Spoilers: No specifics; takes place after the series finale
Word Count: 2323
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Viacom, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This was written for goodisrelative's prompt: 5 years after AJ left JAG... are they still together? Did they even get together? Is it their 4th anniversary?
The blatant appreciation in his eyes heats her skin. She can feel the blood rush to her cheeks as a slow, predatory smile graces his lips. "Good evening, Mac."
"Hello, AJ." He steps back and beckons her inside. The door closes gently behind her.
"May I take your wrap?" She turns and lets him remove the soft wool from her shoulders. His hands are cool on her overheated skin, and her arms prickle with goosebumps. He hangs the wrap, then steps up behind her and rubs his palms over her upper arms. "Cold?"
His breath on her neck and the deep rumble of his voice cause her to shiver again. "Not anymore." Her voice is husky and soft, and he chuckles lowly in her ear.
He takes her elbow and leads her to the dining room. The glass and crystal sparkle in the muted candlelight, and the gentle chords of classical guitar strum from a hidden speaker. The dishes on the table emit steam and a delicious aroma that makes her mouth water.
He pulls the chair out for her, ever the gentleman, and she smooths the skirt of her forest-green silk dress before taking her seat. Her eyes track his large hands as they pour an amber liquid into a pair of wine glasses.
She's always loved his hands.
He sits and raises his glass. She takes hers, the condensation that has already formed wetting her fingers. "To old friends," he proposes.
"And new lovers?" she offers in return. That smile comes back, the one that makes her mouth go dry and a throb of desire form in the pit of her stomach. His glass taps against hers, ringing high-pitched and clear in the quiet room.
The bright sweetness of the sparkling cider is offset well by the slight bitterness of the spinach and the tang of the marinated steak tips. They talk in low voices, mindful of the intimate setting.
She remembers the first time they spoke like this. She had been so angry. Angry at Harm, at men, at life in general--but mostly, angry at herself. Angry for putting so much of her life into this man, and ending up with nothing. No family, no career, and no home.
Bud and Harriet had been incredibly generous, letting her stay in their guest room until the sublease on her apartment was up and she could move back in. At least she had had the sense to keep the apartment. But the Mac who had returned from London wasn't the Sarah who had left DC blissfully happy. She was bitter, angry, and snappish at anyone who asked her how she was feeling or if she wanted to talk about it.
AJ, who visited the Roberts family often, had ended up on the sharp end of Mac's tongue one too many times. Fed up, he'd dragged her out to the backyard one day when the boys were at school and Harriet was out with the twins.
Then he had told her to hit him.
Shocked, she had automatically refused. He didn't give up, however. He'd taunted and bullied her until she finally snapped and took a swing at him. She was even more shocked when he hit back.
It was no simple sparring match; it was an all-out fight. Mac, fueled by her anger, didn't think about strategy or caution--she just went at AJ. AJ, for his part, simply tried not to let any of her punches land. She might have resigned her commission, but that didn't mean she wasn't still a dangerous woman.
Finally, exhausted, Mac had fallen to her knees and gasped for breath. For a moment, she'd thought she was about to cry. Instead, she had giggled. Startled by this, Mac's giggles turned into a full, rich laugh. AJ joined her on the cool ground, blades of grass giving way beneath him. He put an arm around her shoulder and laughed along with her.
Then they had talked. Not of anything too important; not that day. But they had established a relationship beyond that of superior-subordinate. They'd become friends.
Mac realizes they've finished their meal. She offers to help clear the table, but AJ refuses to let her, and steers her into the living room.
She takes a seat on the couch, folding one leg beneath her and draping an arm across the back. She traces the lines with a finger and stares out the window at the cloudy spring evening. The moon hangs low in the sky, pale and shining, and the stars strain to show themselves through its light.
It had been an on an evening like this when she asked him to call her Mac. Sarah, she had said, made her think of a woman trying desperately to play housewife and failing; a woman putting too much of her identity into a man, and not spending enough time finding out who she was without one. Whenever a man called her Sarah, he was claiming a part of her that felt weak and worthless.
Mac was a Marine; strong enough to hold her own in a courtroom or on a battlefield. Strong enough to know when to fight and when to give in gracefully. Strong enough to ask for help when she needed it.
Mac is who she wants to be; Sarah is who she needs to change.
AJ enters the room quietly, carrying a tray with two coffee mugs and two slices of a decadent German chocolate cake. She knows he bought it at the family-owned bakery in town; he's absolutely hopeless when it comes to baking. Since that's her only strength in the kitchen, she can't say she minds.
The moist cake and rich frosting practically melt on her tongue. She closes her eyes to savor the sweetness. When she opens them, she finds AJ staring at her, eyes burning like he's about to devour her for dessert.
She wouldn't exactly complain about that.
However, AJ clearly has his own agenda for the evening, as he picks up his plate and sedately proceeds to demolish his cake. Unlike at dinner, they do not converse; they simply enjoy their food and each other's company.
When they've both finished, AJ rises and removes his jacket. He changes the CD in the CD player and offers her his hand. "Dance with me."
She stands and takes his hand, resting her left hand on his shoulder. They sway slowly, letting the cool tones of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday wash over them. Mac rests her head on AJ's shoulder, nuzzling his neck, inhaling his scent. He smells fresh and clean, like the soap he prefers. Her arms trail up and link around his neck. She steps closer, pressing herself flush against him.
The first time they had danced after she came back was during a New Year's Eve party at the Roberts home. It hadn't been nearly as intimate as this one; it was merely a dance shared by friends. At least, that was what Mac had thought.
Until, at least, Harriet had cornered her in the kitchen, demanding to know what was going on. Mac had protested that nothing was going on; that she was still healing from the divorce.
Harriet had given her a knowing smile. When Mac had asked why she was smirking like that, Harriet had replied that it was obvious that AJ was courting her.
Mac had snorted in disbelief. That, she had declared, was about as likely as her sprouting wings and flying to the moon. Harriet hadn't bothered to deign her with a reply.
Later, after AJ had given her a gentle kiss at the stroke of midnight, Mac realized she had been thinking too much like Sarah.
AJ's romance wasn't wild and irresponsible like Chris, or clandestine and forbidden like John, or persistent and fun like Mic, or erratic and expected like Harm. It was patient, and quiet, and mature. He knew who he was and what he wanted, and he didn't expect anything from her but what she was willing to give. His romance was nights at home in front of a fire; intimacy born from learning her mind and heart, not just her body.
That had been his courtship. This is his seduction.
One of his hands rests lightly on the small of her back. The other travels up her back to the nape of her neck. His fingers thread through her chin-length hair. She lifts her head from his shoulder and meets his gaze.
Their mouths touch delicately, barely brushing. His thin lips are chapped a bit, but that hardly matters, because his next kiss is far more firm, more confident. The first kiss was a query; this one is a demand. He gives and takes what they have both wanted for months; years, even. She parts her lips under his onslaught, but it is hardly a surrender; she has waited too long for this to be anything less than an active participant.
They are no longer dancing. Instead, they stumble toward the couch, barely managing to avoid the coffee table. AJ sinks down onto the cushions, pulling Mac on top of him. He finally breaks the kiss, only to trail his lips down her neck, giving plenty of attention to the spots that make her gasp and press herself against him.
Mac reaches between them with feverish hands and undoes the first few buttons on his crisp cotton shirt. The silvery mat of hair on his chest draws her attention. She traces the whorls with her fingertips, then lowers her lips to the hollow of his throat. She suckles and licks at what seems to be a sensitive spot, and smiles against his skin as his groan vibrates through her lips.
During their mutual explorations, her skirt has ridden up, exposing her thighs. She sighs as he slides a hand beneath her skirt, cupping and kneading her buttocks. The other hand lazily trails up her back, eliciting a moan as he finally cups her breast. He caresses her through the thin silk, thumbing her hardened nipple.
Mac sits up. Her hair is unkempt, her eyes heavy-lidded and sparkling, and her lips swollen from his kisses. She does not notice the way AJ's eyes darken as he takes her in, for she is too focused on unbuttoning his shirt. She smiles triumphantly at her success, and returns to mapping any skin within her reach.
So intent on her exploration, she doesn't expect it when AJ dips his fingers between her thighs and strokes her through her panties. She jumps and gasps, and AJ chuckles. She narrows her eyes at him and bites gently on his earlobe.
He growls, and she laughs. Her revenge is short-lived, however, as AJ slips his hand into her panties and presses two long fingers against either side of her clit. He begins to move them rhythmically, and Mac drops her forehead to his shoulder and whimpers. Her hips begin to move in time with his fingers.
"Oh, oh, oh... AJ, please... yes... oh, God... don't stop... more... please..." AJ pauses for a moment, and Mac pants with need. He moves his fingers again, more quickly this time, and she can feel herself spiraling up, up, up, so close, just a little further...
The tension that has been within her all night, building with the anticipation, shatters, and she sobs his name as she comes.
As her breathing calms and her heart rate slows, she feels him stroking her head and back, soothing her. She parts her lips and flicks her tongue against his neck, tasting him. He grunts, and his other hand squeezes her hip. She smiles and slithers a hand between them, unbuckling his belt.
He catches her hand. "Let's move to the bedroom. I'm too old to do this on the couch."
"You're never too old to do it on the couch," she winks.
He laughs and nudges her off his lap. "Tell that to my back in the morning."
They make their way down the hall and to his bedroom. Once the door closes behind them, the moon is the only source of illumination. Mac turns to AJ and licks her lips.
He stands before her, backlit by the moonlight. His face is shadowed, but she can make out his glittering, intense eyes and crooked, knowing smile. His shirt is unbuttoned and hangs off his broad shoulders. His belt is unbuckled, and his pants are distended at the front. He looks positively sinful.
He slowly shrugs the shirt off his shoulders, then begins to remove his pants. Mac raises shaking hands to the zipper on the back of dress. She pulls the straps down her arms. The dress falls to her waist, exposing her breasts to his hungry gaze. She stops, holding her dress in place.
"Mac." His whisper breaks the electrified silence. "You're so beautiful."
"AJ, I..." Her voice cracks. She feels shy, all of a sudden; ashamed, even though she knows she has no reason to be.
"Look at me." Her eyes travel up his body, clad only in boxers, to meet his gaze. He steps toward her and takes her hand. Pressing it to his chest, he says, "You're not the only one with scars, sweetheart." She can feel shiny, smooth tissue beneath her palm, and under that, his heartbeat, slightly elevated.
She lets the dress drop to the floor.
"So beautiful," he repeats. Her eyes lower, and he cups her cheek and tilts her head up. "Your body is lovely, Mac," he murmurs, "but you are amazing."
She smiles, a soft, uncertain smile that says she doesn't fully believe him, but she'll take his word for it. Her free hand strokes his jaw, feeling the stubble scratch her fingertips. She kisses him softly, thanking him without words, then leads him to the bed.