Rating: Really heavy R (watch your toes), or a moderately lightweight NC17.
Warnings: Girls with girls. Cartoon violence. Sarcasm. Beware!
Pairings: Polly Perkins / Franky Cook
Spoilers: If you haven’t seen Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, little of the details here will make any sense. Other than that, enjoy!
General Disclaimer: This site contains stories between mature, consenting adult females. All characters are borrowed without permission, but without the intent of infringement. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Disclaimer: All characters from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow aren’t mine. Duh. They belong to Brooklyn Films II, and all the other production companies that IMDB listed. Also, credit goes to the awesome and talented Kerry Conran, the creator of these fun characters and their universe. My little alternate dimension has no bearing on the movie universe nor the talented people who brought the characters to life.
Note from author: Y’all better appreciate this! It turned into a 25 page monster, and it’s got it all; plot, smut, character development and miniature elephants! (Initial write was completed 3-26-06)
Summary: What could have happened after the events of the movie.
It was a nightmare I couldn’t wake from. My eyes had been witness to the most extraordinary events this planet has ever seen.
And I was completely incapable of writing a word about it.
As a journalist, I was appalled at myself for my failure, and the weakness of spirit that caused it. There was no telling what locked up my mind and typewriter, left the pens and pencils impotent in my hands. The world knew that I had seen everything first hand, and they turned on me when I was unable to recount.
Whatever reconciliation Joe and I might have had, circumstances blew it away like the ash of Totenkopf’s final blows to the world around us. Much of the island had gone up in a mini-war from the inside out, as we waited for rescue in the warm, tropical water. We could only guess that the machines were destroying themselves, and Joe and I let the British Navy collect us and send us home, each mourning different things.
While Joe ached for his decimated army, and the plane he was forced to leave behind in the island’s rubble, I was helpless in the face of my sudden inability.
While Joe plowed ahead and did his best to rebuild, I remained paralyzed and shell-shocked. Not even my rescue of the poor miniature elephant we’d spotted in Doctor Jenkin’s lab could cheer me completely. I arrived just as the hoppers of food and water emptied themselves completely into her little glass cage. Relieved at my good timing, I sent up a prayer to whatever deity might listen to a fool like me. Now, Toto, as she was quickly dubbed, was the only thing that could get me to smile.
It was Dex, bless his heart, who finally gave me the kick in the pants I needed. Dropping a heavy travel pack on the floor of the room given me at the tattered headquarters of the mercenary army, he gave me a long look and worked his ever-present gum. “Look,” he explained gently. “Whatever you lost is back on that island. You gotta go find it. Everything you need is here, and I finally figured out how to recharge that skiff we swiped from the island. It’s stocked and ready to go.”
There was a pair of guns in their very own holsters that made me cringe until Dex showed me exactly what they were. A duplicate of the ray gun that saved our bacon several times in our last adventure, and a device that Dex called a sonic gun. It sent out sound and vibration that he assured me would cripple any living thing that tried to mess with me. All I had to do was keep the dial in the yellow instead of the red, because even our resident genius had no idea what that much sonic energy might do. “Probably make someone’s head explode,” was warning enough for me.
Now, I approached the island where I had lost a part of myself, skimming along the rippling ocean and feeling something that might be fear and anticipation.
+ + + +
Jerking awake, I looked around wildly… but my circumstances hadn’t changed. Somehow, I’d gotten to the island, nosing the skiff into the heavy underbrush near what I hoped was a distinctive cliff. Finding it again was now impossible. For two days, I’d skulked about, feeling far to low on the local food chain, and somehow managing to stay alive.
Exhausted, delirious and terrified, I was easy prey for the human hunters who finally tracked me down. Pulling away my heavy gear and the sonic gun I’d wearily drawn on them, they’d blindfolded and handcuffed me, gave me enough water and food to survive and made me walk for what felt like days. Having one’s vision taking away was a frightening experience. For better or worse, I had been too damn tired to fight them, and luckily for me, they had been gentlemen and kept their paws to themselves.
After the march, I was freed and left in a sturdy shack with a barred window and door. And there I had remained for three days now. There was a pair of great wooden buildings, roughly made, that obscured the view from the openings, and faint British accents drifted from whatever camp or whatever it was that remained beyond these wooden walls.
Toto had been left with me, when I had whined pitifully for them to be kind to my beloved little pet. Murmuring in startled and pitying tones, they had left the tiny elephant with me. She drank from the cups of water left for me, nibbled on the granola and tore at the grass stalks at the barred door.
“Good thing you’re such a small eater,” I teased quietly and stroked her leather-soft back. As was her custom, Toto stroked my fingers with her trunk, the touch soft and nimble, and spoke to me softly in her toy-trumpet voice. We both knew that there was something wrong with me, no matter how much pride and fear made me hide it.
And whatever it was, it was getting worse.
+ + + +
“Damn,” I murmured softly, as darkness fell away once again, leaving me feeling dizzy and disoriented. Peeling open sticky eyes, my surroundings swam into focus. This was new…
“You’re awake,” said a crisp woman’s voice, sounding for all the world like a disapproving British nanny. The slightly hysterical giggle that tickled up from my chest sounded undignified even to my fuzzy ears. “Well. If your sense of humor, no matter how misplaced, survived, then you should make it with no ill effects.”
She was an attractive woman in her forties, with a shock of deeply red curls tangled neatly at the back of her head and dressed in crisp military khakis. The stethoscope around her neck and the thermometer in her hand gave me an unmistakable clue who and what she was.
“You are quite lucky, Miss Perkins,” she was explaining and I tried to focus, but my surroundings were all wrong. “Whatever you were reacting to so violently was obviously nothing to sneeze at, but we caught it in time and you appear to be responding well to medication.”
“Not such the hopeless femme after all, eh?” Said a familiar voice from nearby, and I rolled my head to spot exactly who I both anticipated and dreaded. “Good to see you alive and well, Miss Perkins,” Franky Cook smiled warmly, looking surprisingly normal and even approachable in her khakis with that dark hair in a loose ponytail. “I’ve lost hardened soldiers to the flora and fauna in this godforsaken place, and you managed to survive quite handily.”
“Was that a compliment?” Said my voice, when the words really should have remained only in my head. Shockingly, Franky chuckled warmly and strode over to stand beside the stoic doctor. “Dammit,” I grumbled and closed my eyes again to hide from their twin smiles.
“I’ll refrain from teasing until you feel better,” Franky’s voice teased before becoming more businesslike. “Thank you for treating her so promptly, Anastasia.”
“A patient is a patient, commander, you know that. Even a cranky, mysterious American with a fascinating pet.”
“Toto!” I gasped, sitting up, and the whole room swam sickeningly. Instantly, both women grabbed me, pressing me back into the soft bed.
“Stay,” Franky admonished, her touch gentle. “She’s fine. The boys have set her up with a little yard outside so that she can browse and say hello to passersby. She’s become quite the hit with the troops.”
“Glad to know that we guessed her name correctly by your delirious ramblings,” Doctor Anastasia added dryly as my vision and inner ear cleared. “I need to return to my rounds now, but you remain in that bed unless you need to take care of personal business, is that understood, Miss Perkins?”
A mute nod, for I didn’t trust my voice or my queasy stomach at the moment, and the doctor left with a nod to Franky, who was still half hunched over me. Leaning out of my personal space, letting my flustered nerves settle along with my stomach, Franky settled onto a stool beside the bed. Even as I finally really took stock of the completely unfamiliar place and that I was starkers under the light sheet, Toto’s little bugle drew my eye to the canvas panel that the doctor had vanished behind.
“There you are,” I smiled at my loyal little friend, and she rumbled happily back. It was astonishing really, how expressive and smart she was.
“Even after spending nearly four months on this godforsaken island and all of its insane flora and fauna,” Franky said conversationally. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eye.” Before I could comment, Franky leaned over and a moment later sat up with Toto balanced very carefully on her palms. Delicately, the miniature elephant stepped onto the bed, picking her way carefully on blunt little feet.
“Not really built for this kind of terrain, huh?” I teased affectionately as she unsteadily made her way to the pillow and I moved my head so that she could touch my face with her trunk. Satisfied that I was intact, Toto folded her legs beneath her and settled in for a nap. It was a quiet joy to feel her leathery skin on my cheek, and the slow flap of her ears.
“Extraordinary,” Franky commented gently, abruptly reminding my sickness-scattered attention of her presence. “You should rest. No one will bother you here. There’s a head behind that curtain over there, and if you need anything, just poke your head out and call over one of the soldiers.”
Too weary to analyze what the hell was going on, I merely nodded and let healing sleep swamp over me yet again.
+ + + +
Rhythmic bugling woke me again, human brass rather than elephant generated for once, to be greeted by torchlight flickering against the canvas walls of my new accommodations. Toto echoed the staccato, musical sound, making me laugh, and I could hear the sounds of a camp in transition outside. My aching bladder dominated all needs for the moment, even curiosity, and I gingerly sat up, relieved to feel fairly normal. Wrapping the sheet around myself, I padded across the wood slat floor to the curtain, relieved to find a perfectly normal toilet and roughly-constructed sink.
Much relieved, I returned to the bed, but paused when I noticed the gleam of an oil lamp’s glass on a stocky piece of furniture. My captors were organized and there was a book of matches in a dish beside the lamp. In the light, the place was obviously personal quarters to someone, and not a prison as I’d initially woken to.
By the scattered evidence of the occupant, I had a damn good guess whose guest I was. The pair of uniforms I remembered hanging on a pole pretty much confirmed it. The crisp blues with the distinctive leather collar, and the flight suit with the fishbowl helmet.
“I had no idea that they had taken you prisoner,” came the wholly unexpected voice in the darkness and I very nearly dropped the lamp and myself, whirling around. Dizzy again, I scrabbled at the sturdy chest and caught my breath.
“You scared me,” I whispered, forcing my heart to calm and study that single eye, twinkling in the firelight.
“Sorry,” Franky winced, actually sounding convincingly contrite, and stepped in so that I could see that she carried a tray. “Hungry?” At the mention of food, my stomach grumbled irately and we both smirked. “I’ll take that as a yes. In that chest there, are some pants and shirts, if you’d like to put on some clothes.”
While I willingly did as she offered, there were sounds of pieces of furniture being moved and Franky talking to Toto. There was a small table and two squat stools, all roughly carved from wood set out, and the lamp illuminated two plates of food and a bowl of green strands I would bet was grass. Toto stood happily munching at the bowl, while the woman I would have once seen as an enemy distractedly worked her way through whatever was on one of the plates. The sheaf of papers in her other hand was obviously more important.
“Thank you,” I said impulsively and that lone eye flickered up before she smiled.
“My pleasure. I’m beginning to regret the way we met, Miss Perkins. Even before we met.”
Shockingly, I found myself smiling. “At least Joe has good taste in women.”
With a bark of a laugh, Franky Cook stood and gallantly gestured that I should take the other stool. “Quite. Please sit, eat. You’ve had a rough time lately. It’s nothing special, just greens and some local fauna that we’ve found palatable.”
Some quiet minutes passed while we ate, but curiosity returned with the quieting of my stomach. “You said that you didn’t know that I was here?”
Again looking up from the papers, Franky sighed heavily, and I could see how stressful this place had been on this powerful woman. “It’s a pitiful excuse, I know. A commander should be aware of all the comings and goings of their command, but I’m afraid that it took three days before I was informed that you were in the brig. Did the platoon that took you behave themselves?”
Why… she sounded worried! “Yes,” I responded sincerely. “I’m afraid Dex’s sonic gun made one of them scream something awful though.”
“Sonic gun? As in noise? Hmmm… that would explain it then. Leave it to Dex.” Uncomfortable, Franky rubbed her neck, hardly able to look at me. “I’m glad that it didn’t become ugly.”
“Despite my trespassing?” I asked wryly, trying to get a smile, which danced reluctantly around the corners of that full mouth.
“Despite that,” she replied, just as dryly. We looked at each other for a moment, reading the humor there, and abruptly burst out into girlish giggling that left neither of us with unnecessary dignity.
Maybe, just maybe, I could get to like this woman.
Would wonders never cease?
+ + + +
Once more, it was Doctor Anastasia that woke me to dampness and a strange chill in the air. “Well then,” she fussed, pressing her hand to my forehead to peer closely into my waking gaze. “You really are looking much better this morning.”
“I feel much better, thank you.”
“Excellent. There’s a terrible storm rolling in, so I’m afraid that I must run, but I do believe that you are out of danger, Miss Perkins. There will be heavy activity today as we batten down the hatches, so to speak. You’ll need to remain here, but you are authorized to keep Toto company in the yard outside if you wish.”
“Thank you,” I responded, but the woman was already bustling out. So, I was still a prisoner then. It was odd to realize that I was disappointed. Not in being a prisoner, after all, that had happened before, but that it meant that whatever Franky and I had shared last night might not mean anything at all. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I chastised myself, sitting up to tuck my knees beneath my chin and hug my shins. “That woman cheated with Joe, and you should hate her.” But I didn’t and I knew it. After that initial meeting, where she’d been so aloof and cocky, I’d been so irritated, felt so hopelessly outclassed. Then she’d saved us, so brave and selfless, and I’d been left in awe as she streaked towards the safety of the ship above, leaving us to face Totenkopf’s island.
“That’s some kinda girl,” I heard my mind echo my voice from all those months ago. And the different facets of her than I met last night were all the more fascinating. What must her life be like? In this male-dominated profession? With only one eye and still a crack pilot? The old, familiar thrum of words and curiosity were stirring to life in me, leaving me breathless. Oh, but it had been so long…
Before I could celebrate, the wind tore at the canvas walls, making the metal corrugated roof shudder violently, and the sky grew suddenly, ominously dark. “Toto?” I called out nervously, worried for my tiny friend. Barefoot and feeling the sudden, very non-tropical chill, I stepped around the divider that acted as door and looked out to the British camp that was a hive of activity. Thankfully, Toto was indeed confined by a short fence surrounding the doorway, and I carefully scooped her up, letting her settle into the warmth of my chest. She shivered there as we both stared up at the violent, roiling sky.
As the sky grew ever blacker, I retreated to the bed, sitting as I had before, only with Toto snuggled down between my chest and thighs where she would be warm. There was a light blanket shoved down along the edge of the bunk and I draped that around us as the walls shook and snapped ever more violently. Rain sheeted down, and lightning flashed counterpoint to pounding thunder. Frightened, I remained where I was until something landed on the roof hard enough to dent the metal. That made me drag the mattress off the heavy, trunk-like frame and curl up on the floor to be as safe as possible.
Water trickled beneath the hut, winking through the cracks in the floor as the lightning flashed, and I prayed that the footings were solid.
+ + + +
I must have dozed off, I’d slept so much the last few days, when a hand on my shoulder woke me. “You okay?” Franky asked me in the deep, deep darkness that surrounded us. Blindly, I reached out to feel for her, shocked to encounter sodden fabric, her flesh barely warm beneath. “We’re as locked down as we can be for now. It’s just a matter of waiting it out.”
Sitting up, I winced at Toto’s bugle of irritation, but could tell that she was unharmed. Grabbing at the chilled cloth, I tugged at it. “Get out of these clothes before you freeze.”
“What?” Franky sounded dull and I was now even more concerned that she was dangerously chilled. Somehow we managed to work off the sodden material and I gasped at the shock of her icy skin against me as I pulled her into the bed and coiled myself around her. Shivering and groaning softly, Franky wrapped her arms around me and I was struck by the oddity of the situation. Suddenly, I was the one offering succor in the midst of potential disaster.
The irony didn’t escape me.
The violence of the night kept me awake and keeping vigil over my unexpected charge. She’d passed out fairly quickly, shuddering against me until my body heat finally thawed her out. Arms wrapped around her body to keep in as much warmth as possible, I waited and waited. A tree fell somewhere nearby, making me cringe in animal terror, and lightning split more in shrieking protest.
Every time Franky would twitch as though waking, I would grip her body tighter, using my arms, and cleavage, I realized abruptly, to muffle the sounds as best I could. In time, the violence blew itself out, and the raging tropical storm in its footsteps was a picnic in comparison. The tent-house was still intact and mostly dry with a badly dented roof that was dripping near the toilet, but far enough away from us to be no hazard. Our spot on the floor was almost cozy, and I finally relaxed against the other woman’s body. Exhausted, I felt her arms shift, holding me as though this was an embrace, not a desperate clutch for warmth. In turn, I gentled my grip around her, pressing my nose into the tangled, dark hair.
As I drifted once more into dreamland, I marveled at how good it felt to hold someone that treated me as an equal. A soft and strong someone, who felt so different and yet so comfortable against me.
+ + + +
My life had grown strange, a series of related vignettes between the dark periods of sleep. Never being much of a dreamer, my waking life was usually so full of images and words, sleep was most often a black space of rest. Right now, I certainly had to be having one of those rare dreams, a strange and thrilling encounter with the wild side.
She was gentle, but persistent. I expected the latter, but the former was a pleasant surprise, making me feel safe and cherished. That distinctive, sexy mouth was soft and firm, she tasted of sleep and rain and the lingering bite of coffee. The body pressed to mine was muscular, wiry and every inch as feminine as her feline smile.
Humming sensuously, Franky shifted, pulling me more snugly into her stronger frame, tucking her thigh up where that insidious itch prodded me towards full wakefulness. A friendly tongue made me think of other things that smart mouth could do, and need made me tense up. This oh-so-adult ache always made me faintly and thrillingly uncomfortable, never entirely certain what I should do with it. Dammit, this felt good! Freeing somehow, like a deep breath after being underwater too long.
Growling aggressively, I clung to the dream and her shoulders, the warmth of her tangled hair. Huffing through my nose, I kissed back like I really meant it, catching the startled noise deep in Franky’s chest. It was nice to not feel physically intimidated by this frisky body in my bed, wrapped around me.
Jerking apart, we blinked owlishly, her dark eye dilated and hazy with sleep… and the unmistakable gleam of lust. Oh boy…
“Not a dream?” I wondered out loud, too startled and horny to shut my fool mouth. A hand slapping at the still-wet canvas made her twitch, the embrace suddenly awkward. Grumbling from the jostling, Toto shifted her little body where she lay next to my ear and reached out unerringly.
To hook her trunk around the strap on Franky’s eye patch and tug.
While I giggled uncontrollably, Franky sank back down into my body, objecting, “not the patch, you silly beast!” A quick, hard kiss shut me up quite efficiently, and she managed to roll away to sit heavily at my hip. Running fingers through her disheveled hair, Franky called out for the doctor. “Come in, Anastasia.”
One raised eyebrow spoke volumes and I shrank back into the bed, fighting the insane urge to giggle. Shaking her head like a dog, Franky pulled her professional persona around herself, despite the fact that she was only in her skivvies.
“Sharing body heat,” the doctor commented coolly, but I could hear the thrum of carefully concealed amusement in her tone. “Capital idea,” she continued, looking at me wryly. Dammit! I really was going to lose it…
For a moment, they talked business as though nothing shocking and earth shattering had happened in this room. Face buried suffocating deep into the pillow; I missed all of it, completely seized with the effort of reining in my hysterics.
Silence fell, and there was a gentle hand on my shoulder. “Are you all right?”
I lost it then, rolling over to press my back into the bed footings and howl like a hyena. Like the water rushing around us last night, the stress and strangeness of the encounter washed through me. Coughing and near-choking, I pressed my head to her bent leg, inhaling her now-familiar scent.
“Left you speechless, eh?”
Once more, I laughed and laughed. Blind with tears in the cloudy morning light, I couldn’t see Franky, but I certainly heard her reluctant chuckle, that rose into laughter that freed us both. Aching all over from the workout, I reached up to hook an arm around her neck and yank her unceremoniously down atop me. Snuffling at the dark mane, I contemplated what was going on.
Fear of the unknown had never stopped me before, and I would be damned if it would stop me now.
“Commander Cook,” I tried to say seriously, grinning at the quaver of laughter in my voice. “I think I’d like to apply for a civilian position here. Got a need for an experienced reporter?”
Franky only chuckled into my shoulder and held me like she meant it.
That may have been the start of my unusual relationship with Francesca Cook, but it was by no means the end. Dressed in a set of her khakis, hair pulled back in a ponytail, I was led to the communications tent. Franky stood there while a choppy message was sent to Dex. I trusted the man like a brother and he would find a way to tell Joe I was safe without the cavalry charging to a rescue I didn’t need.
That first day after the storm, I was treated to the reality of my new life, by becoming manual labor. Every time I thought I would die from the strain, I would look at the determined faces around me, and remember the deadly creatures in this jungle.
It was good motivation, and the damaged outer walls stood fixed and firm as night fell. Much relieved, we trooped back to the sprawling mess hall for dinner. During that first day, the soldiers paid me little attention, but that changed back at the mess. When I spoke a thank you to the cook that slapped whatever was dinner on the tray I’d taken from the pile like a good soldier, my cover was blown.
“Aye,” burst out the grizzled veteran in line behind me. “Knew I hadn’t seen the likes of you afore. You be that Yank that made leftenant Jeffries cry with that toy gun.”
That did it. Now I was the center of attention to all within earshot. Another fellow sniggered and leaned back arrogantly in his seat to leer at me. “Knew I hadn’t seen you before. Who’d miss a gorgeous bird like you?”
Ignoring him, I smiled dangerously sweet at the veteran. “There is more than one way to make a man behave.”
There was much laughter and cat calling to the arrogant git that leered, making him mutter and return to his plate.
“Yer a feisty one,” the veteran chuckled and offered me a strong, rawboned hand. “Sergeant Milo Claude, ma’am, at your service. This here be Corporal Jeffery Davis and Corporal Raine MacKinsey.” The exhausted pair of barely twenties behind the man managed weak smiles for me. “Right sorry about the mis’derstandin’ that left you in that shed for’in three days. Methinks that ar’gant git of a leftenant mightn’t a been a little miffed at them ringin’ ears o his.”
By the matched grins of his escorts, I gathered that this wasn’t a bad thing, and smiled weakly. “He’s lucky I grabbed the right gun.” More laughter as I shook the man’s hand. “Polly Perkins. Pleased to meet you, sergeant.”
He waved off the formality as one would slap at mosquitoes. “Call me Bony. No one even hardly knows me by me name anymores. Come. Sit. We’ll get you up to task on livin’ here.”
That’s exactly what Bony did, with a few interjections from his quiet bookends. They behaved like they shared a single brain, and it was fascinating to watch. By the time I finished the vile-looking but surprisingly tasty stew and biscuits, I had a rough idea of what to expect. Jeffery even snuck off and returned with a first aid kit that did wonders for my blistered, aching hands. “If you can scare up some hot water for a bath, ma’am,” he offered shyly. “That’ll help with the aches and pains.”
“Does it show?” I sighed dramatically, shifted my aching back and rear end. Jeffery only smiled and let me be while Bony continued to ramble on.
It was fun until I yawned hard enough to make my eyes water and they took pity on me. “Where’s your rack ma’am?” Raine asked and I shrugged with a grin.
“As far as I know, I’m still in Commander Cook’s charge. I suppose I should return to her before she thinks I’ve done something ridiculous like wander into the jungle. I’ve had quite enough of that, thank you.” So my new pals walked me to the commander’s tent. It looked the same as the many dozens of others, except for the rough stone building beside it. “Why is this one building stone?”
“That there’s the records room,” Bony explained. “All paper’s housed there, snugger than a young whore’s…” the man’s voice trailed off as he flushed beet red and his expression went horrified beneath the bottle-brush whiskers. Grinning mischievously, I waved him off as he began to splutter and choke, the bookends gamely trying to keep straight faces.
“I’m flattered that you consider me ‘one of the gang’ enough to be colorful,” I chuckled and Bony swallowed down the worst of his embarrassment.
“Well, er, don’t be mindin’ my ramblin’ like an old fool,” he finally managed to squeeze out gruffly, and waved my attention back to the stone records room. “Only other stone buildin’ is munitions, and that be far from any livin’ space.”
“Makes sense,” I demurred, mind going a million miles an hour. “Bony?”
“I’ll bet your records are haphazard, considering how busy all of you are.”
“At best, mum, at best.”
“I think I may have just figured out a good way of earning my keep. Sleep well, all of you.”
Checking that Toto was safe and warm in the little nest my old shirt provided, I stripped and collapsed into Franky’s remade bed. She would come to me in time. After all, I was in her private space, was I not?
+ + + +
Something woke me from a deep, black sleep. A phantom sensation, more real than a dream, but less than a touch. For a moment, I lay still, listening hard, relying on city-girl senses that weren’t nearly as dull as I would have thought.
“Come to bed, silly,” I said after a moment of searching the room with only my ears. “It must be some awful hour of morning and I’m sure you’re exhausted.”
There was no movement for a long moment, bordering on awkward. Then Franky sighed heavily, and there was the rustle of cloth. Smiling at my success, I scooted towards the wall, giving her space and opportunity to cuddle.
Still, I was pleasantly surprised when her lanky frame curled into my back, pressing close, arm draped over my waist. “You are the strangest surprise to ever drop in my lap,” she whispered quietly, already growing heavy with sleep. “And that includes that whale-sized sabre tooth tiger.”
Perversely, I took it as a compliment as we slipped away to dreamland.
+ + + +
“Your poor hands.”
That’s what I woke to, Franky’s kind voice and pain flashing from the aforementioned body parts. “Ow!” I had to whine as the bandages were peeled away and I opened blurry eyes. She looked beautiful and regal, sitting there in her dapper uniform, looking ready for another grueling day. “Thank you for your help yesterday,” she added quietly, almost shyly, stroking my wrists in comfort against the stinging blisters. “The troops claim that you were very stubborn and brave.”
The caresses were distracting, and I took a long moment to organize my thoughts. “I’m not going anywhere, Franky Cook. Not until you throw me off this damn island. I thought it best to try and pull my weight.”
That earned an honest smile, and she concentrated on re-doctoring my hands while still wearing the endearing expression. “You shouldn’t have to do such hard labor again, at least any time soon, I hope. There’s other things in this camp that could use a lady’s touch.”
“The records room,” I interrupted her and the one eye blinked at me. “I’m volunteering to get your records in order.”
“But that’s scut work!”
“It’s papers and words. What more do I need? Besides, it keeps me close to Toto.” At the mention of her name, my elephant bugled from her nest on the floor. “And you.”
Clearly startled, Franky looked at me, and I found myself visualizing how striking she must have been with a whole face. And how striking she was exactly the way she was meant to be.
Whoever started our first kiss, Franky roughly initiated the second, swooping down to kiss me soundly. Delighted, I tugged at her carefully swept-back hair and willingly let her express where words failed. A trumpet blast outside finally separated us, and I whined wordlessly in protest. Franky stroked my lower lip, expression thoughtful. “So strange,” she mused to herself, and shook off the distraction. “I would be delighted to keep you close, Polly. Have at the records room, it’s all yours.”
It was the first time she had ever said just my personal name.
I really, really liked it.
+ + + +
Days passed quickly in my new life. While I catalogued reports and deciphered bad handwriting and Briticisms, Toto toddled about the stone room and the pens set up for her at both the front and back doors. There was a list that I made each morning, with the names of the soldiers that I needed to speak with. Military discipline worked in my favor, and I rarely had to wait long. They quickly adopted me as one of their own… most of them anyway, and I settled into my new life.
Even the dryness of the reports bolstered me up, giving me purpose and satisfaction. I certainly missed having a typewriter desperately, but plugged along the old fashioned way. When the cramping in my hand was too much, I would take a break with Toto and make friends with the passing parade of busy soldiers. Underfoot on a regular basis, and making certain that I ate at every meal, was the trio that had first befriended me; Bony, Raine and Jeffery. Within a week, I knew the schedule and was beginning to recognize the communications by bugle. After ten days, I was beginning to be included in various meetings, because the population quickly realized that I would take extensive notes.
And at night… at night, I was Franky’s.
Neither of us slept well without the other close by. There were kisses, her hands on my back and belly, mine echoing the caresses, and a safe haven for our bodies and souls. We never discussed or analyzed what was going on, we were far too busy, and I was actually quite relieved. Purely by accident, I figured out the she was hopelessly ticklish all up and down the plain of her back, but only when she was very relaxed. That was how I got the story of, ‘save the rabbits’ out of her. I didn’t get it, but it made her laugh, and that was more than good enough for me.
We began waking up in more and more compromising positions as the nights went by. Her hand on my chest, mine tucked down the back of her lightweight sleeping trousers. Her mouth at my ear, mine cradled against her breast.
Neither of us knew what to do about it, and the walls were thin and felt like they had eyes.
After nearly two weeks, I was at my usual workstation, when Franky snuck up on me. Hunched over the latest tattered report to be transcribed, eyes nearly crossed with the effort, I ignored the sound of footsteps, after all there were people in and out of here all day, and completely missed the greeting that Toto gave to only one other person. The sudden press of lips on the side of my sweaty neck made me jump with surprise.
“Hello,” Franky purred and I froze, leaning my head to the side so that she might continue.
“I decided that I missed you and came to visit.” Utterly charmed by her thoughtfulness, and the sweet mouth on my skin, I hummed happily, reaching up to stroke her sleek, dark hair. “My lieutenants are hinting that I look tired. I was thinking about taking the afternoon off. Polly, dear, you’re looking tired yourself. Would you care to join me?”
As if I would say no!
Whatever I might have visualized, what actually happened hadn’t even been on the list. Somehow, Franky talked me into her sleeping half-pants and a double layer of white t-shirts with no bra! Scandalized and more than a little nervous, I allowed myself to be dragged after her, and did my best to ignore the knowing looks from the soldiers that we passed. I knew that this adventure had something to do with water, only because we were both barefoot and she was carrying a sack with towels in it. That and I’d seen many of the soldiers in shorts and suits, sopping wet during the muggy days. They might swim at night too, but I was far to occupied with Franky to know or care. She looked amazing in baggy shorts and a loose shirt, unbuttoned to show off the sleek, dark swimsuit beneath.
My distraction was ruined by the rush of water and the babble of happy voices. Breathtaking was the only word my extensive vocabulary could come up with, as I stared over the stair-stepped waterfalls that gurgled happily at the far north end of the camp.
“Our water source,” Franky explained with an encompassing gesture. “There are intake pipes at the center of the falls. No one enters the water above that level, so the water remains clean.” Sure enough, there were thick sections of bamboo shoved into the brisk current at a half dozen locations. “The current is powerful enough that most of the camp gets serviced simply with that force and gravity. There’s a small pumping station near the central headquarters to take care of the rest. It also acts as filtration for drinking water.”
“Wow,” was the most I could say, hesitating to join the happy faces in the water. With a knowing look, Franky peeled off the loose shirt, before dropping trousers and diving into the deep pool at the base of the gurgling falls. Now, I’d seen her pretty well naked, as well as sleeping with her every night, but there was something about watching her sleek body arching over the water, that made me realize something I had been trying to ignore.
I wanted her.
In a carnal way that had me wet and tense and uncomfortable.
Despite the body-hugging swimsuit, I knew that I would be showing more than Franky once soaked down, and glowered appropriately at her about it. Smirking unapologetically, she gracefully treaded water and dared me with her gaze.
Hmph… Nothing scared me off, dammit! Taking my dear, sweet, teasing time about it, I stuck my favorite pinup girl pose, running all ten fingers back to the rubber band at my nape and tugging it free. The catcalls started up about then, as I shook the luxurious blonde mass free and tiptoed to the edge of the rippling water. As lingeringly as possible, I dipped toes in, feeling many, many eyes taking in my innocently teasing performance. The only one I cared about was Franky, and I snuck a peek through my bangs to make sure I still had her attention.
I did, and that made me feel better.
The water was pleasantly cool, as I swished a bare foot around, seeming to ignore my audience, while they cheered me on. Then I coiled up and took a flying leap into the world’s sloppiest cannonball, nearly drowning my bunkmate.
The cheering was still going on when I surfaced with a smug grin. Wry, Franky rubbed water out of her eye and gave me an approving smirk. “Brat,” she muttered and I jumped at the prod of her toe against my thigh.
All in all, it was one of the most pleasant afternoons I’d experienced in years, but it had to end eventually. Exhausted from long work days, my recovery from sickness, the exercise and the heady experience of this new interaction with Franky, I begged off when the crowd wanted me to stay. The cool rush of water was making me far too aware of how hot and bothered I really was.
Self-conscious of my clinging wet clothes, I climbed from the river and acted as though I hadn’t a care in the world. I’d learned early on that ninety percent of trouble could be headed off with the appearance of utter confidence. Considering just how much trouble I could get myself into, it was a damn good thing I was only dealing with ten percent!
My hopeful thoughts were rewarded with Franky materializing at my side, calling farewells to the thinned crowd. Still maintaining my air of nonchalance, I handed over a towel, burning with awareness of her.
So now what, Polly.
It was no easy decision, the if or not of taking this striking woman as a lover.
There, I said it. I want this woman as a lover.
Somehow, the words made it easier. Exactly how writing down the letters to a story, immortalized the tale.
And I was given courage.
Franky started when my hand slid discreetly beneath the towel draped over her arm. I trailed fingertips over her cool skin, bumping my knuckles deliberately against her ribs, brushing the curve of breast. Leaning in conspiratorially, I whispered the fateful words, slow and sultry.
“I want you.”
And calmly walked away.
I’d played the temptress before, it was a necessary skill in my line of work, and I figured what was good for the gander, would be good for the goose. Mind racing, I made double time across camp, figuring that I had flummoxed Franky, but she’d recover and come along.
I was counting on it.
There was a bathtub in the records hut, which seemed odd at first, until one considered that it could be one of the most private places in the camp. The doors locked and there were heavy glass windows that could be latched shut. After my first, grueling day, Bony and his bookends had rigged a heavy wooden platform with a thick bunk mattress on it that would drop on hinges onto the top edge of the stone-hewn tub, so that I could nap if I wanted. It was quite comfortable, better than Franky’s even, and would have room for two if we were cozy. All I had to do was pull the palm-frond curtains and set up the oil lamp that was permanently mounted in the center support post. After all, no one wanted a fire!
The shivers were wracking my frame as I finally made it to the records room, but I forced myself to check on Toto, who was thankfully snuggled down for the night. “Good thing you’re low maintenance,” I teased softly, and headed next door. Curtains were pulled, and I was futzing with the light, when the glare of fire illuminated her brooding presence in the doorway.
The start of surprise that made me jump was not feigned.
Holding my gaze, Franky threaded the wet, white towel through the door handle and tied a thick knot in it, before pushing it shut and sliding the bolt home with a rasp of metal on metal. The visceral sensations of being trapped with her was thrilling. Shaking with nerves and anticipation, I smacked the clumsy taps that sent sun-warmed water from the overhead cistern churning down into the tub. Then I took a deep breath, blew out all those damn butterflies… and skinned the wet shirts over my head.
It was the boldest thing I’d done since that lark when I was four, running down the street stark naked with my angry mother in hot pursuit. That sharp, one-eyed gaze was as potent as a physical touch, roving over my bare torso. The pants were harder, my last line of defense and modesty, even as they clung wetly to my skin.
Damn the torpedoes and all that.
Once more, my klutziness nearly sent me sprawling as I tried to wrestle with the sodden cotton. “Let me help,” Franky purred and I was frozen as she came to me, hands skimming over the nakedness of my hips, making me tremble and groan. It was unraveling, her calloused flesh on mine, the sensuality of how she touched me so gently. Eyes blurry, I pulled her close, kissing her like I hadn’t quite done before, with no reservations, and with plenty of demand.
A quick inhalation through her nose signaled Franky’s surrender. So, I pulled at the straps of the suit, dying of curiosity of what her soft places would feel like against me.
I wasn’t disappointed, carefully peeling the elastic over her curves, shocked at the feel of our breasts touching. The startling sensations broke the kiss, and we stared at each other, each breath sliding our cooled skins together. “Bath,” I finally managed to say hoarsely, and she smirked at my complete lack of eloquence. Once again, our competitiveness spurred me into action, and I stepped away, trailing a finger down the center of her torso. “Warm me up, commander.”
“Have I mentioned lately that you are an incorrigible brat?” She asked dryly, but came to me again, startling me by half crouching and tugging the pants down to my ankles with little ceremony. “I did promise you my help.”
“How can you be so coherent at a time like this?” I blurted out, exasperated that she didn’t seem to be nearly as unnerved as I. With her head down, I was unable to read Franky’s expression for a moment, but something told me to be patient. The look on that partially disguised face when she did stand up and look at me was worth it. The only time I had seen her this vulnerable, was when she had been half-dead with exhaustion and cold during that evil storm.
“I’m terrified,” she admitted quietly.
“But not willing to show it,” I added my two cents. “Yes. I know exactly how you feel. Being a girl sucks sometimes.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she grinned, slipping in close to hug me, shocking me again with the feel of near-nakedness. “It feels pretty good from here.”
Now it was my turn to tug at the material hugging her hips and fanny, skimming curious fingers over all these new places while we kissed. She huffed in surprise when I tickled over the wiry pelt at the juncture of her thighs, noting that she was coarser than I. “Bath,” I grinned, tweaking a fuzzy lock and stepping into the tub, suddenly not nearly so unnerved by the nakedness. “We’re both cold and I’d like to hold you.”
Shaking herself out like a wet dog, a charming quirk that sweetly amused me, Franky peeled off the useless swimsuit as I settled into the warm water. For a moment, I was able to enjoy looking at her, noting the various scars, the play of flat muscles beneath her skin. Brow arched, she silently climbed into the tub and settled her weight between my legs, leaning tensely against me. So, I hugged her, pressing her back into my front, my hands caressing over her tummy to relax her.
The quiet played out, as I stroked her like a cat, almost bold enough to satisfy my curiosity about her, about us. “Never thought I’d actually like you,” my voice suddenly said quietly, and I could have kicked myself. Thankfully, Franky only chuckled, giving my lower thigh a playful pinch.
“I concur. You made a… memorable first impression.”
Snorting in very unladylike fashion, I sassed back, “hanging off that damn plane like ballast? I think memorable is a very diplomatic way of putting it.” Chuckles erupted from Franky, and I was thrilled to feel them start where I caressed her, the sound echoing up her back and shoulders. “At least Joe has good taste in women,” I mused half to myself and she leaned her head back onto my shoulder to peer at me.
“Quite. You do realize that that we’ve never really talked about him. He probably thinks I’ve used you as bait for that giant tiger or some ridiculous thing. Strange that he never sent a message.” Honestly, I didn’t know what to say, but my expression must have said enough, because she continued with her musing. “I didn’t love him, but I certainly respected him, and that was enough at the time. I only snarked at you because I hate to feel as though I’ve lost at anything.”
Interesting… “Anyone he loves will always be second in his heart anyway,” I added, unconsciously tightening my loose embrace into a hug. “To his work and his damn plane.” The last two words were echoed by Franky, and set us both to giggling again.
“And Dex,” she smiled evilly, making me laugh harder.
“Yes, Dex will always be the only person he ever truly loves.” Our laughter died down gradually, leaving us both more relaxed. “I left because I couldn’t write.” The confession was unexpected, but once I’d started… “It felt like I had left part of myself here. The part that was brave and tenacious and eloquent. Imagine my surprise when a bunch of uniformed soldiers burst out of the jungle after I’d wandered around like a complete idiot for two days. After I started feeling well again, the words came back.”
“Sounds like danger is good for you,” Franky said quietly and I glowered at her, expecting teasing, but the lone eye, so close, was open and nonjudgmental.
“I suppose that’s why you attract me.” It was so easy to get lost in her beauty, in her powerful personality. Stroking her chin, I leaned in, unable to stay lighthearted any longer. “Why I can’t seem to resist you, whether I should or not.”
“Mutual,” she assured me, reaching up to tug my head down, and the conversation was over.
Whatever I had expected from taking this unusual woman as a lover, the reality was much, much better. After several breathlessly giggling attempts, we got the bath drained, ourselves dried off with much playfulness, and tried out the bunk with two bodies. Nothing like a more aggressive male, she was curious and tender and made me beg for her touch, those calloused fingers inside my wet heat. The mere three lovers I’d ever given myself to, faded from memory in the heat of her touch.
The conflagration of sensation was so intense, that some sane part of me worried for my sanity. Sex had been a trickle.
Suddenly I was a flood.
Winded and startled as hell at the strength of the responses I didn’t even know my body was capable of, I swallowed hard against the desert dry of my throat. Had I been shouting? Questions fled as I hissed in response to her magical fingers slipping from the tight grip of my body. “Never felt that good when I did it,” was my wry critique, making Franky snort with laughter, and giving me an opportunity to ambush her. The cute little brown nipples were half hard, but tensed up like raisins as I sucked gently at one, careful to match the pressure to her encouragement. After all, I hardly wanted to go about this like some overanxious, pawing adolescent… even if that’s exactly how I felt. Stroking over her belly and abdomen, soaking up the textures of Franky’s body, I lingered at the exquisitely soft place where inner thigh met her fuzzy groin. That warm, soft spot felt like it had rewritten my nervous system, and I stayed there, just stroking, until Franky’s soft begging got me back on track.
Abruptly nervous all over again about going all the way, I hesitated, fingers tickling the near-black curls protecting her secrets, thumb still stroking that soft spot that intrigued me so. “Woman,” came the threatening growl, “if you don’t touch me, I’m going to throw you naked out into the rain.”
Stifling inappropriate giggling, I whispered a saucy, “yes ma’am,” and blindly explored this new territory, mouth pressed to her belly. It wasn’t scary at all, but warm and wet and welcoming as I found the two spots she needed from me, slipping two fingers deep inside, stunned at the feel, and rubbing the little button of flesh that matched where I still tingled between my own thighs.
That was all it took, and Franky made a low, animalistic sound, muscles clenching around my fingers, her hands hard in my hair. It was exquisite and intimate and earthy, bonding me to her and making me feel ten feet tall and invincible.
“Wow,” was all I could articulate, climbing back up to sprawl against her side, nose in the dark locks. Humming softly, Franky curled one arm around my shoulders, petting my hair, and stroked the arm I rested on her chest. We were both contemplative and seemingly half-asleep, and the quiet grew almost awkward before she suddenly spoke.
“You are the only person that I’ve allowed to get close, that hasn’t asked.”
Asked? Mind racing, I tried to read her mind, figuring it out in a flash of insight as she leaned her head over and pressed the eye patch into the bridge of my nose. “It seemed rude,” I shrugged truthfully. “If and when you feel I need to know, and I’ve earned your trust, you’ll tell me.”
“You, the reporter, aren’t even curious?” She questioned skeptically.
“It’s so much a part of you,” my fingers traced the shape of the leather, “that I can’t see you any other way.” That pleased her, I could see it. “Besides, truth be told, I’m far more curious how you pilot a plane with only one eye. Particularly with such skill.”
“Flatterer,” she teased dryly, but she was still pleased, and her touch was still loving and gentle. “It wasn’t easy to relearn how to judge depth and distance, but I have several tricks mounted on my plane that help. I would have a far more difficult time in a strange plane, than my own.”
Having no clue to the intricacies of flying a plane, big, small or otherwise, I merely hummed in encouragement and let my resting arm grow a little more caressing.
“It was a crash,” Franky suddenly volunteered softly and I froze for a brief moment, before continuing to touch her both casual and sensual. “Years ago, the Navy came up short on recruits to put behind the rudder, so we ended up with a glut of women recruits. Many of them still fly in my amphibious squadron.” There was a pause as she sighed heavily and I looked up at her face, to see that she was years and thousands of miles away. “Something went wrong on one of my first solo flights. All I remember is the canopy exploding. Somehow I survived two days alone at sea, with the plane belly up keeping me out of the water and away from the sharks. I still have the three inch shard of glass they removed from my eye socket.”
Horrified and fascinated, I propped myself onto my elbow and leaned over to press kisses around the patch. “I knew you were some kinda girl.” That gentle comment earned a smile and a curious eyebrow, which I also kissed. “That’s what I told Joe, after you sacrificed your plane and took off for the surface.”
“So that’s what you said,” Franky mused, her smile growing. “I couldn’t quite catch it over the radio, and then we lost contact. Someday you’ll have to tell me exactly what happened on this island.”
“What, you haven’t read the reports?”
“Dry facts do not a story make.”
Now it was my turn to be pleased, that she recognized what I did as a skill, and not some vacuous blonde jotting little stories down for fun. Amazing how that could still hurt…
The flashback didn’t last long, as Franky pulled me down atop her and seduced me again. It was even better this time, the storm of sensation as she caressed me, one of those coveted thighs tucked up between mine, both frustrating and arousing. When she reached down to tickle that spot, I shouted for mercy or more, I couldn’t tell. Too winded to return the favor, I collapsed onto her stronger body and tried to catch my breath. “Good thing it’s raining,” I whispered and she chuckled.
“Sleep now, Polly. Perhaps I will have to see about taking the morning off from duty.”
“Have I mentioned that I really like it when you say my name?” Slurred, sleep only a step away, I was barely comprehensible.
“Polly,” she breathed, stroking my back and head.
And I slept.
Wakefulness came slowly, like the tide climbing the shore. Or the massive printing presses, slowly grinding to life, until the paper whipped past at hurricane speeds on the way to people’s hands. As my mind became aware of the world again, the physical did too. The now-familiar body half beneath me, the press of her breathing into my ribs and chest. And it was hot in here! Almost suffocatingly so. One eye open confirmed that it was, indeed, daylight. The camp hummed around us and my stomach growled in annoyance at its neglect.
“There is some food on the worktable,” Franky murmured, making me jump, and I swatted her hip.
“You keep startling me,” I groused good-naturedly. “So quiet.” Ignoring my hunger for the moment, in pursuit of other delights, I began kissing over the defined shoulders and upper back, my free hand wandering over her curves. “And I so desperately wanted to wake you myself.”
“And why is that?” She asked, quietly amused. In revenge for the teasing, I nipped at her shoulder blade, making her jump and gasp. “Why am I not surprised you’re a biter?”
Growling at her continued ability to cope with the weirdness better than I, my kisses grew almost rough as I pulled at her skin, raked my teeth over her. Pressing her stronger body flat to the mattress, I held her down and went after that coveted back like it was the stomach hunger driving me. One hand still between her shoulder blades, I made it all the way to that fine fanny, egged on by her sounds of approval and arousal. My nails raked up the back of her thigh, while her hips pushed up against my mouth, and her sounds grew ever more guttural.
Slipping into that warm, welcome place, I was pleased to note that she was wet and ready once more.
Life was good.
Nipping an ear, I left Franky panting in recovery, while I sashayed over to the table to see what she’d brought to quiet my stomach. “Ah ha,” I commented wryly, enjoying the show of her nakedness as she rolled over to regard me lazily. “You brought me fruit. How sweet.” Sure, I was being provocative, but if now was not a good time, when was a good time?
“It was worth it, for that little ambush,” she hummed quietly, stretching like a great, dark cat. “Those apples aren’t easy to come by. Our cache is nearly depleted.”
“So, I should share?”
The sexy tease in my tone made Franky smile as I came over, tearing a chunk out of the warm apple with my teeth. Her eyes trailed from my nakedness to where juice ran from the corner of my mouth. Letting her catch the trickle set us off again, until starvation drove us back into clothing and off to the mess hall, trying to swallow lightheaded giggling.
“Well then, lassie,” boomed Bony’s voice and we looked up to see him approach with his ever present shadows. “Beginnin’ to think the commander here ate you!”
My burst of laughter was not at all feigned.
+ + + +
“Come on then, Toto, up” Franky coaxed the little elephant, while I chuckled and continued my work. My lover had taken to training our pet to do tricks. Toto’s incentive was whatever exotic nibbles Franky could scare up, and her small supplies seemed endless. Carrots, apples, even several tins of raisins that Toto was particularly fond of.
“Honestly, she’d do cartwheels for those raisins if she could,” I chuckled while Toto reared up to place both front feet on Franky’s leg, and my woman praised her lavishly and forked up the raisins. Astonishing really, how quickly we had become, well, we. There was a startling ease in living in Franky’s Cook’s pocket, and her in mine. We were well matched in intellect, in wit, in habits. Most of our little free time was spent together, or occasionally with Bony and his crew, as well as a few friends of Franky’s.
It was strange how little anyone questioned my presence. Aside from a few of the ‘uber-men’ in the bunch, and they were a minority, no one questioned me. Even my accent was ignored, unique as it was in this crowd. Best of all, was that the records room was well on its was to organization, and the improvement was noticeable.
Holding the now-empty tin out to Toto, Franky chuckled, “see, there isn’t any more.” Grumbling, Toto pushed at the tin, flipping it over with an indignant foot while Franky stroked her back and rubbed behind her ears. While the elephant concentrated on doing as much damage as she could to the empty container, Franky came to me, kissing my neck as was her custom. I loved it, and rolled my head over to let her do as she would. Humming in contentment at her touch, I allowed my pencil to still so that I could concentrate on her. We’d grow fairly adept at discrete touches and affections. If someone barged in, it would look as though she was merely leaning over my shoulder. So far, the need for stealth did not seem to bother us. Hard to say how much that would change in the future.
“How does dinner and a bit of recreation sound?”
Glancing coyly at her, I smirked, “why, Franky, are you implying that I’m easy?”
“Polly, dear, there is nothing easy about you.”
Flattered, I allowed her to pull me to my feet and kiss me for long moments before we headed out. The camp was making the noises of supper, of the jungle slowly settling into darkness, of the constant rain. There was a nasty storm rolling in, one of many, and tonight would be a loud night. Which was fine by me, because that meant that we could fool around without worrying. Pleased with the itinerary, I followed Franky into the wet dusk.
Only to freeze at the horrible screech that shattered the dismal night. Shouts rose up even as Toto bugled something that was as much challenge as warning. Oh damn, I remembered that noise…
It was one of the draconian monstrosities that had chased Joe and me through the jungle and across that fallen log. Where I’d lost one of my coveted two shots left! Screeching again, the dragon flipped acrobatically in mid-air…
And headed right for Toto.
Over my dead body!
Without thinking, I bent to scoop up handfuls of the ever-present mud and hurried to place myself between the monster and my pet. Praying that Toto had moved out of relative danger, I watched the vast, leathery wings and let instinct take over.
It was close enough that I could see its pupils clearly, the shades of mottled gray and brown and red that made up that dangerous maw, the flash of claws at wing and foot. Franky screamed something, a shot rang out, and the monster flinched this a dog with fleas.
Heaving the thick mud into the dragon’s eyes, I dropped flat and hoped the claws missed me, feeling the leading edge of those great wings yank at my hair as I dropped. Fire lanced up my right thigh as I wrapped my hands around my head, mud around my face and ears, the monster shrieking so that it sounded angry and outraged. Something smacked my hands hard enough to shove me head deeper into the muck and make my knuckles smart something fierce.
Even through the gunk in my ears, I heard the terrific crash of the monster into the living quarters I shared with Franky, and prayed that it missed the stone walls beside the wood and canvas structure with its dented metal roof. Screaming in agony over the roar of gunfire, the monster fought and struggled, while, for once, I was smart enough to keep my head down.
Hands I knew even through the blinding mud and bright pain, pried me loose, scraping away the gunk from mouth, nose, eyes, ears. Coughing, I clung to Franky, spluttering, “Toto!”
“Find Toto!” She shouted in her authoritative tone, and the babble of voices and the arriving storm drowned out the dying sounds of the creature. The rain washed away the clinging mud, and Franky held me close while chaos swirled around us. Finally, Bony’s voice came to me as my blurry eyes braved the storm and lingering mud.
“Aye, Polly, we found her, smartly cowered up ‘gainst the side of the records hut.”
Rumbling in fear and stress, Toto was set in my lap, where we could reassure one another, and I cried in relief, clinging to Franky. My odd little family was still intact.
+ + + +
Franky had been so angry when she realized that the flying creature had clawed me. While Anastasia dosed me with painkillers and scrubbed out the awful gouge, Franky had ranted and carried on about how foolish I’d been. Too drugged and weary to argue, I’d just gotten blue at upsetting her, until Franky buried her face in my matted hair and groaned about how scared she’d been that she might have lost me.
Understandably, I forgave the yelling.
A couple of days of doing little more than sleeping and getting coddled by Franky and Anastasia, had me feeling pretty decent and growing bored. Toto had enjoyed getting her place back by my ear, as she’d long since given up vying for space with Franky, and we were both more than ready to go outside. Despite the ache and burn of the deep, jagged tear up the back of my thigh, I was willing to brave the walk just to get out of here. The first trip was Franky under one arm, Anastasia the other, while I ranted and cursed the world in general with a colorful vocabulary that had them both chuckling. My reward was getting to use the toilet on my own, not that awful bedpan.
After that exhausting experience, they left me alone to rest.
“Well, well, well,” came an utterly unexpected voice, and I was jerked out of my half-doze. “Rumor has it that you’ve become quite the hero.”
“Joe,” was all I could manage to say, too shocked to be verbose. Smiling faintly, he pushed away from the door frame and sat on the stool beside my recovery bed. “What on earth are you doing here?”
“Dex,” he explained simply and shrugged. But there was something in his eye that spoke of a startling revelation that I knew Franky had put in my own baby blues. Interesting. “He modified my new plane again, and managed to pack in some fairly hefty hardware that he wanted to bring here to help you out. Needless to say, I couldn’t say no.”
It was so strange to see this ex-lover, this man I honestly thought I loved. I think there was part of me that still did. How strange was that? “It’s good to see you, Joe.”
“Same here, Polly.”
And here was the awkwardness that I’d been expected, growing thick between us. Thankfully, Dex chose that moment to burst in, all happy smiles. “Polly! I’m so proud! Took down that thing all by yourself, and unarmed to boot!”
“Dex,” I grinned happily accepting his bent-over hug, and a bubblegum-scented kiss on the cheek. “What do you mean?”
Franky materialized in the doorway, smiling lovingly, and my heart caught. “What he means, is that dragon thing was as good as dead long before we opened fire. The wreckage of my tent had ensured that. Astonishing, really, how much damage a few broken timbers and a corrugated metal roof can do.”
“Sorry,” I cringed, knowing most of our things had been in there. “I just had to save Toto.”
“And so you did,” she complimented and came over to stand with Dex and rest a hand on my foot. “Don’t you worry about the tent. There was nothing in there that I can’t live without.”
Melting with affection, I took a moment to realize that Dex was practically wiggling with excitement. “You have news.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Yeah, yeah,” he enthused. “Franky here told me that the dragon changed direction mid-air when Toto called out. So, I figure, it recognized the sound as prey, right? So, it has to have hunted something like her before, and that means that there are other tiny elephants in the jungle.”
“Wait,” I interrupted, stunned. “What do you mean, other elephants?”
“We’ve trapped seven already,” Franky said simply, stunning me. “The units sent out to find the rest should be back in camp before nightfall.”
“See,” Dex went on in his enthusiastic, single-minded way. “Elephants make subsonic sounds that travel through the ground, that are way too low in pitch for us to hear. So, I built a receiver that picks those frequencies up. Give me a few weeks, and we’ll have every elephant on the island captured so that they’re safe. Hey, you hungry?” The sudden change in subject made me blink. “That dragon’s actually pretty tasty.”
And that was how I came by my first taste of dragon stew, a bowlful that Franky had kindly saved from the ravenous masses. The Flying Legion had braved the most recent storm on Dex’s request, bringing fresh supplies and strong bodies to help out in the camp. From the jungle came nearly twenty mature female elephants, who fascinated Toto to no end, and several aggressive little bulls, as well as a full dozen calves of various ages. They were all slightly larger than my friend, and it was shocking to see all their miniature gray bodies in the large pen constructed for them.
The bones of my foe were mostly gone, just a few massive curves of white, with most of the gore gone from the gleaming white surface. The way they tangled with the remaining shards of broken wood and twisted metal made me realize just how hard the huge creature had smashed into our former home. “Eeww,” was my comment, and Franky laughed, her hand comforting and kind in the small of my back.
The records room was fixed up, including a door in it’s ruined side, and the bulk of the damage to the papers were accommodated. When I peeked in through the doorway from the new, larger quarters for Franky and I, there were many papers neatly hung from line like so much odd laundry. The new quarters were wooden, a heavy structure with whole chunks of wall that would fold back like shutters for air circulation. There was a roughly made desk with a fan on it, and honest to goodness fan. It was quite the luxury after all this time. There were bookshelves with a few of my favorite tomes places neatly and completely out of order, and I hugged Franky. “Remind me to thank those boys.”
“They brought quite a few of your things, actually,” she commented, returning the embrace. “And Dex promised a few more items from civilization when he returns. My superiors are sending one of the mobile platforms back soon. It should arrive in a few weeks, and that will give you a chance to condense the reports down to something coherent.” There was a knock on the door, and Franky didn’t let go as she hollered for them to come in.
Several of the Flying Legion soldiers looked at us peculiarly, and Joe would hardly glance over, but Dex was grinning like a kid on Christmas to see us so cuddly. I matched the grin when the man who was like my little brother held up his prize. “My typewriter!”
“Sure thing,” Dex chuckled, all to pleased with himself and carefully placed the machine on the desk. “Paley was none to pleased when I barged in and cleaned out your office, but gave in when I told him I was bringing them to you.”
The mention of my editor’s name pleased me and my voice came out wry. “I suppose that he wants stories in exchange?”
Joe set down a padded chair, that had an odd-looking covering instead of the customary leather. “Rubber,” he explained simply. “For this climate.”
There were several trunks, and heavy wooden crates that made satisfying ‘clunks’ on the hollow floor. Bet those were more books. “You ought to be more at home now,” Franky said quietly as she helped me hobble to the bed and carefully sit. Grumbling and cursing under my breath as the long slice in the back of my thigh objected, I settled.
Holding her head close to my shoulder, I whispered, “you’re here, and that’s good enough for me. Though I certainly can’t complain about what they’ve brought.”
“That should do it,” Dex said with satisfaction. “You two good for now?” We nodded and he shooed the others out, only Joe lingering. It was an odd moment, Franky and I facing the two men, her hand on my shoulder, looped possessively around the back of my neck. Something confused and amused flashed in Joe’s gaze.
“Never thought you two would get along.”
The words weren’t nearly as challenging as they could have been, and I found myself chuckling. “More than just ‘get along’.” A startled squawk accompanied Franky’s jumping in surprise as I slid my hand up her leg to pinch that fine fanny. That broke up any tension and hugs were passed around. I whispered in Dex’s ear, “take care of him, he needs you.” Dex only grinned knowingly.
Then, at long last, my lover came to me, her curvy body, her beautiful accent and kind heart my home now. Despite the pain in my leg, and the constant noise of all the new elephants, that night I was with my family and I slept well.
Here are some of the steps that went into this tale, just in case anyone cares.
February 19th, the highlights of the original email from Mosca, and my initial reactions, that are immortalized in my live journal:
Please don't share your recipient's identity or the details of your assignment with anyone except your beta readers.
Please use a beta.
If your story isn't posted on the due date and we do not hear from you, we will assign a backup. Stories are due April 4th. You'll receive reminders on March 15th and March 30th.
Here's your assignment:
Name/LJ Name: Joanne joanne_c
Listed fandoms I request:
1. CSI Vegas: Sara Sidle/Terri Miller
2. Harry Potter: Tonks/Fleur or Ginny/Fleur
3. Desperate Housewives RPF: Marcia Cross/Nicolette Sheridan
Wildcard fandoms I request:
1. Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow: Polly Perkins/Franky (Francesca) Cook
2. Smallville: Martha Kent/Lana Lang
3. RPF: Marianne Faithfull/Anita Pallenberg
Mosca and k
Love the 'use a beta'. Good for Mosca and cronies for kicking some ass about that. So, let's look at my choices, shall we? 1: Sara's good, but who the hell is Terri Miller? 2: Completely disillusioned with HP, so no go. 3: Not if you threatened me with a running chainsaw, and I'm insulted that it's a RPS to boot. *grumble* Now, the Wildcard fandoms. 1: Now, this has possibilities. 2: Eeew! Need I say more? 3: Sorry, I refuse to even give RPS a second glance, as it could get my sorry ass in JAIL.
The winner? Polly and Franky, of course. Not like I had much of a choice! Honestly, I dimly remember signing up for that pairing. We had to sign up for what we would write, and what we wanted from others. So, AJ and Lex (waves) have been sucked in to help.
February 22nd, email to my fave pup, lextenou. The document was attached:
Okay, so I was chugging along peachy keen on POW, when it just didn't ring right anymore, y'know? So, I started over, and I'm very pleased with this 2nd try. Started it yesterday, slept on it, worked morning shift, came home and pounded out like 6 pages in just a few hours. Inspiration is a glorious thing.
For some reason, I'm fascinated by little Toto. The idea of a foot-tall elephant (if that) is irresistible, and I've had a crap-load of fun with her. The rest of the tale just sort of rolled from the brain in a series of vignettes that followed a loose plot line. Not at all what I was originally expected or visualized, but this off-the-cuff suits Polly's POV oh-so-well.
And my favorite IM exchange with Lex, while I was writing:
[13:46] shatterpath: WHOOP! the creativity reawakens!
[13:46] Lex: whoop!
[13:46] shatterpath: *happy dance*
[13:46] shatterpath: no frakking clue where this is going, but DAMN, it’s fascinating
[13:46] Lex: no shit!
[13:47] shatterpath: how the HELL did Polly freakin’ Perkins get to be so interesting?
[13:47] shatterpath: *shakes head*
[13:47] Lex: seriously @.@
My final beta was completed on March 30th.
The ending, with the boys, was unexpected, but I really wanted to go back to the movie, and show the contrast of canon vs what I’ve done. The herd of miniature elephants was Amy’s fault (as was the attacking dragon), and a humorous tip of the hat to the movie as well. Originally, the girls were to go into the jungle and find a great, hollow crag of rock that contained a massive, miniature African grassland, complete with the entire food chain. There’s a Chevy Impala commercial that features a little tiny silver impala bouncing around the interior of the car, and it’s exactly the right size for my mini savanna. Makes me chuckle every time I see it. So, tiny little lions the size of small rats, and two-foot tall giraffes. Little acacia trees the size of shrubs. And with that image, and our heroes living happily ever after, I bid thee adieu.