DISCLAIMER: These two lovely women are mine, all mine *mwahahahahah*, and will remain locked in my wardrobe until I see fit to let them out to play :D
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my first fic, so PLEASE let me know what you think. Feedback most gratefully accepted. Send messages of love etc to tutto_ora_niente@yahoo.co.uk Many thanks to KC for beta help and being wonderfully encouraging. Dedicated to my special girl.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Chemical Romance
By Cali

The late afternoon sun shone in her eyes as she left the laboratory, allowing the caretaker to lock up after her. Shielding her blue-green eyes against the warm glow, Mandy squinted at the Alfa-Romeo, a metallic red island in the sea of bleak concrete that was the staff car park. She had thought that everyone else had gone home earlier; wanting to make the most of the weekends before winter truly set in, preferring downtime with loved ones to overtime at work. Dropping to one knee, she adjusted the buckle on her boots, ensuring her leathers were tucked into the shin deflector, and casually lingering to see if the figure pottering around under the bonnet was anyone she knew.

Straightening up, Mandy began to wander towards the bike shed, looking forward to taking the long route home, snaking her way along the A-roads on her beloved black Fazer. Hearing the slam of the bonnet she glanced over her shoulder, and caught a glimpse of her Head of Department climbing into the driver's seat. Smiling inwardly, Mandy remembered the meeting earlier that day, where, as her visionary young protégé, Ms Donnegal had recommended they work together on her latest project. This new task load would involve reference back to her mentor whenever she made a new discovery, which meant a great many meetings with a beautiful woman to discuss the subject she loved. 'Some days, it's great to be me,' sighed Mandy, her mind already toying with new research angles.

Suddenly, she was brought back to reality as the Alfa-Romeo failed to start for the umpteenth time of trying, and the door slammed shut, followed closely by a howl of frustration and despair, as Ms Donnegal locked herself out of her car. Wincing sympathetically Mandy changed course to offer the woman a lift home, or use of her mobile at the least, when she was shocked to see Ms Donnegal sink to the ground burying her head in her arms and burst into uncontrollable sobs. With concern written across her face, Mandy hurried to the older woman's side, shedding her rucksack before crouching down beside her.

Ms Donnegal didn't seem to notice she was even there. Wanting to help, but not quite sure how, Mandy called her name. "Ms Donnegal?". No response. She tried again, but the poor woman was utterly distraught, and barely acknowledged her. Feeling rather sheepish, she asked tentatively "Mel?" and was relieved to see the other woman lift her head from her arms, looking positively adorable, her baby blue eyes shining with tears. Mandy flinched with pain, as seeing the woman she cared so much for in such great distress felt like her heart would break. Feeling embarrassed about showing so much emotion in front of her protégé, Ms Donnegal was ready to bury her head back in her folded arms, when Mandy's hand gently caught her chin, turning her head so that they were face to face. "Hey…." said Mandy softly, before freezing as a thousand voices exploded in her head.



'DO YOU WANT TO GET FIRED FOR HARASSMENT?!' and finally one quiet little voice whispering 'Take care of her, make things better and look after her'

Looking into sapphire eyes, Mandy knew she only really had one choice; "Tell me how I can help" she asked, turning slightly to take a seat next to her mentor.

Blue eyes melted, as Ms Donnegal managed to stammer "I..-I was working late and got a phone call…my parents' car was in a head on collision with a petrol tanker…they were taking my four year old niece to the beach…I was on my way up when my car wouldn't start, and now I've locked myself out of it as well." With a look of total misery she put her head in her hands and stared blankly at the ground.

Determined to help Mandy asked "Does anyone have a spare car key?"

Ms Donnegal shook her head. "It's in a drawer at home, my house keys are locked in the car, and the only people with spare house keys are my neighbours who are away on holiday. It's all one horrible paradox."

Stumped, Mandy thought for a moment. There was clearly no way for Ms Donnegal to get into her car, unless she smashed a window, and she doubted that the sweet natured neat freak would even contemplate the idea. So she would require alternative transport.... "Have you ever been on a motorbike before?" Frowning slightly, Ms Donnegal conceded that she had not, although she used to ride horses, if that was at all similar. Springing to her feet, Mandy offered Ms Donnegal a hand up, before offering "if you can give directions, I can take you there" to the downcast woman.

Smiling gratefully, Mel said "that would be wonderful, thank you so much."

"First things first, we need to get you kitted up" said Mandy as she opened the top box on the back of her Fazer, pulling out the spare helmet and gloves. Looking at both pairs of gloves, Mandy held her hand out with the palm vertical, explaining "my normal gloves are slightly larger than my spares, but both fit fine, so whoever has the smallest hands gets the spares." Smiling slightly as the petite woman extended her hand, Mandy was surprised to find that she would be wearing the spare gloves, as Mel's strong fingers interlaced her own. Blinking both mentally and physically she turned and strapped her rucksack to the bike, thinking about the journey. She knew that Mr. and Mrs. Donnegal lived in the Peak District, so there was no way Mel would survive the long journey in her smart suit, no matter how gorgeous she looked in it. "We're gonna have to stop off at my house first, to get you something more suitable to ride in, you'll freeze in that suit. Plus the beast (pats the bike affectionately) will need filling up." Swinging a leg over the bike, Mandy instructed Ms Donnegal to 'hop on', and the duo left on the short trip to Mandy's house.

Taking the direct route home, Mandy found, took little over 10 minutes, compared to the half hour detour she took every morning to justify taking the Fazer and not her bicycle. Holding the bike steady to allow Mel to dismount, her mind was already running through her wardrobe of bike gear, trying to think of something suitable for Ms Donnegal. Switching off the engine, she removed her helmet and gloves, fished around in her jacket for the key, before letting herself into the house. Kicking herself for not tidying up that morning, she showed Mel into the lounge, asking her if she wanted something to drink. Hunting down some orange juice, she poured a glass, and gave Mel the phone to ring her brother and find out if there was anymore news. That done, Mandy went to find the leather 2-piece suit that she wore in spring, when it wasn't so cold that she had to wear half a dozen layers in an attempt to stave off the freezing cold. With a jumper and pair of joggers underneath, the suit should fit the petite woman snugly, and keep her nicely warm. Picking up her 'last minute' touring panniers, Mandy took out the tent and other camping items, and packed some extra clothes Mel could borrow if necessary, and began fitting the rider-pillion intercom system into both their helmets. Hearing the beep-blip that meant the phone had been replaced in its stand, Mandy made her way downstairs, praying that it was good news.

Mel's face gave nothing away as she sank back into the sofa. Seeing Mandy in the doorway, she passed on the updated information. "Some bystanders managed to pull my dad and niece from the car before the firemen arrived. The tanker exploded when the driver crawled out of the cab and lit up another spliff. The bastard died instantly... One of the firemen pulled my mum out of the fireball, but- but they don't think…they don't know if she'll make it... My dad's in intensive care as well, he's got a fractured skull and second degree burns, and my niece is in massive psychological shock, bless her, she's only four!" Mel burst into tears, and buried her head in Mandy's shoulder.

Pained by the hurt the woman in her arms was going through, Mandy held her close, wanting to protect her from the horrific situation she was in. Cursing the lorry driver, and all vehicle driving fools in general, Mandy fished a tissue out of the box behind her and offered it to Mel, gently drying her eyes. Handing the suit over, she pointed upstairs. "My bedroom's second on the left, tracksuits in the middle draw under my bed, find something that fits comfortably under the suit, otherwise you'll be cold, ok? I'm just going to fill the bike up at Tescos, I'll be back in a couple of minutes max, then I'll sort the bike, and find you some boots." Noticing the bemused look on Mel's face, she reaffirmed "I'll be back before you know it" squeezed her hand and left.

The forecourt at the petrol station was unusually clear, so Mandy was back at her house earlier than expected. Digging out her spare set of spring boots and some thick winter socks, she glanced at her watch. It was unlikely that Mel would have managed to change into the slightly awkward suit in just over five minutes, so Mandy decided to fit the GPS system to the bike, just in case. Conscious of the need to make as good a time as possible, Mandy went into the house to tell Mel that they were ready to leave as soon as she was changed. Hearing footsteps on the stairs, Mandy turned to see Mel, her short hair slightly tousled, looking effortlessly sexy, wandering into the hall. Handing over the boots, she smiled "suit fits alright then?" Mel stood on one leg, trying to put a boot on, and nearly fell over. Sitting at the foot of the stairs, she still struggled, unused to dial up calf-adjusters and other assorted gadgets. Kneeling at her feet, Mandy took her foot onto her lap and fitted the boot snugly, practicedfingers flicking the clasps shut in seconds. Fitting the other boot in a matter of seconds she stood up and offered Mel a hand up. "Walking in them takes a bit of practice, but once you're on the bike they're as comfy as slippers. All set?" Mel nodded. "Then let's go. Hopefully we'll just miss the tail end of rush hour, but you can never be too sure." Aware that she was babbling to make up for Mel's silence, she cut herself short. Stepping aside to let Mel into the garage, she locked the door, and wheeled the bike onto the drive. Handing over the helmet, she warned Mel "mind your glasses, I've installed rider-passenger intercom, so you can give me directions...and talk, if you want..." tailing off, she swung her leg over the bike and held it steady for Mel. Flicking the switch on the base unit in her pocket, she tried a joke. "Testing, pilot to passenger, over..." Feeling a dig in the ribs, she smiled into her helmet. Mel's sense of humour really was remarkable.

Blitzing along the motorways, Mel soon acclimatised to being on the bike, and thanks to the GPS, didn't have to worry about directions. She began to talk about her family, enjoying the slightly disconnected feel of talking into a radio, allowing herself to open up to her companion more than she would have ordinarily. By the time they reached Norfolk, Mel was chatting away about how wonderful her family was, reminiscing about her childhood, trying to stave off the fear she felt when they passed a petrol tanker.

Arriving in Sheffield, the radio fell silent, and Mandy was fairly sure that Mel was crying quietly into her helmet. Stopping outside the hospital and seeing the look on Mel's face, Mandy blew the barriers to pieces, gently enfolding Mel in her arms, letting her compose herself before visiting her parents. Unsure if Mel wanted company, Mandy decided to go as far as the waiting area, letting Mel choose. Sitting on the sofa, feeling slightly self-conscious in her leathers, Mandy smiled at the man sat on the other sofa, hoping to dissuade him from glaring at her so vehemently. He scowled and mumbled a vaguely foreign insult, prompting Mandy to go and hunt down a coffee machine.

A couple of hours passed, and melancholy began to set in. Feeling more out of place than a nun in a strip club, Mandy resumed her patrol of the corridors, waiting for news, to be sent home, asked to stay, anything but the uncertainty of not wanting to stay, yet unable to leave. Slowly making her way back to the relative's room, she nearly leapt out of her boots when Mel snuck up on her, before yelling in her ear "they're both going to be fine! It'll take a while, but the doctors are convinced there'll be no lasting damage." Taking Mandy's hands, she danced around the corridor, before almost collapsing as the adrenaline wore off. After 36 hours of panic, worry, impatient waiting, and now jubilation, the poor woman was absolutely exhausted. Catching her as she slumped to the floor, Mandy gently lowered her into a chair, and went to find her some coffee. Returning, she softly woke Mel, handing her the quick fix coffee, before asking her what her plans were. Neither woman was in a fit state for the return journy that night, and besides, the weather had turned foul. Mel was going to stay in her parents' house, and offered Mandy the spare bedroom, feeling more than a little guilty to have involved the helpful young woman in what was likely to be a messy, disorganised nightmare.

A couple of days later, it was clear that Mel's parents were on the mend, and preparations were being made for them to stay with Mel's brother and his wife during their recovery. Mandy biked back to sort out Mel's car, then drove it up to Sheffield to pick Mel up, so that they could continue with their research. Having grown close to each other during Mel's troubling time, the two women began spending more time together outside of work. One night after working late, making a major breakthrough, the pair celebrated at a wine bar, and Mel drank too much to drive home. Mandy, conscious of her reputation as a lightweight stuck to her one glass of Chardonnay, determined not to let a hangover the next day cloud their success. Giving Mel a lift home on her bike, the two women are suddenly closer than ever, standing in the pool of light cast by the elegant streetlamps lining the quiet lane. Mel found herself inexplicably drawn to her companion.

Reveling in the moment, feeling reckless and daring beyond the wilder moments of her youth, she leant forward, brushing her lips tentatively across her companion's cheek, murmuring softly into her ear "would you like to come in?" lingering longer than necessary, before pulling away slowly, gazing into loving blue eyes, drowning in a sea of azure light. Without thinking she leant in again, one hand snaking its way around Mandy's neck, closing the miniscule gap between the two women faster than she could mentally blink. As their lips touched, sparks of electricity coursed through the two women, pulses set racing as they held each other, spiraling deeper and deeper into the kiss to end all kisses, bodies intertwined, souls united as they worshipped each other with their lips, trails of fleeting kisses deepening into a sensual duel of velvet tongues, caressing and teasing until neither woman could think. Remembering that she had not yet answered the question, Mandy regretfully broke the kiss, whispering "wel, if you're offering....." huskily into Mel's ear, before nuzzling Mel's neck, as cute and affectionate as a puppy, yet at the same time, sexy as hell, and twice as hot.

Loving the feel of Mandy's leather jacket on her bare shoulders, Mel stepped backwards to lead Mandy through the front door, stepping over the pile of newspapers into the hall. Mandy had no way of knowing that Mel subscribed to three weekly magazines and had two daily newspapers delivered. Consequently, making her way into the darkened hall proved to be trickier than expected, and she tripped, falling flat on her face at Mel's feet. Feeling the effects of the alcohol she had tried so hard to avoid drinking, Mandy stayed on the floor laughing, until she realised her nose was somewhat more …pliable…than it had been before it met the floor. Falling silent, she tried to assess the damage, before attempting to stand. At the same time, worried by her silence, Mel was attempting to find a way to kneel beside Mandy without breaking an ankle on her gorgeous leather stiletto boots. The two women collided, and ended up in a heap, back on the floor. "Are you alright Mandy?" asked a somewhat disorientated Mel, which was met with "Owwwww" from Mandy, who was sure that if her nose was not broken before, it certainly was now, as Mel had all but sat on her head as they fell to the floor. Sitting up proved to be impossible for both women, as Mel had ended up straddling Mandy's back, but unable to move as she had sprained her ankle in the fall, and somehow had her head stuck under the hall table. Although she was enjoying the contact, and was more than a little amused by the whole situation, she didn't want her nose to bleed all over the light coloured hall carpet, so Mandy twisted over, gave Mel a shove, and they both giggled as they toppled over, lying on the floor, staring at the beautiful ceiling fairy lights that Mel had installed on a whim.

Listening to the soft breathing of the young woman lying next to her as she tended her nose with a pack of tissues, Mel felt a surge of pride and affection for her… partner? Had they reached that stage yet? Remembering what was about to happen, before they had tripped in the hall, she leant over, and dropped a kiss onto the full lips that looked so inviting in the starlight. Smiling, Mandy gestured at the floor, and murmured "looks like I've fallen for you all over again" before sitting up and softly stroking Mel's dark hair, wondering how she ever got so lucky, meeting the woman she loved, and who seemed to love her back. Shuffling along the hall, she unzipped Mel's boot and gently began to massage her sore ankle.

Groaning at the light touch of musicians fingers playing along her calf, Mel mumbled "I'm lucky I fell in love with someone with good hands, eh?" The soft caress stopped abruptly, and struggling to sit up, Mel looked at the radiant face of her partner, looking happier than Mel had ever seen her.

"You do? You really love me?" Mandy questioned.

Struck by the realisation of her feelings, which had tumbled from her lips unthinkingly, Mel faltered "I- I- um... You- ...I-...oh Mandy..." she sighed "I don't know how to put this, really I don't...You mean the world to me, more than anyone I've ever met, you're so kind and compassionate, selflessly helpful, you saved me from the depths of despair after I lost my......after the accident happened, but I don't think I love you..." Mandy's face fell, and she made to stand, but was stopped as Mel reached out and took her hand. "I haven't finished yet" Mel whispered tenderly. "I don't think I love you, because I know I do. I love you with every molecule, every atom, hell, even every quark of my being." Suddenly worried that she was taking things too fast, Mel opened her mouth trying desperately to think of something to say, but was stopped short when she felt her feet leave the ground as she was embraced with a tender kiss. Feeling the need for support, she circled her arm around Mandy's neck, as strong arms carried her easily towards the lounge, stopping short as Mel inquired cheekily "do you think you could manage stairs?"

Glancing at the short flight of stairs, Mandy nodded "But you need to ice that ankle, and your kitchen is downstairs."

Grinning mischievously Mel beckoned Mandy closer, "sure, my kitchen's downstairs, but my bedroom is upstairs."

Somewhat confused, Mandy smiled at Mel's grin "of course, you'll need help getting upstairs as well. I'll fetch the ice in a minute."

Turning towards the stairs, she was stopped in her tracks, as Mel, unable to express how adorable she found Mandy's innocence and naivety pulled Mandy's head down into a kiss, gentle at first, but with increasing passion, finally tearing herself away to whisper hotly in Mandy's ear "take me to bed Lovergirl".

Complying instantly, Mandy carried Mel upstairs, halting when she realised she didn't know which door led to Mel's bedroom. "Put me down" whispered Mel, as she laced Mandy's fingers between her own, and led her into her bedroom.

The End

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