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the things a voice can do

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It was late, way later than she’d hoped, when Beth finally crawled into bed snuggling deeply under her covers. She breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that the longest day in history was over. She flipped over to grab her phone from the nightstand. Before she could talk herself out of it, she clicked his number and put the speaker to her ear.

“Yeah?” Rio answered after the third ring. His voice was raspy from sleep and the butterflies in her belly fluttered at the sound of his voice.

“I figured you'd be a night owl.” She said quietly, turning to lay on her back.

“What’s wrong?” He asked but his question was slow and he didn’t seem terribly concerned.

“Nothing. I just wanted to thank you.”

He was quiet for a minute, and she held her breath as she waited for his response. It was stupid for her to call him. A text would’ve sufficed or an acknowledgement the next time they met up. Of course she didn’t need to call, she didn’t need to do a lot of things when it came to him, but here she was.

“Don’t thank me. Just try not to be so stupid next time. Don’t forget what you’re doing here.”

She felt herself get defensive but the last thing she wanted to do was argue with him. She didn’t have the energy. “I get it,” she answered shortly before adding, “you should understand, you have a kid, too.”

He huffed out a breath and she could tell he was already annoyed with her. Not difficult to achieve these days.

“Yeah, I have a kid too so I gotta think before I do anything. One bad move will fuck him over. Ain’t gonna be any good for him if I’m in jail or dead.”

She didn’t respond. She wanted to change the subject but didn’t know how. Was it good for his son that his father was a criminal? Was what she was doing good for her family? Because that’s what she kept telling herself. She was doing this for them. But really, that excuse had stopped being valid months ago.

“You need anything else?” He asked, bringing her back to reality.

She shook her head even though he couldn’t see. She didn’t say the words though. She wasn’t ready to hang up.

“She alright?” He asked quietly after a minute of silence. She had texted him earlier to tell him he’d been right, their colleagues hadn’t taken Jane after all.

“She’s fine. The blanket helped.”

“I’m not gonna be around to save your ass every time.”

“No? Where are you gonna be?”

He sighed and the knots in her stomach twisted. How did one person make you feel so much at once?

“You should go to sleep.” He said without answering her question.

“I’m in bed.”

“Oh yeah? Where’s that husband of yours?”

“He sleeps in the guest room.”

“Mmhmm.” He answered thoughtfully. It was the same way he'd responded in her office when she'd asked him if they had a deal. She could picture his face, his lips, that smirk. Just thinking about the sound of his voice literally made her mouth dry.

“What?” Not for the first time, she wished she could read his mind.

“Just interesting. You calling me, laying in that big bed alone, while your husband sleeps on the couch.”

“Not that interesting.” Her tone was clipped. Her relationship with Dean, her marriage, was complicated and she wasn't sure she could explain it even if she wanted to.

“I’d pay a lot of money to be in that bed with you right now, sweetheart.”

She sucked in a breath and her cheeks burned red at his words. Yes, this had been what she’d wanted when she’d decided to call him. “You don’t have to pay.”

“Oh yeah? Why’s that? Because you feel like you owe me thanks? Or because you want me to fuck you like I did in that bathroom a few weeks ago?” His voice was low and gravelly and she felt a tingling between her legs. Jesus, the things he did to her were not normal.

“Rio.”

He chuckled and she didn’t think his voice could get any lower but it did. “I like the way you say my name, sweetheart."

She swallowed unsure of what to say. She wasn’t good at this, was long out of the practice of flirting, of being sexy.

"What are we doing?" She asked in an attempt to get back on track.

Obviously he wouldn't give her a straight answer. That's what they did. They danced around each other and spoke in circles and never really said anything at all. "You're the one that called me in the middle of the night."

"I wanted to thank you." She said, which was stupid. What was it about him that made her this way?

"We're good then. You did that already."

She groaned and had the overwhelming urge to throw her phone across the room. If he had been in front of her she was sure she would have strangled him. "Why do you have to make everything so difficult?"

That laugh again. The one where it was clear he didn't actually find anything funny. "That's rich coming from you. We're partners now, ya? Gotta figure out a way to be honest with each other, Elizabeth."

"You're one to talk about honesty." She scoffed and looked up at the ceiling, closing her eyes. She hadn't meant to take the conversation in this direction. It'd been gnawing at her since the day it had happened but she'd never anticipated actually bringing it up to him.

"What's that mean?"

If she was quick enough on her feet she could try to come up with something else to say, guide the conversation in another direction, but she wanted to know. Needed to know. "Let me ask you a question."

"Sure."

She paused. Had she expected him to be so willing to answer?

"The other day when I left that car at Cloud 9 for you you picked it up with someone else."

He didn't respond right away expecting her to continue but when she didn't she could practically see the smirk on his face.

"That's not a question."

"I don't know anything about you!" She yelled in frustration. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down. She didn't want to wake anyone up and she definitely didn't want Dean coming around to check on her. "You literally know where I am at all times but I don't even know your last name."

"That ain't my fault. You should do a better job getting to know who you work for."

"Work with." She shot back quickly because if he could do it, so could she.

"Right."

"I just didn't peg you as a cheater, that's all." Oh God. She'd really done it. She could hear how ridiculous she sounded. Annie and Ruby would die if they could hear this conversation right now. Who was she kidding? To try and pretend she didn't care was laughable at this point.

She wished she could see him. Look him in the eyes. She wanted to know what he was thinking.

"Ma, if you got a question you better ask it right now."

"Who is she?"

"Her name's Dylan." He answered quickly, anticipating her question.

"That's a boy's name." Who was she right now with this asinine conversation? She sounded like a petulant child, like Annie, and it made her cringe.

"I think she'd disagree."

They were both silent for a minute. Neither knew where the conversation went now. Beth had dug herself into a hole and while she knew she had to worm her way out of it she wasn't sure the best course of action. She didn't know why but she needed to know who Dylan was. She reeked of desperation. She hated how he could stay so cool and calm and collected when she felt like a volcano ready to explode.

"Whatever."

"Not sure what you want me to say here. She's a friend."

"A friend or a friend." She asked, emphasis on the second friend.

"You know, you talk a lot but you don't say much. You want to know if I've hit that? Yeah, I have. Several times. You want to know if I'm dating her? No, I'm not. I'm a lot of things but a cheater ain't one of them. Pretty sure you already knew that though."

"I don't care what you do or who you do it with." Laughable.

"I hear the words coming out of your mouth but I don't believe a God damn thing you're saying."

"Why did you go get the blanket?" She asked, because really, it's what she should have asked to begin with. It's all that mattered to her at this point.

She thought he might hesitate but of course he didn't. He was confident and self-assured and he told it like it was, clearly, based on their conversation earlier that night. "It seemed important to you."

Her stomach dropped, her eyes closed. He'd done it for her. Because it was important to her. He didn't have to say he cared. He didn't have to tell her he liked her or he wanted her. Five words and she knew. She'd known it all along, or maybe she'd only hoped, but here it was. No question about it anymore.

"Now let me ask you a question." He started, turning the tables.

"What?" She was short with him even though he didn't deserve it. He'd exhausted her in the best and worst way possible.

"You gotta be honest because we're partners now and that's what partners do." She could tell he was teasing her a little. He loved to tease her and even though she'd never admit it, she lived for it.

"What, Rio?"

"You think about it? That night at the bar? When you're alone in that bed of yours tell me you don't think about how fucking good it was."

She sucked in a breath and squeezed her thighs together. There was that voice again. His voice always oozed of sex but when he talked to her like this she felt like the most desirable woman in the world. Like she could get off at just the sound of his voice. Had Dean ever made her feel that way?

He continued before she could answer, "Cause I do. It was over way too fast and I've been trying to be good but I don't know how much longer I can keep my hands to myself."

"My bedroom has doors that lead outside." She said before she could think about the absolute shit show this might cause.

"I'm aware." He answered, and she was pretty sure she heard the rustling of his covers as he moved to get out of bed. Did he sleep naked? Would she ever find out?

"I could unlock it. And you could use it. If you want." She said, stumbling over her words. How come she was so confident with drug dealers and sketchy men in run down houses but with him she resorted to acting like a nervous teenager.

"Ma, no more games. If you want something, tell me."

"Come over. Please." And she hoped she didn't sound like she was begging but she was. She absolutely was.

"Twenty minutes." The line went dead and her lips parted in surprise. She threw herself back onto her pillow and pulled the comforter over her head. This was happening.

Chapter Text

The shrill ring of his cell phone woke him up out of a deep sleep. He rolled over and groaned briefly eyeing the clock to see that it was after midnight. It was a rare occasion when he was already sleeping at this time and he cursed the person that felt the need to bother him.

That is, until he saw who was calling. Even half asleep he managed a smirk at the sight of his caller ID. He’d have preferred to save her name under Elizabeth but to protect all parties he figured Boss Bitch was more appropriate.

He pressed the green answer button and brought the phone to his ear.

“Yeah?” He cleared his throat, still raspy from sleep. He could have offered a warmer greeting but he preferred to keep her on her toes.

“I figured you’d be a night owl.” She said over the line. Her voice was quiet, but sweet. She had multiple sides to her, he’d come to learn, and he had yet to decide which he preferred.

“What’s wrong?” He asked, even though he wasn’t truly concerned. Earlier tonight, she’d been frantic but she was calmer now. While unusual for her to be calling at this hour, he didn’t get the impression something had happened.

“Nothing. I wanted to thank you.”

It hadn’t been what he was expecting, although he realized he wasn’t sure what he had expected. He’d left the blanket in her mailbox but assumed she wouldn’t get it until the next morning at the earliest. He stayed quiet for a second and wondered how to proceed. Obviously he could accept her thanks and move on but where was the fun in that.

“Don’t thank me.” He said and he hoped his voice sounded rougher than he felt. “Just try not to be so stupid next time. Don’t forget what you’re doing here.”

He’d been tough on her earlier but it had been necessary. He could treat her like a fragile doll but that would be helpful to nobody. She was good at what she was doing, great even, but she was having a difficult time remembering that what she was doing wasn’t some kind of game. She wasn’t acting, it wasn’t a movie. This was real life and what she was doing was risky and dangerous and illegal.

He could feel her tense through the phone and he waited for a fight. He wasn’t sure he had the energy to argue with her and she surprised him when she let it go. Almost.

“I get it,” she paused and then, “you should understand, you have a kid, too.”

He clenched his jaw at the mention of Marcus and felt his annoyance with her intensify. Letting her know he had a kid had been strategic at the time but he almost wished he hadn’t given her that glimpse into his life. She was right, of course, but he much preferred his personal life to stay mysterious, for as long as she would let him at least. Marcus was a touchy subject for him in all respects. The little boy was without a doubt the most important thing in his life and so she was right, he did get it. He’d never pictured being a father but when it had happened he’d been forced to care about something other than himself and he’d decided he liked the responsibility of raising a human. He did what he did because it was the best way he could provide for his son. Maybe it wasn’t honorable but he was good at it. By the time Marcus had been born, he had been way too far into the life to get out, even if it could all come crashing down around him at any moment.

“Yeah, I have a kid too so I gotta think before I do anything. One bad move will fuck him over. Ain’t gonna be good for him if I’m in jail or dead.” It was all he’d say on the matter but it was also the truth.

He waited for her to respond and wondered if she would let it go or press for more. He grew impatient when she didn’t make a move to continue the conversation.

“You need anything else?”

He could picture her shaking her head, biting her lip, trying to figure out what to say to keep him on the line.

“She alright?” He asked, even though he knew the answer. When he’d gotten the text a few hours earlier letting him know that their colleagues had not taken her daughter he hadn’t been surprised. The people Elizabeth had pissed off were scumbags but they were lazy as shit and certainly not interested in all the work kidnapping a child would entail.

“She’s fine. The blanket helped.”

When he had gone to the house to find out what she’d been looking for he’d almost snapped when they’d pushed a pink blanket into his hands.

“I’m not gonna be around to save your ass every time.” He answered, even though it wasn’t true. He’d come through for her whenever she’d asked so far and he didn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“No? Where are you gonna be?”

Instead of answering her (because really, what could he say) he sighed and attempted to end the conversation. It was the smartest idea for both of them.

“You should go to bed.”

“I’m in bed.” She answered and it was comical how three simple words could perk him up.

“Oh yeah? Where’s that husband of yours?”

“He sleeps in the guest room.”

“Mmhmm.” He muttered several thoughts crossing his mind, not all PG rated. He had sudden visions of her laying in that big old bed in that big old room, all by herself, thinking about him.

“What?” She asked indignantly and he smirked because he could just picture her face.

“Just interesting. You calling me, laying in that big bed alone, while your husband sleeps on the couch.” And it was incredibly interesting to him. He wasn’t sure what exactly their marriage was like but he could guess. He knew there was no fucking way her tool of a husband could possibly keep her happy or satisfied. He’d thrown punches at a lot of guys in his life but he’d never felt quite so fulfilled as when his fist had met Dean’s face in his own dining room. He couldn’t find it in himself to regret shooting him either.

“Not that interesting.” Came her clipped response, bringing him out of his thoughts.

“I’d pay a lot of money to be in that bed with you right now, sweetheart.” He said, his voice lowering an octave. He was aware he had an uncanny ability to seduce women but he’d never enjoyed it as much as he did with the suburban housewife on the other end of the line. He lived to see her reactions.

He heard her suck in a breath and it reminded him of her breathy moans the night he’d finally gotten his hands on her. He’d envisioned it so many times since he’d met her but he had never anticipated their first time being in a seedy, bar bathroom against a wall. That’s not to say he was complaining because that night replayed on a constant highlight reel in his mind.

“You don’t have to pay.” She said quietly and he adjusted himself in his boxer briefs at the quiet sound of her voice.

“Oh yeah? Why’s that?” He asked because he needed to know. “Because you feel like you owe me thanks? Or because you want me to fuck you like I did in that bathroom a few weeks ago?”

“Rio.” Was her response and he had to bite back a groan at the sound of his name coming from her lips. He’d been desperate to hear her say it and finally he was getting his wish.

“I like the way you say my name, sweetheart.”

She stayed quiet but he could hear her breathing slows up over the speaker. Good. He was glad she was just as worked up as he was becoming.

“What are we doing?” She asked. He could tell she was attempting to redirect the conversation but he wasn’t going to let her off the hook so easily.

“You’re the one that called me in the middle of the night.” It was true after all.

“I wanted to thank you.” Nope, not good enough for him.

“We’re good then. You did that already.”

He knew she was becoming increasingly annoyed at how nonchalant he was acting and he wouldn’t say he was happy at the thought but he did find some joy in pushing her buttons.

“Why do you have to make everything so difficult.” She huffed and he laughed but not because he found anything funny.

“That’s rich coming from you. We’re partners now, ya? Gotta figure out a way to be honest with each other, Elizabeth.” He couldn’t help himself from bringing up their partnership as often as possible. It still made him sick to think he was splitting everything 50/50 with her. It pissed him off that she’d been able to get him to make that deal but it also turned him on more than anything had in a long time. He hadn’t been kidding when he’d told her she looked good behind that desk and it took everything in him that night not to throw her on top of that desk and fuck the smug look off her face.

“You’re one to talk about honesty.”

“What’s that mean?” He asked. He couldn’t wait to see where she went with this one.

“Let me ask you a question.” She said after a moment of silence and he was quick to agree.

“The other day when I left that car at Cloud 9 for you, you picked it up with someone else.” It was hard to surprise him, he prided himself on always being one-step ahead, but he had not expected this from her. It took him a minute to remember the day, the drop off and pick up and what she could be referring to but when he did, he was almost giddy and the smirk on his face proved it.

“That’s not a question.” He goaded because this was way too fucking awesome not to take advantage of.

“I don’t know anything about you! You literally know where I am at all times but I don’t even know your last name.” He tried not to laugh because he could tell she was pissed off and he was sure she was even more upset because she knew how ridiculous she sounded.

“That ain’t my fault. You should do a better job getting to know who you work for.” It was true and he’d thought about bringing it up to her several times. She said she didn’t trust him but she had never even attempted to try to get to know the guy she was getting into business with. He’d said he was on Facebook but of course he wasn’t on fucking Facebook.

“Work with.” She shot back and it reminded him of his comment to her earlier – correcting her about the fact that his colleagues were actually their colleagues.

“Right.”

“I just didn’t peg you as a cheater, that’s all.” Part of him was annoyed that she’d even consider it but a larger part of him knew she was acting out of spite, of jealousy. He was over her games though. Enough was enough.

“Ma, if you got a question you better ask it right now.”

“Who is she?”

“Her name’s Dylan.” He answered quickly because he had figured she would ask and he wasn’t interested in lying to her.

“That’s a boy’s name.”

“I think she’d disagree.”

She answered with a hasty ‘whatever’ and the conversation came to a stand still. He could make her feel better and tell her he hadn’t thought about anyone but her in weeks and that Dylan had only been helping him out that day. He’d not been with her in months and she was only a friend. He could make her feel better by saying all sorts of things but he didn’t want to. It wasn’t his style and he didn’t owe her anything. Not to mention, his ego was ready to burst at the fact that she was oozing jealousy.

“Not sure what you want me to say here. She’s a friend.”

“A friend or a friend?” She asked emphasizing the second friend and giving him no choice but to answer.

“You know, you talk a lot but you don’t say much. You want to know if I hit that? Yeah, I have. Several times. You want to know if I’m dating her? No, I’m not. I’m a lot of things but a cheater ain’t one of them.” He took a pause and then finished. “Pretty sure you already knew that though.”

“I don’t care what you do or who you do it with.” It was laughable but he could hear the relief in her voice.

“I hear the words coming out of your mouth but I don’t believe a God damn thing you’re saying.”

“Why did you go get the blanket?” She asked him her voice turning soft. This was the question he’d expected all along.

“It seemed important to you.” He had no intention of lying to her or of playing it off as if it were no big deal. She had been a wreck and even though he’d given her hell he couldn’t not go get what she’d been looking for. He’d driven straight to the house after leaving her – it hadn’t even really been a second thought.

Before she could answer, he continued. “Now let me ask you a question.”

“What?”

“You gotta be honest because we’re partners now and that’s what partners do.” He couldn’t help but tease her every chance he got.

“What, Rio?” And there she went, saying his name again.

“You think about it? That night at the bar? When you’re alone in that bed of yours tell me you don’t think about how fucking good it was.”

He needed to hear her say it even though he already knew. Every time their gazes locked or he touched her shoulder or hand he could feel her body tense, her breath quicken, could see her cheeks burn red. Easily it had been the hottest experience of his life and if that were the case for him there was no way she hadn’t been reliving it since it happened. He grew hard at the thought of it, of how she felt underneath his hands, how she’d come multiple times, so quickly the first time, even though the whole thing couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes. The fact that her prick of her husband was only feet away had fueled him. He had waited for months for her to make the first move.

“Cause I do. It was over way too fast and I’ve been trying to be good but I don’t know how much longer I can keep my hands to myself.”

Silence for a beat and then, “My bedroom has doors that lead outside.”

“I’m aware.” He was always cool and collected but it took a little bit of work to keep his voice level. He threw the covers off and moved to sit on the edge of his bed. He grabbed the pants and t-shirt he had thrown off earlier making quick work of dressing himself.

“I could unlock it. And you could use it. If you want.” She stumbled over her words and he had just about had it. He needed her to fucking say it.

“Ma, no more games. If you want something, tell me.”

“Come over. Please.” He could hear how desperate she was and she probably would have liked to know he felt the same. He wasn’t sure he’d last the fifteen minutes it took to drive over to her house.

“Twenty minutes.” He said, ending the call before she could answer. There was no way in hell he wasn’t breaking every speed limit imaginable to get to her as soon as possible.

No way was he giving her the chance to change her mind.