A/N: This is the extended version of chapter 13 of New Hopes. If you haven't read that story, this probably won't make much sense. It's rated M for a reason, folks!

She reached up to Dom's window and tapped gently against the glass. After a few seconds of silence, she tapped again. Just when she'd been ready to give up, his window slipped open, and his familiar head, his hair disheveled, poked out. He grinned when he saw who had been tapping. "You're late, Lady Knight. We expected you this afternoon."

She smiled back at him. "Yes, well, we ran into a group of very frisky unicorns on our way here, and had to go and keep them entertained. We got in about two hours ago, but I had to get Tobe fed and settled in my room." And she'd had to wash. That had made her feel worlds better. She extended a hand, obviously wanting his help to clamber through his window. "Well? Are you going to leave me out in the cold?"

Dom grinned and leaned out to pull her up. The barracks for the Own were built with a few feet of dead space between the ground floor and the actual ground, to provide an insulating cushion of air. Luckily Dom's rooms were on the 'ground' floor, or she'd have had to wait until the morning to see him. Once she was back on her own two feet, he kissed her warmly, a gesture she returned. "Gods, Kel, it's good to see you," he murmured into her hair once they broke apart, his eyes glinting in the faint moonlight that shone through the window. "I'm sorry I didn't wait up for you. I traded for the dawn watch, so I could have this afternoon free. Once it got to be past dark, we assumed you'd been held up at New Hope or Mastiff and wouldn't be in until tomorrow, and I was tired."

"It's fine, Dom." She shucked off her quilted coat and deposited it on his chair. For all it was spring already, the weather didn't show it. It was still bitterly cold, even if it hadn't snowed for a few weeks. "If we hadn't been close to here when we tracked down the last of the unicorns, we would have slept out."

Dom shivered theatrically. "Much better to ride through the dark and sleep in the warm. I'm flattered you're giving up your much deserved rest to come and visit me."

She chaffed her cold hands against the sleeves of her shirt. "Stop being so… you. I've had a very long day, I just washed off a fair bit of unicorn blood, as well as some of my own, and I haven't seen you in weeks."

Dom grinned and opened his arms, which she fell into. "Gods, I missed you, Kel," he breathed in her ear. His lips found hers, warm against the chill she felt had seeped into her bones, and his fingers twisted into her hair. He pulled away just enough to speak. "How do you taste so good?"

"Shut up and kiss me, Dom." He did. She pushed him backwards until they could collapse on his bed and it was some time before they pulled apart to breathe and calm down. Dom stood, and she heard him moving around in the dark. After a few seconds, she saw a spark in the darkness and then a candle flame steadied.

"That's better," he sighed. "I can see you properly now." He sat down on the bed with her and brushed his finger tips across her cheek. "You were hurt?"

She shook her head. "Not too bad. Tobe got separated and knocked off his horse, and I had to go pull him out of the fire. Neal patched me up. My favorite pair of breeches are ruined, but Neal says I won't even have a scar."

Dom rolled his eyes. "At least my meathead cousin is good for some things. Anyone else injured?"

"Tobe needed healing. That's why I felt fine coming here once he was in bed. He was out before his head hit the pillow."

"You were the only ones idiotic enough to get close to one of the things?" With a rueful smile, she nodded. He tugged a lock of her hair. "You never could stand by if one of your chicks was in danger. Aren't you tired after a day in the saddle and a healing of your own, not to mention whatever fighting you got up to?"

She shook her head, even though she was. "I wanted to see you."

"I'm glad you came. Do you want me to find something to drink? I've got water, but I'm sure there's a pitcher of something in the common room."

She shook her head. "I just need you, Dom." Without another word, he pulled her close and started kissing her again. She didn't know if it was the setting, being in his room, on his bed, late at night, or the fact that she'd decided she really did want to do this, with him, but she felt like she needed to spell out the extent of her experience with men, which she hadn't actually done. "Dom, I…" she hesitated, trying to give voice to her tumultuous thoughts. "I've never…"

His lips pressed to hers silenced her. "I know, Kel. Your hints last fall about what you and Cleon had and hadn't gotten up to were about as subtle as a staff to the gut." Again, he kissed her softly. "We don't need to do anything you don't want to do."

She was glad that the light of the single candle probably hid the worst of her blush. "What if I do want to?"

His grin was obvious, even in the low light. "I would be lying if I said I wasn't delighted by the prospect." Her smile felt hesitant, but Dom's thumb brushing across her cheek tenderly reassured her slightly. She hoped he couldn't see every bit of the vulnerability she felt spelled out in her eyes, as she feared he might. "We can take things as slowly as you like, Kel. We don't need to do everything all at once."

"I'd rather just get it over with, honestly." She would have bitten her tongue if she could have had the words back, once she heard them in her ears.

Dom stared at her for a long moment, shock written large in his blue eyes, before he laughed, long and hard, struggling to stay quiet enough for the lateness of the hour. Once he'd wiped the tears from his eyes, he managed to say, "Obviously, the legend of my skill has spread far and wide, if that's the way you feel about it," before laughing again.

Kel smiled slightly before she, too, laughed. "Don't be mean, Dom. You know I didn't mean it like that." She pushed his shoulder with a hand, then was surprised to find her wrist gripped and Dom not laughing anymore. He pulled her close and kissed her again, her mouth opening under the persuasion of his lips.

For long minutes, her only focus was the feel of his lips on hers, the taste of him on her tongue, the rasp of his cheeks against the smoothness of her own. When he broke the kiss, leaning his forehead against her own, she struggled to get her breathing under control. "How did you mean it, then?"

His question caught her by surprise. Any previous train of thought had been obliterated by his kiss. "What?"

"How did you mean your comment about 'getting it over with', if not to malign my skill as a potential lover?"

She sighed out a small breath. "Oh, this is too embarrassing for words." Since he was only inches from her face, he heard her mutterings.

"Kel, if you're too embarrassed to talk to me about this, we shouldn't even consider going to bed together." When she met his eyes, she could tell he was sincere. Even though there had been no hint of humor in Dom's voice, she'd never known the sergeant to not be making a joke.

She supposed he was right. Even if she wasn't thinking about marriage, or babies, this was still an important decision, and if she didn't feel comfortable discussing her thoughts about it with him, he was probably the wrong man for her to be considering doing it with. With a sigh, she lay back on his bed. She might be willing to discuss this with him, but that didn't mean she wasn't embarrassed. "It's a few things, really." Out of the corner of one eye, she saw him wave her to continue. "Well, I don't want to get married, not any time soon, anyway."

Now she could hear laughter in his voice. "An attitude to do any member of the Own proud. I say again, you've spent far too much time with us."

She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him, barely. "Yes, well, be that as it may, Sergeant Domitan, it is still true. I've worked so hard for my shield, I don't want to be some noble wife, shut up in my husband's fief and expected to give him heirs. The work I do, the work we do, it's important, and I'm not ready to put it to one side yet. I don't know if I ever will be." Dom's hand was a comfort, and she gripped it fiercely before letting go enough to play absently with the joints of his fingers. "I don't like the idea of being courted like some noble lady, having to wait until I'm married, putting everything on hold until some day that may never come." She glanced at Dom, a slight smile teasing the edges of her lips. "And, well, I know you won't insist on waiting for marriage. I know you won't want to marry me, or think it's what I want."

Dom's smile was lopsided. "I don't know if I should be pleased or offended, Lady Knight." Now it was his turn to toy with her finger tips. "I understand that you don't see yourself wanting marriage for the foreseeable future, but it might be something you want eventually. I've seen you with your orphans and the other refugee children; you will be an incredible mother some day, if you choose to be." Kel could feel herself blushing again, trying to ignore thoughts of babies with her brown hair and Dom's blue eyes. He continued, and she focused on his words. "I want to stay with the Own. I know that I could get a position with the regular army, if I decided to leave; most of the lads that do go that route get good situations, usually with a promotion. There aren't too many command roles in the Own, just corporal, sergeant or captain. I think I have the skills to become captain of one of the companies, and Lord Raoul knows me, and my capabilities, well enough to one day give me that chance. Unless I think I get unfairly passed over, I'm staying in." Kel nodded. Raoul was a joy to serve, and she certainly wished there was a way for her to be directly under his command again.

"You'll be an excellent commander, and my lord would be a fool not to see it. If he could see my potential, you know he sees yours twice as easily."

"Don't be so self-deprecating, Kel. I'm not one of your strays, to need protecting." Still, he seemed pleased by her compliment, his thumb massaging her palm. "I was trying to say that I don't know how long I'll be with the Own, but I'm not leaving any time soon."

She knew what he was saying. "Dom, we haven't even… I wouldn't ever ask you to give up your career for me, as I hope you'd never ask me to give up mine for you. What if in six months time we find we don't suit? I'd feel pretty foolish if you'd resigned, only for things not to work out between us." She sighed, wishing she didn't have to confess her feelings like this, but he was right; if she couldn't talk to him, she had no reason for being in his bed. "I've had a crush on you for a long time."

One of his eyebrows arched, and she knew she was flushed again. Where was her Yamani coolness when she needed it? She thought, mostly fruitlessly, of a calm, clear lake, wind gently rippling the surface before the small ripples faded to nothing and only stillness remained. "Since when?" he asked, and it was like a rock had been thrown into her calm lake.

"I don't really know." She couldn't tell him that it had practically been since the first time she laid eyes on him. That was just too embarrassing. "Since my squire days, certainly. But I always thought of it as an unrealistic thing, just finding you handsome and feeling a bit giggly when you decided to flirt with me. I don't know how my feelings will develop, with the reality of this," she waved a hand back and forth between them, "whatever this is. I don't want to rush into something when I'm not even sure of what I feel."

Dom smiled, his fingers brushing her cheek. "I am flattered, Kel. I can't say I've been thinking about you in that way since Lord Raoul took you on. You were, what fourteen then?"

"Thirteen," she corrected. "I turned fourteen that first summer, when we were after the bandits and centaurs."

"Yes, well, I know I have a reputation, but I don't go quite so far as lusting after children, thank you very much. I suppose it took me some time to see you as a grown woman, for all your height. Neal and I used to share letters, you know, and the ones from his page days were filled with tales of a spunky young girl who never let an injustice go unpunished or vegetables go uneaten." She tried to fight her smile and failed. "I felt like I already knew you, once you joined the Own, and I'd promised Neal I'd keep an eye out for you. I always liked flirting with you, trying to make you blush or laugh, but it wasn't until you and that Kennan irritation were hanging about together that I really thought of you as a grown woman." Dom scrubbed a hand through his thick hair. "If I'd looked at that a bit more closely, I might have realized that my dislike of him didn't stem from brotherly affection for you. But it took me until you'd gone down south to face the Ordeal to realize that. The long winter, building your future command, and making a flag for you, gave me many hours to think. And some of the teasing I got hit a little too close to the bone for me to ignore. Of course, when you came back, I didn't know if you'd resolved things with Kennan, and we had other things to focus on." He sighed softly, then leaned back to join her against his pillows, turning her chin so that she faced him. "We don't have to rush. I'd be happy to just take things as they come, see how we progress on our own. We both know what we want for now. If your wants change, I know I can trust you to tell me."

She nodded. "I just don't want this to affect our working relationship, Dom. I enjoy working with the Own, with Third Company. My lord warned me, when he was my knight-master, of the problems women in command faced when they took lovers."

She could see the sparkle of amusement as Dom's eyes glinted in the candlelight. "What I wouldn't give to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation! Did our lord die from blushing?"

Kel found herself giggling. "Not quite. If I'd let him explain the mechanics to me, as he'd offered, instead of going to Mama, I think we both might have."

Dom's grin went from amused to wicked. "If you need any help in that direction, I'm sure I could prepare a thoroughly illuminating lesson."

She managed to smile while she blushed, struggling to control her breathing as one of his hands traced over her hip. "I've always felt I learned better through practical examples, rather than discussions of theory." Pushing her fears to one side, she closed the slight gap between them and pressed her lips against his.

After a few seconds, Dom pulled back, his warm palm cupping her cheek. "I mean it, Kel. If you feel uncomfortable, or like we're moving too quickly, just say it. We can slow things down, or stop, whatever you like, and I won't mind, at all. Promise me that you'll tell me if you don't like anything, alright?"

She nodded, and pushed her lips back towards his, wishing he'd stop talking and just kiss her already.

Apparently, that had been Dom's last objection, and as soon as she'd pressed her lips back to his, he settled in to kissing her with a focus she normally only saw reflected on his face during battle. His efforts did not go unappreciated. Soon, it was all she could do to simply focus on the feel of him against her, his hands on her face, in her hair, running down her body.

She touched him back, running her fingertips down his neck, across his shoulders, down his chest. He felt wonderfully solid against her, and even though he wasn't all that much taller than she was, he managed to make her feel small, and feminine. It felt wonderful.

When they separated for a moment to catch their breath, she looked at him though heavy-lidded eyes, then stripped off her tunic. The gesture, though a small one, as she still had on her shirt and breeches, felt liberating. This was her choice, both what they were doing and who she was doing it with, and it felt good to have made that choice herself, and to find herself wanted in return. Still, she felt like a flock of butterflies were trying to beat their way out of her stomach.

The way Dom looked at her, with her thin linen shirt clinging where it draped across her breasts and waist, was both gratifying and terrifying. He looked practically hungry. With a stifled gasp, she threw herself back into kissing him, before she could let her own fear dissuade her.

Now Dom's hands moved more freely over her body. She shivered when his teeth caught her bottom lip, and his hand slipped under the hem of her loose shirt to brush from her waist to her breast band. The calloused skin of his hand felt very pleasantly rough as he gripped her ribcage, his thumb tracing its way under the edge of her breast band.

Dom had only pulled on his shirt and breeches when she had woken him up, so he had no tunic to remove. Still, she found she could also put her hands under his loose shirt and touch the bare skin of his chest. It felt strange, and lovely, soft with areas covered by hair and the hardness of his muscle underneath it all, a wonderful summation of contradictions.

His teeth at her neck and his fingers at the laces of her shirt distracted her from her own explorations and pushed her focus back to enjoying his. It was very enjoyable. One of his hands had managed to undo the lacing on her breast band, and the linen now pooled uselessly at her waist, along with the handkerchief she'd had tucked into her band. When had they sat up? Such trivial things were not important at the moment.

While she was distracted, Dom had managed to rid himself of his shirt. She'd seen the man shirtless on numerous occasions. She'd even seen him in a loincloth one hot summer day when Third Company came upon a very inviting lake and all the men decided to go swimming, when she was a squire. Still, this was different. There was intent here, and it was written all over his face.

The fact that she could make a man like Dom feel such strong desire was certainly gratifying. Before she could think herself out of something she very much wanted to do, worrying about her own inadequacy, she stripped off her own shirt. Dom's resulting gasp was very much appreciated and was a welcome boost to her confidence. Part of her had been worried he would have taken one look at her and asked her to leave.

Still, something about her attitude must have changed, because after a few more kisses, he sat back. "Are we taking things too quickly?" She shook her head. "What's wrong, Kel?"

She resisted the urge to say that nothing was wrong, knowing he wouldn't believe her. "I don't know, really. I just feel a bit shy, I suppose." She toyed with the necklace around her neck, and the attached charm, then shivered slightly, noticing the goose bumps running across her skin, and her nipples pebbling in response. "And I'm a bit cold. Can we get under the blankets?"

Dom sighed theatrically, making her giggle. "As my lady commands. As much as I'm enjoying the view," his eyes roved unabashedly up and down her body, "I would never want you to freeze on my account."

After a brief shuffle that involved removing her boots and untucking blankets, and Dom saying that blowing out the candle really wasn't necessary to her 'warmth', they settled back in to their explorations. She found herself setting the pace, which was unexpected but welcome. When she touched him, he responded by touching her in the same place, their fingers exploring each other. When she brushed her fingers across Dom's nipple, he moved his attentions to her breasts, both with his fingers and his mouth, making her forget what she'd been doing.

She managed to gasp out, "Does that feel the same for you as it does for me?"

His head popped out from under the blanket, his eyes sparkling and a wide grin splitting his face. "I don't think so, or you wouldn't be looking so pleased with the attention." Her eyebrow raised in puzzlement. "My nipples are quite ticklish. I feel like they're directly connected to my toes or something." He shuddered in mock horror. "I don't like them being paid much attention to. But, please, Lady Protector, feel free to make your own explorations. I'm sure you can find parts of me that would love your attentions." His wink was playful, and she found herself yet again surprised in a way that completely changed her idea of what she was going to experience.

When she'd first joined the Own as Raoul's squire, she'd expected to find men like Lord Wyldon, serious, implacable warriors. The men she'd found, while certainly amazing in a fight, had loved to joke and laugh and have fun, something she'd never imagined.

Whenever she'd thought about sex, she never thought it could be playful or full of laughter. She'd always expected it to be something serious, perhaps even grave. Certainly, she knew people enjoyed sex, but she thought that was a more physical enjoyment of the act itself, not laughing and playing, exploring another person's body.

Still, like with her realization when she first rode out with the Own, she certainly wasn't disappointed. With a grin at Dom, who folded his hands behind his head as he lay back against the pillows, she proceeded to kiss every inch of his body that she could find. Many places she swept past with a kiss and a giggle, like his elbow and his navel, but some she found she enjoyed kissing almost as much as he enjoyed having them kissed. Much time was spent at the place where his neck met his collarbone, and her kisses there made him groan out her name in a way that went straight to the base of her spine. Still it wasn't until she'd kissed his wrists and palms, and gone so far as to take the tip of one of his fingers and suck it into her mouth, tracing over its contours with her tongue, that she got to see Sergeant Domitan lose a bit of his control.

Before she was even aware she was moving, she found herself flat on her back with a squeak, both her hands pinned above her head by Dom's. He was breathing heavily, and she didn't think it was from the effort of flipping her over. When did he get so much bigger than her? She might have squeaked out a noise again, but the sound was swallowed by Dom's lips crashing into hers. His kiss wasn't slow or gentle, but it was full of desire, and she felt herself kissing him back with just as much passion. The thought that she could elicit such uncontrolled wanting in someone she'd always thought too handsome to ever even notice her certainly made her feel powerful, in an odd sort of way. If she didn't feel the same desire for Dom, she doubted she would have enjoyed that feeling of power, but as it was she certainly did.

Without thought, she found her hips pressing up against his, and the hardness she felt there made her still momentarily. She knew what that was, at least, in a theoretical sort of way. When she froze, Dom pressed his forehead against hers, very obviously fighting to get his breathing under control. After a few deep breaths, he rolled onto his back, one hand over his eyes. After a few more deep breaths, Kel reached a hand out to touch him, hesitated, then quietly asked, "Dom?"

"A moment, please, Kel. Just a moment." She allowed him his moment, watching as he fought his breathing back to a more normal pattern. Had she, an inexperienced, unfeminine, lump of a girl managed to bring him to the edge? But the edge of what? she asked herself. Dom's voice broke her out of her thoughts. "I'm sorry. I thought my control was better than that. Are you alright? I didn't frighten you, did I?"

She shook her head, then realized he still had his eyes covered. "No. I rather enjoyed that, actually." Dom's eyes met hers, peeking out from between his fingers, and she smiled shyly at him, again toying with the charm on her necklace. "It was oddly nice, feeling you overpower me like that, and knowing that what I'd done had caused you to lose control." She blushed. "I don't really know why, but it was."

Dom's smile reassured her. "You don't have to understand things for them to feel good." He took the charm from her fingers and glanced at it for a moment, knowing exactly what it was. "How long have you had this?"

She shrugged, a bit embarrassed. "A few years. I bought it as a precaution, and never needed it. I'm glad I have it now, though."

He smiled. "Do you want to go back to what we were doing?" She nodded her head, not really trusting her voice. "Well, then, Lady Knight, I'm all yours." He was in the process of opening his arms to her when he hesitated. "Just keep my fingers out of your mouth."

She giggled, but nodded, sinking into his arms. His fingers? It really seemed like an odd bit of his body to cause him to fly out of control with desire. Still, his neck wasn't off limits.

Sometime later, she found herself on her back, having agreed to similar treatment from Dom. It was either a very good idea, or a very bad one, and her mind was too fuzzy to decide which. Once he started kissing her, she was fairly sure it was good, even if his lips ghosting across her stomach made her bite back a laugh. Dom wasn't the only one with some ticklish spots.

She too, enjoyed having her neck kissed, but it was his attention to her breasts that had her gasping and thrashing on his bed. "Dom," she gasped, "I want… I want…" The trouble was she didn't know what she wanted. She felt hot and restless and like there was something more, if he would just get to it, before she went insane. Dom seemed to know what she wanted better than she did.

One of his hands went to the laces of her breeches, hesitated, and then, at her frantic nod, undid them. She'd expected him to pull the offending article of clothing down, but he only loosened them enough to slip his hand inside her loincloth. She gasped at the touch of his finger tips against her intimate places, his name falling from her tongue with the rest of her breath. "Just touching, alright Kel? I'm just going to touch you." She would have yelled at him for talking to her like she was a skittish horse, if she hadn't felt exactly like one. It was all she could do simply to nod to urge him onwards. She wanted to scream, to thrash, to cry, but she couldn't. She was panting as if Lord Wyldon had made her run the curtain wall in full armor six times.

She could feel his fingers sliding downwards, catching moisture that had pooled there and spreading it over her skin. He rubbed against her, and she felt a tension building in her abdomen, something she'd never felt before. She got lost in the sensation, seeming to forget everything around her as she just enjoyed everything she was feeling, her body on fire with sensation. Time ceased to exist, all she could do was feel and be in that moment.

Her breath suddenly caught, and Dom's free hand caught hers, his eyes full of emotion that she couldn't identify. She was at the very edge of some precipice, as terrified as if it had been some real height during her page days, and then Dom smiled at her, and she let go of whatever had been holding her back and allowed herself to fall, feeling as if she were shattering into a thousand pieces as she did.

He caught her inarticulate cry with his lips, kissing her gently as she practically convulsed with her release, then kissed her hair, her forehead, her cheeks, all the while soothing her with wordless sounds, as you soothed a crying infant. With a start, she realized she was crying, that tears ran down her face. She rubbed a hand across one cheek absently. She felt like all the emotion she'd held in check since she'd gone to the Yamani Islands at age four had been released all at once. She didn't feel sad, though; she felt free.

With a laugh she hoped didn't sound too maniacal, she pulled back from Dom's embrace. "What in the world was that?" She wasn't surprised by the sheer wonder that was evident in her voice; she felt it should be lighting her skin from the inside.

Dom tapped her nose with a finger. "That, Keladry, was rather the point of all this kissing we were doing."

She blushed. "But we didn't…"

He shook his head. "No. But you don't need to have sex to have pleasure. You can even have pleasure on your own, though it is more fun with someone else to help." He grinned at her. "I suppose your mama didn't really explain all the details?"

Kel shook her head, then relaxed into his arms. "She certainly didn't do them justice. She told me that sex should be enjoyable, when you're doing it with someone who cares enough to make it so, but I didn't think it could be anything like that."

Dom kissed her hair again, and she snuggled into his side, feeling relaxed, but still curious. "Well, now you know."

She pulled away slightly, frowning. "No. I don't know. We haven't had sex, and I want to. What you did was certainly pleasurable, but it wasn't sex, not truly, and I want that, with you."

Dom's blue eyes met her hazel ones. She felt her determination writ large on her face. Dom pinched her chin gently. "We have time, Kel. It doesn't have to be tonight."

"Dom, if you don't stop being so noble, I'm going to use tomorrow's training to embarrass you in front of your squad and the rest of Third Company by letting our Lord know that you've always wanted him to teach you to joust but have been too modest to ask. And you know he's bored. He'll insist on starting your instruction, himself, immediately."

Dom's eyebrows went up. "It would never work. Our Lord knows I don't have a modest bone in my body." Kel punched him, not very softly, on the arm. "All right, all right. You're lucky I've completely run out of 'noble' after my efforts tonight." He hesitated. "You are sure, though, aren't you Kel? I don't want you to regret this, as much as I want you."

She nodded. "I'm very, very sure. Now take of your breeches."

Dom's grin was an interesting mix of desirous and amused. "As my lady commands, so do I obey."

They both lost no time in shedding their remaining clothing, but then things slowed down again. When Kel reached out to touch his hardness, then hesitated, Dom took her hand and guided it onto him. Her eyes widened when her fingers met his skin. It felt like velvet over steel; she'd never known skin could feel so soft.

Dom smiled at her awe, a bit gratified at the appreciation. He guided her hand for a few strokes, then let her take over, allowing her to explore his lower body as she'd explored his upper. When she started kissing her way along his shaft, he sighed and then stopped her. Worried she'd done something wrong, she met his eyes. He smiled at her, looking a bit rueful. "I'm fairly certain that's the last time in my life I will ever stop you from doing what you were just considering, but I must. My stamina is going to be abysmal as it is, and if you start doing that, I'm going to embarrass myself." Kel's confusion must have shown in her eyes. "As much as my men used to occasionally cleaned up their language around you when you were a squire, I know for a fact they don't bother anymore, not since you said that Wolset's uncle must have…"

Kel cut him off by clamping her hand over his mouth. "Hush. I was cranky and he pushed me over the edge."

Through her hand, she caught, "I wonder if that's what Wolset's aunt said."

She couldn't help it; she laughed as hard as she had in ages, with Dom trying to shush her, so she didn't bring all of Third Company into his room to see what the fuss was. At last, she was a bit more calm. "You're a bad man, Dom. But why would those insults apply? We've been in bed for ages."

Dom chuckled. "I don't think it counts, as much as we've been enjoying ourselves. Still, I don't think you're the type to gossip about my terrible performance, no matter how mad I might make you in future."

It was her turn to catch his chin. "Dom," she looked into blue eyes that looked more hesitant than she'd ever seen them. "You know I wouldn't, even if I had something to complain about, which I don't." She hated gossip, having been the center of so much of it.

Dom preened under the praise. "Well, if you are satisfied, feel free to gossip, to a select crowd, of course, say, my squad. Feel free to exaggerate all you like." He winked, and she chuckled, thankful he'd defused the intense emotion of the situation with a joke. Rather than speak, she leaned in and kissed him.

Before too much longer, she found herself with Dom on top of her, looking up into his eyes. "I don't want to hurt you," he whispered.

"Dom, I'll be fine, I promise."

He nodded, bit his lip and began to slip inside of her. There was pain, a flash of it, almost like a stinging paper cut in a very intimate place, making her gasp. Dom stopped, but she managed to tell him to just keep going. He moved slowly, which she was convinced was worse, but after a few long seconds his hips met hers.

Their eyes met, and she forced herself to start breathing again, to relax into the new sensations. The pain was passing, and now she felt stretching in a part of her she'd never really noticed before. She felt herself relaxing, finally, and the pain faded completely. Dom's smile was hesitant, but when she gave him one in return it strengthened, and he kissed her. Then, after a second of being lost in his kiss, with him filling her so intimately, she pressed her hips tight against his, and he started moving against her.

All thought abandoned her. All she could do was feel, new and amazing sensations, as if her skin had caught fire or her body had ascended into the heavens. Dom was muttering into her hair, vague almost sentences about how good she felt, as well as incoherent nonsense, but she couldn't focus on him when she felt like this.

That building feeling, the one she recognized from before, was back, and she relished it, moving her hips to meet Dom's thrusts, wanting everything he could give her. She was muttering now too, his name, Mithros's, the Goddess's, even lapsing into Yamani and calling on Yama, begging Dom to bring her to that peak again, begging herself to be willing to fall.

Then, with a cry his lips didn't quite catch, she was falling, taking him with her, shuddering as they both achieved their release.

In the quiet that followed, their breathing slowly returned to normal. Dom brushed her lips with his, then slowly managed to untangle their bodies. She winced, slightly sore, but happy. It took a second for her to recognize the sound of water. Dom was pouring it from a pitcher into the wash basin. She rolled over to watch him, enjoying the lines of his naked body in the candlelight.

He wet a wash cloth and passed it to her, apologizing for the lack of hot water. She really didn't mind. With a sigh, she stretched and stood, quickly cleaning herself up. Dom looked surprised when she started hunting for her clothes and getting dressed. "What are you doing?" He seemed confused.

She smiled, puzzled by his confusion. "I'm getting dressed. I really don't want to dash naked back to headquarters. I think the men on the walls would notice that, at least."

While she was trapped in the action of pulling on her shirt, strong hands wrapped around her waist and pulled her back into bed. "No leaving, Kel. I want to cuddle."

Kel giggled, but accepted his arms around her for the moment. "I can't stay all night, Dom. Soldiers are the worst gossips, and I don't want to be caught sneaking out of here in the morning. I've already pushed my luck with Tobe, being gone as long as I have. Besides, aren't you used to sneaking out of ladies bedchambers in the night? The reversal of the situation can't be too awful for you."

Dom looked surprisingly hurt by her statement. "You know, I didn't bring it up because you didn't ask, but my reputation is a bit exaggerated." She raised an eyebrow. "I am a flirt, yes, but I don't sleep with that many women. I certainly don't sleep with the court ladies I flirt with, as they're all saving themselves for husbands, and I certainly wouldn't, well, it doesn't matter. There were many young widows after the immortals war, and, yes, I kept a few of them company. I've never even…"

When Dom trailed off, Kel tilted his face back towards hers. "Never even what, Dom?"

She had to ask him to repeat whatever it was he muttered. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Never even slept with a virgin before." Kel laughed, then clapped a hand over her mouth when he looked affronted. "I would never sleep with a girl who thought she could use sex to make me marry her, and well, those are the only virgins that tend to want to sleep with me."

Kel brushed his cheek with her fingertips. "Well, you were wonderful." She brushed a soft kiss across his lips. "Thank you." She sighed, happy. "I really do have to go, though. It's a miracle Tobe hasn't mounted a search party for me, with me being gone this long." She glanced at the one candle, which had burned down considerably. "Goddess, it must be two bells past midnight."

Dom sighed, but with one last kiss, he released her. "I wish I didn't care so much about your reputation, or I'd keep you here until dawn."

Kel smiled. "Yes, I'm sure Raoul's potential reaction has nothing to do with it." She slipped out of bed and pulled on her breeches before hunting for her stockings.

Dom observed her casually, his arms folded behind his head, his bare chest glinting in the candlelight. "You must be relaxed, to be calling him Raoul. Perhaps for that, he'd let me off with only a few broken bones. But I do see your point. Even the men of my squad would be put out. When I think of some of the things we did to that Kennan lout when he was sniffing around you during the progress, well…"

Kel looked up sharply from tying one boot. "What did you do to Cleon?"

Dom looked panicked. "Nothing." She folded her arms and waited. "Oh, nothing too extreme. Put nettles in his bed roll, stink weed in his tooth cleaning powder, that kind of thing. Just small annoyances, so he knew we had an eye on him."

Kel rolled her eyes, then leaned in to kiss him goodbye, escaping before he could drag her back into bed. Third Company really were a bunch of children. Dom would have to sort them out on his own, if they ever found out. She stamped her other foot down in her boot, then bent to tie it. With a sigh, she opened his window, looked out to make sure the coast was clear, then swung her legs into the darkness. She blew him a quick kiss before dropping the few feet to the ground, happy again that Dom's room was on the ground floor of the barracks, even if that ground floor was raised a bit off the actual ground. Sneaking out through a company of the Own would have been difficult; while she was good at sneaking through enemy territory, most of what she'd learned had been from them.

With a start, she nearly tripped, then saw the orange and white cat twining around her ankles. She crouched down to pet the creature, who started purring. "Psst, Dom!" She whispered as loud as she could.

After a second, the sergeant's head poked through the open window. "Miss me already? I do think a bit more time to cuddle would be appropriate." Kel held up the cat without a word. "Oh, Duchess. I'm surprised she didn't demand to be let in earlier."

Kel smiled and passed up the cat. Dom managed to deposit the feline inside and grab Kel's wrist, hoisting her slightly off the ground, so he could give her one last kiss. "Sweet dreams, Lady Knight." She smiled as she snuck back into her room in headquarters, fairly sure Dom's prediction would come true.

A/N: So, I hope that wasn't too ridiculous! Let me know what you think. For now, this is a one shot, but this might be the place that out-takes, etc. from New Hopes wind up. I do have a few. Or, if I feel the need to write more Kel/Dom sexy times. Hope you liked it!