~~ First, You Stumble… ~~

by TJ

The doorbell rang and Chris glanced at his watch. "About time," he smiled. The saunter in his step was evident as he ventured down the hallway and opened the door. "Hey," he greeted.

Recognizing that devilish grin, Kate shook her head softly. "Hey, yourself." The doorway opened more and she made her way inside, tossing her duffel bag towards the bedrooms before entering the kitchen.

Following, Larabee smirked at the discarded tote. "Planning on staying?"

Pouring half a cup of coffee, Kate glanced at him sideways, "That depends."

"On?" he questioned as she retrieved the milk from the fridge.

In search of the sugar, the blonde offered back, "Your behavior."

Reaching into a cupboard, Chris pulled out the sweet granules and then a spoon from the cutlery drawer. "So," he questioned. "Am I supposed to be good…? Or will bad suffice, just as nicely?"

After adding milk to her cup, Kate picked up the spoon, threw in a small amount of sugar, and stirred, purposely not answering the man. She drew the coffee to her lips as hands slipped around her waist.

Visibly displeased with the taste, she pulled away from Larabee's lips as he snuggled against her shoulder. "Remind me to get you some hazelnut creamer," she complained. "Tastes a whole lot better than just milk and sugar."

Chris never missed a beat. "Black is best," he whispered.

Lansky's eyebrow rose as she fought to hide her grin. "Maybe… or maybe I've had my fill of black. Maybe I'm… looking for something a little sweeter these days."

They weren't discussing coffee anymore and both knew it.

It had been several days since they'd had means, or opportunity to be intimate. Kate had half expected the blond to show up at her door last night, but obviously whatever it was that had gone on yesterday, needed his attention.

Now they were together, however, their current 'innocent' discussion was quickly being turned into something a little more.

"I don't do sweet," Chris slowly undid her belt buckle. "Not often, anyway."

Pretending not to perceive his movement, Kate sipped at her cup. "I had noticed," she mused. "Don't hear me complaining, do you?" she shifted position again. "But, I have such… conflicting tastes, on occasion." There was a pause as the button of her jeans was released and the zipper inched down a notch. "Some times, I… I just don't know what I want."

The blond was enjoying this little game.

Slipping his hands into her open fly, Chris pulled her hips back, pressing himself against her. "Maybe I know what you want," he breathed into her ear. As her head leaned in to his voice, the man in black nipped at her earlobe, trailing wet lips down her neck. His tongue escaped at the base to lave attention to the soft indentation at her shoulder.

As her eyes drifted closed, a soft, appreciative sigh escaped Kate's lips. "May… be," seeped from her mouth as she gave in to his manipulations.

Larabee heard the cup land softly on the counter about the same time he realized that he now had her complete attention. He accepted that she'd never be a mass of quivering jelly in his hands, but for a woman that could be such a cankerous, hardheaded bitch in her moments, Kate could also 'give in' when she was so inclined.

Chris smiled as he leaned further over her shoulder. "What say we… take this someplace a little more comfortable," he suggested.

The quiet moan seemed to indicate her agreement and Larabee gently pulled her away from the counter, his hands surrendering their hold on the body he desired.

As she started to turn, the sly, ever-so-seductive smirk on Lansky's face was more than enough to keep Chris interested. "Bedroom," he whispered.

"Ya think?" came the sarcastic reply.

With a cocky grin, Larabee took her hand, leading the way to his room. Opening the door, he watched as she sauntered passed him, stopping at the foot of the bed.

"Geez, I didn't even get to finish my coffee," Lansky complained playfully as she turned to look at her sexy stud.

As the portal closed, Chris moved to the petite blonde. "You didn't want it anyway," he whispered.

Her eyes closed and one palm ghosted up to press against him. "And I suppose you know what I DO want?"

His soft groan had the woman smiling.

Slowly, her hands snaked up to take Larabee by the scruff of his shirt. She pulled him down roughly, her grasp never relinquishing as she looked up into his wanton gaze.

Simultaneously, their lips parted, soon joining in a searing embrace.

Chris reached down to remove her hand from between them. His fingers continuing down to encircled her hips. Pulling her shirt from the waistband allowed him free rein over her skin.

Seemingly in the blink of an eye, Jeans dropped and tops rose in unison. Boots were quickly disposed of as the twosome fervently sought their quest.

Barely cognizant of their actions, they smiled at each other. Lips joining then parting again as Kate's movements managed to mirror Larabee's, almost move for move. As remaining clothing items went in several directions, the couple quickly found themselves naked, and hungry. The pursuit of fulfillment, burning brightly in their eyes.

Panting, Chris drew his lips from hers and his nostrils flared as he took in much needed air. "Still want that coffee?" he stuttered.

She grinned wickedly. "Still insist, you know what I want?" Kate countered as her head cocked sideways, her tongue darting out seductively to wet her upper lip.

The low growl was all the answer she needed to hear.

What passed between Chris and Kate in the coming hours bore no resemblance to the 'rough play' of previous couplings. The afternoon stretched to evening and the night into day.

Sunday saw no visitors to the ranch and the couple was grateful for that blessing. They joked about the previous week's interruption, finally accepting the humor of being 'caught'.

In the forty some hours they were together that weekend, two bodies exhausted each other time and time again, and yet, never once, was it hurried, or wild, or excessive.

Neither knew why.

Neither cared.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Chris walked into Team Seven's bullpen Monday morning and looked around the empty room. He smiled, knowing the men he considered family would be here soon. Hopefully, ready to work, and probably eager to socialize after a tumultuous few days.

Getting Adrian Delaney to Denver had caused more than one problem in his life. The woman had been pissed on Friday after discovering everyone's deception. Larabee had eventually remembered Kate's casual comments about Buck and 'the boys' plotting, and wasn't exactly pleased himself, when he'd put all the sordid details together.

The adverse reaction Ezra had had to his medication didn't help matters much either. The team had truly been worried for Adrian's safety when they'd taken off after the couple. But things had turned out alright between the reunited lovers and the senior agent hoped the same could be said for everyone else.

Walking past reception, his eyes came to rest on Kate's desk and the blond couldn't help but smile again. He'd left the woman asleep in his bed and knew she'd be pissed upon waking to find his note:

'Yes, I turned the alarm off' he'd written.

'Figured you needed a little extra shut-eye after the workout we had last night'. The recollection made him grin.

'Take your time coming in. The boss won't be angry… promise.'

Instinct told him that the last part of his message was really going to make her mad. Time after time, Lansky had made a point of saying how their 'affair' was not going to affect things at work.

Chris wasn't in the mood for games any more though. He was hardheaded, mean, stubborn, and angry at times. Hell! There probably wasn't a derogatory word in existence that didn't apply to him somehow.

His 'demons', she had called them.

But for all that he was, Kate accepted him.

Feathering his hand across the corner of her desk, Larabee grinned. "No more games," he whispered.

He'd just spent an incredible weekend with the woman he knew he loved.

Not since Sarah's death had he felt like this and he was damn sure he wasn't about to give her up over a few silly 'agreements' and 'rules'.

Larabee's love for his wife would always be in his soul, but the man Sarah Connelly had tamed and won, didn't exist any more. Her death, along with that of their son, had forever scarred him, forever changing the entity that was Sarah's Chris; into the man Kate now knew…

And accepted….

Closing his eyes at the thoughts, the blond swallowed hard. "I hope," he muttered aloud.

Hearing voices in the hall, the man in black quickly slipped into his office and closed the door. Drawing the blinds, he took a deep breath and cleared his mind for work. There were things that needed to be accomplished today and he wasn't about to waste a minute. High on his priority list was finding out why one of his agents had been injured and one of their cases had been blown to hell.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Avoiding serious ridicule wasn't too difficult for Kate when she arrived an hour late for work. Buck's snicker was quickly silenced with a look guaranteed to create molten lava and nobody else had gall enough to note the lateness of the hour.

Stalking to her desk, Lansky quickly noted the closed door and drawn shades of Larabee's office. "Coward!" she accused. The stern words were forgotten easily as the image of a naked man popped into her head.

Pursed lips gave way to the eyes she rolled in consternation. Chastising herself silently, Kate took up residence in her workspace and switched the computer on.

Almost two hours later, the blonde was returning from picking up a confidential report when she walked into the office and saw Adrian Delaney about to knock on Larabee's door.

The newcomer spotted Lansky and halted her actions.

Continuing to her desk, Kate tucked the sensitive document aside. Conscious of the fact that Delaney was watching her, Lansky wasn't exactly sure what the brunette's reaction was going to be when they actually spoke.

The first time the women had met everything was casual. During the self-defense classes, the pair had actually started to form the beginnings of a friendship. All Kate could think about now was the fact that her little part in Wilmington's 'grand plan' was going to cost her that growing bond.

Shaking away the pre-determined fate her mind was creating, Lansky finally looked up at Adrian and tried to smile. "What can I do for you this morning, Miss Delaney?”

The brunette copied Kate's attempted pleasant expression. “Agent Standish asked that I deliver a copy of his report to Mr. Larabee,” Delaney offered the bound brief. “I have another copy for Mr. Travis," she indicated. "If Chris needs any clarification he can call Agent Standish at home.”

Continuing with her business-like approach, Kate took the document. "It shouldn’t be necessary. Ezra’s reports are always clear and concise." Aware of the bluntness of her statement, Larabee's assistant sat down and started to log it into her computer.

Expecting Adrian to leave, the blonde was surprised when the woman spoke.

“Ms. Lansky… Kate? I wanted to apologize for the way I behaved on Friday.”

Astonished by the declaration, Kate looked up to see the brunette turn and head towards the door. Realizing that all of Friday's anger and mid-guided good intentions had obviously reconciled themselves in the woman's mind, Lansky was happy that she'd come to the same conclusion. They were all human. They all made mistakes, and to Kate's way of thinking, the fact that Adrian had made an apology first said a lot. "Ms. Delaney?" she called out without a second thought. "Lunch tomorrow?”

The brunette appeared to take the invitation in stride. Turning, she smiled earnest. “Sounds like a plan. One o’clock alright with you?”

Nodding, the ex-sergeant threw a quick salute in Delaney's direction and smirked when the woman tossed back the southerner’s characteristic response.

Tracking the other woman as she left, Kate overheard Josiah’s comment to his teammates. His 'be afraid, brothers, be very afraid' was apparently confusing JD, but Lansky understood the implications of the profiler's statement.

Laughing quietly to herself, the blonde considered how much fun it could be to have someone around who thought much like she did. Happy that her friendship with Delaney was hopefully on the mend, Kate settled back to work.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Not much happened the rest of the day. Chris showed his face during lunch and Lansky made a point of letting him know he was in shit for making her late for work.

Retrieving the report brief from his assistant's hand, Larabee smiled cockily. "Does this mean I'm not getting any tonight?"

The blonde offered a scathing look, but couldn't help but grin after her boss' door closed. "Or tomorrow," she added for good measure.

As the men trickled back from their mid-day meal, Kate picked up the memorandum she'd typed for their team leader. Distributing it to each personally, she made sure they understood the importance of the evidence Vin had helped uncover.

Curious at the profiler's apparent inattentiveness, Lansky leaned on his doorframe. "You all right, Josiah?" she inquired.

Distracted, Sanchez glanced up and forced a smile. "Oh… yeah! Just a bit of lunch stuck in my throat," he insisted with a fist to the middle of his chest.

Kate nodded her understanding with a grin. "Well, don't you go letting it bother you too much," she replied.

Josiah agreed as the blonde headed away. Pursing his lips, he wondered how subtle his words had been. Lunch with Delaney had been pleasant enough, but the request she'd made had him wondering. He understood Adrian's need for independence, especially having just arrived in a new town, but Josiah couldn't help the feeling of dread that hung over him.

Sure, her taking up residence with the southerner seemed only natural, but he got the feeling they hadn't discussed her moving in. Now she wanted to move out and the profiler knew they hadn't discussed that yet either. Staying in his basement suite until she found an apartment was all right with Josiah, but he couldn't help wonder what Ezra's reaction was going to be.

Shaking off his thoughts, the profiler turned his attentions to work.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Tuesday, Kate dropped down to the third floor and greeted Montgomery at the counter, "Hey, Deb!"

The Texas native glanced up from her lunch with a quizzical expression. "Your day isn't going that well, is it?"

Returning the look with one equally as amused, Lansky nodded. "Compared to last week, I'm having a ball."

Montgomery agreed, joining her boss at the counter. "I can see that. So… what brings you all the way down here when you should be having lunch?"

"Doing lunch in about half hour," Kate looked at her watch. "Did you get everything you need from the AD's new secretary?"

"Adrian? Oh yeah," Debbie answered. "Started the security check Friday, as per the Travis' request… got the thumbs-up back by e-mail Monday morning. Hey, and she's even got a clearance level on the Canadian side."

"Oh?" Kate looked impressed. "That'll make your job easier."

"Yeah! When Adrian was down a little while ago, I asked about it. Seems she needed the clearance for when she worked in their court system."

The blonde smiled. "One less thing for us to worry about."

"Yeah, well everything else is done," Debbie nodded. "She's all set, complete with her security ID and network pass codes."

There was a deliberate pause and Lansky looked at assistant curiously. "Okay, give," she smirked. "I've seen that look before. What aren't you telling me?"

Montgomery tried to act innocent, feigning shock with a 'who me' look afterwards. "Why Kate… I don't know what you mean!"

"Yeah, right!"

Understanding that Lansky wasn't buying it, Debbie leaned a little closer to her boss and lowered her voice. "I just thought it curious that she didn't give me a permanent address. Said she'd get back to me when she had one."

Considering the information for a moment, Kate shrugged, cocking her head. "She just got here. Probably hasn't found an apartment yet."

"Yeah," Montgomery leaned closer, "but didn't she come to Denver to be with Ezra Standish?"

Lansky grinned. "Just 'cause you're infatuated with a man, doesn't mean you have to move in with him and bow to his every whim!"

Knowing Kate the way she did, Debbie snickered. "Now that's a Lansky answer if every I heard one," she teased.

Swatting her assistant casually on the arm, the blonde straightened. "Well, no matter what her reason, Deb, it's hers, and I'm sure they'll get it settled."

"One way or another."

Kate nodded nonchalantly. "Well, I better go. Keep up the good work, lady. I know I can always count on you."

Smiling at the compliment, Montgomery shifted. "Well, yeah, but you handle all the crap I don't want a part of. Together, I think we make a pretty good team."

"Agreed," Kate stepped back from the counter. "Okay, I'm off. Still have to meet with Turcott before I get chow."

"Always on the go," Debbie called as Lansky headed out the door.

The blond sighed as she hit the stairs. Montgomery was right about two things. There certainly were enough problems to be handled around the Federal Building and not all of them were pleasant to deal with. Debbie's other point was just as valid. Kate rarely had a moment's rest some days.

Finally returning to Team Seven's bullpen, Lansky was interested to find Delaney there and apparently trying to help out with a problem. According to Buck, Nathan had been attempting to get some information from the New York office and kept running into a brick wall. Asking nicely hadn't helped, insistence had failed to garner the information, and two hours later, the medic was losing his patience.

“Why don’t you let me try?” Kate offered.

Choking on his coffee, Wilmington sent a smirk in Lansky's direction. “Sorry, Darlin, but to put it bluntly, ol' Nate needs someone who could charm the files out of them, not someone who would shoot them the minute they got frustrated.”

The blonde shot Buck a nasty glare. What he was saying may be the truth but he knew damn well that she hated being called ‘Darlin’.

Seeing the comical exchange, Delaney intervened in the best way she knew how. “Maybe I could give it a try?” she offered.

Her attention momentarily drawn from the ladies' man, Kate watched as Jackson tentatively agreed. Providing Adrian with the telephone number and the information he needed, Nathan sat back with JD, Josiah, and Buck, to see if the woman could pull it off.

Recognizing the subtle change in demeanor that Delaney exhibited as she got comfortable in Jackson's chair, Lansky was even more impressed as the woman's tone lowered when she began to speak into the receiver.

Seduction ringing clearly from Adrian's voice, Kate watched the men in amusement. Wilmington sat in shock, his mouth agape. Dunne turned a pleasant pink color and fidgeted in his chair while Sanchez tried hard not to laugh.

Lansky hid her own chuckle. The scene conveyed what she's always known. Men were so easy to manipulate and Delaney was just proving her point.

Less than five minutes passed before the brunette hung up the receiver and triumphantly informed Nathan that his information would be arriving shortly.

Jackson could only shake his head in amazement.

Buck's eyes were aglow as he offered a congratulatory shake. When Adrian responded hesitantly, the rogue placed a modest kiss on the back of her hand and smiled. “I bow before a master.”

Delaney's reply had Kate hiding her smirk again. “Don’t you mean mistress?” the brunette purred, her voice deliberately as low as it had been on the telephone.

Wilmington's blush had Lansky giggling. “This is a day for the history books," she announced. "Buck Wilmington, flustered by a woman." Venturing to her desk, Kate retrieved her pack and headed for the door. "Come on, Delaney… Your job is done. Let’s grab some lunch.”

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

The conversation was light as their meal was consumed. The blonde had the distinct feeling she was being studied, while the brunette tried to find some common ground.

The range of topics Delaney covered was varied. She found Kate quite informative when it came to her job and the position she was assuming, yet Lansky kept to word-one answers when asked about her 'army life'.

When the subject of Ezra came up, the brunette bubbled with enthusiasm for her lover and Kate loosened up a little. Taking a chance that her information was correct, Adrian offered her well wishes on Lansky's new relationship with Larabee.

The blonde thanked her new co-worker, and they continued to chat about their men.

Almost done with the meal, Kate set her fork aside, wondering how much of a sense of humor Adrian really had. A question came to mind that she knew would either seriously piss the woman off or amuse her to no end. Either way, they'd both know were they stood with each other and the friendship would live or die right then and there. “So… how good is Standish in bed?” Lansky asked with a straight face.

Clearly, no strenuous thought was put into the answer and Delaney replied without batting an eyelid. “Very, and how good is Larabee?”

Picking up her fork again, the blonde smirked. “Very!”

Both women knew they'd made a friend for life.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

The next two days went smoothly at the office and from what Kate could see, that also applied to the thirteenth floor as well. For her part, Lansky was relieved and impressed.

Adrian had Orin's office running efficiently in no time flat and even Mrs. Travis had nice things to say about her husband's new secretary. Evie somehow managed to convince the brunette to sign on to her charity committee as well, which gave Delaney new people to meet and community interests to keep her busy.

As the week progressed, Thursday found Team Seven gathering at the CDC for their semi-regular poker evening and a nicely healing southerner was able to join them.

Friday morning found Chris in a good mood and actually looking forward to his briefing that afternoon with Team's Four and Five. Vin's identification of their bullet evidence had their case expanding and Larabee wanted to stay in the loop.

"Don't over-do it," Lansky snickered as the man in black sauntered past her on his way back.

Stopping dead in his tracks, Larabee scowled. "And what's that supposed to mean?"

"You're ruining your image, Larabee," Kate smirked. "Geez, at least growl once in a while."

An eyebrow rose as the blond stepped closer to his assistant's desk. "You can make me growl… if you want to."

The woman's head shook in mock disgust. "Is that all you think about?" she asked quietly.

"Well, you said you want me to growl," he shot back.

Waving the team leader back to his office, Kate huffed. 'We're not supposed to be doing this at the office, Larabee. Get a grip!"

At his door, Chris looked back and grinned. "Yeah, you're right. Later will do nicely," he insinuated before disappearing inside.

Shaking her head, Lansky pouted. "Now what do I do?" she asked aloud.

Thankfully, no one answered.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Finding a suitable excuse for Larabee wasn't an easy task… finding one he'd buy, anyway! Kate was elated when the fax machine presented her with a problem, but that was before reality sunk in, hard.

The communiqué was from Sharon, the third in her week away. Lansky had been expecting another up-date and information on her friend's flight home. Instead, she got the details of her in-coming flight Saturday and her out-going flight Sunday, along with an explanation and Sharon's transfer request.

Kate sighed heavily as she read the fax sheet. The explanation of the job offer was more than valid and one Sharon couldn't refuse. More responsibility and increased wages, her own office and best yet, the bureau would cover all her moving expenses.

Torn between the loss of another friend and elation for a well-deserved promotion, Lansky sat down at her console to make the transfer request official. E-mailing her congratulations to Sharon, the blonde also let Travis and Debbie know what was going on.

An hour later she was going through the electronic personnel files when someone cleared his throat behind her.

"Shall we get some dinner before heading to the ranch… or you want me to slave over the grill before you bed me?"

Kate rolled her eyes. Turning to face the man in black, she shook her head softly. "Conceited son-of-a…"

"Ah," Larabee interrupted, waving a finger in the air. "Don't you use my mother's name in vein."

The woman pursed her lips in a huff. "Well, I won't be joining you anyway… Sharon just sent her transfer request in and I have to find, at least a temp, for Monday morning."

"What?" Chris was obviously a little shocked.

Quickly filling the team leader in on the job offer, Lansky wasn't surprised when the man nodded his agreement with the transfer request. "Smart move on her part."

Kate nodded as she turned back to her desk. "That's why I approved it. It's already gone to head office so they can start the paperwork."

Relieved at her statement, Larabee grinned. "Well, you're all free then. We can head home and… do some of our own… paperwork."

Glaring over her shoulder, Lansky shook her head. "No can do, Chris." Refocusing on her screen, she continued to peruse files. "Like I said, I have to find someone to fill her position for Monday. The network passwords have to rotated and synchronized by the end of next week."

"Can't Debbie do that?" Larabee scowled.

"She could," Kate agreed, "But not and do her own work at the same time. I might have to get her to help, but I need someone in there that can concentrate on the job full time."

As he watched Lansky, Chris could see that she was serious about her search and trying hard to concentrate. "Okay," he mumbled. "Guess I'll… leave you to it then."

The wave of a hand over her shoulder was the only response he got.

"Coming out to the ranch later?" he questioned hopefully.

There was a pause before her head shook a definite no.

With a resigned huff, Larabee returned to his office and made ready to leave. He considered trying to convince her one more time, but thought better of the idea as he heard her huff loudly.

Clearly disappointed, the man in black left for the night… alone.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Peering through the peephole, Kate let out an audible sigh as her head dropped to the door, her forehead resting on the cool wood. "What are you doing here, Chris?" she questioned, slightly annoyed.

A moment of silence preceded his reply. "You gonna let me in?"

The pursed lips came first, then the gentle shake of her head as Lansky stepped away from the door, unhooked the chain and unlatched the deadbolt. With a resigned look on her face, she slowly opened the portal. "That wasn't an answer," she said matter-of-factly.

Larabee grinned, "Ya noticed?"

"So?" she stood blocking the entrance. "Do I get one, or not?" As his tongue protruded slightly to rest on his bottom lip, Lansky could see the soft furrow of the man's brow. She knew instinctively that the answer was, No, and shaking her head, she stepped aside so Chris could enter. Locking the door, she turned in time to see him take off his jacket and make himself comfortable on the sofa. "You got some nerve, Larabee," she strolled casually to his side. "Waltzing in here at this time of night."

"You said you weren't coming to the ranch," he smiled.

Kate's eyebrows rose. "That was a hint," she shot back.

Leaning forward, hands resting on his knees, Chris smiled as the fingers of one hand slowly made their way up Lansky's leg. "Can't blame a guy," the digits made their way around her waist and tugged. "For wanting to spend some time with my girl," he grinned as she fell into his arms.

Struggling to maintain her composure, Kate pushed against his chest as he held her tight. "I'm not 'your girl', Larabee. I'm not anyone's 'girl'."

"My woman," he responded as they struggled playfully.

"Doesn't matter what description you use," came the slightly annoyed reply. "I don't belong to anyone… you got that?"

Still maintaining his grip on her waist, Chris nodded his answer. "Well, I still want to spend some time with you," his voice softened. "Hold you," he tugged, "touch you… smell you… taste you."

The quieter his voice got, the more Kate stopped fighting his hold. Slowly, the man in black pulled her closer, their lips meeting and sparks igniting. The embrace lasted for several long seconds before their mouths parted, breath mingling as they stared into one another's eyes.

"Make sweet love to you," Chris whispered.

Disappointment slowly surfaced on Lansky's face, her blue pools closing as she turned from his gaze. "Like I said… it was a hint."

Larabee frowned. "You can't tell me you're not interested," he offered with a smile. "I know better…"

Kate sighed again. "When you're around, Larabee, I'm always interested."

He grinned. "Ditto."

Shaking her head with a sly smirk, Lansky continued through pursed lips. There was no other way to address the issue so she just voiced what need to be said. "But, ya see… there's this little thing called the… 'cycle of life'. Kind 'a gets in the way of making love… about one in every four weeks, last time I checked."

"Oh," Chris replied, suddenly cognizant of what the woman was talking about. "You got your period."

Surprised at Larabee's objective response, Kate nodded.

Adjusting her seating in his lap, the blond answered her silent question. "I was married for almost seven years," he said straight out. "A 'husband' gets used to certain things, ya know. Doesn't mean we can't still be close… cuddle… kiss… touch."

As she turned to face him, Lansky started to say something, but thought better of it. Changing her mind again, her mouth opened to speak once more then closed for the second time as the words failed to present themselves.

Chris smirked and laughed quietly. "My thoughts exactly," he offered. "Took me a while to 'get used to it'… wouldn't expect you to, overnight."

Studying the man whose lap she sat in, Kate considered his words. Dating had never really been her thing and she'd certainly never dated a man who'd been married before. It suddenly occurred to her that what Larabee was alluding to would have to be true. A married couple would surely spend every night in the same bed. A husband would have to get used to his wife's monthly cycles and 'other things to do'… Other 'ways to do it' would obviously come into play at some point.

Chris was right about one thing, for sure. The idea would take a little getting used to. "So, you… want to stay?" she queried hesitantly.

"Sure," Larabee replied without delay. "If… that's okay with you," he added in a softer tone.

Well, she thought it was…

Lying next to Chris, without being able to do what she definitely wanted to do, proved to be the hardest thing in the world. Lansky cussed her way to sleep that night. Swearing up and down that she'd made the wrong decision, that she wanted Larabee and denying her desire was just too damn hard when he was there, his naked flesh touching her equally bare skin.

Hearing her frustrated sigh, the man turned away from his bed partner to hide his smirk. He was having as much trouble with this as she obviously was, but Chris knew his persistence and trust would be rewarded in the end. Come hell or high water, he would get Kate to trust him…and maybe even accept this fledgling love affair of theirs.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

If going to sleep together was hard, waking up in the same bed was worse. The haze of wakefulness made Kate aware of him lying against her. She instinctively squirmed against the naked man until she realized where, and more importantly, when they were.

It was here, in her bed that they'd awoken that morning two weeks ago. He had taken her with such undeniable hunger. The memory of that burning lust had peppered her thoughts each morning since then. Today was no exception. But…

'Shit' she cursed, remembering her monthly cycle and carefully attempting to wiggle from the arm slung over her waist.

Larabee moaned as he tried to follow, his hand grasping at her trying to prevent her escape. "Where do ya think you're running off to," he murmured, obviously still half asleep.

A small struggle ensued… her trying to get out of bed and him insisting she stay put. Kate was definitely more awake than Chris was and growing more annoyed as the seconds ticked by. "Get off me, Larabee," she growled as he once more used his superior strength, this time hauling her down, easily using his weight to pin her.

"I have to get up, Chris," she persisted. "Sharon's flight gets in at ten thirty and I want to go for a run and shower before I pick her up."

Looking into Lansky's eyes seductively, the blond grinned. "Well, I'm up and what I have in mind is great exercise, too."

The purposeful look wasn't angry or incensed, but rather comical. "You forgot…! I knew this was a bad idea… typical man!"

The frown on Larabee's face quickly turned to understanding as he remembered what Kate was talking about. "Okay," he shrugged. "So I'm awake now… but, this wasn't a bad idea," he insistent. "Just… something I have to get used to again, is all."

"Agreed," she sighed.

"We could… explore other options," he grinned, his eyebrows waggling.

"Get off!"

With an exasperated huff, Larabee rolled back to his side of the bed and released the woman. One forearm over his eyes, he listened to her go into the bathroom and close the door.

When she emerged five minutes later, Chris rolled to his side to watch her dress. He carefully studied her skin as she slipped on her underclothing and then a comfortable pair of sweats. "I'd join you," he offered. "But I don't have a thing to wear."

Fully conscious that he'd been watching her the whole time, Kate huffed, heading for the door. "Doubt you could keep up with me anyway," she teased.

"Wanna bet?"

"That's Ezra's forte," she mused. "Besides you have a different kind of exercise in mind, right?"

Pursed lips and a raised eyebrow showed that Larabee was not pleased with her comeback.

"What? Forgotten how to do it yourself! Oh, the pain of it all!"

In the blink of an eye, Chris threw back the covers and shot towards Lansky as she giggled mischievously and dashed out the door. He growled as the door slammed in his face, yet the delighted grin that followed showed him to be truly entertained by her words.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

Larabee had already had his shower when she got back, although he did offer to join her, mumbling something about it being a good place to 'touch' at this time of the month.

Kicking him out summarily, Kate answered no, when Chris questioned about that night and tomorrow. She'd promised to help Sharon pack some things for the movers. Lori and a few of her other friends would be joining them and it was going to be a 'girl's' weekend. No men allowed.

Resigned to her plans, the man in black went away in a huff… but at least he went away. Lansky was happy for that fact. It gave her fewer things to be concerned about, and freed her up to say a proper goodbye to her friend.

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

The following week started out on a bad note and just seemed to get steadily worse.

Ezra had been cleared by the doctor for his return to work but was particularly grumpy on Monday morning. He even appeared to growl when asked about how things were going with him and Delaney.

Given Josiah's reaction to Standish and the reciprocating 'gruff' nature, it didn't take long for Lansky to put the pieces together. They all knew Sanchez had an empty basement suite and Debbie's comment last week about a 'permanent address' for Adrian made everything make sense. Although only an assumption, Kate figured Delaney had started her apartment search at step one… moving out of her lover's home.

By the time Thursday afternoon rolled round, Larabee and Travis had managed to salvage a partial case out of the assignment Standish had been working on. With the FBI investigating the apparent 'lack of communication' between agencies, the men were free to continue their pursuit of justice.

The DEA had made numerous arrests, but were willing to entertain the ATF representatives when they came knocking at the door. Because the two departments had been going at the problem from two different angles, the negotiations weren't hard. Using information from Ezra and questioning only certain men, Travis and Larabee bargained with the detainees, promising leniency, in exchange for information. The fact that those men weren't primary targets for the DEA conveniently failed to enter the discussion.

Happy with the news that all of his hard work wasn't completely for nothing, the southerner's mood improved and he agreed to join Team Seven for their poker night. His relatively calm demeanor carried through Friday morning but seemed to dissipate in the wind as quitting time approached.

Everyone was discussing their plans for the weekend and Standish was in a huff.

"Ezra?" Jackson questioned. He frowned at the other men and called again, "Ezra!"

Supposedly going over a report, the southerner looked up from the sheets of paper he had been staring at blankly. He hadn't managed to read a word, nor had he been paying any attention to the musings of his fellow agents. "What?" he shot back.

Attempting to dismiss the gruff nature of their normally courteous teammate, the men tried to snap Standish out of his funk.

"You got plans for the weekend, Ezra?" Nathan clarified his previous question.

The reply was short. "No!"

Unwittingly making things worse, Wilmington lowered his voice a notch. "A quiet weekend, huh? Just you and that little bit of heaven you're playing footsies with these days."

Sanchez cringed. Clearing his throat, the profiler decided he'd better answer before the southerner did. "Maybe Ezra's plans aren't any of our business, Buck. Leave the man alone."

Standish dismissed Josiah's interjection with a raised eyebrow and another huff. Inwardly, he wondered what the big man had planned, answering himself that it better NOT be anything with Delaney.

Purposely ignoring the continuing conversation, the undercover man went back to perusing his report.

Across the room, Lansky was busy typing her end-week report when Chris opened his door and waltzed towards her. She ignored him for a while, miffed that he'd look over her shoulder when he knew she hated that.

"So," he finally spoke. "You, eh… got plans this weekend?"

Kate's head bowed slightly as she smirked. Straightening, she cleared her throat. "Yes, actually," she ignored him again, continuing to type.

"Oh,' came the disgruntled reply.

The blonde grinned.

"What about Saturday?" Larabee tried a different approach.

Carefully timing her response, Lansky completed another sentence before she turned to face the team leader. "Like I said, Chris, I have plans for the weekend… the whole weekend."

Crossing his arms, the senior agent pouted visibly. Hoping for something else, he forced a smile. "And the evenings?"

Acting considerably unconcerned about the whole questioning session, Kate shrugged. "Well, I was hoping to get a little time to myself, but considering the company… I'm pretty sure I'll be busy."

"Oh," Larabee said again, this time he was clearly disappointed.

Lansky was having a hard time restraining her laughter as she watched Chris get more and more irritated. Suitably amused with her ruse, she decided to let the man off his proverbial 'hook'. "Of course… my plans are contingent on his."

'His?' The glare in Larabee's eye was instantaneous and menacing before he slowly clued in to what she was saying. The devious gleam that appeared next made Kate's heart sing. "So… you have plans with a man, huh?" he stepped closer. "Anyone I know?"

Turning back to her computer, the blonde tried hard to ignore the pulsating, protective, and primal scent that Chris was suddenly giving off. He was playing her game now, of that she was sure, but she hadn't expect his possessive reaction and the 'man' in him was driving her crazy with desire. "Oh, yes," she nodded, swallowing hard. "Everyone's heard of him. Hard to miss a man like that. He's so..."

Grinning at her silence, Larabee stepped closer still. "Sounds like an important man," he whispered.

Instantly snapped from her daze, Lansky's eyebrows rose indignantly. "Well, he thinks he is," she replied matter-of-factly. "Of course, he never realizes how much work he causes for other people and how difficult he can be, even at the best of times."

Chris straightened, his arms folding across his chest. "I'm not difficult," he insisted.

"Like hell!" Kate shot back as she spun in her chair. Standing, she pushed passed the blond and went over to retrieve her document from the printer.

Following his assistant to the middle of the room, Larabee looked at his team as they exchanged casual banter. "You boys don't think I'm difficult, do you?"

While Standish was still completely oblivious to everything around him, the other five men looked at each other with varying degrees of dread. They'd been put in this position before. Being stuck between Chris and Kate when they argued was no place to be. No matter how they answered, they'd be wrong!

Choosing the only other option available to them, each man in turn shrugged as Larabee's questioning eyes found them.

Pursing his lips, the senior agent whirled to continue his discussion with Lansky, only to find that she'd already returned to her desk. Sauntering slowly back to her, Chris studied her lines as she stood going over the paper she'd just printed. He grinned pleasingly at her shape, his mind on all the possibilities their weekend would bring.

Happy with her work, Kate leaned down to retrieve a file folder from her drawer. She didn't notice Larabee as he draped himself over her desk but it was impossible to miss the green eyes that stared at her as she came back up.

"Hey," he greeted in a low seductive tone.

All conversation vanished from memory as Kate's gazed met his. He was so close that she could feel his breath on her skin… sense his desire in her soul. "Hey," she managed to respond.

Fully cognizant that they both wanted out of there, now! Chris glanced at the wall clock. "Three thirty," he advised. "You about done?"

Collecting the document from beside them, Lansky nodded. "Just have to drop this off to Debbie."

"You, eh… figure you can be out of here by four then?"

Licking her lips, Kate slowly affirmed again.

Larabee smiled ever so gently as he looked the blonde up and down. "You head straight home. I'll… pick you up on the way out to the ranch… okay?"

Tucking the report in to its folder, Lansky smirked back. "Am I gonna get any of that free time?" she asked coyly.

Turning for his door, Chris cleared his throat. "Not if I can help it."

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

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