wanted. How John would look, when she told him that – now, THAT would be fun.

She propped herself up to look at his face. Had an arn gone by since he'd done her? Must be doing it wrong, indeed, to want him so much, so soon. Never satisfied, now. Always wanting more. Frelled. I'm frelled. Made her laugh at herself. Well, no. That's the problem. If they did it properly, maybe she'd find it easier to rest. It won't be long now.

She kissed him, easing against his mouth, letting it deepen slowly. Did she taste herself there? Hard to say. Everything was so mixed, with this. Her hand ran back down his chest to his cock, catching his slickness, spreading it over his crown. Her other hand reached to her breast, cupping it, wandering across her body. Her hips were moving lazily, slowly.

She slid her fingers around her cunt and stroked its folds, its lips, finding its centerline, feeling her fingers drawn in again. Made her lose track of the edge of her fingers, her skin – inside, everything mingled and merged. This was what he felt when he touched her body. She imagined his cock, imagined it in this welcoming place. Did a cock feel, like fingers? What she touched with her hand was slick, strong, pliable, soft. Strange to imagine – what was it like, for a male? Pulled in, surrounded, caught – to plunge into this and be absorbed – to be held all around by something so warm, so wanting?

She pumped her hand on his cock and his hips twisted toward her, seeking more. His lips were parted, his sleeping face was unlined, relaxed. She must have been there, in his sleep, before. Before he ever came to her bed. And he must have lain in the dark, alone, touching himself and imagining her. Sensations ran through her, memories, wishes, all blending together. Made her feel a little bit drunk. One hand in herself, still imagining him – the other provoking his dream. The bed so full of all their smells. She kissed him again, rubbing her skin against him.

Her fingers went deeper, imagining how she could pull him in. How his hands would clutch helplessly, desperately, over her back, his will blown away. She smiled as her hips rocked softly again, and she made her movements deliberately lighter, more lingering, more like his touch, the touch of this sleeping man. Right, then. Come back. Come see what we're doing. She grasped his cock insistently, roughly. He twitched sharply and moaned. She willed him to feel her, to join her again. "John," she murmured, deep in her throat, "John."

He swam up to consciousness, fuzzed and confused. Cock slick and enormous, brain buzzing with feedback. Helmsman, give me some bearings. Where the hell are we? Um, in bed, with her. Being groped with intent. Damn. What a day. Her lips on his mouth. He closed his eyes and burrowed closer, letting a moan escape. "Baby – What – What're you doing?"

He heard her low chuckle. "Playing with you, I suppose." Getting some of her own back, here. He felt like a kid, in that fresh grip of awe, back at that pole-axed astonished moment, She's TOUCHING me! This amazing girl. This. Other. Person – without him asking, her own free will, she had her hand on his naked self, and was working him, wanting to, all on her own – God, mark me, tattoo me, buy me a ring. This Man Belongs to Aeryn Sun. Passed out, came to, and here she is, this rambunctious woman, this righteous babe – Before he could speak he was jerking, shouting. Her mouth locked on his, she was muffling his noises, her tongue in his throat.

He wrenched his face to the side and gasped for breath. Her eyes glittered, triumphant, as she tracked his motion, threatening to kiss him again. He was laughing, coughing, his eyes were wet. He grabbed for her face and held it back, defending himself. "All right, you win, you win."

"That didn't help? You'd rather make noise?" She was deadpan, innocent, pulling his leg.

"I'd rather breathe," he gasped. She still had his cock, gripped his thigh between hers. Smelling of sex. Pussy wet where she rubbed up against him. What had she been doing, while he slept off Harvey? Bad things, for sure. Things an officer wouldn?t waste time on. He felt a rush of delight, a funny pride, and he kissed her again. "Am I really that loud?"

"Not that time, not so much. Really much quieter, when you're sleeping. Might help a lot, if we did it like that."

"You're bad," he groaned.

Her smile broke through. "You said that already."

He fell back on the pillow, happy to let her have that last word. Just keep smiling, baby. Just let me soak up those rays. She didn't seem to be checking the clock, wasn't grabbing her clothes. Looks like the day isn't over yet. Too good to be true. Officer Sun, Icarian Company, Pleisar Regiment. Special commando, exemplary pilot. Playing with me.