Heart and Soul

Summary: Sequel to 'As I Already Know Your Heart'. Mel and Cole spend the next morning talking and enjoying each other's company.

Rating: R

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

Spoilers: "What Lies Beneath". Minor for "Remember When".

Timeline: after "Remember When" … the morning after my fic "As I Already Know Your Heart"

Feedback: Better than Fek-Maln. Always welcomed and much appreciated.

Heart and Soul

Mel came awake to the awareness that Cole was getting out of bed. "Mmm, Cole?" she yawned, half-sitting up.

"Go back to sleep, Mel," he told her gently, circling the bed and sitting down next to her. "It's early still. I'll be back in just a little while," he promised, smiling down at her and brushing her hair out of her face. "You are so beautiful, Mel."

She flushed and bowed her head. "Um, thanks, Cole… I, uh…" Damn, not morning after embarrassment, not with Cole

He smiled tenderly. "Go back to sleep, Mel. I'll be back in a few minutes."

"You stayed all night," she yawned, glancing at the clock before letting him push her back into the pillows. He was right. It was still very early.

"Of course I did." He smiled down at her, caressing her throat. "I'll always stay all night, any time you let me." He bent over and kissed her cheek. "Go back to sleep, Mel," he repeated.

"Not sure I'll be able to get back to sleep," she yawned.

"Try," he suggested, his eyes sparkling. "It's very early, Mel, and you had a very long night…"

"I remember. I mean… wow…"

Mel smiled, unable to resist. Cole was a fast learner under any circumstances and he had been an exceptionally eager student the night before. Their first time had left him absolutely exhausted. For about five minutes, at which point his Cirronian physiology had kicked back in and he had been ready for seconds. And thirds… She had lost count after that.

It had definitely been an interesting evening. Watching Cole's learning curve at work had been amazing. Knowing that he was completely new to human sexuality, Mel had taken control their first time, hoping to spare him some uncertainty and difficulty. Cole just lay perfectly still looking up at her in shocked amazement, frequently crying out in what she could only assume to be Cirronian. He had been a much more active participant the second time, although that had ended awkwardly. Well, it would have been awkward with a human male, who probably would have been embarrassed at the very least. Cole was nothing more than confused as to why his body was ahead of the game. Mel had reassured him and explained that self-control took practice. After that, things had gone almost flawlessly. Cole had seemed bound and determined to learn every nuance of Mel's body and every one of her preferences, and she was fairly certain that he had succeeded.

He smiled and shook his head. "Go back to sleep, Mel," he directed yet again, caressing her throat.

His smile widened as he watched her eyes drift shut, Mel's beautifully pale eyes, eyes the color of joy. His Mel, his wife. Exactly as it had always been meant to be. When he was sure that she was asleep and would not wake again for some time, he rose and found his pants. He would not have bothered, except that he suspected that the apartment would be quite cold compared to the bedroom where Mel had thoughtfully turned the thermostat up. Shrugging on his shirt but not bothering to button it, he stole quietly from the bedroom.

***

Mel rolled over, burying her face in her pillow. Her hand automatically sought out Cole next to her. One night together and it was already instinctive for her to seek him out in the morning, exactly as she did so many times during each day. She smiled at the thought, but her smile quickly faded as she realized that he was no longer there. The bed was still warm where he had been, so he could not have been gone long. Hoping he would be back, she sidled over to that side of the bed, enjoying what was left of his warmth.

She had a moment where she worried that he might not be back, but she dismissed it immediately. This was Cole, after all, not one of those jerks she had dated in the past who were in the habit of using and discarding women. He was probably just in the bathroom, she decided, smiling to herself and secure in the knowledge that he would come back to her. It would not be the first time he had come back. She buried her face in his pillow, inhaling deeply, loving the uniquely spicy-sweet scent that was Cole. She pushed herself up fractionally when she heard the bedroom door open, turning her head to smile at him.

Cole entered, carrying a tray. "Awake again?" he asked, pleased. "Breakfast," he told her.

"Breakfast?" Mel sat up, startled. "You made me breakfast in bed?" she asked, bemused.

He nodded, gesturing for her to scoot back against the headboard. "You mentioned once that you enjoyed it. I thought it would be nice," he told her, settling the tray in front of her.

Mel stared down at the tray, startled. Waffles, bacon, an omelet, coffee, orange juice, an English muffin with jam, all her favorites. "I told you I liked breakfast in bed?" she asked, frowning as she tried to remember.

He shook his head. "You told Jess. You were talking about Rod."

"I was… talking to Jess about Rod and I said that I liked breakfast in bed?" She shook her head, mentally going over her last several phone conversations with Jess. Definitely no mention of Rod, even if breakfast in bed had come up for some odd reason. "I don't remember."

"It was not quite two months after you took me in," he said simply, handing her a napkin. "I made everything just the way you like it," he added absently. "Just like you showed me." He looked up, frowning at the look on her face. "Mel, is something wrong? Did I do something wrong?" he whispered anxiously.

She shook her head, biting back tears. "Oh, no, Cole… I'm just being kind of sentimental, I guess. I can't believe you remember something I told Jess in passing… what, eight months ago?"

Cole frowned a little uncertainly, using the napkin to dab at her eyes. "Eight or nine months, Mel, yes. Are you displeased?"

"Baby, no…" Mel shook her head, smiling at him. "You… It's just got to be one of the nicest things a guy I've dated has ever done for me. Thank you." She shook her head and gently caressed his throat, letting her hand trail down to his chest, sliding under the unbuttoned shirt.

Cole smiled as he watched her hand's progress. "I'm glad it pleases you, Mel," he told her finally, nodding. "You should eat before it gets cold." He picked up a fork off of the tray and offered it to her.

A bemused grin on her face, Mel took the fork. "Cole, you are beyond words, you know that?"

"Is this a good thing?" he asked cautiously.

"Very good thing," she informed him around a mouthful of waffle. "Mmm, love your cooking! You missed your calling, Cole. You should have been a chef." Smiling, she fed him a small piece of waffle. No Bisquick in those babies. "Did you eat already?" she asked as he chewed. There was more than enough on the tray for both of them, even given Cole's normally prodigious appetite, and feeding him was definitely fun.

He shook his head. "I had a few pieces of bacon, but I wasn't really that hungry."

"Well, you have to eat," Mel pointed out, forcing another piece of the waffle on him with a smile.

Cole accepted it without comment but watched her thoughtfully as he allowed her to continue feeding him.

"What?" she asked finally, feeding him another piece of bacon.

"Are you engaging in… nesting behaviors, Mel?" he asked quizzically, his expression bemused.

"What?" she laughed, staring. "Am I… Cole! What kind of question… I mean… why…" She shook her head, unable to frame a response to Cole's incredibly bizarre question. It was strange even by Cole's standards.

Cole felt a little perplexed by her behavior. At her questioning look, he explained, "You're acting very maternally this morning, Mel. I was wondering if it meant that you were with child."

Mel stared at him, stunned, then down at her stomach. "God, Cole… no." I hope. "Um… I don't think it's possible for… well, for a human, to be aware that they're pregnant this early and… I'm on the pill anyway for my migraines and…" She paused and stared at him. "Why would you think I'm pregnant?" she asked, pulling the blanket away from her body and staring down at her stomach just to make sure it was as she remembered it.

"You're acting maternally," he explained. "For a Cirronian woman, it's an indicator."

"Oh." Mel nodded slowly. "Um… am I acting maternally?" she asked, frowning uncertainly.

He nodded. "Yes, Mel. You're feeding me. And earlier you called me 'baby'." He frowned. "Why are you laughing?"

"The culture gap strikes again," she giggled. "Feeding each other is just a cute little behavior that some human lovers engage in, Cole. And 'baby' is… it's a term of endearment. Like… sweetheart." Seeing his uncertain look she tried again. "Um, sweetheart, honey, baby, love…"

"My love," he whispered, smiling and nodding his understanding.

"Cirronians have those? Terms of endearment?"
"Yes, Mel. I used several last night."

"You used a lot of Cirronian last night," she laughed. He was a yeller, something she would not have figured him for. He also shouted exclusively in Cirronian.

Cole nodded. "Yes, Mel. It seemed fitting."

She smiled and gave him another piece of waffle. "So," she said, sitting up and leaning towards him a little. "What kinds of terms of endearment do Cirronians use?"

He smiled in response to her smile. "There are several that are popular for mated couples. I would call Nallia Hwa'i. It means… my heart."

"It's beautiful," she whispered.

He nodded. "Nallia would call me Hwa'a. It's the same, but for a male. And I would call Ashi Hwa'a i'an. The heart of my heart."

"Oh," Mel whispered, covering her heart with one hand, tears in her eyes. "That is such a beautiful thing to call your child, Cole…"

Cole smiled at her response, absently smoothing away her tears. "Ashi always was the heart of my heart, Mel. It was not a common term, but it was fitting for a child like her."

"I think it's just beautiful," Mel told him softly.

Cole smiled and absently rearranged a few stray curls. "You would have loved them both very much, Mel, and they would have loved you."

"Would, um…" Mel trailed off and shook her head. "Never mind."

"Mel?" Cole prompted gently. "What is it?"

"A question I'm not sure I want an answer to." She sighed and shook her head.

"Mel, if it's about us…"

"It is, Cole. Well, actually… it's about them."

Cole blinked in confusion. "About Nallia and Ashi?"

"Yeah." Mel sighed and nodded, putting down her fork. "It's something I've been worrying… well, wondering about for awhile now…"

"Mel, what is it?" he asked gently. "Is something bothering you?"

"Um." She inhaled deeply and looked up at him, nodding. She hated to ask, but she had to know. "How do Cirronians… um… how do they… feel about…"

"Remarriage, Mel?" he guessed when she faltered.

"Yeah." She nodded. "I mean… I don't want to think that I'm… you know, encouraging you to break some cultural… thing…"

"No, Mel," he assured her gently, shaking his head. "Remarriage after the death of a mate is rare, but it is not considered wrong. It's a cause for celebration, Mel, just like a first marriage. Maybe… maybe more so because it signifies that the left-behind partner has… resumed living. If I had died, I would have wanted for Nallia to take another mate. She would have adored you, Mel," he whispered, caressing her throat. "She would have called you a good choice. The only choice. You… you let me live again, Mel." He smiled and shook her head. "How could there be anything unacceptable in that?" he asked her tenderly.

"I… I don't know. I'm just… it had me worried. I… I wouldn't want to be the cause of you doing something that you might consider… I don't know… being unfaithful to her memory."

Cole smiled and shook his head. "I honor Nallia's life now, Mel. I was less faithful to her memory during the years I mourned her death."

"That's a beautiful sentiment, Cole. And, if you don't mind… if you'd like to share their memories with me… I'd really like to get to know them."

He smiled. "I would be more than happy to tell you all about them, Mel. I want you to know them the way I do."

Mel smiled at him. "I'd love that, Cole."

"I'm glad, Mel." He picked up the fork and fed her a few mouthfuls, deciding that he liked the strange custom. It had a different emotional pull to it than giving food to his daughter had, and there was nothing paternal about the feelings for Mel it roused in him. "Another time, I will tell you everything you wish to know."

"Another time?" she repeated, swallowing and obediently opening her mouth when Cole offered her another piece of bacon.

He nodded, smiling faintly. "Today, I want to live in the present, not dwell on the past."

"Live in the present?" she repeated, raising an eyebrow.

He nodded benignly. "Yes, Mel. We still need to select terms of endearment for each other," he pointed out.

Mel laughed and shook her head. "Ah, yes. Pet names are very important."

Cole smiled and nodded, repeating, "Pet names are very important, Mel." He grinned and fed her a few more bites. "Getting full?" he asked when she waved the fork away and shook her head.

"Yeah, Cole. You're spoiling me, here. That's the biggest breakfast I've had in months. Best one, too. You need to cook more, I think."

Cole smiled, rising and picking up the tray. "If you'd like, Mel," he agreed easily. "I'm going to bring this into the kitchen."

"Okay. Come back soon. I might get lonely," she teased.

Cole glanced at her quizzically for a few moments before deciding that it was a joke and smiling widely at her. Shaking his head, he carried the tray to the kitchen. Heeding Mel's request, he used hyper-speed to clean the kitchen and was back almost before she knew he was gone.

"Quick enough for you, Mel?" he teased, smiling at her.

"Well, you get definite bonus points for getting back into the room quickly, but you're still dressed and not in bed, Cole, and that won't do at all…"

Cole smiled and obediently obliged Mel, pulling off his pants and sliding back under the covers. Mel snuggled up against him, smiling.

"I could get used to this," she announced as he slid his arms around her.

"So could I," Cole told her with a smile, watching as she wrapped her own arms around him. His smile widened as one of her legs made its way into his lap. "If you'd be more comfortable on top of me, Mel," he began, only half teasing.

Mel spent five seconds being embarrassed before muttering, "Screw it," to herself and climbing into his lap, settling herself between his legs. "You're right. This is better."

Cole smiled and wrapped his arms around her again, smiling as she shifted onto her side and rested her cheek on his chest, smiling up at him. "Much better," he agreed gravely. "Comfortable?"

"What do you think?" she asked, aware that her voice was practically a purr and not really caring. Grinning, she gently caressed that amazing chest. God, had she actually spent almost an entire minute this morning feeling shy and embarrassed? What a waste…

Cole smiled. "I am very comfortable," he informed her gently. "Distracted, but comfortable."

"You don't feel very 'distracted' yet," she bantered, squirming a little.

"If you keep doing that I will be," he told her, grinning. "This is nice, Mel. Holding you like this."

"Yeah. It really is." She smiled and nodded, snuggling more firmly against his chest and then laying still. "I feel so… safe."

"I would never let any harm come to you, Mel," he assured her with a tender smile. "Not if I could help it. That's why I've been teaching you those self-defense moves."

"And here I thought you just liked pinning me," she teased.

"Well, I do enjoy that as well," he confessed, grinning down at her. "In context."

"'In context'?" she repeated with a grin.

"Yes, Mel," Cole told her.

She abruptly found herself pinned to the mattress beneath a laughing, smiling Cole who planted a tender kiss on her forehead before rolling off.

"You see, Mel?" he asked, his eyes twinkling. "Context is extremely important."

"Well, in that context, I definitely enjoy getting pinned by you, Cole," she laughed, shaking her head. "But I still think I enjoy pinning you myself a little more."

"You think, Mel?" he asked thoughtfully. "You don't sound sure. You should test this theory, I think."

"You are learning," Mel chuckled.

"I am a very fast learner, Mel," he pointed out, smiling. "You said so yourself last night." His smile widened. "Several times as I recall."

Mel glared at him with mock irritation, shaking her head. "That's it, pal! You're going to pay for that!" Laughing, she seized a pillow and hit him with it. She laughed even harder at his bemused expression, shaking her head and hugging the pillow to her chest as she explained, "Okay, Cole. Pillow-fights. It's a human custom."

"Fighting with pillows?" he asked frowned and picking up his own pillow, examining it thoughtfully. At her nod, his thoughtful frown deepened. "Why, Mel?"

"Because it's fun."

"Striking each other is fun?"

"No, Cole. Striking each other is domestic violence. Whacking each other with pillows is fun."

"'Whacking' each other?" he repeated, looking from the pillow in his hands to the pillow Mel was hugging to her chest. "With pillows?" At her nod, he looked at his own pillow again. "Why?"

She shrugged. "Hard to explain, it just is."

"Does it… hurt, Mel?"

Mel hit him with the pillow again, laughing. "You tell me."

He smiled, bemused, and slowly shook his head. "It is not painful, Mel. But… I'm not sure if it is fun, either."

"Give it a try," she suggested.

"I will not hit you."

She rolled her eyes. "Then just defend yourself," she suggested with a laugh, swinging the pillow at him.

Startled, Cole raised his own pillow to block the blow. "Mel," he protested as she swung again. "This is…" She kept swinging. Shaking his head, Cole ducked under the pillow, using his own to shield himself from further blows. Moving with the kind of speed that only a Cirronian could, he plucked the pillow from her hand, dropping it onto the floor, threw his own onto the bed, and pushed Mel down on top of it. His eyes shined as he leaned over her and whispered in her ear, "You're right, Mel. This is fun."

"Is getting me into this position all you're ever going to think about any more?" she laughed, shaking her head.

"No, Mel," he assured her. "I can think of several other positions as well." He rolled on to his back, tugging at Mel's hands until she obediently climbed on top of him. "This is one of my favorites I think."

"I've created a monster," she laughed, shaking her head. Laughing harder at the perplexed look on his face, she leaned down and kissed him. "So, Cole, seriously. You weren't that fond of the whole human mating ritual, right?" she teased.

He smiled widely. "I like this mood of yours, Mel. If this is what mating does to you, we should do it very often." His smile widened as Mel began giggling helplessly, burying her face in his chest. He closed his eyes, enjoying that ticklish sensation. "Every day, several times a day, I think. I like it when you are playful, Mel."

She raised her head slowly, her body still shaking with laughter. "Every day, several times a day, huh?" she asked, shaking her head.

His smile faltered slightly. "Or as often as is appropriate, Mel. I would not want to… why are you laughing?"

Mel shook her head. "Oh, I'm sorry, Cole. I know I shouldn't laugh at you. You're just so… eager. Like a little boy who's discovered a new treat."

"Not a boy, Mel, not little, and…" Cole smiled slyly at her. "I have discovered a new treat." He shrugged apologetically. "I'll try to moderate my enthusiasm in the future."

"Don't you dare!" she told him firmly, shaking her head. "Not when it's just us, together like this. I like it, Cole."

He smiled. "You do?"

"I do." She kissed his chest, over his heart. "I like it a lot."

"How often is appropriate for making love, Mel?"

Mel blinked, considering. "Um, well… Oh, gee, Cole. Tough question."

"Why, Mel?"

"Well, it depends." She stretched out on his chest, considering. "Let's see. Well, traditionally, most couples confine their lovemaking to the evenings, although some enjoy it in the mornings as well," she added, smiling at the look on Cole's face at this piece of information.

She decided not to explain the concept of a 'nooner' to him just yet. After all, the lunch crowds tended to be pretty huge these days and Mel doubted she would be able to live it down with Isabel and Bridgett if every day at noon Cole appeared in the bar, took her in hand, and hauled her upstairs. And if last night had been any indication, she would have been gone every day at noon for several hours.

"Mornings, too, Mel?" he asked, smiling gleefully.

She smiled at his infectious enthusiasm for the idea. "Mornings, too, Cole. If you want."

He nodded eagerly. "Definitely mornings, too, Mel. How many times in the morning?"

She stared at him with wide eyes for a moment, laughing and shaking her head. "Oh, Cole…"

"Yes, Mel?" he asked innocently.

"Mmm, I love it when you talk like that," she purred in his ear.

Cole glanced over at her, smiling. "Yes, Mel," he repeated in a low voice, nuzzling her throat as he rolled her on to her back. "Mornings, too, Mel?" he repeated, stroking her throat.

Her eyes widened at the physical sensations that the caress evoked. "That's… different. Cole, why does it feel different?" she whispered, shifting under him.

He shrugged innocently. "I think it must be because I'm sharing a different sort of energy with you than I normally do, Mel."

"Ah." Mel was fairly certain that she understood. "You're trying to turn me on, aren't you?"

Cole smiled sweetly, nodding. "Is it working?"

Mel laughed and nodded, hugging him close. Cole hugged the woman beneath him with a wide smile. He definitely liked his Mel better this way. After spending a few moments enjoying the hug, he pushed himself up on one arm, smiling down at her and admiring her pretty form.

"My wife," he whispered in quiet awe, slowly trailing his hand from her throat, down her body, and caressing the smooth skin a few inches beneath her belly-button.

Mel swallowed and held her breath, waiting. She loved his hands. The night before she had shyly shown him exactly where she liked to be touched by those hands, just a few more inches down. He had figured out the 'how' in no time at all. Mel almost swore from the looks on his face and his physical reactions the night before that he enjoyed touching her in that fashion almost as much as she enjoyed being on the receiving end of it. With Cole, it would not have surprised her in the least. His approach to lovemaking was definitely unique in that respect.

She could not help but smile when it became apparent that his hand was perfectly content where it was, and not planning on moving any lower. It really did feel amazing, even if it left her feeling just a little 'distracted' as well. Well, okay, so 'seriously distracted and in need of a nice roll in the hay' was probably more accurate. Cole was watching her with an eager expression as his fingers played across her stomach.

"What are you doing?" she asked finally, giving him an encouraging smile when his hand stilled and his smile faded. "Don't stop," she urged quietly. "I was just curious."

His smile returned and he resumed his caresses. "Do you like it, Mel?" he asked hopefully.

"It's nice, Cole. Very nice. So what is it?"

"A Cirronian touch," he explained. "A man touches his wife like this before a joining or at other times to express affection."

"Cirronian foreplay?" she asked, smiling up at him.

He nodded. "Essentially, Mel."

"Why here?" Mel asked, covering his hand with one of her own.

She ignored the impulse to move that marvelous hand with those amazing fingers just another few inches lower, genuinely curious as to the significance of the location. The throat caresses she already understood. Cole had explained that to her almost immediately after starting her training in the use of her Cirronian abilities, training that also included frequent lessons in philosophy, biology, and sociology. The throat was very near the location of the life-force. Tenderly touching a loved one there was like touching their soul. Allowing another to touch you there spoke to the deepest kind of trust. It was a vulnerable location both physically and spiritually. The caress could be varied to convey everything from comfort between friends to the love between mates. Other species had similar touches, he had added. Vardians squeezed the throats of their loved ones, gently with their children, hard enough to leave bruises with their lovers. Dessarians considered the back of the neck to be more vulnerable than the front, and also more erogenous under some circumstances. Cole had spent hours explaining these differences to Mel.

But never once in that time had he mentioned anything like this. Whatever it was, Mel would not have been particularly surprised to find that he had set her off glowing again, as he had so often last night.

Cole smiled in response to her question. "It is where life starts, Mel," he explained. Lowering his voice and moving his lips to her ear, he confided, "Cirronians consider it a very erotic location, Mel."

"It's where… life starts?" Mel repeated, quietly, wincing internally. They were definitely going to have to discuss the… starting of life. Soon.

"In a human," Cole amended, moving his hand up her body to rest against her rib-cage, just below her heart. "I would touch a Cirronian female in the same fashion here."

"Okay," Mel murmured.

"Is something wrong, Mel?" he asked, frowning at her troubled expression.

"We need to talk."

"We have been talking," he pointed out.
"We need to talk about something specific," she clarified.

"Of course, Mel. What?"

"Children."

"But you said that you do not think you are with child," he pointed out, frowning in confusion.

"Yeah, Cole, but…" She sighed. This was never an easy discussion with a long-term lover. "Do you want children?"

He nodded slowly. "Don't you, Mel?"

"With the fugitives loose again? No." Mel shook her head, biting her lip. "Cole, I do want to give you children. Badly. But… right now, it's not safe."

Cole nodded his understanding and gathered her into his arms. "Do not be upset, Mel. You're right, of course. I will study the human reproductive cycle and we will find out when we should avoid making love if we are not to have children."

"Not necessary," Mel told him, shrugging. "I'm on the pill."

"What pill, Mel? You mentioned it before, didn't you?"

She nodded. "One of the pills I take for my migraines. You know the small pink ones?"

He nodded. "Yes, Mel. I know the ones. You take one every morning before breakfast? They come in a round, flat container?"

"Those are the ones, yeah. Well, one of the… I guess you'd call it a side-effect in my case… it prevents women from getting pregnant. Some women take it exclusively for that reason."

Cole frowned thoughtfully as he considered this. "You can not become pregnant? No matter when we make love or how often?"

Mel nodded, watching him uncertainly and wondering how this would affect him. She knew he wanted children, could see it in his eyes, but she knew with even more certainty that they did not have a snowball's chance in hell of keeping a child of theirs safe as long as Zin and his people remained on Earth. It would become a target because of them and their involvement, and that could not be allowed to happen.

He nodded. "You're right, Mel. It would not be a good time," he agreed, rising.

"Where are you going?" Mel asked, irrationally worried that he might not want a relationship with her any more. She shook that off, reminding herself that this was Cole.

"You have not yet taken your pill today, Mel. You should before we make love again." Smiling at her, he tugged on his pants and left the bedroom, returning a few moments later with a pill and a glass of water.

Mel grinned and shook her head, accepting the pill. "Thank you, Cole."

He smiled and eagerly shucked his pants, rejoining her in bed. "We can make love now, right Mel?" he asked eagerly, caressing her stomach again.

She smiled up at the man touching her with such tenderness and abruptly sat up, climbing into his lap and wrapping her arms and legs around him. Cole smiled widely and wrapped his arms around her as well, holding her against him. Smiling, she rested her forehead against his, catching one of his hands and returning it to her stomach.

"There will be children some day," she promised, whispering the words. Before meeting Cole, she had never wanted children, not with any of the men she had been involved with. With Cole, she had trouble picturing them five or ten years down the road without little ones of their own. 

He smiled and dropped his head, kissing the hollow of her throat. He had learned last night that she enjoyed that very much. Her soft moan reaffirmed that conclusion.

"There will be children," he agreed, his lips brushing the sensitive skin of her throat with every word. "When it is safe and when you are ready. We have time, Mel."

He considered moving the hand on her stomach lower still, knowing that Mel especially liked those touches, but he changed his mind and slowly slid it upwards instead. There were many touches his Mel liked and no reason not to share them all with her before they made love. He enjoyed touching her like this before their lovemaking almost as much as he liked the act itself. Especially since it seemed to enhance the experience, sensitizing their bodies for what was to come.

Mel smiled faintly as his hand slid upwards instead of downwards. He had obviously decided that some protracted foreplay was in order. Starting, of course, with her throat. Cole was the kind of man who always went for the throat. She closed her eyes and let her body relax as he caressed with both hands. Her body would not be capable of relaxation for long, not once his hands began their magic.

She buried her face in his neck, where it met his shoulder, and whispered, "I love your hands."

"You keep saying that." He smiled and brushed two fingertips over one nipple before resting that hand against the small of her back.

Mel tightened the grip her legs had on him. "Don't…" she protested.

"Don't touch you like that?" he breathed in her ear.

"Don't tease!" Mel laughed, raising her head long enough to give him a long kiss.

Cole returned the kiss eagerly, holding her tightly against him and ignoring his own body's response in favor of Mel's reactions. Keeping one hand on her throat, the other returned to her breast, massaging it gently for several minutes before returning to the sensitive nipple.

Mel's physiology was a fascinating blend of human and Cirronian. She appreciated Cirronian touches more than any Cirronian female, but she reacted to them in a very human way. And her appreciation of human touches was accompanied by a uniquely Cirronian surge in her life-force. It was the perfect combination of the two, and incredibly alluring to Cole.

Mel moaned softly at the twin attack, burying her face in his shoulder again as she let those marvelous hands work their magic. She had never really considered her throat an erogenous zone, not before Cole. Now, though, it was hard to think of it as anything else. Of course, every time Cole touched her, she discovered something new about her own body.

Overnight, combining his knowledge of human and Cirronian physiology, he seemed to know more about it than she herself did. Not that she was complaining. It was hard for a woman to complain the morning after experiencing her very first orgasm. And her second, third, fourth, and so on…

"Cole," she breathed.

"Yes, Mel?" came his whispered response.

"I love it when you talk like that," she murmured.

Face still buried in his shoulder and throat, she gave him a long kiss there, then lifted her head enough to draw his earlobe between her lips and begin nibbling. She could not help but smile when his hands first slowed, then stilled completely. He was still new enough to lovemaking to become easily distracted from his goal. Which made it her turn for a little judicious teasing.

Where to start, though? His entire body was over-sensitive, even before foreplay started to heighten his sense of touch. She continued sucking and nipping at his earlobe as she considered that problem. She gently pushed at his chest until he quite willingly reclined on the bed, smiling eagerly.

"You like this, don't you?" Mel murmured into his ear, one finger lightly teasing his nipples as she nuzzled the side of his face.

Cole's nod was shaky. 

"Thought so. You like teasing me, too, don't you?"

Another shaky nod. "Feels good. You like it, too."

"Yeah, I do," she agreed, nodding and smiling down at him. "But if you get to tease, so do I. It's the rule." Smiling slyly, she caressed his growing erection.

Cole let out a strangled gasp at that touch. "I didn't know the human mating ritual had rules," he managed in a shaky voice.

"Well, now you do." She smiled and slid on top of him, giving him a long, loving kiss. Finishing the kiss, she sat up and smiled down at the man sprawled under her, her hands slowly tracing the lines of his chest and abs.

Cole submitted without protest for a moment before his hand slid between her legs. He now knew exactly the sort of touch she enjoyed in that location and he was more than willing to give it to her. When Mel's head fell back and she closed her eyes, though, he grinned widely and withdrew his hand, smiling up at her innocently as she stared down at him with wide eyes.

"Your turn to tease me again," he pointed out cheerfully.

"Cole!" Mel grabbed a pillow and hit him with it, laughing. "Now that is not fair!"

In the mood to do something that bore no resemblance to engaging in a pillow-fight with Mel, Cole laughed and plucked the pillow from her hands, tossing it onto the floor.

Mel once more found herself pinned under Cole on the bed. His twinkling eyes laughed down at her, and she could not resist laughing aloud. Shaking her head, she reached up and caressed his chest.

"I love you," she announced for no other reason than because it happened to be true.

"And I love you, my wife," he replied gravely, the mirth vanishing completely from his expression. His eyes were serious, full of love and devotion.

"You keep calling me that," Mel remarked, not particularly annoyed or startled by the fact. She had known going in that she was entering into a more than physical pact with Cole.

"Because you are. Cirronians only mate with their spouses, Mel. You are my wife and I am your husband."

"I think I like the sound of that. Mel Hauser?" she murmured, trying it on for size.

Cole shook his head. "Cole Porter," he corrected her.  "In the Migar Alliance, in those species who change their names upon marriage, the male always takes the name of his wife."

"Cole Porter?" she repeated, shrugging. "Why not?"

"I like it," he told her.

"So do I," she agreed. "But a name is just a name. All that matters is that we are…" She hesitated, searching for the right word.

"Mates?" he offered.

"Yes." Mel smiled and nodded.

"Cirronians do not normally change their names, but I will if you wish me to."

She shook her head. "A name is just a name. My husband," she added, savoring the way the word sounded from her mouth.

He gave her a wide, goofy smile at her use of the word 'husband'.

"But we can't go around calling each other 'my husband' and 'my wife'," Mel pointed out.

"Then I will call you Taushi," Cole whispered, bending and nuzzling her throat. "The other half of my soul."

Mel stared up at him with wide eyes. Terms of endearment did not come much more amazing than that. "It's beautiful, Taushi."

Cole blinked and abruptly began giggling helplessly.

"What?" Mel asked anxiously, staring up at him. She was fairly certain from his response that she had mangled the word and was worried that she might have rendered it into an insult.

Managing to compose himself somewhat, he explained. "Mel, that is… the term is only used for females."

"Oops." Mel smiled and shook her head.

"And the way you pronounced it, Mel, made it only appropriate for a man to use with his pre-adult fiancée."

"'Pre-adult fiancée? Teenage girl?" Mel asked, laughing and shaking her head.

Cole nodded and gave her an apologetic smile. "Yes, Mel."

"Oops," she repeated, shaking her head. "So what should I call you?"

"If you want a word similar to 'Taushi', but appropriate for an adult male, Mel, you should call me Tausha," he explained, pronouncing the word slowly and enunciating carefully.

"Tausha?" she repeated, smiling as he nodded his approval. "Tausha and Taushi. They're beautiful, Cole."

"So are you, Mel," Cole whispered. His hands found her throat and breast again.

"Make love to me?"

"With pleasure," he joked, sliding on top of her and bending to kiss her.

"Well, yeah, hopefully," she laughed, wrapping her arms around him and returning his kiss.

Cole smiled as he kissed her, reveling not only in the physical sensations the kiss and the feel of her body against his inspired, but in this marvelous feeling of closeness to Mel. That closeness went beyond the physical, as it had for months now, long before either of them had considered acting on their changing feelings for each other. And because neither of them had been willing to act on those feelings, that sense of closeness had been vaguely unsettling, downright uncomfortable at times.

Both had always been careful not to do anything to intensify that sense of closeness, but it had been a losing battle. Every glance, every smile, every touch, had carried that sense of intimacy about it. Especially those fleeting touches. So they had always been careful never to touch for too long, never to step over that invisible line between friend and lover.

Now, though, they were free to touch for as long as they wished to, and in as intimate fashion as they cared to. In the past when they had hugged, they had both been standing, usually in public, and always fully clothed. Now, though, he was perfectly free to hug his Mel, lying down and naked and for as long as he cared to. It was liberating. And incredibly pleasant. As his mind focused on this wonderful new freedom they had, his body was focusing on something else entirely. Mel felt his reaction and shifted underneath him, intensifying it.

"Taushi," he breathed, closing his eyes. "Hwa'annin, ey tenat anyahka."

He had said that before, last night. Mel smiled at the beautiful sounds coming from his mouth. Obviously speaking Cirronian during sex was going to be a regular thing for Cole.

"What does it mean?" she asked gently, her hands caressing his throat, trying to mimic the way he always touched her.

"It means… I love you with my entire heart and soul," Cole told her, smiling and catching her hands. "Not like that, Mel," he told her firmly.

"Not like that?" she repeated.

He shook his head. "That is how a woman touches her offspring, Mel," he explained, shrugging. "It is…"

"Probably a huge mood-killer," Mel laughed, shaking her head. "Show me how to do it right."

He smiled and nodded. "Like this," he said, resting his fingertips against her throat, just under her chin. Slowly, he slid his hand down her throat, the touch initially firm, then gradually easing as he applied less and less pressure until he reached the hollow of her throat where he removed his hand altogether. "You feel the difference?"

She nodded. "Think so. Push less the lower you get?"

It was more complex than that, of course, but he suspected that it would come almost instinctively to Mel, so he agreed. "Basically."

"Right. Let's give this a try." Mel took a deep breath and nodded to herself, reaching up and pressing her hand to Cole's throat. She was not entirely sure if she was doing it right until she saw the look on Cole's face. He obviously had enjoyed the caress. "Like that?" she asked softly.

He nodded, smiling. "It was perfect, Mel." And incredibly alluring. He gave her throat another caress, smiling. "If you were fully Cirronian, I would release a special type of energy as I went to prepare you for the joining."

"Like you were before?" Mel asked.

He shook his head. "No, Mel. That was only meant to give pleasure. Mating energy is different. It causes a shift in one's physiology."

"Ah." Mel nodded. "Guess that makes sense."

"Do you like the kind of energy I was sharing with you before?" Cole asked, caressing her throat again, releasing a small measure of that energy. He smiled when he felt her body arching into his. It felt good, so he released more of the same sort, smiling as one of her legs made its way around his hips. "You do like it," he decided, pleased with both this new piece of information about his Mel's preferences and with the way she was pushing her body against his.

"Very much," Mel assured him, giving his throat a caress as he had shown her and wishing that she knew how to release that form of energy.

She would have to get him to teach her at some point. There was definitely something to be said for having a Cirronian as a lover. Especially when you were one yourself. Her body reacted to his in ways that she would never have expected, and the fact that they did not need candles while making love was only a part of it. She felt things with him that she had never felt with any man before, even with men she had truly loved. Cole was different. Cole was… hers, for her. Almost as if they had been made for each other. Making love to Cole was like becoming one with him physically and metaphysically, reminiscent of the Cirronian joinings he had described. She doubted she would ever tire of the experience.

Cole smiled at her caress. It was better, definitely the touch of a lover, but more like that of a girl, anxious about her first joining. With practice, she would become more confident in her approach, just as he was growing more confident in dealing with the human aspects of their lovemaking. Like knowing when the time was right. Exactly as it was now.

As she continued her caresses of his throat, he shifted into a more suitable position and began easing into her. Mel stared up at him with wide eyes for a moment before smiling and opening herself more fully to him. He deliberately went slowly, prolonging Mel's enjoyment. She liked it when he started slow. Faster would come later.

She let out a long, contented sigh as he penetrated with almost agonizing slowness. Yesterday night, he may have been a completely inexperienced virgin, but it had not lasted. Today, he was a consummate lover. He may not have known every trick, but he knew most of the ones that counted, and more than a few that no human she had ever been with did. When he had gone as far as he could, she shifted under him and wrapped her legs around him, drawing him in deeper still.

She began to glow then, bathed in a gentle golden light so beautiful that it brought tears to his eyes.

Weeping tears of joy, he smiled loving down at the radiant creature below him. Mel, his Mel, the other half of his soul, filling a void that had existed there for ten years now. His wife, his strength, his soul. His Mel.

"Taushi," he breathed, his hands seeking out her throat as his hips began moving rhythmically.

"Cole," she groaned, arching her back as he released more energy into her. She idly wondered how much more energy she could take before she blew a fuse and decided that it did not much matter. "I love you."

Cole had to struggle with himself at those words. That his Mel loved him was the most arousing thought possible in his mind. He continued his slow, deliberate thrusts, but his entire focus was on his breathing and on the self-control that Mel had told him would take practice. It was not easy, especially considering the delicious friction he was experiencing, but he persevered. It was a response that he was determined to get under control simply because Mel so clearly enjoyed herself more if it took him longer to give in to the inevitable.

The glow about her intensified, filling the entire room.

"Morah!" beautiful, he cried as he continued his thrusts.

When Mel squeezed his male signature with her own female one, he pushed harder and began picking up the pace. He felt her moving under him, accentuating his pleasure as well as her own. He could also feel her body beginning to tense. Pleased by this, he continued his thrusts, one hand making its way to her throat as the other found its way between the legs currently wrapped around him with an almost vice-like grip. Her hands were clutching his shoulders quite tightly as well.

Her hands tightened their grip on him, but she unwrapped her legs, digging her ankles into the mattress, and arching her body up against his. The Cirronian began to glow then as well, outshining the brilliant light his lover was throwing off. Except for the cries that he was unable to control, he completely ignored the tension building in his own body, ignored the surge in his life-force, his entire focus on Mel. She was very close, her body taut and pushing against his as hard as she could. He allowed his hands to continue their work as they had been and began pushing into Mel with more intensity. When her body began to tremble, he clenched his teeth, struggling against the climax that his own body was desperately pursuing. He was not done with Mel yet, and refused to allow himself release until she was fully satisfied.

"Cole!" she gasped, jerking up to meet his thrusts. "Yes… more, please… more… Cole… oh, yes…"

"Yes, Mel," he gasped, complying with her request and increasing both the speed and force of his thrusts as Mel writhed against him, panting out his name over and over. "Eh atahn!" he cried, amazing.

He could feel the pleasure, pouring off of her in great waves, but more he could feel her love for him. There was no defense against that. He cried out wordlessly, willing his body to cooperate with him, to wait for just a few more moments. It did not have to wait for long.

Mel cried his name a final time and lay still beneath him, staring up at him with wide, loving eyes and a faint smile on her pretty face. Cole gave her a tremulous smile in return and resumed his thrusts, gasping her name when she wrapped her legs around him again and began moving in rhythm with him. He let out a cry that was almost a whimper, gasping out her name with every panted breath. Mel was beginning to tense again, and the tension in his own body was building beyond the point of allowing itself to be denied.

"Taushi!" he gasped.

"Yes, Cole?" she teased, giving him another squeeze moments before she was once again pushed over the edge.

Cole jerked spasmodically and then collapsed on top of her, murmuring in Cirronian between panted breaths as he emptied himself into her.

Mel wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly as her breathing slowly returned to normal. He was a very heavy man, but she loved the way he felt on top of her, so she made no move to push him off, even after he had begun to recover. After better than fifteen minutes of just laying their and enjoying each other's company and touch in silence, Cole pushed himself up on his arms and smiled down at her.

"I love you, Mel," he informed her gravely. He bent and kissed the hollow of her throat, a long, lingering kiss, before he rolled off.

"Mmm, I love you, too," Mel murmured, climbing on top of him and snuggling into his chest.

Cole smiled, reveling in the sensation of her bare flesh against his. Even when they were not making love, it was an amazing feeling, to hold Mel, his Mel, against his body like this. His Mel, his wife, the other half of his soul. He reached up and wrapped his arms around her, securing her against his chest and gently caressing the smooth skin of her back.

"Do you believe in Fate, Mel?" he asked absently, rearranging her hair as he spoke.

She lifted her head only enough to smile up at him. "Never used to. Hard not to, though, when you look at us."

He nodded thoughtfully. "It really is a remarkable thing. My people believe that the Fates can be cruel, but that Love and Hope will find a way. Now, I wonder if they don't all work together, all the time. After all, Fate brought me here and guided me to you."

She smiled faintly, nodding. "Obviously someone wanted us together."

"Obviously." He nodded. "And I don't think it was just because of Zin, either, Mel."

"No," she agreed quietly, nodding. "There's more to it than that. I feel that way sometimes, like we have a… a destiny. Another one," she amended, burying her face in his chest again and enjoying that uniquely Cirronian smell of his.

Cole's expression was faintly troubled, but he continued caressing her back and rearranging her hair. "There is a saying in Migar, Mel, that one destiny is more than enough," he told her quietly.

She looked up and smiled lovingly at him. "I'm not worried," she informed him, winking. "The universe has thrown a lot at us so far. I seriously doubt there's much that we couldn't handle."

"You're right," he agreed, smiling. "Together, Taushi, we can overcome any obstacle."

Mel could tell that he was still a little troubled, so she tried to cheer him up. "Hey, maybe our only real destiny is to be happily married for fifty-odd years and have twenty grandkids," she chuckled.

He raised an eyebrow at that pronouncement. "I've always wanted a large family."

"Big family would be a new one by me, for sure, but I think I could handle it," Mel told him with a smile.

He smiled. "Of course, we have some time before things like creating a family become something we need to think about seriously."

Mel nodded and grinned up at him. "And in the meantime, I'm on the pill, so we can make love 'every day, several times a day' without worrying about it," she pointed out. After a brief pause, she added, "Starting now."

Cole's smile widened until he caught sight of the clock. "It's almost noon," he pointed out, his smile fading.

"Yeah, but it's also Sunday," she whispered, grinning slyly. "And I don't have to be in the bar on Sundays…"

The End