This is the first chapter of many...
In the darkness, Shalimar lay curled in Brennan's arms. Softly, she nuzzled her cheek against his shoulder, pressed her lips to his neck. He stirred, but did not wake. Her hands found their way under his t-shirt, skimming over his chest, his hard stomach. She wanted him to make love with her.
Their first time together had been hurried and urgent. They had come together in a rush of desire, desperate and hard, and over far too quickly in the race to finish what they had started before it was too late. It had been a long time coming – she couldn't deny that any longer – but not, she realized, what it should have been between them. Or what she wanted.
She'd felt something unexpected with him. The instant he'd kissed her that very first time, it became about more than finishing anything. Kissing him, being with him, it was like finding something she hadn't even known she was missing. The words had been right there on her lips... but she'd held them back, pushed them aside. Brennan had been right about one thing; there was no going back. And yes, she was afraid of it, but not as afraid as she was of never finding out what there was between them.
Life was borrowed time – she knew that all too well. Her genetic structure was a ticking timebomb. So was Brennan's. They could go at any time, mutating out of control until their DNA self-destructed. Unless one of Adam's treatments cured them – there was no way for them to know now, with Adam missing and the copies of their medical files lost. Even Adam said that he didn't know what he did that saved Jesse. Her life, their lives, were too uncertain to waste the precious time they had on fear, but she was afraid all the same.
She and Brennan, they'd had sex, but she was still afraid to really go there with him, to let it be more – she prayed that he would never know how weak he made her.
Brennan made a soft sound beside her, and sleepily his hand came up, tangling in the hair at the back of her head. She turned her face into his palm, pressing a soft kiss there. His thumb stroked her cheek, brushed her lips, then went still, his arm dropping to wrap around her. He was well and truly asleep, exhausted she knew, and not waking up any time soon it seemed. Putting her arms around him she sighed, going still.
She should have been exhausted, too. She was, but she couldn't sleep. Everything she had ever known was gone. Everything. Sanctuary had been her home since she was a teenager, and the only real home that she'd ever had. Now it lay in ruin, gone, wiped out by the not-so-clandestine Dominion. All she had left to her name were the clothes on her back. Her home...gone. All of her belongings...gone. Even their comlink rings... useless without Sanctuary's communications hub.
Brennan was the only one of them that had any money. Lucky for them, he'd had his wallet in his pocket when all hell had broken loose, or they wouldn't even have a roof over their heads right now. In the morning they would be back to square one – Brennan couldn't afford the motel room for more than one night. Maybe it was stupid, but she wanted nothing more than to go back to Sanctuary, even if there was nothing left. Their situation now was far too close to her life before Adam for comfort. Shalimar knew the streets intimately, and it was a life that she never wanted to revisit again. Only Adam and his Sanctuary had saved her from it, and now both were gone.
The icy grip of fear was not something that Shalimar was used to. She couldn't ever remember feeling this vulnerable, not even in that other life before Adam rescued her. The only safety she knew now, in a reality of frightening uncertainty, was lying beside her.
She jumped, startled out of her thoughts when she heard Jesse shift somewhere across the room. Sweet Jesse, the one that she had known the longest, who shouldn't even be here now, except that something Adam had done appeared to have cured his unstable genes. Ever the gallant gentleman, it was Jesse who had offered for she and Lexa to take the beds.
It was only after she was certain that that Lexa and Jesse were both deeply asleep that she invited Brennan into her bed. Why did it matter? She was pretty sure that Jesse knew, from the way he'd reacted seeing them right after, the things that he'd said. Why keep it a secret? Maybe because their encounter had only been intended as an experiment. But the attraction was still there, and changing into something more. Something, she realized, that had been between them all along.
Her friends would know in the morning, wouldn't they, when they awakened and saw she and Brennan together.
She shivered, feeling cold, and huddled more tightly against Brennan's warmth. Eyes closing, she let her mind drift, and remembered...
A hand on her shoulder shook her gently.
Blearily, she opened her eyes. Sunlight was streaming in through a crack in the window curtains. Morning already – she felt as though she had only just fallen asleep.
"I was beginning to think you'd never wake up," Brennan said, smiling softly as he looked down at her.
A chill shot down her spine. Another Brennan had said those same words to her once, in a fantasy world where she'd woken and discovered they were man and wife...
"What's wrong?" he asked her, seeing her expression change.
He always knew.
She closed her eyes, shaking off the strange feeling.
"Aside from what's already wrong?" she asked him, finding her voice thick from sleep. "Nothing."
He laughed a little at that, but there was worry in his eyes, the same worry that was weighing on them all.
Something was missing. Her feral sixth sense was telling her that much. She propped herself up on her elbows, looking around.
"Where are Lexa and Jess?"
"Getting us some breakfast," he said. "They should be back soon."
She sat up... and winced when the pain hit her, radiating up one entire side from her hip to her shoulder. Brennan reached for her. Instinct made her push his hands away, at first. Gently her lifted her camisole, seeing the bruising on the skin beneath. She'd taken a nasty fall from the upper level when that weapon had exploded in Sanctuary. The landing had not been kind to her.
"I'm fine," she told him, pushing his hands back once more. The bruising, for that was all it was, would heal quickly enough. One advantage to being a feral.
He sat looking at her, warmth softening his eyes. "I would have let you sleep longer; I didn't want to wake you up. But we have to check out soon, so if you want to take a shower, now is the time."
A shower...yes. That would do her a world of good. She needed only to ask, she was sure, for him to join her... She got up quickly, ignoring the painful protests of her body, and walked stiffly into the small bathroom, closing the door behind her.
The hot water cascading over her sore body felt good, better than she expected. The warmth eased her tiredness somewhat, and did much for her aches and pains. She could feel Brennan in the other room, waiting. His nearness was making her senses go crazy. Ever since their encounter, she was almost too aware of him.
She dried off and dressed quickly, drying her hair with a towel as best she could. Her clothes weren't any cleaner, and they looked a little worse for wear, but at least she felt better. It was a start.
She stepped out of the bathroom, tossing the towel she'd been using on her hair onto the small counter behind her. From across the room, Brennan's scent carried to her, familiar, but different. He smelled of fresh soap and something unmistakably male, but the slightly spicy tang of aftershave that she was so used to was absent. She missed it.
Smell, she had read somewhere, was the strongest sense tied to memory. She could almost smell it now, that same spice, remembering it rising off of his skin wherever she kissed him, being surrounded by it. It was only yesterday that he had been hers, so suddenly after so long, only yesterday that she had felt him so deeply inside...
It was only when Brennan finally looked up at her that she realized she was just standing there, staring at him. Could she trust herself with Brennan now? No, she didn't think she could. Already her heart was racing. Brennan wasn't unaffected either, the way his brown eyes melted when finally they looked into hers. He felt it too.
She sighed heavily, daring to sit on the bed beside him. "Define 'better'" was her reply. She didn't dare look in his eyes, not being this close...
"Shal, you're not..." he began, then stopped. Nervousness was coming off of him in waves. "You don't...regret anything, do you?"
Maybe if her train of thought just then had been following his, she would have understood. "What do you mean?"
He shifted uncomfortably. "Us. You don't regret what we did, do you?"
She felt stupid for not understanding right away. He wasn't expecting her warm smile, or her taking his hand in hers. "I could never regret that, Brennan."
He returned her warmth with his gaze, along with warmth of his own.
She looked away. Her eyes wandered to the wound on his biceps. The bullet had only grazed him-he was lucky to have escaped worse. Lightly she touched his arm.
"You need a doctor - "
"Its not as bad as it looks. It just hurts." He tried to give her a reassuring smile. "I'll be good as new in no time."
She wanted him. She couldn't hide it anymore. A distant part of her mind wondered how long they had before Jess and Lexa came back... If she and Brennan were both really dying, she didn't want to waste the time they had left.
She took his face in her hands, the stubble on his cheeks rough against her palms. His eyes were searching hers. When she kissed him this time, it was different. His mouth was so warm and so sweet, and she took her time, kissing him slowly, softly, the way that she should have before, without hurry or urgency. She felt it stirring inside her, something so much more than simple attraction...
Brennan turned his face away. He held her back, his hand resting on her shoulder.
"Shal... I know what happened with us, but..." He sighed. "So much has happened since then, and maybe right now you shouldn't-"
"I don't care," she interrupted, because she knew what he was going to say, and why. He wasn't wrong for saying it, except that she had wanted this since before all the tragedy had begun, since she'd relaxed against his body, spent and sated after the tempest that was their first time had subsided. He would have given in to her, had the knock at the door not come the next moment.
Jesse's voice came muffled through the door. "Brennan? It's us."
Fate had spoken loud and clear once again.
Shalimar let her head fall briefly onto Brennan's shoulder before she let him go. Smoothly he stood, and in two long strides he was at the door, opening it.
Jesse walked in first, a white styrofoam container in hand. He stopped just inside the doorway, looking first at Brennan, then at her, and back. He had that odd look on his face again. Okay, what's different about you two? was the question he had asked the last time he gave them that look. This time he stayed silent. He hesitated only a moment before walking the rest of the way into the room. Lexa followed him, seemingly unaware, carrying and identical container in her hands.
Yeah, Jesse knew, even if he didn't know the details. Shalimar fought a blush that threatened to color her cheeks.
She saw Lexa reach into her coat pocket, handing a wad of cash back to Brennan. The last of their money. She noted that the amount didn't seem to have diminished any. Flipping through the bills, Brennan, with surprise, noted the same.
"I thought you were gonna get breakfast?"
"We did," Jesse replied, holding out the container in his hands.
Brennan's brow furrowed. "How did you pay for it? This is all the money that I gave you."
It was Lexa's turn to answer. "We didn't."
Shalimar raised an eyebrow at her. She could smell the food from where she sat. No answer.
"Oh," Jesse finally chimed in when he realized that he had missed his cue. "Free buffet down in the lobby." He grinned.
Brennan grinned back at him. "Took you two long enough, for such a short trip."
Jesse shrugged. "Yeah well, we decided to eat down there," he explained. He looked at his hands, fidgeting for a moment. "We thought we'd give you guys some time."
Brennan's eyebrows raised in askance. "Time?"
"Space! I meant space," Jesse covered in a hurry. "You know, since the four of us have been cooped up in here since last night."
Brennan was watching him suspiciously. "Mmm-hm."
Shalimar saw Lexa's mouth twitch, on the verge of breaking into a grin. So she knew, too, did she? Either Lexa had figured it out for herself (which admittedly wasn't hard, since it was Lexa who had called her on her "Brennan issues" in the first place), or Jesse had been talking to her. Shalimar nearly giggled. She had never taken Jess for a gossip. She supposed that it should have upset her, but the whole idea of it was just too funny, especially when she saw how freaked out Jess seemed to get over her 'thing' with Brennan.
It would almost be worth it, to tell him everything in explicit detail, just to watch him squirm. Serve him right if he was talking to Lexa.
She sniffed – the food Lexa and Jess had brought smelled good, and it had been so long since she'd eaten... Her stomach growled loudly and heads turned, all eyes focusing squarely on her.
Brennan's smile was wicked. "Is there anything ferals do that isn't wild and ferocious?" he asked her.
The look in his eyes made her heart speed up. She returned it with a knowing gaze, equally wicked, grinning. Good thing that neither Lexa or Jess could see her face – desire was written all over it.
"You tell me," she dared.
Jesse chose that moment to cough, awfully strategically she thought.
"Food's getting cold you guys."
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I'll update ASAP!