DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: A tiny bit for the episode "Pax Romana"
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Zennie for the beta!
FEEDBACK: To promogrrl[at]gmail.com

Proof of Life
By Inspector Boxer


She thought she'd fall asleep instantly but her mind had other ideas.

Comfortable and relaxed in her pajamas after a decadently long hot shower, Kate settled on her bed, her back against the headboard, her knees drawn to her chest as she stared at the far wall. Just a few hours ago, she'd been convinced she would never sleep in her room again. She had literally gone to the center of the Earth to find a cure. Along the way, there had been one too many brushes with death as they'd sought to save Magnus, including one that had temporarily succeeded. Kate knew she would do it all again. Even the dying part.

Everything was as fine as it could be now. They were home and in one piece, physically anyway. Kate wasn't so sure she could vouch for her mental state.

Magnus had almost died. The thought still scared the hell out of her. Even now, Kate wanted to seek her out, just wanted to hear her voice, that accent that she could never get enough of. Kate ran a hand through her hair, feeling the tremor in her fingers. Sleep wasn't going to come easy, but she would fight her need to see Magnus. The woman had to be exhausted after her ordeal, and Kate was damn well not going to wake her just to make herself feel better.

A soft knock at the door had Kate lifting her head and frowning. Her gaze darted to the clock as she puzzled over who might be seeking her out in the middle of the night. Slipping from her bed, she padded barefoot across the rug and onto the hardwood floor before hesitating with her hand on the knob.

"Who is it?" she called out, her voice quiet in deference to the hour.

"It's Helen."

Kate swallowed, feeling a different kind of tremor shiver through her. She licked her lips and took a quick breath before opening the door, coming face-to-face with that small, knowing smile that did amazing things to Helen's features. "Hi," she murmured.

Helen's smile widened. "May I come in?"

Stepping back, Kate motioned at the room, noting that Magnus was still in the leather pants and jacket she had been when they had returned to the Sanctuary. She got a whiff of that leather as Magnus passed, and Kate nearly closed her eyes in appreciation before remembering herself and closing the door.

"I hope I'm not intruding," Magnus said, her tone formal as her she glanced around the room before her gaze landed uncertainly on Kate.

"No. No, not at all." Kate swallowed again. "I… couldn't sleep."

Helen nodded. "I suspected as much. I saw your light under the door."

"You wandering the halls? Checking on your charges?"

"Something like that," Magnus agreed with a weak smirk.

Kate crossed her arms over her chest to keep herself from fidgeting. Magnus did that to her, made her feel like an awkward teenager with her first crush. "Little too much excitement lately, I guess. Thought I'd drop like a rock once my head hit the pillow but no dice."

Magnus pursed her lips and dipped her head once in acknowledgment. "It has certainly been an… active few weeks." Her gaze shied away for a moment before returning carefully to study Kate with open curiosity. "I… wanted to thank you… for everything."

"Thank me?" Kate asked with surprise.

"Everything that happened… it was my cross to bear. My responsibility. You didn't have to involve yourself."

Kate shook her head, feeling a flash of anger ignite in her stomach. "I couldn't just stand by and let you die…"

"Most people would have done just that, Kate." Magnus regarded her, her blue eyes piercing. "You gave your life in your efforts to save mine. That's not the sort of thing I take lightly."

Forcing herself to remember to breathe, Kate answered with an awkward shrug. "Just another day at the office, right?" She tried for nonchalance, but she could feel her heart thundering behind her ribs. Magnus had never looked at her quite like the way she was now. There was gratitude in her gaze but it was mixed with something sweeter… something warmer. When Magnus took a step toward her, Kate felt her breath hitch and she prayed a sudden fake cough into her fist would be enough to fool the older woman. She cleared her throat. "I knew the risks," she said firmly but quickly.

"I never thought otherwise," Helen replied with a faint smile. "You never go into a situation without knowing your options… unless you have to for someone you care about."

They stared at each other in uncomfortable silence.

"I'm honored to be one of those people, Kate," Magnus confessed.

Kate simply looked at her, trying to find words, but she could barely process all the emotions Magnus was stirring in her, let alone give them a voice.

"Well," Helen murmured, seeing that she had the other woman at a loss. "I should leave you to your rest."

Magnus was nearly to the door when Kate's hand beat her to the doorknob, wrapping around it firmly and holding it closed. The two women went still, so close they could feel each other's heat.

Kate stared at Magnus' pulse point. It was at eye level, and the heart beating a steady rhythm beneath the skin had a hypnotic effect on her. It was proof of life, the confirmation Kate had craved mere minutes before. Before she even realized what she was doing, the fingers of her free hand came up and brushed across the surface, watching as the tempo definitely increased, feeling the beats thumping against her thumb.

"Kate," Magnus whispered.

Meeting Helen Magnus' gaze suddenly seemed like the most dangerous thing Kate had ever done. She lifted her eyes, finding Magnus watching her intently. "I couldn't let you die," Kate confessed once more, her voice hushed. They were so close. The mouth that formed that tantalizing accent was just inches away. Kate didn't think, she simply reacted. It was her modus operandi and it often got her into a hell of a lot of trouble. This time was no exception. But she found it hard to give a damn when she sampled the softness of Helen's mouth, the fingers stroking Helen's pulse point sliding up a long neck to tangle in hair as touchable as silk.

She expected to be gently rebuffed, maybe even slapped. Kate was wholly unprepared for the warm tease of Magnus' tongue as it slipped past her lips to tangle with her own. That's what that accent tastes like, she thought distantly, only to have all thought become impossible as she was gently thrust against the door, the kiss deepening as she felt the press of a solid body against her own.

Eyes closed, all of her other senses compensated. Her world became the smell of leather and skin. Touch was lean muscle and curves followed by the abrupt shock of heat and chill as Helen's fingers lifted her shirt and drifted teasingly across her lower ribs. Helpless, Kate's hands tightened in Magnus' coat as she pulled the woman in closer, harder.

"Jesus," Kate whispered when they came up for air. She swallowed, eyelids fluttering as Helen's thigh slipped between her own. Before she could say more, Helen moved and Kate groaned, her body shivering with pleasure.

"Bed," Magnus urged, her voice as breathless as Kate felt. And damn if that word didn't sound a hell of a lot sexier when the British said it.

Kate bounced when she hit the surface, but Helen's long frame was on her before she came back down, pinning her to the mattress. Desperate hands yanked at clothing, but as Magnus rose up to shed her coat and shirt, Kate surprised her with a simple request. "Lose the shirt. Keep the jacket."

Magnus tipped her head to the side, regarding Kate with an impish and knowing grin that did things to Kate's heart rate. "Someone has thought about this," Helen teased as she did as she was told.

Dark eyes watched as the leather was slipped back over naked skin. "More damn times than I can count," Kate breathed as Helen straddled her. Kate let her hands wander to Helen's hips before detouring across the plane of Helen's stomach, feeling victory as the muscles under her touch quivered in reaction. "Damn…" Kate whispered again just as Helen closed the distance between them once more, her hands drifting up to cup the other woman's breasts as Magnus kissed her nearly senseless.

"Where did you learn to kiss like that?" Kate asked minutes later, gasping as Helen's lips trailed lower and lower still. She arched when that talented mouth found her right breast, the edges of Helen's coat teasing and tickling her skin as the other woman hovered and enjoyed her.

"My dear, Kate," Helen teased, her blue eyes lifting to meet Kate's hooded gaze. "You forget I've had many years of practice." Through with playing, Helen bore down, showing the other woman no mercy.

Helen took Kate with her fingers and tongue. The first time was rough and wrung a sound from Kate's throat the younger woman knew she had never made before. The second time was gentle and maddeningly slow but no less intense. Not only could Magnus speak a hundred languages with that mouth, she could apparently leave another woman speechless with it.

Panting, Kate rolled them over, her limbs shaking but finally recovered enough to let her begin her own assault. Helen did nothing to resist, letting Kate straddle her, clearly enjoying the way the younger woman was moving against her. Kate slipped her fingers between their bodies, sliding into the older woman effortlessly. Her other hand gripped the lapel of Helen's jacket, holding on as she began to move her hips faster and harder, her fingers flexing and teasing inside the other woman.

"Kate," Helen gasped, her hands clinging to the younger woman's hips, pressing her as tightly against her as she could. They were both going to be bruised and sore tomorrow, but they aches and pains would come with vivid memories and a flush of erotic heat.

They came together, the sound of Helen's cries enough to send Kate careening off the edge once more. Spent, Kate draped herself over Helen's body, smiling as she slid down to settle between the older woman's legs. Gently and unhurried, Kate teased her, taking her time until she had the great Helen Magnus to the point of begging.

"Do I need to sleep in this?" Helen asked cheekily sometime later, fingering her lapel after Kate had finally wrapped the length of her body around her.

Kate slipped her hand across Magnus' stomach, letting it come to rest under the leather the heat of their lovemaking had warmed. "Would you?"

Helen smiled, her blue eyes sleepy but peaceful. "You went to the center of the Earth for me. I think I can sleep in my jacket for you."

Kate grinned. "You so just paid me back for the center of the Earth thing. The jacket is just a bonus."

Chuckling, Helen pulled her closer, drawing the sheets and blankets over their tangled bodies. "I think I'm coming out on the better end of this deal."

"Hmm," Kate murmured, her eyelids growing too heavy to hold open so she didn't try. "It was worth it." The last thing she felt before her awareness fled was the brush of Helen's lips across her temple. "It was worth it," she murmured, sliding into sleep at last.

The End

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