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She was tired. Her pain from losing Thomas never eased completely, yet it was particularly sharp today, on the anniversary of his death. Try as she might, she was never able to block from her mind the image of him lying there, bloody and so still --

She stopped. She didn’t want to battle her inner demons, and frankly, she didn’t have the strength to do it. She wanted merely to forget, to just lose herself for the night. Tomorrow would be soon enough to go back to her life, but tonight, she would be free to do whatever she wanted. Or whomever.

Greg took a sip of his beer as he lounged back in his chair, watching the crowd in the bar. It was still a little early for most people to be there, but he was in no hurry. He knew if he waited long enough, he’d find a woman for tonight. It was just a matter of biding his time. The door to the bar opened, letting in the sallow light from the street lamp outside, and Greg drank some more beer as he looked to see who it was.

The brunette came into the smoky dimness, her stride sure, as she made her way inside. She didn’t look around, but instead walked straight to the bar, where she leaned forward to give the bartender her order, giving Greg a perfect shot of the tight ass in the short leather skirt. Greg chuckled to himself. Perfect.

He got up and sauntered over to where the brunette was sitting on her stool. She was turned to the side, relaxed. In her mouth was a cigarette, and she took a drag, her dark eyes bored, as she watched some men on the far side of the room playing pool. Her legs were crossed, and when Greg reached her, he took the opportunity to rub his hand over her bare thigh. "Hey, sweetheart, how ‘bout I buy you a drink?"

She slowly turned to look at him, then deliberately raised her right hand, showing him where a glass filled with liquid was held. At the same time, she took her left hand and forcibly lifted his hand off of her thigh.

She smiled thinly and took the cigarette out of her mouth. Deliberately, she blew smoke into his face. "I’ve got one." She turned her back on him and hunched over her drink.

He moved to her side and rested his weight on the bar, leaning forward slightly. He gave her a smile, the one that had worked on nearly all of the women he’d picked up and reached out his hand to rub her back. "C’mon, honey, how ‘bout I get your next drink?"

"Not interested."

Greg shrugged, but rather than leaving, instead sat down next to her and put his hand again on her thigh. "Hey, sweetie. You’re a real looker. We’d have a good time if you’d just lighten up."

She turned to him and, holding her cigarette between her thumb and forefinger, held it up in front of his face to see. "What don’t you understand?" Then she plunged the cigarette down onto his hand.

He screamed and jumped backwards off of his stool. When he had regained his balance, he looked at his hand, then glanced back up at her, hatred shimmering in his eyes.

He started towards her, furious.

"You shouldn’t be surprised. She said she you weren’t her type." The new voice, deep and hoarse, had both the brunette and Greg turning to see who had spoken. The man sat on the other side of the brunette, a few seats over, casually leaning into his drink, face turned down to the bar. He hadn’t looked at them when he spoke.

Greg bristled. "Why don’t you shut the fuck up? This ain’t any of your business."

The man turned his head to face them. "I’m making it my business." His eyes were narrowed slightly and he had a scar running down his face.

He slowly unfolded himself from the barstool and stood up, towering over Greg. Greg stepped towards the stranger. "Why don’t you—" Before he could finish, the stranger punched him. Greg went down immediately and struggled back up to his feet. The stranger absently rubbed his knuckles. The brunette lit another cigarette and took a drag. When Greg finally was standing again, the stranger punched him again. Greg went down and this time, stayed down.

The bartender, angry, headed towards the brunette and the stranger as he came around the bar to kneel by Greg’s body. "What the hell you doin’? Get out of here ‘fore I call the police."

The stranger shrugged and reached into his pocket for his wallet. Throwing some bills onto the counter, he turned and sauntered out of the bar. The bartender, still next to Greg, jerked his head at the brunette. "You, too."

She followed the path of the stranger, noticing that several men in her path backed quickly out of her way. Smiling coldly at them, she reached the door and took one last drag of her cigarette. Turning, she flicked it at the nearest man, who jumped back to avoid it, then she left the bar.

Outside, she sighed and let her shoulders slump a little bit. So much for being someone else for a night. This was the sleaziest bar in town, and she had just been thrown out of it. Nothing to do now but go home.

She started towards her car, when a voice came out of the shadows. "I’ve been waiting for you." She started, and turned towards the man as he stepped out into the light.

She studied him, buying herself time as she took out another cigarette. He was dressed in tight jeans with an even tighter black shirt covering his chest. A tattoo ran the length of his right upper arm. She noticed the scar on his face went through his eyebrow, down across his eyelid, making it droop slightly, and halfway down his bristled cheek. His blue eyes regarded her calmly as she took him in.

"Here." He reached towards her with a lighter that she hadn’t seen him take out, and lit her cigarette. She took a drag before taking it out of her mouth. "Thanks." He took the cigarette from her and took a drag himself before handing it back. "No problem."

He continued. "You know you weren’t in there to sit by yourself and nurse a drink. I have a room nearby. Why don’t you come with me?"

For a minute, she didn’t say anything. Her first instinct was to say no, and in a manner he wouldn’t soon forget. She knew more ways of rendering a man insensible than anyone would think, and she hadn’t become the Ice Queen through mere brush-offs with words.

But, she reminded herself, tonight was to forget who she was. Forget her battles in life for the night. Tonight, she would be free. And if this man couldn’t help her forget, then no one could.

She nodded slowly. "Fine. I’ll follow you."

He shrugged. "Suit yourself." He turned and walked to a car hidden from the street lights. She got in her own car and waited as he turned on his lights and drove onto the main road. She followed his tail-lights as he drove and when the man pulled into a parking lot of a seedy motel about 5 minutes later, she pulled up next to him and got out.

He walked to a room on the ground floor and pulled out a key from his jeans pocket. She followed his hand with her eyes as it dug deep into his pocket. When he pulled out the key, she kept her eyes at the seam where the pocket ended. Was it her imagination or did the jeans look even tighter now?

He unlocked the motel door and held it open for her to go first. She walked inside and glanced quickly around. Small, dingy, and muggy, but clean. The bed was made, with the thin brown cover pulled tight across the mattress.

The door closed behind her and she looked around to the man as he walked past her. He put the keys to the room and his car on the dresser and pulled his wallet out of his jeans, bending over slightly as he did so. Glancing up into the mirror, he caught her eyes on him and he froze briefly.

He straightened and turned to face her. Slowly, he walked towards her. Nervous suddenly, she gestured towards his face. "What happened?" He stopped and lightly touched his scar. "You mean this?"


"Knife fight." He said the words succinctly, watching her face closely. Her expression didn’t change, and he continued his lazy walk towards her.

Suddenly, she felt annoyed with herself. Why was she trying to put this off? This night was about forgetting who she was, whatever the cost. She advanced towards him and met him halfway. Lifting her face to his, she lifted her hand and gently touched the scar. He went still, with only his eyes moving over her face. She met his gaze, paused, then deliberately leaned forward and licked his lips, leaving her tongue to trace the outline of his lips, then the crease where they split.

Suddenly, his arms were around her and he was kissing her, pressing himself to her as his tongue roamed her mouth. She returned the kiss, pushing herself close to him. She could feel the outline of his body and a sudden warmth flooded her insides. He held on to her as he walked slowly to the bed, still kissing her, but this time his mouth wasn’t on hers. He trailed kisses along her jaw line and as her head dropped back, exposing her neck, she let out a moan.

He felt a sudden jar against his body as the back of her knees hit the bed and he couldn’t go any further. He quickly lowered her fully onto the covers and then crawled on top of her, his legs on either side of hers, his hands on her face, as he held her head still to kiss her mouth.

She had her arms around him and scratched his back, pushing his shirt up to reach his bare skin as she took his kiss and gave back with as much force as she could. His tongue thrust into her mouth and she sucked on it, bringing out a low growl from him as she did so. After a minute, she stopped sucking and pushed her tongue into his mouth where she explored him thoroughly.

She continued caressing his bare skin, all the while pushing his shirt up to expose more of him. He pulled away from her suddenly to pull off his shirt, tossing it to the floor. Once it was off, he immediately covered her body with his, and continued kissing her. He took his hand and ran it up her leg, noting the smooth skin and short skirt. He got his hand underneath her skirt and ran his fingers down her panties. Taking a moment to caress her gently, he then used both of his hands to lift her hips and remove the panties. Still kissing her, he rolled briefly to one side to let her kick off the lace she had been wearing. All she was left wearing was a tight vest, straining the few buttons holding it together, and her leather skirt, bunched up, but still very much there.

He tore his mouth away and began kissing her around her ears. "You’re wet," he said in his hoarse voice. His fingers played with her, circling softly around her center, feeling the wetness. Without warning, he thrust a finger inside of her and she bucked and clenched against him, panting.

She had her head thrown back, her hips pushing up to his still jeans-clad body. She kept her eyes closed and moaned.

Suddenly, she opened her eyes and rolled him over, catching him by surprise. She rolled with him, ending up with him on the bottom and her sitting on his hips. He reached for her and she pushed his hands away. He settled for holding onto her hips and occasionally grinding up with his own hips.

She toyed with the buttons on her vest and she coyly smiled. His eyes were focused on the small expanse of bare skin that peeked out from behind the vest. She played with the buttons, undoing one, and then fiddling with the next one. After a short time of this, he grabbed her hands away from the vest and rolled them back over again, so he was on top. He pinioned her wrists above her head with one hand, easily handling her movements to get free, and deftly undid the rest of the buttons of her vest with his other hand. The vest fell away and he gazed down at her.

"Beautiful," he murmured.

He leaned down and took a nipple into his mouth. He began sucking slowly on it, pulling it up, and then releasing the pressure to lick her. As he continued, she began to writhe on the bed, tossing her head from side to side. "Please…." She pulled at her hands to get free, but he ignored her struggles, and she stayed imprisoned.

He turned his attention to her other nipple and treated it to the same exquisite torture as he had given the first one. His concentration on his task kept him focused, and she was finally able to pull her hands away from his grip.

She reached between them and fumbled with his belt. As he continued ministering to her, she managed to get it open, and it was then easy to undo his jeans. He was lying fully on her and she arched her back, pushing her nipple into his mouth as he continued afflicting her with his tongue. Distracted for a minute, she remembered her purpose and managed to roll them both over again so she was on top.

Lifting herself off of him, she told him breathlessly to lift his hips. Blue eyes nearly black from the pupils, he watched her silently as he obeyed and she pulled his jeans off of him. She was momentarily startled to see he wore no underwear, but then smiled, catlike, as she grasped him in her hand.

"Beautiful," she said quietly and then leaned down over him to take him in her mouth. At the first feel of her warm mouth over him, with her tongue caressing him, he bucked his hips and groaned loudly. She continued playing with him, her tongue both soothing and punishing as she sucked and lightly bit him. "Wait…" he managed to get out.

She stopped what she was doing and looked up at him from her crouch over him. She licked her lips and he swallowed and closed his eyes briefly. "What?" she asked.

He reached for her. "I’m close. I want to be in you."

She allowed herself to be pulled up his body, but couldn’t resist one last suck on him with her mouth beforehand. He let out a strangled gasp and pulled her hard up to him.

He pulled her head down to his and crushed his mouth against hers. Holding the back of her head firmly to his with one of his hands while he kissed her, he used his other hand to pull up her skirt. He had barely gotten his hand out of the way when she impaled herself on him.

He moaned into her mouth. She was tight and oh so wet for him. Still kissing fiercely, their hips met together in a rhythm that was timeless. He let go of holding onto the back of her head and rolled them back over so he was on top.

In this position, she lifted her legs and put them around his back and he plunged into her. She gasped as he buried himself in her, and she moved her hips to meet his as he thrust. His thrusts became harder and faster as he came closer to coming. He held himself off of her, arms bulging, and his head had dropped down, close to his chest. Sweat beaded on his face and his eyes were tightly closed.

She kept her eyes on his face as she gasped and panted, watching him, as she lifted her hips to his. She leaned up and pressed her mouth to his, eagerly thrusting her tongue inside when his mouth opened. She broke the kiss, dropping back to the bed, still watching him.

Suddenly, he opened his eyes. They were completely black now and for a minute, they were unfocused. He met her gaze for a second before he screwed them shut again and moaned loudly as he came. He ground himself into her and she felt the sudden quickening that signaled her own orgasm. Clutching him tightly, she lifted her hips and squeezed him between her, feeling him as he came and knowing he felt her come.

Within seconds of each other, they both finished and she collapsed back, dropping her arms from around him. He held himself up a second longer, then gently lowered himself down on top of her. Both were breathing hard and neither moved.

After a moment, he rolled away from her, sticky and hot.

He got out of bed, unmindful of his nakedness, and went into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

She raised her head after she heard the door close, then rolled to her side. She quickly slipped off the tangled skirt around her hips and dropped it on the floor. It’s not likely that’d be wearable again.

Well, she had done it. She had definitely lost herself tonight. And what a way to go. She grinned briefly, then thought longingly for a cigarette.

The bathroom door opened and she propped herself up on her elbow, watching him as he came towards her with a glass of water.

"Here." He handed it to her and she gulped it down, then handed it back. "Thanks."

He put the glass on the nightstand next to the bed and then crawled back in next to her, propping himself up in a mirror image of her position. He grinned at her, his dark eyes flashing. "How was it?"

She smiled back at him. "*Very* nice. It was exactly what I needed." She rubbed a finger down his sweaty upper arm, where his tattoo was. Using her fingernail, she scratched it lightly as she stroked him and the tattoo began coming off.

"I liked the tattoo. You should use that again sometime."

"Maybe I will."

She stopped and looked at his face. She touched the scar and lightly scratched at it as she had the tattoo. Slowly, it, too, began to come off. "This was a nice touch, too. Very realistic."

He smiled faintly, watching her face as she became absorbed in removing his scar. "Thanks."

"Where’d you get it?"

"Remember my stint doing special effects? This was child’s play."

"Figured it was something like that. You should wear the blue contacts more often. Contrasts with your hair."

He didn’t say anything, but just smiled again at her. When she had finished taking his scar off of him, he pulled her towards him, leaning back so that she was lying partly on him while he was on his back. He stroked her hair.

"I was surprised you were smoking in the bar. Thought you said the smell made you sick now, ever since you quit."

"It does. Surprising how easy it was to slip back into the person who I used to be, though. Smoker, ice bitch, take-no-prisoners-Miss-Parker."

She craned her neck to look up at him. "And I’m surprised that you smoked. Never thought I’d see you do that."

He shrugged the best he could while lying on the bed with her lying half on top of him. "It fit with the pretend. Can’t understand how you got yourself into that habit, though."

She shrugged herself and put her head back on his chest, lightly stroking his hands. Gradually, her breathing slowed and her stroking stopped. After she had fallen asleep, he stayed awake, listening to her slow inhale and exhale.

He knew what tonight was. He knew that she had needed to forget herself and needed his help for it.

When Thomas had been killed, she had nearly shattered. But she had pulled herself together and continued doing her job. Searching. Hunting. For him.

He looked down at her, smoothing her hair away from her face. Her eyelids fluttered slightly and she sighed heavily, deeply, a frown shaping her mouth.

Even asleep, her demons wouldn’t leave her alone.

Finally finding out the truth about her real father was the final straw, and she had left the Centre for good. Once he realized that she wasn’t ever going back, he let her catch up to him and their gradual relationship had grown from wary enemies to reluctant friends to passionate lovers.

Eventually, they had their revenge on the Centre, bringing down the corporation that had tried to destroy every possible part of their lives.

Being free, together, had almost seemed too good to be true. It was still hard to believe that he didn’t have to watch his step, to always look behind him and stay ahead of whoever might be chasing.

He had finally begun to believe that they could help each other heal; that the Centre no longer had any control over them. And as the days passed, he could see in the softening of her face as she looked at him, in the carefree way she began to move, that she was beginning to believe it, too.

It was only on the days leading up to the anniversary of Thomas’s death that the shadows would appear again in her eyes. Her moods would darken and she’d be quiet, introspective. He tried to let her fight her own battles with her monsters, but when she began mentally pulling away from him, that’s when he would step in, like tonight.

She had lived a life that placed such a burden on her, and would for the rest of her days, that sometimes she needed the release from it all. She needed to know that she could always escape from her past, if only for a little bit.

He had pretended enough in his life to know and relish the feel of the release that came with being somebody else. She was still learning how to deal with her past, in whatever way she could.

He would be there for her, whatever it took.

He caught a glimpse of her lacy panties on the floor and he smiled.

Whatever it took.

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