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Gentle Rain

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The dull ache had begun behind her eyes. It had been there most of the day, hovering in the background, more of an annoyance than anything else. But over the last several hours, it had become progressively worse. The pain was now working its way into her shoulders and neck; no longer a dull ache, but a sharp pain.

It had been almost a year since Madeline had had a headache of this magnitude, but she remembered the feeling well. Eventually, she knew, the stabbing pain would take over completely, blurring her vision and leaving her almost completely immobilised.

Leaning back heavily against her chair, she made a vain attempt to massage the back of her neck, hoping to relax her tense muscles and delay the inevitable.

It wasn't working. Each movement was like a knife between her shoulder blades; each tilt of her neck generating a flood of pain that rebounded through her head.

Stifling a grunt of pain, Madeline lifted herself up from her desk, steadying herself with one hand as she reached for her comlink with the other. Breathing deeply, she waited patiently for the vertigo and nausea to pass, than activated it.

"Birkoff, I'll be in my quarters for the remainder of the evening. I'm not to be disturbed unless its an absolute emergency. Understood?"

She barely heard Birkoff's affirmative reply, the pain was becoming even more intense; closer to a vice tightening around her head than to a knife plunged deep within it...at least the pain of a knife dulled eventually...This torture showed no sign of abating.

Breathing deeply, Madeline began the long, slow walk to her quarters, avoiding the more heavily populated areas of Section and keeping to the quiet back corridors. In spite of the silence, however, the trip was absolute agony.

Even the dull light of the back corridors pierced her eyes boring deep within them causing the blood to throb in her brain. Each step she took was equally painful. The mere movement of walking sent sharp pain through her neck and shoulders; the click of her heels against the slate floor sounding like a jackhammer to her over-sensitised brain.

Momentarily she considered removing the shoes, but the very thought of bending to take them off caused an eerie vertigo that didn't seem to want to leave. And, she realised, if she stopped now, she might not make it all the way before the pain overcame her completely.

After what seemed like an eternity the door to her quarters appeared before her. Visibly relieved, she entered, leaving her shoes at the threshold as she did so.

A hot shower...a few hours sleep...that's all I need.

Even as the thought crossed her mind she knew that she was lying to herself. Sleep would be impossible. The shower would relax her mind, but would do little for her tense muscles and pounding head.

Sighing deeply, she decided that the shower couldn't do any harm and headed in the direction of the washroom, grabbing her bathrobe off the bed as she went.

The water beat down on her head and neck, massaging tense muscles. Madeline leaned into it, allowing the heat to wash over her; letting the pounding of the water on her back push away the tension in her neck and shoulders, at least temporarily.

The aching in her head lessened to a dull roar as she stood beneath the spray. She remained there as long as possible, letting it rain over her. But, eventually, she had to give in, as the water turned from hot to lukewarm. Stepping out of the shower, she pulled the robe around her without drying off, trying to retain some of the relief the shower had brought her. The relief she'd experienced in the shower didn't last long. By the time she'd returned to her bedroom and donned her night-gown the pain had returned; the tension in her neck forming an ever-tightening knot at its base; the throbbing in her skull now at the point where it blurred her vision.

Shutting off the lamp by her bed, Madeline sat on the edge, staring out into the blackness of her quarters. Unconsciously she reached into the nightstand and retrieved the bottle of medication she always kept there.

Empty.

"Dammit," she said quietly, dropping the bottle back into the drawer and sliding it shut. How could I have been so careless? With no prescription, she would have to wait out the headache, the walk to medlab was just too far.

Sighing deeply, she lay back against her pillows, the soft cotton cool against her damp skin. Carefully, she pulled the comforter up over her head, enclosing herself in complete darkness.

She found a comfortable position with difficulty; finally settling down on her back, her neck cushioned at just the right height by her pillow to ease some of the strain. Closing her eyes beneath the blanket, Madeline listened to the silence around her, trying to ignore the pounding in her head.

The silence was broken by a knock at her door; a knock she decided, selfishly, to ignore. Maybe if I ignore them, they'll go away? she thought to herself, wishing that the world would vanish - for just a few hours.

The knocking stopped as quickly as it began, but as she lay there, she heard the door open, and someone's footfalls walk towards the bed. One part of her mind knew that she should be concerned by the strange footsteps; but the other overruled it, knowing that only one person, one man in fact, could enter her quarters unimpeded.

Paul.

The slight depression next to her let her know that he was now sitting on the bed. Slowly, she pushed the covers back off her face, turning her head to the side to meet his eyes.

"You look like hell," he said softly, his hand stroking her forehead. "What can I do?"

Madeline's reply was almost a whisper. "Nothing. I'll be fine."

"Madeline..." his tone was like a father reprimanding a small child, and in spite of herself she smiled.

"Call medlab," she sighed, taking one of his hands in hers. " Reorder the prescription in the drawer. Get the technician to bring it here."

"All right. Give me 5 minutes. I'll call from the other room," he said, tucking the blanket back up around her shoulders.

Closing her eyes once again, she listened as Paul retrieved the bottle from the drawer and went into the other room. The comfortable position she'd found earlier was beginning to cause her pain; the ache from her neck and shoulders spreading into her lower back.

Slowly, she rolled over onto her side, the throbbing in her head intensifying with each movement, the pain in her shoulders jack-knifing down her back. Vertigo played behind her eyes, making even the blackness of her eyelids swim; causing her stomach to churn in accompanying circles.

Groaning softly, Madeline didn't notice Paul had re-entered the room until he was once again by her side. "Medical is on their way," he said as she opened her eyes. "Roll over. Let me help you." With Paul's hands supporting her she turned over to lay on her stomach, cringing slightly at the pain the movement caused in her neck and shoulders. Taking a deep breath, she tried to ignore the severity of the pain, focusing instead on Paul's touch.

His touch was soft against her neck as he brushed aside her hair, but still she flinched as his fingers came in contact with her tense muscles. Sharp prickles of pain rippled like waves away from his caress and Madeline fought the urge to pull away, knowing that sudden movement would only make the pain worse.

"Paul?" she whispered, her voice almost impossible to hear. In it was a silent plea she hoped he'd hear.

He did. "I know. I'm sorry...It will get easier..."

Madeline's reply was cut off by the activation of the comlink outside her door and the announcement of Medical's arrival.

"Finally," she heard Paul grumble under his breath, his concern evident in his voice. "I'll be right back."

Closing her eyes tightly against the stream of light from the door, Madeline waited for Paul to return, her brain registering little of the conversation she knew was taking place.

Eventually, however, the sound of the door shutting penetrated her haze, and she opened her eyes again to find him standing by her side.

"She left two syringes and your regular prescription," he said, placing the bottle and the syringes on the night table. "I'm supposed to give one dose to you now, and the other later if the pain doesn't go away."

"I know," she replied, her voice pained. "You don't need to explain..."

"I'm sorry..." he said, a frown wrinkling his brow. Taking one of the syringes in his hand he pulled back the blanket. The cool air touched Madeline's skin and she shivered slightly. "Arm or thigh?"

In spite of the pain she was in, Madeline had to suppress a chuckle at the question...under any other circumstances it could lead to such possibilities. Looking up at him, she whispered her reply, "Thigh. It works quicker that way."

Paul smiled, the frown that had creased his brow completely gone. "All right then."

Madeline watched him carefully as he knelt by her bedside, leaning over to slide her night-gown up over her thigh. His hand smoothed the fabric over her hip, and he left his hand there as he prepared the syringe. His touch was warm, his fingers brushing gently over her skin. At any other time his touch would have been comforting, even intoxicating. But now, every thought focused on the syringe in his hand and the relief it contained.

Closing her eyes, she waited patiently for the prick of the needle in her thigh. She didn't have to wait long. The pressure of the syringe against her leg intensified as he inserted the needle beneath her skin, rubbing the area around the entry point gently with a finger tip to ease the insertion.

"We're all set," he said softly, removing the needle from her thigh, and pulling her night-gown back down over it. "Is there anything else I can do?"

She felt him pull the comforter back over her legs and opened her eyes, letting him see her gratitude reflected in them. "Stay with me," she said, giving him a small smile. She waited for him to seat himself next to her on the bed before she continued. "That massage you started earlier would feel good right about now."

"Your wish is my command," he laughed, giving her a wink. Carefully, so as not to disturb her too much, he slid himself closer and pulled the blanket down for easier access to her shoulders and neck. Silently, she closed her eyes, mentally preparing herself for what was to come.

The first touch of his hands on her shoulders, although not unexpected, caused her to flinch involuntarily; a shooting pain driving itself though her shoulders and neck to intensify the throbbing in her head.

Through the pain, she heard him swear under his breath, his touch lightening slightly on her skin. But he didn't stop, both of them had been through this before, and they knew that it was only through the initial pain that relief came.

His hands caressed her shoulders and back, thumbs applying pressure at the base of her neck and between her shoulder blades. Madeline's hands clenched into fists as she fought the urge to moan in agony. He was working all the right places, she knew that he was; but it didn't decrease the torment.

His fingers grazed her neck as he kneaded the knots at its base; his touch an agonising mixture of soft and harsh; tenderness and torture. He worked his way upward slowly, running the tips of his fingers along the back of her neck, before returning to the base again; this time applying more pressure than before.

She could hear him speaking softly to her as he worked, but the words didn't filter through the pain. Eyes closed tightly, Madeline allowed his voice to soothe her, focusing on deciphering the words he spoke.

"Remember that time in Florence...after the Tallman mission...it was late...we were walking along the river...it started to rain... " he chuckled, pausing a moment to refocus his attention on her shoulders. "You wanted to get in out of the rain; but I dragged you out onto the Ponte Alle Grazie ...and we danced."

As she listened, she felt his fingers slip the delicate straps of her night-gown down over shoulders, exposing them completely to his ministrations. He kneaded at her shoulders, his thumbs focusing their attention between her shoulder blades. She winced visibly as his fingers a particularly tight knot, and his tone changed.

"Is it getting any easier?" he asked, easing up slightly on the knot, but continuing to centre his attentions on it.

Madeline opened her eyes. "Yes," she said softly. "The meds are helping, as is the massage. Thank you."

Smiling slightly as she closed her eyes again, she continued, "And Paul, it was the Ponte Vecchio not the Ponte Alle Grazie."

Paul laughed aloud, "Just making sure you were listening," he said, using his thumbs to work at the stubborn knot. "We got soaked that night...the rain was pouring down. I can't believe I talked you into it..."

He continued to speak as he massaged her shoulders and neck, but Madeline found it increasingly difficult to concentrate on his words. The medication was indeed beginning to serve its function. Not only was her headache starting to abate, but she was also starting to feel very drowsy - a comforting side effect of the drugs.

She could feel his fingers as they continued to work out the kinks in her shoulders; massaging, kneading, circling. But now, instead of agony and torture, his touch brought relief. There were still knots to be worked out, especially at the base of her neck, but they became the minority.

As she lay there, listening to Paul's voice, the memory that his words had brought back played itself out in her memory. The sound of the rain on the pavement accompanying the sound of his voice; the feel of his body close to hers going hand in hand with the labour of his fingers on her shoulders.

In her memory, she laughed; in the present, she slept. In both: she smiled.

****

Paul's massage and the medication had lulled Madeline into a deep dreamless sleep. She awoke after several hours, the pain in her head fading and the tension in her body almost non-existent.

Tentatively, she tested her limits, turning her body until she was lying on her side and resting there a moment to collect her thoughts. Very little tension remained. The vice-like pain in her head was now a dull ache; a ache that she knew from experience would fade given a little more time. The agonising tension of her shoulders and neck was also gone, leaving only a slight residual stiffness.

Sighing and pulling the covers tightly around her, Madeline revelled momentarily in the feeling of being pain free before opening her eyes.

There he was.

Lying next to her on the bed, arms folded behind his head, was Paul. She knew that she should scold him for remaining by her side, but, for some reason, she had no desire to do so.

Maybe its the drugs, she smiled to herself, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest beneath the blanket. Shifting herself under the cover, she moved towards him, laying her head against his chest and reaching out to drape one arm over him.

He stirred slightly, bringing down his arms to enfold her in their grip. "Feeling better?" he asked, sleep heavy in his voice.

"MmHmmm..." Madeline sighed against his chest, one hand sliding in between the buttons of his shirt. "Thank you for staying."

"I couldn't stay away knowing you were hurting," he said quietly, taking her hand in his. He entwined his fingers through hers as he continued, "You'd do the same for me."

Madeline curled her body closer to his in response, draping her leg over his underneath the blanket.

They lay like that for several minutes before Madeline felt him shift beneath her, preparing to detach himself from her embrace.

"Where do you think you're going?' she asked playfully, tightening her leg around his to slow his escape. She released her hand from his grip in the same movement and with it, began to unbutton his shirt.

He chuckled, grabbing her hand again and bringing it to his lips. "Don't start something you can't finish, Madeline."

"What makes you think I can't finish it?" she smiled, leaning on her elbow so she could meet his eyes.

She watched his eyes twinkle in response, but still he resisted; trying to detach his legs from hers.

"You're sure you want to do this?"

"Positive," she answered, beginning to shift her position so she was on top of him.

She wasn't quick enough. Before she'd even unhooked her leg from his, he had her flipped over on her back, arms pinned behind her head. The suddenness of the movement and the position of her arms sent a shooting pain into her neck and head and Madeline gasped.

Paul responded immediately, releasing her arms and moved to get up, worry lining his face. Recovering quickly, she grasped his shirt before he could move very far, pulling him down to plant a ferocious kiss on his lips. "Don't even think about it," she scolded.

"I don't want to hurt you," he replied, detaching her fingers one by one from his shirt.

She reached out her other hand and touched his face carefully. "I'll let you know if there's something I can't handle, " she assured him. "I know where my limits are. You took me by surprise."

He watched her for several minutes, studying her face. As he watched, she unbuttoned the remainder of the buttons on his shirt, untucking it from his pants as she went.

"Am I going to have to do this all by myself?" she taunted. "I could...but it won't be as much fun."

He leaned forward slightly, allowing her to slide his shirt off before edging himself back so that her knees were firmly trapped between his. Madeline watched his movements through half-closed eyes, feeling the caress of his hands, and the softness of her silk night-gown against her skin as he slid it up her body.

He lifted it slowly, trailing his fingers delicately over her thighs as he went, circling the tender point of the needle insertion momentarily before continuing his journey upwards. As the silk slid up over her hips, it took all her self-control to keep from arching her hips towards his touch, but she persevered.

His hands came to a stop once again just below her breasts and he met her eyes, smiling . "Lift your arms," he whispered bringing his thumbs down to trace circles around her navel. It was both an order and a question, giving her the option of rejecting the movement if it caused her too much pain.

Obediently, she raised her arms in response, waiting, anxiously, for his hands to continue their journey.

Continue they did; up past her abdomen to rest again as the silk revealed her breasts. Her nipples hardened as his thumbs brushed them, and he smiled down at her, an evil glint in his eye. He kissed a path between them before pulling her night-gown off over her head.

Her hands came down as soon as they were freed, tangling themselves in his hair as her mouth found his. Releasing his mouth, she leaned in so her breath was tickling his ear. "One of us is wearing too many clothes," she sighed.

As she said the words, she arched her hips gently, nudging his crotch with hers. She laughed huskily when she heard him moan in her ear, and released his head.

"You don't play fair," he grunted, sitting up to unzip his trousers. As he slid backwards off the bed to remove them completely, she nudged his crotch again with her toe, feeling his mounting excitement.

"Who told you this supposed to be a fair fight?" she taunted, leaning up on her elbows to watch him remove his pants. "No boxers today," she continued. "Meeting at Oversight?"

His face reddened slightly when he realised what she was implying. "You're going down for that one," he sulked, moving back towards the bed.

"That was exactly my intention," she replied, leaning back against her pillows.

She watched his every move as he approached her, feeling the anticipation he was creating in her body. Carefully, he positioned himself above her, his hips straddling hers. As he settled into position, Madeline's hands reached up to caress his chest, but never made it that far. Wordlessly, he grabbed her hands, kissing each palm tenderly before shaking his head and pinning them at her sides.

She realised immediately what he intended and laughed deep in her throat. "Now who isn't playing fair?" she asked, attempting to shift her wrists beneath his grip. The smile he gave her in response made her heart and stomach flutter in expectation.

"I wouldn't want you to exert yourself," he teased, leaning over to kiss the nape of her neck. "Now, if I release your arms...are you going to move them?"

Laughing softly, Madeline licked her lips. "I can't promise anything..."

Madeline's breath caught in her throat as Paul took one of her nipples in his mouth, running his teeth along its tip before sucking at it slowly. When he freed it he met her eyes once again, a malicious glint shining in them. "I think I need a promise..." he said threateningly, releasing her hands and running his fingers along the insides of her wrists.

Her wrists twitched involuntarily under his touch, the temptation to arch her hips towards him growing with each passing moment. She realised she would have to admit defeat, at least partially. "I'll be still; to a point" she said quietly, as he leaned over once again to kiss this nape of her neck, this time biting at it softly. She took advantage of his position to whisper her final words in his ear. "If I need to guide you, I'll be most disappointed."

Madeline felt Paul pause momentarily, reacting to her words. Then, with added intensity, he continued, his fingertips tracing a path up her inner arms as his mouth met hers in a savage kiss.

It very quickly became a struggle for her to keep her hands positioned at her sides. Paul worked his way slowly down her chest, placing kisses between her breasts before turning his attention to each individually. His teeth nipped at her nipples, touching them just enough to taunt, not enough give any satisfaction to what her body was asking for.

Her hands clenched at the sheets below her hands, her back arching her breasts towards his mouth, yearning, demanding greater attention. Attention he cruelly refused to give. Raising his head momentarily, he caught her eye, giving her a small wink before continuing.

One at a time he gave her breasts the attention she craved. His fingers stroked and massaged at one breast as his tongue left wet trails over it, tracing circles around her nipple and flicking at the tip. Finally he took it into his mouth, sucking at it and flitting his tongue across it. With one final nip his attentions focused on her other breast, this one already hard with anticipation. This time her body reacted even more strongly to the feel of his tongue along his breast; the soft sucking motion causing her to moan involuntarily and struggle beneath him.

Eventually, his mouth moved away from her breasts, his hands replacing it, teasing both breasts at once. His fingers circled her nipples, thumbs touching the tips of them lightly. Each touch, each caress sent shivers through Madeline's body and her hands clenched tighter on the sheets as she fought to keep her body flat against the bed.

His mouth had continued down her body, his tongue and teeth playing lightly between her ribs and navel, leaving her squirming beneath him. As he removed his lips and allowed a finger to trail down the same area, Madeline suppressed a groan. Biting at her lip, she shifted beneath him, unable to keep her body still as he returned his mouth to her ribcage.

She was painfully aware of the desire building inside her. It was taking all her self-control to keep her hands by her sides, to keep them clenched around the sheets of her bed, instead of wrapped in his hair, forcing him downwards between her legs.

Her hips bucked beneath him as his fingers stroked their way down her sides, tracing circles at her hips before he brushed them across her stomach and down her thighs. She tried to stifle another moan, but failed - this one coming out as a soft sigh between her clenched lips.

With one last nip at her navel he shifted his weight off her legs, pushing apart her knees to give himself room between them. Her thighs parted as well, her knees bending involuntarily, her body quivering in anticipation.

He remained perched there for almost a minute, his fingers tracing patterns on the inside of her thighs and the lower part of her stomach, getting just close enough to send shivers of frustrated passion through her. Her hips convulsed towards him, begging for him to bring her relief.

Yet still he waited. Taunting, teasing. His fingers creeping ever closer, but never touching. Eventually his mouth returned to the action, placing soft kisses in a line down from her hip to the soft skin above her sex.

"Paul..." The moan came unbidden from deep in her throat as she struggled to keep her hands pinned at her sides. She clenched her fists tightly around the sheets, her back arching upwards. "Please..."

His hands cradled her hips, keeping her body steady while he centred his attentions between her legs. Finally, she felt his tongue slide along the outer edge of her lips and another moan escaped her, this one followed closely by a sharp grunt of pleasure. Even as his mouth sought to pleasure her, he was teasing; nipping and flitting his tongue over her tender folds, but never focusing attention on the one spot that would cause her to completely lose control.

Madeline struggled openly to keep herself still, her hips and lower body writhing against his hands and mouth, aching for him to do more than taunt and flutter around his goal. Her knees tensed, seeking leverage as his teeth grazed her inner folds. Unconsciously she pulled herself upwards towards his mouth, and this time, he didn't fight her.

His tongue touching her bud sent a wave a fire through Madeline's body and she moaned loudly, no longer willing, or able to suppress her pleasure. The teasing was over: his mouth engulfed her, tongue circling, teeth nipping lightly at her arousal.

Her breath caught in her throat as he began to suck softly, his teeth grazing her lightly with each intake of his breath. She clasped at the sheets beneath her, legs wrapping themselves around his back to draw him closer. His hands cupped her buttocks as he increased the pressure and she gasped his name, bucking her hips towards him one final time as release came.

Moaning softly, Madeline relaxed against her pillows, unclenching her hands from the sheets and laying them back at her sides. As she caught her breath, she felt Paul placing kisses on the insides of her thighs, then, slowly, up her chest until his head was even with hers.

Meeting her eyes, he smiled lecherously as he spoke, "I trust you weren't disappointed?"

"Your cruelty exceeds even my expectations," she sighed, running a hand down his chest. "But...you've been working awfully hard today. I think you deserve a break."

"What did you have in mind?" he chuckled, kissing a path down her chest once again, his hand fondling her left breast.

It took less than a second for her to reverse their positions; her hips straddled his abdomen, her hands planted firmly on his chest. "Check Mate," she smirked, leaning in to kiss his lips savagely.

She felt Paul's hands come up and stroke her back, pulling her closer so that her breasts were pinned against his chest. Biting softly at his lower lip, she shrugged carefully out of his grip, sliding out below his hands to sit further down on his stomach. "Uh uh, " she said, shaking her head. "Its my game now..."

"Is it?" he said, cocking his head slightly and tracing a finger lightly over her thigh. "And what are the rules of this 'game'?"

"They're very simple," she began, taking his hands from where they rested on her thighs. She wriggled back up his chest slowly, feeling him shudder slightly as her warm sex brushed across it. Delicately, she pinned his hands behind his head, kissing him fiercely as she did so. "Your hands stay where they are," she continued, licking her lips, "while mine do a little exploring..."

"Ah..." he smiled, attempting to shift his body slightly beneath hers. "Similar to the rules of my game."

Madeline licked her lips, releasing his hands and trailing her fingers along his arms. "Precisely. Only this time; you submit to me."

A smile erupted across Paul's face as she emphasised the word submit and she traced the outline of his lips with a finger. "You like that idea do you?" she teased. "Are you sure you can relinquish control?"

He brought one of his hands out from behind his head, using it to tuck several strands of hair behind her ear before stroking her cheek with his thumb. "Only to you," he whispered, then returned his hand to its previous position.

Madeline's breath caught in her throat momentarily, leaving her to stare down at him, watching the twinkle in his eye dim slightly in reflection of the gravity of his words. Leaning in towards him, she kissed him on the forehead, resting her head against his in silent reply; and silent assent.

"You're trying to distract me," she murmured, downgrading their conversation back to playful. "You'll pay for that."

Paul chuckled, his body shaking softly beneath hers. Lifting herself back up into a sitting position, she gave him a mischievous grin and began to trail a finger lazily along his chest. "Where to begin..." she said softly, allowing her hands to rest on his chest.

He opened his mouth as if to speak, but she laid a finger on it, silencing him in one swift motion. Carefully she traced the outline of his lips before bringing her hand up to tangle her fingers in his hair. "Control. Is. Mine," she ordered, highlighting each word with a ferocious kiss on his lips.

She allowed her final kiss to linger, her tongue darting along the inside of his mouth and meeting his before she forced herself to pull away, nipping at his lower lip as she did so. Her hands remained wrapped in his hair as she allowed her mouth to travel down from his, kissing a path down his neck until she reached his Adam's apple. Pausing, she shifted her position slightly, wriggling her hips as she moved herself further down his abdomen. She watched in amusement as the muscles in his neck tensed in response, his Adam's apple bobbing quickly up and then down again.

Shifting her gaze up towards his face, she saw that he was watching her carefully, his face trying, but failing, to mask his overwhelming desire to reverse their positions. Silently, she winked at him, turning back down towards his neck, flitting her tongue softly over his Adam's apple. He shuddered in response, as she'd known he would, and she planted one final kiss on it before it bobbed once again as he gulped desperately for air.

Her mouth turned its attention to his chest, as her hands traced paths down his already quivering sides. Deliberately she ran her tongue along one of his nipples, circling it carefully and nibbling at it with her teeth. Bringing a hand up to stroke his other nipple she latched onto the first, sucking softly at it and flitting her tongue over its base. He moaned softly and shifted involuntarily beneath her and she responded to his movement, turning her mouth on the other nipple; sucking and nipping unmercifully at it while he fidgeted.

With one final suck at each of his nipples she pulled away from them, kissing a trail between them as she slid back further along his abdomen. Her movement opened up more of his chest to her touch, and dragged her still wet sex along his ribs, leaving him gasping for breath. Finally, she could move back no further.

She could feel his tip of his member against her buttocks and a slow smile spread across her face as she met his eyes once more. He was still watching her, the muscles in his neck tense, his mouth open slightly as if voicing a silent plea. Deliberately she lifted herself off his abdomen, her back and buttocks rubbing against him as she moved.

He gasped sharply, his member tensing even more at the touch of her skin as she slid her body off his. Alarm flashed in his eyes as she steadied herself next to him on the bed, his arm reaching out to grasp hers.

Smiling tenderly, she removed his hand, kissing the tips of his fingers before laying it down along his chest. "Seems we need to work on trust," she said quietly. "Have I ever been so cruel?"

He smiled in response and raised an eyebrow, and she chuckled lightly. "Yes. There was that one time wasn't there...but I've more than made up for that over the years...besides, you deserved it."

A vaguely astonished look crossed Paul's face as he spoke, "I deserved..." he began, and Madeline smiled down at him, stopping him mid-sentence. He knew better than to tempt fate; or her.

"We'll discuss it later," she laughed, positioning herself so she was straddling his hips, her knees tight against his waist. He was watching her with utter fascination, leaning on his elbows now that his upper body was free of her weight.

Delicately she ran a nail along the backside of his member, circling the tip when she reached it. As she drew her nail down the other side, she heard Paul moan low in his throat, his hips struggling to keep still beneath her weight. Cruelly, she increased the pressure, massaging his length with one hand as she leaned in to flit her tongue over its tip.

A loud groan escaped his throat as her teeth nipped at him and she slowed the motion of her hand, removing her mouth from his length and substituting her other hand at its tip.

Leaning back on her heels she swallowed a moan of her own, her body responding to the unmitigated control she had over him; her moist sex reacting to the proximity of his member. Releasing him, she called his name softly and he responded, sitting up so that her hands could grasp his shoulders.

As she leaned forward to clasp her hands around his neck, she lifted herself slowly, rubbing her body against his length, feeling him quiver against her.

"Madeline.." he moaned as the tip of his sex came in contact with the moisture of hers. Slowly, she pulled herself along his tip, deliberately not allowing him to enter her any further. His entire body shuddered beneath hers and his hands came around to grasp her by the hips. "Please..." he gasped, hands moving around to cup her buttocks.

She smiled down at him, her own body quivering against his. The time for torment was over. They both needed this. Gently she lowered herself onto his shaft, closing her eyes and arching her back as she took his full length within her. When she reached the apex, she fell forward against him, resting her head on his shoulder as she rocked carefully forward.

His hands massaged her buttocks and she straightened, laying her hands on his shoulders for support. Methodically, she began to ride him with a steady, slow rhythm, allowing his hands, now full participants, to guide her up and down on his length. Eventually, his hips joined their rhythm, thrusting against hers, driving himself deeper within her.

As she shifted her hips slightly she heard him gasp, but neither of them broke the pattern they'd created. She wrapped her hands in his hair, leaning her cheek against his, struggling to catch her breath. His hands shifted forward onto her thighs, stroking gently at her lips, causing her muscles to tense around his shaft.

They moaned almost simultaneously and Madeline sighed against his chest, slowing their motion even more and clenching her muscles around him when their rhythm had him pulling out. His whole body shuddered against hers and she knew he was close, each thrust was now accompanied a soft exhale of air against her ear.

Madeline released a sharp gasp and arched her torso. While she had been concentrating on Paul's breathing, he had brought a hand around between them and was now massaging her bud between his fingers. She grunted softly and met his eyes, locking them to hers as she rode him more rapidly, her hands planted firmly on his shoulders, one of his massaging her roughly. His other hand was wrapped around her back, holding her close to him, allowing him to plunge deeper within.

His fingers pinched at her bud as one final thrust brought him to climax, and she came a moment later, her hips gyrating over his length, her muscles constricting tightly around him. With a grunt and a relieved moan they collapsed against each other, his arms wrapped around her, her head resting at his shoulder.

They remained joined together for several minutes, her hands stroking his hair, his caressing her back gently. But eventually, she relaxed her arms around his neck and nipped at his ear, pushing him back gently so he lay against the pillows instead. Crawling up his body, she rested her head against his shoulder, feeling his rapid breathing slow beneath her.

"I think that makes up for any past cruelties," she chuckled. "Don't you?"

"No doubt," Paul laughed, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and pulling her tight against him. He remained silent for several minutes then kissed the top of her head. "I could stay like this all night..."

"I have no complaints," Madeline replied, yawning against his chest. Gently she ran a hand along his chest and felt him yawn as well. "Section knows how to reach us..."

"MmmmHmmmm," Paul hummed in agreement, already drifting towards sleep. Carefully, Madeline detached herself from his arms, reaching across the bed for a blanket. Covering him with it, she ran her fingers through his hair, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest.

So peaceful... she thought and curled back up against him, resting her head against his chest once more. Even in sleep his arms came around to hold her close, one hand resting at the small of her back.

Sighing contentedly, she drifted towards sleep, feeling the steady beat of Paul's heart beneath her cheek .

*****

Several hours later, the steady ringing of Paul's cell phone broke their peaceful slumber. Rolling off his chest and onto her back, Madeline closed her eyes, waiting for him to finish. Eventually, she felt his weight lift off the edge of the bed and heard him pad softly across the floor.

"There's still a couple of shirts in the closet," she said, turning over to watch him. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," he smiled, pulling on his trousers. "I asked Birkoff to remind me of a conference call scheduled for this morning."

"No time for a shower?" she asked, walking across the room towards him, and wrapping her arms around his neck.

"Not the kind you have in mind," he laughed, detaching her arms and kissing her tenderly. "But I'd like your input during the call, if you can be ready in time."

"Of course," she smiled. "How long?"

Grabbing one of his shirts from her closet, he ran a hand through his hair, leaving it sticking up in all directions. "35 minutes."

"Paul..." Madeline began, sitting down on the edge of the bed and trying to suppress her laughter. "If you attend the conference call looking like that, George will cancel you on the spot. Have a quick shower. I'll be good. I promise. I'll sit right here until you're done."

"You're sure you can behave yourself?"

"Not if you continue to stand there half dressed," she smirked. "Now, go. I need a shower too, and since you won't let me join you..."

"All right," he said, tossing his shirt across the bed. "I won't be long..."

Madeline watched Paul disappear into the bathroom, leaning back on the bed to wait. She lay quietly for several minutes, listening to the water run in the shower, before a slow smile spread across her lips. Thirty minutes was plenty of time.

Walking quickly to the bathroom she stepped in, shutting the door quietly behind her. The element of surprise wouldn't last long, but the steam covering the shower doors hid her approach temporarily.

The shower stall was on the far side of the room, and as Madeline approached she could see Paul's silhouette through the glass. Silently, she opened the door, entering the shower behind him as he rinsed the shampoo out of his hair. As the shower door fell shut behind her he reacted, turning towards her.

"Madeline... you promised..." he said, eyeing her warily through the stream of water that fell between them.

"30 minutes is not enough time for two people to shower," she teased, stepping towards him until their bodies were touching. "But its plenty of time for what I had in mind."

"Madeline..."

"Shut up," Madeline interrupted him before he could continue, kissing him fiercely on the mouth and driving him back against the wall of the shower. She wrapped her arms around his neck, drawing herself closer to him, slick breasts crushed against his chest, her sex brushing against his already hardening member.

Paul moaned deep in his throat and he broke their kiss, his breath coming out in short gasps. Grasping her buttocks sharply he lifted her off the shower floor, burying his face in her breasts as he switched their positions and pinned her against the wall.

Madeline wrapped her legs around his hips as he lifted her, tangling her hands in his hair. She sighed audibly as he lapped at the water on her breasts, sucking gently at one as his hands cupped her butt tightly.

Lowering her hands to his face, she tilted it upwards towards her, leaning down to kiss him passionately, her tongue delving deep within his mouth. His hands moved upwards to grasp her hips, lowering her carefully onto his length. She gasped as he entered her, releasing his mouth and tightening her legs around him, arching her hips forward to take as much of him as possible.

Together they began a steady rhythm, slowly at first, but quickly increasing in speed and ferocity. Madeline's hands returned to Paul's hair as the spray beat down on them, her fingers tangled in the wet strands. His head lay between her breasts, his hands on her hips, guiding the rhythm that drove him further inside her.

She took each thrust with an audible moan, her back pinned against the wall, her hips driven back against it. Paul grunted with each thrust as well, his hands tightening on her hips, bringing her down on his shaft with increasing pressure.

Their rapid rhythm brought climax quickly. Paul's groan was stifled against her chest, his breath coming out as a warm gasp between her breasts, his body shuddering beneath hers. Madeline moaned against the top of his head, leaning heavily forward as her own body quivered.

Unwrapping her legs from around his hips, she allowed Paul to lower her back onto the floor of the shower. "I told you..." she laughed, laying her head against his chest. "Plenty of time..."

Brushing back her wet hair, Paul kissed the top of her head. "What am I going to do with you?" he said, pushing her away so he could look into her eyes. "You're impossible."

"And you wouldn't have it any other way..." Madeline smiled, pushing him towards the door of the stall. "Get dressed. You'll be late."

Taking her face between his hands leaned in to kiss her tenderly before exiting the stall, shutting the door behind him when he went. Centring herself beneath the spray of the shower, she brushed the hair back off her face. She'd left herself with very little time to get ready for the call, so she settled for only a few minutes under the spray before shutting off the shower and pulling on her robe.

Paul was already gone when she exited the bathroom, so she dressed in silence, pulling her still wet hair up into a French twist before leaving her quarters. She proceeded quickly through the corridors of Section, glancing occasionally at her watch. She arrived at the Perch just as Paul's comlink beeped acknowledgement of an incoming signal. Smiling, he gestured for her to stand just out of the way of the link and activated his screen.

The call turned out to be incidental. Centre questioned their budget, discussed the success and failure of recent missions and basically complained about what they felt was poor performance. Paul defended their budget, their failures and complained about the lack of resources provided for the training of new operatives. Two hours later, Madeline was leaning heavily against the ledge that ran along the window, wondering if it was ever going to end.

Finally, Paul deactivated his comlink, lifting himself from his place on the ledge and walking towards her. As he approached, she hit the button to darken the windows. "Thank you for last night," she said, brushing a stray hair back from his face.

He smiled down at her, leaning back against the ledge and putting an arm around her shoulders. "We don't spend enough time like that, " he replied. "I'd like to remedy that."

"I'm not sure that's possible," Madeline said, trying to avoid Paul's eyes. "You know that as well as I do."

Turning himself to stand directly in front of her, Paul tilted her face up, forcing her eyes to meet his. "I'd like to try. But one word from you, and I'll drop it." Pausing, he searched her eyes. "I think its worth the risk."

Bringing up a hand to take his, Madeline lowered her eyes and studied it carefully, as if searching for answers in the lines of his skin. She remained silent for several minutes, keeping his hand trapped within both of hers.

"I don't know how to judge your silence Madeline," Paul said. "Especially when you won't meet my eyes."

The beep of Paul's comlink interrupted them and for a moment, their eyes did meet. The moment passed and Paul activated the link. "Yes Birkoff?" he snapped, running a hand through his hair.

The voice on the comlink was stoic, almost sad. "Sir, while you were in conference, I received final numbers on the Prague mission. We lost over 15 operatives, level 4 or higher; plus several lower operatives."

"Damn," Paul muttered under his breath. Raising his voice back to audible levels, he addressed the young man. "Thank you, Mr. Birkoff, I'll be expecting the remainder of the report within the hour."

"Yes sir." Paul cut off the com abruptly, turning back towards Madeline, his tone now all business. "We'll have to increase recruitment again, and do a staff review - we'll have to make several promotions to maintain our levels."

"I'll take care of it," Madeline replied, stepping towards the doorway. Paul had already begun pacing the Perch and she watched him carefully before she spoke again. "Paul," she began, her voice low. He looked up to where she stood in the doorway, visibly surprised that she was still there. Keeping her tone even, she continued, meeting his eyes. "Dinner tonight?"

A smile spread across Paul's face, lighting up his eyes as he replied. "Of course," he said. "I'll see you then."

Giving Paul a small smile in return Madeline turned on her heel and left the Perch, leaving him to return to his pacing behind her. As she walked the corridors towards her office she thought about the decision she'd just made, wondering what it would mean for the future, wondering whether it had been right. As she keyed in the code for her office, she decided it didn't matter. The decision had been made and there was no turning back.

Besides, she didn't want to turn back...