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Disclaimer: The characters of Jarod and Miss Parker were recently purchased at a flea market in Red Bank, New Jersey. Nah, only kidding. They are the property of Craig and Steve; I'm just borrowing them to entertain myself and have every intention of returning them unharmed, but smilin'! I'm not earning a penny here so please don't sue.

At Times Like This

By Ginger

At times like this, I don't feel my body. Adrenaline, I guess. I mean, I don't feel physical sensations like pain or fatigue but I'm hyper-aware, my senses on overdrive, and that super-rational part of my brain takes over. I am calm, absurdly so.

Typical day for me: I'm running for my life, with my trusty old 9mm drawn, through a darkened warehouse. Someone, I have no idea whom but I have my suspicions, apparently wants me dead. Isn't the first time; won't be the last.

I hope.

I round another corner but, damn, they're closing in. It's a fucking ARMY of assassins. I'm strangely honored that someone's going to all this trouble. Talk about your backhanded compliments.

I was lured here; they used bait they KNEW I couldn't resist. HE WILL be the death of me someday, one way or another. And, knowing him, the annoying little pain in the ass will be positively wracked with guilt. Well, that's ONE consolation, anyway.

Looks like I'm really going to have to shoot my way out of this. I've already hit two of them, one in the thigh. He'll be fine. The other one, however, went down like a ton of bricks. I think I hit him in the abdominal cavity and, there, it can go either way. It all depends on whether you've hit vital organs and which ones. I may very well have killed someone this evening. Swell.

The last scene of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" flickers in my mind. It's not exactly the motivational, confidence-building image I could use right now but there it is. Am I really going to die here? It would be a shame. It's so dreary, dark and grimy and I'm wearing my cute little Prada suit with one of my hand-dyed, one-of-a-kind, patterned silk scarves. Come to think of it, the last time I recall wearing one of these to work, and that was years ago, it ended up wrapped around Sydney's thigh to stem blood loss from a bullet wound, courtesy of my gun. Call me superstitious but, if I live, this one is going straight into the bag for Goodwill, along with the others from that shopping spree in Milan about ten years back.

I come to another intersection and turn into an even darker passageway. Pointless really: I don't even know why I'm still running. Whoever they are, they're good, keeping their verbal communication to a minimum as they track me, closing in like an experienced hunting party on its dangerous, but ultimately doomed, quarry. The irony is not lost on me. The huntress has become the hunted.

HE won't see the humor in it though; he'll just ache. And, with that thought, I begin to ache, which is strange.

At times like this, I don't usually FEEL anything. I am detached from my emotions until after the danger has passed. But, suddenly, I'm picturing him on the phone with Sydney, asking why he hasn't been able to reach me. (After all, if he's forced to go more than a couple days without tormenting me, it REALLY upsets his apple cart.) I'm picturing Syd's face as he gravely delivers the news. And I'm picturing him going through the stages of grief: shock, denial, bargaining and, finally, acceptance. And I can feel his heart breaking. And my heart breaks. Why, after all this time and everything that's happened, does he still care?

Damned if I know but I'm running faster now, bringing to bear every skill I have, both learned and innate, as I strive to somehow make it out of here alive. I cannot let it end this way… not for me… not for him… not for us... US? Where the fuck did that come from, and why NOW?

At times like this, my life does not usually go flashing before my eyes like it does in the movies. I am generally preoccupied with analyzing the situation and calmly trying to figure out a way to get my ass out of whatever sling I've managed to cram it into. When confronting a team of well-trained, efficient, lethal human beings that happen to be here for the sole, expressed purpose of ending my life, it makes absolutely no sense to start waxing romantic. It is downright ridiculous, not to mention unhelpful, to picture him sitting there in front of the fire, his darks eyes glittering in a way that elicited the most unwelcome, and unwholesome, thoughts and feelings.

FUCK! If I don't die tonight, I am going to kill him.

I've all but stopped breathing because, apparently, all hell has broken loose. By now, I am essentially in total darkness and can't see a friggin' thing but there is suddenly a lot of shouting and the exchange of gunfire. Clearly, someone else has joined the party. Friend or foe, I have no idea, but at least it shakes things up a bit, perhaps granting me the opportunity to get the hell out of here. Or so I think until…

I am jerked back, a hand closing over my mouth and stifling my startled gasp. A strong arm encircles me from behind, deftly pinning both my arms at my sides. I am clutching my gun for dear life but it is essentially useless now; the most I could do with it would be to shoot myself in the foot. Story of my life…

When I'm yanked into a small compartment, perhaps a closet or maybe even a shipping container, I am forced into disturbingly close contact with my assailant, who maintains a strangle hold on me, his hand still covering my mouth. A couple terrifying and wholly unpleasant seconds later, the awareness begins to dawn; a familiarity based on lord knows what, but it's there nevertheless. My taut body slackens against his and I emit a deep sigh of relief against his palm.

"I'm sorry but I had to get you out of the line of fire without giving away your location," he whispers against my ear, adding, "I've called in the cavalry. Everything will be alright."

He feels my slow nod and removes his hand from my mouth. I feel it come to rest gently on my hip. And, even though the clamor outside sounds anything but alright and it's not entirely clear to me that we'll walk out of here, I am acutely aware of that hand and find myself focused on its placement. He loosens his grasp on my arms and I feel his other hand cover mine on my gun. He takes it from me. A small smile actually forms on my lips. He still doesn't trust me not to train it on him the first chance I get. And, for some reason, this pleases me to no end.

I hear the click of the safety and feel him struggle to reach behind him in our confined space to tuck my gun into the waistband of his jeans. And even though I can't see a thing, I just know they're black, and fit him like a glove. His other hand has not moved; it remains on my hip. There is a casual intimacy to this gesture that I find disconcerting, but not unpleasant. As he's drawing his arm back around his body, the commotion outside our little cocoon appears to be getting closer. At the sound of a bullet ricocheting off of something VERY nearby, I suck in a sharp breath and hold it. He instinctively wraps his arms around me, pulling me tightly to him in a protective gesture. Instinctively, I wrap my own arms around my waist, holding him to me. And, thus, we remain in silence for several harrowing minutes as the action outside moves past us.

At times like this, I am not usually grinning like the Chesire Cat but here I am, probably about to die, and I've got an idiotic smile plastered on my lips. The thing is, I know EXACTLY what he's doing right now, smelling my hair. His cheek is pressed against the back of my head and I can just picture the goofy look of bliss on his face. I know this because whenever we were together as kids, he would maneuver his way into sniffing position. I caught on pretty quickly but never said anything. Actually, I liked it. It made me feel special, like an object of desire, like a woman.

Rather like I'm feeling right now. I've been in many a ludicrous situation over the course of my rather pathetic lifetime. If it weren't so dangerous, it would be comical. Still, this one has to take the cake. His hands shift slightly beneath mine then shift again; he's fidgeting. He wants something and he's trying to muster the courage. And, because it is apparently my lot in life, I know exactly what it is he wants.

It was a fairly mild day today, plus I never wear anything under the jacket of my adorable Prada suit except a bra, usually something skimpy and lacy. I don't know why, really. It's been AGES since anyone's been under my suit jacket. Maybe it's just to remind myself that I'm not dead… yet. And maybe that's the same reason I'm now guiding one of his hands up under the bottom of my jacket to rest on my bare belly.

His hand is completely still, frozen, but does not leave my skin as I remove mine from his. I let my hand drop to my side and just wait, wondering what he's going to do about it. I guess I've just issued a silent challenge; will he answer it? I know he's just got to be cursing my timing and find myself rather amused by the concept. It has quieted a bit outside but it's still obvious that there are armed and dangerous persons running around this building. Have I lost my mind?

If I have then I'm not alone because he has started drawing the most exquisite patterns on my flesh. His hands are exasperatingly soft, his touch infuriatingly perfect. My body responds immediately: my nipples grow erect, heat rising beneath his caress and lower. His other arm is still wrapped tightly around me, although somewhat higher on my torso now, crossing my ribcage, tantalizingly close to my breasts. My hand still rests over his so I guess I probably moved it to grant him greater access to the naked skin beneath my jacket. Yeah, it's official. I have definitely lost my mind.

At times like this, I do NOT surrender, and to this man, never. Time and again, I've vowed never to surrender to this strange, incredibly frustrating human being whose freedom I was once so willing to barter for my own, or so I thought anyway, at the time. Now, I'm not so sure. If it were ever true, it sure as hell isn't anymore. When did it change?

And when did I place his hand on my breast? Clearly I must have done it because my hand still rests lightly over his, although there is no need really. The boy doesn't need any guidance from me as he deftly toys with my aching nipple through the fabric of my jacket and bra, pinching and squeezing, just a little rough. Just the way I like it. Bastard.

It has grown quiet outside and I briefly wonder if it's safe to leave. Neither of us makes a sound and all I can hear is our breathing. He switches to my other breast as the hand that covered his drops limply to my side and I feel him nudge my hair aside with his nose to expose the back of my neck. Except, of course, that the back of my neck is buried beneath my hand-dyed, one-of-a-kind, patterned silk scarf. He emits a small sigh and speaks for only the second time tonight, his voice so low that I can barely hear him even though his lips are right next to my ear. I do hear him though.

"Remove it, please."

Well, at least he said please, although I do find the sense of entitlement inherent in his words to be a tad maddening, as if he has every right to ask it of me. I consider this as I slowly raise my arms, careful not to knock my elbows against the walls of our cramped little hideaway, and comply with his request. I methodically wind the sheer material around my forearm and forget about it as I feel his hot breath against my skin. He hesitates for an agonizing instant and I become aware that my entire body is trembling. Son-of-a-bitch.

When his lips touch the back of my neck, I hold my breath. His kisses are so soft at first and feel like the tickle of a feather. He then employs his tongue, perfectly of course, and then his teeth, nipping gently, deliciously, at my sensitized flesh. I feel him swiftly and skillfully undo the buttons of my suit jacket and find it increasingly difficult to keep silent as I feel him part the material to grant him full access to my bare flesh.

He, on the other hand, appears to have no difficulty whatsoever keeping quiet and, for one bleak moment, I fear it's because he is unaffected. I suspect he might just be playing me, manipulating his lonely, horny, pathetic huntress by giving her a quick thrill while we're trapped together in a dark closet. But then a sensation I have been feeling for some time registers, and I realize it is his rock hard erection pressed against my ass and lower back.

At times like this, I am struck by my own audacity. I wind one hand back around his body to cup that firm, tight bottom I've spent the better part of five years staring at as he ran away from me. I squeeze and he presses his fingers firmly into my sternum. My breath hitches at the pleasing discomfort and I smile at the knowledge that he is, indeed, affected. It fuels my courage and my other hand slides back and between our closely molded bodies. Oh, yes, he's affected alright.

Even through denim I can feel him stir as I begin to stroke, and one of his hands plunges roughly beneath the fabric of my bra. His other skitters south along my damp skin; I'm perspiring now. So is he; even through clothing I can feel the moist heat emanating from his body. I feel him unhook the fastener to my slacks and bite my lip as I sense the zipper sliding down. I know this is completely ridiculous but, right now, I can't bring myself to care.

And what about him? Who knows what's going on outside. It's now quiet but someone could come barging in here any second to put a bullet in each of our brains. This is hardly rational behavior we're engaged in and, yet, here he is: the Centre's prize possession, genius of geniuses, fondling my tits with one hand (and very successfully, I might add) as his other works its way toward...

He pauses at the lacy waistband of my panties, toying with the delicate satin bow. If he loses his nerve now, he will NOT walk out of here tonight. I decide to lead by example and begin tugging down his fly, which isn't easy considering the awkward position from which I'm operating. I am assisted considerably by his fervid anatomy, straining to break free from its heavy cotton prison. I somehow manage to remember my gun tucked into the waistband of his jeans so I don't undo the button, deciding instead to bring Mohammed to the mountain, so to speak, and slip my hand inside his open fly then fish around to find the opening in his underwear. I dive in without ceremony and wrap my hand around him, firmly, squeezing ever so slightly before I begin exploring in earnest. He feels marvelous in my hand: full, heavy and alive. And my arousal increases at the thought of how he would feel inside of me.

He leans forward slightly, nuzzling his face into my hair as his hand slips under the lace of my panties. When he feels the incredible wetness there, his breath catches and he latches onto my earlobe, wonderfully tugging it as his fingers effortlessly slide across my slippery skin, his probing of my intimate flesh both gentle and insistent. I am assaulted by so many sensations at once – his teeth on my earlobe, one hand ravaging my breasts as his other plunders my warm, wet depths – that it's all I can do to keep my knees from buckling. But, almost as if it is moving of its own accord, my hand continues to work rhythmically, applying pressure that I know is working for him. I know because it is the same rhythm and pressure he's using on me and we're now rocking softly, in complete harmony, as we expertly jerk each other off.

Our tiny nest has become stifling and smells of sex, our musky scents commingling and hanging in what little air remains in the tight space we occupy. It's clear that neither of us will be satisfied with anything less than mutually assured destruction and we're well on our way. As I feel my orgasm about to crest, I realize that he's right there with me, a pretty neat trick considering the complex logistics of our present situation. There still isn't a sound except for our ragged breaths as we struggle to fill our lungs with the limited available oxygen but mainly succeed in filling them with the essence of each other.

My respiration ceases altogether as I find my release. I suck in a sharp breath and hold it, my body clenching the two fingers he has somehow managed to slip inside me. I feel as though I'm in a dream state, half conscious, as only seconds later I feel him bite down hard at the junction of my shoulder and neck. Immediately thereafter I am aware of warm moisture covering my hand and my reverie is broken when it occurs to me...

Um, I hadn't thought of that.

At times like this, I could really use one of those moist towelettes you always see moms using to wipe their kids' hands in mall parking lots. He emits a small whimper and I assume he's thinking the same thing. The bomb just went off in his shorts, after all. I carefully withdraw my hand from the inside of his pants and he does likewise.

For a moment I just hold my hand as far away from my body as the confined space will allow and think wistfully about my Prada suit. Among the many strange turns this day has taken, I now bear a handful of his semen and I am going to walk out of here looking like Monica Lewinsky after a long day in the Oval Office. In a stroke of genius, I remember the cursed Italian scarf and unwind it from my arm. Silk isn't the most absorbent of materials but desperate times call for desperate measures. I wipe off my hand the best I can then press the scarf into his hand, whispering,

"Use it, if you like. It's history anyway."

He takes it from me and I choose not to ponder what's going on behind me as I begin to straighten and refasten my clothing. There hasn't been a sound from outside for quite a while and I realize that I've lost all track of time. In the distance, I hear the screeching of tires and the opening and closing of car doors.

"Probably your ride. I believe it's safe now," he says in a low but conversational tone, signaling that it is no longer necessary to whisper.

Just as we emerge from our den of iniquity, the overhead lights go on. I can hear voices in the distance but figure it will take a few minutes for them to make their way back here. I blink a few times to adjust before turning around to face him. As much I'm dreading it, I know I have to get it over with: that look of self-satisfaction, that smirk. Only that's not what I'm confronted with when I turn around; what I get instead is much, much worse.

His eyes are lowered slightly and he's glancing up at me through those thick, dark eyelashes of his. His lips are fashioned into a small, diffident smile and he even looks a little scared. But, more than anything else, his demeanor evokes tenderness and that's the moment when I realize that I am well and truly fucked, both literally and figuratively.

He holds up the scarf now containing abundant DNA evidence of our indiscretion and casts me a questioning look. I shake my head vigorously and, with a smirk, advise,

"Burn it."

I know he won't though. He'll keep it as a memento, although I find myself oddly fixating on whether or not he plans on giving it a good hand washing. I think I am about to blurt out that he REALLY should when I hear the unmistakable timbre of Sydney's voice coming from behind me, calling out my name in a tone laced with concern.

I spin around in time to see him and Broots round the corner. Lyle is bringing up the rear and I can see his eyes darting nervously about the place and just know that he's wondering if anything has been left behind that could possibly link tonight's festivities back to him.


I turn around again and am not at all surprised to find my gun lying on the floor in front of me. He's gone, of course. Only he isn't, because he never really leaves me these days. He's with me all the time and will be even more so from now on. I sigh heavily and bend to pick up my gun before turning a third time. As I do, it occurs to me that, whatever the hell this is, I'm getting too old for it.

They're all talking at me at once, expressing their concern, Syd's and Broots's genuine, Lyle's feigned, and asking me what the hell happened tonight. For so many reasons, I couldn't answer that question if I tried, so I just stand there in silence, staring blankly until they, too, stop talking and gaze at me expectantly.

"At times like this," I begin evenly. "I can really use a drink. Lyle's buying."

# # # #

Author's Note: Yeah, I know, Jarod and Parker locked in a tight space together was done to death, like, four years ago. Still, in my opinion, the truly inspired ideas are timeless.

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