The Way She Does Things
by Zakiyah
A One-Page Story in Honor of Ryalin's Birthday 2007

Timeline: Late Season 3
Spoilers: None


John Roxton surveyed the situation before him and sighed. One hand reached up to tilt his hat back from his forehead as he contemplated his options. I really should have known better, he mused ruefully.

"Well, John?" Even in the dim lantern-light of the night-shrouded Treehouse, he could clearly see the amusement in Marguerite's grey eyes. The heiress looked cool and unruffled despite the heat and the situation, primly sitting at the table with her booted ankles properly crossed. Her khaki skirt and white blouse were, as always, neat and tidy; a few undone buttons at the throat of the blouse her only concession to the heat. Her hat sat nearby, negligently tossed onto an unoccupied chair.

Marguerite really only does things one of two ways, Roxton reflected to himself. Poorly, and with very bad grace - like her cooking. When Veronica, Finn, and Challenger had not returned by late afternoon, Marguerite had balked at the idea of trying to cook something, reluctant even to try any preparation work for the evening meal. He'd briefly considered trying to coax her, but was deterred by the memory of her previous efforts along those lines. Instead, they'd opted for a late tea of sorts, of fruit, nuts, bread, and honey along with the ubiquitous beverage. It had been surprisingly satisfying. By the time they'd received Challenger's mirror signal letting them know that the three would not be returning that evening, neither one of them had felt like bothering with supper, preferring instead to take advantage of the time together.

And then there's the other way Marguerite does things - so well, and with such expertise, that it seems utterly effortless on her part. She makes it look so easy that you're inclined to overlook just how good she is, even if you have first-hand experience with it yourself. One corner of his mouth quirked up in a smile as he remembered some examples of that, most recently Finn's mishaps trying to learn how to use Marguerite's whip. Even after seeing Marguerite wield a whip in the lizard's city - twice - the others still don't recognize just how difficult it is to do what she did. He himself had seen few who could even come close to her abilities with that weapon even in the American West or Argentina, where whip skills were critical to driving large groups of animals across the vast distances. He had once watched a professional cattle driver hit a dime with a thirty-foot bullwhip nine times out of ten, missing the tenth time by less than an inch. And that man had the scars to show what that mastery had cost him in the learning. Marguerite had no such marks - and yet exhibited almost as much skill. How does she do it?

"Any time now." Marguerite's voice called Roxton back to the present situation. The heiress quirked one dark brow upwards at him inquisitively, aware that his thoughts had been wandering, and plainly curious about it.

He sighed again, looking at Marguerite, and then briefly around the room, from the pile of clothes on the floor next to his chair, to what lay on the table in front of Marguerite, to what he held in his hand, and finally down at himself. I could postpone the inevitable a little longer - but then again, why bother? I should have realized that Marguerite would never have agreed to this if she didn't think she could win. She did it to me again - this is one of the things she does so well. A rougish smile spread across his face, and his dark eyes twinkled. He looked Marguerite straight in the eyes as he laid down his cards on the table, slowly stood up, and divested himself of the one remaining article of clothing he had on besides his hat - his cut-off long underwear.

His reward came immediately, in the rich, full sound of Marguerite's delighted chuckle at his choice, and in her sultry, seductive smile. He bowed mockingly and re-seated himself, still grinning, wearing only his hat. Moments later his smile broadened as Marguerite stood up and walked over to him, looking him over with approval. "Interesting choice, John. But I always knew you valued that hat more than everything else."

"Not everything," he contradicted lightly, his voice low and coaxing as he tugged on her hands. Moments later his smile deepened as Marguerite sat down, straddling his lap as she brought her lips to his. Maybe I should have known better, but then again, while Marguerite can be a poor loser, she's a very generous winner. And I think we both win tonight.


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