You Don't Need Me…

Summary: Missing scene from 'Love, Cirronian Style'. In a couple's session at the seminar, Mel confesses her biggest fear about Cole.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I don't own them, but, hey, just as soon as that deal with Zin goes through…

Spoilers: "Love, Cirronian Style"

Timeline: During "Love, Cirronian Style"… between the wife's session and the dance that evening

Feedback: Better than Fek-Maln. Always welcomed and much appreciated. Please feed me!!!

You Don't Need Me…

"Mister and Mrs. Hauser," Doctor Janet Sullivan called. "Your turn."

Cole rose immediately, but paused when Mel did not. He turned to face her, curious. "Mel, we have to go up there now," he told her gently, catching her hand and tugging her to her feet. "It is our turn. All the other couples have gone."

"I can't do it, Cole," she whispered, bowing her head. "I thought I could, but I'm sorry… I just can't."

"Of course you can," he said, smiling reassuringly. "If you do not want to, you do not have to, but I know that you can, Mel. You'll do fine."

She took a deep breath and nodded in response to his questioning look, squaring her shoulders. They would only be up there for a few minutes and they had discussed what they were going to say when questioned about their relationship, so it was not as if they would be improvising completely. For a few minutes, she could ignore the mixed emotions that pretending to be Cole's wife brought up. This was, after all, important. These sister-assassins of his were dangerous women and they had to be caught. For that, she could ignore her own discomfort and pain. Focusing on keeping her breathing even, she followed Cole up to the front of the room and sat down next to him on the couch.

Janet tilted her head at Mel, smiling faintly. "You don't like being here, do you, Mel?"

Mel winced and started to shake her head in denial.

"Let's all be honest with each other here, Mel," Janet suggested gently. "Something tells me that you have a habit of keeping things to yourself. That's not always a good thing."

Mel shrugged defensively and stared at her hands in her lap. "I'm just not used to talking about things like this…"

"Sex or relationships?"

"Either." Mel shrugged and shook her head.

"So you and Cole have never discussed your relationship?"

Mel stared at her with wide eyes and moved her mouth soundlessly, trying to formulate a response.

Cole watched for a moment, frowning. "Mel does not like talking about such things. She shows me how she feels in other ways," he stated firmly, placing a reassuring hand on her arm.

Mel glanced sideways at him and gave him a tremulous smile. The Cirronian smiled back and subtly caressed her arm with his fingers, keeping his hand still. He stroked her arm with his fingers, releasing soothing energy. Mel gave him a last, shy smile and stared at her hands again. She knew that he was just trying to comfort her, but she could not help but feel that there was more to the caress than that, like he was not just playing a part. Silly, of course, but compelling all the same. Especially given the way his hand was making her feel.

"Let's start, shall we?" Janet suggested, smiling at the subtle by-play. They were both far too inhibited for their own good, but they obviously loved each other very much. "Who wants to go first?"

"I think I should," Cole said, sensing that Mel was still anxious and uncomfortable. Perhaps it would be easier for her if he took the lead. "Mel?"

"Yeah, Cole." She nodded shakily. "You go."

He smiled and nodded. "Don't worry," he breathed in her ear before turning his attention to the smiling Doctors.

"Why don't we start with what your favorite thing about Mel is?" Janet suggested.

Cole did not have to think for long. "She is very brave," he said with a smile, his answer bearing no relationship to the one he had discussed with Mel.

Mel's head shot up and she glanced at him sideways, her expression incredulous. Brave?

"Brave," he repeated, smiling tenderly at her. "And a fighter."

"Mel?" Janet asked. "That true?"

"Well, I can be stubborn. Don't know about brave…"

"Brave," Cole reaffirmed, nodding to her. Then, for her ears only, "Braver than you know, Mel."

Mel's eyes widened and she gave him a weak smile. She reached up with a trembling hand and stroked his cheek for a moment before recalling herself and dropping her hand.

"And what do you dislike about her?" Janet asked gently when the moment had passed. She suspected that Mel had never displayed her feelings for Cole quite so visibly in public. It was a promising sign.

Cole frowned, considering for a long moment. Not only had they not discussed this, but there was little about Mel that he disliked. Everything about her was like a ray of sunshine on a cold and overcast morning.

"There is only one thing about Mel that displeases me," he said finally, nodding. "She worries. She worries and becomes anxious and it scares and upsets her. I hate to see her like that. It makes me want to cry."

"Cole," Mel whispered, shaking her head and staring. She bit her lower lip against the tears she felt threatening and took his hands in hers, ignoring the fact that there were in a room full of people.

"What do you worry about?" Janet asked.

"Cole, I worry about Cole," she confessed quietly, closing her eyes.

"Why?"

"Because…" Mel swallowed hard, bowing her head. "I just do."

"Because you care? Because you love him?" she prompted.

Mel closed her eyes and nodded weakly. She felt Cole's hands tighten around hers but refused to look up or even open her eyes.

"What's your favorite thing about him, Mel?"

"His compassion," she answered without hesitation, not opening her eyes.

"Is he compassionate? Doesn't mind showing his feelings?"

She shook her head. "He really doesn't. I've never met a man who's even half as open about his feelings." Lifting her head, she opened her eyes. "I've never met a man like him before and I never will again. He's… amazing."

Smiling faintly, Cole freed one of his hands and lovingly caressed her throat.

"And what about this amazing man do you like the least?" Janet prompted quietly.

Cole felt Mel tense under his hands. "Mel?" he asked, frowning. "What is it?"

She shook her head. "I… don't."

"That's not what you said at the wife's session. I think maybe Cole needs to hear this, Mel, sweetie."

"No." Mel shook her head more firmly, her body shaking slightly.

"Mel," Cole whispered, alarmed. "What is it? It's okay. You can say. It won't upset me…" His caress turned reassuring. "Mel… You don't need to have any secrets from me. You can tell me if there is something about me that you don't like. I can try to change it," he offered.

Mel closed her eyes and bowed her head. "You don't need me," she whispered, tears in her eyes. "Only thing about you that I hate…"

"Mel," he began, frowning.

"You don't need me," she said more firmly. "And you never will." She let out a muffled sob, shaking her head and rising. "I'm sorry. I can't do this…" she murmured, fleeing the room.

"Mel," Cole repeated, rising and following.

Janet glanced at her husband. "Can you take over, Rayne?"

He nodded. "Yeah, babe. Go."

***

Cole found Mel in the ladies room, leaning against a sink with her eyes closed.

"Mel," he whispered.

"You can't be here, Cole," she told him in a shaky voice. "It's the ladies room."

"I don't care. You are upset." He approached her hesitantly. "Mel, please…" he began, reaching for her throat.

"Don't." She shook her head. "Cole, please, I just need a minute to compose myself."

"Mel, you need more than that, I think."

Mel's head shot up and she glared at him.

He took a startled step backwards. "Mel?"

"I'm sorry." She sighed and shook her head. "I just… this was a bad idea, Cole. This whole thing."

"You are angry with me."

"No." She shook her head, not meeting his eye. "I'm not, Cole. But…"

"What is it, Mel?" He gently pulled her into his arms, reaching up and caressing her throat with one hand as he held her against him with the other. "Why are you upset? What did you mean in there?"

"I meant… what I said. You don't need me, Cole, and you never will." She dropped her head, burying her face in his chest. "I'm sorry but that… it…"

"It upsets you."

"Yes."

"It's not true," he told her.

"What?"

"You are mistaken, Mel. I do need you."

She sighed and shook her head. "No, you don't."

"You're wrong."

"Please, Cole. Don't do this to me."

"Mel…"

"Cole, you do not need me. You… you have your job and your way of doing things and I just… I slow you down or--"

"Mel," he interrupted, cupping her chin in one hand and gently forcing her to look at him. "You are mistaken. It is true that I could do my job without you, but it is not true that I don't need you."

"Don't say that," she mumbled, refusing to meet his eye. "Please…"

"My people always say what is true," he reminded her gently, caressing her face and throat. "Without you, life here would not be tolerable for me."

"Um, guys… I really hate to interrupt, but maybe we should take this into another room?" Janet suggested gently from the door. "Come on. Mel looks like she should sit down."

Mel nodded reluctantly, letting Cole steer her out of the bathroom and into the side room that the Doctor indicated. She accepted a Kleenex from her with a grateful nod, drying her eyes and sniffling.

"I'm sorry. I'm not normally like this," she muttered to both of them, letting Cole help her into a chair.

"When you bottle up emotions, they have a habit of blowing up in your face, sweetie," Doctor Sullivan told Mel gently. "You two need to talk about this, because it is obviously a major issue in your relationship."

Cole nodded in agreement. "We must talk about it."

"I can stay if you want," she offered. "Or if you'd like privacy, I can go."

"I think privacy might be better," Cole decided, giving Doctor Sullivan a small, grateful smile. "Mel and I are not… open with our feelings. We prefer to keep some things between us."

She nodded and gave them both a little smile and nod. "Okay. But if the two of you, or either of you, need anything at all, you just come find me and we'll talk."

"Thank you," Mel told her softly.

Cole smiled and nodded. "Yes, Doctor. Thank you."

"I'm sorry, Cole," Mel muttered when the Doctor had left. "I don't know what's wrong with me…"

"You are upset," he said, crouching in front of her.

She shook her head. "I just need a few minutes to compose myself, that's all."

"This will not solve the problem, Mel. We should talk as the Doctor suggested."

"No, Cole." She shook her head more firmly. "Cole… Damn it…" She sighed and closed her eyes. "Cole, Doctor Sullivan means well, but she doesn't understand about us. She's a couples counselor, and we are not a couple!"

Cole bowed his head, pained by her words. He pushed that aside, concerned by how upset she still was. He reached up and touched her throat lightly. "No, we are not." They could be, perhaps, one day, but not until Mel was ready. She obviously was not yet. "But you are my friend and seeing you upset makes me want to cry. And…" He sighed. "Mel, a woman like you should not have to be upset, especially over something that is not true."

She shook her head again, opening her eyes and regarding him sadly. "You can not stand here and tell me that you need me, Cole…"

"Mel, if you feel that I am… not spending enough time with you or--"

"It's not that, Cole. I understand why you don't spend a lot of time with me. It's just… I sit and watch you do your job and… I know that you don't need me because the truth is that you don't need anyone. There is nothing that you can't do, Cole, so… what do you need with me?" She shook her head and forced herself to smile at him. "I… I understand, though, I do."

"You don't understand, Mel, not at all," he sighed, shaking his own head. It was his fault that she did not, he knew, because he was about as adept at talking about his feelings as she was at talking of her own. "You didn't know me before, you don't understand how much I've changed. Because of you. I… life was dark and cold and empty. And now it is none of those things. Because of you, Mel. I do need you. Not for my Tracking, you're right. But your help and support has made my life tolerable again, worth living. You have done so much for me, Mel… I can't imagine life without you. I do need you, and I do care about you, so much…"

She closed her eyes and took his face in her hands, her fingers stroking his cheeks. His words left her feeling like walking on air at the same time as they left her feeling as if her heart might break.

"Cole… I care about you, too. You know that. It's why I worry so much." She sighed. "I… I don't know, Cole." She shook her head.

"I do need you, Mel," he repeated, leaning his face into her hands.

"But you're still going to leave me some day, aren't you?"

He closed his eyes, wondering what the hell he was supposed to say to that. Rationally, he knew that he would have to leave her some day. In his heart, he knew just as surely that he would probably not be able to go through with it. He wondered what that left. No possibility of a 'happily-ever-after', certainly, but maybe a 'close enough' was still a possibility. His mother had always told him that the Universe could be a cruel place, that the Fates were often perverse and capricious, but that Hope and Love would find a way. Always. So he clung to his hope. Hope that she might some day grow to love him, to accept him as a lover. Hope that he could find a way to stay with her. Hope that, in the meantime, they could find some happiness.

"Mel, I have not caught many fugitives. Maybe… Maybe we should… live in the present, humans say. Live for the day."

"Live in the present?" Mel asked dubiously. "What, just forget that you're going to have to leave eventually?"

He shook his head. "No, Mel. Just… lay it aside in favor of the hope that I can find a way to stay."

Mel blinked and stared at him. "You would… stay?"

Cole nodded. "I like it here, Mel. I like having you in my life."

"Cole," she whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck and sliding from her chair.

He smiled and returned the hug, whispering the word that always lifted his spirits. "Mel…"

"What is it about you that can spin my emotions 180 degrees in the blink of an eye?"

"I don't know, Mel, but I'm pleased that you are no longer upset. I like it when you are happy."

"I could kiss you," she murmured, shaking her head.

"If you'd like," he agreed readily, his expression eager.

Mel stared at him with wide eyes, stammering. "Oh, Cole… I'm not sure if our relationship is… I mean, I don't know that we're… ready… and… I mean do you even… well… know… that is…"

She trailed off, remembering his display that morning. Yes, Cole definitely knew how to kiss, and if his kisses were anything like his tender caresses, kissing him now would lead them straight up to the room they were sharing where Mel would show him how to do some things that he almost certainly did not know how to do.

"I'm just… not really sure our relationship is at that stage," she finished quietly.

Cole smiled gently at her, caressing her throat tenderly. "I understand, Mel. If you want to wait, we will wait." It was, quite honestly, more than he could have hoped for. He felt as if his heart might burst.

"Soon," she promised, smiling at him.

"Soon," he agreed, nodding and drying away the last of her tears.

His Mel actually cared for him in the same way that he cared for her. The only obstacle seemed to be his ignorance of human mating customs. Given the fact that they were at a sex seminar and that a very supportive and understanding specialist on human relationships had just offered to help them, it would not be a difficult problem to rectify. Mel told him that she had already told the other wives that they were not involved physically. He could tell Doctor Sullivan that he did not know anything about human intimacy without explaining why this was the case. He could honestly blame it on his upbringing and leave it at that.

Just as soon as he had dealt with his quarry, he could broach the subject with her. If he could take them tonight and talk to Janet shortly after, that left him with two days. Two days with Mel, two days to do what they had requested of him that morning. To show her by his actions exactly how much he loved her.

"Um… let's get back to the session," Mel suggested quietly.

"Okay." He nodded and rose, helping her to her feet.

"There's a dance tonight," she told him. "Good chance to mingle, see if anyone sticks out for you."

He nodded. "I'm sure I'll be able to find them quickly."

"Good, that's good." Mel smiled up at him. "I don't like the fact that your powers don't work here."

"It's okay, Mel," he assured her gently. "I've narrowed it down to only a few couples. I will be on my guard and nothing will go wrong."

"Famous last words."

"You worry too much," he told her with a tender smile.

"So you keep saying." She grinned up at him.

"You will learn not to worry," Cole informed Mel, steering her from the room.

"Yeah, right…"

"And you will smile more. I like it when you smile. I will make you smile."

She grinned up at him. "Oh, really?"

"You see?" he teased.

She laughed and shook her head. "Smart-aleck."

He grinned at her and reached for the door of the room where the couples session was being held. "Are you ready to go back in?" he asked gently.

Mel nodded and slipped her hand through his free one. "I'm ready. You know, this weekend really isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be."

"No, Mel." He smiled and shook his head. "It has been a good weekend so far, and I think it will get better."

"Better, hmm?" she asked, smiling faintly.

Cole smiled and nodded. "Yes, Mel," he whispered, caressing her throat a last time before opening the door.

Janet watched them enter with a curious expression. When both had smiled at her and returned to their seats, she smiled to herself. Watching Cole help Mel into her seat and sit down next to her, turning to face and gently murmuring in her ear, watching Mel smile in response to his words, watching Cole gently touch her throat… there could be no doubt. She was well pleased. She had never in her career seen a couple as much in love as these two. They would require quite a bit of help and probably some one-on-one counseling, but there was hope for them yet, she decided.

The End