Title: Phoenix Rising
Author: Geekgrrllurking
Author’s Email: Geekgrrl.lurking@gmail.com
Rating: 15
Pairing: Jaime/Ruth
Word Count: 1740
Summary: A tough anniversary doesn’t have the same effects when spent with family and friends.

Disclaimer: Bionic Woman and its characters are the property of NBC. No infringement intended.

Author’s Notes: Part Nine in the Side Effects series following That Which Doesn’t Kill You. Other stories in the series can be found here.

Beta: Thank you to Ms_Josephine

Jaime Sommers sat on the wrap around deck of Jae's log home in the woods, idly spinning the ice in her drink, pleasantly distracted as she watched her lover moving in the warm late afternoon sunshine. The early morning, long drive and trip across the lake had definitely been worth the effort to get to this gorgeous locale. Listening to the gentle waves breaking on the rocky shoreline, she started to truly relax.

Light glinted off the sharp axe head as Ruth Truewell swung it up and around, smashing into the precariously balanced piece of wood. There was a satisfying crack as it split, before falling away from the stump she was using for a chopping block. She dropped another piece onto the block, lifted the big axe again and swung, splitting it in two. Picking up the pieces of kindling, she dropped it into the wood box Jae used for the fire pit that overlooked the lake.

Jaime admired the flexing of Ruth's biceps, strong arm muscles bunching and flowing with the swing of the axe. It was even better when her old 49er's t-shirt would ride up to reveal toned abs every other swing or so. Completely oblivious to her audience, Ruth hummed happily, working up a light sweat.

"Jeez Jae, ever hear of a chainsaw?" Ruth grumbled to herself as she picked up an even larger piece of wood and balanced it on the stump. Not sure if she could split this one, she lifted the axe and brought it down hard, hoping a little extra muscle would crack it open. The axe head bit into the hard wood and stuck.

"Damn…" Ruth wiggled the handle to see if she could work the axe out of the wood. It wouldn't budge. Muscles straining, she lifted it again, the wood piece still stubbornly attached and slammed it down onto the chopping block. It wedged itself slightly deeper into the wood. She wiped a trickle of sweat from her eyes and stepped back to consider her problem. An ice cold beer suddenly appeared beside her.

"Need a hand sexy?" Jaime slid her sunglasses up into her hair and grinned at her girlfriend.

Lifting an eyebrow, Ruth took the offered beer and swallowed deep, enjoying the hungry look passing through Jaime's eyes. The insatiable girl will be the death of her, but what a way to go. Giving her lover her full attention she pulled Jaime close and tasted her soft lips.

"Well, you are my muscle…" Ruth murmured, blazing a trail to a delicate earlobe, enjoying the soft laughter as she started to nibble.

Stepping away from the tempting arms of her girlfriend, Jaime grabbed the handle of the axe with her right hand. Effortlessly lifting it up, she dropped the piece in a blur, the hard wood snapping apart and falling away, leaving the heavy axe head embedded in the chopping block a good few inches. Tugging it out of the block with ease, she leaned the axe against the wood box and turned back to face Ruth.

"Got any jars you need opening, little lady?" Jaime sassed, dropping her sunglasses back onto her nose before tangling her fingers with Ruth's.

"My hero…" Ruth dryly replied before letting herself be tugged along behind her lover, down the pathway to the boat house and dock. Standing on the long dock, they watched Jae trying to teach Becca how to water ski.

The small boat zipped past them, Becca struggling to stay upright before screaming as she fell once again into the water. Jae smiled as he turned the boat around in a wide arc to pick up the bobbing teenager, her string of curses carrying easily across the water.

"It's good for him to be out having some fun this weekend." Ruth chuckled as Jaime hugged her closer.

"Hmm, doctor heal thyself…" Jaime murmured under her breath before nipping a soft shoulder, a mischievous glint lighting her green eyes. "I love this t-shirt, have I mentioned?"

"Maybe once or twice…"

"I think I'd love it more if it was wet…"

"Jaime..." Ruth warned as she felt a strong hand between her shoulder blades pushing her off balance. "No—!!" She heard Jaime's laughter following her as she landed in the lake, splashing into the cool water with a squawk of surprise.

Ruth tucked another piece of kindling into the fire and leaned back against the big fallen log Jae had as seating at the small fire pit. Jae and Becca were down by the lake with a telescope, their voices floating up with the occasional breeze off the water, snippets of conversation about the Milky Way and Saturn's moons.

Ruth sighed, content. It was nice to just have a quiet night with Jaime. She pulled out a bottle of water, twisting the cap off and bringing the cool liquid to her lips, drinking deep. Her mind turned to darker thoughts and her need to share them with Jaime. To open up completely wasn't easy at the best of times, let alone on the anniversary of her old lover's murder. She had been avoiding this conversation, but it was time and she knew it.

Jaime came down the short path from the cabin and plunked herself down beside a serious looking Ruth, snagging the bottle of water from her loose grip and looked out across the lake. The gentle lapping of the water was soothing, almost hypnotic. Pulling a blanket across their legs, she snuggled closer draping her arm across Ruth's shoulders, pleased when the older woman relaxed and leaned into her.

"It's so nice here. I can see why Jae loves it so much." Turning slightly she stroked a thumb along Ruth's forehead, trying to smooth out the worried furrow lurking there. "Hey, what's going on with you?"

Ruth smiled and shifted closer into her lover's warmth. Sighing, she took the plunge.

"I was thinking how happy I've been lately and how I'm afraid to trust it." She felt Jaime grow still, listening closely. "You make me feel things that I never thought I'd feel again." She grew quiet for a moment trying to gather her thoughts, wanting to say this right.

"I'm sure you've heard rumours about Sarah's rampage at Berkut." Ruth glanced up hesitantly.

Jaime nodded, although she knew so much more than just rumours about that fateful day. Her eidetic memory drive helpfully kicked in the security images Nathan had shown her, automatically flashing a replay through her head, time coded for convenient reference. Sometimes it really sucked to be bionic. Sending a command to her memory drive to stop the replay, she turned her full attention back to Ruth.

"Jae and I both lost someone that day. He lost Sarah by his own hand and I lost my lover, Sandy." Ruth's hazel eyes seemed to dull to a soft grey. Jaime didn't push for details knowing Ruth would tell her when she was ready. Instead she ran her hand into the baby fine hair and continued to hold the older woman in a comforting hug, waiting for the rest.

"So every year we meet up, get drunk, shoot things and try to get through it together." Ruth murmured sadly against Jaime's shoulder, tears welling but not falling. "This year's different. Sarah is still alive. And I have you."

Jaime gently kissed the top of Ruth's head, stroking long fingers through the short blonde hair, trying hard not to cry herself. They stayed like that for a time just watching the flames flickering, patterns dancing and licking at the wood. She lazily tucked a strand of blonde hair behind Ruth's ear and just waited for her to continue.

"It had already been the year from hell. Sandy was the commander of our black ops team assigned to a covert Berkut mission in Afghanistan. I hadn't seen her in months, no word on her, nothing. Even my security clearance wasn't high enough to get any information and Jonas couldn't tell me anything other than not to worry, which of course I did anyway." Ruth's eyes grew more distant as she let herself fully remember.

"Finally she was home, back after a successful mission." Ruth paused smiling sinking into the memories and with them the long ignored feelings, flashing back to the party she'd thrown, making slow sweet love with each other, getting reacquainted.

"She went to the Wolf Creek complex for an in depth medical, and a full mission debriefing before going on a much needed break. Jae was our friend having been on several missions with both of us and I had worked with Sarah a bit after she received her bionic implants, helping her to deal with her new reality. We had been early supporters of Sarah and Jae's relationship. He told me later that he was getting ready to ask her to marry him." Ruth's voice flattened and she swallowed hard, the emotions becoming too much.

"I was already on my way to pick Sandy up, when I got the call from Jonas. But it was too late. I was too late…" Jaime just pulled her close, holding her as Ruth finally broke down and wept in her arms.

"I've got you sweetie, I've got you now…"

The fire was down to glowing embers and the telescope had long been packed up. Tears had been dried by tender kisses. S'mores had been made and devoured as aloe vera lotion was slathered onto Becca's sunburned shoulders. Tall tales and laughter had taken up the evening in front of the fire. Before long sleepy goodnights were mumbled and everyone had shuffled off to their beds in the log home.

Black leather boots scuffed along the rocky ground, pausing by the dying fire. Smoke from a cigarette drifted lazily up into the night sky, before the long fingers moved bringing it to full lips for another deep drag. Slowly exhaling, the woman looked out across the peaceful lake.

"She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes, when she comes…" she softly sang.

Tossing the cigarette butt into the fire pit, she watched it briefly flare into flame before burning to ash. Wandering down the long pathway to the dock and boat house, the blonde hummed happily to herself as she pulled out her keys.

Sarah Corvus quietly unlocked the door and slipped inside, her soft whisper disappearing into the musty darkness.

"Honey, I'm home…"