Parking Jake's truck next to her Humvee, Arty grabbed the bags of take out and went towards the open bay doors of the firehouse. She looked for a familiar face and found John sitting in a lawn chair at the back of the bay. She knew that John had been avoiding Jake for fear of loosing his job and didn't hold it against the man. He had a family to support and had to do what he could. Giving him a small smile, she asked in a low voice where Jake was. After giving her directions, he thanked her for understanding and clasped her hand gently between his own. She could see the moisture building up in his eyes, so she nodded and gave him a smile. Climbing the stairs to the gym area, she saw the door against the wall and was shocked. It was like solitary confinement and she didn't know how Jake could stand to live like this. She tapped lightly on the door and waited, after a few minutes she put her ear to the door and heard heavy snoring. A grin crossed her face at the thought of being able to tease her tall friend about it. Opening the door she almost ran into the other wall when she walked in.

"Ohh Jake, this isn't right." She mumbled under her breath. Turning her head to where the snoring was coming from, her jaw dropped open at the site of Jake sprawled on her back across the small rack. Her legs hung over the end of it and looked very uncomfortable. Her face burned when eyes traveled the naked body before her, green eyes darkened when they came to rest on glistening nether lips below the neatly trimmed patch of dark curls. Fighting with herself as whether to leave the food for her friend and save her the embarrassment or close her eyes and wake her. Her decision was taking from her hands when blue eyes opened and caught her staring.

"Thought after a few hundred of them you didn't get stimulated anymore?" Jake remarked with a low raspy voice.

"Ahhh…" Arty just stood there clutching the bags to her heaving chest.

Jake swung her legs over the rack, grabbed a pair of boxers off the floor and slipped them on while keeping eye contact with Arty. A slow grin came to her lips when green eyes followed her every movement. Being an evil person, she approached the frozen blond bare chested.

"Is that lunch you have there?" Reaching out she closed Arty's mouth by pushing up on her chin. Peeling tight fingers from the bags, she placed them on the rack and pulled Arty over and pushed her down to sit on the edge. Waving her hand in front of glossy eyes she asked. "Baby girl do I have to perform CPR or something?"

"Huh?" She blinked a few times and took a deep breath. "Nah ahh…OK…now."

"Good lets eat I'm starved."

Arty shook her head and rubbed her heated face with trembling fingers. "How can she be so calm and act like I wasn't just drooling over her?

"So what do ya think of my humble living area?"

"Uhhmm…it's really small." She stuttered and looked down at the Styrofoam tray that Jake had put on her lap.

"Arty look at me." She waited until bashful green eyes turned to look at her. "It doesn't bother me that you were staring at me while I was sleeping."

"But you were…"

"Naked? It's not like you've never seen me that way before." She knew damn well why it was bothering her friend but she was trying to give her an easy way out of the situation. Bending forward, she lifted Arty's chin up and placed a soft kiss on her lips. "Don't worry about it OK?" She pulled back only to find a small hand tangle in the hair behind her neck and pull her forward to meet soft lips. Arty kissed her with a hunger she had never experienced before with any one. The trays of food were put to the side and a small blonde pounced on her knocking her backwards onto the rack. When a wet tongue forced its way past her lips and teeth Jake moaned deeply and gave all control to Arty. Long minutes past with their teeth and lips gnashing in a bruising kiss before the need for air brought them apart. Gulping for air Jake looked into dark green eyes flecked with gold, running a fingertip across bruised lips, she dragged a ragged breath between clenched teeth when her finger was pulled into a warm mouth and sucked.

"Arty do you know what you're getting yourself into?"

Releasing Jake's finger, Arty dropped her head to take a nipple between her lips. Jake arched her back and moaned, running her hands down Arty's back she worked her hands under the damp T-shirt and pulled it up to her shoulders.

"Off now!" With in seconds their clothes hit the floor and Arty was rolled beneath Jake's larger body. "You just tell me to stop and I will."

"I want you." Was all Arty said before she pulled Jake down for a heart-stopping kiss. Pressing their bodies close together, Jake moaned at the feel of their breasts pressed against each other. Breaking the kiss, She placed soft kisses over every inch of her soon to be lovers face. Moving her lips next to a small ear she whispered and felt Arty shiver. "You don't know how long I've dreamed of being with you." Slipping her tongue into the small ear she flicked her tongue inside until Arty whimpered. Slowly she kissed and licked her way down to small firm breasts and circled taut nipples. Loving each breast equally with licks, kisses and finally small nips until Arty was thrashing on the rack. Their combined arousal wafted up to Jake's nose, she felt her mouth water with want of tasting the sweetness for the first time. Licking a trail down a heaving chest, she stopped to plunge her tongue into her navel a few times until Arty pushed on the top of her head for her to go lower.

"Please Jake."

"What do you want baby?" Blue eyes caught and held green.

"Lick me." Was all she could say as her head fell back on to the pillow with the first touch of a warm tongue. Never before had anyone done what Jake was doing to her, she had tried to get her other lovers to please her in this fashion but they were more worried about their own pleasure than hers. She dug her heels into the thin mattress and thrust her hips against a fluttering tongue, she could feel her body tensing and muscles clutching at the tongue that was slipping into her center.

"Come for me baby." Jake growled against her lover's center before she sucked her ridged clit between her lips. Pushing two fingers into her center she growled when muscles clamped down and held them as Arty's climax ripped through her body. Arty cried out and whimpered with each tremor that coursed through her body until she collapsed into the damp sheets. Jake licked the juices flowing from between her nether lips and then pulled each lip into her mouth to suck gently on them. Hips thrust against her as her lover was pushed back up towards the pinnacle of another orgasm. With the tip of her tongue, she licked the area between Arty's center and anal opening. Bringing her eyes up to lock with fevered green, she pushed her tongue into the tight opening and pumped it in and out while slipping two fingers into a sopping center. Watching as her lover sat up and then braced herself on the palms of her hands and raised her hips as she went over the edge with a scream. Licking the juices from her lover, she placed a gentle kiss on her mound before crawling up to pull Arty into her arms. Holding her close, she felt her sob against her chest. She was afraid that she had done something wrong and that Arty was sobbing because she now felt that they had made a mistake.

"I'm sorry Arty, we shouldn't have done this."

She looked down when Arty pulled a tear streaked face away from her chest. Wiping the tears from Arty's face, she felt her own trail down her cheeks.

"I'm so sorry. I didn't want to make you cry."

"Jake, I'm crying because I'm happy." She kissed the fingers that had wiped the tears from her face. "No one has ever made love to me like you did." She pressed her face against a sweat-dampened breast, wrapped her arms around a wide back and sighed in contentment.

"They didn't love you." Jake whispered lowly. Wrapping her body around her lover, she breathed in her soft scent and closed her eyes to sleep.


Two bodies stiffened against each other with the clamoring of the alarm bell. Jake rolled over to the edge of the rack and searched for her bunker pants and turnout coat. Pulling her bunker pants on she grabbed a T-shirt, slipped it over her head, adjusted her suspenders and then pulled her turnout coat on. The entire time she was dressing Arty was watching with amusement.

"What?" Jake asked in a low voice.

"Going native?"

Her answer was a wiggle of dark brows over flashing blue eyes. Picking up her own cloths, she dressed in a hurry and waited while Jake grabbed her helmet and tool belt. Running down the steps, they went out the side door to the parking lot. Arty tossed Jake her keys and crawled into the passenger side of the truck. She grinned when Jake figured out that she was going with her.

"Arty this maybe be a big one and I don't know how long I'll be there."

"I don't care; I want to be there for you."

Jake gave up, jumped into her truck and took off at break neck speed after the tanker. They drove down Rt. 9 towards a trailer park on the outskirts of Martinsburg and the edge of Kearneysville. The park contained approximately 25 trailers and numerous metal sheds along with the large house that also contained the rental office. It was that building that was on fire and in danger of setting the entire place up in flames. Jake could see the plume of black smoke rising to the sky and the flames dancing above. She hoped that other station houses answered the call and that they wouldn't be the only ones there. A quick glance to Arty showed green eyes watering and a slight trembling of clasped hands. Reaching over she wiped the tears from her soft cheek.

"Don't worry, we'll save the day."

That's exactly what Arty was worried about and at what cost Jake was willing to give for the innocents. She sat on the tailgate of Jake's truck and watched as her tall lover grabbed her tank, strapped across her broad back and ran towards one of the trailers that was close to the burning house. Pulling her ax, she started breaking out the small roll out windows and then pulled the door open to yell inside. Arty's heart leapt in her chest when Jake rushed into the now burning trailer and pushed a coughing older woman outside and then returned to stay out of site for a few moments that felt like an eternity to Arty. She was about to do something very stupid like run in to the trailer after her lover, when she saw her come back out carrying a small white fur ball in her arms. Handing the squirming cat to the old lady, she went to the next trailer and copied the same movements. Arty's heart stayed in her throat the entire time she watched as other firefighters hosed down the house to keep the flames at bay. Seeing an ambulance pull in to the trailer park, she watched as her brother jumped from the passenger side and started to check on some of the inhabitants of the park. Making up her mind, she jumped down from the tailgate and ran over to her brother's side.

"Billy give me your jacket." She said from his side.

Startled eyes caught hers and then a bright smile lit up his face.

"Hey Arty, what are you…never mind I know why you're here." He pulled off his coat and handed it over to his sister. Looking deep into her sparkling eyes, he knew all to well what he saw there. "Where's your girlfriend?"

Arty's mouth fell open, a small cough came from her throat at what her brother was insinuating. "She's…Gods Billy!" She zipped up the coat and headed to ambulance to grab some first aide equipment.


One eye peeked from behind the lens of a camera, a pink lip curled at the outer edge promising a small smile. "Damn little twit, you're going to get yourself in trouble out here." The tall blonde mumbled as she shot frame after frame of Artemis. Swinging the telephoto lens to the burning house, she aimed at the roof where firefighters were busting through the roof to try and douse the flames that were between the attic and the shingled roof. She panned the area until she came across a tall figure that she recognized as Jake. "There you are tall dark and extremely fearless." Moving to a different position, she shot frames of Jake ripping shingles up with her hands and tossing them over the side of the house. A rumbling noise started out low and then a whooshing noise erupted in a blaze of flames where Jake had been kneeling. The photographer lowered the camera and then jerked it back up to continue shooting the scene developing before her. Firefighters raised the ladder from the truck to the roof and started pulling the others from the blazing area. She searched for Jake but saw only shorter forms running for the ladder. "Mother fucking assholes, she's still up there!" She yelled when the ladder started to lower. Running to where Arty was helping a firefighter, she pulled the smaller blonde to the side and yelled down at her.

"Arty she's still on the roof!"

Wide green eyes looked at the tall blonde and then to where the roof was engulfed in flames. Panic rushed through her body when it all came together. Her lover was trapped with no way to get down. Arty looked in to green eyes that mirrored her own.


"Yeah not get your ass in gear if you want to save her!"

Arty ran to where the fire chief was standing near the ladder truck, she came right up in front of the short fat bastard and grabbed him by the front of his turnout coat.

"Jake is still up there! Get the ladder back up NOW!"

His empty brown eyes looked down into her fiery green, he hit her in her chest causing her to let go of his turnout coat and watched as she stumbled back into the side of the truck.

"I don't know who you are, but that useless piece of shit ain't worth me risking my men to save her. Now get out of my way!" He came close to her with a jutting jaw, and a rolling gate. Arty tapped him on his shoulder and waited for him to turn towards her.

"I am your worst nightmare!" She pulled her right arm back and smacked him square in the face. The chief grabbed his gushing nose, looked at the blood on his hands and fell backwards on to the hard ground. "Fucking asshole!" She took off to the side of the truck to figure out how to raise the ladder.


Jake was lying on her back, flames shot up around her and a creaking sound came to her ears. Rolling to her side away from the heat that was licking at her arm, she tried to see through the billowing black smoke around her. Crawling across the roof, she reached out with her hands trying to find the edge of the roof, with the noise around her; she couldn't here the shouts from below. Tears poured from her bloodshot blue eyes, she tried to yell for someone but the smoke burned her lungs and darkness came around her vision. Reaching back for her aspirator all she found was a melted mass of plastic hanging from the end of the hose. Taking a chance, she hung over the edge of the roof and searched for a way down. Eyes caught sight of the ladder truck below and a small blonde screaming silently at another firefighter.

"Baby girl." Echoed through her mind right before darkness claimed her for its own.


"Either you take this ladder up of so help me I will tear you apart with my bare hands!" Artemis grabbed the firefighter by the front of his turnout coat and shook him with all the power that was raging through her body. Tears of anger and frustration poured down her pale cheeks. Shoving him aside, she started hitting buttons and levers until the ladder raised up from the supports. She turned when she felt a large hand come down on her shoulder and fingers start to swing the ladder around and upward. Grateful eyes looked to John briefly before Arty climbed up the side of the truck and then to the ladder as it rose towards the burning roof.

"Are you crazy John?" The other firefighter screamed at him. "You want to lose your job?"

"Shut the fuck up! Jake would give her life for any one of us and that small Doctor will give hers for Jake!"

The firefighter leaned up against the side of the truck in defeat, he knew what John had said was true. Many times, he turned to find Jake in the midst of saving someone's life without regards to her own life. Pulling his helmet on he went up the side of the truck and to the ladder, climbing up behind Artemis, he steadied her by holding on to the backs of her legs.

Justin and Billy watched Artemis going up the ladder; they both hung on to each other's hands, hoping that Artemis would get to Jake before it was too late. Billy knew how many firefighters lost their lives from smoke inhalation or worse. If Jake died, then a part of Artemis would go with her.

The ladder had come with in a couple of foot of the roof before Artemis climbed the rest of the way up and scurried on to the unstable roof. Covering her nose and mouth with her hand, she searched with tear-filled eyes for her lover. Stumbling around the broken areas and flames shooting up around her unprotected legs she kept to the edge with the other firefighter right behind her. She tripped and fell over something, putting her hands out to catch her fall, one hand went through the roof the other came down on something soft. Opening her eyes wider to see brought a low keening sound to her ears. She lay across Jake's body that was halfway over the edge of the roof. Grabbing the collar of her turnout coat, she pulled her lover's face close to her own and cried out.


Justin snapped frame after frame of Artemis pulling Jake into her arms and the other firefighter trying to help her get her off the roof. John swung the ladder to the area and ran up after them. Soon other firefighters joined in the rescue attempt while the press and onlookers below watched. Billy grabbed a gurney, oxygen tank and a large emergency box and headed to the side of the ladder truck. With John and the other firefighter lifting Jake up and over the side of the roof, Arty followed them down. The ladder tilted to where others could take Jake and place her lifeless body on the gurney. Arty pushed them aside, crawled onto her lover's body and straddled her hips to start CPR. Placing an oxygen mask over Jake's face, Billy pushed the gurney along with John to the ambulance. Justin recorded the scene on film right up until the doors closed and the ambulance left with a roaring siren and lights.


"Come on Jake you can't die on me now!" Arty screamed as she did chest compressions. Billy ripped the turnout coat open and started an IV line in her arm, the whole time praying for Jake's life. When the ambulance pulled up to the doors of the ER, Arty refused to leave Jake, gurney and all was rushed to a room that contained an oxygen decompression tank. With the help of hospital personnel, they striped Jake of her singed clothes, cleaned her wounds and then placed her into the chamber. An exhausted and burned Artemis sat in a chair beside it; she refused to leave even when her father came into the room followed by her mother, Justin and Billy.

"Baby girl, at least go take a shower and let your Dad take care of your burned hand." Her mother pleaded with her.

"I'm not leaving her." She said as tears flowed down her soot-covered cheeks. "She wouldn't leave if it was me in here." Sobs tore through her small body making her double over at the waist. Natasha collected her in her arms and rocked her until she calmed down enough to hear her.

"Justin and Billy will stay with her; I'm taking you to get cleaned up."

Billy pulled his Dad into the hallway with Justin following close behind, rubbing a hand across his face he looked into his Dad's worried green eyes.

"They were going to leave Jake on the roof. Not one of the other firefighters was going to help until Arty busted the chief in his face." Between Billy and Justin, Dr. Shields learned the entire story of what happened at the fire scene. When he left them, he was livid. The temper that Artemis had was nothing compared to her fathers. Billy and Justin stood in the hallway and watched hospital personnel jump out of his way.

"Well Billy boy, looks like the old man will be raising the roof. I'll come back later and check on small fry."

Billy watched as the enigma strode off down the hall, at times he looked up to Justin and others he could smack the shit out of her. Today he was thankful that she had come out of hiding.


Artemis stepped out of the shower; And Natasha held out a towel and wrapped her daughter in it. As soon as she touched her daughter, the floodgates opened and Artemis sunk into the warmth of her mother's arms.

"I can't…loose her Mama."

"You won't, she's not going anywhere." She rocked her the same way she did when she was younger. "You love her don't you?"

"More than anything." She sobbed. "We were sleeping when the call came in; I bullied her into letting me go with her." She looked into her mother's golden eyes. "What if I hadn't been there?" She asked.

"Let's not think about that right now, get dressed so that you can get back to your lover."

Green eyes widened at the word lover, Artemis's face turned a deep red and she dropped her eyes to the floor.

"Am I that transparent?"

"Only to me Baby girl, plus you have a huge hickey on your neck." She chuckled when Artemis tried to cover the spot up.


Artemis and her mother walked back towards the room that Jake was in to be met halfway by a police officer. Artemis knew that something like this would happen but thought she would at least have a few hours with Jake.

"Shit! I should have known it."

"What Artemis, what's the cop doing here?"

Artemis turned to her mother and took her hand in hers. Looking at the floor, she mumbled what she had done.

"You think you broke his nose?" She started laughing so hard that tears fell from her eyes. "Don't worry Arty, me and you Dad will take care of this. Go see what the cop wants and I'll check on Jake."


With her back turned to the officer, she felt the coldness of the handcuffs enclose her wrists. She flinched when the one touched the burns on her wrist and hand and heard him mumble an apology.

"Can I tell my Mama where you're taking me?"

When she walked into the room, they had taken Jake from the chamber and had her on a gurney ready to move her to another room. She stepped in between the nurses and looked down at her lover's pale face. Leaning forward she placed a soft kiss on her lips and then turned with tear filled eyes to her mother.

"Mama that assholes pressing charges against me. Can you call my lawyer and stay with Jake…Please."

"Don't worry Arty; we'll take care of everything." She glared at the arresting officer and watched as he flinched and looked to the floor. "Don't you hurt my baby." She growled at the fidgeting officer.

"No ma'am, I won't hurt her."


Pale blue eyes opened to see a stark white ceiling and bright lights, a dim noise came from afar and confused her. Just moving her head, the slightest caused a terrible pounding.

"I'm not dead, too much pain for that." She mumbled from a dry throat.

"Nope, you're not dead. But you scared the life out of Arty." Natasha leaned forward with a cup of water in her hand. "Here take some small sips."

"Where's Arty?" Clouded blue eyes locked with golden. "Is she all right, I want to see her." Jake tried to get out of the bed, but strong hands held her in place.

"Not so fast Jake, She's all right…in jail but all right."

"Jail! What the hell is she doing in jail?" She tried once again to get up but Natasha waived a finger in her face.

"Don't you move, I'll tell you as soon as you settle down. You know you're not too big for me to turn over my knee." She chuckled at the sight of wide blue eyes. "Your former Chief had her arrested and pressed charges for assault, car jacking and endangerment."

"What the hell did the little twit do?" She groaned and let her head fall back on the pillow. "What did I let her do?"

"Don't blame yourself, Arty is a stubborn child and famous for getting into stuff that no one else would even think of doing. You know she saved your life?"

Jake turned tear-filled eyes to Natasha, she silently pleaded with the older woman to continue, afraid that her voice would fail her.

"Lets see…first, she punched out your former chief, roughed up a couple of firefighters, took control of the ladder truck, went onto a burning roof, found you and had two of the guys haul you down the ladder to Billy who brought you here."

A low groan came from Jake, then small chuckles that burst forth in to all out laughter. She continued to laugh even with it hurting her lungs.

"Natasha why do you keep saying my former chief, did they finally fire him?"

"Ahh…nope, they fired you instead."

"SHIT! What did I do to the fates to deserve all this?"

"I don't think they had anything to do with this, I think you can thank the ignorant men in politics. Anyway, Arty should be released in the next day or so that is if her lawyer can get the charges dropped. You can call me Mama from now on hot stuff." She patted Jake's arm and left the room chuckling at the expression on the tall woman's face.


Artemis was at the front counter waiting for her personal items to be released to her. It had been two days with her lawyer fighting with ever one to get her released in her own recognizance. She found it hard to believe that they would turn a mass murderer loose but kept her locked up. She had spoken with her mother about Jake's condition and couldn't wait to get to the hospital to see her lover.


Natasha walked into Jake's room to find an empty bed and her gown thrown across it. Sighing with frustration, she turned on her heel and went in search of her husband. Not only did they have Arty to worry over, their new daughter was just as bad if not worse.


Justine was waiting next to her car for Arty to come out, she had been wrangled into coming to the police station, and she knew that no matter what she couldn't get out of it. Unless she wanted to face the wraith of three very bad tempers. Now an hour later she watched as a blonde blur came rushing down the steps and flew into her arms.

"I missed you, where have you been?" She placed a soft kiss on the taller blonde's lips and hugged her tighter.

Jake grabbed her chest, she stood stock-still watching as her lover kissed the tall blonde. Pain turned to anger as Arty hugged the woman, Jake did the only thing she knew how to do, she ran.


Artemis met her mother and father at the front doors of the hospital, they each gave her a look then looked at each other. Natasha shook her head sideways and grumbled.

"Why is it always the mama that has to break the bad news, make me the bad guy again."

"What's wrong…is it Jake…where is she?" Artemis rushed out while trying to get past them into the hospital.

"Hold on little twit, she escaped the hospital, we thought she was heading to the police station but since you're here with Justin?" She held her arms out to the side.

"She's gone…HOW?" She screeched at the top of her lungs. Planting her hands on her hips, she paced in front of her parents and Justine. "I have to find her, she shouldn't be out of bed yet."

"If you had it your way she'd never be out of bed." Justin said while backing away from a pissed off blonde. "Sorry small fry, I couldn't pass it up."

"What the hell is she talking about Natasha?" Dr. Shields asked.

"Nothing dear, just ignore the children and come with me."

"No more kids Mama, I know that look in your eye." Artemis pointed a finger at her mother.

"Like your Dad can get anything up at his age, please!"

"Hey! I can't believe you said that!" Dr. Shields said as he jogged after his wife. "I can get Viagra ya know."

"Yeah, yeah, promises promises." Natasha remarked.

"They'll never grow up will they?" Justin asked Artemis.

"Nope, will you take me to look for Jake?"


One month later Artemis was sitting in Justin's small flat in Washington DC. She was staring at something on the TV but had no idea what or how long she had been watching the program. Besides working more hours than ever before, she did nothing but cry at the most inopportune moments. If she wasn't so young she could use the excuse of menopause for her mood swings. The very sight of a tall woman with raven colored hair set her heart to pounding then to crash and burn when the woman didn't turn out to be Jake. She prayed for the chance just to speak with her lover, if only for a moment to put things to rest in her mind so she could move on with her life. Which she knew she couldn't do, her heart was lost to the tall firefighter along with a part of her that she never knew was missing until Jake disappeared causing her to ache deep inside.

"Small fry, either you eat or I hold you down and force the food in, take your pick?"

"Justin, I don't feel like eating, don't feel like doing anything including walking around DC."

"You need to do something, you look like shit, you don't sleep but a few hours a day and you work like a maniac. So I'm taking you out and wearing your skinny little ass off. So get up and move it!"

"You just want me to go with so I can hold all your camera lenses and act like a gopher."

"Damn, ya got me all figured out don't cha?"

"After all these years, your damn right I do. So where we going first and will you buy me one of those cheesy T-shirts with the monuments on the front?"

"I'll even get you a baseball cap that says Wash DC on it."


Jake sat outside of the fire station reading the Washington Post, she didn't normally read the newspaper but had nothing better to do. She didn't socialize with her fellow firefighters nor anyone else. Her heart just wasn't in to human kindness, she had learned her lesson a month ago and had completely closed herself off to everything around her. After leaving West Virginia, she had come to DC looking for a job and found one within the first week. She was now second in command of the firehouse and didn't have to answer anyone else except for the big boss who pretty much left her alone. She was the most decorated firefighter they had at the station house and had the respect of all the others. After so many years of living in the place that she worked, she had finally gotten a small apartment close by for when she had her days off. She had only an hour before she would be able to go to her apartment for the next four days, not like she was looking forward to it. All she did was lay around and watch TV or the ceiling.

"Hey Jakequelin, you can head out now if you want." The chief said as he walked past her.

"OK, if you need me just call, I'll be at my apartment."

"Gotcha, later boss lady." The older man slapped her on the shoulder and went into the firehouse.

"What else do I have to do?" She grumbled under her breath and started walking the three blocks to her apartment. She stopped at a small café on the way, she was glad that the place opened early and she was able to get a cup of coffee and Danish before going home.


"Why are we in the most boring place in DC? I mean the Pentagon parking lot is really nice but why are we here and why are we so far from the building?" Green eyes were narrowed and drilling into almost identical green.

"Because small fry, I need pictures of the Pentagon for an article, so where else would we park that monstrosity of a vehicle you drive?"

"Don't knock my Humvee, I like it." Pain filled her eyes at the memory of finding some of Jake's CD's on the seat when she went to collect it from the fire station.

"Sorry Arty, I didn't mean anything by it." She wrapped an arm around the smaller blonde and placed a kiss on top of her head. "You miss her don't you?"

"More than you can imagine. I just wish I knew why she left, she didn't even take her stuff with her." Tears filled her eyes and trailed down her cheeks. "I never told her that I loved her."

Justin wiped the tears from Arty's face, giving her a sad smile, she comforted her as best she could. "I wish I knew, I tried to find her but she just disappeared of the planet." She spun around taking Arty with her when the sound of a large plane vibrated the ground around them. "Ohh shit!" They screamed as the plane dropped from the sky and crashed into the Pentagon, Justin started snapping pictures as flames and debris flew into the air. Artemis stood frozen to the spot in shock, as to what was happening around her. With in minutes of the explosion, sirens pierced the air and firefighters, police, military personnel and others were swarming the area. Justin grabbed her hand and took her back to the Humvee, grabbing her bag along with the one that Artemis kept in the back filled with emergency medical supplies, they took off to try and help the survivors.


Jake was brought off the couch by the phone ringing and the chief's voice yelling over the answering machine. Picking it up she felt her face pale as he told her about the Pentagon. Hanging up the phone, she grabbed her turnout coat and ran for the door. Getting into her truck, she tore past the fire station and headed directly to the Pentagon. She knew she would get there before her crew did and that would give her a chance to see where they were needed the most. A few minutes later, she pulled in to the parking lot and was nowhere prepared for the sight before her. Black smoke billowed from the carnage of the building, people staggering around injured as medical personnel tried to gather them in an area that was a safe distance away. Pulling her helmet on with the station emblem and her rank on the front, she ran to the nearest fire truck and spoke to the chief.

"My guys are on the way, where do you need us?" She asked while trying to catch her breath. After following his finger to an area, she nodded her head, pulled her cell phone from her pocket and called the switchboard to be transferred to the radio frequency in the truck. After a couple of minutes speaking to the other chief, she hung up and ran towards the wreckage. Helping some of the injured out of the collapsed building, she handed them off to other helpers before going back in to find more.


"Justin call Dad and see if he can pull some strings with the hospitals, we need more ambulances and help."

"Gotcha, you be careful and stay away from the building!" She grabbed the front of Arty's stained T-shirt, narrowed her eyes at her and refused to let go until she had a promise.

"OK, I…will…not…go…near…the…building." She dragged out and smiled. Until you turn your back.

Justin finished her phone call and turned around to find no sign of Artemis. Raising her camera up to her eye, she scanned the area looking for the small blond that was sure to give her grey hair. She almost dropped the camera when she came upon a tall figure pulling survivors out of the wreckage.

"Can't be." Getting closer and zooming in, she waited until the tall figure turned her way. A huge smile came to her face when the person removed the helmet and long dark hair flowed from underneath it. "I'll be god damned, the hero appears from the wreckage once again." Turning around she looked for Artemis but still couldn't find her.


Hours went by, huge lights had been put up around the area, trucks still spayed the Pentagon to keep flames from stating up again and Jake was amongst the rubble searching with a flashlight. She was tired, sore and starving. She had been none-stop since a little after nine that morning and it was now close to midnight. Crawling from the inside of the building she made her way over to where helpers had set up a rest station, all she really wanted was a cup of coffee to warm her self up with and maybe a few minutes to rest her weary body. Dropping to the ground, she removed her helmet and shook out her sweat soaked hair, closing her tired and burning eyes, she opened them when a hand came to rest on her shoulder. Tilting her head to the side, she looked up into weary green orbs and gulped at the sight of her lover.

"Arty?" She rasped from her dry throat.

"It is you." Arty dropped to her knees and enveloped Jake in her arms, tears poured from her eyes, sobs of relief quickly followed. "I've missed you so much."

Jake pushed her out of her arms and looked at her with cold eyes, she never thought she would hate someone like she did her former lover. Just looking at her caused pain to explode where her heart use to be. She never wanted to see Artemis again as long as she lived.

"I have to go." She quickly stood up and walked away from a sobbing Artemis.

"Go ahead run away again you fucking bitch!" Artemis screamed after her. "I hate you Jake!"

"What the hell is wrong with you?" Justin said from behind her. "How could you say that to her?"

"She just got up and left me!" Sobs were replaced with extreme anger, fire danced behind green eyes and before Justin could do anything, Artemis was running after Jake and tackling her to the ground.

"You little twit! She'll kill you!" She yelled after her and then ran to break up the wrestling match.

Artemis had Jake pinned to the ground, her fiery green eyes blazed into silvery blue, with her teeth gritted together she growled out her anger.

"You left me with not a word, no note, no phone call, nothing! Not even go fuck yourself, jump off a bridge or we made a mistake! I searched for you and when I finally find you all you can do is throw me to the side! Well fuck you Jake!"

Silvery blue eyes narrowed, a deep growl came from her chest as she flipped Arty over on to the ground.

"I saw you outside the police station. I was just your baby dyke trainer! In three days you left me for another woman, so don't get all high and mighty with me! I was in love with you and you ripped my heart out!"

"What woman? Jake for gods sake, their wasn't any other woman only you!"

"Excuse me but I don't think you two should be doing that here." Justin said from behind Jake. Jake turned her head and saw the woman who ruined her life, with a roar she leapt from Artemis and took Justine down, she was about to pummel the unsuspecting blonde when Arty jumped on her back. Sinking her teeth into Jake's ear, she kept her from hitting Justin.

"Let go Arty! By the Gods you're gonna rip my ear off!"

Justin watched from her trapped position as Arty fought for her. A huge grin came over her face and she couldn't help but start to chuckle. Arty let go of Jake's ear when she tasted blood in her mouth. Yelling into the wounded ear, she brought Jake to a stand still.

"Don't you hurt my sister!"


"Hi I'm Justin Shields the black sheep of the family. By the way you're a gorgeous woman and you had better do right by small fry or I'll let her kick your ass."

Jake flipped Arty onto her back to lie next to Justin, she looked between the two woman and groaned when she saw the resemblance. Falling back on her rear, she buried her face in her hands.

"Son of a bitch I am so god damn stupid." She mumbled into her hands. "I never gave her a chance to explain."

"No you didn't." Arty whispered close to her bleeding ear, wrapping her arms around Jake's neck, she kissed her temple and let fresh tears flow from her eyes.

"I'm sorry Baby girl, so sorry." She wrapped her arms around Arty and sobbed into her chest. "Please forgive me."

Justin got up off the ground and placed a hand on her sister's shoulder.

"I'll see you later." Giving her a wink, she wandered off into the night.

"I'll forgive you Jake but you have to let me take care of your ear. You need sutures."


Jake sat under the tent with other firefighters and personnel there to help. She was flinching each time Arty put a suture in her ear. At the call of her name, she looked up and smiled.

"I'm heading out Chief and you do the same." A tall rough looking woman said to her. "And if that's who I think it is you had better not screw up again or I'll kick your ass!"

Arty watched the woman walk away, jealousy filled her green eyes when she saw the swagger of the other firefighter.

"Who is that Jake?"

"A fellow firefighter, why?"

"Just curious, now hold still or I'll sew your ear to the side of your head. May do it any way if you don't stop staring at that woman."

"Do I hear some green eyed monster in your voice?"

"Yes now stop moving." Arty felt a large calloused hand take hers, she paused in her work to look down into pale blue eyes.

"I still love you Arty, I never stopped."

Green locked with blue, Artemis let all the walls she had erected over the last month fall to show her soul. "Take me home."


"Uuhhmmm…Jake, furniture would really be a good idea." She waved her arms around the barren room and pointed ta a folding lawn chair that sat in front of a very tiny TV set. "Monks have more in their rooms than what you have right here."

Jake's face blushed a deep red, she found the tips of her dirty boots an interesting contrast to the pale hard wood floor. Looking from below her dark bangs she offered a small smile.

"I kinda have a bed…OK so it's a mattress on the floor, but it has clean sheets and everything."

Arty walked to with in two inches of her lover, gripping her turnout coat with both hands she pulled Jake down so that they were eye to eye.

"Admit is hot stuff, you hate anything that has to do with going to a store and your hopeless when it comes to anything domestic." Giving her a little shake, she drilled fiery green eyes into wide blue. "I'm still pissed at you." With the sweep of her leg, she dropped Jake on to her back and pinned her to the floor. "Do you realize that for the last month I have cried my eyes out over you leaving me. My sister was ready to have me admitted into a nut ward, Mama tried to suffocate me by burning sage sticks in my house and Daddy bought a gun to shoot you with." Crawling up on to the tall firefighter, she straddled her hips, placed her hands on her shoulders and came nose to nose with her. "I went so far as to put up a dart board with your picture on it! I want an explanation and don't tell me it was just because you saw me with another woman."

Jake feared for her life, the thought of Artemis's father having a gun didn't scare her as much as a hotheaded little blonde did at that very moment. The fire in her eyes alone was enough to make a grown man piss himself and run screaming like a girl in to the night. Jake didn't know if she could tell Artemis all her fears and deep secrets, she had never told anyone about her past, not even John knew everything about her. She was afraid if her lover knew the real person, she would leave her in less than a heartbeat. Frantic blue eyes searched green and then looked to the ceiling hoping for it to open up and suck her out of the room.


"Did your Daddy really buy a gun to shoot me?"

"Don't you change the subject; I want to know why you ran without even confronting me. I felt like I was just a fling that you could have your way with and then toss me aside."

Tears filled both women's eyes for different reasons; Jake took a deep breath and tried to will the tears away. She dredged up every bit of strength she had and started her story.


"Jakequelin I forbid you to leave this house, now go to your room and I don't want to hear another word from you!" A tall dark man yelled at his eldest daughter. Stephen Papalogious was an intimidating man when sober; drunk he was down right scary. His hotheaded daughter at the age of seventeen was identical to him. They stood toe to toe and glared at each other, the smell of whiskey poured off their bodies and shot their eyes with red cobwebs. Jake had been caught stealing another bottle of whiskey from where her father had it hidden in the small cabinet in the living room. He could care less that she was drunk, it was the fact that it was his last bottle. As far as his two children came, he didn't care what happened to them and often wondered why he stuck around. Their mother had died years ago, she had been having an affair with another man and they been killed in a car accident leaving him with two kids that he never wanted in the first place. That night he had come home from the bar that he went to after work everyday, screamed and yelled at his young son and then burst into Jake's bedroom to find her smoking pot and drinking his whiskey. After smashing the bottle against the wall over her bed, he then bounced her off a wall and let her slide to the floor where he kicked her unmercifully in the ribs. That had been the last straw, Jake got up with a roar and tackled him, they punched and kicked each other until her much larger and stronger father punched her so hard that she flew backwards and lay on the floor bleeding from a broken nose.

"Fuck you asshole, I'll do what ever the hell I want!" She shoved him away from her and stormed out of the small apartment that had been her home for the last seventeen years. Running down the sidewalk she headed for the only place that she felt safe and at peace with everything around her, the small wooded area a half mile away. She often sat and watched the trickle of water in the creek bed move leaves and twigs past her unblinking eyes and dreamed of a place where no human existed except for herself. Now with the dark of night, she trudged her way down the embankment to the rock where she always sat. Time stopped while she was here and it wasn't until an eerie glow came to the sky that she realized how long she had been gone. On nights like this one, she usually waited an hour or so and then snuck back home knowing her father would have passed out already on the couch and she and her brother would be safe until the next night.

She loved her little brother more than anything and wished that she could just take him and leave. She knew that wasn't possible, they had no relatives and at her age she couldn't get a job paying enough for them to live somewhere. She looked back to the orange glow with curiosity and then realized what it was when sirens floated on the air. The loud honking noise of a fire truck caused her heart to stop for a second then beat a staccato in her chest. Running up the embankment at full speed, she sprinted the half mile to find the apartment building in flames. Firefighters ran around the trucks pulling hoses and raising the ladder to the roof of the three-story structure. Pushing past police officers and firefighters, she tried to get into the burning building. She had to get her brother out, punching a firefighter in the face she rushed into the flames. She screamed her brother's name as she took the stairs two at a time only to be turned back when the stairs in front of her fell away. Strong arms grabbed her from behind and wrestled with her as she was pulled from where she stood. It took three firefighters to get her outside and another one to get her into the back of a police car where she was locked in to prevent her return to the building.


"That was the last time I ever saw my little brother, they found his remains right inside my bedroom door."

Artemis pulled the sobbing woman into her arms, tears fell from her own eyes with her lover's pain.

"It was my fault, Lucas was in my room playing with my lighter. The investigator said that he caught the bedspread on fire and it spread to the rest of my bedroom because of the whiskey."

"Ohh Gods Jake, you can't blame yourself."

"Yes I can, if I had been there the apartment building wouldn't have caught on fire and I wouldn't have lost Lucas. He depended on me and I let him down, everyone I have ever loved has left me."

It became clear for Artemis at that point what had gone through Jake's mind when she saw her with Justin. She thought she was being left again and the only thing she could do was run. Tilting Jake's face up to see her puffy eyes brought more tears to Artemis's.

"I would never leave you Jake. I never told you, but I love you more than life it's self. I take full blame for the pain you felt, I'm sorry." Leaning down she placed a soft kiss on trembling lips. "I should have told you that night we spent together how I felt but I was a chicken shit."

"You're not a chicken shit; you're the strongest person I know. I'm the chicken shit for not fighting for you; I should have knocked the hell out of Justin." Her eyes grew wide at the snarling sound coming from her lover. "On second thought I should have…crawled on my hands and knees and begged?"

"Hands and knees sounds really good, but I'd be the one begging." A huge smirk covered her lips. "That can wait until later, tonight I just want to hold you."


Artemis did her best not to growl with hunger as she nuzzled her face into Jake's short crisp curls. She had woken before her lover and just couldn't help herself to Jake's tall muscular body. She had a month of making up to do and she was starting right now whether Jake knew it or not.

Jake was having the most vivid wet dream of her life; she could swear that she felt a warm wet tongue slipping between her nether lips. A low groan worked its way up from the bottom of her lungs to rumble at her throat almost sounding like a purr. Spreading her legs further apart, she slipped a hand downward to help ease the throbbing that was building at her center. When her hand was slapped away, she opened an eye and looked down at the hump under the blanket.

"What the hell?" She mumbled then threw her head back when a hot tongue pushed into her center. "Oohh my Gods Arty!" Covering her eyes with her trembling hands, she moaned and whimpered with each lick of her lovers tongue. Her body felt like it was being struck with a bared extension cord; nerve endings fired off of each other and pushed her higher towards combustion. Every muscle in her body was taught as a bowstring, her back arched and a cry tore from her chest, lights danced behind her eyelids and a flame ripped through her body throwing her into darkness. Artemis felt her body shudder then quiet down, moving from under the blanket she crawled her way up to lay on top of her lover. Green eyes took in the slack expression on Jake's face, running her fingers across a sweat-dampened brow all the way to parted lips. She felt warm breath tickling her fingers, going nose to nose with Jake, she searched her face and became worried when blue eyes didn't open and she said not a word. Lifting one eyelid showed only white.

"I'll be damned." She whispered to no one and then her face broke out in a wicked grin. "Hot stuff is out for the count." Nuzzling her neck, she bit down and sucked the soft flesh between her lips. Releasing the flesh, she was happy to see a large dark bruise forming from her administrations. Continuing with her new favorite past time, she left a hickey necklace on her lover before blue eyes fluttered open and caught her leaving a mark on her upper breast.

Jake's voice rough from her scream she asked. "What happened and what are you doing to me?"

"I'm inspecting your body."

"Do I get one of those little inspector stickers when you're done?"

Twinkling green eyes lifted to see amused blue. "Ohh believe me hot stuff, I've left quite a few of them. Did you have a nice little nap?"

"Huh what…ohh shit! I passed out didn't I?" Her hands covered her face but couldn't cover the redness that crept from her chest upwards. "That has never happened before, hell what you did to me has never happened." She peeked from between her fingers. "Is the top of my head still here?"

"Is it supposed to be missing? Hey wait a minute here, what's never happened to you before?" A green eye narrowed as a brow rose skyward. "You can't mean?"

"Ohh I most definitely do mean." Jake wrapped her arms around Artemis and pulled her close to her. "You know how much I love you?"

"I hope a lot."

Jake captured her lips and poured every emotion she was feeling into that one kiss, when they parted Artemis shook her head to clear the pretty colors that were floating before her eyes.

"More than a lot baby girl."

"Gods I love you Jake, do that again and I'll build a shrine to you and sacrifice zingers in your name daily."

The rest of the morning and afternoon were spent rolling around under the blankets and sacrificing junk food until the phone interrupted their attempt at a gold medal for the Olympic gymnastics floor routine.

"This had better be a life or death call!" Jake yelled over the phone.

"Depends on whether you have my baby girl with you."

"Hi Mama…she's ahhh…OWWW Arty that hurts…let go my tit! Ohh shit!" She handed the phone to her lover and buried her head under her pillow.

"Mama, how'd you know where I was? Ohh wait Justine narked on me didn't she?"

"Of course she did and now I'm going to let you go so you can punish tall dark and in pain some more. Before I go, you and Jake are to be here for supper tomorrow night. Have you two tried a 69 yet?"

"Mama! Geez!" She was about to say more when she heard hysterical laughter and then a click. "My Mama's a pervert, she asked if we've done a 69 yet?"

"That was next on my list of things to do."

Jake yelped when small fingers jabbed her in her ribs.

"I'm hungry and if I don't eat some real food like soon, you won't see any number for a month!"

Jake flew from the bed, stumbled out of the bedroom and started tearing the kitchen apart looking for real food to make for her lover. She wasn't about to go without ever again. Even if it meant running down the street to the nearest restaurant naked. Artemis chuckled at all the noise that was coming from the other room.

"Pussy whipped." She mumbled from where she lay hugging her lover's pillow to her chest.


Sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating stale donuts and zingers, Jake read the newspaper while Artemis did the crossword puzzle and was pissed that she couldn't cheat like she did with the numerous crossword books she had at home. Looking at her lover who was squinting at the paper, she pulled it away and saw what she was looking at.

"Houses, why are you looking at houses?"

"I'm tired of paying rent and having nothing to show for it. Plus I want to live closer to you."

Artemis lowered her eyes to the table, taking a deep breath she looked back up into questioning blue eyes.

"Would you consider moving back to Martinsburg and living with me." She held up a hand to delay Jake from commenting. "There's a job opening at the new firehouse near my house, I think you could get it without a problem. In fact, there's two job openings, one in your old firehouse. They need a chief in both places."

"What happened to professor Clump, and how did my record get so clean. I know that I had all kinds of bad stuff in it and when I applied here, I almost fell over when I saw all the commendations in it?"

Artemis's face turned a light pink; she cleared her throat before replying.

"Justin had been following you for quite some time and taking pictures of you for an article she was doing about professional woman. You know the saying a picture tells a thousand words? Well, she caught you doing the most heroic things that a firefighter could do. She took all her pictures to the big man and showed them to him. He cleaned up your record and fired your old Chief." She took the larger hands in hers and ran her fingertips across calluses. "He said if you could be found he would give you any job that you wanted along with what ever you wanted."

"What do you want?"

Green connected with blue for long moments of intense study, Artemis wanted only one thing, the tall firefighter who captured her heart the first time she saw blue eyes looking at her. She would give up her job at the hospital and follow her wherever she went.

"To be by your side for the rest of our lives and into eternity."


Artemis sat next to her Mama at the kitchen table; they were going over the list that she had made up for the things they would need to pack for her and Jake's vacation. She heard the rumble of the Humvee pull into the garage and then cussing coming from just beyond the garage door. A grin crossed her face when she saw her Mama's eyebrow rose towards her hairline.

"What is she doing out there?" Natasha asked as she looked towards the door to the garage.

"You'll see, we have new rules here and she knows if she doesn't obey them, then I cut her off. No more of her filthy smoky clothes in the house."

"Sex as a leverage tool, I knew I taught you well." She smiled at her youngest one. "Has she been cut off yet?"

"Nope, I house broke her in five minutes."

Just then the door opened and breathless Jake stepped into the kitchen stark naked.

"Gods have mercy!" Natasha covered her eyes and elbowed Artemis when she chuckled at her mama's actions. "You could have warned me you little twit!"

"And miss all the fun, hell no!" She looked to her lover who was standing by the door with her hands planted on her hips.

"I better get half of the money you keep collecting for the tickets. I swear everyone this side of the Mason Dixon line has seen me naked!"

"Not on your life, how do you think we're paying for a trip to Greece, and not everyone has seen you naked, only the straight women I know."

"Uuhh huh and what about your sister?"

"Well, she's different." She cast wide green eyes to her Mama.

"Baby girl, I know all about Justin. Remember I'm a mama, we know everything. Just keep an eye on her when you guys go to the nude beaches, I don't want a phone call from Greece telling me that you're all in jail because she was taking liberties with her zoom lens…again."


Justin lay on her stomach on a cliff over looking the beach, her camera fitted with a special lens; she aimed it at the two figures wrapped around each other lying where the water washed over their naked bodies. A huge grin came to her face when she heard her sister's voice cry out in release.

"Go ahead Arty, scare all the fish and beach the whales why don't ya." Using the last of the roll, she rolled to her feet and was on her way back to the small cottage that was behind the house that Jake and Artemis had rented for their 6-month stay in Greece. She would have some wonderful blackmail pictures as well as a complete photo journal of the Grecian islands and other parts of Europe for when they returned to the states. If she played her cards right, maybe her new Greek lover would go with her. Turning around when she heard a deep voice behind her, she dropped her head in defeat.

"You had better not show those to Mama or I'll let Arty kick your ass."

She looked over her shoulder to see both her sister and sister in-law with folder arms across their bare chests glaring at her.

"Uuhmm…I think I hear Mama calling me." She cupped an ear and grinned. "Yep she sure is!" She high tailed it to her cottage and locked the door behind her.

Arty wrapped her arms around Jake's waist and leaned into her.

"Did you send Mama the pictures?"

"Sure did, just wait until Justin gets home. Mama will never let her live down the fact that she got shit faced, danced naked at beach party and ended up passed out spread eagle across a table with a bunch of old men sitting around her drinking wine."

"Come on hot stuff; let's see if I can get you passed out across a table."

The end
Flames of a Soul
By Larisa

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