A/N A naughty little fic for DriverPickstheMusic, for the goodship's fic exchange. Ask for Jeremy and ye shall receive! I hope you like it and that you have a lovely Christmas. :-)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Charlie sits back in her chair at the big mahogany desk in her office. The carved wooden plaque sitting atop a mountain of paperwork reads, 'Major Charlotte Matheson.' She had been tempted to toss the stupid thing out the window when she found Monroe placing it carefully on her desk, but then he'd smiled and said, "congratulations, Charlotte." Without even a little bit of sarcasm.

"Charlie," she'd huffed at him. "My name is Charlie." But he'd just given her that irritating little smirk and stalked from the room. That was months ago though. And they haven't really spoken since.

Glaring at the plaque like it's done something wrong, Charlie tosses yet another useless intelligence report into the wastebasket across the room. It lands with an unsatisfying little plop amongst the others. She blames that on the plaque as well. She tends to blame a lot of things on that plaque.

Beneath the next report, she uncovers the letter she had received from Miles earlier in the week.


Sorry you can't make it back for Christmas, but I know how much work means to you. Maybe you can visit after New Years? Try not to work too hard. Miss you.

Merry Christmas, Miles

P.S. Check on Bass for me will you?

That last line makes Charlie roll her eyes. If Miles is so worried about his supposed friend, then he should come check on him himself. Plus, Monroe's a big boy, he can take care of himself. Besides, even if she wanted to check on him, she doubts her presence would be welcome. Other than what's necessary for work and the occasional glance in the hallways, Monroe basically pretends that she doesn't exist. Which doesn't bother her at all, or at least she pretends it doesn't. Part of her wishes that they could chat and argue like they used to, but the other part is too hurt and angry by his indifference towards her to even try it.

She smiles down at the words 'miss you' that Miles wrote one last time and then shoves the letter into a drawer in her desk. The mountain of paperwork on the desk mocks her. "So much for not working too hard," she grumbles to herself.

Someone knocks on the office door when she's about halfway through the next report. She pauses to straighten her uncomfortable uniform jacket before calling for them to come in.

Major Jeremy Baker, freshly dug up from whatever hell-hole he'd been using as a hiding place in The Plains Nation, takes one look at her messy desk and slams the door shut. "What the hell are you doing?" He asks incredulously.

"What's it look like I'm doing? I'm working," she growls back.

Jeremy groans in frustration. "It's Christmas Eve! You aren't supposed to be working!"

Charlie rolls her eyes at him and turns her attention back to the intelligence report in front of her. She makes it about halfway through one line before the paper is ripped out of her hands. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" She jumps up from her desk and moves towards him, attempting to grab the paper from his hand. Jeremy merely chuckles and holds it high out of her reach.

"I'm doing you a favor," he says smugly as she tries and fails to take it from him. He then proceeds to crumple it up and toss the paper in the trash.

Charlie glares at him. "What is wrong with you?"

"It Christmas Eve," he says simply, as if that explains everything. He completely ignores the glare she's sending his way as he pulls a small package from his pocket. "Look, you even got a present." Handing her the tiny package, Jeremy grins as she tries to hide a smile.

"You didn't have to get me anything," she tells him softly.

"Oh, that's not from me," he says with a laugh. "It was sitting outside your door when I came in. It's probably from your Secret Santa."

"Secret what?"

Jeremy sighs and rolls his eyes at her. "Secret Santa. You know, the thing where everybody puts their name on a list, then the names go in a bowl for everyone to pick out of, and then you buy a gift for whoever's name you draw."

"I didn't put my name on any list."

"I know, I did it for you."

Charlie glares at him. "But I didn't get anybody anything."

"Oh, don't worry about that, I took care of it." He pulls up the sleeves of his uniform jacket a little bit, showing off the cuffs of his dress shirt underneath. "See? You got me new cufflinks."

Charlie takes a second to admire the shiny, silver cufflinks and nods approvingly. "That was generous of me," she says with a laugh.

Jeremy winks at her, then nods to the tiny package in her hands. "Well go on then, open it!"

"I can't open it now, Christmas isn't until tomorrow."

"Oh come on, no one actually follows that rule." He grabs for the package but she pulls it out of his reach.

"No! It's mine, and I'll open it whenever I want."

Huffing like an overgrown child, Jeremy backs off. "You're no fun," he grumbles.

Charlie chuckles at this strange man in her office. They've been working together pretty steadily since he arrived in Austin six months ago, and she often wonders how someone as genuinely nice as he is could have ever wound up hanging around guys like Miles and Monroe.

"Come on," he says as he grabs her work bag from a chair in the corner. He slips the strap onto her shoulder and pulls her from the room. Charlie tries to resist, but he pulls her office door shut behind him and blocks her from getting back in. "It's Christmas Eve, you shouldn't be working. Besides, you need to go home and get ready for the party."

"What party?" She asks as she slips the small gift into her bag.

"People have been talking about it for weeks! How can you not know about the Christmas party?"

Truthfully, Charlie thinks it's most likely because she avoids any and all contact with other people. Adjusting to a desk job from her life of running and fighting has been difficult at best. She spends most of her time working or drinking, or sometimes both. Since the day Miles left Austin to return to Willoughby, Jeremy is really the only person she's taken the time to speak to. And Miles left town three months before Jeremy even arrived.

"I don't know," she says nonchalantly. "I don't really do parties anyway."

"Come on, Charlie, you have to be there."

"Says who?"

Jeremy hesitates for a moment. "Blanchard. He said the party is mandatory for all enlisted officers."

Charlie groans. "Seriously?"

Grinning, Jeremy swings an arm around her shoulders and starts leading her out of the building. "Don't worry, it'll be fun. We'll eat a ton of sugar and get wasted. It'll be great."

Smiling against her will, Charlie sighs in defeat. "Alright, alright. I'll be there."

They make it outside into the perfect, Texas winter air just as the sun is starting to set, even though it's only five o'clock. Jeremy turns to head to his apartment near the square while Charlie heads in the opposite direction towards her house a few blocks away.

"Eight o'clock! Do not make me come get you, Charlie!" He yells over his shoulder.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she mumbles to herself. She makes her way around the building that houses the central command for the Texas Rangers. All the offices appear to be empty, all except the last one on the south side of the second floor. The soft glow of a lantern is clearly lighting up the office.

Charlie huffs, unsurprised that that particular office is still occupied, even on Christmas Eve. As President Blanchard's favorite new toy, General Monroe works all hours of the day. Ever since Conner left, Monroe's been keeping to himself. Even while they were working together to mop up the Patriot mess, he didn't seem to want anything to do with anyone. If she's being completely honest, Charlie actually feels kind of bad for him. He sacrificed his relationship with his son just to make Miles happy, only to have Miles turn around and leave as soon as Blanchard said he could. That's how Monroe ended up being a General again. Blanchard made an offer, and he apparently had nothing better to do.

Not that she's one to talk. Blanchard had turned to her and offered her a job as soon as the word 'yes' left Monroe's lips. Apparently, she doesn't have anything better to do either.

Charlie briefly entertains the idea of going back inside and dragging Monroe out of his office, but ultimately she decides against it. He's a big boy, anyway.

Home is several blocks away from work, but the walk back and forth is totally worth it. Her small, two bedroom house is quaint and on a secluded street where her neighbors are all families with young children. She actually kind of likes her neighbors, they're nice people. Much better than the officer infested square, anyway.

She drops her work bag on the beat up couch in the living room and heads straight for the fireplace to build up the fire. If she has to go to a party, she's going to need a bath.

Several hours later, now clean and dressed in her bra and panties, Charlie stands in front of her dresser at a complete loss for what to wear. She doesn't even own a dress, so that's out of the question, but she did buy those nice pants for her neighbor's wedding awhile back. She pulls the sleek black pants from the bottom drawer and pulls them on, then proceeds to dig through the middle drawer for a shirt to go with it. After tossing six different shirts to the floor, she settles on an oversized, dark green sweater.

Charlie stares at the woman in the mirror and frowns. Even when she isn't wearing that uncomfortable uniform, she still feels like a lump of nothingness. All she ever sees in the mirror is a scarred and broken woman with no color in her cheeks or brightness in her eyes. Shrugging her shoulders in defeat, she grabs her leather jacket and heads for the front door with Jeremy's promise of alcohol in mind. As she passes the couch, her work bag catches her eye. The idea of that tiny gift box in the bag tugs at her and she finds herself holding it in her hands before she even realizes it.

Jeremy's right, nobody actually waits for Christmas anyway.

She tears the paper off the box and pulls off the lid. Inside, there's a shiny, silver chain with the most beautiful pendant she's ever seen. The sparkling sapphire gem glitters in the dying flames of the fire. The necklace takes her breath away, causing a huge, genuine smile to form on her lips. She gingerly lifts the chain from the box and lets out a shaky breath as the pendant swings before her eyes.

Struck by a spark of inspiration, Charlie runs back to her bedroom and yanks the green sweater over her head before reaching into the middle drawer for something specific. A long sleeved top with a deep v-neck. She pulls the shirt over her head then carefully clasps the necklace around her neck. The sapphire plays nicely with the light grey color of the shirt, and the pendant hangs tantalizingly above her breasts. Charlie looks into the mirror and smiles, really smiles, that feeling of nothingness gone when the woman in the mirror smiles back at her. She brushes her fingers through her hair one last time before grabbing her jacket and heading out into the night.

Unsure of exactly where this party is supposed to take place, Charlie makes her way towards the square with the hopes that it will give her some indication of where she's supposed to go. The square does not disappoint. The lampposts have been decorated with dark green branches and red ribbons with a thick rope connecting each post. The rope is lined with hanging mason jars full of tiny candles that light up the square. There's a large tree placed directly in the center of the square in front of the state house. It's decorated with shiny ribbons and it's own mason jars hanging from the branches, twinkling in the twilight.

In short, the square is the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. Aside from her new necklace, perhaps. She fingers the tiny gem proudly as she continues to admire the candlelit square, completely oblivious to the others wandering by until someone brushes against her elbow.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" That voice is unmistakable as anyone else's, even after so much time of not speaking to each other. Charlie turns to look at Monroe who is staring right back at her. The intensity of his gaze locks her in, making it impossible to look away.

"Yeah," she says, suddenly breathless. "I wonder who decorated everything."

He looks around the square as if he's only just now noticed the decorations and shrugs. "No idea. Probably people from Blanchard's staff."

With his eyes elsewhere, Charlie uses the opportunity to take in Monroe's appearance. His beard is neatly trimmed and his hair freshly cut. He's wearing a dark grey suit with a plain, white button up. The thing that really catches her attention though, is the sky blue tie around his neck.

"Never pegged you for the type to wear a tie," she says teasingly.

He huffs and pulls uncomfortably at the knot beneath his throat. "I'm not, but I thought it'd be impolite not to wear the gift my Secret Santa gave me."

Charlie laughs as he pulls at the tie again, yanking it way off center. She bats his hand away and pulls the tie straight, loosening it just enough that he won't feel like he's choking. When she's finished, Charlie looks up to find their faces dangerously close together, his eyes watching her intently.

"Thank you," he whispers, sending a shock shivers down her spine.

Charlie swallows thickly. "No problem," she squeaks out. Clearing her throat to rid herself of that awful sound, Charlie abruptly steps away. "I can't believe you signed up for the Secret Santa thing. I didn't even know there was a Secret Santa thing."

Monroe chuckles, any awkwardness suddenly forgotten. "But I remember seeing your name on the list."

"Jeremy," she tells him flatly. Monroe nods. Apparently, explanations aren't necessary when you've known someone for almost twenty years.

"So what did you get?"

Charlie fingers the pendant around her neck and holds it up for him to see. Monroe's eyebrows shoot up high on his forehead and he let's out a low whistle. "That looks expensive," he says in a low voice. "You must have a secret admirer."

Having not even considered the price of a gift like this, Charlie suddenly feels sick to her stomach.

"Who would buy me something so expensive?" She wonders aloud. "Jeremy already said it wasn't him..." She suddenly looks up at Monroe suspiciously. "You didn't happen to buy me a ridiculously expensive necklace, did you?" And although it would be a bit awkward if he had, Charlie finds herself hoping that was him and not some random stranger.

Monroe reaches out and gently scoops the necklace from her chest, his fingertips brushing against her skin as he cradles the sapphire in his hand. "I wish I could say I did," he says softly. "Whoever bought this obviously has great taste. And they must have known how good it would look on you."

Charlie can feel the heat from his body radiating into her, the feel of him so close and his eyes so intent that she feels herself blush. She's glad for the chill in the air, hoping that her rosy cheeks will help cover it up.

"Hey, you guys came!" Jeremy's voice carries across the square as he descends the state house steps. Monroe gently releases her necklace and takes a subtle step back, leaving Charlie cold and a little confused in his wake.

"I can't believe you guys actually came!" Jeremy grins as he takes them in, his eyes stopping on Charlie as they rove over slender body outside of her usual uniform. "Whoa, look at you."

Ignoring his comment and wandering eyes, Charlie glares at him. "What do you mean, you can't believe we came? You said, that Blanchard said, this party was mandatory."

"Yeah, I wore the damn tie and everything," Monroe whispers harshly.

Charlie and Jeremy both give him a strange look. "Why are you whispering?" Jeremy asks, though he's now whispering himself.

Monroe shrinks back slightly so he's angled behind her and crouches down so his nose is level with her shoulder. "What are you doing?" Charlie says, now whispering as well. She starts to move away but he grabs her by the waist and holds her in place.

"Shh! Don't move!" She turns her head to see what he's doing, but Monroe seems more concerned with whatever he's looking at across the square. Charlie follows his line of sight and spots a dark haired woman in a short, black dress slowly climbing the state house steps into the party.

"Dude, are you hiding from a girl?" Jeremy asks.

Monroe uses his hands on her waist to shift her more in front of him while he glares at his friend. "You'd be hiding too if that crazy bitch followed you everywhere."

Jeremy laughs loudly, but Charlie is too distracted by the warmth from Monroe's hands seeping into her skin to be able to laugh. One of the things she's hated the most about him since the day they met, is her brain's inability to think straight when he gets too close.

"Get off of me," she says, trying to keep her voice more exasperated than affected. She swallows down the lump in her throat and sends him a half hearted glare. "You could just tell her you're not interested."

"Oh, gee, why didn't I think of that?" He says mockingly.

Charlie scowls at his childishness. "Whatever. I'm going home."

"Hey, you can't home!" Jeremy whines, grabbing her by the wrist.

"I only came because I thought I had too, but I don't, so I'm leaving."

"Yeah, me too," Monroe adds as he starts moving in the opposite direction.

"Hey, wait, wait, wait." Jeremy drags Charlie along with him as he chases after Monroe, grabbing the other man by the arm. "You guys can't leave," he whines. "Come on, I'm sorry I lied, but I just wanted to have one night to hang out with my friends." He looks between them with pleading eyes, pulling at Charlie's heart with his guilt trip.

"Jeremy," Monroe groans. "Come on, I don't... this is... we can hang out later," he finally says.

Jeremy stomps his foot on the ground like a child in a tantrum. "But I want to hang out here! Come on, it'll be fun!" He looks imploringly at Charlie, who can already feel her resolve breaking.

"We can do something some other time," she says weakly.

Jeremy let's out a sound that's a cross between a whine and a scream. "But I want you guys to stay! Pretty, pretty please," he begs.

People in the square are starting to stare at the scene Jeremy is making. Monroe yanks his arm from the other man's grip, but leans in close so only he and Charlie can hear. "God, you sound like a three year old!"

Jeremy's face straightens out quickly. "I'll shut up if you stay."

Monroe clenches his jaw, though Charlie gets the feeling that he's not even angry. In fact, it kind of looks like he's covering up a smile. "Fine," he says through gritted teeth. "Just quit whining."

Jeremy's face lights up and he turns to look at Charlie hopefully. "You're gonna stay too, right?" She starts to shake her head no, but he quickly rushes on. "There's a bar inside." Her demeanor changes only slightly, but it's enough for him to notice. "All the booze is free," he says in a sing-song voice.

Out of the corner of her eye, Charlie can see Monroe smirking. "Well, why didn't you say so?" He says irritably. "I'd have already been inside if I knew that." Without so much as a glance back at them, Monroe takes off into the state house towards the party.

Charlie looks at Jeremy and shrugs. "Free booze? Count me in." And the two follow their friend inside.

It's kind of funny how suddenly the idea of Monroe being her friend has taken place. Sure, Jeremy is her friend, they've hung out and had drinks a few times, but she and Monroe haven't even spoken in months. Of course, when you consider that Monroe is the only other person in Austin that she knows, it kind of makes sense that he would be her friend. She wonders if he thinks of her as a friend, too.

The state house is decorated just like the square. There are mason jars with candles and ribbons everywhere, and mistletoe is hanging from every available spot. She and Jeremy skirt their way around one of the offending plants as they make their way through the dense crowd. People are all dressed up in their fanciest clothes, some of them in dresses and suits, but most are more casual like herself. The party goers are already heavily into the open bar's contents and are assaulting the dance floor with what looks like a bunch of people having seizures but is generously called dancing.

They find Monroe already stationed at the bar with a glass of whiskey in his hand. He tosses it back easily and motions for another as they approach. Two more full glasses are waiting for them. "About time," he says with a smile. He hands Jeremy a glass then offers Charlie the other, his fingers brushing against hers as she takes it, their eyes locking as he lets it go.

Oblivious to their intense interaction, Jeremy raises his glass in a toast. "To friends," he says with a boyish grin. Charlie doesn't have the heart to roll her eyes at him so she merely nods in agreement. Surprisingly, Monroe doesn't say anything, he simply smiles and clinks his glass against both of theirs before draining it.

Grabbing a full bottle from behind the bar, Jeremy heads away from the main crowd. "Come on, let's find a table."

Charlie follows after him with Monroe just behind. They pass by a buffet table, stopping so they can load little plates with everything from different flavored meatballs to sugar cookies and fudge. Charlie has to stop and set down her glass so she can balance the plate and pile it high with more food. Monroe rolls his eyes at her, but smiles as he picks the glass up so he can carry it for her. The smile lights up his whole face, making his eyes twinkle in the dim light provided by the candles around them. Charlie can't help but smile back.

The three of them find a table set off in a corner that's partially hidden by an over large Christmas tree that's been decorated with candles and gold ribbons. Jeremy fills all of their glasses and they get to work on emptying their plates. It's amazing how easily Monroe and Jeremy get along. If she didn't know any better, Charlie might think that they were hanging out around a table in Philly and that Miles had merely run off to find more booze. Unfortunately though, that isn't the case. She can tell just by looking at the two men that Miles' absence is weighing on them both, though no one mentions her uncle. The boys are too busy reminiscing to bring him up, anyway. She's content to sit between them and listen. For a little while, at least.

"Oh, and don't forget the twins!" Jeremy shouts with a grin. "The brunettes with the huge racks. God, I hated you that night. Hated you. And wanted to be you."

Charlie raises her eyebrows, her stomach twisting uncomfortably, but laughs at the same time as Monroe snorts into his drink. "Twins? What twi- Oh, yeah!" He nods enthusiastically and closes his eyes as he pictures them in his head. "Man, those two were great."

Charlie decides she doesn't like the satisfied look on his face and tosses a half eaten cookie at him. "Alright, that's enough. I do not need to know about every single girl you've ever fucked."

"Like we've got enough time for that anyway!" Jeremy says.

Charlie shakes her head at him. "That's enough." She puts her hand over Jeremy's mouth and wags her finger in his face. "No more talking about girls you've slept with, or almost slept with, or saw sleeping with someone else..."

"Well, damn, what are we allowed to talk about?" Bass asks with a grin.

Charlie frowns, her head feeling admittedly a little fuzzy from all the drinks, and looks down at her plate of food. "Cookies!" She yells at him. Her eyes take in the flush of his cheeks and the curve of his lips as he laughs. She suddenly has the strangest desire to touch those lips. Looking down at her empty glass of whiskey, Charlie pushes it away. "I think I've had enough to drink," she mumbles, causing both boys to howl with laughter.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" Frank Blanchard waddles up to their table with a full bottle of whiskey in one hand and a plate of food in the other. He slaps his stuff down on the table and takes the seat across from Charlie.

"It's my favorite little trio!" He shouts. The man has clearly been drinking as much as they have. He nods a greeting at both of the boys, then focuses on Charlie between them. "And my favorite pretty lady." He winks at her and lets his eyes rove over her face, down her exposed neck, and to the necklace hanging amidst her cleavage. "How d'you like that necklace, sweetheart? Picked it out just for you."

Charlie's jaw drops. "You got this for me?"

"Damn right I did! And it looks mighty fine on you, if I do say so myself." His eyes lock on her breasts and he licks his lips. "Thought maybe you'd like to give me a little close up."

"In your dreams," Charlie snaps. But Blanchard just laughs, his large belly shaking with the effort.

"Oh, honey, you have no idea." He sends her another wink, making her groan with disgust.

"You're such a pervert, Frank." Bass says, and Charlie's a little surprised to hear the subtle hint of anger in his voice.

"What?" Blanchard says innocently. "A man can dream, can't he?" Then he elbows Bass in the side. "Bet you know all about that, huh?" He looks pointedly between Bass and Charlie, and Bass shoves him away with a scowl on his face.

"You're such an asshole."

But nothing he says has any effect on Frank who continues to stare at Charlie as if she were a piece of meat even after the conversation has moved on. After a while of Charlie glaring daggers at him, Frank climbs unsteadily to his feet. "What d'you say, Darlin', wanna dance?"

Charlie glares at him over the top of the cookie she stole from Jeremy's plate. "I'd rather fuck a cactus."

Jeremy chokes on a meatball he'd just plopped in his mouth and Bass sprays the table with whiskey as he starts to laugh. Blanchard's face twists in confusion but then splits into a smile. "Your loss, sweetheart." He waddles off into the mass of people on the dance floor, presumably to find a different girl to target.

"You know I think it's time for me to get moving to," Jeremy says, his face suddenly serious.

"Where are you going?" Bass asks.

"To find a girl, duh!"

"Oh, so suddenly I'm not a girl?" Charlie asks defensively.

Jeremy rolls his eyes at her. "I meant to find a girl I can fuck."

"What, I'm not hot enough for you?" She asks with a tantalizing smile.

Jeremy looks her up and down, then shakes his head with a groan. "No, you're plenty hot. But I don't have a death wish." He sends her a little wink as he takes off into the crowd. Charlie stares after him, her face scrunched up as she tries to figure out what that means.

"I think he meant that he's afraid of what would happen if Miles found out," Bass says. Charlie looks over at him as understanding dawns on her.

"Ah, right. Fucking the General's niece can't be good for anyone, can it?"

He chuckles softly. "Unfortunately, no."

Charlie raises her eyebrows at him. "Unfortunately?"

He blinks several times and shakes his head a little. "I-I just meant..."

"Meant what?" She asks quietly.

Bass stares at her for a minute, his deep, blue eyes searching desperately for a way out. Eventually, he clears his throat and looks away from her. "It's late. I should get going."

He starts to rise from his seat but Charlie reaches out and grabs his wrist, pulling him back down next to her. "What did you mean, Bass?" Fully aware of the fact that she's just used his chosen name out loud for the first time, Charlie leans in closer to him. His eyes darken as they flick down to look at her full lips. "I can keep a secret," she whispers.

Bass lets out a strangled groan and reaches for the back of her neck, pulling her to him so he can kiss her hard on the lips. It only lasts a second, but in that moment, Charlie feels like the entire room is suddenly on fire. When he backs away, they stare at each again, ignoring the party and the music and the people. Charlie can't explain it, but she wishes he would kiss her again.

"Sorry," he gasps. "I didn't-"

"-It's OK."

"No, I shouldn't-"

"-But I want you to," she says breathlessly.

His eyes go wide with shock, but only for a second. He gets over it quickly and leans in close enough that she can feel his warm breath on her face. He cups her cheek in his palm as his lips descend on hers again. The kiss is gentler this time. His soft lips move slowly over hers, his hot tongue sweeping over her lips to part them so he can delve inside her mouth. His other hand wraps around her waist and pulls her close so she's sitting on the edge of her chair and practically in his lap. Her hands land on his chest and she can feel the rapid beat of his heart as he sucks on her tongue, dragging a moan from her throat.

The sound of shattering glass and several shrieks of surprise causes them to pull apart and look wildly around the room for the source of the commotion. Standing just a few feet away is the woman in the short, black dress that Bass had been hiding from earlier. There's a shattered glass and a small pool of wine around her feet.

"How could you?" The woman asks, her face flushing red with anger. "After everything we've been through together, I find you wrapped around some ladder climbing bitch!"

Charlie looks between the angry woman and Bass' shocked face as she slowly backs away from him. She doesn't get far, though, because he still has his arm wrapped tightly around her.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Bass asks incredulously.

The woman's mouth drops open in shock. "All those times you came to see me in the office and the wonderful conversations we had." She sighs happily and smiles at him. "And I bought you that beautiful tie. I thought that tonight we would finally be together."

Bass is staring at the woman with wide, terrified eyes. "Listen, I go into the office to see Blanchard. I only talk to you because you're his secretary."

"But I thought you loved me." Tears start to fall down the woman's cheeks as Jeremy appears behind her. The party guests nearby are all watching attentively to see what the General will do. Jeremy looks from the crying woman to Bass' arm still wrapped around Charlie and smirks.

"Come on, Melinda," he says gently to her. "Let's go get you some fresh air." Melinda lets Jeremy lead her from the party, leaving Charlie still partially in Bass' lap with dozens of her fellow officers staring at her. Before either of them can move, Blanchard waddles into the picture with the biggest shit eating grin anyone's ever seen.

"Alright, alright. Nothing to see here, folks. Leave Matheson and Monroe to it, they've got lots of time to make up for." The officers around them all start giggling like school girls as they disperse, leaving Bass and Charlie red faced with embarrassment.

Blanchard looks between the two of them and wiggles his eyebrows suggestively. "I don't think this is really the place for that. I mean, unless you were looking for an audience, in which case I'd be happy to volunteer."

Bass jumps to his feet, effectively dragging Charlie up with him, and gets dangerously close to the other man's face. "What the hell is wrong with you Frank?"

Unconcerned with Bass' anger, Blanchard waves his hand dismissively. "Oh, just take your girl and get out of here, Monroe. Quick, before she changes her mind." He winks at Charlie again, causing her to open her mouth angrily, but Bass grabs her hand and pulls her away from him before she can do any real damage. She struggles against his hold, her mind too stuck on slapping the crap out of Blanchard to consider much else, until Bass stops in the middle of a crowd of dancers and pulls her flush against him.

"Do you want me to let go?" He asks in a low, rumbling voice that makes her body shiver.

"No," she breaths back.


Then they're off again, weaving through the crowd until they reach the front doors and nearly trip over a couple sitting on the state house steps. The couple is wrapped tightly around each other, their lips locked together. Charlie looks down at the man and instantly recognizes Jeremy. A giggle escapes her lips.

"Guess you found a girl, Jeremy."

The woman he's with tears herself away from him to look up at her, and Charlie realizes that it's the same woman that was just crying about being in love with Bass five minutes ago. "Do you mind?" Melinda asks rudely.

Bass doesn't wait to see if Melinda will say anything to him, he just pulls Charlie around she and Jeremy, then all but runs down the stairs. Charlie can't help but laugh as he drags her across the square, past the huge Christmas tree, and down a side road. "What is wrong with that woman?"

Bass barks out a laugh as he slows to a walk. "I told you guys earlier, that bitch is crazy."

They lapse into silence as they walk hand in hand down the street. The cool night air is working on clearing the drunken haze of lust from her mind, bringing up the simple truth that stands between them. Charlie pulls herself to a stop, letting go of Bass' hand as he continues on for a few more steps. When he turns around to look at her, his eyes are full of sadness.

"What are we doing?" Charlie asks softly. "I mean, we haven't even spoken to each other for months. Why now? What's changed all of a sudden?"

"Nothing changed, we just haven't talked because you've been avoiding me."

"No, you were avoiding me."

"No, I was trying to give you space," he corrects her.

"Well, I was trying to give you space!" At his confused look, Charlie explains. "After Conner left you were... I don't even know, it was like you didn't care about anything. I stayed away because I thought my... 'history' with him might make it harder on you."

Bass sighs and runs a hand through his wild curls, making them stick up at the sides. "I thought you were avoiding me because with Conner gone you had no reason to be around me."

"I never cared about Conner," Charlie says, moving closer so she can touch him. Placing her hand on his cheek, she tilts his head so he's forced to look at her. "I wanted to..." She stops, hesitating. "But I didn't think you wanted me around."

"You wanted to what?"

Charlie bites her lip with an embarrassed smile.

"Tell me. I can keep a secret." Bass whispers, his lips just a few inches away.

Words can't quite express all of the things she wanted to do. She wanted to slap him for being an ass and she wanted to kiss away the constant frown on his face. She wanted to knock his teeth in with that stupid plaque and she wanted to shove him against the wall to have her way with him. But she can't say those things so Charlie stands up on her toes to kiss him softly on the lips with the hopes that he'll understand. He smiles against her lips and wraps his arms around her tightly, squeezing her enough that her feet lift off from the ground. She laughs at his enthusiasm as he sets her back on her feet. He kisses her again, his teeth pulling gently at her bottom lip as he pulls away.

"Come on," he says breathlessly. He takes her hand and pulls her along farther down the darkened street. They pass several large houses with candles burning in the windows and decorative wreaths hung on the doors before he stops in front of a house without a single candle and no decorations in sight.

"I, uh, wasn't in much of a decorating mood." He says apologetically.

Charlie squeezes his hand reassuringly. "It's OK. I haven't exactly been in the Christmas spirit either."

They enter the house hand in hand and Bass guides her to the living room where the fire is burning low. He sheds his suit jacket and rolls up his sleeves to get it going again and Charlie watches his muscles move beneath his white shirt with hungry eyes. Standing in his living room with the knowledge that he's missed her as much as she's missed him is giving her more confidence than she's had in a long time. His broad shoulders ripple with every movement and she boldly walks up behind him to brush her fingertips across the back of his neck. His whole body tenses as she hooks her fingers under his shirt collar so she can tug on his tie.

"You trying to kill me?" He asks in a hoarse voice.

Charlie chuckles low in her throat, bending down so she can whisper in his ear. "Of course not. I just don't want you wearing some ladder climbing whore's present while I do the things I'm planning on doing."

"And what exactly do you have planned?"

She wraps her arms around his neck and undoes the knot before slowly pulling the tie free and dropping it unceremoniously on the floor. "Things that shouldn't involve another woman, that's for sure."

He growls and stands up so quickly that he nearly knocks her over, but his hands are quick and he catches her around the waist before she goes anywhere. "There aren't any other women here. It's just you and me."

Tangling her fingers in his short curls, Charlie pulls him down for a long kiss. "Good, 'cause I suck at sharing."

He runs his hands down her back and over the curve of her ass before giving it a nice, long squeeze. "Me too."

Their lips meet in a frenzied kiss that's all greedy tongues and teeth. Charlie yanks at his hair as he shoves her jacket off her shoulders so it can drop to the floor. His hands reach for her breasts, cupping them through her shirt with a groan.

"Hate clothes," he grunts, causing her to throw her head back and laugh. He takes the opportunity to kiss her neck, stopping to nip at her pulse point with his teeth while his hands slide under her shirt. Charlie lets go of him long enough to tear the garment over her head and toss it to the floor. His mouth immediately latches on to the fleshy top of her breast while his hands clumsily work the clasp of her bra. Charlie attempts to undo the buttons of his shirt but only manages two of them before her bra lands on the floor and Bass' hot mouth wraps around one of her hard nipples sending a wave of heat straight to her core. She moans loudly, giving up on his shirt to grab onto his hair again and press his mouth harder against her. She feels him smile against her skin as he backs her towards the couch and lets her collapse onto it.

There isn't time to do more than gasp in shock before he's on his knees in front of her, pushing her back so he can unfasten her pants and yank them down her long legs along with her panties. He takes in her naked body and licks his lips when his eyes stop on the dark curls nestled between her thighs. With a hand on each knee, he spreads her legs wide, opening up her pussy for him. "So beautiful," he whispers reverently.

Charlie barely has time to blush before he's kissing his way along her thighs, setting her skin on fire and making her writhe with anticipation. Bass pulls her closer so she's sitting on the edge of the couch and drags his thumb over her wet folds. Her hips buck involuntarily and he grins up at her wickedly before slowly dragging his tongue up her slit.

"Bass," she moans.

"Yes?" He asks calmly.

She looks at him, finding his eyes blazing with heat. "Please," she whispers.

He keeps his eyes on her face but parts her folds with his thumbs and leans in to circle her swollen clit with his tongue. Charlie lets out a strangled groan and bucks her hips against his face, causing him to settle an arm over her stomach to hold her still as his tongue glides over her clit. Charlie's body tenses as his tongue works her over, one hand tangling in his hair while the other clenches around a fistful of the couches fabric. Everything fades away until the only thing that exists is Bass' tongue on her clit and her hand in his hair. She comes hard and fast with his name spilling from her lips like a prayer. As her mind clears, Charlie registers the smug look of satisfaction on his face. That and the fact that he's still dressed.

"I hate clothes," she says. He chuckles as she tries to unbutton his shirt with shaky hands before simply pulling it over his head and adding it to the growing pile. He kicks off his shoes and slides his pants down his muscular legs, revealing his very hard cock.

Charlie drinks him in with her eyes, licking her lips approvingly as he stands bare before her. His eyes betray his confidence though. A flicker of doubt crosses his face. Taking his hand, Charlie lays back on the couch and pulls him down on top of her, trapping him with a leg hooked over his hip. She kisses him gently, trailing her fingers over the hard muscles of his back and he relaxes into her as his fingers wrap around the sapphire pendant resting on her chest. For a moment, Charlie thinks that he's trying to take the necklace off her, so she lifts her head a little and reaches for the clasp but he brushes her hand away.

"Leave it. I like it on you," he whispers. "Plus, I wanna brag to Blanchard about it bouncing around while you rode my dick, later."

"Sounds like you've got big plans," Charlie says with raised eyebrows.

He grins and ducks his head to circle the pendant with his tongue. "You have no idea."

He pulls her leg up higher on his hip and directs himself into her dripping entrance. Charlie moans as he fills her inch by inch, moving slowly so her body can adjust. She drags her nails up his back and kisses his neck. "Fuck me Bass," she breathes.

He slams into her pussy with an appreciative groan before letting go of his self control. He thrusts hard and deep, fucking her down into the couch like it'll be the last thing he ever does. Charlie meets him thrust for thrust, practically screaming every time he rubs against her clit. The air fills with the sounds of flesh slapping against flesh and their breathy moans. Charlie grabs onto his ass, scraping her nails over his skin and causing his hips to jerk uncontrollably. He reaches down between them to clumsily thumb her clit.

"Come for me Baby," groans in her ear.

She jerks her hips against his hand as he bites down on her earlobe which sends her over the edge. He pulls out just in time to come all over her thighs and collapse on top of her, boneless and out of breath. Several minutes pass with the two of them simply trying to catch their breath before Bass turns his face to nuzzle her neck.

"That was..."

"Mhmm," she agrees.

They chuckle as the bell tower clangs to indicate that it's midnight. A block away, they can hear the people at the Christmas party shouting and celebrating.

"Best Christmas ever," Charlie says with a lazy smile.

Bass kisses her swollen lips and nods. "Best present ever."

They agree on that as well, and they spend all of Christmas day proving it.