Nephthys (nephthys_abode) wrote,

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Fanfiction work in progress - Fireworks (part 30/?)

Features: Undertaker (Mark Calaway)
Rating: NC17 for language and sexual situations Usual disclaimer - own nothing but my original characters, all the other people own themselves, WWE owns the trademark names, I'm doing this to exercise my creativity and for the sheer pleasure of writing. Ask my therapist!

Wow, this chapter took a little longer to be finished than expected - my bad ;-)


In St Louis the following day, the atmosphere was a bit on the frosty side. Bob had spent the morning reading the riot act to the Creative team about the lack of notice that he'd been given on the planned inferno match, which left them smarting. One of the trucks had suffered a mechanical fault on the road from Memphis, and as a result, a lot of equipment was arriving late, putting the crew under more pressure to have the set build completed on time.

And to top it all off, there had been yet another breach of the Wellness Policy, so the roster had all been instructed to present themselves an hour early for a special meeting with management. Where, consensus held, they were likely to be given a stern lecture, with some fairly harsh reminders about expected standards of behaviour. Which was fine if they had been straying from the straight and narrow, but rankled with those who hadn't done anything even remotely wrong.

To say tempers were fraying was an understatement.

Harley had been woken at four a.m. by the call about the truck breakdown, and she and Bob had left Memphis on a flight before dawn to get to St Louis as early as possible to help with the set build. She had barely had time to shower and pack, and then, still half asleep, had forgotten she wasn't supposed to lift anything. Her healing tummy muscles gave her a sharp reminder the moment she picked up her case, and there was still a dull ache lingering from that. Add to that being tired, and her morning was going anything but swimmingly.

She and Bob had been working with the rest of the crew on the set build, trying to get as much completed early as they could, so that they had more time to finish up when the remaining truck finally arrived. And as always seemed to be the way when things were rushed, one thing after another seemed to go wrong. Bob had finally called a halt mid morning, fed up with everyone snapping at one another, and sent them all for a break for breakfast, coffee, or a walk to cool down.

Harley had selected the walk option, taking a cup of coffee from Catering and heading out into the pale sunshine outside the loading dock. She leaned against the low concrete wall, sipping her coffee, her hand rubbing absently at her side, where sore muscles still twinged. She sighed to herself. Today was going to be hard pressed to get any worse, she thought.

The sound of an eighteen wheeler broke into her reverie, and she looked up to see their missing truck turning into the venue. She tossed the remains of her coffee into a trashbin and headed inside to scare up the crew to start unloading it, just as the first of the roster's cars pulled into the car park.

The venue was frenetic for the next few hours, as the crew struggled to get back on track with the set build. Harley and Bob pitched in wherever they could, but they were called into the weekly briefing with the roster, to their surprise. This was apparently Creative's petty retaliation for Bob's carpeting earlier in the day, and with management in attendance, it wasn't politic to simply walk out.

Harley seethed at the continual point scoring that went on, with Creative deferring to Bob for almost everything. His responses became steadily more terse, and she took to checking her watch every time it happened, very conscious of time ticking away while they were stuck in the meeting.

The roster started to get antsy too - most of them already had full afternoons planned, and the longer this meeting went on, the more delayed they would be. And since Creative were hammering the point that the crew were insisting on being briefed on everything early, most of them saw Bob and Harley as the architects of their wasted time.

There were only so many dirty looks that were going to have any kind of impact on her, and so Harley started ignoring the roster, tapping one workbooted foot impatiently as she waited for the meeting to end. Once it did, she and Bob left without a word to anyone, although Bob railed to her as they headed out to check on the crew that he was going to give management a piece of his mind. But first, they were needed to make sure the set build was on schedule.

To her relief, the set build was actually close to being back on track. She did a quick check around her crew and realized that the worst of the crisis had passed, and in fact some of them could move on to assist with lighting and set construction after a break for lunch. She checked in with Troy, who confirmed that he could certainly use some extra hands, and they arranged a roster for lunch breaks to keep things moving while Bob went off to speak to management.

Harley elected to take a later lunch break so that she could assist with the wiring tasks, and was working on the big board while the techs who'd started the task took their breaks. She rubbed her hand across her forehead, wincing at the headache that was forming behind her eyes as she concentrated on the myriad of wires. She was bent close to the board when a terse voice came from behind her.

"You plannin' on ignoring me all day?"

She looked around to see Mark glaring at her. Oh, great.

"I'm not ignoring you - I'm just really busy, in case you haven't noticed."

"Too busy to even let me know you weren't going to make it to breakfast?"

She gave him a glare of her own. "You ever turn on that damn cell phone? I sent you a text message about that!"

"And you wouldn't even look at me in the briefing - what was that all about?"

"Oh, I dunno - how about not being all that thrilled about being painted as the damn bad guys every time Creative opened their mouths? And having every other person in the damn room looking at me like it was my fault they were being held up when the meeting went long? Damn it, Mark, not everything I do is about you!"

"Yeah, I'm beginning to see that," he said coldly, and turned and walked off.

She watched him go, her eyebrows raised, and then turned and hurled the pliers she held against the wall opposite her in a fit of fury. "Goddamnit!"

The moment she did it, she regretted it, as the muscles in her abdomen renewed their protest at the misuse. Her hand held against her tummy, wincing, she walked over to find her pliers, muttering to herself.

"Arrogant son of a bitch . . . "

The night before, they'd argued - Mark wanted her to come back to Houston with him the following day for her days off. She had refused. Apart from the fact that she was going to need to pack more clothes for a work stint that was pushing three weeks, she needed a little space to breath. It wasn't that she wasn't enjoying his company, she'd tried to explain, it was more that she just needed time to think.

Eventually, they'd stopped arguing - mostly because they weren't getting anywhere with it, both of them refusing to budge an inch. And because they were tired, and at least recognized that it was contributing to their fractious moods. There had been some agreement to maybe talk about it more over breakfast. And now, she fumed, it was obvious that he was interpreting her no-show for that as some kind of passive-aggressive manipulation or avoidance.

She seethed for a while as she went back to the board, but eventually she just sighed. It wasn't fair to take out her frustration at the day's general suckitude on Mark. For that, at least, she owed him an apology.

When the other techs came back from their break, she headed off to try to find Mark. Which involved a lot of asking around, and not a lot of answers. Meanwhile, the headache had landed in full force, and so she swung by the trainer's rooms to get some Tylenol, and then headed to Catering for a bottle of water. She was swallowing the pills with a mouthful of water when someone spoke behind her.


There was an entire peace treaty in that one word, and she turned around slowly to face Mark, putting the cap back on the bottle of water. He held his cell phone up in one big hand.

She sighed. "I'm sorry, Mark - I've been having a crappy day, and I took it out on you."

He stepped closer to her, raising his other hand to stroke her hair gently. "And I was bein' an ass and only thinking about myself. I should never had said those things to you."

She tried a little smile, and was pleased when he returned it.

"You got a minute?" he asked.

She looked at her watch and nodded. "I got just about that much time, yeah."

He gestured to a nearby table and they sat down together. He looked at her as he set down his cell phone.

"Your message just said you wouldn't be able to make breakfast - what happened?"

She dragged one hand through her hair with a tired sigh. "One of the trucks broke down last night on the way from Memphis. Bob and I had to be on the first plane out to get here early enough to help out with the set build."

He frowned, picking the phone up again and scrolling through the messages to find the one she had sent him, looking at the time on it. "Aw hell Kate, five thirty?"

She shrugged. "I had to send it before we got on the plane, or you wouldn't have got it before we arranged to meet for breakfast. I was just hoping it didn't wake you."

"What time were you up?"

"I think it was four a.m. that I got the call about the truck."

Mark just shook his head - they hadn't said goodnight until almost midnight. No wonder she looked tired. "So is everything okay now? With the truck, I mean."

"We're almost back on track. Didn't help that Creative dragged Bob and I into the weekly briefing - we should have been out helping with the build."

"What was that all about anyway?"

"Internal politics, near as I can figure. Bob told 'em this morning that he doesn't want any more surprises like the inferno match being sprung on him, and their way of getting back at him was to insist he come to the briefing and give the okay on everything they're planning. Which is bullshit, of course - makes the meeting unnecessarily long, and makes us look like we're getting in the way of making things happen, which we aren't. Bob's off getting in management's ear about that."

"Yeah, I did hear some folks grumbling about something like that after the meeting - that why you didn't want to look at me?"

"Mark, honestly, I wasn't even looking for you. I was too busy thinking about whether or not we were going to have the set built in time for tonight's show. And, yeah, gettin' a little pissed off at Creative, and at the folks who were glarin' at me like it was my fault the meeting was going long."

"Okay, Kate. I was definitely out of line before, and I'm sorry. Will you have dinner with me tonight, let me make it up to you?"

She couldn't help her chuckle. "You're gonna buy me the finest meal that Catering can rustle up, huh?"

He leaned in to kiss her lightly. "Only the best for my woman. I just want to be able to spend some time with you - I figure you're gonna crash right after the show, if you were up at four a.m."

Nodding, she caressed his face as she smiled. "I'd love to have dinner with you. But now, I gotta get back to work."

Harley kissed him softly and then rose to her feet. Before she could take a step away, Mark grabbed her hand, standing up with her.

"Not so fast, Kate."

"Mark," she protested, trying to pull her hand away, "I have to work."

"Not until I've apologized properly, sweetheart," he said in a low voice, pulling her close to him as he bent to kiss her.

Whatever further protest she was about to make was stilled the moment his lips descended on hers. His arms wrapped around her as he kissed her hard, his tongue probing insistently at her lips until she parted them for him, delving deep into her mouth the moment she did. Her arms went up around his neck as she leaned up to his kiss, her tongue dancing with his, moaning softly against his lips. His arms tightened around her for a moment, and then gradually he softened the kiss as his hands caressed her, ending it with a final gentle brush of his lips to hers.

She looked up at him, eyes wide, her hands still stroking the back of his neck. Her voice was a little dazed. "Um, apology accepted?"

He chuckled. "I can do it again, if you're not sure."

She pulled him down and kissed him lightly, chuckling herself. "I think a second kiss like that would get us arrested for public indecency in some states!"

He hugged her close, smiling. "So, are we good now?"

"Yeah, we're good. And I really do have to get back to work. I'll see you later, Mark."

He ran one hand gently over her hair as he released her. "Count on it, Kate."


Word passed around the locker room pretty quickly that afternoon that, if you were planning on bitching about how the crew had made you run late for whatever you were doing, you'd better do it quietly, because Mark was quick to leap to Bob's defence every time he heard anyone's complaints. And the story of how the crew were under pressure with the set build because of the overnight breakdown also spread rather fast, and more than one member of the crew that afternoon was surprised by offers of help by somewhat chastened members of the roster.

That fact alone didn't escape Bob's notice, and probably did more to soothe his temper than management's assurances that they felt he was in the right in his disagreement with Creative. The atmosphere had experienced a decided thawing by the time Harley packed up the last of the files and locked the cabinet, heading out to meet with Bob and the stage director to go over the run sheet for the night's show.

It was all becoming a very familiar blur to her - the names were far from strangers, even the match stipulations rarely gave her pause now, as she scribbled notes on her clipboard, nodding as they talked.

Once they were through, she checked in with the production crew and then headed for Catering, running her fingers through her hair. She'd be glad when today was over, she thought wearily as she stepped aside to let a group of giggling Divas pass her in the corridor.

A hand landed on her shoulder, and she looked around to see Jeff smiling at her.

"Hey Harley. Gonna have dinner with me?"

She gave him a quick smile. "Already promised to eat with Mark, I'm afraid - sorry."

He chuckled, leaning in to kiss her cheek. "Nothing to apologize for, Harley. I'll sit with Shannon and Greg and wolf whistle at the Divas like a redneck - it'll be fun!"

He winked at her and headed off to Catering, leaving her chuckling behind him. She hadn't take more than a few steps when another hand rested on her shoulder, and at the barest caress of his fingers, she knew who it was, turning to smile at Mark.

Mark leaned down to kiss her gently, and then wrapped his arm around her shoulders. To her surprise, he steered her away from Catering though, and she looked up at him in puzzlement.

"Ah, Mark? Catering's back that way," she jerked a thumb over her shoulder, "in case you're lost."

He just smiled, pushing open the door of one of the hospitality suites. "Not tonight, Kate."

At his gesture, she moved past him to enter the room, smiling at what she saw. Two places had been set at one of the tables, and two covered plates already rested at them. He closed the door and wrapped his arms around her from behind, leaning down to kiss her cheek. Her hands came up to cover his and she gave a happy sigh.

"You didn't have to go to this trouble, Mark. I would have been happy eating with everyone else."

"But I wouldn't have, sweetheart. I'm feeling selfish - I want you to myself tonight."

Those words made her shiver, and he hugged her closer as he felt it, before leading her to the table, holding out a chair for her. She smiled at him as she sat down, reaching out to touch his hand as he sat beside her.

"Thank you."

"It wasn't any trouble, Kate - just a few quiet words with someone in the kitchen. Besides, you're worth it."

Harley had to admit, it was nice to enjoy a meal with him without being surrounded by their colleagues. She didn't have to worry what anyone would think if she leaned over to kiss him, or touch his hand, or even just watch him. After they'd eaten, they moved over to sit on one of the sofas and Harley nestled in to Mark's side with a sigh.

"I have a feeling this is a mistake," she chuckled softly.

"What is?" Mark pressed a soft kiss to her hair, his arm around her shoulders.

"Sitting down here. I may never want to get up!"

"We'll both have to go to work soon enough, Kate. And we deserve a little time together, don't you think?"

She just nodded, her head against his chest. He stretched his legs out in front of him, his ankles crossed, and held her close, his hand gently caressing her shoulder. Her eyes slipped closed, and he could feel her relaxing against him. He could feel the tension in his own body melting away too, and he chuckled wryly to himself.

If someone had told him a few months ago that just sitting alone with Harley could help him to relax, he would have reported them straight away for violating the Wellness Policy with whatever the hell they were taking to get them high. And yet, it was true - sure, she was still able to get under his skin quicker than anyone he'd ever met, but being with her when they weren't wrangling was like a balm to his soul.

He moved his hand to stroke his fingers through her hair, smiling at those hot pink streaks. He felt her sigh against him, and her hand came up to rest on his chest, lightly caressing him through his t-shirt. They remained there quietly for a long while, before Mark glanced at his watch and realized it was time for them to rejoin the rest of the world.

Harley caught the movement of his wrist and sat up beside him, smiling at him. He leaned in to kiss her softly, and her hand came up to caress his face. Their eyes met, and there was no need for words. He rose to his feet, extending his hand to help her up. She glanced over at the table.

"Do we need to so something with the dishes?"

He shook his head, smiling. "All part of the service, Kate, I'm assured."

Her arms went around his waist and she hugged him, smiling up at him. "Thanks again for tonight, Mark. It was really nice."

He bent to kiss her, his own arms encircling her. "My pleasure, sweetheart."


By the time Harley got back to the hotel, she was almost asleep on her feet, and yet she still had to register. Coming in as early as they had, she and Bob had gone straight to the venue. Bob had come to the hotel once the show had started, but she had run the board and briefed the crew for the load out before coming back with Mark, who waited with her case while she went to register.

The clerk came back to where she was standing to confirm her name before going off again to confer with someone else, and she just blinked tiredly. This was new - normally, she just presented herself and they confirmed the booking made by the company travel people.

Mark noticed the confab with the clerks and came over to where Harley was waiting.

"Something wrong, Kate?"

She looked up at him, shrugging. "No idea, to be honest."

She looked bone-weary, and he lay his hand on her shoulder gently, caressing it. She moved closer to him, leaning on the desk as she swept her bangs from her face with one hand.

Finally, the clerk returned, and his expression was not promising.

"I'm very sorry, Ms Quinn, but we don't have a booking for you. There was one, made some months ago, but it was cancelled last week."

She sighed, and Mark's hand moved to the back of her neck, rubbing gently. "Obviously it's been a snafu from our end. Can I just get a room for the night, please?"

"I'm sorry," the clerk said again. "The hotel is fully booked - I can't help you."

She stared at him. "Fully booked on a Tuesday night? You're kidding me, right?"

"There are a number of conventions in town this week. I can try to find you a room at one of the other hotels in town, if you like."

Mark shook his head. "That won't be necessary. I'm registered here, under Calaway. You can change my room to a double for the night." He smiled at Harley. "You can stay with me, Kate - won't be the first time, after all."

Harley just nodded - she was too tired to argue about it. It took only a few moments for the clerk to alter Mark's registration, and once he was done, Mark led Harley towards the elevators, pulling her case with his own sports bag over his shoulder. While they waited, he draped his arm around her shoulders and smiled at her.

"No accusations of bullying?"

She gave him a tired smile, leaning against him. "I'm too damn tired for that. Hell, I'm just glad to have a bed for the night at this point."

"Come on, then," he said as the elevator opened, "let's get you into it."

She was a little bemused by his take charge attitude once they arrived at his room, as he set her case down where she could reach it and checked to make sure there were enough fresh towels in the bathroom, while she sank down on the end of the bed to take off her workboots. He even came to help her do that, which she appreciated, as her side was still feeling sore from her misuse of healing muscles.

He looked up at her from where he crouched in front of her. "Do you want to take a shower?"

She shook her head. "I think I'd fall asleep and drown in there."

He chuckled, taking her hands as he stood up. "Well, we can't have that. Why don't you change in the bathroom, Kate?" He ran one hand over her hair. "You going to be okay sharing the bed with me?"

Smiling, she nodded. "We're getting to be old hands at that, Mark."

He laughed, and she moved to open her case, taking out her pajamas and her toothbrush before going into the bathroom to change. Once the door closed, he went to find something to sleep in for himself - he hadn't shared a hotel room in years, so he'd gotten pretty used to sleeping naked. He stripped down to his shorts and pulled on a t-shirt, and was sitting on the edge of the bed taking off his watch when Harley opened the bathroom door.

He couldn't miss the slightly nervous glance she gave him - the best approach was probably to be matter of fact about things. He stood up, patting her shoulder gently as he moved past her into the bathroom. Just two friends sharing a room - no big deal, right?

She let out the breath she didn't realize she'd been holding, and took her clothes to her case. This was no different to the sleepover she'd had with Jeff, she told herself. She rubbed her hands over her face - except that she was much more tired tonight. She walked around to the other side of the bed, folding back the covers and sitting down to take off her own wristwatch.

She was pulling her feet up to slide under the covers when the bathroom door opened.

Mark flicked off the bathroom light and sat down on the edge of the bed, turning off the overhead lights, leaving only the bedside light on. He turned to Harley, not missing the little wince she gave as she lay back.

"You okay, Kate?"

She nodded, settling back against the pillow. "Made the mistake of picking up my case this morning when I was half asleep. It's made me a little sore."

"You want something for it? I think I still have that pack of Tylenol you gave me when I got my bell rung."

"Nah, I'll be fine."

He chuckled to himself - there was that toughness again. He drew the covers up and turned on his side, propped on one elbow to smile at her, pleased when she returned it.

"No funny stuff, I promise, but how about a goodnight kiss?"

Her smile widened and she moved over closer to him. "I am kinda getting used to goodnight kisses - be a shame to miss out on one when I don't have to go very far to get it."

That was all the invitation he needed - he moved over and wrapped his arm around her, bending his head to kiss her as he pulled her body close to his. To his delight, she pressed herself even closer as she returned his kiss, her hand resting on his back. As the kiss ended, he nuzzled his cheek to hers, smiling.

"Just for the record, I could lay here and kiss you for hours, sweetheart, but you look pretty beat."

She sighed, her eyes half closed already. "It would be a shame to doze off while you were doing it, Mark - that would definitely send the wrong message about what I think of your kisses."

He kissed her forehead lightly. "There's always tomorrow morning. Goodnight, Kate."

She shifted away from him a little and nestled back into the pillow. "G'night, Mark."

He watched her for a moment before he reached out to turn off the lights and closed his own eyes. He could hear her breathing slow into a deep even rhythm, and he smiled in the darkness as he fell asleep beside her.


Mark came awake in the hotel the next morning, thinking that something was different. As he woke up more, he realized with a smile what it was, feeling the warm weight of Harley's body against his. She was cuddled into his side almost in the same position she'd been in that morning in Topeka - her head on his shoulder and one leg draped over his thigh, with her hand under his t-shirt, resting on his chest. And his arm was curled around her, holding her close, just the way he'd done then too.

This morning, though, he wasn't panicking. It was possible that she'd wake up and shy away from him again, but he'd already decided that approaching everything matter of factly was the way to deal with that. Oh, and laying in a goodly supply of patience - not something he was usually known for, but he was willing to give it a shot.

And of course, he could simply enjoy this happy state of affairs while it lasted - having her in his arms was pretty damn terrific, no matter how it came about. He was content to lay there, his hand barely caressing her, breathing in the scent of her shampoo. He amused himself trying to work out just what it was - there were flowers involved, and something spicy.

A low beeping startled him out of his pleasant reverie, and he felt Harley stirring in his arms. He looked around for the source of the sound, and realized it was the alarm on her wristwatch.

She raised her head a little and then lay back down, murmuring, "It'll stop in a minute, ignore it."

He wasn't even sure she was awake, but he leaned up to press a kiss to her hair, chuckling softly. Her hand rubbed his chest gently as she wriggled closer to him, and his chuckle faded. Now she really was plastered against him, and she had shifted her leg higher on his thigh, which was making his body respond in a fairly predictable way. Hopefully that wouldn't trigger any of those intimacy issues.

There was another sleepy murmur, and then Harley nuzzled her cheek to his chest and spoke more clearly. "Good morning."

Mark stroked his fingers through her hair gently, smiling. "Good morning to you too."

She propped her chin on his chest, smiling up at him. "I seem to have invaded your personal space."

He just chuckled. "See me complaining?"

She leaned up to kiss him lightly and then lay her head back on his chest. "Did you sleep well?"

"Very well - you?"

She yawned and nodding, her cheek nuzzling him again. "Like the proverbial dead."

He had to laugh at that. "You make for a pretty lively corpse, sweetheart - since you started out on the other side of the bed!"

"I can't be blamed for that," she lifted her head to grin at him.

"Oh? And why not?"

"Well, you seem to be a bit on the irresistible side, chief."

"I thought no one was irresistible, Kate?"

"I said 'a bit'," she chuckled.

"Well, I'm still not complaining. I like waking up with you in my arms."

She gave him an almost shy smile. "I guess that's why I ended up here, like this. I like being in your arms, Mark."

That was certainly a step in the right direction, he thought, as he hugged her closer, kissing the top of her head as she lay it back on his chest. The scent of her shampoo filled his nostrils, and he nuzzled his cheek to her hair with a contented sigh.

"It's driving me nuts, Kate - just what's in your shampoo?"

She snuggled closer to him. "It's lilac and ginger."

"Ginger - mmm, it's nice. Spicy."

His hand moved slowly over her back as he nuzzled into her hair again, breathing her in. She began to caress his chest, her bed-warm fingertips brushing lightly over his skin, and he closed his eyes, trying very hard not to give away just what her touch was doing to him. That didn't work for very long though.

He pulled her closer to him with a husky whisper, "I'd tell you to stop that, sweetheart, if I didn't absolutely love it."

Her hand stopped moving for a moment, but soon resumed its caressing as she whispered back, "I'd stop if I could. But I think I like touching you as much as I like being in your arms, Mark."

With a low groan, he rolled on his side, pulling her closer to him and bending his head to kiss her. Her lips parted the moment they touched his, and he drew her tongue into his mouth, deepening the kiss. Her hand moved across his body in a slow caress as she slid her arm around him, pressing herself tightly against him with a soft moan against his lips.

Mark wrapped both arms around her, holding her close as he continued to kiss her. She draped her leg around his hip, pulling their bodies even closer together, and it was his turn to moan as she ground her hips to his. His cock, already half erect, hardened further and his arms tightened around her. The wave of desire that swept over him was damn near overwhelming, and his lips ravaged hers.

Harley's head was swimming as she clung to him, kissing him passionately. Every nerve was alive with sensation, with an intensity that was a little frightening. The pleasure centres of her brain were in overdrive, right up until Mark rolled her more onto her back, his big body half covering hers. Then she was doused with a cold splash of reality as his hip pressed into her healing tummy.

She yelped, her nails digging painfully into his back momentarily in reaction. He immediately drew away from her, and she couldn't help a tiny whimper, although she wasn't sure if it was because he had hurt her or because she instantly missed the feel of his body against hers.

Mark winced at the look on her face, bringing his hand up to stroke her hair as he whispered, "Damn it, I'm sorry, sweetheart. I never meant to hurt you."

Harley took a slightly shuddery breath, eyes closing as she waited for the pain to pass. "Not your fault, Mark."

He brushed his lips over her forehead. "I got carried away, and I forgot why I needed to be gentle with you."

Her eyes opened, and she leaned up carefully to kiss him softly. "Hey, you weren't the only one who got carried away, trust me."

He smiled at her, his fingers still stroking through her hair. "Kissing you . . . well, it kinda short circuits my thinking circuits. Specially this morning, while we were lying here together. I can't help wanting you, Kate."

She gave a little shiver, looking into his eyes, nodding slowly. "I know the feeling, Mark." She chuckled softly. "And I'm not someone who's been known for restraint in this kind of situation before, if you know what I mean."

"You tryin' to tell me you're . . . easy, sweetheart?" His eyes darkened, his expression hungry.

Her voice was low and full of promise as she answered. "When I want someone, I go for it. No games, no holding back."

Their eyes locked, and Mark knew that, had her appendix not intervened, they would have been lovers almost the moment he'd gotten her interest. And while a part of him wished, quite fervently, that that had been the case, they would have missed out on so much. His expression softened, and his hand caressed her face very gently.

"We're a lot alike, Kate. Because I'm the same way, so this is not how I usually operate either. But despite that, I'm not sure I'd change a thing. Except for hurting you just now - I'd take that back in a heartbeat if I could."

Her smile lit up her whole face, and she nuzzled against his hand. "You know, I realized a few days back that I was actually enjoying having conversations with you. That's kinda one of the first casualties when you just go for it all the time. And you're showing me that extended foreplay can be fun too. We just pushed it too far this morning."

He smiled back at her. "You feeling okay now?"

She nodded, leaning in to kiss him lightly. "Yeah, I'm fine."

His hand cupped the back of her head gently, holding her close to kiss her a little more deeply, though with little of their earlier passion. She sighed softly against his lips and smiled.

"You want the bathroom first, Kate?" he asked, returning her smile.

"Would you mind? I've got a pretty early flight."

"Go right ahead. My appearance isn't til eleven o'clock."

She smiled, moving away from him and then sitting up to get out of the bed. He lay back and watched her gather her clothes and her travel pack and go into the bathroom. He forced his mind away from thoughts of her naked not ten feet away from him, but still he smiled. Sure, it wasn't perfect, what they had going on, but it was still pretty good.


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Tags: fan fiction, fireworks
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