Planet Threat 19

I now saw a bright light over me. It seemed like a surprisingly familiar bright light. Things began to come into focus.

"Commander . . . John . . ." I now heard. Somehow, I didn't think God would be addressing me by my Earth Force rank. I blinked my eyes, amazed that I still had eyes to blink.

"John . . ." I heard again.

"Uhhhh . . ." I moaned in a whisper, amazed that I could do that as well. Heaven wasn't quite seeming to be what I had expected. I felt surprisingly weak for one thing. But the most important thing was where was my love, my one? Where was Kila?

"Ki-la . . ." I now murmured.

"Kila's here, too," I heard. "She's in surgery."

"Sur—" I now murmured, my eyes opening more widely, and looking around. Of course . . . I was in the Medical Bay again, this time in the recovery ward. I was still alive, and on Terra!

"Easy, easy," I heard. A Terrian healer now hovered over me, looking at me closely and caressing a hand across my head to sense my essence. My wife was right, being touched by a healer was far better than being poked and probed by a robot. It had become another step in the integration of our two peoples. The Terrians were now taking over and personalizing the medical care for both our species, while we shared our more advanced healing treatments and technologies with them. Spiritual essence and hard machine were now becoming balanced, even harmonized.

"Kila should be joining you, right here beside you, any moment," the healer assured me.

"She's . . . alive?" I weakly asked.

"Yes, John," the healer confirmed as he gave me a hypospray injection. "She's alive."

"How?" I asked. "We die . . . together, in space . . ."

"Your fighter found you just as you took your helmets off," the healer explained. "You both were captured in a force field, which was flooded with heat and oxygen . . . fortunately for you, unfortunately for her. But here she is now," he said moving aside as my Kila, my precious Kila, was moved on a mobile bed next to mine.

"Move us closer . . . please," I murmured, reaching a hand for her. I took her hand in mine. Even unconscious, there was that energy of hers again. Ohh, nothing had ever felt so good to me in my life.

"Kila . . ." I whispered.

Her eyes began to slowly open. Then it hit me . . . she wasn't wearing a mask!

"Help!" I whispered weakly almost in panic. "Help! Mask! For Kila!"

"It's alright," the healer assured, laying a hand on me again with his own mask firmly in place over his mouth. "It's alright. She breathes oxygen now, through artificial lungs genetically engineered and grown by your technology. They allow her to breathe in an Earth environment while still metabolizing what her body needs to live."

"No . . ." I now whispered, slowly shaking my head, feeling that was just not right. "Kila . . ."

"John," she finally turned her head, beginning to smile towards me.

"Kila, you're breathing . . . oxygen," I sighed, amazed.

"My gift . . . to you," she whispered.

"No . . ." I softly replied with a growing regret, now rolling my body over towards her to caress the side of her face.

"They said I needed new lungs . . . while I was on life support," she continued, looking at me. "I asked to breathe your air. They said yes."

"Kila . . . you give me too much," I whispered to her. "You can't live in your world anymore . . . breathe your air."

"You are my world now," Kila assured in her own whisper, reaching to caress the side of my face with her three-fingered hand. I gently put my hand on hers as tears uncontrollably fell from my eyes.

"Kiss me," she then softly asked. "Make this . . . worthwhile."

I then reached to give her perhaps the most gentle and loving kiss a husband has ever shared with a wife, in neighboring medical beds.

"Keep me warm," she quietly requested.

I strained to move the rest of myself all the way onto her bed as she gently turned and I gently took her into my arms from behind, making sure to get her 'ponytail' just right across my shoulder. I then brought the blanket from my bed over both of us, being very careful to keep my arms and hands away from her chest area where her surgery had likely been performed.

"You two really are inseparable," I then heard a familiar voice say near us. "I even had to carefully thaw your mouths apart once we got you back onboard."

"We've earned it, Mike," I quietly replied as I just savoured my wife's presence.

"I'm sorry we had to subject you to a pure Earth environment though, Kila," my friend apologized as he now stood next to us along with Sharon. "We had no Terrian air source with us, and your air supply was exhausted. Healers from here told me by comm to immobilize you in a stasis force field soon after I separated you from John. It just wasn't soon enough though as you both started breathing again while we were frantically resuscitating you on the deck of the fighter's multi-purpose bay."

"Should have just left us together . . . immobilized both of us," my wife quietly sighed as she rested against me. "But Mike, you've given me a gift . . . the chance to breathe with my husband now. I will always be grateful," she added, now reaching a hand for him.

"Whoa!" Mike said as he took Kila's hand, feeling her appreciative energy for the first time, before he recoiled and let go. "That's some energy! Y-You live with that? All the time?"

"This?" I sighed, casually relaxing against her and feeling the same energy. "It's one of her milder voltages. You should feel her when she really turns it up."

"Shhhh . . . that's just for you, John," my wife smiled.

"Sorry," I explained to my friends, "Terrian bedroom secrets."

Kila just quietly laughed. I marveled feeling and seeing her take little gasps of oxygen now amid her laughing. As much as I relished her joy, my thoughts briefly drifted to others.

"Team Four . . . we lost them, too?" I asked Mike.

"Yes," he sadly confirmed. "Terra Four's pilot came back though. But we did it, John. We blew up the Ark, even vaporized the debris field, just as you predicted."

"Must have been quite a show," I sighed.

"I was too busy to really see it," he replied, "first making sure you two were cared for, and then I was watching telemetry and sensor readings in Elder Control from the three primed main reactors when it happened, making sure they were going critical as programmed. I had to, having been drafted by Chen and Doron as Acting Earth Force Commander."

"Which you still are for now," I added. "Kila and I are on medical leave."

"I was afraid you were gonna say that," he quipped. "I was just glad I had a flight officer under me, as well as Elder Control calling the shots around the planet, as I have no idea how to command fighter and bomber squadrons. But you were right, John. If you both hadn't primed Unit Two, the destruction might not have been complete."

"And we would not be here," I heard another familiar voice add.

"Doron . . . sir," I responded with more than a little embarrassment at being caught by a superior basically snuggling with my wife in bed . . . a medical ward bed no less.

"Healing a mate in the Terrian way," he admired.

"Really?" I wondered.

"Really," Kila quietly assured, glancing my way in my arms from in front of me as we lay on our sides together, quietly surging some loving energy towards me. She now seemed to reach into my mind, drawing me closer to her as I found I couldn't help but kiss her, long and slowly on the side of her face, embracing her a little more tightly as we lay together, each of us dressed in human hospital gowns. I tried to resist, half-heartedly . . . but I simply couldn't, and kind of didn't want to. Kila's left hand caressed my bared right arm wrapped around her, sending me its own gentle energy as well. I could almost feel tissues and even cells within each of us begin to regenerate.

"I think we should allow them to heal together," I heard Doron advise Mike and Sharon. "Although we would do it in private at home, as the connection and sharing becomes very deep. How your kind could expect to heal with a mate in such an open, public setting like this . . ."

"Uhh . . . we'll see you two later," I heard Mike smile as he and Sharon turned and left along with Doron. It was all I could do to gently raise a hand and just waive at them as they departed.

Kila, I'd appreciate control of myself here, I thought to her with just a little irritation as I couldn't stop myself from continuing to kiss the side of her face and head.

"John . . . would you heal me?" Kila quietly asked with a sigh beside me, just melting away any resolve I had within me.

Heal, my Kila, I now surrendered in thought to her as we then settled even closer right in that recovery ward bed. We touched the sides of our heads together, brain against brain, entering into a profound and shared meditation. I allowed myself to be guided to kiss her again, gently rolling my head against hers.

Heal me with your touch, I then sensed from her for the first time.

Kila? I asked in my thoughts, reopening my eyes as I remained with my head against hers.

You heard me, John, I felt her reply to my unending joy as I then pulled my head back and gazed at her with awe.

"Know my mind," she said as she looked at me with half-opened eyes, "as you heal my body. We've found a way now."

I just touched my forehead to hers again. Yes . . . I movingly thought to her. My eyes teared up as I began to know her world of thoughts for the first time.

We entered a deep, meditative state together. I felt her take my right hand with her hands and guide it under her gown. She then began slowly tracing my fingers along her front, right over her new lungs and the closed and fused incisions through which they had been implanted. I felt a restoring force pass through my hand, even my body, as she began to breathe more deeply.

I marveled for a moment. Kila was now channeling energy through me, allowing me to heal her, as a Terrian would. Knowing me as always, she turned her head to look at me as I now raised mine again to gaze at her for a moment, before she wrapped her right hand around the back of my head and brought our foreheads back together.

Yes, John, she confirmed with her mind in answer to my unspoken question as our eyes filled each other's vision. You are healing me. I couldn't do this by myself. We are one now. My energy flows within you, is even changed by you. We can channel it to heal me. You are even part of me now, as your DNA and mine together provided the template for my new lungs. That connects us even more deeply as our cells speak to one another, desiring and sharing the same energies.

Kila . . . I thought to her with awe.

I didn't care whether it was proper or not as I now kissed and held her without reservation. More healing energy surged through my hand and fingers towards her, even through my entire body. I could sense a field, an aura now enveloping both of us, as I surrendered to it.

Open your essence, John, I felt Kila echo. Allow it to merge with mine.

I could feel myself begin to reach beyond my body and enfold her, as she enfolded me . . . blending, intertwining with me. The healer who had been tending to me a little while ago passed by again, but I wasn't seeing him with my eyes. This time I could sense him just nodding approvingly at me, at both Kila and I, before he continued on his rounds. What we were generating together was that powerful.

John, Kila now echoed throughout my being, focus your mind, your entire essence on me. No questions, just acceptance . . .

Kila . . . I responded with all that I was as with her energy in me I now surged my greater self around her.

Yes, John, she encouraged in echoes, yes . . .

I just followed her now into a deep, healing energy and union while our bodies rested and healed together. I had no idea for how long Kila and I were like this, nor did I care. As our mortal forms gradually recovered though, my connection with Kila slowly diminished, from profound communion to mere sleep. I eventually woke beside her, feeling regret. The ward was dimly lit and quiet around us. A hand was now caressing my arm.

"As our shells, our bodies, heal and are strengthened, our abilities of essence and spirit fade," Kila softly said, sharing my regret. "The holes injury and sickness allow us to reach through shrink. I read and studied this truth as I became a healer, even experienced it in healing others. But I had never known it myself before, as I was never sick or injured with Jorn, nor he with me. Both our essences were strong, which made our shells strong, too.

"Before you and I experienced it, I had been afraid of death though," she continued, "because it meant separation for me . . . from you, from everything. But once we started to go together however, I never knew such joy. We've had a preview of heaven, John, especially as our bodies healed while they were weakened, allowing our essences out to play. Think you can stand more mortal life with me now though?" Kila asked, turning her head a little towards me. "Until we die, again?"

"With you?" I gently replied, now looking at her as I drew her into a slightly tighter embrace. "I think I can handle it."

We kissed deeply once more . . . passionately, slowly, even hooking our tongues around each other again. This time though we both breathed in through our nostrils and exhaled into each other's mouths. I couldn't remember tasting it in space or anywhere else, but Kila's breath now tasted sweet to me, warm and sweet. It was a nice contrast to her spicy energies, and made me kiss her all the more. She was perfect to me now.

Finally, my mate and I allowed our kiss to gently end, briefly smiling at each other before we resettled close together and faded back to sleep in the dimly lit ward. As we did, I realized that Kila had given me an ultimate gift this time with her choice to breathe my air, our air now . . . to almost give up being Terrian. It was something I didn't think I could ever repay her for.

All I could do was treasure her now, just love her.

— — — — —

"How are you doing this morning?" I asked as I brought hot morning nifron to my beloved in bed.

"Wonderful," Kila sighed as she stretched under the covers, taking in a deep breath of the air we now shared together in our upstairs bedroom back at home some days later. I then gave her another reason to breathe deeply, through a warm kiss.

"Here, let me help you sit up against me," I invited as I shed my bathrobe and settled back into bed with her.

"You know, I actually liked the view in space better," she decided, glancing out the big window beyond the foot of our bed as we curled up together under the quilt and I passed her favorite morning beverage to her.

"Always reaching for something more," I smiled, then giving her a gentle squeeze.

"I have what I want," Kila said, looking back at me. "Right here. Okay, what is it?" she then asked as I looked at her.

"You know what it is," I noted.

"I want to hear you say it anyway," she requested. "It's what sets what I have with you apart from what I shared with Jorn."

"I am so grateful now," I gladly confessed aloud, "for your gift to me here. No mask, no barrier, no curtain or wall at all between us anymore. I could still feel guilty about that. But having died with you, and yet being given this second chance, this second life anyway . . . I am just relishing every moment of what we share now. I will never forget you counting down our life together in space by one-minute increments. Time had never seemed to rich, so full to me, as those minutes, and then seconds, did. I was ready to go with you, right then. I still am. But now . . . we get all this, too."

Kila now just tearfully closed her eyes and rested herself against me, basking in the quiet energy of my love I was giving her. I was even feeling it myself this morning.

"Your heart is becoming stronger than you think," she warmly appreciated.

"Really?" I wondered.

"Take my word for it," she sighed, smiling with her eyes closed against me, "as both a Terrian, and a healer."

But it wasn't morning for us now until I did one thing as I touched my forehead to hers.

I love you, I thought to her.

And I love you, she thought back to me.

I could never, ever do this with a human mate, I telepathed to her.

"And I wouldn't talk out loud as much like this with a Terrian mate," she said, pulling her head back a little as she gazed at me. "Enjoy some nifron with me, my mate," she invited, holding the wooden cup up to my lips.

I just smiled, looking at her gratefully as she gave me a sip, before she finished the cup herself and then laid it aside as we quietly rested some more close together on our bed. I just had to shift a little however so that at least the sides of our foreheads touched. I couldn't get enough of her thoughts now. The private world of Kila's mind was utterly incredible to me. I could feel her smiling though, even looking at me with her eyes as I touched various thoughts in her mind. I knew she was indulging me on this.

We do have a couple things to take care of today, she mentally reminded me.

"I know," I sighed as I now looked at her.

— — — — —

"We name this community garden and greenhouse," Kila announced, dressed in her blue Councilor's suit as she floated in a hover chair while I held a pair of large, old-fashioned ribbon-cutting scissors beside her, "in honour of a dedicated botanist, who was a hero to humans and Terrians everywhere for having fought, in her own way, for the life that was, and is, here. So we now dedicate . . . the Kaila Simpson Meyers Gardens."

I was so profoundly moved that Kila had to reach and help me cut the ribbon at the front gates as everyone applauded around us. Humans and Terrians then began to roam the grounds among plots of vegetables, flowers and other examples of Earth plant life that were now growing on a new world. I chose to carry Kila as she guided us to a courtyard within the gardens in front of the greenhouse.

"That way," she encouraged, pointing as I cradled her in my arms. "Just a little further."

We approached the greenhouse now, and came upon a small, white pedestal fountain. Its waters burbled quietly in front of a bronze plaque that was mounted on an exterior wall of the greenhouse in between two sets of doors . . . a plaque that had both a name with a story beneath, and a face, that were very familiar to me.

"Here she is, John," Kila said as we now stopped and looked at the plaque together. "Kaila is right here . . . watching over her gardens."

I had to bury my face against the side of Kila's head as I held her.

"Now you have a place to visit her," my second wife gently encouraged as her arms remained draped around my neck while one hand now supportively rubbed the back of my head with understanding.

We almost joined her out there, I tearfully thought to Kila as I kept my forehead pressed against her head . . . kept her company.

Space was all she knew, John, Kila comforted me with her mind. Let part of her remain out there, and let the rest of her be here. "Let her rest now," my wife now said aloud, "where she is . . . there," she noted, looking up at the sky, "here," as she now looked at the plaque, "and here," she finished, laying a hand on my heart."

"That you would share me with her," I sniffed.

"It's part of loving you," Kila assured. "A part I am honoured to share, with both you, and her."

"We need to find Jorn for you now," I said, trying to smile.

"That's part of our other appointment," Kila noted. "Don't worry though," she assured as I looked at Kaila's plaque one more time. "Kaila will be here . . . but she's over there, too."

Before we left though, Kila shifted her weight a little, gripping me tighter with her right arm around my shoulders as she now took my left hand in hers. She then guided us as we both touched Kaila's plaque with our left hands.

"Together," Kila gently said. "All of us . . . always."

I was moved beyond words again as Kila gave me a gentle kiss.

— — — — —

We both just decided to leave her hover chair behind at the gardens as I then carried my wife's light form in my arms several blocks towards the middle of the circular habitat, where a large memorial was ready to be dedicated. This was one project that the Terrians had particularly wanted to work together with us on.

"The fallen we remember both saved this world and all of us now here, and laid the foundation for this community," President Chen noted as he stood on the memorial's black steps with First Elder Doron.

"And this, along with the battle legacy outside this community," Doron continued in Terrian, "are now the roots, and the core, of the harmony both our peoples now share together on this world . . . our common home."

My regular pilot, Stewart Stanton, and the young Terrian, Mala, who had originally reached out to us with Doron in the aftermath of the battle, then cut another ribbon with the same pair of scissors my wife and I had used . . . practically with the same emotion I had with Kila earlier. Terrians and humans then moved forward and climbed some steps to a large black oval pedestal supporting a tall bronze statue of a hero to both our peoples. I didn't know him personally, but I and everyone else were grateful for what he did. All of us began searching among the writing along the curved wall of that pedestal. My wife and I first paused as we found the names of the seven team members we had lost on our recent mission to the Ark, their names having been just engraved by laser into their own section of stone only the day before.

"You and I came really close to having our names added here," I noted as we looked at this panel of the memorial together.

"You mind being on this side of that wall?" Kila knowingly asked as she now looked at me.

"I just wish these other people were on this side of the wall, too," I quietly replied.

"I know," my wife soothed, giving me a gentle kiss on the cheek. We both then gently drew our heads together, directly sharing our mixed even conflicted feelings at having survived the mission that these compatriots of ours had not, and that unlike them, we were able to love as we were, too.

As we kept our eyes closed and our foreheads together as I cradled her in my arms while we stood in front of that one memorial panel, the swirl of feelings and emotions finally crystallized down to just two thoughts between us however.

John . . . she thought to me.

Kila . . . I thought to her.

If we were permitted no other thoughts, not a word more than each other's names the entire rest of our lives, just meditating on my mate's beautiful name alone would have been all I could ever want. It was funny in a way. Kila and I had been married several months, but it still felt like our honeymoon was just beginning.

"John," my wife finally encouraged aloud, breaking our shared meditation, "we have some other names to find here, a couple of other people to see."

"Yeah," I agreed, trying to recompose myself. "But I can't get enough of this with you now."

"I know," she gently smiled as I then began walking, carrying her further along the wall that commemorated all the fallen of the Battle for Terra—human and Terrian, civilian and warrior, together.

As we walked alongside the wall, our eyes scanned the names written on it. Human names were written in Roman letters, Terrian names in Terrian, all interspersed and arranged in the ascending order of each alphabet. I paused briefly as I saw my predecessor's name—the man who had sparked, even started the battle, right there along with everyone else. Even dead, he was one human being I had come to truly loathe for what he had done. Many humans had wanted his name left off the memorial, even erased from our history.

"He is a reason behind the harmony we now know," Doron had gently countered during a debate over this as the Earth Council and Eldership had met to formulate plans for this joint human-Terrian memorial. "His actions led to what we share, even if he did not intend them to. So my people ask that his name be included along with all the other fallen. No one should be left out."

Even Kila, having been victimized through near suffocation by what this man had tried to do, voted on the Council in favor of including his name on the memorial. But now, even though I stared at it engraved there on the stone in front of me, I just can't say or write his name, or forgive him. Not yet.

"Let's keep going," my wife encouraged me.

"Yeah," I sighed as my feet began to move under us again. I found this memorial both opening up raw wounds within me, yet also knitting them closed in a healing way at the same time. But maybe that was my Terrian partner. She did have her hand resting against the skin of my neck as I carried her.

Then, there they were. Perhaps appropriately, both Jorn's and Kaila's names were right next to each other in adjacent columns. Kila and I initially smiled at each other upon seeing that irony.

"Move me closer, please," she requested before I knelt down and allowed her to lean and touch her forehead against her beloved former mate's name, closing her eyes as she did. At first I watched her, but then looked alternately down and then at Kaila's name, wanting to give Kila at least some privacy. I briefly looked along the wall to see other Terrians quietly doing the same thing though . . . touching their heads to their loved ones' names, their eyes closed. I then felt a hand at the back of my head, gently urging me closer to the wall. The letters spelling out Kaila Simpson Meyers began to blur as I touched my forehead and nose to them. I closed my eyes as well. I didn't pray or try to think anything as I did this, but I felt acceptance and closure now. I felt peace.

But then I felt a kiss on my cheek. I reopened my eyes and turned my head as Kila drew me into a tight embrace, encircling my neck and head with her arms and hands as she now kissed me deeply on the lips. Even though it seemed odd, I didn't resist, surrendering instead to her as we kissed right in front of our former mates' names.

"Why?" I quietly asked her as we ended our kiss and looked at each other while I cradled her.

"He died, so I could continue to do this . . . live, and love," she replied. "I wanted to show him that I appreciate his final, lasting gift to me, and show your wife that I will take good care of you as well."

I didn't know what to say to that, except to look at her with gratitude. Kila just gently smiled as she stroked my head with a hand though. Moving closer again, she took my head in both her hands and brought our foreheads together as we closed our eyes. For the first time, she began sharing her memories with me of her life that had been with Jorn. I saw him, I heard him, I even sensed his thoughts . . . through her. Kila then tapped and gently brought my memories of Kaila and I into our shared consciousness. Both our memories . . . the images, sounds and sensations . . . they all seemed to blend together into a harmonious whole.

It was the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced.

— — — — —

I found myself slowly returning to reality as we approached our home again a short while later, with Kila still in my arms. Our home . . . it was a wonderful thought all by itself, a dream come true.

"I forgot your chair over at the gardens," I sighed as I carried her in through our front door.

"No rush. We'll get it eventually," my wife assured. "I prefer your arms anyway."

I now just stood in the hallway between the front door and our kitchen and family room, looking at Kila as I held her.

"Tell me," she gently invited.

"This is the only other thing I feel guilty about," I confessed sadly.

"That I can't float anymore, because the oxygen I breathe is heavier than Terrian air?" she responded knowingly as she caressed my face. "Do you know what a joy it is to be carried by you around our house now? All the time?"

I just closed my eyes as we held each other tightly.

I want this, she assured me in thought as our heads touched again. I want it.

We held each other for several minutes like that, just lost in each other once more.

"John," Kila finally suggested, pulling her head back slightly from me, "there's something I would like to share with you now. It's time."

"What?" I asked with a slightly intrigued smile.

"Take us into my office, next to your study, would you?" she requested as I began walking us towards a side alcove that contained doorways to our respective professional and private rooms off the main hall. "It's in the closet, off to the right," she added, continuing to guide me.

"Is there anything I'm not supposed to be seeing in here?" I asked as we entered her home office for the first time since we had come home from recovering together in the Medical Bay.

"No, but thanks for asking," she smiled as she glanced up towards the top of her private closet. "Now with you carrying me around though, I won't be able to have any secrets from you."

You don't anyway, I warmly thought to her, briefly touching my forehead to hers.

Kila laughed at that before we shared another kiss. "It's that package on the top shelf in there," she said, looking to the top of her already open closet.

I boosted her up in my arms a little higher as she reached for a medium-sized, thin rectangular package wrapped with brown paper, and which had four rounded bumps along its top.

"Okay, I'm curious," I said as she brought it down onto her lap, both of us looking at it.

"Let's open it together on our couch," she suggested.

"What's the occasion?" I wondered as I walked us both back to the central hallway through our house, past our kitchen with its island counter and bar, and into our living area.

"We're a family now," she replied as I carried her. "It's something that happens between Terrian partners a while after their wedding, usually with the arrival of their first child, but I didn't wait for that with Jorn. I just loved him too much, as I love you now. And since we can't have a child ourselves, and have chosen not to by other means for now, it just feels like it's time to unveil our monala . . . what you would call a family tableau."

"Show me," I invited as I sat us both down on our sofa.

"Open it with me," she responded as we turned and began unwrapping the paper off of it.

"Kila . . ." I sighed, now feeling deeply touched.

"John, this is our family," she said, moving closer and admiring it with me as it sat on her lap. It was a wooden stand. Mounted at its center were two removable wooden figures of Kila and myself, gently smiling. Mine was about eighteen centimetres high, dressed in a carved version of my uniform, fortunately without the hat though, and Kila's was slightly shorter, dressed in one of her bodysuits.

"These are very accurate," I admired, picking up my own figure and turning it in my free hand, while keeping an arm around her, before putting my figure back in its place on the wooden stand. "You make them?"

"Thanks," she replied, gratified. "I can do many things, but not this. We have monala carvers—Terrians who devote themselves to this, like I do to healing. We just transfer memories of family members we want carved to the carvers through touch, and they do the rest."

"But this, Kila . . ." I sighed, as I now picked up the figure to the right of mine as they faced us. It wasn't of Kila however, but of my first wife, Kaila, depicted in the worksuit I'd seen her in so many times, just as I remembered.

"I couldn't let Jorn's figure go," Kila admitted as she now picked up his wooden figure on the other side of her own, "or just store it away, never to see daylight again. He is still part of me, just as I've sensed Kaila is a part of you. It didn't feel right for me to keep and display a figure of Jorn here, without you having one of Kaila next to yours, where she belongs."

"So you gave a carver my memories of Kaila?" I noted, continuing to look at my first wife's figure.

"Yes, John," Kila gently confirmed. "But only enough routine moments with her clothed like this for him to carve from—nothing personal or intimate. Maybe I should have asked, but I wanted to surprise you, since you were unaware of this Terrian tradition."

"It's alright," I reassured her, taking a deep breath as I felt the mixed emotions Kaila's figure was bringing out in me, before I set it back in its place next to mine.

"I feel the same way when I allow myself to think about Jorn at times," Kila empathized. "But you and I have each other, too. We're not alone. They're not alone, either," she added, nodding towards the figures again.

"I know," I accepted as Kila lovingly stroked the fingers of her right hand through my hair.

"So, this is our monala," she noted, moving closer beside me, "one I am very proud to display, for both us and for everyone who visits our home."

I looked at Kila for a moment with a gentle smile of gratitude, before I moved to kiss her. We then both looked at the figures on her lap again.

"These are very powerful . . . very moving," I noted.

"That's why most every Terrian home has them," she said as we continued looking at them together. "It's a way we have to remind us that family is always with us, always watching over us . . . no matter what."

"So, where do we put our monala?" I asked.

"How about on that mantle?" Kila suggested, turning to look at it above our fireplace. "They can see everything that goes on from there, even off to the side out in our back yard."

"You sure you want them to see what could wind up happening in our hot tub?" I wondered with a smile.

"Yep!" she replied as we both laughed.

"Okay," I agreed, now picking up Kila as she held our family monala, and then walking us both over to our fireplace mantle. I watched as she placed the holder and its figures at the exact center, making sure it was set just right.

"There," she said with satisfaction, "we're a family now."

"Yes we are," I agreed as we shared another kiss in front of the figures.

"John," she then warmly hinted, "I'm feeling just a little cool here."

"I should not have said 'hot tub' should I?" I sighed with another smile.

"Ohh yes you should have," she replied.

"And I thought I was nuts about hot tubs once," I gently chuckled as I looked at her.

"I just like warmth," she smiled, "all the time now. After the cold of space, could you blame me?"

"I couldn't," I assured as I glanced at our monala and its four figures one more time, before I carried Kila upstairs to our bedroom to get us both changed.

"Just help me into my white nightdress," she requested as I set her down on the corner of our bed.

"Your nightdress?" I wondered, before I began to connect the dots. "You're gonna be bad out there again, aren't you?" I smiled.

"Shhhh . . ." she just smiled in reply as we helped each other change.

— — — — —

Soon I was placing my Terrian version of a Roman goddess into the hot tub in our back yard.

"I am sooo glad I can sink further into water now," Kila sighed as she leaned back in the tub, relishing the warm waters bubbling around her. "See? My handicap has its benefits."

I quietly smiled, just watching her for a moment as I leaned and rested on my elbows at the side of the tub.

"We're gonna have to add a trellis of grape vines and a tiled patio around this tub," Kila decided as she continued to relax, looking around her. "Then we'll have our villa come to life, right here."

"My next home project," I assured her.

"Why aren't you in the tub?" Kila now asked, looking at me.

"Because you just look so good in that nightdress," I admired, "especially wet."

"Why don't you enjoy me in it a little closer then?" my wife smiled. "Got some really good voltage to go along with it. But ditch what you're wearing," she decided. "I don't want anything impeding our full circuit among all our centres."

"Yes, my electrical engineer," I smiled as I just shed the t-shirt and shorts I was now wearing, and jumped in with a splash before the neighbors around us noticed. "Ohhh," I sighed as soon as my head reemerged above the warm waters. "I am already feeling you, even from across the tub."

"Feel this," she said turning up her voltage, almost paralyzing me again as she now swam over to me and took total control, shedding her nightdress in the water as she gracefully moved.

"Me and my mermaid," I happily sighed as she now took my quivering form into her arms.

"I'm feeling seriously electric eel today," she smiled. "Ready for some sizzle?"

"Zap me good," I sighed.

"Ah John, there you are," we heard a voice say as it came around the back of our house. "You're not answering your commlink. Can I see you?"

"Can it wait, Mister President?" I sighed without looking his way. "My healer was about to give me a needed treatment after our strenuous morning of official duties here."

"A long and deep treatment," my mate assured, still holding me as we gazed at each other.

"One of these days, you two are gonna wear out your status as heroes, and your extended medical leave," Chen sighed. "Successfully blowing up the Ark, preventing a mass calamity, and almost dying in space will only get you so far."

"Your Terrian date, and my Firehouse Chili, will be here tonight, at six," I replied without taking my eyes off of Kila.

"That will get you farther. Alright, see you later," he smiled as he now turned around and left.

"Now, where were we?" I sighed in my wife's arms.

"I was about to go all 'eel' on you," she reminded me with a kiss.

"Just keep my head above water as you prey upon me," I requested.

"Ohh, I intend to," she assured.

"Zap me," I said.

Suddenly, all I could see was an explosion of thoughts, feelings and drives that surged through and utterly consumed me. But then, the blinding surges became discernable.

"Y-Y-Youu rr-rreally ffeeeelll th-thatt waaayy a-a-ab-bou-tt m-m-mmmee?" I stammered amid my paralyzing convulsions.

"Ohhhhhhh y-y-yeahhh . . ." Kila confirmed, as she shuddered right with me in that hot tub.

I seized her tremoring body and fired back a blast right from my heart, channeling and transmuting some of Kila's own energy this time, but putting my own special spin and signature on it as I did.

"Ohhhh godzzz!" she quietly exclaimed as she gripped and quaked against me as both our surges seemed to first explode within us, and then subside.

"We'll see who will treat whom now," I smiled, feeling in charge between us for once, truly appreciating that I could tap and change Kila's energies, zapping her right back as good as she zapped me.

"Ohhh gods . . ." she breathed once more as she now moved to kiss me, hard.

Once again, love had never, ever, felt so good.