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Sunday, May 17th, 2009 06:30 pm
Title: Ships in the Night
Author: sarahjane/[personal profile] thehallway
Rating: PG-13
Setting TF
Spoilers: I couldn’t find a single one.
Author’s Notes: This is for Susan and Susan’s mom and Catherine Bruce, all of whom could use a little relief from the tidal wave of RL, and for Eva and her mom, just because. Also, a huge shout out to Eva for the beta and for our shared love of the subject matter. And much love to my reviewers, kaz and CB and Susan for their encouragement and enthusiasm.

As always, all mistakes remain mine.

Disclaimer: Definitely not mine. They belong to Henson, Carter, Fox, Anderson, and Black. No copyright infringement intended. There is definitely no money being made. There is definitely no money being made.

Ships that pass in the night, and speak to each other in passing;
Only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak to one another;
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The sun slides another notch to the left in its slow march to the sea. Brilliant red-orange highlights streak the perfect cerulean sky that shadows and darkens to a purple-blue as she watches the remains of the day slowly dying from her bedroom window.

It’s beautiful in its own way, the interplay of color in the sky that explodes like this on every planet she’s ever set foot on. She thinks it ironic that of all the planets and all the time she’s been to, this is the first time, the first planet she’s ever bothered really noticing.

But for all its artistry and grace, she still thinks it has nothing on the stark beauty of black in space.

Long, lethal fingers drum a staccato beat against the naked spot on her thigh where her pulse pistol should be. The fabric feels strange under her fingertips, as strange as everything else she’s endured alone and silently here. Without thinking, she slides her hand down the brushed, smooth cloth covering her legs.

Jeans.

She misses her leathers. Misses her ship. Misses her pulse pistol and the myriad other small things that make her who and what she is.

She misses Moya and Pilot.

Free and flying is where she longs to be, feeling the rush of a flat out run in her perfectly tuned Prowler, not here, captive and waiting for something she doesn’t understand to happen.

This place is not for you.

She needs to move.

In smooth liquid motion, she uncurls her legs from beneath her, slides from the window seat and stalks across the room. If she hurries, she can make a quick escape. No one will miss her.

She knows that’s a lie even as the words dance through her mind. There is no where to go, no where to run. She’s caged, cornered, watched. She’s here by choice and necessity. There is no reprieve from those two very simple and immutable truths.

She hears the muted voices from the foyer before she reaches the top of the stairs. Looking over the balcony she sees the woman at the door, a stray ray of waning sunlight glinting off whatever she is holding in her hand.

Her handler’s voice, slightly louder now, floats up to her.

“I’m sorry. We were not told to expect you. And you know that without proper authorization I can’t accommodate you.”

Small, pale-skinned with hair the color of the dying sunlight, the woman murmurs something as she reaches into her bag and hands the agent something small. She turns and the angry click of her heels on the sidewalk mark her departure as the man at the door closes it and tosses the small white rectangle to the side table.

She listens to his footsteps work their way down the hallway and away from the door before she glides down the stairs. One quick motion scoops the card from its resting place and into the pocket of her jeans.

It’s three hours later, after dinner, before she can liberate an agent’s cell and dial the number on the card. A very small, very quiet, very precise voice answers on the second ring.

“Agent Scully?”

********************

A light mist is dancing in the spill of light from the overhead lamp at the far end of the parking lot as she slams the car door closed behind her and runs for the entrance. Pushing her way through the door, she stops just inside and shakes herself, like a puppy after a bath, sending water droplets flying.

No one in the dim interior seems to notice.

Not much of a night.

She lets her eyes adjust and runs them professionally over the room. There isn’t much to take in. A lonely karaoke machine in the front. A couple of guys shooting pool in the back and three couples strategically placed in discreet booths.

The barmaid is cashing out at the register, the bartender is channel surfing, and the single guy at the end of the bar is sitting hunched on his stool, head hung low over his beer.

No sign of them.

She spots her target on the second pass around the room, when the single woman sitting at a back booth leans over casually to hail the barmaid.

Twelve quick steps bring her to the table where she pulls up short at the sight of the empty seat across from her target. She snaps her eyes to the dark haired woman sitting comfortably in the glare of her gaze.

“Where’s Agent Drake?”

Full lips pull back in a smile that crinkles the woman’s blue-grey eyes as she shrugs a careless shoulder and tilts her head slightly toward the bar. “I’m a good shot.”

Scully snaps her head up and over to the solitary man at the far end of the bar. He twists his head a quarter turn toward her, the corners of his mouth twitching up, and raises his beer toward her before tilting it back to his lips.

The bartender slides another bowl of snacks down the bar and Drake grabs a handful before returning his gaze to the game the bartender has found on the big screen.

“Sit down.” The low contra-alto to her side drags her attention back to the woman in the booth.

Wordlessly, she slips into her seat. Now that she’s here, now that she’s finally made contact, words fail her.

The dark haired woman does her own appraisal, sharp, clear eyes narrow and thorough. A small smile pulls at her lips. “What are you drinking?”

Scully shakes her head slightly and then tilts it toward Drake. “Not on duty.”

But that’s not the real reason now is it?

“But you’re not on duty now, are you? If you were, there would have to be a record of this meeting.” The woman’s smile spreads. “You’re here because you want to know. It’s personal. Or am I mistaken?”

No. You’re not mistaken.

The barmaid materializes at their table with another bottle for the dark haired woman. She cocks a hip and paints a plastic smile on. “What can I get for you?”

Scully smiles and nods. “Club soda.”

She winces at the sound of her own voice as the waitress fades away. She’s sitting here, inches from proof of Mulder’s obsession, a living, breathing X-file that looks…

As human as you do. No wonder she scares the hell out of them.

She’s alone with an alien on Earth, in a bar because she has no idea where he is. She feels the woman’s cool, slate eyes resting on her.

“Why did you come to the mansion?”

“My partner and I…”

The barmaid swings by with the beer and her club soda.

“Where is your partner?”

He should be here.

Scully wraps her hands around her glass.

The dark haired woman across from her brings up her bottle and takes a hit. Setting it back down precisely in its water ring, she tilts her head, lips twitching up at the corners. “Agents are always in pairs. But you’re here alone.”

Scully flicks her eyes toward Drake, still busy watching the game.

“You’re not afraid of me.” It’s a statement not a question.

“Should I be?” She winces again at the programmed response, takes a slow sip to cover it.

A shade slams down over the cool eyes and the smile evens out into a flat line on her lips. “No.”

The word is low and quiet and raw, full of sharp pain like the burn of a bullet ripping through skin, a pain that resonates somewhere deep.

“I’m sorry. I’m not usually so bad at this. Can I begin again?”

Her eyebrow arches in response. Scully decides to take what she can get.

“Hi.” She reaches a small, fine boned hand across the table. “My name is Dana.”

Her elegant one, slightly cool to the touch, slides into it. “Aeryn.”

********************

She’s lost count, but it’s three or four or five or maybe more beers for Aeryn and a couple of club sodas later, and the place is picking up. The booths are full and the bar is three deep. A too cute couple is firing up the karaoke and they’re running a tab.

Elbows on the table, Aeryn leans forward and rests her chin on intertwined fingers. “Your father was military?”

“Career. Navy.”

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin’

“You mean he sailed. On ships.”

“Yes. He was gone a lot. Deployed.”

Somewhere beyond the sea
She’s there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms I’d go sailin’

“That must have been difficult. For you. Your family.”

“Yes. It was.”

“You sound like you were very…close.”

“I loved him very much.”

“He’s gone?”

“Yes.”

It’s far beyond the stars
It’s near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon

“I’m sorry. You still miss him.”

“Very much.”

We’ll meet beyond the shore
We’ll kiss just as before
Happy we’ll be beyond the sea
And never again I’ll go sailin’

“Yet you never considered following in his footsteps?”

“I spent a lot of time trying to live up to him, trying to make him proud. He felt…I thought he felt that my choice of careers…especially after medical school was a…disappointment.”

“You’re a healer?”

“A doctor.”

“And yet you carry a weapon.”

I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
We’ll meet…I know we’ll meet…beyond the shore
We’ll kiss just as before

Scully snorts, unladylike, through her nose. “That’s the very least of the dichotomies in my life. Did you follow in his footsteps?”

Happy we’ll be beyond the sea
And never again I’ll go sailin’

Aeryn tilts her head, confusion coloring her eyes. “Whose footsteps?”

No more sailin’
So long sailin’
Bye, bye sailin’

“Your father’s. You’re military. Elite. I recognize the look.”

“Not my father’s. I really never met him.” She takes a long pull off her bottle. “My mother’s. She was a soldier.”

“That must have made her very proud.”

Aeryn lifts a deceptively casual shoulder. “She tried to kill me.”

There doesn’t seem to be much to say to that, so Scully lets the moment of silence speak for her as she focuses on a point over Aeryn’s left shoulder.

Aeryn takes another long pull off her bottle. “Your mother?”

“She’s very strong and just wants me to be happy. My mom made me realize that she and my father were both very proud of me.” Scully slides her hands around her glass. “Did you see your mother again after…”

“Yes. Just before she died.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you. Is there a…”

“Ladies room? Come on I’ll go with you.”

“Hello, ladies.”

The low, smooth voice snaps two pairs of clear blue eyes to the new arrival at the booth. He’s slouched to perfection, a thumb hooked in a belt loop. Scully runs sharp eyes over the man.

About six feet tall. Dark hair just a little on the longish side without going over his collar. Perfectly trimmed beginning of a beard. Brown heritage hopsack two-button blazer over a spread collar fitted rose shirt, buttons open at the top and bottom to show the blazing white of a tee-shirt beneath it. Light wash boot cut jeans. Dark brown leather classic loafers.

“I’m Dennis and…”

Aeryn finishes her own appraisal and throws him a quarter of a smile as she slides out of her seat. “Hello, Dennis. I’m leaving.”

Scully follows her out of the booth, signaling their waitress for another round. She lifts her head and full, red lips pull back as she bares her teeth at Dennis. “Thank you for coming. Go away.”

With another flash of teeth, she spins on her heel and follows Aeryn.

********************

Running her hands under the water, Scully slides her eyes to the reflection in the mirror next to hers. Long, straight hair the color of night flows over Aeryn’s shoulders and down the arch of her back. It swings with a life of its own as she maneuvers her own elegant, capable hands under the faucet.

Scully’s eyes take in the reflection to her side, and she wonders if the woman’s handlers or someone else have been taking care of hiding the alien in plain sight.

The hiding part was relative. You couldn’t hide this woman in a plain paper bag.

Black linen dress pants glide over her hips to fall gracefully to the black ballet flats on Aeryn’s feet. A sleeveless, white, stretch linen ruffled top sets off the hair and pants.

She’s dressed exactly how she should be to look right and fit in. But these clothes are definitely not her, and in spite of them she still looks different. The eyes are too sharp, too guarded, and the clothing only makes the woman look uncomfortable…

…alien…That was the right word.

Her gut clenches as she wonders if Mulder would have been disappointed at meeting the alien who could be any woman on earth. She wonders how much trouble Aeryn had getting out of the mansion dressed like that.

“Ready?” The smooth as silk contra-alto calls her back.

“Yes.” She shuts the water off and shakes the water off her hands before following Aeryn out into the hallway that leads back to the main room.

Pushing through that door, Scully notes the appreciative eyes that welcome Aeryn’s return as she scans the room for any evidence of surveillance or unwanted company. The low hum of multiple conversations thrums like a bassline.

Dennis is up at the karaoke machine, Drake is still nursing his beer, and she’s sure Aeryn is doing her own recon as she follows her to their booth.

Their waitress joins them thirty seconds later. “Another round, ladies?”

Scully makes an executive decision and leans forward so that Aeryn will hear her. “Wanna try something different?”

Aeryn’s eyebrow arches and her steel-blue eyes gleam in the low level light as her lips twitch up in a grin. “Is different good?”

“Yes.” She tilts her head up to Cindy, who’s looking over at the couple coming in the door, and pitches her voice loudly enough to be heard over the sounds of the bar. “Bring her a Lemon Drop, please. Absolut.” She waves a hand over her glass. “And another one for me.”

Cindy gives them another perfect, plastic smile as she snags the empties on the table. “Coming right up, ladies.”

Dennis’ voice explodes in the room.

I’m wearin’ fur pyjamas
I ride a hot potato
It’s ticklin’ my fancy
Speak up I can’t hear you

Here on this mountain top
Whoahoho
I got some wild, wild life
I got some news to tell ya
Whoahoho
About some wild, wild life
Here comes the doctor in charge
Whoahoho
She’s got some wild, wild life
Ain’t that the way you like it
Ho, ha!
Living wild, wild life.

Aeryn snorts through her nose as Scully exhales harshly, biting hard on her lip. Cindy glides up with their drinks and tilts her head toward Dennis as she puts them down.

“You ladies enjoying the show?”

Aeryn pulls the lemon off her glass and snickers. “Not as much as he is.”

Cindy barks a laugh as she spins on her heel and tosses her words behind her. “He usually does.”

I wrestle with your conscience
You wrestle with your partner
Sittin’ on your window sill, but he
Spends time behind closed doors

Check out Mr. Business Man
Oh, ho, ho
He bought some wild, wild life
Breaks it up when he opens the door
Whoahoho
Whoahoho
He’s doin’ wild, wild life
I know that’s the way you like it
Wo ho
Living wild, wild life

Aeryn’s tapping restless fingers on the table as her eyes fix, under furrowed brows, on Dennis, gesticulating to a giggling blonde.

Scully taps her on the arm. “We could probably get him to do Hungry Like the Wolf if we asked him nicely. Or maybe Tainted Love.

At Aeryn’s blank look, she lifts an apologetic shoulder. “It’s an eighties thing.”

She’s sure Aeryn doesn’t understand, but she smiles hugely, like a child, and it lights up her entire face.

Peace of mind?
Piece of cake!
Thought control!
You can get it anytime you like

Like sittin’ on pins and needles
Things fall apart, it’s scientific

Sleepin’ on the interstate
Whoahoho
Getting wild, wild life
Checkin’ in, and checkin’ out!

Uh huh!
I got a wild, wild life
Spending all of my money and time
Oh, ho ho
Done too much wild, wild life

Aeryn leans forward as Dennis continues to court the blonde. “Sleeping on the Interstate?”

“I did that once, actually. First year in college. An after finals party. I got into my car to go home. Not a good idea.” Scully runs a hand through her hair and tucks stray lengths behind her ear. “On the way I decided that visiting California would be a good idea. Ran out of gas and ended up in the median. It was my first experience with law enforcement.”

“Were you hurt?”

“Just my pride and sensibilities. And luckily there was only some grass and mud in the undercarriage.” Sipping slowly, Scully watches Aeryn swirl the clear liquid in her shot glass. “I spent a year in court and on probation before they expunged my record. Not one of my finer moments.”

“And your parents?”

“Were less than pleased.”

Aeryn knocks back her shot, sets the upended glass on the table, and hails Cindy for another.

“Aside from your mother trying to kill you, what was your life like?”

“I was born and bred a Peacekeeper.”

“A Peacekeeper?”

“A military organization.”

“Like the Navy?”

“John once called them Nazis.”

“Oh.”

“I became an ex-Peacekeeper almost immediately after meeting John.”

“You left?”

For Crichton?

This woman does not strike her as the type to forsake it all for a man.

And neither were you, once upon a time.

Cindy materializes at the table again. “Here you are, ladies.”

Scully lifts her chin and tilts her head to get a better look at Cindy. “Why don’t you just bring two for her the next time you come?”

“No problem, ladies.”

Aeryn arches an eyebrow as Cindy flounces away. She leans forward and wraps elegant fingers around her glass. “I was condemned as irreversibly contaminated by my contact with him and…”

“You were cut off?”

“From everything.”

“That must have been difficult.”

“In the beginning.”

“And then?” Scully rests her elbow on the table and her chin in the upturned palm of her hand.

“It got interesting.”

“Do you miss it?”

“My life?” A small, sad smile pulls at Aeryn’s lips. “Sometimes. I kept the important things.”

“The important things?”

“Loyalty. Honor. Sacrifice.”

Your values. You’ve sacrificed a lot. Career. Family. Self respect. And what do you have to show for it?

“Dana?”

You’ve kept your loyalty and honor but for what?

“Dana? Are you all right?”

“Those sound like things worth keeping.”

Scully raises her glass and tilts it toward Aeryn. Aeryn picks her glass up and Scully clinks to the toast.

********************

There’s a little pyramid of upturned shot glasses in front of Aeryn.

Only you can make this world seem right
Only you can make the darkness bright
Only you and you alone
Can thrill me like you do
And fill my heart with love for you

“Since I didn’t shoot Agent Drake, can I at least shoot him?” Aeryn grimaces as a shoulder twitches and she tilts her head toward the off-key singer at the karaoke machine.

Scully slaps a hand to her mouth just a second to late to cover the harsh explosion of breath.

Aeryn glares daggers at her. “Shooting makes me feel better.”

Scully drops her hand and shakes her head. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“You...you look...so…human...” It almost sounds rude.

The woman snorts. “Yes. But I'm not.”

“I understand that.”

“Is that all you want to understand?”

The grey-blue eyes bore into Scully’s and flash a challenge.

Ask your questions; suffer the response.

“There are...rumors...”

Rumors?

She hears Mulder's voice chiding her.

Come on, Scully. Rumors, innuendo...it all amounts to something. What are you afraid of?

Rumors aren't facts. She knows that. She bases her life on that.

Fact. Aliens are not just little Mulder's little green men, nor are they little grey men, nor are they black oil spewing organisms. They’re living, breathing flesh that looked and sounded remarkably like…

…like me.

“You came here for a reason...Dana.” Aeryn's voice, low and quiet, cut through the cacophony in the room. Leaning forward to rest her crossed arms on the table, she shifts her gaze to the mass of people around them, then back to duck her head toward the pyramid of empty glasses on the table. “What is that reason?”

Suddenly she’s over her head, knows Aeryn won’t be offering her any help, any way, to let her worm her way out of this in any tactful manner. She bites her lip, tamps down her sense of loss of control.

What are you afraid of?

She doesn’t need to rack her mind for protocol and procedure. There isn’t one that covers how to go about asking an extraterrestrial entity if they were pregnant with a human/alien hybrid.

She considers the various permutations of irony that this is something she can relate to.

“You...” Scully lowers her voice to match the woman's, takes the same surreptitious look around. The lights. The sounds. All of it is too bright and too loud, and she can feel the beginnings of a headache brought on from too much stress and too few nights out. She hears the words take on a life of their own. “There are rumors that you're pregnant.”

A smile spread across Aeryn's face, sardonic, unpleasant. “Oh. That's it, then.”

“I…”

“And this…” Aeryn waves her hand in the air, encompassing everything around them. “Government handlers, government doctors, government tests…and all you can come up with is rumors.” She snorts harshly and raises the empty glass, then puts it down. “I hold my liquor well, Agent. It's a matter of trust.”

“My partner used to say trust no one.

“I was told that was the basis for your relationships.” She waves her hand again, dismissively this time. “Or is that really just this?”

“I…”

“You trust your unit. Your team. Your partner. I had that. Once." She leans in, pins Scully with mirror-flat eyes. "It's easier, you know. Easier when it's only about killing or being killed.”

Scully runs the tip of her finger around the top of her glass. “I had a career once. I was supposed to be a doctor.”

“So you've said.”

Cindy swings by without a word and sets another round on the table. Aeryn picks up a glass and swirls the liquid again, seemingly mesmerized by the movement.

Only you can make this change in me
For it’s true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand
I understand the magic that you do
You’re my dream come true
My one and only you

“I put my trust...in one person...”

“I understand.” Aeryn sets the glass on the table with a small clink against the empties and meets Scully's eyes. "You put your trust in one person and that one person..." She sighs, a small, sad breath of air and taps her fingers against the tabletop. “…disappointed isn't the right word, is it?”

“No. Not disappointed.”

He taught me to see something I'd never seen before.

Aeryn laughs humorlessly. “You can be more.” Her long fingers wrap around her glass again. “No one ever asked if that was what I actually wanted. If they'd asked...” She picks up the drink again and brings it to her lips. “If they had asked, I wouldn't have had any idea what the frell they were talking about.” She knocks back the shot. “And, still, given the opportunity, I'd probably do it all the same again.”

“Yes.” Scully’s hands cup her own glass, letting the cold permeate her skin.

The closest conversation you’ve had with another woman in over twenty years, and she just happens to be from another galaxy.

Mulder would have appreciated the irony.

“I’ve been told I’m not much good with words.” Delicate fingers set her empty on the pyramid. “Was your question answered?”

“I can’t have children.” Scully flips her glass and adds her own empty to Aeryn's pyramid. “I was abducted once.”

“Abducted?” Aeryn shifts slightly in her seat, tilts her head and lets clear, calm eyes rest on Scully. “By whom?”

“I don’t know. Mulder…”

“Mulder?”

“My partner.” Scully twines agitated fingers around one another. “And when I was found…I was barren.”

Aeryn lets the silence ride, stretch between them as she reaches for her other shot.

Only you can make this change in me
For it’s true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand
I understand the magic that you do
You’re my dream come true
My one and only you

“Mulder found you?”

“No. He looked…he tried…”

“And you can’t talk to him about this?”

“I…don’t know where he is.” She swallows the fear in her throat. “And he’s…gone.” The words run out of her mouth before she can stop them. “And I’m pregnant.”

Aeryn’s eyes blink once. “I thought…”

Scully barks a laugh. “Yeah. Isn’t it ironic?”

Leaning forward and resting her chin in her hands, narrow eyes search Scully’s face. “And you don’t know who the father is?”

“No.”

“Does it matter?”

Scully’s spine stiffens as she shifts in her seat. “What?”

Aeryn reaches her hands up to rub at her temples and tries again. “Are you happy?”

She’s almost blinded by Scully’s smile.

“Yes.”

“That’s good then.” Aeryn slides her hand across the table to cover Scully’s and gives it a squeeze. It’s cool and comforting. “Maybe we should call it a night.”

“Do you have a car?”

“I left it…somewhere else.”

“That’s good. You’re in no shape to drive.” She reaches into her bag and pulls out her keys. “I’ll take you home.”

********************

The mansion is dark and still under the silver pool of light cascading down from the sliver of moon high in the night sky. She’s happy to see no activity and more than a little satisfied with herself.

Still, she approaches carefully. It’s been a good night, and there have been precious few of those in her life lately. She really doesn’t want anything to spoil it.

She works the alarm system quickly and quietly before opening the back door. Slipping through she stops, letting her eyes adjust to the dimmer interior. There is no sound from anywhere and she crosses the kitchen and slips down the hallway with silent steps.

Pale moonlight streams through the glass panels on the front door and she skirts the puddle of light and listens intently she climbs the stairs toward the upper floor blanketed in darkness and glides on silent feet down the hallway toward her room.

She slides through the door and closes it behind her.

“Where have you been?”

He’s sitting in the corner of the room where the streams of moonlight don’t reach.

Frelling bastard. Hiding in shadows.

She takes three steps toward the bed and focuses on his outline. “Excuse me?”

His drawl is low and dangerous. “You can’t just up and leave anytime you feel like it.”

She’s not sure if the alcohol she smells is coming from her or him, but she is sure she doesn’t want to have this conversation. She lifts a careless shoulder knowing he can see her. “Apparently I can.”

“You made people crazy tonight.” He shifts in the shadows. “What you did is dangerous.”

“For whom?”

“God damn it, Aeryn. You stole a car.”

“Borrowed.” She works hard to tamp down the sudden surge of resentment that flares deep in her gut as she works her way out of her shirt. “They can pick it up in the morning.”

“That doesn’t make it all right.”

She toes off her shoes, sends them flying in the direction of the corner. “Again. For whom?”

His exhale explodes in the stillness of the dark. “Where did you go?”

She thinks that if he really wants to do this then she’ll be more than happy to comply. “I don’t ask you.”

He refuses to let it go. “You smell like smoke.”

“I went out.”

“With who?”

“Again. I don’t ask you.” She wrinkles her nose at her shirt and sniffs. “But you’re right. I smell like smoke. I need a shower.”

His voice hangs soft and demanding in the silvered air. “You need not to be…”

How the frell would you know what I need?

“Somewhere dangerous?” She unhooks her pants and lets them slide over her hips to puddle at her feet. With a quick flick of her ankle she kicks them to the corner and tosses her shirt after them.

He sucks in harsh breath at the sight of her. She doesn’t care, reaches back to unhook her bra.

Frell him.

She tosses the bra after the shirt and wiggles out of her panties, feeling his eyes on her in the dark as she kicks them to the corner.

Frell the frelling bastard.

Without a word she stalks to the bathroom, slams the door, and yanks on the water for a shower. She’s tired and grateful he’s gone when she comes out, towel wrapped around her, drying her hair.

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