The norm.

Charlie was surprised, to say the very least. They had gathered in the Situation Room for an impromptu meeting with Leadership immediately after their morning PT, even before the Beta had his baker's dozen scrambled eggs. The two Elders and the Commander joined the Beta with news regarding the Pipers that had been absorbed from the now disgraced and obliterated Michaels pack up north in Ontario Canada. The Pipers, at least those ranking below their Sergeant, had only heard rumors, but the gist of it was, they were taking in only three of the twelve Michaels Pipers and it was one in particular that gave them pause.

Atlas Holden was a Hammerthynn descendant, true to the size and disposition, as well as a missing left eye. He had been raised in another family but when his lineage had been established as a young man, took his place within the families and accepted the rite of passage - ie the missing left eye.

Atlas was every bit his namesake, flawed gigantism made him seven feet tall, the tallest of them all, with deep, black, scarred skin. He wore his coarse black hair braided in corn rows stopping at the base of his sizable neck. His arms were the size of tree trunks and standing next to Markos, made the latter look small. Atlas was also the disgraced Lieutenant with a conscious. If it had not been for him, Vivienne would not had fared as well as she had while within the bitter Alpha Michaels compound.

But that was another story.

Charlie caught the eye of the subject of the meeting and was surprised when the man gave him a polite nod. There was no sense of territorial disputes brewing about the man, nor had he insisted on his rank. Atlas was a Piper - he served his Alpha in whatever capacity asked of him, but apparently he could not turn a blind eye to torture. Charlie instantly liked him.

"With the three northern Pipers, we're back up to eleven, but we're changing things due to the nature of our present makeup.". Elder Jameson spoke freely among the men, keeping them all in the loop with the pending changes. There were no secrets within the Pipers.

Charlie knew what Duncan was talking about. All eyes turned to JT Paulson, the newest of the Pipers as well as the heir apparent Alpha of the Michaels pack, what was left of it. There had never been an Alpha within the Pipers ranks - the conflict would be too much to bear and it made the obvious disdain between the LT and Paulson apparent.

"Because of this, we're splitting the Alpha's Pipers into two regiments and will build to a full twenty time. For now, your LT Lothias Jameson will maintain his rank of Lieutenant, second to the Commander, overseeing both squads. With some discussion, your Sergeant Deardon has elected to return to his Medic status and is differing to experience and time in rank. Your new Sergeant will be Atlas Holden. I will assume this is not a problem."

"No, sir," they all replied in unison.

"Mr. Hammond?"

Charlie looked at the Beta who's gruff voice cut the air like a thunder storm. "Aye, sir?"

"Assume your position as Sergeant, controlling the second squad. Your time in rank and experience puts you senior, third in command. I know you are ready for it."

"Aye, sir," he said automatically and felt the command resonate within him. LT caught his eye and gave him the barest of grins.

"Where is Piper Kearney?" the Commander asked just as the door into the Sit. Room opened.

"Here, sir," Lewis said holding the door open wide.

Charlie turned to look at the door and from underneath Lewis' arm passed Caitlinn who made a bee line toward him. The flare of arousal and happiness pushed out from her and momentarily stunned him. Stepping away from the group, Charlie caught Cait as she jumped up on him and returned her profoundly passionate kiss, in front of god and every one.

(ooc - ok I'm sorry it's just too hard to do the italics on the iPad. I about broke this thing on cait's intro so until I can get on a desktop, I'm just going with no italics. Sorry. ))

Caitlinn Conrad 12 years ago
Cait did not expect to react the way she did when she saw Charlie. Part of her made her wonder if it wasn't a residual affect of the dream walking suggestions or she was just damn happy to see him again, but either way, she went with it, despite present company.

Wrapping her legs around his hips, Cait sighed happily against Charlie's lips, kissing him deeply. He smelled like sweat and it only served to ramp up her arousal as she grabbed his face with her hands and practically smothered him.

"Seriously. Why am I the only one annoyed by the ease of which two of the quietest guys in the Core can get women? I mean, seriously?"

Pulling away from Charlie, she flicked her eyes over at the voice and recognized him as Red, the first Piper she threw a chair at - their LT being the second and standing next to him, wry grin in place.

Looking back at Charlie, Cait ran her thumbs over his lips and grinned. "'re busy, aren't you?"

"Not at all, Miss Conrad," an older version of their LT said with a chuckle. Cait's eye passed over the new faces in the room and slid slowly off Charlie, planting her feet on the floor. Charlie ran his hand down her spine and stood next to her.

Clearing his throat, he introduced her. "You know LT and Red. The two older men are our Elders - Jameson and Hammerthynn."

They nodded when introduced. Cait nodded politely back.

"You know our Beta and that's our Commander Brig Jameson."

Their Commander and Elder Jameson were almost identical, except for the trappings of age which didn't seem to affect the Elder all that much. Looking back at the LT, she pointed and was stunned at the resemblance.

"Are you his son?" she asked.

"He's my uncle," LT replied quietly.

Charlie introduced the rest of the men, only saying something when he got to Marthinus Steyn.

"Mr. Steyn. Almost didn't recognize you. You're looking well, sir."

"Please call me Marthinus, Miss Conrad. And thank you."

Cait nodded, her eyes not believing the incredible change Steyn's body had undergone. He looked at least twenty years younger, definitely not his sixtyish age.

With every single pair, and three single, of eyes on her, Cait felt anxiety ramp up and want to stand behind Charlie. Instead she cleared her throat and decided to get some answers.

"I suppose I have you all to thank for saving my life."

"We would have preferred it not come to that, ma'am, but you should be thanking the Sergeant here,” Commander Jameson said nodding toward Charlie.

"Sergeant, huh?" she said quietly. Charlie only looked down at her and smiled proudly. "And your Piper, Dougie? What happened to him?"

The room fell uncomfortably quiet. The other Pipers looked away from Cait and toward their leadership, none of which flinched. Cait figured the baby faced Dougie's fate was a dark one.

"His treachery has been dealt with."

Cait looked over at the gruff old voice of Elder Hammerthynn. The solitary eye was void of emotion, but the withered left one conveyed the message loud and clear. That information was none of her concern, despite the fact that he put two bullets into her chest.

"Well then. What happens now? Am I still stuck here?"

"Don't you want to stay here, Cait?" It was Lewis who asked, stepping up next to her. "What with you and Charlie being in love?"

Cait felt her face burn hotter than the sun.
Lewis Kearney 12 years ago
Lewis watched with perplexed fascination as both Charlie and Cait turned red and looked away uncomfortably.

"Smooth, dude," Red said with a chuckle. "Although I would love to hear the answer to that one."

"Piper Deardon," Elder Jameson mumbled with a roll of his eyes.

Red cleared his throat. "Shut up, I know, sir."

Lewis was confused. "Well, you both are, aren't you? I mean, even I caught that."

It was Atlas who spoke up next, his voice smooth and not as deep as Lewis would have thought. "I don't think the status of their relationship is something they wish to discuss openly right now, brother."

Lewis looked back at Cait and Charlie. Both were looking at him with pleading faces.

"Oh. Ooooh. Uh, nevermind."

Lewis cleared his throat and moved toward his console. He'd really have to learn when to not ask the obvious questions that apparently weren't meant to be obvious.
Brig Jameson 12 years ago
"What happens next is taking care of your situation."

Brig gave Caitlinn Conrad a searching look from head to toe, out of professional curiosity and, to put it bluntly, because he was a man. Her skin color was different than Viv's, almost a deeper brown, not something he thought Charlie would be interested in, to be very honest, but she was curvy in all the right places and looked up at his Sergeant with big, luminescent brown eyes. Caitlinn was trying very hard not to appear nervous, but he could smell the sudden acidic scent of her sweat as everyone in the room watched her. They were all thinking the same thing.

How in four days?

But really, Brig was relieved. He had enough problems with Huntington doing absolutely anything for his own mate, but at the very least maybe now Viv would let go of her guilt with Charlie, now that he's found someone else. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for his Pipers, but admittedly he was going above and beyond to ensure Charlie kept his focus on Caitlinn, so if it meant calling in a favor - one he didn't really have with Simon...Brig would do it.

"Now that you're up and around, we have to pay someone a visit."

"Someone?" she asked.

"Your employer. Mr. Simon Huntington."

"Whoa, wait a minute. I don't think you understand something."

Hammer spoke up this time. "Don't understand what, Miss Conrad? That you were a mole in his company, stealing their secrets?"

"Well ok, maybe you do understand. But how does confronting him help me? Randolph is my real employer. I have more to fear from them than from anyone."

"Not anymore. The company has been liquidated and dissolved."

"How long...what day is this?"

He was waiting for her to ask that and he didn't think she'd be too pleased with the answer.

"It's January 4, 2012."
Caitlinn Conrad 12 years ago

Cait looked at Charlie who put his large hands on her shoulders, trying to comfort her. Just then Iov Hammerthynn loudly dismissed his Pipers, making her jump.

"I'll explain, come on," Charlie said guiding her toward the doors.

"Waiting on you, Sergeant," another voice called out to which Charlie replied with a solid affirmative.

"Charlie, wait a second. Wait a second." Cait pushed back on Charlie, to no avail, as he led her back up to the ground floor. He was just too solid to make any headway, so she helplessly let him guide her up the stairs and down a long wing.

A long corridor of doors lined this part of the wing she had never been in and he took the first one on the right. Opening it he pulled her into a decent sized apartment with a centered living room, two rooms on both sides, and a kitchen area just beyond in front of her.

"Please tell me you didn't use...."

"I didn't, Cait. I wouldn't do that to you."

He knew she was talking about the Eternity/Starburst combination, but if he didn't use that, then what had he used.

"Christ, babe, what did you do to me?"

Charlie turned and faced her suddenly and a small grin spread on his lips. "What did you call me?"

"I...I said. Oh." She waved it off nervously. Cait suddenly felt very exposed, especially when she looked back up at Charlie and he hit her with those baby blues. He was wearing his black running pants and long sleeve Under Armor shirt, but she could still see the hard muscles of his long and lithe shape. Clearing her throat, she tried to focus.

"Listen, I'm sorry about," she pointed behind her, now very embarrassed, "you know, the thing with the...thing."

"Kissing me in front of my bosses and the other Pipers?"

Cait winced and pulled at her ponytail, nervously running both hands down the tail. "Yeah I shouldn't have done that."

Charlie stepped closer to her and smiled. "It's alright. I didn't mind." He paused and looked toward the room off to her right. "Let me jump in the shower and get dressed. Then I"ll tell you what happened after that night, ok?"

Cait couldn't quite make eye contact, so she nodded and pointed around the room. "Mind if I look around?"

Charlie seemed to consider something but instead turned away, calling over his shoulder. "Go ahead."

Cait watched him disappear into what she presumed was his bedroom. The apartment seemed pretty basic in its layout and she moved to the opposite room and pushed the door open. It was lit by the soft gray glow of the morning through two large windows and appeared to be his office. The walls were lined with computers, schematics, things beyond her pay grade she realized quickly, and an insane amount of books. A good portion were in book cases with hundreds more stacked on the floors along the walls. Bending over, she read some of the spines and was impressed with the wide variety of scientific theory to science fiction to mathematical books Charlie seemed to favor. A lot of which Cait couldn't begin to understand. There was a huge recliner with an ottoman in the middle of the room that had a dozen open books surrounding it. Stepping over them, she exited, closing the door behind her.

Moving into the kitchen she poked around and opened his fridge, finding not much of anything, not even beer. But there were more books lined against the back splash of the kitchen counters, cook books and the like. It was clean but not used as of late, as far as she could tell.

Finally she looked over at the bedroom door and listened as the shower splashed on. Knowing better, Cait moved toward the door and opened it slowly, pushing it open wide. It was a large master suite, at least 25x20, and centered against the far wall was a king sized bed with the dark cherry wood night stands filled with more books, mostly fiction by the looks of it. Some were worn, obviously reread. She instantly liked that Charlie liked to read, especially rereading favorite books. By the sheer amount it looked as if he was a quick reader and had a wide variety in taste. Walking up to the bed, she looked to her left and saw another two large windows with soft light streaming in - changing from cold gray to a soft warm glow. It was early still, she remembered and now that it was January, the sun was just now coming up.

With a sigh Cait walked over to the bed and looked down at the solid gray comforter on top of a darker blue sheet set. There were three king sized pillows stacked neatly on the made bed with clothes laid out on top. A pair of slacks, boxer briefs, and a white undershirt with a wool gray V neck. The sound of the shower turned off, getting her attention and she briefly considered leaving the room, but before she could take a step, Charlie came out of the bathroom with a white towel wrapped around his waist and another over his head, drying his short, black hair.

She cleared her throat and gave him a weak wave and smile. It was the best she could do considering the state of his un...dress. His skin was flawless and just hairy enough to make her mouth water. A thin line of hair trailed down below the towel with a dusting of on it on his massive chest. His arms were cut like marble and his skin was almost tanned, kind of olive toned, she decided. His hair was a little longer than she remembered but everything else was the same.

"Did you get a good look?"

Her mouth went slack and she felt the burn in her cheeks when Charlie pointed out the bedroom door.

"Around my place. Did you get a good look?"

"Oh! Psh," she said waving her hand, "yeah, I did. Didn't find any...bodies." Stupidly enough, she actually felt herself gulp at this point. "I'll just...."

Her intent was to leave the room to let him dress but he dropped the towel he was using for his hair and shoulders into a hamper just inside the bathroom and walked up to her till she felt the backs of her thighs hit the bed. He reached behind her and grabbed his boxer briefs, slipping them on under the towel and the entire time he held her stare doing it.

Unable to back away any further, Cait scoot back onto the bed to give him space to dress since apparently she wasn't going anywhere. She tried not to look, honest injun, but when he reached next to her for his slacks, Cait took the opportunity to inhale, smelling the clean soapy scent coming off his body. Looking at him felt familiar, and it should, she thought to herself, she had seen him naked in her dreams, but actually experiencing the sight in the real world was considerably different. It did make her pause to ask something.

"I'm curious about something."

Charlie raised his eyebrows and held his slacks in his hands.

"I suppose it would be natural to ask 'where do we go from here' but I guess the real question is, 'where is here?'."
Charlie Hammond 12 years ago
The irony was not lost on Charlie when he stepped out of the bathroom and saw Caitlinn standing at his bed. The week he watched over her left him with an ache that he did not think possible, and as he watched over her while she was sleeping, he could not wait to show her what he was feeling. It had been two months since she walked out of her bathroom, towel wrapped around her wet body, smacking him with a terse command to get off her bed.


Charlie let the door swing shut loudly. Looking toward the bedroom door, he walked to it and listened. The sound of the bathroom fan was on, so he gently knocked on the door knowing he wouldn't get a response. Opening the door slowly, he stepped into the bedroom and looked around.

Caitlinn's clothes were laid out on the bed. Looked like her jeans and another woman's shirt from their storage area. The bed was made, rather haphazardly, but the effort was there. Charlie walked over to it and put his hands on the mattress, testing the springs. He had never been on it before, not really, so he wondered if it felt the same. Standing straight he turned and looked at the bathroom door and then back at the bed. Slowly he lifted a knee and crawled onto it, the act itself making him blush because of what it reminded him. It was hotel quality firm with a half dozen soft pillows strewn about. Getting to the center he sat back and lay down across the width of the bed. His fingers tapped the comforter and he crossed his legs as they partially dangled off the bed. The flash of his dream the night before made him sigh deeply as he imagined Caitlinn on the bed with him. Her long hair in his face and the weight of her body across his lap made him smile.

"Oh wow, really?"

Charlie sat up and saw Caitlinn standing at the bathroom door, towel wrapped around her body. Her dark brown hair was up in a bun with wisps of wet hair stuck to her neck. Quickly she walked over to him and slapped him on the side of leg.

"Get off, geez!"

Blushing, Charlie slid to the edge of the bed but remained sitting. "I just wanted to see if...."

Cait narrowed her eyes at him.

"It's actually nicer than mine."

She reached out and punched him on the shoulder. "Beat it.

She smelled like Ivory soap and lotion. Her figure was just a hair taller than petite, curvier than other very small women he had known. She wasn't a size 6 and didn't seem to really care about it or that she was standing with just a towel on in front of him. Charlie liked her casual attitude toward what would be awkward for most women.

"Beat it," she said, drawing out the words.

He considered for a moment what she would do if he reached out and pulled on her towel. Just give it a little tug and then let gravity do its job. Charlie gave her a long, lingering look down her body and then back up into her face. Her expression was humored and maybe a little expectant.


Cait was standing just to the side of him almost up against the bed, close enough that he had to reach out and gently touch her hip, moving her out of the way of his long legs. Barefoot she looked even smaller next to him, especially looking up at him with those big brown eyes. Charlie slipped off the bed and walked toward the door. Giving her a final look, he pulled the door closed behind him.


Walking up to her, Charlie felt the arousal and fear resonate from her small form. He liked that he made her feel that way, enjoyed it even more that he could feel it. The sporadic abilities had tempered since waiting for Cait to wake up, which made him question what abilities he could manifest. It was more of a residual feeling of emotion he'd get from other people, but with Cait it was a strong almost overwhelming sensation, clear and almost tangible emotion. That sounded like 'bonding' to him, something Vivienne and Simon apparently shared, but if Cait was feeling anything from him, she hadn't said, not yet anyway.

Her question was interesting though. Their level of intimacy experienced in their dreams was far beyond what they had experienced together in the real world. He set his slacks back down on the bed and pulled the towel off, ignoring the sexual invitation of it, but giving what she said serious thought.

"Wouldn't -here- be where ever we wanted it to be?"

"Answering a question with a question. Not cool, sir."

Smiling Charlie shrugged. "Our situation is a bit different than the norm. The discovery process does seem to have been skipped. Physically at least." He added the last part as he gave her body a long look. She was wearing her faded blue jeans, now cleaned of her blood that had seeped into it that night. Her layered brown hair had grown out a bit in the past two months and her low ponytail she always swept over her shoulder now was long enough to drape over her chest. The shirt was a duplicate of her forgotten wardrobe that Lewis had managed to find from her online shopping, and it was a tight fitted, red V neck that showed the barest hint of her cleavage.

Cait chuckled, "Don't look at me like that."

"Like what?"

"Like I'm good enough to eat."

Charlie reached out and tugged softly on her ponytail, letting his fingers touch her shoulder. He neglected to say the obvious. Her smile was indication enough that she knew exactly what she was implying. Reaching up again, he let his finger trace along the length of her jaw, making her turn toward his hand and close her eyes.

"We can start from the beginning, I suppose, Miss Conrad."

Opening her eyes, she grinned at him. "Is that what you want, Mr. Hammond?"

"I just want you," he said simply.

He reached down and pushed her knees apart and then lifted her off the bed, wrapping her legs around his waist. Crawling onto the bed, he laid her back down in the center and hovered over her, his lips precariously close to hers.

"Ok, if you put those lips anywhere on me, we will never leave this room," she warned.

Charlie moved himself snug in between her legs and propped himself up on his elbows. He teased her lips with his, making her smile fade and brush up against him. He felt a guttural sigh seep out of him, ramping up his need for her and he could not help but rock his hips forward against her. Cait's hands came up and she ran her fingers through his hair, touching him with her long fingernails, scraping them against his skin.

"Tell me what you feel is real, first."

She stopped and ran her fingers over his lips. "Do I have to say the words, Mr. Hammond?"

"Yes, you do. I need to hear it." He paused and just barely ran his lips along her jaw line, to her ear. "You promised me you'd say them when you woke up."
Caitlinn Conrad 12 years ago
And she had promised just that before everything went black. It was odd, recalling the jumble of memories and dreams. That night had been a terrifying roller coaster of what she thought was a pure and specific threat to the numbing but overwhelming love just looking at Charlie, but ultimately she had a promise to tell him the truth. She supposed he felt the need to encourage her, nonetheless.

Charlie's hand reached down and undid her jeans, sliding it down past her panties and into the folds of her soft skin. A very primal growl pushed out of her chest as he strummed her center with his fingers, his hot breath covering her ear.

"Say it," he said, his fingers stoking her achingly slow.

Cait squirmed underneath him, pushing her hips toward his hand. She knew why he wanted to hear her say it. Their last dream together had been one of painful discovery on both their parts - physical for her, stark realization for him. His dream walking could have potentially made her feel something that wasn't there, that he unknowingly suggested feelings for him, making what they had master/victim rather than truly in love partners. She tried to convince herself of the former, but Charlie desperately wanted the latter. But not once did he enter her dreams while she was recovering, which said more to her than anything he could have said because when Cait saw him for the first time waking up, those feelings were still there, if not greater.

Cait reached up and lifted his head, forcing him to look at her. "You know I love you, Charlie. More than anything."

Finally he kissed her, his lips descending upon her with a hunger that she easily matched. His hand came out of her jeans and gripped the comforter by her head as he ground his hips against hers. Breaking their kiss, she turned her head and bit at his hand, making him relax it, and then took the moist finger into her mouth, sucking it.

Charlie pulled back and watched her, his face tight with an ache that almost scared her. He pulled his hand away and cupped her face, kissing her so deeply that she almost didn't hear the Piper, Red, banging on the door.

Reese E Deardon 12 years ago
"Oh he is going to fucking kill you, Red."

Red grinned happily at JT as they stood outside Charlie's apartment door.

"Just dead."

"CHESTER!!". He turned toward JT and giggled. "Oh come on, I've never known Charlie to move that fast. They're probably just talking anyway."

"I dunno, you saw that kiss."

"Yes I did and I will thank god tonight for letting me be there to see him do it. He SO deserved that and I deserved to see it. CHESTERMAN YOU GET OFF HER RIGHT NOW!"

Suddenly the door opened up with the distinct creaking of metal hinges wanting to be ripped off. Red stepped back into JT who pushed him back toward a half dressed, very upset and red faced Charlie.

"He's right, I am going to fucking kill you, Red," Charlie mumbled angrily.

"At ease, Sergeant, at ease. We come with orders from Leadership. Time to go.". Red leaned in closer and whispered, "but seriously, we're you....". Then Red made a vulgar gesture making Charlie roll his eyes.

"I swear to god, Red."

Then Charlie turned behind him and Caitlinn peeked out, moving under the arm Charlie had outstretched and against the door frame.

"I'll wait with your Pipers, Mr. Hammond," she said stepping into the hallway. Red and JT backed up and nodded politely at her.

"Ma'am," they both said.

Red looked back at Charlie who gave him a final and lingering glare and shut the door.

"You're an idiot, Red," Cait said with a smile.

"He gets that more than you know, Miss Conrad," JT offered.

"Yes, ma'am," Red replied and then stuck his tongue out at JT as she passed them.
JT Paulson 12 years ago
JT rolled his eyes at Red as they walked Miss Conrad toward the front doors of the Den. By the look of Charlie's state of undress, he would be along shortly, so JT took the time to watch the new woman.

Red couldn't do anything calmly, much less walk a straight line, so he kept Caitlinn's attention with his half dance moves and silly commentary. JT walked on the opposite side with his hands in his jeans pockets and inhaled deeply.

She was covered in Charlie's scent, which was not a surprise. He and Red had interrupted the couple, despite it being their first time since the night the Core had returned from Canada. Overall, medically she was fine. Both he and Red had assisted in maintaining a vigil for her while she was in DI and her recent return to the Den once they took her off the sodium thiopental. From what Lewis said, her astigmatism had disappeared much like Charlie's color blindness. The Eternity mixture Charlie had personally administered had cleared up the scars on her chest just fine as well as scars along her knuckles. She worked with her hands somewhat, not manual labor driven activities, but she didn't seem to shy away from it either.

Suddenly Caitlinn turned and looked up at him, flashing a smile and deep dimples. JT wondered just then if he hadn't missed an opportunity somewhere. Like a path meant for him had been abruptly changed by some unseen force. Just then they reached the front lobby and two more scents mingled in with theirs, letting his sudden thought fade away unrealized.

"Gimme!" Red yelled out and hopped over to Vivienne and the Commander as they played with their daughter, now five months old. Vivienne smiled and handed Catherine over and Red began giving the baby zerbers, making her laugh.

"So that's Vivienne?" Caitlinn asked quietly.

JT looked back at Caitlinn who was watching with interested eyes. "It is. That's Vivienne Sena, the Commander's mate and their daughter, Catherine."

"Oh," she said drawn out. "She's pretty."

Then he understood. Apparently Caitlinn did know about Charlie's obsession with the Commander's mate before anyone knew she was, in fact, the Commander's mate.

"Well, yes. She's pretty, but you're prettier."

Caitlinn smirked and looked up at JT. "Thank you for the boost of confidence."

JT lifted his hands and shrugged. "Oh come on, us Americans have to stick together around these European heathens and their women."

She surprised him by lifting her fist and he bumped it with a grin.
Vivienne Sena 12 years ago
She didn't like to think of Canada. It had been a fool hardy quest done for all the wrong reasons. Holding her chubby daughter with her tall and handsome mate were all the reasons in the world to realize doing the right thing meant drawing a clear and defined line with Simon and her father.

Brig leaned down and kissed her cheek as she held their daughter, and per the norm, Catherine reached over and grabbed her father's ear.

"Oh my god, ow!" he yelped. "She is so mean!"

Catherine giggled her chubby girl laugh and turned at the sound of one of her favorite people calling for her. She reached out to Red as he took her gently from Viv and dipped her upside down while giving her zerbers.

"You make her throw up, you clean it up, Red. I just fed her."

"Oh she won't throw up on Uncle Red. Whoa!". Red flinched as Catherine began to hiccup through her laughter.

Inhaling deeply, she turned toward the new yet familiar scent and saw her. JT walked up to Viv and Brig with their guest.

"Ma'am.". JT nodded politely and turned toward her. "This is Caitlinn. Cait, this is Viv."

Charlie's scent was all over Caitlinn and Viv was surprised to feel the pang of jealousy and regret. It was stupid, she knew this considering Charlie was never hers to begin with, but she still struggled with the fact that Charlie saw Viv as no more than his Commander's mate...a stranger. It was a good thing Charlie didn't remember her, but it still hurt since it would have been Charlie if not for Brig.

"Nice to see you up and around finally."

Caitlinn's eyes darted from JT to Brig and finally settled on Viv. "Nice to be up and around. Pleasure."

"This is our daughter, Catherine."

Caitlinn looked over at the baby and Catherine was already looking at the new woman, her eyes big and blue searching Caitlinn's face when suddenly she began to squirm in Red's arms, reaching for Caitlinn. The shock on Caitlinn's face was evident when Viv turned and saw Charlie coming up behind them.

Vv watched as Caitlinn turned and looked at Charlie as he came up and gently touched her lower back an an intimate gesture. She couldn't figure out if that sharp pain in her gut was lunch or her heart breaking. Reaching out, Charlie took Catherine in his arms and cooed at her.

"Geez and kids like you? You're one of those guys," Caitlinn said with a soft smile.

"You coming, babe?" Brig asked without his usual surliness when it came to seeing Simon.

Viv shook her head and gently took Cat from Charlie, avoiding looking at him. "Best to clear the situation with Miss Conrad here first. Don't need me for that."

Brig leaned over and kissed their daughter on the cheek and then kissed Viv on the lips, letting it linger and remind her why she chose Brig and not Charlie. His scent curled around her and made her skin warm, tingling with arousal like it always did. Red loudly cleared his throat.

"Man, all this kissing!"

Brig broke the kiss and hooked a thumb over his shoulder. "You're fired, Red. Oh no wait, we already demoted you.". He playfully shoved his Piper toward the door.

"Oh that is cold, sir."

"But funny," JT added with a grin as he followed.

Viv looked back at Caitlinn and saw her looking up at Charlie again. "Nice meeting you, Caitlinn."

Caitlinn looked back her and nodded politely, leaving without another word. Charlie watched her exit and then reached out to pinch Catherine's cheek.

"Miss Viv."


Viv waited for the door to close before turning away to deal with what felt like her last meal threatening to make a repeat.

(ooc - all out))