As I Already Know Your Heart

By: Blue

Summary: Mel and Cole change the terms of their relationship.

Rating: R

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

Timeline: After "Remember When"

Spoilers: Minor for "Love, Cirronian Style" and "What Lies Beneath"

Feedback: Better than Fek-Maln, but since this is my first (and quite probably last) fic of this kind, please be gentle.

Author's Note: Many, many, many thanks to my absolutely amazing Beta Cyn Tolram, without whom this story, "Father's Daughter", "Tabula Rosa", and, quite honestly, too many other fics to name would be a lot worse than they turned out. Cyn, you are smart, insightful, creative, and great at catching niggling little errors. A good Beta truly does make all the difference in the world, and I am lucky beyond words to have you.

As I Already Know Your Heart

The exercise was designed to allow her to feel the energy fields in the air around her, but as Cole guided her through the motions, gently chanting advice, the only thing Mel could really feel was his strong chest against her back and his hands over hers. He kept urging her to close her eyes, but every time she did, her mind started turning onto tracks that had nothing to do with energy fields or Cirronian metaphysics. She was trying, it was just that Cole was… distracting, especially when he was standing right behind her, so close their bodies were touching, and holding her hands gently in his own. She sometimes swore that those hands alone were as bad as the rest of his great figure put together. She loved those hands, so strong, so gentle. So warm and loving…

"Cole, this is not working…" she finally sighed, pulling away. Trying to pull away, she amended, as Cole refused to release her hands. "Cole!" she protested, not trying to break away.

"You need to relax, Mel…" he told her gently. "I can feel how tense you are." His hands moved slowly up her arms and lingered over her shoulders. He frowned when Mel shivered. "Are you cold?"

She shook her head, embarrassed by the involuntary response to the way his hands had felt sliding up her arms and to the sparking energy she had sensed when they had hovered over her shoulders. What was wrong with her anyway? Since when was Cole's body what she was most interested in about him. Damn it, he was just trying to teach her and she could not stay focused long enough to fight off her stupid id.

"This isn't working…" she muttered, shaking her head and walking towards the stairs.

"Where are you going?" Cole asked, following.

"I need a drink, okay?" she snapped, instantly regretting having lost her cool. "I'm sorry."

"Mel, what's wrong?" he asked gently, moving in front of her and caressing her throat.

She closed her eyes against the soothing heat that always suffused her body when he touched her like that. "You don't want to know, Cole…" she told him with a sigh, pulling away and starting down the stairs.

"Did I do something wrong?" he persisted, following.

"Cole, of course not." She turned and abruptly found herself in his arms. To avoid looking into those beautiful, expressive eyes, she closed her own and buried her face in his chest.

"Mel, I know it can be frustrating in the beginning…" he soothed, holding her close and doing his best to ignore how soft and inviting her body could be at times. His body often reacted to hers in ways that he could not entirely understand, and this draw, this pull that he often felt towards her was one of the most frequent, and persistent, of these reactions, especially lately. "Many young Cirronians have the same difficulties as you are having."

"Oh, I somehow doubt that." Mel sighed and pulled away. She circled behind the bar and poured herself a drink, grateful that the Watchfire was closed today. "It's just not working like this, Cole. Maybe if you… show me or write it down or something…"

"How do you write down what is more than half instinct?" he asked gently, joining her behind the bar and caressing her throat again.

"Stop that!" Mel snapped, leaning away. "Every time you do that I get…" she trailed off, blushing. Beautiful, Mel. Just beautiful!

"You get what?" Cole asked quizzically. He frowned slightly, confused and, strangely, a little disappointed. "I thought you enjoyed it when I touched you like that."

"I do…" she admitted, sighing. She looked up at him for a moment, then away. "Which is the problem."

"I don't understand, Mel."

"I enjoy it too much, okay? It's… distracting." She seized gratefully onto Cole's euphemism for arousal, not really wanting to have to explain to him what his touch did to her. From the look on his face, the message had gotten through loud and clear, euphemism or no.

He smiled a little shyly and reached hesitantly for her throat again. This timid, almost ticklish touch was worse than the previous, more confident caresses. Mel closed her eyes again, shivering with pleasure.

"If you enjoy it, Mel, why do you resist it?" he asked quietly, once again confused by a seemingly pointless human behavior. Of course, having once considered kissing a 'pointless human behavior', he was unwilling to judge. He was simply curious. "After all, it's a very natural thing."

She probably would have had an easier time framing a reasonable response to that if he would have taken his hands off of her overly-sensitive throat, but he showed no sign of doing anything of the sort. As it was, she was inclined to agree with his assessment.

"Very natural…" she agreed in a shaky voice. "But, um… you've said… in the past…" Realizing that she was too dizzy to think straight, she pulled away, leaning on the bar and gulping in deep breaths. God, no man had ever been able to do to her the things that Cole did without even really trying. After taking a few moments to compose herself, she looked up at him and shook her head. "No, Cole. We can't do this. We can't keep skirting that line between friends and lovers. It's wrong. You know what it does to me when you touch my throat like that just like I know what touching your chest does to you. We can't keep doing this to each other and stay just friends." She sighed deeply, shaking her head again. "It's not right."

"Maybe it's time to rethink the policy that keeps us just friends, Mel…" he suggested in a quiet, serious voice.

"You're kidding?"

He shook his head. "I like touching you, Mel. I like the way it makes me feel and I love the way it makes you feel. I like it when you touch me. I like it when we touch each other." He sighed softly and closed his eyes. "And I wouldn't say no to another opportunity to kiss you." After a moment, he admitted, "But… I want more than that, Mel. I want to know your body as I already know your heart."

Mel swallowed hard, startled by the suddenness of Cole's suggestion. Almost as if he had been waiting for her to show an interest before he did. No point in denying how badly she wanted a more than platonic relationship with the Cirronian. Of course, in spite of that stunning pronouncement, there was still the question of exactly what he expected the relationship to turn into once it progressed beyond friendship. Did he really understand physical intimacy? Was he prepared for it? Probably more so than he had been at the seminar, when the simple act of kissing her had come as a complete surprise, but still…

She looked into his eyes and saw something that she had never really expected to see there. Desire. For her. Not lust, she doubted his mind was equipped to figure that one out, but there was no denying the desire she saw in those amazing eyes. Like every other emotion she had ever seen Cole display, it was simple and straightforward, honest. Like a moth to flame, she found herself drawn to what she saw there, heedless of consequence. So what if that slow burn consumed her? She wanted it to.

She looked away, struggling with herself, trying to remind herself that it could be a bad idea. Problem was, she did not for one second believe that. "Cole…" she began in a shaky voice.

"If this is something you'd like, Mel, you just need to say so. If not…" His voice was pained, but she knew that he meant it when he said, "If not, I understand and I'll stop touching you so much."

"Cole…" she whispered, petting his chest gently. "I'd like it very much."

His smile lit his entire face. "I'm very glad, Mel. I was afraid after the seminar that I'd lost you."

She shook her head and slid into his arms. "Never, Cole."

"I love you so much, Mel…" he whispered, holding her tightly against his chest. "Just thinking of you warms me."

She smiled, happy tears in her eyes. Holding him with one arm, she reached up with her free hand and tenderly caressed his face. "I love you, too…" she replied honestly. "I have for a long time."

"Me, too."

They just held each other for several minutes, reveling in the most prolonged contact they had ever shared. It was wonderful, left them both feeling warm all over.

"Let's go upstairs…" Mel suggested lovingly, trailing off as something occurred to her. "Damn. You were going to go after a fugitive this afternoon, weren't you?"

He nodded reluctantly. "Mennen. Maybe I can…" he began slowly, not wanting to leave this amazing, wonderful woman just to Track some Enixian blackmailer.

Still, as badly as he wanted this, he was unsure and more than a little nervous. Part of him wanted to stall for time, if only to allow him to compose himself, to prepare himself mentally, if such a thing were even possible. Besides, he would never be able to focus if work concerns kept creeping into his awareness. But he did not want to wait, either. He paused, indecisive.

Mel sighed, burying her face in his chest. "No, Cole. Your job is still your job. I can't come between you and that. I won't." She paused, sighing. "How about…"

As disappointed as he was to have to wait, he appreciated Mel's understanding and loved her that much more for it. "I won't be late, Mel. Maybe when I come home…"

"Yeah." Mel smiled and nodded. "When you get home."

He smiled and nodded, but his smile flickered after a moment. "Mel, I don't really know… how…" he pointed out.

"It's okay. I'll show you." She smiled lovingly at him. "Don't worry."

"I'm not, Mel." He smiled radiantly at her, caressing her throat. "With you as my teacher, how could I be?"

Mel bowed her head, flattered. God, she loved this man. "Of course…" she called as he turned to leave the bar. "One of these days, I'm going to expect you to show me how Cirronians handle these things."

Cole smiled almost shyly at her. "I'd like that very much, Mel." With a happy smile, he left the Watchfire.

Mel stood alone in the empty bar, smiling. "Ooh, I should get ready…" she muttered to herself. "Let's see, something nice to wear, candles… good bottle of wine…"


As always when Cole returned from Tracking a fugitive, Mel was waiting downstairs with a cup of coffee and a hug for him. He accepted the coffee with one hand, holding her tightly against his chest with the other. He could not help but smile at the simple gesture of Mel's care for him. It was almost like something a wife would do for her husband. To have Mel as his wife… He caressed her throat lovingly, smiling down at her, savoring that thought. Mel accepted this act of intimacy with a smile that mirrored his own, equal parts happy and speculative.

Recalling their earlier discussion, little else had been on his mind all day, Cole felt his heartbeat quicken. He had no real idea what to expect from Mel tonight, except her love, but he was eager all the same. Emotions and sensations that he could not describe and had never felt before vied for supremacy within him as he set down the coffee cup she had handed him and slid the fingers of both hands gently over the smooth, inviting flesh of her throat. The anticipation was intensely pleasurable, if almost painful in its immediacy.

Mel allowed herself a few moments to enjoy the caress before pulling away with a grin. Her smile faded abruptly. "Your hands are shaking."

He looked down at them, startled. They were not shaking much, but they were shaking. Just a little. Just enough to be noticeable. It was annoying. "I'm not sure why…" he began.

"Are you nervous?" she asked gently, smiling reassuringly at him.

He nodded unabashedly. "Yes, Mel."

"That would probably be why, then…" she said gently, taking his hands in hers. "Do you still want this?"

"Of course I do, Mel." He nodded, smiling down at her.

Mel could not help but smile at that response. Here she was, trying to comfort and reassure him when, obviously, he did not want or need either. He was exactly as he was walking into any new experience: curious and eager.

"How do we start?" he asked, smiling as Mel struggled to suppress a giggle at the question. Her smile could be so infectious at times. "What?" he asked innocently.

"I'm sorry, Cole." She shook her head. "That's just… not a question usually associated with lovemaking."

"Oh." He nodded. "Okay." Another nod, a brief pause, and then he repeated, "How do we start?"

"Well, first we go upstairs." She smiled and took his hand. "Come on." She led him up the stairs, her own heart pounding. She paused in the hallway near the living-room. "Can you wait here for one minute?" she asked. "I want to change… get some things ready."

"What things?" he asked, curious.

She smiled. "Just… things. You'll like it."

He smiled and nodded, sitting on the couch. "Yes, Mel." He rose again. "I should put Mennen's life-force into the storage-unit."

Mel nodded. "Okay."

As Cole entered his room, she walked into hers, closing the door behind her. She had put the wine on ice about twenty minutes ago, so it was nicely chilled and waiting on the nightstand. She quickly changed into the off-red negligee she had bought earlier that day because Cole had once commented that he thought she would look very nice in a similar one and then brushed her hair and applied a small amount of Cole's favorite perfume. Like Mel, Cole had never really enjoyed floral scents that much. He preferred earthier, musky scents, and had a special soft-spot for patchouli. Mel liked the scent as well, as much because it complimented Cole's own spicy smell as anything.

She caught sight of herself in the mirror, out of the corner of one eye, and was stunned. She made a mental note to pay more attention to Cole's fashion advice in the future. The color complimented her pale complexion wonderfully and brought out her eyes. And, she realized, the form-fitting, well-cut piece accentuated every natural curve she had. She liked it. It was very nice, feminine without being frilly.

She had never taken this much care over the preparatory part of a romantic encounter before, but she felt certain that Cole would approve her efforts. She wanted his first time to be special. She had bought a CD of airy, ethereal music for the occasion and she turned it on before lighting the dozens of candles that she had arrayed around the room, covering every flat surface. Cole loved candlelight. She had considered scented candles, but had gone with incense instead, and the combined scent of sandalwood and musk hung in the air, heavily enough to smell easily but light enough not to be oppressive. Several sticks were still burning in unobtrusive locations. She had considered but dismissed the idea of filling the room with flowers and scattering rose-petals over the sheets. It had struck her as being just a bit too cliché. Mel had always preferred simple elegance to ostentation. In most things, at least. She walked over to her bed and ran her hands thoughtfully over the midnight-blue silk sheets. She had bought them years ago, ridiculously on sale, but had never used them before. Tonight, they seemed appropriate, and she knew that Cole would enjoy the sensation of them against his bare skin.

Satisfied with her preparations, she turned off the overhead lights, casting the room into flickering semi-darkness, and pulled on a light robe. The robe would be discarded as soon as she reentered the bedroom with Cole; she only wanted it for protection against the colder air of the apartment. Knowing Cole's preference for warmer temperatures, she had turned up the heat in the bedroom substantially, wanting him to be as comfortable as possible. She looked around the room one more time, smiling, and opened the door, letting herself into Cole's room.

She was startled to see him moving through a series of poses that looked like Tai Chi. It was very beautiful, and she was loath to disturb him. She stood in the doorway watching for several minutes, as always admiring the way he could move such a large, powerful form with such ease and grace. It was like visual poetry. Cole finished his meditation and opened his eyes to see Mel watching him, a slight smile playing across her face.

"Hello, Mel." He smiled and walked over to her, gently kissing her. "You smell very nice…" he observed as he pulled away.

"Thanks." She grinned up at him. "That was very beautiful."

"It was…" he paused, searching for words to explain the concept. "Moving meditation." He had wanted to calm himself before Mel returned, and it had worked. He now felt perfectly serene and at peace. He was still very eager, but there was less immediacy, less of a sense of urgency.

"Will you show me some time?" she asked.

He nodded. "I'd like that."

"Me, too." She smiled up at him. "Ready?"

"Yes, Mel." He nodded and caressed her throat.

"Close your eyes…" she said gently, feeling playful.


"Because I asked nicely?"

Cole smiled, shrugged, and tightly closed his eyes. Mel stood on her toes, kissing him again, a long, lingering kiss, then took his hand and led him into her bedroom, invitingly warm tonight. He kept his eyes closed as she led him to where he knew her bed was and helped him to sit on the edge. He waited patiently, hands resting on his knees.

After a few moments, Mel said, "Okay, Cole. You can open them."

Cole opened them and stared around the room, smiling widely. He had always liked candlelight, but had never seen so many candles burning together all at once. The light danced around the room, not unlike the pulsing, flickering pattern generated during a Cirronian mating. Incredibly beautiful. So, he realized with a gasp, was Mel, standing before him dressed in nothing but a filmy, form-fitting negligee. Accentuating rather than hiding the natural shape of her body, it made him realize how for-granted he had always taken her normal, more bulky wardrobe. He liked this far better, though. It managed to hint at what might lie beneath without really revealing anything. It was far more appealing to him than many of the far more skimpy and revealing outfits he had seen young women wear on this planet. He rose and smiled down at her, his expression reflecting wonder and love. He smiled around the room and then back at her.

"Do you like it?" she asked hopefully.

"It's very nice, Mel. You look very nice." He reached out with a hesitant hand and touched her throat, just resting his hand there as though confirming to himself the reality of the vision before him.

"You thirsty?" she asked.

His mouth was very dry, so he nodded.

"Sit." She nodded towards the bed and opened the bottle of wine.

Cole sat down, his hand touching the sheets for the first time. He frowned and stared down at them curiously, running his hands thoughtfully over the smooth fabric. Touching this strange fabric was unlike any sensation that he had ever experienced before. Cirronians did not experience things physically in the same way that humans did and he had never touched silk before, so he had no real associations for this sensation. He did know that it felt wonderful, though. He wanted to compare it to touching Mel, but that was wrong. This sensation, while amazing, was entirely physical. Touching Mel was so much more than that.

"They're silk…" Mel told him, sitting down next to him with a glass of wine. "Wine…" she added as he stared uncertainly at the ruby fluid.

Cole nodded. To his surprise, Mel did not immediately hand him the glass but held it to his mouth with her own hands. He looked at Mel uncertainly, smiling at her own, reassuring smile. He closed his mouth around the rim of the glass and allowed Mel to give him a small sip.

When he smiled at the taste, she gave him a few more sips. It was fun, not something she had ever done before, and she found herself wishing that she had thought to buy strawberries to feed him as well. Still, there would be time for that later. She had absolutely no intention of allowing this to be a one-time thing. Smiling, she handed the wineglass to him and picked up her own, raising it to Cole in a silent toast before taking a long sip.

Smiling, he drank more deeply, running one hand reflectively over the fabric of the sheets. It reminded him a lot of the fabric of Mel's negligee, and he found himself wondering how that would feel under his hands. Or how it must feel to her against her skin. He gathered a small bit of the top sheet between two fingers and rubbed thoughtfully, smiling. It must have felt wonderful, rubbing against bare skin every time she moved. His smile widened as he reflected on how the silk would have felt against his own bare skin.

"You like that?" Mel asked with a smile, observing. She was glad she had decided on these sheets. As long as she was exposing Cole to a brave new world of physical sensations she might as well go all out.

He smiled and nodded. It was strange, but he had experienced more physically, in terms of sensation, today than he had in the past year. When he had first taken this form, all of the new and completely foreign sensory input had been overwhelming, physically painful. This time, though, all of these new feelings were nothing but wonderful and he found himself wanting so much more.

"It's very nice, Mel."

She grinned and placed her own wineglass on the nightstand before sliding off of the bed and gently tugging his shoes and socks off. Looking up and into curious eyes, she smiled whimsically. "You won't be needing them."

Cole smiled at her mood, a strange combination of gravely serious and playful. It was enchanting. And more than a bit alluring. "What else won't I be needing?" he asked with a smile, placing his wineglass next to hers. He was relatively certain that his entire wardrobe was superfluous, but he decided to let Mel take the lead.

Mel smiled at the question. She was not sure, but she thought he might have been teasing her just a little. "Well, the shirt can definitely go."

Cole obediently started to pull off his shirt, but paused when Mel's hands covered his. Spreading his hands, he allowed her to pull off his shirt, trembling as her hands lightly grazed his stomach and chest, sending shockwaves through his body and setting his heart racing. He even grew pleasantly light-headed. How lovely. Faintly reminiscent of the time Mel had shown him how to bathe himself.

She dropped his shirt on the floor and started to reach towards his bare chest, but he gently caught her hands in his, stopping her. She looked faintly surprised, but made no move to pull away, watching him uncertainly. Mentally, she reprimanded herself for going too fast with him.

"Mel, what did you call this before?" he asked softly.

"Call… what?" she asked, frowning in confusion. He could have meant any one of a dozen things.

"This. What we're doing. I've heard many names for it before… sex, mating… but you used a new one. Not one I've heard before."

Mel thought for a minute, then smiled. "Lovemaking. Making love."

Cole smiled back at her and released her hands. "It's a beautiful name, Mel." He lightly caressed her throat.

"Beautiful name for a beautiful experience, Cole…" she explained, closing her eyes. "Sex is always sex, but it's only making love when two people really care about each other."

"When they love each other." Cole smiled and slid his hand lower, resting his palm over her heart and lightly tracing the hollow of her throat. He smiled at Mel's gentle groan, glad that she was enjoying herself. He was not sure what would come next, but he was quite happy with everything that had come so far.

She opened her eyes and smiled at him, taking the hand that was not on her throat into both of hers. "I love your hands…" she whispered. At his startled expression, she turned his hand over in hers and began lightly tracing the lines of his palm with her index-finger. "They're so strong… so gentle. So… loving."

Cole closed his eyes and swallowed hard as she lightly ran a single finger over the palm of his hand. How could such a small contact make him feel so much, so deeply? It was amazing, more intoxicating than the wine could ever be. He struggled to control his breathing only to realize that it was not the only reaction that he was having trouble regulating. He opened his eyes with a gasp.

"What?" Mel asked, alarmed.

"Mel, I feel…" He gave a quick downward nod, glancing at his lap which had developed an alarming new bulge.

Mel glanced in the direction of his nod and smiled, flushing faintly.

"Is this… normal?" he asked her.

"You've never… had anything like that happen before?" Mel closed her eyes, wondering if she had not gotten in over her head.

"No, Mel. It's… not unpleasant, but… it feels strange."

Mel gave him a gentle, loving smile. "It's perfectly normal, Cole…" she assured him tenderly, squeezing his shoulder. Impressive, but normal. "It's a part of the… um… process."

Cole started to ask her what other surprises the 'process' held, but realized that she was embarrassed talking about it for some reason. Placing his trust in her, he decided not to ask, to just let her show him. He nodded, wondering at his growing sense of… need. He had felt something similar before, but it had not been so intense. Or so localized. It was strange, pleasant but so intense as to be almost painful at the same time. As much as he enjoyed it, he found himself wanting to get rid of it, too.

"Okay…" He shifted uncomfortably, frowning when that only seemed to make matters worse.

Mel frowned sympathetically. "Those pants can't be helping. Want to get rid of them?"

He nodded quickly. Pants and briefs both felt so much more constricting than usual. He had gotten used to them quickly when first forced to wear them, but now he was acutely aware of them. He struggled in an increasingly frantic way with the button for a few moments before Mel came to his rescue.

"Here, just lie back…" she whispered, gently pushing him back onto the bed.

Cole shivered at the feeling of the silk against his bare back and shivered again, more violently, at the sound of his zipper. He looked up as Mel pulled his pants off, aware that his sense of need was growing again, seemingly as a direct result of her actions. He sat up and pulled her blindly into his arms, not really able to think, his mouth finding hers quickly and by instinct.

Mel clung to him, returning his kiss eagerly and wondering, as she had the first time he had kissed her, how he had become so good at it. No man had ever been able to make her feel the way Cole could with a single, gentle kiss. Even now, with him so obviously needing her, the kiss was tender. She gently pushed until he lay back again, still holding her securely against his chest, still kissing her with that same gentle passion as he had the first time. The kiss was almost perfect, but she found herself wondering how much more perfect it could become. His mouth moved eagerly over hers, but he went no farther. Smiling to herself, she gently prodded his lips apart with her tongue. She felt his grip on her tighten and saw his eyes open in shock.

Caressing his chest by way of reassurance, she lightly flicked her tongue across the roof of his mouth. His hands tightened further against her back, but as his eyes drifted shut, she could tell that he was enjoying himself. She continued like that, teasing him lovingly, until he began to mimic her, then she gave herself over to him. He really was an incredibly fast learner, she reflected, closing her eyes and nestling into his chest. She felt his body shudder and knew that it was the silk of her negligee against his bare chest. She could hardly blame him, feeling his skin through that same silk was driving her close to the edge.

She kissed him for a few more moments, then broke the kiss, sitting up. When he started to sit up as well, she gently shook her head. Catching one corner of the top sheet, she draped it over Cole's bare chest, then rested both hands on top of it. She could feel his chest heaving, could even feel the pounding of his heart, and wondered at the wisdom of prolonging this for too much longer.

"Don't stop…" he whispered pleadingly when he saw her indecision.

"Okay. You… let me know if it gets to be too much for you."

He closed his eyes and nodded, torn between what he now recognized as a desire for release, for this amazing new experience to be over, and the even stronger desire to never have this encounter end. He wanted as much as Mel was willing to give, for as long as he could have it. When she began gently rubbing his chest through the silk sheet, he arched his back, moaning. The sensation was entirely new, and stronger than any he had ever felt. Everything that had come so far, he realized, had combined to make his body, sensitive at the best of times, almost agonizingly aware of every touch, every breath of air, every whisper of silk, ever near-miss… It was amazing.

Mel went slowly, not wanting to push him too far too fast. It was an effort to contain herself, though. Cole's reactions were incredibly arousing, and she had to remind herself more than once who this was for. When her caresses of his chest seemed to lose their impact, she slipped her hands down to his stomach, then skirted to his inner thighs, still through the silk. That was hard, too. She wanted so badly to touch his bare skin, for him to touch hers…

"Mel…" he panted, opening his eyes and staring up at her. She was awakening such exquisite sensations in his body and his soul. He badly wanted to do the same for her.

"Yeah, Cole?" she asked gently, her hands stilling.

He sat up, then, slowly and stiffly, and reached for her throat with timid hands. He caressed her throat for a moment then tentatively slid his hands lower, looking at Mel uncertainly as his hands paused near the neck-line of her negligee. At her encouraging nod, he began to caress her body as she had just caressed his, cautiously at first. When she moaned softly and lay back, closing her eyes, he grew bolder. When two fingers brushed one of her nipples through the silk and she cried out, he repeated the motion, smiling curiously. She opened her eyes again, smiling lovingly at him as he explored.

These human bodies were capable of so much more than he had initially given them credit for, he decided, moving his hands slowly down her stomach. Recalling his own strong reaction, he grazed his fingertips cautiously along her inner thigh.

"Cole!" she gasped, her eyes widening. "Oh, wow…" she added, giving him an encouraging smile.

Cole had been managing to control his own desire until the moment she had called out his name. For some reason, that intensified it almost exponentially. He leaned forward, closing his eyes and breathing heavily as he struggled to keep himself in check. He did not want this wonderful experience to end, not ever, and he knew intuitively that it would if he could not control himself.

Mel sat up, staring and frowning until she realized what he was doing. "Don't fight it…" she whispered gently, moving one of his hands to the strap of her negligee. "It's okay." She nodded reassuringly.

He opened his eyes and stared into hers. They seemed almost bottomless in the candlelight, full of love and reassurance. Smiling and nodded, he gently slid the strap off of her shoulder, then repeated the motion with the other strap. With a little work and a little assistance from Mel, she soon lay before him, naked and beautiful and exactly as he had imagined she would be, her body as radiant as her life-force.

"Oh, Mel…" he breathed, caressing her body almost reverentially. She was lovely beyond words.

"I love you…" she whispered, smiling up at him. "So much…" He was breathing heavily again, sucking in air in great gulps, so she sat up and knelt before him. "Are you ready, Cole?" she asked gently.

He nodded rapidly and panted a reply. "Yes… ready… Very ready."

"Okay." She smiled lovingly and gently pushed him onto his back again, helping him out of briefs that must have been almost oppressively tight in his state. "It's okay. You're okay."

She took a moment to drink in the sight of him, naked, glistening with sweat, and very ready for her. It was almost overwhelming. He was magnificent, and he was giving himself to her. Impulsively, she reached out and caressed his erection, drawing a whimper from him. Having never drawn that particular response from a man before, she looked into his eyes, a little concerned. What she saw in those bottomless brown eyes shocked her. It was not what she had expected. The desire was still there, but there was something else there as well, and that was sobering beyond words.

Looking into his eyes, she knew that this was not a step he had taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration. For the Cirronian, this was beyond sex, beyond making love. This was an act of communion between them, a sacred pact, two bodies becoming one soul. If she took this any farther, there would be no going back for them. Everything would change. And Mel, who had always in the past shied away from commitment, intimidated by it, was ready to take that step. This man staring up at her with such love and intensity… he was, as she had long suspected, the One.

He smiled up at her, happy beyond words, as he saw the understanding and the acceptance in her eyes. He reached up and caressed her throat, his eyes questioning her as to what to do next. Her smile gave him all the answer he needed: lay back and trust her. He willingly complied with the unspoken directive, eager and curious for what would come now. His imagination ,while fertile, had not prepared him for the answer to that.

As she eased on to him, he cried out in Cirronian, his entire body suddenly aglow with a light that put the candles to shame. Mel gasped with pleasure at the sensations that were created as the energy arced from his body to her. It was so overwhelming that she was not even aware that her own body was responding in kind. Absurdly, the phrase 'better than sex' sprang to mind to describe the feeling. Pushing it aside, she stared down at Cole in awe. He was so beautiful…

Cole stared up at her, stunned. He had not expected himself to glow, was more stunned to see her glow as well, and it took him a few moments to realize that this was exactly what was happening. At first, he thought she was simply being lighted by his own glow, but there could be no doubt. That radiance came from within, a spiritual expression of the physical pact they were making. Their life-forces shining through for the other to see. And her life-force was every bit as beautiful as he had known it would be, perhaps more so because he knew that it was shining now for him alone.

He lay beneath her, his entire body taut and bathed in the gentle glow they were generating. She was aware that she was crying. He was too beautiful for her to do anything else. He stared up at her, tears in his own eyes, these of pleasure and anticipation, and she realized that she was keeping him waiting. Closing her eyes against the beautiful sight before her, she forged ahead, slowly at first and then more quickly as Cole's cries urged her on.

Cole closed his eyes and grabbed the sheet on either side of him, crying out in broken Cirronian as Mel moved over him. "Neh etan." Perfection. "Eh atah." Incredible, amazing. "Taushi." My love. If he had thought that the pleasure was almost painful before, he had been wrong. This was almost unbearable. And he never wanted it to end. When it did, he cried out in Cirronian again. "Hwa'annin, ey tenat anyahka, Mel." I love you with all that I am, Mel. Her name trailed off into an inarticulate scream. He was not entirely sure, but he thought he might have blacked out for a moment.

When he opened his eyes again, Mel was laying on his chest, breathing as heavily as he was, tears in her eyes. She was stunned beyond words. She had never enjoyed herself so completely with a man before. She had always been left wanting more, and this time, she realized, she had gotten it. And, as completely incredible as the sex had been, she knew that it would not have mattered, because the fulfillment she felt went beyond the physical. She had always assumed that the something more that she had wanted was merely physical, but now she knew better. It was as simple as a man admitting that he loved her for no other reason than because it was true.

"Mel…" he whispered, concerned by her tears, smoothing them away with one hand and holding her tightly with the other.

She smiled at him. "I love your hands…" she whispered, burying her face in his chest. She smiled up at him then and pulled the sheet over them even though it was not necessary to keep them warm. "So…" she panted, composing herself. At least a little. "That's, um… human sex."

"That was unbelievable, Mel…" he whispered, running one hand through her hair. "Thank you."

She bit her lower lip, amused at that. No man had ever thanked her before. Still, if he had felt half of what she had… "I'm glad you enjoyed it, Cole."

He smiled back. "I was right in London, Mel. Your body is beautiful."

She laughed softly at that. "Yours, too…" she replied honestly, remember that amazing glow. "What was that? When you glowed?"

"I'm not sure, Mel, but it was very nice."

"Yes, it was." She nodded in agreement.

They lay together in comfortable silence for several minutes, just enjoying each other's company and the feeling of holding each other close.

"This changes things with us, doesn't it, Cole?" Mel asked gently. "I mean, we're not just lovers, are we?"

"Mates, Mel, a bound pair, two halves of the same entity." He paused, realizing how intense that must seem to a human. Would she really want such a commitment? "If you're willing?" It hurt to think that she might not want that, but he had to give her the option.

"Cole, that's something I've wanted for months…" she assured him gently. "I love you and I want to be a part of your life."

He smiled happily. "I wouldn't be here now if I didn't want the same thing. You've been a partner, a mate to me in so many ways in the past, Mel…"

"Yeah, and I was always kind of sad that I couldn't be that to you in every way." Mel smiled at him, moved by the experience they had just shared.

"Now you are. And I to you." He gently pushed her off of his chest and rolled her onto her back, resting his hand over her heart and lightly tracing the curves of her throat with the other as he leaned over her. Smiling down at her, he translated an ancient Cirronian love-poem that he had always been particularly fond of. It suited his relationship with Mel perfectly.

"Your spirit called to me,

a beacon in the dark wilderness,

lighting my path and guiding my steps

until I found you there.

My bright, shining star,

you bring light to my darkness

and warmth to the bitter depths of space,

and in your embrace

there is no fear, no regret,

only love.

You took my hand,

you guided me, you sheltered me.

You taught me.

First friends and then,

with a Promise,

so much more.

And in that moment

I came to know your body,

as I already know your heart…"

The End