Title: Chrysostom

Author: tafkar

Summary: Daniel, Vala, and dinner. What could go wrong?

Rating: There's no nudity...but it's the most NC-17 thing I've ever written.

Archiving: Always welcome; just let me know you have done so.

Thanks to: fenriss, for all the encouragement and twice the cheerleading that I could ever even hope for; Sdraevn, ThePouncer, Docmichelle and my other half for fine beta feedback; Kuwdora for that photo. (Note to all betas: the ending has changed.)

 

CHRYSOSTOM

In the end they'd split up. They knew it would be harder for the Lucian Alliance to trace four different people than one group. Sam would find her way home with the help of the Tok'ra. Bra'tac always had a place for Teal'c. Cam Mitchell, Bounty Hunter was taking a long, winding series of gates back to the Alpha Site. And as for Daniel…

Daniel sighed and ran one hand through his scruffy hair, feeling grains of sand rubbing against his scalp. The sky above the market street on Ketana was gray, the kind of gray that portended rain in Colorado Springs. Here, it just spoke of a strong breeze that whipped at the fronds of willowy trees and blew gouts of dust from the barren hillside across the town. He stared at the public communications console in front of him like it was his enemy, then looked down the busy street. Maybe he could just hire someone to take him to the Stargate, he thought.

His hand roamed over the currency in his pocket, telling him otherwise. Walking in the desert heat would be suicide, and he didn't have enough cash to hire a conveyance for that kind of distance. Swearing that this time he wouldn't let her get under his skin, he punched a code into the comm console and hit send.

The swirling purple pattern on the screen quickly gave way to the face of a smiling, dark-haired woman. "My Daniel!" she said, with a flirtatious grin. "I was just thinking that it's such a shame we never talk anymore. People out here are such bores. I've been desperate for a long chat about dusty old relics."

"Hello, Vala," Daniel said with a forced smile, trying to ignore the little flip that his stomach did at the sight of her. "Do you remember that favor you owe me?"

She raised an eyebrow. "No 'I've missed you terribly, Vala?' No 'how are you recovering from your time with the Orii?' "

Behind his back, his fists clenched. His smile vanished. "You spent your time in Orii space demolecularized until we showed up with a ring transporter!"

Vala waved a hand airily. "Very traumatic, you know, spending so much time in little pieces. You wouldn't believe how many people I've had come by to see if all of my bits came back together properly."

"And I'm sure they were all scintillating conversationalists," Daniel replied through clenched teeth, annoyance beginning to edge his voice. "You can tell me all about them on our way to the Stargate."

"Ah, I see," she said, crossing her arms and leaning back. "A bit stranded, are we? Money run out before you could reach your destination?"

"Not entirely," Daniel said defensively, crossing his own arms. Then he realized he was mirroring her pose almost exactly, and quickly put his hands in his pockets. He was starting to get the kind of headache other headaches wanted to be when they grew up.

"Good," she said. "Then you can buy me dinner, like you promised the last time I was on Earth."

"I didn't promise anything!" Daniel said, his tone dipping perilously toward whiny. "You told me you wanted me to take you out to dinner,"

Daniel wondered if Vala was grinning because of the idea of dinner, or because, as usual, she'd managed to get him from zero to irate in under 60 seconds. "Well, I still do. Take me to dinner. I'll give you a place to sleep, and then bring you to the Stargate in the morning."

It sounded easy enough, which immediately made Daniel suspicious. "Why not tonight?" he asked.

"Sandstorms," she said, gesturing over his shoulder at the street. "They're due to get worse tonight. I don't fancy being trapped out there for several days, even if the –" She eyed him up and down, and Daniel shifted uncomfortably in his leather pants, shrugging the heavy brown duster back slightly on his shoulders. "– scenery is wonderful to look at."

"Fine," Daniel said, the word coming out more pinched than he'd intended. "Dinner it is."

"And my favorite restaurant is just around the corner from where you are right now. The Blue Lotus, in an hour," Vala leaned forward, giving the camera a view straight down her shirt. Daniel gritted his teeth, never doubting that her pose was intentional. "I hope you're hungry."

As he cut the connection, he couldn't shake the feeling that he had the word "Sucker" tattooed in bright orange across his forehead.

---

The Blue Lotus had slots by the door where customers left their shoes. As Daniel hopped around, trying to pull his boots off without falling over, he saw another black pair, flat and well-suited for a quick dash away from a pursuing enemy, that he knew had to be Vala's.

"Sir?" the host said with a cough, then held out a hand in the interstellar sign language for Pay up, buster.

Daniel sighed as he placed his boots on the shelf, pulling the stone chits out of his pocket. "I take it you're familiar with my date," he said, handing over the money. Then he wondered why he was calling Vala his date.

He padded after the host between the low tables and surrounding cushions, ducking under brightly colored, dimly lit lanterns as he went. The atmosphere reminded him of some of the restaurants he'd been to in the Middle East. As the host pulled a beaded curtain out of the way, Daniel caught his first glimpse of her.

She was curled up on a pile of cushions, drying her freshly washed hands on the linen towel the waiter offered her, the rich russet satin brocade of her kimono-like dress set off perfectly by the brightly colored cushions she'd arranged herself on. Daniel wondered how many cushions she'd swapped out in order to display herself to the best effect. Her loose dark hair, white streaks a little wider now, fell behind her shoulder to pool by the elbow she was leaning on. She looked up with a broad smile. "Daniel!" she said, holding her arms out toward him.

He saw every face in the restaurant turn toward him as he made his way over to the table. He held one hand out for a handshake.

" What, no hug? What will the neighbors think?" Vala said, smirking. He sighed and leaned over, patting her on the back uncomfortably as she wrapped her arms around him, squeezing tight and then stroking. He twitched as her hand slid down over his back, and then lower.

" I don't have any artifacts stashed in my back pockets, Vala," he murmured into her ear.

" Who says I'm checking for artifacts?" she whispered back. He closed his eyes in frustration, sure that the "Sucker" sign on his forehead was neon.

He sat at the adjoining side of the table in the manner he'd learned in Egypt, his right foot planted on the floor with knee up to rest his arm on, the other leg tucked underneath, with an automatic cursory check to ensure he wasn't pointing the soles of his feet at anyone. It probably isn't considered an insult here, he thought as the waiter poured water over his hands, catching it with a silver basin, but it always pays to be careful.

" So," Vala said, taking one of the small, cut-crystal glasses off the tray another waiter held out to them. "What brings you to my quiet corner of the universe?"

After drying his hands on the linen towel, Daniel took the other glass, catching a pleasing grassy scent from it before he took a sip. The liqueur was sweet, light and herbal, leaving a gentle warmth behind as it slid down to his stomach. "Nothing you'd be interested in," he said. "Factional wars among the Jaffa. No profit for you." He tossed back the rest of the liquid.

"On the contrary," she said. "Think of all the people left behind – needing goods, services…"

"And willing to trade priceless artifacts for them?" Daniel said, displeased, wondering why he thought she might have changed, even a little.

"They may be priceless to you," Vala said. "They're worthless to the people left behind, if they can't trade them for anything."

Daniel opened his mouth to protest as she drained her glass, but as he did, the waiter returned, lowering a large, round metal tray to rest on top of the small table in front of them. The tray was filled with a dozen small plates; the aromas immediately made Daniel think of meze. As he'd expected from the ritual hand-washing before the meal, there were no utensils, and Vala was already reaching out to take a rice-and-meat tidbit between her fingers. Daniel tugged back his right sleeve to the elbow and reached for a small round fruit. It had the shape of an olive, but the texture of a tomato, and was dripping with a thick sauce. He began to bring it to his mouth.

" Don't be rude," Vala said, one eyebrow raised. Daniel looked around at the other diners who sat in the area behind the beaded curtain. Like him, they were taking the food between their fingers; unlike him, they weren't feeding themselves, but were instead feeding each other.

He let his head fall back and let out a frustrated sigh at the ceiling, positive the neon "Sucker" sign on his forehead was flashing by now. "I should have guessed."

" Don't pout," Vala replied. "You'll get wrinkles."

He looked at her with narrowed eyes. She held out the rice with her most innocent smile, which made him even more wary. He ate it out of her hand, glaring at her as he did so, trying his hardest to keep his mouth away from her fingers as the saffron-edged flavor coated his tongue. He couldn't help but catch her fingertip with his teeth, however, and her smile got a little wider, a little more sultry. Then she eyed the fruit in his hand.

He extended the tomato-olive toward her, eyebrows raised resignedly. She lowered her mouth to his hand, wrapping it around the fruit. Her tongue slid down his finger as she sucked the fruit in, tracing down to follow the drop of sauce that was slowly rolling toward his palm. Her mouth was hot and moist, her tongue soft, her teeth firm as they nipped slightly at his fingertip on the way back up. In the space of an eyeblink, just before she made eye contact, he reminded himself not to be mesmerized by the sight of her soft pink lips against his skin.

" Isn't that better?" she asked, looking up at him through her eyelashes.

" Not exactly," he said, shifting in his seat slightly to release the pressure in his suddenly snug trousers.

" Can't blame a girl for trying," she said with a wry grin, shrugging.

" Oh, you'd be surprised what I can blame you for," he said, as she brought a pinch of a bean and vegetable salad to his mouth. The simple warm starchiness of the beans provided a perfect background for the burst of vinegar that followed it, the tart carrots crunching springily between his teeth. And that was odd – he wasn't used to noticing his food quite so much.

" Well, I'm not the only one you should blame. Most of these people don't treat their historic relics very well." Vala didn't seem to notice his furrowed brow or distracted air as he wrapped a dollop of blue-green paste in flatbread and brought it to her lips. "Did you know that the Goa'uld Ammit's cooking staff was using some Ancient tablets as serving platters?"

"What?" Daniel said.

She nodded as she chewed. Her tongue flicked out to lick a last scrap of paste off his fingers. He could swear he felt the tiny dips and furrows of it as she did so. "Apparently they hold up to heat quite well, or so I was told." She gave him her most wide-eyed look as she grasped a tomato-olive.

As she began to speak again, he teased the fruit from between her fingers with his mouth, unable to resist a little payback, slipping his tongue around her finger to remove the dripping sauce. "I'm…" she said, then drew a sharp breath. He noticed her flustered reaction, and was a little surprised himself; he could feel the little lines and whorls in her fingertip, even as the sweet, peppery taste of the fruit exploded through his mouth. Every sensation seemed more finely edged than he was used to.

Her mouth fell just slightly open as she followed his mouth with her eyes from between drooping eyelids. "Uh…I'm sure you understand why I had to make sure those tablets were brought to a safe place," she said, sounding distracted.

Daniel forced away the smile that was tickling at the edge of his lips, feigning disinterest. "Out of the goodness of your heart and a desire for cultural preservation, I'm sure," he said, feeding her some of the bean-vegetable mix. Her soft lips slid over the edge of his fingernails, and he could see her shiver a little. An answering shudder was threatening at the base of his spine, and he focused on stilling it.

"No, for personal gain, of course. But I can hardly object if cultural preservation is a side effect," she said, holding up a brown doughy knob to his lips. He took a bite, tearing it apart with his teeth as she continued. "And I think you might be very interested in what those tablets had to say."

He swallowed. Even the nearly overwhelming taste of honey couldn't distract him from her words; he was intrigued despite himself. "How would you know what they had to say?" he said, trying to sound as casual as possible.

He plucked a delicate iridescent half-shell from a golden ceramic platter and offered it to her. She extended her tongue, slowly licking out the thick filling from every crevasse, focusing on it with animal intensity, as if ferreting out the last bits of cream from inside the wavy crescent was the only thing on her mind. His mouth fell open slightly as he watched, fascinated by the dexterity she was exhibiting. His tongue ran over his bottom lip.

Then he blinked, and brought himself up sharply. This was going to turn into that dinner scene from Tom Jones if he wasn't careful. He covered his mouth with his free hand, clearing his throat. "Um, I mean…" he said, trying to remember what they'd been talking about. That brought him back to her mouth, which was still so damn close to his hand, and the things she was doing with her tongue…

Tablets. Ancients. Artifacts. Ancient, important artifacts that Vala's tablets could lead them to. He stared hard at her shoulder, fighting hard to keep his eyes away from her lips. "Since when do you read Ancient, anyway?"

"I don't," she said, looking up at him, tossing a recalcitrant lock of dark hair over her shoulder and picking up yet another tiny delicacy. The little meatball she fed him was coated with a thick gravy, redolent with cumin and ginger. "But there are other people out there besides you that…uh…"

He ran his tongue down to tickle the webbing between her fingers. She took a shuddering breath, and he looked up between his lashes to see her staring at him, utterly captivated. He swallowed quickly, and then ran his lips down the palm of her hand, flicking his tongue out to catch the last droplet of gravy as it ran across her wrist.

"Other people than me that…what?" he said, putting on his blandest manner even as he laughed inside.

To her credit, she regrouped quickly. "Other people out there who can translate Ancient. At least, enough to give me the gist." She took another pinch of the rice dish in her fingers. "How would you like a city like Atlantis, right in your own backyard?"

The flavor of the rice dish absolutely exploded over his tongue, far more intense than the first bite he'd had. The sudden maddening acuity of his senses, however, took a backseat to Vala's announcement. "That's not possible. We know what happened to them. We know they left their city behind in the Pegasus Galaxy."

" One city," Vala said, holding up her finger. "Humanity doesn't live in just one city. Why would the Ancients? For all you know, they left it in the Pegasus Galaxy because it wasn't worth bringing back, compared to what they had in their cities right here." She nibbled at the meat pastry he held out to her, eating it in three short bites.

"And for all you know, your translator made up the text of the translation to get a better price," Daniel fired back.

Vala leaned toward him. "Which is why I want you to look at it. Find out the coordinates. Then you and I can investigate it together."

Daniel opened his mouth to say yes, then closed it again. "I can't," he said, even as the back of his brain shouted, Ancient city! Ancient city! Right here! "They need me back at the SGC."

"Yes, about that," Vala said, grey eyes darting away, with that too-broad grin that let him know that whatever was coming next, he was going to hate it. "You see, there's been a little bit of a problem."

"Exactly what kind of problem are we talking about?" His yelp was a little louder than he intended.

She looked up at the ceiling, a sardonic expression slipping across her face. "Well, it seems that four nattily-dressed Tau'ri decided to snatch some rather important items left over from Nirrti's labs just before the Lucian Alliance was due to auction them off to the highest bidder, That same Lucian Alliance has set up guards around this planet's Stargate in case one of those nasty Tau'ri," she said, her eyes pinning him, "who weren't even clever enough to come up with a decent escape plan, try to slip through on their way home."

Daniel whispered, the low throb under his skin fueling his fury, "The Lucian Alliance doesn't even have a base on Ketana! How did they figure out I was here?"

"Well, I don't know!" Vala snapped back. "Someone must have tipped them off."

"Someone like you, maybe?"

"I would never!"

" You – you would always!" Daniel's words were a whispered shout as he leaned toward her over the corner of the table. "I'm sure they've got a nice fat reward. If you couldn't get me to go for your little side trip to this city that probably doesn't even exist –"

" Just because you didn't translate the tablets doesn't mean –" Vala's hand was flat on the table now as she leaned toward him.

" And now you're shanghaiing me for another crazy treasure hunt!" He threw his arms out in frustration, nearly slamming one into the tray a nearby waiter was holding. Daniel snatched one of the glasses of liqueur off the silver platter and tossed it back emphatically.

Vala raised an eyebrow. "Well, if you want it to be that kind of an evening," she said, as she wrapped her hand around the other glass.

Daniel barely heard her words, however; as the liquid burned down the center of his chest, leaving behind an acid green corrosion he swore he was beginning to feel, he realized he'd made a terrible mistake. "Oh, no," he said, closing his eyes, hoping that his sudden leap of logic was somehow in error.

As he ran his hand over his face, though, he didn't just feel the five-o-clock shadow on his face; he could hear it, as if every whisker was a metal tine that he was plucking. He was right, then; the liquor wasn't just an aperitif. There was some chemical in it that intensified the senses.

And, he realized as the sounds in the restaurant began crawling under his skin, he'd just had more than he should have.

" Daniel?" he heard her murmur, her voice laced with concern. He could barely feel her hand on his arm through the overwhelming stimuli assaulting him from all sides.

" Too…much…" he gritted out.

The next few minutes were a blur. He stumbled after her as she tugged him along, muttering, "You mean they don't have Green Dragon where you come from?" The clamor of the beaded curtain was like heavy rocks against his skin, and the voices of the chattering crowd was like sharp needles, the smell of all the dishes mingling in his mouth as if he'd taken a bite of everything at once. He closed his eyes as they lurched into the lobby, desperate to at least block out the one sense he could control.

" Daniel?" Her voice was urgent; he wondered how long she'd been calling his name. "Daniel? Which are your shoes?"

He opened his eyelids just a little to see her yanking on the eminently practical black boots that he'd known would be hers, his coat tossed over her shoulder. I shouldn't be able to taste color, he thought as he squinted, waving his hand at the knee-high leather boots that he'd traipsed halfway around the galaxy in.

As she snatched them, he shut his eyes; he could feel her footsteps as she came next to him. "Can you – no, you probably can't," she said. "I'll carry them for you. Here." He felt something fit over his mouth, over his eyes; then she pulled him through the door.

She'd been honest about the sandstorm, certainly; he could hear each grain as it hit their skin, their clothes, a high-pitched glassy tink tink tink that sent a shivering slide under his skin, a delicate chiming grind under his feet as she pulled him along. He realized dimly that whatever she'd put over his face was shielding him from its fury, allowing him to breathe.

" Never a damn cab when you need one. Ta-XI!" Vala hollered. Daniel clapped his hands over his ears as she shoved him into the nearest vehicle.

He huddled in a corner of the seat as Vala and the driver talked. His hands were still over his ears, his eyes tightly closed as he breathed deeply and slowly, trying to shut out the maddening sensation. He didn't move until she tugged on his arm; then he stumbled after her, out of the pedicab, up some stairs, through a door and into a darkened room.

Silence and dark, save for the muffled thump of his boots and coat hitting the floor. As Vala gently pushed him down onto a cushioned surface, he opened his eyes, looking around. He felt the gentle pophiss of a match, and looked over to see her lighting one solitary candle, the yellow of the flame a pleasing tart acid on his tongue. He closed his eyes. "Grad school all over again," he mumbled, running one hand over his face, remembering seeing Sarah and Steven bent over a similar candle through a similar chemically-induced sensory haze.

The firm cushion Daniel was lying on shifted a little as Vala settled onto it. He didn't just hear her sigh. He felt it, as if her hot breath was ghosting on the back of his neck. Synesthesia, he thought, the word whispering across his brain in one last desperate attempt to gain control, to distance his physical issue by intellectualizing it.

" Believe me, Daniel," she said. "I didn't mean for this to happen."

He tried to process her words, but it was almost impossible. The "be" felt like her lips pressing against the hollow of his throat, and the "l" that followed was like the long tracery of her tongue up his neck, toward his ear. The "v" crawled in, tickling the nerves under his skin. God, how had he spoken, how had he ever even listened to language when each sound could touch him like this? How had he not noticed how each word was like a living thing, a hand sliding over his bare skin, tracing along his spine, like a feathery caress over his belly or sharp nails dragging down his back? Fighting back a low moan, he rolled onto his side, grasping the velvet coverlet, the sound of his hand over the fibers sending him shivering.

" Does it hurt?" she said quickly, like fingers skipping over his shoulders and skimming along his spine, even as her real hands ghosted over his hair, his shoulder.

" Not…exactly," he managed to grit out.

" Oh," she said, and he could feel the shape of it, like lips wrapping around his fingertips. "Oh," she said, this time a little lower, as if her mouth were sliding down to take him in fully.

" Uhhhh…" he groaned, his voice shuddering his inarticulate response.

" So," she said, dragging out each letter in a way that made the muscles between his shoulders tense up, made his hips pivot upward slightly without conscious volition. "Is there anything I can do to make this a more pleasurable experience?" The sentence was like multiple hands sliding over his bare skin, fingernails down his back, every "p" sound like another set of lips pressing themselves against that spot just over his left hip that Sha're had discovered so many years ago. He opened his eyes, just to make sure; Vala was still perched on the edge of the bed, looking at him with a mix of amusement and desire, hands folded around her knee, carefully not laying a finger on him.

" I'm sure there are a lot of ways you could make this more pleasurable," he said, trying to give his words a sarcastic edge. As soon as he uttered the word pleasurable, however, he saw her shudder, her eyes drifting halfway shut.

" Oh," he said, propping himself on one elbow as she slowly flowed down onto her back on the mattress, as if she were melting. "I see someone else had a little too much to drink tonight." His own words weren't as irresistible to him as hers were; it was like late sleepless nights alone under his own covers, his own hand sliding over his body, a seductiveness he could screen out, send to the background while something else captured his attention. Meanwhile, Vala shivered with every "s" and stretched out as his tongue lingered over the "l", her spine extending and then coiling up.

" It's…" She panted, each breath spiraling its way down Daniel's spine. "It's…just…"

" It's overwhelming, isn't it?" Daniel said, voice low, leaning forward.

Looking almost pained, Vala nodded, her hips twisting on the dark velvet blanket, hands knotting in the fabric.

" And you can't escape it," he said, watching closely for her reaction. When she tossed her head back, mouth closed, eyes wide, on the word escape, he knew the sounds were affecting her in exactly the same way they affected him.

He leaned closer, one hand sliding over the cool cloth that covered her stomach, the low hissing sound of his fingers on the satin brocade making his muscles warm and tight. "It's surrounding you," he said, his own voice ghosting fingers into his back, sending electrical currents under his skin. She whimpered, eyes closing, back arching; he could feel her stomach muscles clench through the fabric under his hand, and her whimper was like nails dragging down his back, a hand wrapping around him.

He fought to keep control, because, dammit, she was not going to get the better of him this time. He chose his next words for maximum effect, selecting sounds he knew would send her shivering. "Just this afternoon, you were saying it was such a shame that we never talked anymore," he said. The word this felt like a tongue flicking against his earlobe, and the w sounds were like closed lips sliding down his torso. The sounds were having even more of an effect on Vala; she began to writhe, hips twisting, hands sliding over the cover. She moved sinuously under the vibrations of every s, and he couldn't resist the opportunity to torment her a little more, just to watch her reactions. "You said you were desperate for conversation about dry, dusty artifacts," he said, lengthening every letter so they would be like fingers slowly sliding down her body, tracing agonizingly lightly over her skin, focusing on her response so the sensation didn't set him off.

She quivered – actually quivered – under his hand. "Daniel…" she said, voice shuddering.

He leaned forward, mouth so close to hers he could feel her breath, could feel the heat from her lips on his own. "I could keep this up all night," he whispered. She tossed her head back, the corner of her mouth brushing against his lips, and moaned deeply. He let out a strained, harsh breath, trying to keep control even as her sounds flowed over his skin like warm oil.

"Could you really?" she asked, her voice harshly edged with panting, words slowing as she put emphasis on every sensuous syllable. "Do you really have so much stamina?"

He closed his eyes, breathing deeply from the diaphragm, pushing down the cresting wave that rose to her words. "I could talk to you until dawn, Vala," he said, opening his eyes slowly to meet her heated gaze with his own cool stare, feeling now like he was riding the wave instead of about to be overcome by it. She shivered again, drawing one leg up. Her dress fell open slightly, and the sharp salt smell of her was heavy on his tongue. He let his fingers slide over her stomach a little more, inhaling deeply, tasting her. "The real question is, how long can you listen?"

Vala cried out, back arching again, her torso pushing up against his right palm. Daniel propped his head on his left hand, the fingers of his right tracing little circles over her abdomen. "This sandstorm won't be over until dawn," he said. She thrashed under his words, hips bucking up when he said "sandstorm". He couldn't help but smile at his next sentence. "And you said you were lusting after a lengthy conversation with me."

"Please!" she groaned, her voice stabbing through him, the sounds drawing his hips close to hers.

He fumbled a recovery, his low, slow voice giving no sign as to how close to the edge she'd brought him. Oh, he was enjoying riding on this precipice. "Please what?" he said, letting cool amusement color his voice. "I've taken you out to dinner. You had me eating out of the palm of your hand, licking your fingers clean."

She cried out again, looking at him, her eyes dark and dazed. He found himself staring at her mouth, remembering how it felt on his fingers, wondering what it would taste like under his tongue. "You've tempted me with your Ancient tablets…"

" Tempted?" she said, her eyes suddenly focusing on his.

" Oh, yes," he said, hissing the s until she was once again thrashing her head back and forth, making short harsh animal noises. "Did you really think I could pass up the opportunity to see an Ancient city for myself?"

Her voice was louder now, her body tensing, every short cry penetrating Daniel as if she were in motion on top of him. He fought to keep his hips still, very still, even as hers ground against the bed as if her body was begging him to cover it.

" We could be working on locating the city for weeks," he said, lowering his mouth to her ear. "There's so many different dialects distributed throughout the Ancient ruins." Her voice was now a high mewling, her body taut and trembling, and he couldn't resist pressing against her, taut and hard, as he moved in for the kill. "What if this doesn't wear off? You know, I like to talk to myself while translating…"

With a wrenching wail, she suddenly let go, hips snapping up once, twice, thrice, four times. Her hand found his shoulder, fingers clenching in his shirt, digging into his skin in a way that nearly pulled the trigger on his powerful arousal. He gritted his teeth, breathed deeply, tensed his muscles, his face pressed into her hair, hand fisted in the crumpled brocade of her dress, fighting not to join her. She spasmed again, again, her scent releasing bursts of salt on his tongue; as the spasms came closer together, becoming one long shiver, she rolled onto her side, nestling against him, sliding one long leg through the widening slit of her dress to entwine it with his.

He took a deep, deep breath in the silence. For once, this once, he had the upper hand, and he was determined to enjoy it. All he needed was a few more seconds to quell the maddening, lingering erotic energy that simmered under his skin, to find some way to give himself the mental equivalent of a cold shower.

And he would have managed it too, but for her long languorous sigh in his ear, which felt like her hot mouth wrapping around him. The slow heat of her next sentence coiled up the boiling energy at the base of his spine, and his fingers clenched in her dress, her hair, pulling her closer, knowing he'd need something to hold on to.

" Daniel," she whispered in his ear, "has anyone ever told you that you have the most incredible way with words?" Her voice slithered under his skin, like silken hands stroking him. He felt the wave he'd been riding for so long crest and crash, overwhelming his cry, and then he was drowning in her.

Author's note: Because my other half says I should start footnoting my titles…Chrystostom, or "golden-mouthed", was the appellation given to St. John, one of the early archbishops of Constantinople, for his way with words.

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