Summer of '98: Long Hot Summer Night

Written by Valeria

The "Jenny Wehr" referred to in Part One is a real-life detective, mentioned in passing in David Simon's book. FYI. Special thanks to Rachel and Marti for beta reading, Dorinda for first-posting commentary and Tom Fontana for giving me someplace to put my hate. All of it. This story takes place one month after the event of Fallen Heroes.

DISCLAIMER: Characters property of NBC and Baltimore Pictures. Lyrics from "Long Hot Summer Night" property of Jimi Hendrix. No profit made.

Needless to say, feedback is very welcome...

"Hello," says my shaky voice
"Well, how you doing?"
I start to stutter—"Can't you tell I'm doing fine?"
It was my baby talking—she's way down across the water
She says, "I'm gonna hurry to you, I've been a fool,
And I'm tired of crying..."

He threw open the apartment door and staggered inside, letting the blessedly cool air wash over him as he yanked his half-loosened tie entirely off. His companion followed suit, reaching into her blouse and rubbing a fretful hand over her sweaty collarbone as she sank onto the couch. They sat there, side by side, not speaking for several moments.

Finally, he shook his head in disbelief. "Jesus Christ." He sank both hands into his scalp, clutching at his sweat-soaked salt-and-pepper hair. "Jesus fucking Christ almighty..."

She silently agreed. A twelve-hour shift, plus overtime, in a building with a broken A/C, most of the windows and doors sealed shut...this settled it, the bosses were indeed trying to kill them all. The sex crimes division up on the fifth floor was just as unbearable, if not more so, than homicide; the only thing worse than trying to interview a six-year-old rape victim was having to do it in that furnace. Her skin was prickly with heat, her face nearly as red as her hair.

"I'm gonna die," Munch continued. "Either that, or stroke out like Frank did. I'm too fucking old to deal with weather like can you stand it? All that hair, in this heat?"

Kay shrugged, tilting her head against the sofa cushions. She kicked her shoes off, wriggling her bare toes. "I can put it up if it bothers me, huh? You're just as bad off, anyway, short hair or not."

He nodded in fervent agreement. "I'm not kidding, Kay, I'm gonna die. No two ways around wanna split that half-bottle of ginger ale I've been saving for a special occasion? I gotta go grocery shopping one of these weeks here..."

"I'll get it," said Kay, half-rising from the couch.

Munch took her arm, drawing her back down. "You look ready to burst into flames. Stay on the couch, it's fire-retardant..." He disappeared into the kitchen.

Kay gratefully settled back, closing her eyes as she listened to the opening of the refrigerator door and the clinking of glasses. She accepted the ginger ale, her eyes still closed, and had already gulped half of it down by the time he resumed his own place on the couch. Sighing heavily, he pressed the cool glass against his forehead before taking a long sip.

"They are planning on fixing the air conditioning, right?" he finally demanded. "Or are they just gonna lock us in and let us roast to death?"

"They're gonna let us roast," she replied, placing her nearly empty glass on the coffee table. "It's Barnfather's new plan to cut back on did they finally find someone to replace Kellerman? And the others?"

Munch took another lengthy drink; his body temperature finally seemed to be inching downward. "You mean, am I getting another partner who'll disappear into the ether as soon as we get a rhythm going? Damned if I know. But yeah, they're bringing in a bunch of new people." He looked at her sidewise. "DeSilva, for one. Yeah, I'm gonna get to work with my very best friend—Kay, don't you laugh or I swear, I'll pour the rest of this on your head."

Kay bit her lip, but a chortle escaped anyway. "He's a good detective, huh? Rotated through sex crimes a while back, did a great job—"

"Yeah. Sure," he said shortly, ignoring her amused expression. "I'm counting the minutes. And someone named Wehr, from the bomb squad? Jenny Wehr?"

Kay shook her head; the name didn't ring a bell. "Whatever," Munch shrugged. "She can't be any worse than Ballard. Or the other one."

He frowned to himself, remembering.

They were all careless, cavalier, with their guns—left them in their desks, left them on their desks, went driving off to crime scenes blissfully unaware they were disarmed. So it hardly mattered exactly whose gun, left unattended in whose desk drawer, that Junior Bunk had grabbed. And pointed straight into Munch's face, as he sat there typing up a report. The whole world had gotten very quiet, save for the roaring in his ears. He sat perfectly still, unmoving, staring at the gun barrel and waiting to die.

Instead, Bunk had swung his arm away, aiming for a group of uniforms across the room. Gharty. Ballard. Munch had stayed right where he was at his desk, perfectly calm as he got out his own gun and fired. He missed. It was either Bayliss or Kellerman who had nailed the little bastard, from his vantage point he hadn't been able to tell which...

Why hadn't Bunk just fired at him? Why was he sitting here now, drinking ginger ale in his living room, instead of lying six feet under with a vaporized skull in one of Bernie's coffins? What had changed Bunk's mind?

And Ballard--with her own partner flat on the ground and three dead uniforms right behind her--screeching like a stuck pig about her fucking foot. Her and Falsone, that insufferable little prick. Sitting in the break room, solemnly pontificating on how *he*, Falsone, could just go about his work as if nothing had happened, unlike the other, inferior creatures in the squad...little fucking asshole. He hated, *hated* them both. Thank God they were gone—Ballard pulling a Russert, flying back to Seattle the minute she could hop around on crutches, and Falsone dispatched by the rotation gods to check fraud. Thank God. DeSilva and Wehr could be tap-dancing otters, and they'd be better police than that pair of shits...

A touch on his arm interrupted his thoughts; Kay was gazing at him in concern, head tilted to the side. "You okay, Munchkin?"

*Stan was right*, he mused. *I was born with a horseshoe up my ass.*

He shrugged. He didn't like talking about this, or thinking about it. "Fine."

She didn't believe him, but didn't know what to say. She nodded.

A police siren sounded suddenly, cutting into the quiet; Munch laughed bleakly, putting his hands to his head. "Go *away*..."

"Amen." Kay curled up on the sofa, legs tucked beneath her. "We're going nuts up there--you'd think people wouldn't have the energy to rape someone in this weather. Got perverts coming out of the woodwork."

Munch shook his head. "Rather just deal with dead bodies. Even though this heat makes everything all the do I phrase this delicately? Fragrant." He drained his glass, sticking it on the table next to hers. "More ginger ale? Sambuca? Jim Jones Kool-Aid?"

"Nah, I'm fine." She looked out the small living room window; between the slats of the blinds, the lights of Fells Point looked hazy and undefined. "John?"


She ran a hand through her hair, looking a little nervous. "I, uh...Lieutenant McClendon told me today. They want me back in homicide."

Munch stared at her, then broke into a grin. "Kay, that's *fantastic*!" He grabbed her in an expansive hug. "Jesus Christ, things are actually becoming sane again. That's wonderful, honey..."

Her silence made him draw back a little. "It is wonderful. Right?"

She hesitated. He gazed at her uncertainly, his arms still around her.

"I don't know," she finally said. "I mean, I don't know if I'm going back."

Munch let go of her, his expression changing from concern to bewilderment. "But Kay...why? I mean, you *belong* in homicide. Homicide's the best--at least, it's supposed to be the best. That's what you are." He pulled away a little. "And you got screwed. We all knew that, Kay--"

"Don't." She put up a hand, trying to fend him off.

"Kay, it's the truth. You belong in homicide. They *owe* you this. And if you hadn't been transferred, a lot of this shit might never have happened. Maybe most of it. You know this."

"So what good does it do now?" She could hear her voice rising; she was angry, and not at Munch. "I mean, what now? I—"

She stopped short, then spoke more quietly. "So I do my job, right, John? So I'm good. I get promoted, I make detective. So I'm good at that. A few years go by, I make homicide. So I'm good at that, even with a whole lot of men telling me I'm no good at all--let me finish," she said, as he opened his mouth to protest. "So I go for sergeant. And I'm good at that.

"And I spend all that time—all those years--workin' with Gee, dealing with cases, all the political shit, carrying his water, running interference between him and the bosses, and what do I get? I get too uppity. That's how he sees it. So I get transferred. And now that all the *men* and that little Seattle secretary with a gun that he hired fuck up, I'm just supposed to come back and help with the housecleaning? Just come back and pitch in like nothing happened?"

Munch looked down at his hands, sighing heavily. "Kay--"

"John—" She shook her head. "Look, I know you think you understand, but you don't. All right? You can't." There was no anger in her voice, only a tired resignation. "I mean--what I mean is, the standards are different. Always have been. And it doesn't matter what I do. And it doesn't matter what I bring to the job."

She turned away, shaking her head in frustration. "It's not fair."

Munch put a hand on her shoulder; she let him pull her gently towards him.

"You're right," he said softly. "It's not fair. None of it is. But what is punishing yourself gonna prove, Kay? Who is that gonna hurt?"

Kay bit her lip. She studied the hand on her shoulder, the softly caressing fingers. "John...I don't know what I *should* do, huh? I don't."

"Are you scared?"

Her head came up sharply. "What do you mean? Huh? That I'm scared of facing all you guys again? I can--"

Unruffled, he patted her shoulder. "That's not what I mean...I mean, are you scared that it'll happen again? That they're setting you up for another fall?"

This was what got to her sometimes about Munch. Beneath all the jokes, the jibes, the barbs, the kneejerk outbursts of vitriol--a startling perceptiveness, the ability to zero in immediately on a thought or feeling she wasn't even yet able to couch in words. It scared her a little, sometimes; the idea of someone else being able to read her so well.

"I don't know," she answered. "I don't want it to matter, but..."

She trailed off. He nodded silently, hearing what she didn't say.

"So I'm still 'you guys,' " he said, the lightness in his tone not reaching his eyes. "Huh?"

Kay drew close to him again, looking into his eyes for a long moment, then pressed her mouth to his. As his lips gently parted hers, one hand slipped beneath her blouse, trailing across the smooth warmth of her back before she finally broke away.

"Don't ask stupid questions," she said, with a crooked smile.

When he reached for her again, she unceremoniously slid to the other end of the couch: "What're you doing? It's hot." She studied him out of the corner of her eye, ignoring the martyred sigh.

"Besides, if I go back, we'll have to figure out how to keep people from finding out about this. Right?"

He looked back at her, his expression guarded. "Actually...maybe not."

"What do you mean?"

Munch took his glasses off, polishing them against his dangling shirttail; an obvious bid for time. He hadn't meant to bring this subject up just now, but it had as good as announced itself. "I've been thinking about leaving."

Her eyebrows shot up. "Leaving? You mean like, retiring leaving?"

He nodded, replacing his glasses. "Yeah. Taking my pension, such as it is, and getting the hell out. I don't know. It's seeming like a better and better idea--especially lately."

Kay moved a little closer. "What would you do?" she asked.

He shrugged. "There's the bar--somebody's gotta start doing the regular upkeep there. Between Bayliss being laid up and Lewis and me pulling double shifts every week, the place is falling apart. Other than that...I don't know. I mean, I can't—"

He took his glasses off again, studying them intently for random flecks of dust. "Kay, I think I've just about had it, you know? I--forget it. It doesn't matter."

She reached for the glasses and pulled them away, placing them on the coffee table, and took his hands in hers.

"John, you can't just pretend it didn't happen, huh?" she said quietly. "It did. You almost died--"

Munch shook his head emphatically. "No, *I* didn't almost die--Bayliss almost did, and Gharty almost did. And three other guys actually did, right in front of me. Almost right under my fucking nose." His voice was trembling, the words coming faster and faster. "And you, Stan, Beau--almost dying, right in front of me. And Kellerman getting shot, right in front of me. I'm like some kind of walking, talking bad luck spell, Kay, I feel like I'm jinxing people everywhere I--"

She clasped his fingers harder, looking right into his eyes. "John, that psychotic fuck put a gun right in your face. The only reason you're not dead is he *decided* not to shoot you. Like that was *his* choice to make. You almost died. That's the truth of it. And you're not a jinx, huh? You're not."

He studied an imaginary spot on the opposite wall. "Yes, I am, Kay," he said, his voice calm but filled with a dull, unshakable conviction. "Yes, I am."

Kay swallowed hard. She couldn't speak for a moment.

She still had nightmares about it. She had been on the stationhouse steps, en route to chewing out a particularly inept uniform who managed to lose a entire file of photographs. She was somewhere between the third and second floor when it happened: the shots, the screaming, the smashing of glass, twenty seconds that stretched into a horrible eternity. She had gone running down the stairs three at a time, papers flying, gun drawn--as if she could have done anything, barreling in like some B-movie vigilante--reaching the second floor too late. It was all over, and it would never end.

She had walked very slowly into the darkened squadroom, as unmarked as a ghost. Shattered glass everywhere. Blood. Bodies motionless on the floor. Sharon, the shift secretary, hysterical in a corner. Bayliss, standing by the lockers, white-faced and almost laughing with horror. Pembleton, in the center of the room, unashamedly weeping. And frozen at his desk, John Munch, staring straight ahead of him with an expression she would never forget. She ran to him, not caring who saw; hollow-eyed, he clung to her without speaking.

It was Bayliss who told her what had happened, who told her what had almost happened to Munch. She stood there, holding him close as he just sat staring straight ahead; wordless, his face blank, he clutched her like a frightened child. It was Tim's shooting that had made Munch finally break down and cry, terrible racking sobs against her shoulder as they sat in the Johns Hopkins parking lot.

Her hand reached out and stroked his cheek.

"Listen to me," she said levelly. "The only jinx around that squadroom is the bosses and their shit decisions. You understand me? Who decided to bust up the squad? Who let this Mahoney thing get out of hand? Who let Falsone walk around actin' like he was Serpico? Who let Junior Bunk get hold of that goddamned gun?"


"Huh? Who did that? Was it *you*? 'Cause if it wasn't--" She shook her head in disgust. "What's with you tonight, anyway? I'm supposed to be the superstitious one."

He shrugged bitterly. "If the shoe fits..."

Kay's fingers traced the outline of his lips; she rested her forehead against his. "You think I'd be sitting here if you really were bad luck?" she whispered. "You—" She broke off, shrugging apologetically. "I can't talk like you can about this stuff. It sounds stupid coming out of my mouth—"

"No, it doesn't."

Kay sighed. *Yes, it does.*

"You're my luck, John. My good luck. You're the best luck I've had in a long time."

He drew back, studying her face, her utterly serious eyes. His own eyes closed, hard, and he kissed her until she was breathless. Finally, she pulled away just a little, still in his arms.

Kay rubbed her cheek against his shoulder. "You're too close to this to be thinking straight," she said. "You had a horrible thing happen to you...and one month later, you've got it all figured out and put away? No. You're still too close to it, John. It's not the time."

She smoothed his hair, still standing on end from where her fingers had run through it. "It's not the time," she repeated.

He nodded silently.

"Tell me what I should do," he said, his voice calmer.

Kay shook her head. "Can't do that, darling...and you can't decide that right now, either."

He looked up at her again, blinking a little myopically. "But you can decide you're not going back to homicide, right now."

"I don't..." She sighed. "I don't know what I should do, either. I'm too hot, too tired..."

"Long day," he said. He put his arm around her shoulders, nestling her head against his chest.

"Long, long day," she agreed. They sat there together, not speaking, the subject dropped by silent, mutual consent. She rested against him, lost in her own thoughts.

Those first few months after her abrupt transfer from homicide--a transfer which she *knew* had nothing to do with the new rotation policy--she had told herself she didn't care. Everything was fine, everything was the same as it had ever been and they could all fuck themselves. She was going to be relegated to planning Beau's funeral while the big boys handled the case? Fine. If that's how it was gonna be, they could have it.

She poured all her fury into her work, not caring that she had become snappish, distant, isolated. She had always been isolated, after all, and not by choice; if it was to be that much more blatant now, then fine. She avoided everyone from the homicide division, stayed away from the Waterfront, rebuffed any and all attempts at friendly overtures. She didn't want anything. She didn't need anyone.

And then one day she woke up and the reality of what had happened to Beau Felton, her partner, her friend, sent her barreling headlong into a brick wall.

She kept up a good front. She always kept up a good front. Inside, she could feel pieces of herself dying, slowly. She looked into mirrors and was sure she could see herself disappearing. It was eating her inside, slowly eating her alive. And finally, she couldn't stand it anymore.

She didn't ask herself why it was Munch she had sought out, why she found herself at the nearly deserted Waterfront on that August night; she couldn't have begun to answer that question, not then. But he was there, alone behind the bar, and his unfeigned delight at the sight of her drew her in when her greatest impulse was to turn and run.

She was there that night long after the bar had closed, letting Munch hold her as she sobbed out all her grief and fury at what had happened to Beau, to her. He let her cry; he let her talk and shout and rage for what felt like forever. He listened. And she felt the horrible weight that had taken up permanent residence inside her begin to ease, just a little. A onetime lapse of judgment, never to be repeated...but to have someone to unburden herself to, just once, was an indescribable relief. Just that once.

Then a few nights later, she found herself back there again. And she found him there again, alone behind the bar, looking almost as if he were waiting for her.

They sat together after closing time for many nights, talking quietly, avoiding anything to do with their present working lives. She could tell he wasn't happy with the changes in homicide, but she didn't demand details. He was obviously dying to ask a thousand questions, but he held back. They talked about old partners, now gone. Old friends. Old loves. Secrets, and fears, and sorrows, and dreams. Of all the people in the world she could have so confided in...why him? That was another question she didn't ask.

Then one night, as she was preparing to leave, he leaned across the table where they sat and kissed her.

She wasn't entirely surprised; she had long suspected his feelings for her were deeper than either of them wanted to acknowledge. What took her by complete surprise was that she found herself kissing him back, drinking in his touch, his smell, the taste of his mouth against her own. He had pulled away first, breathing hard, his eyes full of fear. It was that fear--that naked vulnerability, that *longing*--that shocked her most of all.

They kissed each other again, more sweetly, more deeply. She waited patiently as he put chairs up on tables, shut off all the lights, went through the entire ritual of closing up; then they walked wordlessly to his car, drove to his apartment and made love as if their lives depended on it.

It was early the next morning, as Kay watched him sleep, that she decided she didn't know why, might never really know why--and she didn't care. She only wanted to know the how. How they might make this last. How they might give this to each other forever.

That was what a good murder police said anyway, wasn't it? *Fuck the why. Gimme the how, and I'll get the who.* Damned if it wasn't true...

"What's so funny?" he demanded, feeling her laughing softly against his chest.

"Nothing," Kay said, extricating herself from his embrace and walking up to the window. "Just thinking." She stretched her arms over her head, her hands making fists. "It's so goddamned hot..."

As casually as if she were alone, she unbuttoned her blouse, easing it from her shoulders, and pulled off her trousers. She reached behind her and unhooked the clasp on her bra, tossing it onto the small pile of clothing. Rubbing at the red mark the elastic had left beneath her breasts, she stared out the window, pretending not to feel his eyes on her.

Munch didn't say anything. Slowly, he rose from the couch and walked toward her, pausing briefly to pull off his own shoes and socks. Keeping her back to him, she smiled a little as he reached from behind her and shut the half-open window blind completely; then his hands rested on her shoulders, turning her around to face him.

She shrugged, and smiled again. "Penny for your thoughts..."

The little wisenheimer grimace, softened by desire. He stared into her eyes; he studied their color, so dark that he had to look closely to find the delineation of iris and pupil. His fingers trailed slowly from her cheekbones downward; she closed her eyes as he touched her with soft, insistent caresses, tracing small circles on her bare breasts, rubbing the nipples with gentle fingertips.

His lips found the tender spot behind her ear; Kay's arms held him close, pressing one hand to the back of his head as he left kisses along the line of her throat. Her breathing quickened, and he let out a long, contented sound as one of her hands reached for his belt buckle, undoing his trousers expertly and freeing his hardening cock. Munch moved rhythmically against the sweet pressure of the fingers that cupped him, then drew back; he wanted this to last.

They kissed hungrily, their tongues twining together, savoring the wet warmth of each other's mouths as Kay made short work of the buttons on Munch's shirt, yanked his trousers down; he kicked them aside and began gently pushing her to her knees.

As they knelt facing each other on the rug, their breathing now audibly harsh, she pressed her mouth to a nipple, nibbling slowly, running her tongue along the tightening surface. He sank his fingers into her hair, squirming delightedly under the touch. She had discovered early on how much he liked this, a predilection that still made him a little self-conscious...patiently, she moved from one to the other and back again, scraping her teeth lightly across them, enjoying the rapid rise and fall of his chest, the arch of his back.

Munch put his face to Kay's scalp, letting the smell of her hair fill his nostrils; a sweet, clean scent, like some rare and delicate rose. That's what she was, his rose...she hated that kind of talk, at least she said she did. He twined his fingers in that hair and pulled her head back, drinking in the sight of her half-open wet mouth, her eyes gone even darker with lust.

He could scarcely believe this sometimes, even now; it still seemed like some wonderful absurd dream that she would let him touch her like this, beg him to enter her, tell him she loved him. He only cursed himself that he hadn't had the cojones to say something when they danced together in the empty Waterfront, that night years ago...

He took her hands in his own, kissing the fingertips, then lowered her to the rug, still on her knees, head arching backwards and arms held above her head.

He was fully naked now, his erect cock rubbing against her thigh, but he would not take her panties off. He teased her, pulling thoughtfully at the elastic, cupping his free hand around her buttocks, easing his fingers inside the thin cloth. His mouth latched onto one breast as he caressed her, laughing softly when he felt how wet she was; two of his fingers slid inside her, moving slowly, finding exactly the right spot and stroking, pressing, as his other hand firmly grasped her wrists.

Kay fought to get her hands free, to get rid of that last, unbearably constraining item of clothing, but he simply tightened his grip and stroked her more insistently. Her eyes squeezed shut and she bit down hard on her lip, trying to smother the moan forming deep within her chest. They embarrassed her, the sounds she made when he touched her; they made her feel like she was performing, like none of it was real, and it was wonderfully, beautifully real, he had to know that somehow...

Still suckling at Kay's breast, Munch slowly pushed a third finger inside of her. He spread the fingers, gently stretching her as his thumb rubbed against her swollen clitoris, and was rewarded by the sudden upward thrust of her hips, her helpless gasp of pleasure. He loved the sounds she made, sweet throaty noises without the slightest bit of fakery; they sang to him. They gave him dark, luscious ideas.

Letting his lips drag slowly, wetly across her skin, he moved his mouth to her other breast, his fingers continuing their lovely torment as Kay twisted beneath him, her low, wordless pleas escaping from between stubbornly clenched teeth. Finally, when she thought she couldn't stand it any longer, Munch released her hands and swiftly slid her panties off, straightening out her bent, cramping legs before burying his face between them.

As his tongue slicked across the warm, salty folds, the tip delving into every delicate concavity, she abandoned any effort at restraint and moaned out loud. He lapped at her feverishly, luxuriating in the feel of her fingers clutching his hair, the sound of her cries, the rich earthy taste of her. Sitting up now, pressing Munch's head hard against her, Kay drank in the sight of his shoulder and back muscles gone rigid and shining with sweat, his whole body trembling in the effort to hold back.

She was so close now, she could feel the small, delicious warning tremors radiating through her body; she released her hold on Munch and he lifted his head, a desperate entreaty in his eyes. "Kay," he gasped, "I--"

She pushed him back a little and, breathing hard, started to slide beneath his body; she couldn't wait any more either, she needed him inside her now. As he knelt between her legs, spreading them wider with a rough possessiveness that made her heart pound, one of her own hands tortured his chest, nails dragging across the nipples and pulling them hard; the other squeezed his cock until he almost shrieked with the painful pleasure of it. Another thing he liked, would rather die than actually admit he liked...Kay laughed out loud, a laugh that became a groan of satisfaction as Munch entered her and thrust, hard.

"Oh, God," he moaned, and thrust again, penetrating her, sheathed in a tight, silky wetness that made his head spin. "Kay--"

"Yes," she whispered fiercely, wrapping her legs around his, holding him a willing prisoner against her body. "Please, yes."

The entire world had melted away; nothing else mattered now, nothing but this. "God, I--" He couldn't think anymore, he couldn't do anything but try to get as deep inside of her as he could and stay there, forever.

"Yes, like that, *please,* John..."

His eyes were shut tight, seeing nothing, nothing but her; her hands reached up past the clenched muscles of his back, fingers gripping his hair as his thrusts became faster, arrhythmic. His breath was loud and ragged, matching her own cries word for word as they moved together, closer, past any point of return...

"Kay--oh, God, I want you so much, baby--"

"I--John, I want you too, don't stop--"


"*Ohhhhhh!* Oh, God, don't stop, please—*John*!"

"Oh God, Kay, *oh, God*--"

His body was out of his own control, a marionette jerking frantically, all of its strings pulled taut. He felt her thrashing against him, sobbing with release, heard her let out an ecstatic scream as he thrust furiously, convulsively into her; a high, shameless howl of delight left his own throat as a white light flooded his tightly closed eyes and he exploded inside of her.

They lay there together on the rug, wrapped tightly against each other, not wanting the contact of skin on skin to end. Hungry still, Kay wriggled against Munch's body. Panting hard, his hair mussed and falling into his eyes, he raised himself a little on his elbows and, looking down into Kay's face, again slipped his fingers between her legs and began stroking her. Fervently, she pushed herself back and forth against him; her flesh was enervated, energized, and soon she was shaking violently, pressing her face to his chest as she shuddered and came again.

Munch cradled her head gently against his shoulder, smiling to himself as he listened to her breathing gradually slow and go quiet. He examined his fingertips, sticky with her and with himself, then put them to her lips; she licked them fastidiously clean, then deliberately reached up and caught his mouth. Eagerly he wrapped his tongue around Kay's, tasting the strange, musky bitterness, then settled against her again, his cheek touching hers. He let out a long, contented sigh.

"Mmm," Kay said softly, midway between an actual word and an exhalation of breath. Munch rubbed his cheek against her face; she felt the pleasing rasp of his five o'clock shadow. She twined her fingers in his coarse hair, gone damp and tangled from their exertions.

"So how do women do that, anyway?" he murmured.

"Do what?" The air felt deliciously cool on her sweaty skin; her exhaustion had given way to a pleasant sleepiness.

"Do do they come a dozen times in a row. That's what."

Kay shrugged, blushing a little, and rubbed her fingertips briskly against his scalp. "I don't know. Just happens."

A sweet, sated smile. "If I could do that, I'd never leave the house."

She laughed, and tweaked his earlobe.

"It's true--I wouldn't," he repeated drowsily. "Bunch of little Energizer bunnies...ouch. Quit pulling my ear."

"Quit making fun of me."

"I'm not, baby...I'm envious as hell." He sighed again. "Lord, I'm tired..."

Grasping each other's hands for support, they slowly rose to their feet and headed for the bedroom. Munch threw himself on the bed with a creak of mattress springs, pushing the covers down with his feet as Kay climbed over him and curled up against his body.

"John?" she said after a few moments.

"Mmm?" He was already falling asleep.

"What should I do? About work, I mean."

Munch lifted his head, regarding her seriously. "You know what I think you should do, sweetheart...but I can't make up your mind for you. Sorry."

He traced her cheekbone with one finger.

"What should I do, Kay?"

"About work?"


Kay placed her own hand against his face, gentle and comforting. "I don't know, Munchkin. I don't know."

He nodded reluctantly, then leaned back. "We need to get some sleep, huh?"

"Uh-huh..." Sleep. That sounded good. She put her head down and closed her eyes. The mattress creaked again as he reached for one of the pillows, bunching up the stuffing in one corner and laying his face against it. The edges of her hair fanned over its surface. She opened her eyes for a second, regarding him.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"Nothing. Just looking at you."

"I love you, Kay."

"I know. I love you, too."

"Good night."

Her eyes had closed again of their own accord. "G'night..."

She followed him into a deep, dreamless sleep.

It's a long, long hot summer night
As far as my eyes could see
But I can feel the heat comin' on, as my baby's comin' closer
I'm so glad that my baby's comin' to rescue me...