Disclaimer : Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings : Sex and love between women. ALSO! Includes some graphic heterosexual smut, in a way. If you've read "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" you'll understand it better. It's all shapeshifter confusion. Be prepared for things to get a little weird with Ari's girlfriend.
Feedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2011 Geonn Cannon
"This blouse costs as much as eight outfits where I usually shop." Ari adjusted the collar and smoothed down the material. She turned to see her profile. "And it's probably just going to end up folded in a laundry bag in some alley somewhere when I have to transform on the fly."
Dale stepped into the triple-mirror area and hung three more blouses on the right side mirror. "A couple of counterpoints. One, you're not paying for them. The owner of the store said that we had a two hundred dollar limit to help offset our bill. Two, you usually shop at Goodwill. Hoodies and a rainbow of T-shirts do not constitute a wardrobe." She held up a blouse to imagine how it looked on Ari. "Two..."
"You said two."
"Right. Three, you should have some nice clothes for your personal life."
Ari scoffed. "Right. Not all of us have a sexy dentist waiting to take us out on lavish dinner dates."
Ari sighed and went back into the dressing room. Dale stayed outside and used the mirror to watch the front of the store. The blouse Ari had been trying on came over the top of the dressing room door, and Dale put it back on the hanger. She appreciated Ari taking this case; they both needed a mental health day - or month - after the last investigation. Stakeouts were usually incredibly dull, but when it involved trying on free designer clothes, it was a little more tolerable.
"You deserve to look nice, Ari."
Inside the dressing room, Ari rolled her eyes. She thought she looked good in her hoodies and T-shirts. She liked clothes she didn't have to worry about. Toss them in a washing machine once or twice a month, no fuss no muss. The clothes she was looking at now needed dry-cleaning, they needed to be carefully hung in the closet. Eating in them would be an ordeal. One drip, one dropped wonton, and it would be ruined.
She took another blouse down. "Maybe you can take the whole two hundred for yourself. Get something nice for your dent-- for Natalie."
"I would feel weird. I mean, you're the detective. It's your paycheck."
"Are you watching the clerks in the mirror right now?"
"Then you deserve half the money. I think I saw a lingerie section when we came in."
She heard Dale snicker in the way she did when she was embarrassed. Ari buttoned her shirt and pulled her hair out from under the collar. She held it up to see what the shirt would look like if her hair was done. The collar was low enough that it showed off how long and slender her neck was. That, in turn, made her cheekbones pop. She turned her head slightly and admired the dip of the collar.
Maybe owning one nice outfit wouldn't be too terrible.
She left the dressing room and Dale held up a hand. She pointed at the mirror and stepped to one side. From the angle, she could see the large oval counter where the clerks buzzed like bees in a hive. The manager knew that money was being skimmed from the registers between three and six every evening, but the cameras weren't catching anything. She hired Ari in the hopes she would see what the electronic eye hadn't, and it seemed like the gamble had paid off.
The clerks were dressed identically in black blouses and tan khakis, their hair color the only thing differentiating them. The one with short black hair opened the cash register and briefly held her hand under the drawer. Ari bent down as if she was tucking her jeans into her boots and watched as the girl slipped a carefully-folded twenty dollar bill into her watchband. She deposited the rest into the drawer and pushed it shut.
"There we go. Which one is that?"
"Sarah Bradford. She was one of the main suspects on Mrs. Beck's list. Looks like her suspicions were correct."
"Yeah. Okay, let me get out of this blouse and then we'll take her down."
She stepped back into the dressing room, took off the blouse, and put her T-shirt back on. She paused and looked at herself in the mirror. The shirt had been shrunk to the perfect size, conforming to her breasts and stomach and showing off her arms. The collar rested comfortably against her neck. She'd gotten four others just like it for five bucks. Definitely worth the money. She left the dressing room and crossed the store, resting her elbows on the counter until Sarah noticed her.
"Hi! How can I help you?"
"Take a walk with me back to Mrs. Beck's office so we can talk about your stealing."
Sarah's face remained unchanged, but she picked up a bottle of perfume and sprayed it in Ari's face. Ari shrieked, more out of surprise than pain. She wiped the spray away from her eyes in time to see Sarah jump over the counter and start running for the front of the store. "Really?" Ari shouted. "You're going to make me chase you over twenty damn dollars? For crying out..." She started running.
Sarah was young and quick, and she slapped a mannequin to knock it over into Ari's path. Ari jumped over the plastic woman as her head popped off and rolled. People jumped out of Sarah's way, and Ari muttered apologies as she hurried by. Sarah was almost to the door when Dale cut her off. She slammed into Sarah from the side, wrapping both arms around her. They twisted as they fell, and Sarah took the brunt of their landing on her shoulder.
Ari caught up and pulled Sarah up. "Dale, you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." She pushed herself up as the security guard ambled over. He stared at the tableau, one hand on the holster of Mace hanging from his hip. "What in the world?" he said.
"Get Mrs. Beck, please," Ari said. "Let her know we caught the person who was skimming from the registers." Dale got to her feet and brushed off her clothes. "Are you okay?"
Dale gave her a thumbs-up. "You?"
"Yeah. My eyes are going to smell terrific all night." She grabbed Sarah's arm and started walking her toward Mrs. Beck's office. "Let's go talk to your boss."
They got their check, smaller than usual thanks to the store credit, and used part of the proceeds to buy each other a beer. They drank on the sidewalk outside the building that held their offices, in the aura of the streetlight. Dale picked at the label on her bottle. "Did you mean what you said about using part of the credit for date clothes?"
"You earned it as much as I did. More, actually, since you're the one who actually tackled her. Go nuts. Get something purdy."
Dale chuckled around the lip of her beer. "Right."
Ari scuffed her shoe on the pavement and then looked down the street. "How is Natalie?"
"She's doing okay. We're helping each other through nightmares over what happened, but they're fewer and farther between now."
"Good." Ari hated that Dale was having nightmares. "You want to talk about it?"
"I talked it over with Natalie the night we both woke up screaming."
Ari felt horribly left out, but tried not to let her feelings show. Before Natalie, Ari and Dale had been two against the world. Dale would have called her and they would have talked about the night terrors over the phone until they felt safe enough to go back to sleep. She couldn't help but feel like she'd lost something.
"Do we have anything to do tomorrow?" Ari asked, trying to move back to safer topics.
Dale shook her head. "No appointments, and we just closed our last outstanding case."
"Outstanding." Ari tapped her bottle against Dale's. They drank in silence for a few minutes before a car came around the corner and slowed in front of the building. "I think your ride is here."
Dale nodded and stood up, brushing off the seat of her pants. Natalie idled at the curb, killing the headlights so Ari and Dale wouldn't be blinded by them. She stood in the open door and smiled. "Hey, Dale. Ready?"
"Hey, Ariadne. Need a ride somewhere?"
Ari smiled at the perfunctory greeting and offer. "Thanks, I'm good." A thought occurred to her. "Take Dale to the Finer Pines Boutique this weekend. We have a two-hundred dollar credit there; force her to buy something skimpy and outrageously priced."
Natalie laughed. "I take it you guys closed a case?"
Ari lifted her bottle in a toast.
"Well, then cheers."
Dale waved goodbye as she got into the passenger seat, and Ari got off the curb so Natalie could leave without worrying about her. She waved again as the car went past, checked the amount of beer left in her bottle, and decided she was sober enough to drive. She poured out the rest of the liquor so she wouldn't be tempted to take a sip, which would tip her over the edge of too drunk to drive, and headed for her car.
"I don't know if I'm comfortable with your boss telling me to buy you something sexy."
Dale looked over and saw that Natalie was smiling, just a bit, so she wasn't sincerely upset. Or at least not too much. "She just knows that I won't do it for myself. She wants to make sure I treat myself to what she thinks is my share of the money." She ran her fingers through her hair. "Is it too late to eat? I'm starved."
"We can swing by Monroe's and get some hot dogs."
"Mm. That sounds great."
They rode in silence for a while. "How was your day?"
"Like pulling teeth."
Natalie smiled. A few blocks later, they found a drive-in restaurant. The parking lot was lit brightly enough to land planes, and they left the car to eat at one of the plastic tables set up on a central island in front of the actual restaurant. Dale served the food when their order was called, sipping her root beer while Natalie drowned her hot dog with condiments. "You know, they give you the relish for free. You could just eat it straight from the packet and save some money." She plucked at the paper wrapper and leaned forward to discover if she could still see the hot dog.
"I like relish. Be quiet."
Dale added only mustard and ketchup to her dog. She was drowsy, but she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep until she had some food in her belly. The hot dog was perfect for that. She rested her hand in the middle of the table, and Natalie covered it with her own. She stroked Dale's knuckles as they both ate one-handed.
Dale shrugged. "Tedium."
She knew Natalie worried about her after everything that happened with Sadie Dillon. Dale had assured her that kidnapping and true danger were highly unusual in their cases. Usually work involved sitting in a car for long hours and taking pictures. Half the time cases were solved on the computer without even leaving the office.
"So you guys have a lot of cases on your... um. Docket?"
Dale grinned and brushed her lips with a napkin. "Docket?"
"I heard it on <i>Law & Order</i> once. Are you busy, is what I'm asking."
"Busy-ish. Busy enough." She took a drink of her root beer. "Why? Want to whisk me away for the weekend?"
Natalie shook her head. "No, um. Actually, I thought I might have a job for you. If you were willing to mix business with pleasure."
"You have a case? Worried your girlfriend is cheating on you with her boss?" Natalie looked down at her food and Dale regretted the joke. "What's the case?"
"I prescribe a painkiller called Nalinox. Ninety-eight percent of the time, it's perfectly safe to use. But there was a class action lawsuit that said using it in conjunction with certain medication resulted in heart failure. The company settled out of court, and now everyone who received Nalinox without the warning is due a piece of the pie."
"So you need us to track down some of your patients?"
Natalie nodded. "There are only two that I can't find. I thought I would let you and Ari do some of the grunt work."
Dale grinned. "I'll talk with her tomorrow. I'm sure she'll be up for it."
"Great. I wasn't sure if I should bring it up or not. I wasn't sure how you would feel about mixing your private life with your professional one."
"Would you work on my teeth?"
Dale raised an eyebrow. "No?"
Natalie shook her head. "I think that would be a little too weird, don't you? I'm too well acquainted with your lips and tongue to be objective about them, so work would get awkward and--"
Dale chuckled. "Point taken. I'll stick with Dr. Tanner, then."
Natalie nudged Dale's shoe under the table and they bumped feet for a while as they ate the rest of their late dinner.
Milhous wasn't on duty at the Bull and Terrier, and Ari gave the bouncer on duty a polite nod. "Cinnamon," she said, identifying the subtle smell wafting from the sconce next to the man's head. He hadn't been blocking the door, but his posture became more relaxed and she walked past him and into the bar. She had first found the <i>canidae</i> bar during the course of her worst investigation ever, but she was enthralled enough not to let that spoil her feelings for the place.
The bartender was a short man with a pinched face, his gray hair swept back over his head and standing up in sloppy spikes. Ari took a seat and ordered a beer, eyeing the crowd. She'd rarely been to the bar this late and she was interested to see what kind of clientele they drew after dark. She tried to identify the other patrons by what they would be when they transformed, but she gave up after the first three.
Ari glanced at the man two stools down from her. He had been turned toward the door, but he slowly spun back to rest his elbows on the bar.
He gestured over his shoulder without pointing. Ari looked and saw a girl wearing a red hood coming into the bar. She looked around before she made her way to a booth in the far corner and took a seat.
"Nope. She's human."
"Then what is she doing here? Shouldn't the guy at the door have stopped her?"
The man snorted. "Nah. Herman thinks it's funny to let Hoods inside."
Ari furrowed her brow. "Hoods?"
He looked at her. "You've never run into a Hood before?"
"I'm kind of new to the <i>canidae</i> bar scene."
He ran his eyes up and down her body and she resisted the urge to slap him. "Hoods are a little kinky for most of us, anyway. They get off on having sex with a <i>canidae</i> that transforms... during the act."
Ari nearly spit out her beer. "You're joking."
"Hand to God. The whole, grandmother what big teeth..." He took a sip of his beer. "I guess they want you to start out in <i>canidae</i> form and gradually become human. I never asked for the specifics. Little too out there for my taste."
Ari had to agree. It was painfully close to bestiality for her tastes, not to mention the idea of transforming in the middle of sex. Pain had its place in sex, sure, but that was like trying to masturbate during dental surgery. The very thought of it made her sick to her stomach. She looked at the girl in the corner again. She appeared normal, and she was already talking to a pudgy man in a business suit.
"Wow. She shoots, she scores."
The man looked over and shook his head. "No shortage of freaks out there. I'm Clark."
He moved one stool closer and Ari resisted the urge to move as well to keep up the distance between them. "Ari. That's an interesting name."
"I'm an interesting girl."
"I'll bet." He ran his eyes over her again and she fought a shudder. She sipped her beer and stared across the bar, hoping that by ignoring his advances he would get the point.
"So I'm a spaniel." Ari closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable end of his lame pick-up line. "A cocker spaniel, to be exact." He smiled as if this was clever. "What are you?"
"A lesbian." She took another long swallow of her beer and laid some money on the counter. "Sorry, bud."
He shrugged, dejected and rejected, as Ari walked to the back of the bar. While the idea of having sex with a Hood was nauseating to her, she couldn't shake the fact it had actually put a thought into her head. A potentially dangerous thought. She would shoot some pool and give herself a chance to sober up before she acted on her feelings.
Natalie took Dale to her apartment, where they proceeded to grope each other in the living room before they moved to the bed. Natalie propped herself up on one elbow and dragged her fingertips down the middle of Dale's chest. She bent down and kissed first Dale's top lip, then the bottom one. She unbuttoned Dale's jeans and pushed then down to tease her underwear. "You know I love you in just plain Hanes... but I think I will drag you down to that boutique and get something lacy I can tear off of you."
Dale smiled. "Such a romantic."
"Mm." She kissed Dale again, working her hand into her jeans. Dale spread her legs and pushed her hand under Natalie's top. They held each other until Dale turned her head, sighing happily as Natalie kissed a familiar trail down her neck. She kept her hands under Natalie's top and embraced her, lacing her fingers together in the small of her back and pulling her close.
"Natalie... we don't have to do this if you don't want..."
Natalie lifted her head. "Hm?" She brushed the hair out of Dale's face and kissed her eyebrow. "You okay?"
"Yeah. But we both had really long days. And I really want to do this. But I also want to be completely here when you make love to me. But I'm about to pass out."
Natalie kissed her softly. "Okay. How about this... I make you come quick, and then you can repay the favor in the morning? Maybe in the shower?"
Dale smiled. "No romance, just a quick and dirty orgasm? Think you can do that?"
"Oh, I know I can, babe." She stretched out and withdrew something from the drawer. When she settled back on top of Dale, she was holding a small purple object. "My jellyfish will take care of you. Take off your pants."
Dale pushed her jeans down, and Natalie settled beside her. They kissed again as Natalie slid the jellyfish into Dale's underwear. Her tongue slipped into Dale's mouth, and her thumb pressed down on the side of the toy to activate it. Dale's nostrils flared as she breathed in, her hips rising as the toy began to tremble.
Natalie slid her free hand under Dale's neck, and Dale rolled against her. Natalie used her fingers to guide the jelly toy's body against Dale's sex, using the bulbous tip of it against her clit. Dale pressed her face against Natalie's neck, and Natalie kissed her hair. "Gonna come for me, Dale? Gonna come, baby?"
"Good girl. Come for me."
Dale rocked her hips as she came, her toes curling inside her socks. Finally, she sagged against the mattress and pulled Natalie on top of her.
"I owe you one."
"I have toys that work in the shower."
"Mm, I'll bet you do."
Natalie kissed Dale's eyelids, then the corners of her mouth. "Goodnight, baby."
Dale whispered goodnight back, and was vaguely aware of being undressed as she settled against the pillow. She wanted to thank Natalie for looking out for her, but she drifted off just as the blankets were pulled up over her naked body.
Ari hesitated outside the apartment, rolled her neck, and finally knocked. She could hear music coming from inside, and there was a light in the window when she had checked from the street. She stuck her hands in her pockets and stepped back so she could be seen through the peephole. A minute or so later, the chain was undone and the door opened slightly. Jordan Hawkins smiled in that awkward way people had when they were more confused than upset. His hair was still on the long side, and he was wearing a dress shirt and jeans.
Ari had first met Jordan during an investigation. His girlfriend thought he was cheating on her, so she hired Ari to follow him. Ari had found out the mysterious woman in Jordan's life was Jordan himself. He was a shifter, but rather than transforming into a dog or cat, he was capable of transforming into a woman.
A gorgeous woman, as Ari remembered.
"Ariadne Willow, right?"
He leaned against the doorframe. "Well, I'm not dating anyone, so I know you weren't hired to spy on me."
Ari smiled. "Right. Consider this a, uh, check-up. Making sure everything is going okay."
"Everything's going fine."
"Good. So I thought maybe we could go out and grab a drink, then maybe come back here and fuck each other until we passed out."
He stared at her for a long moment, ran a hand down his face, and said, "Well... um. I'm not really all that thirsty."
Ari chuckled. She had her hands in her pockets and looked toward the elevator to see if anyone else had stepped into the hall.
"Want to come in?"
Ari stepped into the apartment and he shut the door. "I'm not thirsty, but would you like something?"
"No, I've probably had too much to drink already." The majority of the apartment was a spartan living room, with a small kitchen to the left of the door. Jordan walked past her and she followed him into the living room. "That's not to say I'm too drunk not to know what I'm doing. God, that was like a triple negative."
"It's okay. I followed it." He turned down the music to a volume conducive to conversation. "So I kind of got the impression you were firmly on one side of the fence. Are you actually bisexual?"
Ari shook her head. "Nope."
"So you want to, uh... I could go in the other room and change, if you like."
"Here's the thing," Ari said. "Does it hurt you? Changing?"
He hunched his shoulders. "Yes and no. It's more of a twisting in my gut. I get a little nauseated, and then it feels like everything in my body gets shaken free. Like someone snapping out a sheet before the spread it on a bed. Twisting, snap, boom. I've heard some horror stories about what others go through, and I'm pretty sure I got lucky in that department. No bones breaking, just a little discomfort. Kind of like getting kicked in the crotch, only not quite as lasting."
Ari nodded slowly. "Okay, here's my plan. You get all girly and we have sex. Then you can roll me over and do what you need to do. As long as I don't see you, it'll be like being with a woman who has a really, really top of the line strap-on."
Jordan laughed. "What brought this on?"
"A couple of really bad days."
"Sit down. I'll be right back."
Ari sat on the couch and rested her eyes, listening to the soft music and wondering if she was making a bad mistake. She was close to dozing off when she heard soft footfalls indicating Jordan's return. A woman softly said her name.
Ari opened her eyes and looked up, expecting the transformation but still shocked by it. Jordan was a gorgeous women, with shaggy chestnut hair and brilliant green eyes. She was wearing the same shirt as before, but she had lost the pants. Her legs were undeniably, without a doubt, absolutely feminine.
"Yeah." Ari's voice was rough. "That'll work."
Jordan smiled as she crossed the room. She put her hands on Ari's shoulders and climbed into her lap, bending down to tentatively kiss her. Ari put her hands on Jordan's thighs, pushing them up under her shirt to discover she was still wearing underwear. She stroked the curve of Jordan's ass, opening her mouth as Jordan kissed her harder.
Ari's jacket was pushed off her shoulders, and she leaned forward to get it off. She had to let go of Jordan briefly, lifting her arms so Jordan could also peel away her T-shirt. Ari kissed Jordan's chest, finding the bare skin between the buttons of her dress shirt as Jordan stroked her back and unclasped her bra. Ari cupped Jordan's ass again and stood up, turning to drop Jordan on the couch and stretch out over her. Jordan drew lines over Ari's shoulders with her fingers, moving down to push away her bra and cup her breasts.
"Just so you know, I thought you were really hot last time we met."
Ari smiled. "Yeah?"
"Thought about calling you a couple of times, but I thought you might... be a little..."
Ari nodded and kissed Jordan again. "I adapt well."
Jordan chuckled. "Obviously."
Ari's jeans were pushed down her hips, and she began working on the buttons of Jordan's shirt as they kissed again. Jordan arched her back, and Ari slid down her body to suck her nipples. She pushed her hand into Jordan's underwear - men's underwear, she discovered - and pushed two fingers against her. Jordan hissed and put her hands in Ari's hair. "God, that feels good..."
Ari bit Jordan's nipples, licked up the curve of her breast, and sucked on her neck as she stroked. Jordan used the back of her hand to stroke the inside of Ari's thighs. They rubbed each other to a moaning, thrusting fever pitch as Ari kissed Jordan's face. "How does this work?"
"Will you be... hard?"
Jordan was writhing underneath her. "When I change? Yeah, if I'm still turned on. That's on you, by the way."
"I'll do my best." Ari kissed her again, moaning until she was capable of forming her next question. "Condoms?"
"I have some."
Ari had never had to deal with rubbers before, and she was grateful Jordan could deal with that. She pushed two fingers into Jordan, eyes closed as she tried to imagine the body she was touching as a man. It was impossible. This was a woman's shoulder under her chin, and those were feminine thighs wrapped around her waist. Even her smell was womanly. She bit Jordan's ear and slid her tongue along the outer edge as she pushed down against Jordan's hand.
"Put your fingers in me."
Jordan obliged, and Ari cried out in pleasure. She clung to Jordan with her free hand, bearing down on the two fingers that were inside her. She rode Jordan's hand desperately, eager to hit the finish line. When she finally came, she dropped her head to Jordan's shoulder and arched her back, trembling as she squeezed Jordan's fingers before finally releasing them.
"You okay?" Jordan asked.
Ari nodded. "C'mon. Your turn..."
"In the bedroom."
"Okay." Ari stood up, her legs a bit weak as she took Jordan's hand. They walked down a short corridor to a bedroom Ari had first seen when she broke into the place, digging for clues that Jordan was being unfaithful. Life could be funny. At the doorway she turned and put her arms around Jordan, kissing her as she was pushed back toward the bed.
"Change," Ari whispered.
"Are you sure?"
Jordan laid Ari on the bed, kissing down her body as she pushed Ari's legs apart. Jordan's body trembled, and she moaned in discomfort as she licked Ari's mound. Her shoulders expanded like a balloon quickly being filled with air, her weight shifted, and she kissed her way back up to kiss Ari's breasts with firmer, thinner lips.
"Roll over." His voice was masculine again, and Ari did as she was asked. She hugged the pillow, and Jordan settled between her legs. She felt his erection on the curve of her ass and shuddered, eyes closed as something was removed from the nightstand drawer. A wrapper was torn, and she listened as it was rolled on. "Are you sure?" he asked again.
"Yeah. Fuck me."
Jordan teased her with the tip and then pushed carefully into her. She was still wet from her orgasm and he entered her easily. Ari released the pillow and pressed her hands against the headboard, digging her knees into the mattress as Jordan filled her. He put one hand on her hips, grunting as she moved. He moved one hand up to her breast, and Ari pushed back until her hips were resting on his lap.
"Good strap-on, huh?"
Ari's laugh was more like a desperate gasp, and she hung her head. "Top of the line."
Jordan began to move, and Ari hung her head and let her... him... She growled at the pronoun problem and kept her eyes closed. Jordan teased her nipple with one hand, the other migrating from her hip to her clit. Ari could feel him throbbing inside of her, an odd sensation that momentarily made her shudder with revulsion. But she pushed through it, focused on how his hands felt on her body, and she lowered her head to the pillow. Her ass was higher than her shoulders, her legs on either side of his body, and he guided her movements.
When he was close, he moved one hand up to her neck. "What, ah... where do you want me to, ah...?"
Ari had seen enough porn to know what he was asking, but none of the options really appealed to her. "Just inside," she whispered. Her cheek was tight against the pillow, and she felt him tense behind her. His cock throbbed, and she was grateful for the condom. She didn't think she could have dealt with actually feeling it inside of her.
He finally pulled out. He put a hand on the back of her neck and whispered, "Wait. Hold on, wait." Ari stayed still and it felt as if his hand was quaking. When he released her, he sighed heavily and dropped to one side. Ari rolled onto her back and looked over to see Jordan was a woman again. Her breasts were glistening with sweat, and she was panting. She smiled at Ari and said, "Cigarette?"
"Me neither. But I think sex like that deserves something ceremonial."
Ari smiled and they lay side-by-side to stare at the ceiling. "Have you ever done anything like that before?"
"No. It's one or the other. I've never let anyone in on my secret. I might start now. Find some bisexual who can really appreciate both sides."
Ari tucked her hands under the pillow.
"So what brought this on? Not that I'm complaining, but I'd kind of forgotten about you."
"You were a fantasy. Ever since I found out what you could do, I've wondered what it would be like. Now I don't have to wonder anymore."
Jordan nodded. "Well, anytime you forget and need a refresher." She wiped the sweat from her forehead as Ari chuckled. "And don't worry, I'm not going to call you up for the big dance next week. I know this doesn't mean we're going steady."
"Yeah... sorry. I should have said that before anything happened."
"It's okay. I could tell you were just looking for a distraction." She touched Ari's breast and drew circles over her nipple. "Did you find what you were looking for?"
Ari rolled onto her side and pulled Jordan to her. They kissed, and Ari said, "Yeah. I think I did."
"Are you sure?" She licked Ari's bottom lip.
"Now that you mention it..." She straddled Jordan and pinned both arms over her head. "Do you actually have a strap-on?"
"Why would I ever buy a strap-on?"
Ari laughed. "Good point. We'll just have to make do." She bent down and kissed Jordan again as she began rocking her hips.
The next morning, Dale arrived to find Ari sitting in the hall outside their office. "Wow. Bright and early."
Ari smiled up at her. "Sit down with me for a second."
Dale sat across the hall, her legs alongside Ari's. "What's up?"
Ari grabbed Dale's sneaker and pinched her toes. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Dale's smile faded. "Yeah. It was rough for a while. That first night, I spent in your hospital room because I couldn't bear to be away from you. The second night I spent cradled in Natalie's arms, and we both kept each other awake because we couldn't deal with the nightmares. After that, it got better. We helped each other." She looked down. "I kept... hoping you had someone, too. But I didn't want to ask. I know that's supposed to be my job."
"It's not your job. Half the things you do aren't your job. I'm grateful."
Dale shrugged. "Someone has to make sure you keep your head on straight."
Ari chuckled. "I just wanted you to know I appreciate you. And if you need to talk about anything that happened with Sadie or the others, you know. Things you might not want to tell Natalie--"
"Nothing like that happened. But thank you."
They sat together in the hallway for a long moment before Dale gestured at the door. "You want to head inside? We might have a case."
"Natalie's the client."
Dale pushed herself up using the wall and held out her hands. Ari took them and let herself be hauled to her feet. Dale unlocked the office door and escorted Ari inside. She closed the door before she started explaining what Natalie wanted them to do.
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