Lust and Other Disasters in Harlan County by TheSouthernScribe
Summary:

 

Justified:

Raylan Givens' return to Harlan County creates more complications than Rachel Brooks has bargained for. Choices will need to be made and honesty about all the games that have been played will be required.


Categories: Primetime Television Characters: None
Classification: Off Cannon
Genre: Drama, Friendship, Romance
Story Status: On hiatus indefinitely
Pairings: None
Warnings: Adult Situations, Extreme Language, Strong Sexual Content , Work in Progress
Challenges: None
Series: Welcome to Harlan County
Chapters: 12 Completed: No Word count: 14234 Read: 27273 Published: 11/02/11 Updated: 15/08/11
Story Notes:

This story picks up with the first episode of the second season of the fx series Justified. A few implied spoilers, totally off the arc of the show, because this is my verse.I do refer to events from the oneshot, 'Play Nice', it's not a requirement to read that one, but if you want to, by all means be my guest.

 

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

1. Character Introduction by TheSouthernScribe

2. Intro by TheSouthernScribe

3. Sweep Around Your Own Front Door by TheSouthernScribe

4. Reciprocity by TheSouthernScribe

5. Delusions of Grandeur by TheSouthernScribe

6. Intimate Understanding by TheSouthernScribe

7. Two Alarm Fire by TheSouthernScribe

8. 1 in the Chamber 32 in the Clip by TheSouthernScribe

9. Dubious Intent by TheSouthernScribe

10. From Conundrum to...Pt.1 by TheSouthernScribe

11. From Conundrum to...Pt.2 by TheSouthernScribe

12. Final Declaration by TheSouthernScribe

Character Introduction by TheSouthernScribe

Raylan Givens:

Rachel Brooks:

Tim Gutterson:

Winona Hawkins:

Intro by TheSouthernScribe

Rachel heard the whispers of her co – workers when she breezed through the doors fifteen minutes later than scheduled. She was happy, somewhat relaxed, and deliciously sore. The previous night had been memorable and fun, but she'd sworn to keep things in their proper perspective. There was absolutely no reason to become enamored with an object of lust. The rubber soles of her shoes made no sound on the tiled floor as she rushed to the pit and prayed that no one had noticed her tardiness.
 


Words like him, back, and trouble floated on the air and came together to form a story she knew all too well, every syllable, consonant and vowel pointed to only one topic; Raylan Givens' return.


She ignored the flip of her stomach, the perspiration on her top lip, and the repetitive beats of her heart. She saw him, well not him exactly but the shadow of the hat that had quickly become his mascot. He was behind closed doors, voice elevated, and eyes stretched as he playfully pleaded his case. Art was not amused and Tim stood back and enjoyed the show. The last name caused a flurry of excitement and Rachel continued the dash to her desk, trading would be seductress for the role of gun toting, sweet faced, yet tough as nails Marshall.


There were things she remembered about that night in the bar when Raylan's fingers first lit her on fire that simple flutter of stubby digits across the nape of her neck, led to a secret tryst in his government sponsored hotel room. They never mentioned their momentary slip, again, nor did they speak of the follow up that occurred a week later, and the third venture they indulged the week after that.


The rest was all rust and stardust.


Raylan's embittered battles fragile friendship with Boyd Crowder…


His unexplainable attachment to Ava Crowder…


Now, to hear the town tell it, you could add the ex Mrs. Givens to the standing room only affair.


"Shit!" Rachel exclaimed, quickly checking to see if anyone overheard her faintly emotional slip.


Who was she to judge?


Cold nights and an empty bed was how her involvement with Raylan Givens began. Weeks had passed and things had changed. There were choices she had made that didn't echo the fire his presence ignited in her bones. Consequences were sure to come; her sleep deprived body, ran solely on the caffeine pumping through her veins was evidence of that fact.


Rachel rolled her eyes, collapsed at her desk, wincing from the discomfort lodged deep within her muscles and focused on the folder in front of her and the grainy mugshot of one Jimmy Earl Dean.


Her thoughts were still on loop when the laughter in the office could no longer be contained. This was standard operating procedure; Raylan shot, maimed, and killed without provocation. He was chastised, relinquished his gun, and proceeded to get shit faced behind the safety of a closed door. Time would pass, smart assed comments would increase and he would eventually leave the boys only event with a furrowed brow and slurred speech.


It happened sooner than later and Rachel squelched the urge to drop her two cents and continued to read the words on the page that she had memorized minutes earlier.


She was an unwilling accomplice when her feet found their way to the foot of his desk. Her mouth barely opened to utter the request, before he was up, coat in hand, hat on head, and out the door. He muttered something about anything being better than desk duty and he'd follow her lead. Her mind immediately shifted to inappropriate thoughts and she willed her flesh to comply with the threads of sanity she still possessed.


It was a lost cause, Raylan Givens was back, and that meant that both her personal and professional life would soon be filled with unnecessary complications.

Sweep Around Your Own Front Door by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

So sorry for the delay. Hopefully life and my updates will get back to normal in the next two to three days.

Thank you to everyone who gave this little tale a try. Stay tuned.

  Sweep Around Your Own Front Door

 

 

Raylan didn’t expect to feel like a kid when he exited Art’s office and saw Rachel studiously positioned at her desk. She was an expert at appearing busy when her mind was elsewhere. He could tell that other things occupied her thoughts by the way her shoulders curled and her lips twisted around the pen in her mouth. He hoped that maybe he had staked claim to a small portion of the mental energy she expelled. Distance, time, and circumstances with a capital C had created a void between them. Initially she’d been threatened by his addition to the office, then she welcomed him, and finally she indulged a few of her deepest fantasies straddling his thighs. That wasn’t all she’d become to him. She was a voice of reason, a friend when everyone else turned their backs on him, and shook their heads in irritation at his continued antics. If Raylan were honest, he’d formed a sacred circle with a few members of the staff; they held a special place in his life, Tim and his unnatural love of fried chicken, Art and his methods of comparing everything to the stresses found in a long, life – draining marriage, and Rachel with her doe eyes and open heart. His colleagues…friends…were the reason he’d walked away from the offered reinstatement in Miami and returned home, back to Harlan.

 

 

 

Then there was the matter of unfinished business.

 

 

Ava…

 

 

Winona…

 

 

First…Rachel…

 

 

Raylan pressed his hands palm down on the polished wood before he attempted to stand. A discomforting sight caught his attention and suddenly he realized just how much the balance could shift in only six weeks. There perched on the edge of Rachel’s desk was Tim. He appeared to be oddly familiar with that position. His fingers stretched and grabbed the pen she’d used to jot notes down on the legal sized paper. He didn’t use his eyes once, no those stayed focused on the gaze turned to meet his. They were playful and to many onlookers, their teasing would have gone unnoticed, but to Raylan he knew it all to well. He’d been replaced. He cleared his throat and it was enough to disturb the scene in his peripheral view. Rachel and Tim returned to their duties and Raylan was left to stew in the mess he created.

 

 

He paused in the midst of the chaotic work day and hoped for a moment of unspoken understanding with the appealing junior Marshall, instead he was ignored. He slammed drawers, sighed loudly, and waited.

 

 

Nothing.

 

 

He endured hours of interrogation about Boyd Crowder and the $20,000 he’d given Arlo that had somehow disappeared into thin air.

 

 

No deliverance came.

 

 

Raylan needed relief and that’s why his mouth opened and the sound left as soon as his nose detected the scent of Shea butter seconds before she appeared at his desk. He swallowed the words that nearly spilled from his lips. Questions about what was going on with her fellow Marshall looped over and over again in his brain.

 

 

There was no sense in drilling her on the particulars of what had changed in the weeks he’d spent back east. Instead he curled his fingers around the steering wheel and listened to her recount meaningless details about some released pedophile harassing a young girl. Old habits died hard, there was teasing about the perpetual wearing of his hat and the shoot first ask questions later stance that often got him into hot water with Art. He’d missed the sound of her laugh and the breathiness of her tone. It was easy to just be Raylan Givens and equally hard. Rachel made him desire things, long nights in smoky bars with blues singers crooning a tune just for them. He had no right to drag her into the complicated schematics of his love life.

 

 

Rachel didn’t ask about Ava or Winona even though he knew it was killing her and Raylan remained stoically silent.

 

 

Business as usual became their comfort and overshadowed the weight of unresolved feelings.

 

 

Thankful for her nerves of steel when she pulled on Jimmy Earl at the gas station, he soon found himself ashamed of the pride that wouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie on the way back to the office.

 

 

He felt his brow furrow with commencement of his question, “Gutterson...”

 

 

Rachel interrupted his train of thought before it could be completed.

 

 

“Raylan Givens you have no right to lecture me on what I do with my personal life. It’s personal and my life. I don’t tell you…”

 

 

Her voice trailed off as she stared out over the hood, steadying the town car between the white lines and ignoring the whine of the tires against the asphalt.

 

 

“Rach…”

 

 

“I’m not having this conversation. There was Ava and if you think I can’t smell the traces of Winona’s perfume and shampoo all over you, you’re a fool. Sweep around your own front door Givens before you try to sweep around mine.”

 

 

That was the end of the attempted discussion.

 

 

He looked on helpless as he stood in the parking lot of the field office, watching as she gathered her belongings, cussing and muttering incoherently under her breath. All the time her phone lit with the constant calls from a number he knew well.

 

 

It was formality falling into bed with Winona an hour later. Salve for the open wound on his battered ego.

Reciprocity by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Work and the last two weeks of Advanced Financial Management are not letting me get anything else done. I'm sorry. I love you guys. Please know that as soon as I take my final next week, normalcy should return to my posting schedule.

I know I also promised Winona and Rachel interaction this update...well it makes more sense in the next round...where there will be Tim and Raylan interaction...stay tuned...thank you so much for reading.

Reciprocity

Tim’s slender frame was painfully obvious to Rachel’s tired eyes when they landed on the unmarked car parked along the curb outside of her home. She’d successfully ignored the fifteen calls he had delivered to her phone, cleared the ten ensuing text messages, and deleted all the half silent, fully irritated voicemails.

 

This just wasn’t the night.

 

Target apprehended, Raylan shut down, all Rachel wanted was a hot bath, and a chilled bottle of wine. Besides, they were only friends. She’d had the conversation with him already about her heart not being capable of withstanding more. Personal and professional were to remain separate; she’d drawn clear lines, provided concise rules, and expected his full compliance.

 

Really she should have known that just like every other man in Harlan, Tim Gutterson was only committed to his own agenda.

 

He was out of the car by the time she parked. One of his hands reached for the seat belt that kept her confined to the vehicle, the other guided her from the driver’s seat. Before she could complain he’d managed to grow another set of limbs and he used them dutifully to retrieve the keys from her hand. The walk from the driveway to the top step was slow and quiet. They both averted their gazes, opting for stealing glimpses of moonlight and noting the flight patterns of the planes in the sky. She fidgeted while he fumbled with the lock of her door until she noticed that the sharp shooter’s hands shook. That sight alone smoothed the edge that had settled along the top layer of her skin and her ears heard it in her tone when she reached for his hand and extended what could be construed as an olive branch.

 

“Let me try,” Rachel whispered the request as she took the keys and opened the door in less than a second.

 

She paused in the doorway, contemplating her options before she stepped aside, clearing a small path, and allowing him entrance. The door closed and a shallow breath followed. The lady marshall knew in the morning the invisible wall she had erected between them would be missing a brick, maybe two.

 

Tim always knew what and what not to say. His fingers found the knots in her shoulders and he kneaded gently as she walked through the house.

 

Rachel surveyed her home, fluffing the pillows on the couch, checking the bottles of water in the fridge, all while her guest continued the attention he’d directed to her shoulders. She felt her body relax and her resistance level further decreased. Slowly her frame molded against his.

 

“I can…”

 

And before the apostrophe and the‘t’ could be added to those three little letters, lips found the curve of her neck, strong, familiar arms circled her waist, and Tim added the simple plea, “Don’t say that.”

 

Rachel stood there for what felt like hours but only amounted to a few minutes.

 

Not tonight, she wasn’t going to do this tonight. This is how everything began with Gutterson; a moment of weakness and self depreciation, his obvious discernment of what had happened between her and Raylan.

 

Rachel wasn’t sure if it had been the constant surveillance she kept on Raylan’s empty desk or the way she inquired about his whereabouts to Art, but Tim had cornered her in the elevator weeks before, halting the metal’s movement while he stared at her intently. He’d always made her nervous - war vet, with a keen eye, and a quick hand, hell he might shoot up the entire office on a whim.

 

However, that day there had been something in his perusal.

 

The precision with which his blue eyes studied the contours of her face and the softness that resonated in them when she finally allowed her hesitant gaze to meet his. She’d invited him to dinner at her mother’s and watched in utter shock as he charmed the original Ms. Badass Brooks and won over her hard to please nephew. There were a few rounds of Jack at the pool hall on the outskirts of town. She hadn’t cared about the dirty looks or vulgar whispers that tickled her ears when they made their way to the pool table. Rachel had indulged herself a moment of pleasure when the butterflies in her stomach took flight when Tim’s fingertips brushed hers when he passed the stick from his hand to her palm.

 

Tim’s power that night had been evident in everything he did not say. He had known that Rachel welcomed Raylan to her bed, but he had allowed her to reveal all her dirty little secrets when she was ready. He listened to the how and why; the explanation that led him to understanding her path of insanity. At the conclusion of her tale, he didn’t pass judgment; he held her and let the tears fall from her eyes. In the morning she had awakened alone, fully dressed, and strangely empowered. A new friendship formed between them. There were more evenings around her mother’s table and adventures with an eight ball and a pool cue.

 

Where everything with Raylan had been filled with a sense of urgency, the development with Tim was handled with care. They added lunch to dinner. His purely platonic overnight visits became more frequent. It was killing her softly, ignoring the attraction growing between them and avoiding moments of awkwardness.

 

Then Tim finally made what could be classified as a move.

 

Maybe it had been an accident but as she washed and dried the dishes from dinner and moved to return the porcelain back to their safe haven in the cabinets, she became aware of the close proximity of his body. The masculine scent of his sweat mingled with a hint of fear, and a flaccid, yet impressive bulge in the front of his pants. She was unsure if he heard the hitch in her breath when said obtrusion glanced over her backside. She was positive that he had picked up the deepened breathing and rapid heartbeat when she felt him touch her yet again.

 

The subsequent kiss had been long overdue.

 

At the time Rachel had felt like a puppet, yielding to the command of the strings Tim pulled. Her body turned to face his, the firmness of the counter pressed into her back, as his hand lifted her chin higher, until their lips met. Her eyes had remained open, watching the flutter of his lashes and tilt of his head. Breathless and frightened she succumbed to the energy in the fingertips that traced lines along the length of her neck. She’d melted with each new touch; thrown caution to the wind and abandoned all the reason and logic she possessed.

 

In the morning Rachel had felt that strange trickle of regret as it ebbed and flowed from the center of her chest. She’d done it again, created an unbearable situation in both her professional and personal life. Then it washed over here, the eerie warmth of calm when Tim threw an arm over her waist and led her body closer to his and urged her back to the peace of sleep.

 

Rachel longed for that simplicity now.

 

The serenity found in Tim’s embrace.

 

“Tim.”

 

His body went rigid with the whisper of his name.

 

“Rachel…”

 

She extricated herself from his arms and widened the distance between them. She knew what he would say. He understood. She needed time. Things would be different. It was bullshit. She hated that everything changed when Raylan Givens crossed the state line.

 

Rachel waited for Tim to move closer. She took a deep breath and anticipated the care and concern he would bestow to erase the emotional and physical gap between them. The time never came. The door closed with a loud thud behind him and new regrets spurred fresh tears that she refused to let fall from her eyes.

Delusions of Grandeur by TheSouthernScribe

Delusions of Grandeur

 

 

Every morning Raylan walked to the paneled lobby and poured two Styrofoam cups to the brim with freshly percolated Maxwell House coffee. It would be another hour before the neighboring diner opened and this was the best he could do for an early morning pick me up. The bottle of Jim Beam securely hidden in his room between the head board and the wall had been drained upon his return to the motel the night before. He threw a half – hearted yet totally charming smile in the direction of the pudgy woman behind the desk, and quickly exited the way he came before the scent of White Shoulders perfume could overtake him and force him to lose consciousness.

 

His head was down when he crossed the threshold, kicking the door closed with one boot covered foot. Winona emerged from the bathroom and slipped her feet into the peep toes at the foot of his bed. She moved around the room with complete ease, it reminded him of the days when they were still man and wife, committed to the vows they’d exchanged. Funny how quickly things changed. He regretted the end of his marriage and the bitterness that had formed around his heart and the fist shaped muscle in his ex – wife’s chest. He sighed and stepped closer, waiting in silence for her snark laced good bye.

 

It was the same exercise every morning. Conversations about what could have been, mentions of the realtor he refused to mention by name, but this morning was different. A new character factored into their heated discussion and it made him wonder when he became so obvious.

 

“Don’t call me the next time Rachel Brooks wounds your precious ego.”

 

Winona glossed her lips and gave her ponytail a final tug before she met his gaze. For a moment Raylan considered denial, until he deemed it pointless. He preferred the mornings she admitted how she truly felt about him. The secrets that his body interpreted from the kisses she placed on his chest. He hated the evil bitch she became when reality set in. The divorce wasn’t completely his fault. Sure he was emotionally unavailable and prone to running from difficult discussions, but Winona could never doubt the love he professed for her. That four letter word kept him in a marriage months after he discovered her indiscretions; the same one syllable expression that drove him from Ava’s arms back to his wife…former wife. Now it was only confusion and the false sense of comfort that accompanied familiarity.

 

“It’s too early for your shit.”

 

He shoved a cup of coffee in her hand before he settled on the bed, watching as her lips twisted and her mind raced.

 

“I don’t deserve to be treated…”

 

“Like what Winona, a hussy who cheats on her husband, ignores a lifetime of promises, and all just to get what she wants. Save it, you can’t point fingers at me this time, there are four more pointing right back at your ass.”

 

Raylan took a long sip from the cup clutched tightly in his hand, searing his tongue on the black liquid. The coffee was still too damn hot and it wasn’t what he wanted; more and more this wasn’t what he wanted.

 

There were no victory laps that morning, no need for celebratory rolls in the hay, since everything remained unresolved and strained between the former spouses.

 

Winona stormed out, hot as fire, muttering curses as she stalked from the door to her car.

 

When Raylan arrived at the office, there were no accidental encounters on the elevator or beyond. He hated that his eyes drifted across the pit to a desk in front of the row of windows. It was empty, the computer monitor black, and the light still as dim as it had been the night before.

 

“Givens, get your hind quarters in here…NOW!”

 

Raylan winced when Art’s voice pierced his thoughts.

 

He stood in the door of his boss’ office and immediately became aware of the daggers shooting from Gutterson’s eyes. There was no amusement hidden there and it was obvious that the deputy’s night had mirrored Raylan’s morning and evidently he was the one blamed.

 

“This is cut and dry, but to keep your unjustifiable shooting ass out of trouble, Tim’s gonna ride shotgun on this one,” Art peered over the top of his glasses, “literally.”

 

The tension in the air thickened as Art continued to lay out his expectations and elaborate on his usual instructions. Tim continued to stare, before he lifted his gun from the holster, checked the clip, and pointed it in Raylan’s direction. He swore he saw the man mouth the words; I never miss, before he slipped from the office.

 

“Givens I don’t know what kind of malarkey you’re up to, but it ends now.” Art slammed the door and turned to face Raylan with hands on hips, “I overlooked the Ava bs, tried to reassign your ass when the Boyd shit hit the fan, but now your toxic nature has drifted to the best of my team.” Art stepped closer, finger pointed directly in Raylan’s face, “I don’t know what you said or did to Rachel but stay away from her or else I’ll tell Tim to make sure he doesn’t miss.”

 

Raylan opened his mouth with every intention centered on his defense, but he lost his voice when he saw her petite frame pass Art’s office.

 

“I mean it Raylan, Rachel doesn’t deserve to be stuck in whatever the hell this is you have going on. She’s a damned good marshal and an even better woman.”

 

Raylan read between the lines and finished superior’s statement, “One I don’t deserve.”

 

He emerged from the office slightly deflated, tempted to walk to her desk, but opting to avoid a personal confrontation in a very public place. Rachel was different this morning. Gone was the customary bun. Her jet black shoulder length hung loosely in body filled layers. She shucked off her black blazer and revealed a bright turquoise colored top that accentuated her skin perfectly. He committed the sight to memory and headed towards Tim Gutterson.

 

It took the sure shot a moment to notice his looming presence. Tim’s attentions were also focused on the female deputy. Raylan cleared his throat and received look that could kill.

 

“Give me five minutes.”

 

The words drifted over Gutterson’s shoulder to Raylan’s ear.

 

He watched helpless as the deputy eased himself down on woman’s desk. No words passed between them.

 

It wasn’t necessary.

 

The silent conversation held their apologies. He would have missed the knuckles that brushed across her cheek if he blinked. Surely he would have missed the corresponding smile and the light that filled her eyes.

 

“Shit.”

 

He grumbled, plopping the hat on top of his head, he really should have blinked.

 

 

~

 

 

The last man Rachel had allowed to worm his way beneath her skin in Raylan Givens’ fashion had left her with an empty bank account and a wounded spirit. In fact in many ways he’d been a carbon copy of the marshal. Exchange one hat for another, same cocky smile, inflated ego, just blessed with a different genetic makeup. She had walked away from the relationship, heart heavy, eyes filled with tears, and years later she was still thankful for the lessons she’d learned. Obviously something didn’t stick because now, the cowboy wannabe was affecting her job and ruining a perfectly good friendship with excellent benefits.

 

Today that would change.

 

She awoke that morning with a fresh outlook. Tim’s departure the night before had forced her to take a long, hard look at her life.

 

She was alone.

 

Often she blamed the demands of her job as well as the schedule she kept, but truth be told if she wanted more with a man it was possible. Rachel had made time to lose her mind over Raylan and his physical prowess. She’d drifted into a deeper friendship and companionship with Tim over thirty minute pitchers of beer. She wasted an hour maybe two a week receiving hot stone massages and pedicures.

 

She just had to stop being scared, step out on faith, and just do it.

 

She wasn’t her sister.

 

She was smarter than that.

 

Enough was enough. Art had looked at her funny the day before and made a rare call to her cell at the crack of dawn and told her to take her time getting to the office, so he could clear the air. In Art speak, he needed to rip Raylan a new one over what the hell he was doing, and quite possibly whack Tim up side the head all before she stepped her sweet little self into the lion’s den.

 

Rachel took his advice, opting for a morning at the gym, to relieve the tension that still resided in her shoulders. She stopped by the salon and begged for a wash and trim before her stylist’s first client of the day arrived. She even sprung for a cup of expensive, frothy coffee that cost more than it should.

 

Things were looking better, until the doors of the elevator opened in the lobby and a travel buddy joined her on the ride upstairs.

 

“Good Morning Deputy Brooks.”

 

Winona’s saccharine sweet tone sounded like nails on a chalkboard to Rachel's ears.

 

“Ms. Hawkins.”

 

Rachel dipped her head and took a sip of her coffee.

 

The woman reached for her hair and fluffed, “I love your hair.”

 

Again she cringed watching the numbers tick as they drew closer to their destination.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Rachel knew the formalities would soon dissipate and Winona’s true intentions would become clearer.

 

“Listen.”

 

The marshal’s eyes closed and she took a deep breath in preparation for Winona’s monologue.

 

“Raylan and I are trying to work through our issues, so I would appreciate…”

 

Rachel’s eyes popped open as her finger pressed the button to pause their ascent, “Excuse me, I have no interest in you, Raylan, or your so – called issues. We’re co – workers and friends. I don’t give a damn about his personal life.”

 

Throwing a wicked glare in Winona’s direction, Rachel released her hold a second after the irritating buzz began. She took a steadying breath before stepping off the elevator and into the office. 

 

Lies…

 

Everything she said had been a lie; she did care, especially about Raylan and the games his ex continued to play with his heart. She cared, even as she watched Art lay down the law with Raylan, she wanted nothing more than to apologize for the harsh tone she had used on their ride home. She needed to admit that it hurt like hell when he chose Ava and now Winona. Eventually, she would be okay, however confession was the first step to healing.   

 

Rachel could feel eyes on her as she settled at her desk. A short time passed and Tim joined her, asking for permission to sit, stand, or go play in five o'clock traffic on a green light. She nodded and he took his usual seat on the edge of her desk. There were bags under his eyes, but he attempted to smile in spite of what he thought or felt. Before she could speak a word,  rough knuckles brushed across her skin. She yielded to his touch, turning her head to take in more of the comfort he offered. Warmth filled her and she knew it was time.

 

Rachel owed Tim a chance.

 

She blocked out the sight of Raylan in the distance and swallowed the lump in her throat. Her lips parted but her visitor shook his head.

 

“We’ll talk later.”

 

Were the only words he said before he walked to meet the fidgeting marshal waiting at the door.

 

No more delusions of grandeur, as pleasing as the thing with Raylan had been, Rachel had to admit it was over, and move forward. Now if she could only force the raw ache deep within her into agreement.

Intimate Understanding by TheSouthernScribe

Intimate Understanding

Tim said nothing – later – when he arrived on Rachel's doorstep.

He was noticeably drunk. She looped one of his arms around her shoulders and dragged him inside. The last thing she needed was one of her nosey neighbors floating a play by play description to her mother. Then she would have to listen to a sermon about loose women and the men who indulge in what they have to offer. Rachel had heard a similar speech months before when her mother met, Raylan briefly in passing. He didn't make a good first impression. There were mentions of lust in his eyes and disaster waiting to happen.

"That man won't do nothing but break your heart. Last thing I need is another dead…"

Her mother's tirade ended before her sister's name left her lips. Something changed in the older woman's eyes when she cupped her daughter's face in her hands, "Just find somebody that's gonna love you. Hurtin' doesn't do a thing but add wrinkles and gray hair while shortening your time here on God's green earth."

Rachel took a deep breath and lugged Tim through the foyer. His feet tangled with hers and they nearly fell once, twice, all before they collapsed into a sweaty heap on her couch. She was breathing heavily as she brushed the stray strands from her eyes. She suddenly became conscious of the tank and boy shorts she wore and that intoxicated gleam in her colleague's eye that reminded her of another man that often showed up on her doorstep in the same condition.

Twelve hours before, Deputy Tim Gutterson was of sound mind and body. He was sober and sentenced to ride along with his fellow...

Rachel groaned for the umpteenth time since Tim's arrival. She recognized the signs that only came with a night out with the Stetson hat wearing idiot; the scent of debauchery hinged on endless rounds of whatever was on tap at the dive with the greasy and delicious onion rings. She tugged at the cotton hem of her shirt attempting to cover more of her exposed skin. Her drunken visitor's fingers curved around the length of her ponytail and she grew increasingly.

"I saw your boyfriend tonight."

Tim whispered against the shell of her ear.

Rachel reminded herself that alcohol enabled the insecure fool and she fought the urge to engage in an unnecessary argument.

"Fucker…asked me…" Tim's words slurred as his train of thought left the station, "Know what he asked me Rach?"

She cringed at the use of the familiar nickname. She added space between them, curling into the corner of the couch and gripping a pillow tightly in her lap.

"He asked me what the hell was going on between us and I told him hell if I know." Tim stood on shaky legs, "He left you. He hurt you."

His statements pierced her soul. She'd never said that much, he'd deciphered the facts between tears and shots of jack.

"He doesn't deserve a second chance." He stood tall, "He doesn't deserve you."

The man took a graceless tumble to the couch, nearly falling on top of her. She sat there for a moment, unsure of what to do next, whether she should reach for him or add more distance between their bodies. There were moments of instability that came and went with Tim. She'd never pressed him about what he had seen or endured during the early operations of the War on Terror. He was strong and fragile in the same breadth.

"What the hell is going on?'

Tim mouthed the words more than he said them. Rachel didn't have an answer, not one that she could make audible. So she moved forward, kissing him lightly. Her lips landed on the corner of his mouth.

He didn't respond.

He sat there, back ramrod straight, and eyes focused on the wall before them.

She tried again, kissing him with firmer lips, with more intensity. She threw a leg across his waist and settled her body on his lap. His hands found her shoulders, slid down her back, and finally rested on her ass.

Rachel slipped Tim another kiss, this time his lips parted and his mouth granted access to the warmth of her tongue. The slightest moan escaped him and encouraged her to move further. She lowered her attentions, pausing to taste the point of his chin and the dimple that was often highlighted by his smile. Lower she moved to the Adam's apple that bobbed, nervously up and down with every sound he emitted as her hands recorded every inch of his body.

She settled on his neck, trailing warm breath along his skin. She remembered their first time; his uncertainty at the ability to deliver upon the promise in his jeans. Now he wasn't the most well – endowed man but for what he lacked in size, he far exceeded in attention to detail and effort expelled. Her fingers found his zipper as she searched for that man again, the one consumed with pleasing her. She found him when her palm pressed against his lower abdomen and drifted between denim and cotton.

Tim had Rachel on her back in seconds. Her legs spread and his body between them. The haze had lifted and she was sure that his mind was clearer. She raised her hips, brushing against the part of him peeking from the open fly of his jeans.

His thumb grazed her lips, "I don't want to be second best."

She nodded, "You're not."

Rachel wrapped her legs around him and allowed her arms to circle his neck. He dipped lower, claiming her lips, before allowing his tongue to taste salt slick skin at the base of her neck. He took his time that night, laying claim to her in an attempt to erase the memories evoked by the presence of the man who refused to mention by name. He reacquainted himself with her left and right breast. He made a proper introduction with her belly button and when fingers, then tongue separated her delicate folds, the lady marshal finally exhaled and murmured Tim's name.

Two Alarm Fire by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

I know...I know...I needed another Raylan and Rachel interaction...gamechanger next update...for now...enjoy :)

“You’ve been a bad boy.”

 

 

 

Raylan stopped dead in his tracks, he’d heard those words from Rachel’s lips before. Just never at the office or in this particular context.

 

 

 

“Pardon?”

 

 

 

He tipped the brim of his hat with a finger and noted her irritation.

 

 

 

“Coffee?”

 

 

 

Rachel didn’t even say good morning to Raylan when he entered the office. She’d smarted off about being a bad boy, all over coffee. He had known it was Wednesday and therefore his turn to make the daily java run, but Winona’s sudden need to be truthful about the bagful of cash under their bed in the bungalow had thrown him for a loop. He had more on his mind than Starbucks. He was totally consumed with keeping his ex – wife out of a federal prison.  Anyway, why did they have to spend hard earned money on coffee when they had a pot and tin full of Maxwell House on the break room counter? He fell into his chair and pushed the power button on his computer. He could feel the female deputy’s eyes and her mounting disapproval. She knew the signs, bloodshot eyes, day old stubble, and wrinkled clothing. Instead of digging in deeper she decided to remind him that he’d been replaced.

 

 

 

“Tim will get it.” Her chair creaked when she turned back to her monitor. “He’s out on an errand.”

 

 

 

Less than ten words were all it took to lay that last straw on his back.

 

 

 

It started the night before over a few rounds of beer and pool. Raylan had asked Tim about Rachel.

 

 

 

“She’s a damned good marshal, that’s what I think of the lovely Ms. Brooks.”

 

 

 

The deputy bent over the table cracked the balls and ignored each and every subsequent attempt of Raylan’s meddling. Once they were both good and lit, he took a chance and asked again; this time with a little more bass in his voice. Two broken pool sticks later and a few additional bruises, he had his answer. Gutterson had serious feelings for Rachel and maybe she felt the same way.

 

 

 

He was losing her.

 

 

 

“Get off my case Rach, its just flippin’ coffee; I’ll take your turn on Friday.”

 

 

 

Rachel bristled under his tone, biting down on the pen in her hand to silence whatever retort she had on tap. She shook her head and returned her attention to the images on her screen. The wall went back up between them. She shut him out and now it was his responsibility to get back in. He turned his chair in her direction and placed his feet on the edge of his desk.  Tim was right, she was a damned good marshal; meticulous, strong, calm under pressure, and beautiful. Those facts were obvious. He’d seen that in the weeks before when she had the chance to repay her brother – in – law for the pain he caused their family. Instead she let it go. He was reminded every day when she graced him with a smile. He respected and cared about her. That was the reason he left and took the drama that surrounded his life with him.

 

 

 

“I slept through my alarm.”

 

 

 

Raylan muttered the excuse as a half hearted apology, hoping to smooth the waters between them.

 

 

 

Rachel paused for a brief moment, meeting his eyes, until she picked up her phone and dialed Tim’s number.

 

 

 

He made a mental note to remind Art about the office fraternization policy later.

 

 

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

 

 

 

 

From there, the day went to hell in a hand basket.

 

 

 

The judge who was obsessed with his failed marriage to Winona and their rekindled friendship.

 

 

 

A surprise appearance by Boyd Crowder in the marshal controlled courthouse.

 

 

 

Not to mention Winona’s damsel in distress charade.

 

 

 

Rachel…

 

 

 

His colleague appeared out of nowhere, hands on hips, and demanding his immediate presence in the pit.

 

 

 

“Art said now.”

 

 

 

Raylan pulled his eyes and attention from Winona and her building disaster and focused on Rachel’s petite frame. He remembered a time when he would have detected the playfulness in her tone, but now there was disdain and an ounce or two of disgust.

 

 

 

He waited until they were alone before he halted the elevator’s climb.

 

 

 

Rachel immediately went on the offensive.

 

 

 

“Where do you get off interrogating Tim about what we do after hours?” She pointed her finger square in his face like she was six foot two instead of twelve inches shorter, “I told you, sweep around…”

 

 

 

His next move only confused the situation more.

 

 

 

Rachel Brooks infuriated him.

 

 

 

She was so headstrong and determined to have things her way that she couldn’t stop and listen for thirty seconds. He grabbed her by the shoulders, pulled her forward, and kissed her. He released all the mounting stress that had built in his shoulders and neck for the past two weeks in that moment of weakness. 

 

 

 

At first she didn’t respond. She remained limp in his arms and then her lips sprung to life and her hands climbed up his back before they settled at the nape of his neck. It felt like old times. An easier point in history before all the confusion of ex – wives and almost high school loves. It was so blissful that he didn’t even feel the smack that landed on his face.

 

 

 

He rubbed his stinging jaw, “What the hell you do that for Rachel?”

 

 

 

She was seething, “Don’t ever do that again.”

 

 

 

When the doors opened she tossed him a smug look, “Two alarms.”

 

 

 

Raylan made his confusion known with a furrowed brow and twisted frown.

 

 

 

“You need two alarms, so you can get your triflin’ ass up in the morning.”

 

 

 

Rachel stormed off the elevator and right into Boyd Crowder’s path. Now enemies and at one time friends, Boyd knew all of Raylan’s weaknesses. He was also well versed in deducing when he’d pissed a woman off. He smiled charmingly at the lady marshal before searching for his one time buddy’s eyes. He dipped his head and returned his focus to the woman in his grasp. From where Raylan stood, he could tell it was all general pleasantries, but even that momentary gesture set his jealousy to flight. The conversation went on for too long before Boyd released her and Rachel returned to their office.

 

 

 

Crowder was all smiles when he reached the spot where Raylan stood holding up the elevator and causing the pronounced buzz to ring out on the floor.

 

 

 

“Raylan Givens, I didn’t take you for the kind…”

 

 

 

The marshal grabbed the man’s lapels and forgot about his surroundings.

 

 

 

“It would be best if you didn’t finish that sentence.”

 

 

 

“Ah I just wanted to impart a little friendly advice. You know it’s hard to handle two strong willed women, especially when they work in the same building.”

 

 

 

Raylan let Boyd have his moment. Honestly the man didn’t begin to comprehend the truth his statement held.

 

 

 

*~*~*~*~*~*

 

 

 

 

 

The tension in the office grew in the weeks that followed. Raylan found himself strangely relieved by his assigned security detail for Carol Johnson, even if it meant constant interaction with Boyd. He had time away from Winona and the cluster fuck she’d made of their lives. She was needy and impulsive. There was a time when he’d found that enticing. Hell it was one of the reasons he’d fallen for the woman in the first place. Now, those traits would land him in jail or dead, if not both.

 

 

 

Boyd still wore his smarmy know it all grin, but he kept his comments to himself.  There were no further cracks made about the state of the marshal’s love life. At least not from that corner, Art grumbled enough for everyone. Rachel only sat back tight lipped and watched the whole affair play out.

 

 

 

She didn’t utter a thank you when he ordered the largest size latte with extra foam just for her on the days he was expected to spend a tank of gas on overly priced caffeine. Her lips never parted when he did his job efficiently; updating reports in a timely manner, conducting witness interviews before anyone on the team could ask, and yes scanning evidence and forwarding the results to all the necessary parties.

 

 

 

So Raylan definitely didn’t expect for Rachel to make an appearance at the old ball field. She came with glove in hand, retrieved a stray ball from the mound, and flung a fast pitch at the center of his chest.

 

 

 

“Are we speaking again?”

 

 

 

The question came after the first swing of his bat.

 

 

 

“Maybe.”

 

 

 

She pulled the glove from her hand and stared at him. There was more they needed to say, but it simply wasn’t the time, at least brutal honesty was out of the question.

 

 

 

“I just want you to be happy.”

 

 

 

He shared what was in his heart; he just left out the part about him being the one to make that happen.

 

 

 

She nodded.

 

 

 

“I want the same for you Raylan, but this game you’re playing with Winona and Carol.” She looked at the sky above her head and avoided his eyes, “This act with Mags Bennett…I’m worried about…”

 

 

 

Her voice trailed off and he followed her movements; the slow walk to him, the empathetic eyes, and the small hands that held his face. Fingertips traced the cuts and bruises that still littered his face. He took the opportunity to enjoy the momentary comfort she offered.

 

 

 

“I’m a big boy.”

 

 

 

He could have sworn he say her blush at his words connotation.

 

 

 

“I know.” She still held his face, forcing him to look at her, “You have a gun and an insane death wish. I just need you to think. Look at what Mags did to Loretta…to that girl’s father…to half of Harlan County…your not invincible.”

 

 

 

“I can take of myself.”

 

 

 

Silence wormed its way between them. Rachel Brooks had never asked him for a thing; not even his love. Her hands fell to her side and she bit her bottom lip before she spoke.

 

 

 

“Tomorrow is Wednesday.”

 

 

 

“I’m not bringing you the big latte, you don’t appreciate it.”

 

 

 

She pretended to pout and he buckled, “Extra whip cream…”

 

 

 

Her lips turned upwards, “And another splash of vanilla.”

 

 

 

“Just ‘cause you asked so nice.”

 

 

 

“Goodnight Raylan.”

 

 

 

“Goodnight Rach.”

 

 

 

Raylan eyed her retreating frame as she back peddled to her car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 in the Chamber 32 in the Clip by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Implied spoilers for season 2 through episode 2:11 Full Commitment, of course with my own spin on show canon :)

Someone had tried to kill Raylan Givens.





There were a few things Rachel Brooks had grown accustomed to since the Stetson wearing marshall's arrival in Kentucky. Weekly they were required to account for any weapons discharges. Bullets and clips were counted and recorded. It was a ridiculous bunch of hogwash. She groaned, as she became increasingly aware that her internal monologue was now littered with Givens' colloquiums. That could be added to the list along with the nights spent completing lengthy paperwork detailing the events and facts of their cases, no matter how trivial said tidbits may have been. That was life with Raylan Givens around. However what the lady marshal hated the most was the constant presence of Winona Hawkins in her business and professional life. She should have accepted the transfer to the Miami field office when Art asked the year before.





The natural order of business in the field office changed with one of Raylan's tantrums, now that someone had tried to end his life, they had FBI agents crawling around and asking open - ended questions as everyone tried to discover why. She could have answered that question in one breath, it was Raylan. When didn't he piss someone off to the point they wanted to point a gun at his head and pull the trigger. She struggled with the same temptation daily.





Rachel do what?





That's exactly what she thought when Art prattled off their assignments. Rachel had been too consumed with personal reflections to pay sufficient attention to the conversation that continued around her. How in the hell was that supposed to work, protecting the ex - wife, girlfriend, or whatever title Winona answered to at the moment, of the man she use to...





She cut off her train of thought and attempted to focus on the matter at hand. From the corner of her eye, she saw a similar look of terror on Tim's face at the realization he was paired with Raylan. In all fairness neither Raylan nor Winona looked over the moon about the separation or their related tasks. The only one who appeared completely clueless and totally useless was Gary Hawkins. She'd never liked him, and right now Mr. Hawkins reeked of guilt and suspicion.





Rachel added a groan to the roll of her eyes before she moved towards her desk only to have her way obstructed by her colleague.





"Can we talk?"





She shook her head in the negative.





"Absolutely not."





She tried to push past him but he pressed on.





"Come on Rach."





Through clenched teeth she delivered, "Stop calling me that."





He leaned down brushing her ear with his lips, "I don't want to spend a night trapped with Tim in my motel room either, but..."





"But...but...but..." She struggled not to let her voice rise with her elevated blood pressure, "We're here again because the big bad ass Marshal Givens has stuck his nose in the wrong pot and now everyone is going to rain our heads."





She exaggerated her accent and waved her hands in the air with the delivery, which proved more comical than threatening as evidenced by the budding smile on the man's face.





"Get out of my way."





Rachel pushed him aside, only to feel his hand circle her upper arm.





"Be careful."





The words were a whisper and for a moment she thought he actually cared.





"I won't let anything happen to your precious Winona."





She fought to wrench her arm free, only to find her face against his chest. He lifted her chin with a finger.





"I'm not worried about Winona."





~`~





Raylan exited the bathroom to find Tim settled at the table by the window. He was doing a subpar job of pretending to thumb through the Maxim in his hands.





The man's eyes never left the page.





"What the hell was that back at the office Ray?"





And like that the battle began.





"What were those empty threats about never missing?"





He pulled off his boots and peeled the plaid shirt from his body. He was exhausted. It had been the longest twenty four hours he'd endured in a while. The last thing he wanted to do with Tim was argue, he knew that anything he said would be relayed to Rachel and he'd spend twice as long trying to repair the damage done. The intimacies he'd enjoyed in their relationship before were a thing of the past; however he wanted to salvage their friendship. He didn't need Rachel riding...his mind raced with the illicit connotations of that thought...





"Please tell me that look is rooted in X-rated thoughts about your ex-wife and not my..." Tim paused, "Rachel."





Deputy Tim Gutterson had genuine feelings for the marshal that shared their wing of the office. He knew they shared a quasi - friendliness before his reassignment, he just never thought it could or would blossom in to anything more. Maybe his missteps had aided in the formation of their bond.





"Shit." Raylan fell back on the mattress, "I don't want to talk about this tonight." He closed his eyes, "I only need one sharp shooter on my ass at a time."





"It's not your ass I want to be on."





Tim flicked off the light and Raylan did his best not to respond to the comment the man had made.





~`~





"Gary's got some Moscato, want a glass?"





Against her better judgment, Rachel settled at the counter and waited for Winona to pour the wine. There was an all-nighter before her and the last thing she needed was the light- headed tipsiness that often accompanied a few glasses of wine. That feeling would surely lead to an untimely nap and failure at her duties.





The two women sat in silence as they polished off their first round. Rachel reached for the bottle and refreshed their glasses.





"Do you love him?"





She was surprised at her boldness, the need to know how the ex Mrs. Givens felt about her former husband.





"Part of me always will, doesn't mean we're meant to be together."





What was the point? How could you love someone and not fight to be together.





"That's bullshit."





Truth was flowing and the quiet growl of her stomach, reminded Rachel she hadn't eaten since her morning breakfast at Tim's table. Who was she to question Winona's intentions?





"Do you love Deputy Gutterman?"





"It's Gutterson." She leant back and studied the woman beside her, "I hope that was a mistake and not some dumb attempt at a joke."





"No joke," A tiny hiccup escaped the woman's lips before she reached for the bottle again, "Alcoholic tendencies."





"Tim is..." Rachel accepted the refill, "He scares me." She took a slow sip, "Not like Raylan...different."





It was the first time she had acknowledged something had existed between her and the hot tempered Harlan native.





"He has that affect on every woman in a thirty mile radius." A mischievous grin spread across her lips, "Why the hell you think Mags Bennett is trying to kill him. Kill him or fuck him those are the only two feelings any woman can have for Raylan."





Truer words had never been spoken.





"You better get some sleep."





Winona swallowed the last drop in her glass before she stood and mock saluted Rachel.





"Raylan's..."





Rachel watched as the woman struggled to relay the words in her head to her mouth.





"I don't know if it's love Ms. Brooks, but Raylan feels something for you."





"It doesn't matter."





She moved to the stairs.





"That's where you're wrong deputy."





Rachel listened as Winona drug her frame up the stairs to her room and fell on the mattress in the master bedroom. She was still trying to wrap her mind around her drinking partner's words when the first shot rang out in the air. Her reflexes were shit and when the second shot delivered a bullet to her shoulder, her body tumbled to the ground without a fight.

Dubious Intent by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Still lingering around the timeline for episode 2.11 - not sure how much the final two episodes of the season will influence the next few chapters. Some events and revelations have been pulled to get us closer to the end game...other than that...I apologize for the update delay...enjoy it darlings

Dubious Intent

 

 

"I swear if you try to shake me again, I will shoot you square in the eyes and then tell Art you tried to pull your weapon on me."

 

Raylan shrugged at Tim's zealous warning and slipped back into the passenger's seat of the Denali. His fellow marshal had caught up with him outside of Mags' store in enough time to prevent the commencement of the third World War. Doyle Bennett had been itching for a fight that afternoon, but one glance at the former ranger still suffering the after effects of PTSD, had caused the Harlan sheriff to reconsider. Deputy Gutterson was good in a fight and more and more Raylan was beginning to understand what had drawn Rachel to the man.

 

The lady marshal never discussed the Brooks' family life in great detail. Glossed over generalities were all she provided unless otherwise required. He hadn't known about her sister's untimely death until the employee bonding session over an open whiskey bottle in Art's office. She had shared small facets of her childhood with him; her first pet's name, her favorite game, and the dreams she once held for her future. The pain, she always blocked him off from that and Tim wasn't much different.

 

There were no discussions from the veteran about the Afghani children caught on the receiving end of one his bullets. Tim didn't open his family album and vomit all his dirty little secrets about the man he called dad; the same man that beat his ass from birth to eighteen. They all had their demons; Raylan knew that better than anyone.

 

His head rolled back and rested against the leather seat. He allowed his eyes to close and he pushed everything out of his mind.

 

Winona's erratic behavior...

 

Art's disapproving gaze...

 

Gary's guilt - ridden face...

 

The softness of Rachel's skin against his...

 

His phone buzzed snatching him from his newly achieved serenity. His thumb brushed across the screen just as Tim's cell mimicked his phone's earlier notification. A sinking feeling settled in the pit of his stomach as his colleague pulled the SUV into the median.

 

Raylan pushed his hat up, hesitating to share the negative thought plaguing his mind, "When's the last time you talked to Rachel?"

 

Tim's hand gripped the phone in its holster, his eyes were planted on the dashboard, "I didn't...I left her a message while you were in the shower." He took a deep breath, "Winona?"

 

"Same here...message while I was in the shower?"

 

Pushing aside the fear, the men checked their screens to find duplicate texts displaying an address they recognized as the County Hospital. They were barely to the edge of Harlan and a little over an hour away.

 

Raylan adjusted his hat, "This pissing contest with Mags and her baby boys will have to wait until tomorrow."

 

He flipped the switch lighting up the windows with flashing lights as Tim's foot assaulted the gas pedal.

 

"We should have camped out in front of the house last night."

 

Tim echoed exactly what Raylan had been thinking.

 

It was the last phrase spoken for the remainder of the ride.

 

Raylan thought about the women in his life. Winona and her impulsive, poorly thought out plans and Rachel armed with strategy and five stage plans. He loved them both -differently. He feared a part of him would always be vulnerable to his ex - wife. She knew him, the boy he was before he became a man; the kid that only cared about a bat and a random beer. Shit, he'd loved the hell out of that knocked kneed girl the first time she smiled in his direction. That's why her betrayal with another man had torn him apart. His feelings coupled with their history pulled him from Ava's bed and back into her arms.

 

Winona's juju faltered when it came to Rachel, his mind never left the brown - eyed girl with chubby cheeks. Deputy Brooks was a ball buster who with one word could wrap any cowboy especially Raylan around her pinky finger.

 

"Shit."

 

He muttered, rubbing day old stubble, and forcing past images out of his head. He didn't want to think about another man's woman. He didn't want to consider the possibility that she was hurt or even worse...

 

He focused on the marshal he knew her to be; the rule follower. In the line of duty she remained cool and controlled. He had seen evidence of that when he worked with her to bring down her fugitive brother - in - law weeks before. The shot that hit the man had been the first time Rachel aimed her gun intending to cause bodily harm. She had fired off warnings to gain a suspect's attention but she had never crossed the bridge that made her equal to Raylan and his justified discharges.

 

His heart sunk a little lower when the reached the law enforcement reserved parking area by the ER entrance.

 

Winona was pacing outside on the sidewalk when they arrived; her face pale and her eyes bloodshot. Raylan jumped from the vehicle before the brakes were enabled and the gears shifted to park. He prayed that Gary was inside in a bed and Rachel was somewhere gathering eye witness accounts. He knew that was wishful thinking. He stumbled up the walkway, catching his ex as she fell into his arms muttering about shots, blood, and thoughts about dying.

 

Tim didn't move an inch from the driver's seat. The engine remained idle as the man sat frozen, his expression blank, and his hands gripping the steering wheel.

 

Art's frame loomed in the doorway like the grim reaper.

 

"Boys it's about Rachel."

 

Raylan held on to his ex - wife as she cried, listening half heartedly to his superior's words. Someone had attacked in the middle night, catching the deputy on duty in the shoulder.

 

Rachel was okay.

 

He continued to listen, picking out the word superficial from the excessive information his superior offered.

 

When the debriefing ended he pushed Winona towards a startled Tim, "Stay here, I've got some business to take care of."

 

He took two steps only to be rendered useless by the weakened voice that drifted over his shoulder, "Raylan Givens, I'm fine; no one needs to die today."

From Conundrum to...Pt.1 by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Hey babes.

I know it's been a while. The block monster attacked me on this one and it just wouldn't come. Fingers crossed, I hope it's back. We really don't have much further on this one.

There will be a little more action, of two varieties, soon, but for now you get some introspection and character interaction.

Again, I apologize for the delay. I'm glad you guys are enjoying this.

Val this one is for you :)

 

Rachel couldn't help but blame herself for the shooting and the hours spent in the hospital. She had broken a personal rule, never drink on the job, when she'd agreed to share a few glasses of wine with Winona. At the time it had been an innocent opportunity to understand the mind of the woman who kept Raylan Givens entranced like a fourteen year old boy who just lost his virginity. Sure the two women had exchanged a few sarcasm laced exchanges on elevators and in stairwells to get under one another's skin but they had never talked. Dare she say she understood the former Mrs. Givens?

 

Winona Hawkins was confused and probably a little scared. She was facing her second divorce and the possible reunion with the man who at one time she'd promised forever. Trusting Raylan was never the issue, it was always about trusting yourself with your heart and his anytime you dealt with that man. The concept made Rachel groan. She knew things were lighter, easier, and a hell of a lot healthier with Tim. Her head was clear and her mind made up until she let her eyes drift to him.

 

Raylan wasn't the type of man you got over easily.

 

The sex was indescribable.

 

His sense of humor was riot inducing.

 

And the way he filled out a pair of jeans should have been a sin.

 

He was also fiercely protective.

 

There was truth to Winona's words from the night before.

 

Rachel had seen it earlier when Raylan was ready to burn the tread of the tires in a race to end the life of her unknown assailant. That was also when Deputy Marshal Brooks realized, her love life was a conundrum and despite her growing feelings for Tim there were some deeply - rooted, latent issues between her and the Harlan county boy.

 

She felt his eyes boring holes into the back of her head as they rode in silence.

 

Tim was behind the wheel, the professional façade tossed to the wind since the moment he gathered her in his arms outside of the ER. He had refused to let go. Even now his free hand was wrapped tightly around hers. Every few seconds he would pause and study her profile before shaking his head and cursing softly under his breath.

 

"I almost lost you."

 

Her ears deciphered the words he spoke and they did something to her heart. The muscle in the center of her chest tightened and tensed. Her emotions overwhelmed her and she swallowed the lump in her throat and forced the tears behind the wall of her lids. He cared, maybe more, and that knowledge terrified her.

 

Raylan shifted and sighed on the second row of the Denali with Winona nestled safely beside him. His fingers had gripped her shoulder and she'd winced and he'd apologized forgetting that was the shoulder that had the pleasure of being pierced by a bullet. He stretched his legs and kicked the back of her seat.

 

"Shit...sorry Rach."

 

Just hearing his voice confused the situation more. Her eyes fell to the hand entwined with hers. What the hell was she going to do?

 

Hadn't she told him to stop calling her that?

 

They were less than a mile from her home, traveling in a discreet caravan of unmarked cars. Until the mystery of who wanted Gary Hawkins dead, was solved, the five of them would be under the protection of the US Marshals. It was destined to be the sleepover from hell.

 

~`~

 

Gary Hawkins was the first to comment when they entered the house.

 

"Ms. Brooks, I love this home."

 

He switched to smarmy, low rent real estate agent.

 

"Are these the original hardwoods?" He ran his fingers along the molding and intricate detail of the foyer walls, "I know even with today's market, I can get you at least ten to twelve percent above the appraised value of the home."

 

She shook her head, "Not interested."

 

"Well, if you should..."

 

She cut him off with a pointed look, "I'm not interested."

 

The man opened his mouth to speak and quickly shut it when Raylan cocked his gun. Rachel walked away from the disaster waiting to happen and Tim followed. He placed his arm at the small of her back and rubbed before he leaned into her hair, "Why don't you go get some rest."

 

He made the word rest sound dirty.

 

"I need to get..."

 

His hand brushing the hair from her face made her body tingle and her tongue go numb, "Rest."

 

She slipped from his hold, "I need to get everyone settled," before he could argue, "then I will rest."

 

He deposited her bag in the closet by the door. He flicked on the low lights she preferred, grabbed the remote and laughed at the sight that the channel was still set to ESPN where he'd left it the morning before.  He slipped into the chair closest to the plasma and it felt normal, minus the three onlookers who stood in utter disbelief.

 

"Rachel where's the bath..."

 

Before Winona could complete her question and Rachel could fix her mouth to form a reply, Tim chimed in.

 

"Down the hall on the left," He was up and walking towards the group, "She's got that fancy soap that smells like food, but don't use the towels with her initials on them or she'll get all pissy."

 

A hard knock on the door saved Rachel from the intense look of disapproval on Raylan's face. There was no concern about what awaited her on the other side of the door. Her house was surrounded by deputies and she suspected that this was one such person doing his first check - in of the afternoon. Her thinking had been correct and she listened patiently and kindly as the bright - eyed man detailed their findings and relayed the shifts for the evening per Art's instructions.

 

She was in mid- conversation when she felt the heat at her back. She knew it wasn't Tim when the sheer look of terror registered on the young man's face in front of her. Raylan's reputation preceded him. She hurried to finish the de-briefing, so that she could swallow a pain pill and sink into the comfort of her bed.

 

When door closed, Raylan wrapped his arms around her waist, and kissed the top of her head.

 

Rachel turned to face him, "Raylan..."

 

"Tim took Gary and Winona upstairs," There was a shit - eating grin brimming on his lips, "So y'all playing house now."

 

"Not now," She shifted her shoulder and bit on her bottom lip when the pain tore through her muscle.

 

His face softened and his hands cupped her face.

 

"We almost lost you Brooks, do you know how...what...hell..." He threw his hands in the air, "forget it."

 

Rachel reached up and held his hand against her face, "I'm sorry."

 

She knew what he was doing when he moved in closer. She understood the signs; the twinkling eyes, the crooked grin, and that slight intake of breath, just before his lips would meet hers.

 

He held her for a moment; running his nose and lips along the curves of her face. The first kiss was gentle and sweet. It made her body warm and breath heavy. The second was forceful and passionate. Sweat covered her skin and there was a noticeable wetness in her panties. She was slipping, yielding control to him, and then...

 

"Raylan we can't." She took a few steps back, "I won't hurt Tim."

 

Rachel could hear three sets of feet on the stairs, she knew it was a matter of time before they returned to the room and it would only take Tim a few seconds to pick up on the tension between them. She tried to walk away and distance herself from the confusion Raylan birthed, but he pulled her back again.

 

"When this is over," His eyes were hard and cold, "The Bennetts, Gary and his crap, Boyd, you name it," He slid his palm against hers, "Me and you are gonna finish this and you won't be able to hide behind Tim."

 

And like that she went from a conundrum to a complete cluster - fuck.

From Conundrum to...Pt.2 by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

I hang my head in shame for the delay. The writer's block bug bit me hard on this one. I mean like really hard. Now I'm procrastinating because the ending is sketched and don't want to break anybody's heart...but it's coming...it's gonna make me cry...anyway...here's an update...more soon

The scent of freshly pressed garlic hung heavy in the air when Rachel finally opened her eyes. She had to be dreaming. Raylan was the king of take out, Chinese food, wings, pizza, anything other than cooking unless it meant firing up a grill and burning a slab of ribs. Tim was good for breakfast, grits, eggs, toast, things that didn't require a lot of effort or seasoning. So she guessed Winona had to be the one she would have to thank for making her mouth water and her stomach growl. If the woman kept it up, they might actually become friends.

 

Rachel kicked the covers from her body and wondered when she'd made it out of the jeans, button down, and jacket into a pair of shirts and one of Tim's ranger tees. She honestly felt better, but she refused to admit to any sharp shooter or know it all within a three mile radius that she really had needed to rest. Her eyes flitted to the clock it was close to midnight. Had she really slept that long on an empty stomach? She needed food...immediately.

 

Barefoot and starving, Rachel made her way down the hall and to the kitchen. She hoped her company was upstairs, tucked in their beds, and fast asleep. Maybe after a few plates of leftovers and a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios she could find her way back to dreamland. The light from the television spilling into the hallway caught her attention. She could hear the voice of some guy named Stuart, Bill, Mike, Mark, or whatever going on and on about the big game and the shot that could have propelled the team into the playoffs. She poked her head around the corner and frowned when she found the room empty.

 

"Looking for me?"

 

She nearly jumped from her skin when she felt the breath on the back of her neck. She turned and met Tim's amused gaze.

 

"I just left you," He leaned in and pecked her cheek, "Sorry if I woke you."

 

Her eyes grew larger at the sight of the plate in his hand. Pasta tossed in a light sauce with tomatoes, garlic, red onions, and broccoli.

 

"Winona wouldn't fry us any chicken."

 

"Good." The man ate chicken constantly. It was a small miracle that he didn't weigh over two hundred pounds or have the cholesterol level of a small town in Mississippi. She lifted the plate from his hand, "Get me a fork."

 

He pouted for a moment, "That was..."

 

"Gutterson...fork...now..."

 

Rachel made herself comfortable on the couch, pulling a blanket over her legs before grabbing the remote and finding a late night episode of Family Guy.

 

"First you steal my food and then you change the channel...I can't deal with too much more of this abuse woman."

 

Tim settled beside her, lifting her legs into his lap before he dug into the plate of food. She was about to protest until he lifted the fork to her lips. She watched him quietly as he fed her. Occasionally he looked in her direction but mostly he laughed at Stewie's antics on the screen.

 

She couldn't help thinking of the differences in the two men again.

 

Raylan was a commanding presence. He demanded your attention and time. He'd done as much telling her that they would finish their intimate discussion after all the insanity surrounding them ended. Tim just took what she offered. He was here now taking care of her, meeting her needs. She knew that she couldn't fully discount Raylan; he'd probably conceded defeat to keep the peace but...

 

She felt the brush of Tim's rough knuckles against her cheek and Rachel let her internal debate go.

 

"You want some more?"

 

She stared at him, noticing for the first time the way his eyes sparkled in the dimly lit room, the scar just below his left eye, and that his two front teeth were more than a little bucked.

 

"Not the food."

 

Rachel's hand brushed across his thigh to space that held a very obvious bulge.

 

Tim laughed nervously and it did something to her, deep down at her center.

 

"Why Deputy Brooks, are you trying to seduce me?"

 

He shifted her onto his lap, careful to avoid her shoulder. She could make this work. She could be happy with him, just like this.

 

"Tell me if it's working."

 

Tim kissed her, not wincing from the taste of garlic on her tongue. He stood from the couch, holding onto her, keeping her legs wrapped around him. He walked their bodies to her bedroom door.

 

"I can show you better than I can tell you."

 

~`~

Raylan pressed his ear against the door and listened; nothing - not a breath, snore, or moan could be heard.

 

He was thankful for the omission of the last one but still he wanted to be on the other side of the door. Not on the outside looking in. All night Tim had stood watch over Rachel. He was the one to dish out her prescribed dosage of medicine. He delivered the bottles of water. He locked the door behind him when he went in Rachel's room. He raised his hand to bam on the door and then a voice interrupted his very stupid, extremely callous move.

 

"Don't be an ass it's two o'clock in the morning."

 

Raylan prepared to toss a few words of quick wit in Gary's direction but the man's mouth proved too quick for him.

 

"What are you going to do, stand there all night, most of the morning, jump him when he comes out, and then lock yourself inside with her."

 

He moved to walk away.

 

"Not so fun when the shoe's on the other foot."

 

Was Gary trying to imply, "Whatcha you saying Mr. Hawkins, if I recall, Winona was my wife until you came along."

 

The man waved his hand, "And now she's close to being yours again but that's not good enough, you got to have every man's woman...Ava...Winona...Rachel..."

 

Raylan grabbed the real estate agent by the collar t-shirt and pulled him closer, "When I need your advice I'll ask for it."

 

"Y'all grow the hell up and quit acting like two overgrown Harlan County hicks."

 

Gary straightened his clothes and hair and disappeared up the stairs leaving Raylan alone with Winona.

 

Her eyes were heavy and red like she'd been crying and he couldn't help but think he was the cause. Even when he tried not to hurt her, he did.

 

"Never thought I'd see the day Raylan Givens lost his cool for another woman besides me."

 

Raylan raked his hands through his hair. Love still existed in the relationship he shared with his ex - wife. She was his friend before she ever became his lover and he should have known that she could read him like a book.  He reached for her, attempting to hold on to what he could understand but he didn't know why he couldn't shake what remained for the lady marshal.

 

He closed his eyes and inhaled, taking in the medley of vanilla and coconut. His mind immediately went to the woman behind the door.

 

"Raylan..."

 

He put his thoughts on pause.

 

"Yeah..."

 

He tightened his arms around her waist. He felt her body tremble.

 

"What's wrong Winona?"

 

He held her face in his hands and did his best to comfort her in spite of his acceptance of his future decision.

 

"Raylan I'm pregnant."

 

Nothing could ever be simple.

 

"Shit."

Final Declaration by TheSouthernScribe
Author's Notes:

Okay...keep in mind...I borrow bits and pieces from the past season when I want to...other than that...it's just an off canon...au fic...

Also we're bridging to get to the action in the rest of the story...Enjoy

A baby...

 

Responding to Winona the night before had not been an option, his tongue seized, his mouth went dry, and he only wanted to ask how. He knew the particulars, hell he had been an expert in sex education, since the age fourteen, and Beth Hargrove's expert lips on his very thankful thirteen year old erection.

 

The real how and why came down to now, what made them any better equipped to be parents or husband and wife when they had failed miserably the first time around. So instead of saying a word, he simply walked away and locked himself in the bathroom. Long after the house was quiet and the first rays of dawn began to break he escaped from his hiding place and ran right into the petite frame of Rachel Brooks.

 

She was happy and that shit pissed him off.

 

No one deserved her share of romance, love, adoration, and affection more than Rachel Brooks. He still wasn't clear on the whole ex-husband thing and what happened, but he knew the man did a number on her and made it harder than hell for another fucker to crack her hardened exterior. Unfortunately the hat wearing marshal had reminded her of the man and because of that he always felt like he was fighting a losing battle. Tim on the other hand was rose scented fresh air and apparently the bastard had a few tricks up his sleeve because while Raylan was hiding from Winona, he had to find a few moments taking care of the tent in his pants from the moaning he heard drifting from the walls of Rachel's bedroom. Even now he could see fresh passion marks on her skin and fingerprints that belonged to another man. Pure anger made Raylan want to rush into her bedroom and put an end to Tim and their farce of a relationship, but her eyes were warm, soft, and peaceful for the first time in weeks. He couldn't take that away from her.

 

"Coffee?"

 

Raylan willingly left his depressing thoughts at the sound of her voice, "I'd kill for your coffee right now," He hoped she caught on to the subtext and based on the fullness of her smile he was sure that she had. No he wouldn't take her happiness at the moment but he would remind her how good they were together both on and off assignment.

 

Rachel shook her head and motioned for him to follow her. She moved from the hall, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. Out of habit he checked their surroundings. Peeking around corners and chasing shadows away before his fingers lifted the blinds to count the number of unmarked cars guarding the perimeter.

 

Raylan watched silently as she went through the motions, retrieving the beans from the cabinet, pausing to inhale the aroma, before grinding them, and moving on to the next step. She didn't ask how he took his coffee because she remembered it clearly; she spooned sugar, poured cream, and slid the mug across the counter. It was perfection.

 

"Talk Givens."

 

That voice was his Rachel. Not the one who shared a bed with Tim, but the one who broke him down the first night she ever kissed his lips.

 

How had he messed things up so badly?

 

As much as he wanted to be near her, every action had forced them further apart. Gutterson made her happy and that knowledge picked at the scab on the wound she'd inflicted upon his heart. For all the hang ups both men possessed, Tim had been willing to move past his, learn from his tumultuous past, and build a semblance of a relationship with the beautiful woman staring at him now.

 

"Do you want this, the man that kisses your ass, or do you want me?"

 

Raylan was selfish and he was sure it was a trait he'd never outgrow. He should have left well enough alone. He was going to be a dad, she had just been shot, and her fucking ass kissing boy toy was in a sex induced coma in her bed, but when had Raylan ever done what he was supposed to. Never, so he pushed her. If this was his last chance, then he was going to take it. He saw her hesitate as she slipped back into her role of good girlfriend and respectable friend.

 

"Before you tell me to stop or don't, does he make you feel the way I do?"

 

Raylan stood, moving around the island, filling her space with him. He knew he looked awful, unshaven and eyes red from lack of sleep, but he needed to let her know how he still felt.

 

"Do you know how I felt when I thought," His hands slid up her bare arms and rested on her shoulders, "If anything had of happened to you," He took a breath as his fingers trailed along her neck, "Tell me right now you don't want me Rachel and I'll leave you alone, hell, I'll watch you make a fool of yourself with Tim, I'll forget how my name sounds on your lips," His face moved closer to hers, "Just before you come." He closed his eyes, "I'll walk away from everything I feel and let you have your future with Tim."

 

She was silent, but her eyes never left his.

 

"Is that what you want," He licked his lips, "Tell me what you want?"

 

She lifted her body up on her tip toes, her mouth meeting his, but hesitating in guilt ridden kiss. He closed the gap, careful not to grip her shoulder too tightly, but dead set on relaying with every fiber of his being that he wasn't going down without a fight. The kiss went on longer than it should have a battle of wills and tangled tongues.

 

They were both fighting for dominance in the moment of intimacy and in the end Raylan was the clear winner, breaking the kiss and declaring without a thought, "I had you first and I am sure as hell not ready to let you go."

Rachel stood visibly shaken by what had occurred. He took a few steps back, creating a safe distance between them, and she moved closer. Her arms were wrapped around her body, and ever so often the tips of her fingers would drift to the lips he had just thoroughly kissed.

 

"Raylan..."

 

His cell buzzed, interrupting her thought, "Hold on...just a sec..."

 

Raylan's finger hesitated above the button. He recognized his father's number. He greeted his caller with silence. The man on the other end slowly began to unravel into tears and incoherent babbling. However there was one thing he understood, he had to get to Harlan, his aunt Helen had been gunned down in her home.

 

He threw the phone across the room, signaling the end of the call.

 

Raylan's knees buckled. Winona and Rachel held special places in his heart, however Helen, she meant more to him than words could express. She had tried to protect him, forming a shaky truce with Mags Bennett on his behalf, and he'd done his best to destroy it, with his smart assed comments, and half cocked attacks. Rachel's shooting had been a warning he was sure of it, but Helen's death was a promise of what was to come. He'd stop it before things went further. He'd end the battle before it could even begin.

 

Rachel grabbed his arm but he shook her off.

 

"Raylan don't do anything stupid."

 

He wanted to say he wouldn't but that would be a lie, so he said nothing. He kissed her, grabbed his jacket, hat, and ran out the front door.

 

 

 

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