The Listener
(First posted August 15, 2002)
Category: Future/AU
Rating: NC-17.   
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit.
Spoilers: None. Takes place “sometime” in the future.
Beta-Readers:  A huge THANK YOU to scrubschick and imloco2, who got to see my worst case of the dithers
yet. Insecurity when facing the “Post Article” button is a horrible affliction. Thank you for helping me through it.

Note to the reader:  I originally posted this as a ‘G’ rated story, but I began to get requests for an additional
almost immediately, so I took my first stab at NC-17 (forgive me, Mom, I had to do it).   If you want to read this
without getting into the smut, simply stop before the “Addendum”.  That’s where the story originally ended.  This
is one of those miraculous stories that sometimes, all too rarely, arrive full blown in the writer's head and
require very little in the way of 'creation'.  It's a wonderful moment when it happens.  

Enjoy.


*  *  *  *  *

He wipes the glass dry, spinning it lazily around the towel in his hand, and slides it into its slot on the shelf,
waiting for the Sebacean to start his mournful blathering again.  The brown-haired head is bowed over his
raslak, the cheapest drink in the bar, weaving slightly from side to side as he stares into the glass.  The
Sebacean isn’t a noisy or a belligerent drunk, but he’s boring.  The man has been here every afternoon for the
past five solar days, moaning out his sad tale of rejection and loss again and again.  He isn’t in uniform, so he
probably isn’t from any of the Alliance bases on the planet.  

“Another?” he asks, reaching for the nearly empty glass.  The Sebacean’s bloodshot eyes come up, staring at
him in confusion for several microts, then he nods and shovels his money across.  Cretmars.  Good almost
anywhere in this galaxy.  Not like the Alliance credits, which will be worthless the minute the Scarrans decide to
resume their aggression and the destructive onslaught rolls inexorably toward this headquarters planet.  He
shoves the raslak back, careful not to spill any, and moves down the bar, checking on other customers.

“Ascoltor,” someone yells, waving a fistful of empty mugs at him.  He gestures back and sets out another round,
relying on one of the group to come pick up the drinks and pay for them.  The floor is too crowded tonight for
him to be wending his way from one table to the next, dishing out drinks and gathering in five or more types of
currency.  “You take good care of us, Ascoltor,” the lieutenant exudes as he arrives to gather up the round of
drinks.  “Come have one with us tonight.”  The Alliance officers all invite him for a drink from time to time,
secure in the knowledge that he’s never accepted.  Not even once.  

Ascoltor.  He can’t even remember who gave him the label.  They just got tired of trying to get his attention
without using a name, and one night someone yelled it out.  His microbes still can’t seem to provide a
translatable version of it.  It means “Listener” in some language he’s never run into in all his travels.  He is the
listener.  The one behind the counter who stands for arns, letting their stories of war, love, family, loss, and
adventure wash over him.  A look, a nod, or a raised eyebrow is all that’s needed to encourage them, and
they’re off on another tale, punctuated by wild gestures and flailing drinks.  He’d been almost the same before
he’d come here.  

A howling chorus of laughter from one corner draws his attention back to the customers.  The place is bulging
tonight, Alliance uniforms outnumbering civilian attire by almost five to one.  Two Peacekeepers are keeping to
themselves in a corner, scaring no one with their belligerent glares.  The Scarrans have taken care of the
Peacekeeper problem in the quadrant, decimating their numbers until the civil war broke out among the various
Scarran castes half a cycle ago.  The internal civil war did what no one else could do.  It brought their
slaughtering advance to a halt.  

The hastily formed alliance of various species has held together since then, and their ranks continue to swell as
they prepare for the day when the Scarrans stop their bickering, and turn their beady eyes back on the space
around them.  No one knows when it will happen, but they all assume it’s inevitable.  He’s the Listener, after all.  
He hears the intelligence officers talking, and he remembers.  They never lower their voices when he’s nearby
because he’s part of the furniture now.

“I miss her,” the Sebacean mumbles as he drifts back down.  “I didn’t think I’d miss her this much.”  Same song,
same tune.  It hadn’t changed at all in the last five planetary days.

The building shakes, every bit of glass and ceramic rattling for one microt before the rumbling explosion is
heard.  The Sebacean swings around, looking alarmed.  

“Nothing to worry about.”  Ascoltor tips a little more raslak into the half empty glass, draining a container, which
clinks into a bin for refilling later.  A happy customer spends money, the management claims, but this guy will
never be happy.  No matter.  He gets to finish off another container and lists it on a data chip for his
percentage.  The Sebacean is still looking jumpy, so he explains.  “Sheyang fire ball range out back.  They get
a bit carried away from time to time.”  He reaches under the counter for the takaar serum, knowing they’ll be in
for more soon.  “Tell me more about her.”  He hadn’t always known how to listen, which is part of what had
brought him to this place, but he knows how to listen now.  

“Nothing to tell.  We couldn’t communicate.  I left.”  Ascoltor looks at the Sebacean in concern.  Whenever the
man doesn’t want to talk, he’s on the verge of getting sick or passing out.  

“Why don’t you step outside and get some fresh air.  It might make you feel a little better.”  He doesn’t want to
have to clean it up if the guy vomits in here.  

The back door slams open, startling everyone in the room, if the wave of jumps and fast looks is any indication.  
A Sheyang captain and a lieutenant waddle in, heading straight for the bar, and he puts another bundle of the
serum syringes on the counter, ready for them.  Their fat fingers roll out fifteen, and they ask “How much?”  
They know how much the cartridges cost.  They’ve been coming to the range for the last quarter cycle, but it
isn’t his job to tell them that they’re being a nuisance by asking every time.  When the Luxans want to go shoot
things, they just slap their currency on the counter and barge back out the door, shoving everyone aside as
they force their way through the crowd.   

“Fifteen syringes.  Seventy-five cretmars.”  Takaar serum is cheap now, produced in plentiful supply since the
Sheyang joined the Alliance and everyone discovered that their fireballs could turn even the heat-loving
Scarrans into a smoking skeleton.  

“We have only Alliance credits,” the captain rumbles, shoving the hydrosteel chips forward.  

Ascoltor sighs, and sweeps almost the entire pile into his hand, shoving back the spare change.  It isn’t his
recreation and refreshment center.  He doesn’t care if the owners want to accept the credits.  He dumps them
into the throat of the counter, watches the tally come up to make sure he’s done it right, and then waves them
away.  They lumber happily through the crowd, headed back to the range.  Target practice and happy
wagering.  They love to scorch things.

The Sebacean is back, looking pale but more in control.  “You feeling all right?” he asks.  The nod is scarcely a
move, but the guy shoves the empty glass forward, waiting for a refill.  “Cretmars,” Ascoltor prompts.  The
Sebacean begins patting his pockets, looking for more currency.  “Oh, frell, never mind.  This one’s on the
house.”  He leans under the counter, and pulls out the stuff he likes, snagging a clean glass for himself on the
way.  

“What’s the occasion?” the Sebacean asks.  “You haven’t bought a drink since I’ve been here.  Not for
anyone.”  

“Left a woman behind,” he says succinctly, “like you.  It’s been roughly a cycle.  Today’s as good a day to
celebrate as any.”  He tosses it back, enjoying the long burn as it works its way down.  “Happy anniversary.”  It
incinerates his blood vessels all the way to his toes, leaving a pleasant glow behind.  The Sebacean sticks his
nose into the glass, sniffing carefully, then flips the alcohol into his mouth.  His eyes bulge for a moment, his
throat muscles rippling as he forces it down, then he coughs, trying to cover up a gasp of pain.  Putting the
bottle back on the bottom shelf lets Ascoltor cover up a near-laugh.  

“Why’d you leave her?” the drunk asks, tears brimming as he takes in a long breath.  His fist is rubbing his
sternum, and Ascoltor remembers his first encounter with the flaming sensation.  

“Why’d you leave yours?”  He’s supposed to listen, not talk.  It was his job at first, but now it’s what he does all
the time.  

“She wasn’t being honest with me.  I never knew when she was going to break my heart.  We couldn’t seem to
talk about anything anymore.”  

“Good reasons.”  Ascoltor's hands return to polishing metal drinking flasks.  “Love her?”  

“Yes,” he whispers.  “I wish I hadn’t left.  What about you?”  The fumbling fingers finally find more currency in a
pocket, and flick a few more rattling cretmars across the counter.  

He snakes several toward him and pours the next drink.  Raslak this time because it will stretch the guy’s money
further.  Ascoltor debates not answering, then decides that giving the guy a little of his own story might open
him up.  “It was the wrong thing to do, but I figured it out too late.”    

“If going back is the right thing to do, why don’t you?” the Sebacean asks.  The guy has been singing the same
refrain for five planetary days, but now he’s asking questions instead of returning to his repetitious moans.  
Ascoltor doesn’t know whether to be relieved that he doesn’t have to listen to it again, or disappointed that he
has to do the talking one more time.  

“A Scarran offensive got between us while I was off some place, deciding whether she loved me.  I don’t know
where she is.  Go back to yours now.  Work things out.”  The unsteady head shakes.  “Give her another
chance.  You have plenty of time ahead of you to break it off, use the time together to try harder at making it
work.  You don’t ever know when it’ll be too late to turn back.  Do it now.”  It’s probably the longest thing he’s
uttered to a customer since he started working here.  At first, he’d never known what to say to the endless
progression of talkers.  Later, he’d figured that his advice was garbage.  And finally, he’d learned that listening
was an art, and he’d begun hearing what people had to say in their silences.  

Before he’d stormed out in a fit of anger, he’d listened to his own problems through the single conduit of his
ears.  Over the past cycle, he’s slowly mined his memories to discover the messages he hadn’t heard because
he was listening incorrectly.  Tears welling in her eyes had been missed because he’d turned away, enfolded in
his own hurt feelings.  There was the rigid posture that he’d taken as reserve, but he knew now that it had been
pain.  The silences that had been her grief rather than a coldness of heart ring loudly in his new senses.  
These remembered shouts, and more, he can finally hear for what they were supposed to have been.  But now
it’s too late.  

There’s a flash of a pale-skinned figure at the open front door, seen out of the corner of his eye.  When he
turns, there’s no one there.  He lets one hand fall beneath the counter, checking on the pistol to make sure it’s
within an easy reach.  The few remaining Peacekeepers don’t mix well with the Alliance troops, and if they’re
reconnoitering before coming in to make trouble, he wants to make sure he can break it up in a hurry.  The old
pulse pistols are just about right for a bar fight -- a reliable close-range weapon now that they’ve regained
control of the planets that grow tannot.  They’ve also found other planets where it can be cultivated, further
away from the stalled front.  Some of the intelligence officers think that when the Scarrans turn their attention
back to the infant Alliance, they’ll find an enemy they no longer wish to engage.  Ascoltor snorts a small laugh
at the thought.   

He reaches for the empty glass in front of the Sebacean, checking to see how drunk the man is before pouring
another one out.  The guy has turned an odd shade of green and he’s sweating.  “Out!  Don’t do that in here,”
he orders.  The drunk shoves himself off the stool and staggers a rushing, erratic course to the door.  He’s still
upright and moving fast as he disappears from sight.  

Ascoltor serves a variety of flaming drinks to a quintet of Luxan recruits, and then tries to make a Delvian Nova
for the trio of Hynerian intelligence officers.  Although he gets the blue swirling tones right, when it comes time
for it to burst into a sparking explosion from the oxidizing effect, it merely sizzles and hiccups out a cloud of
smoke.  They like it almost as much, and pay him anyway.  He makes a mental note to get the first shift
bartender to show him that drink one more time.  

The Luxans move on, and he wanders down the line to pick up the soot-streaked glasses.  He’s right by the
pistol when the light streaming through the front door disappears and black leather moves in, so his hand is on
it in a flash, waiting for the fun to begin if it’s Peacekeepers.  His hand jerks with surprise, and he almost blows
a hole in his foot before getting his finger off the trigger.  

The roar of the clientele continues unabated, but the noise seems to die to a hush in his ears as the black
leather moves straight for the bar.  Long hair, swinging unfettered to drift in shining waterfall-sheets wanders
down her shoulders, enveloping her throat and neck.  Behind her comes a flare of gray pale-skin, followed by
braids and tanktas framing an anxious frown.  They move steadily toward the bar, a gaudy three-part
anachronism in the room full of uniforms.  People move out of their way almost without thinking, stepping aside
from the path of what he sees is competence in battle, expressed as a threat of violent action.  She leans on
the bar, glancing left and right, and waits.  

He clears his throat, finding it inexplicably tight, and ventures the first words.  “Of all the gin joints in all the
towns in all the universe, she walks into mine.”  Winona slides into the holster easily despite his shaking hands.  

“It took us a long time to find you, John.”  She’s frowning, but he watches the muscles jumping with tension in
her shoulders, and the white knuckles of her clenched left hand as she waits, and he hears the love that he
never knew how to listen for before.  And he knows the words now.  He’s heard them going unspoken time and
time again over the last cycle.

“God, I’m glad to see you, Aeryn.  Is Moya here?”  Her posture doesn’t change, but she seems to sag onto the
bar, grabbing on with both hands even while the pale gleam of her knuckles eases away into ruddy normalcy.  
She nods, and the first drawing of muscles in her face means there’s a smile lurking where he’d never known it
waited.  “Can we go right now?”  For the first time in almost a cycle, he’s doing all of the talking because Aeryn
only nods again.

“Ascoltor,” someone yells, waving a glass in his direction.  He yanks the heavy waterproof smock off over his
head and wads it into a bundle.  

“I quit.  Get it yourself,” he yells back, and vaults over the bar.  His breath whooshes out painfully as D’Argo
yanks him into a hug, and he doesn’t care if the next noise is his ribs cracking because they’ve found him, and
he can go home with them now.  

“What the frell happened to you, Old Man?” Chiana asks, hugging him next.  “We tried to come pick you up
when we had arranged, but we were cut off.  It took us forever to even figure out which way you went when the
Scarrans came through.”  Her shaggy white ruff smells like Moya’s amnexus fluids.  

“Later.  Let’s get the hell out of here.  I thought I’d never see you guys again.”  Aeryn’s hand fits into his as
though the two had been designed as parts of a whole.  She’d never liked public displays of affection before,
but the rigidity in her body isn’t talking to him about appearances, it’s screaming a complaint that she has been
excluded from the hugs.  He yanks her hard, and she comes into his embrace easily, fitting herself against his
ribs, chest, and tucking in under his chin.  “I love you,” he whispers for her ear only, and the last of the tension
flows away, easily heard despite the hollering, whistles and cheers around them.  

As they move out of the building, they pass the bleary eyed Sebacean sitting morosely with his back against the
wall, looking pale but less sick.  John tosses the bundled smock at him, startling the young man.  “Take this.  
They’ll need a new worker in there if you’re interested.  Listen for a while.  Eventually you’ll hear what’s
important.”  Aeryn is under his arm, and he can hear her speaking to him in the warmth of her soft surfaces
over firm muscle, and the way she presses against him.  He’ll have to tell her a few things of his own, but that
can wait until they’re alone in her chamber aboard Moya.

*  *  *  *  *


Addendum

The doors to her cell slide shut with the quiet grinding that he’s missed for an entire cycle, punctuated by the
slither of the curtains falling into place.  She’s moved since he was on board last, but the haphazard
arrangement of her things whisper of a hurried transition.  Aeryn’s possessions have always been neatly
arranged in ranks and rows -- militarily precise alignment an almost obsessive need drilled into her during
childhood.  But tonight, piles lean crazily to one side or the other, seeming to defy gravity or perhaps just
waiting for the right moment to topple into chaos.  He turns toward Aeryn, welcoming her into his embrace.  

“When did you move in here?” he asks.  But he’s already found the answer in the one item in the room that is
neatly arranged -- the bed, which is wider than the standard one provided in most of the cells.  She looks into
his eyes and blushes, a rare occurrence that leaves him thrilling and dizzy.  

“Day before yesterday,” Aeryn admits, turning a deeper shade of crimson, “when we were sure we’d found
you.”  He hadn’t felt her releasing the tie-downs of the holster, but her fingers are at his waist and the weight of
Winona drops away from his hips.  He slides his hand into the hair at the back of her neck, letting the rippling
strands drift between his fingers as he rediscovers the contours of her lips.  Her breath is warm on his cheek as
her body presses against his, telling him of the grief and sorrow endured when she thought he’d been lost.  

There is another entity in the room, entering suddenly and demanding that they both pay attention to its call.  
John wraps both arms tightly around Aeryn and tips them over together to land on the bed, her on top,
meanwhile sliding both hands up under her shirt to find the warm, smooth skin of her back.  The intruder is
welcomed by both of them.  They respond to its message in a flurry of kisses, hands working frantically to
release fasteners, remove clothes, find the textures and contours that had almost been forgotten.  Urgency, the
visitor, waits to one side as boots first thump to the floor, then disappear under a shower of leather and black
fabric.  

“Slowly,” John whispers once they’re undressed, resisting the call for immediacy.  He runs a hand down the
hollow of her back, fingers tapping each vertebrae lightly, sending the vibrations through her spine that leave
her smiling and pushing her weight off his chest to look down on him.  Both hands explore her buttocks, the
fingers of his left hand stopping to explore the pucker of a new scar.  “What’s this?” he asks, fingering the
gnarled line.  

“We ran into a little trouble at one point,” she answers, lowering her mouth to his chest.  Burning lips kiss one of
his nipples and he sighs deeply, the simple touch igniting a long-burning fuse.  He’s happy because he knows
what lies at the end of the fuse, but the time before detonation remains in question, multiplying his desire.  

“Were you executing a tactical retreat?”  He wants to hear how she got shot in the ass, but the story has to wait
because she’s kissing the underside of his throat and her hands are in his hair, rubbing his skull behind his
ears and it feels so nice, he’d wag his tail if he had one.  “Oh my God,” he murmurs in response to the lurch of
expanding interest below his waist.  

“What’s this?”  Aeryn uses his own words, mimicking his tones.  Her lips have worked their way down from his
throat, across his chest and are investigating his ribs.  She’s lying across him at a slight angle now, fingers
brushing the puckered scars that map him from armpit to hip along his right side.  He’d lost the sense of touch
along that side when he’d been burned, but he can feel the line of caresses now as she lays a line of kisses
along the travesty from ribs to hip, each one burning as hot as the original injury.  Urgency finds a new home
between his legs, demanding that the light touches be cast away in the mad pursuit of physical union.  

“Nothing much.”  But he’d lain in a filthy rented room for three days, purchasing the help of a street kid with the
last of his credits while the fever from the infection had seared his mind as severely as the Scarran had seared
his flesh.  He’d cried out for her again and again that time, only to have some filthy urchin appear at his side
with a wet rag -- at the cost of one cretmar per day to keep his fever from killing him.  John wraps his arms
around her, and rolls over, carrying her with him.  She’s here now.  That’s the only thing that matters.  
“Enough,” he says, kissing her again, meaning only that talking is overrated.  

His lips find a breast, fingers tracing a gentle line around the contours, remembered but newly discovered.  
Aeryn sighs and arches against him as he strokes her with his tongue, her eyelids fluttering as she goes
somewhere within herself, somewhere he can’t follow.  His lips pull at the hardening flesh, coaxing it into full
arousal, then he nudges at the other side with his thumb, teasing her slightly.  Her fingers dig into his shoulders
and she thrusts her hips up against him, her entire body beginning to sing beneath him.  He runs his tongue
along the base of one silken breast then the other, each light wandering by him drawing a deep breath out of
her, followed by a jerking sigh.  Caresses are lipped down the center of her body, in harmony with her sighs
until he reaches the warmth crying out to him.  Urgency has moved on to inhabit her body now.  

John strokes the insides of her thighs with his thumbs, then coaxes her legs further apart to give himself room.  
He allows himself three microts to admire her, then brushes his hand through the dark matted hair and lowers
himself onto her, exploring her with his tongue.  She is warm and welcoming, eagerly awaiting his wandering
explorations.  He doesn’t tease or hesitate.  He lays her open with long gentle strokes, then takes her into his
mouth, stroking the swollen knob once, then circling it until she cries out.  He works his lips against her, then
thrusts his tongue hard, seeking another response from above.  

“Frrrrell,” Aeryn gasps, thrusting herself up against his mouth.  

He levers himself up to look at her, laughing.  “That is the general idea.”  She growls at him, and tugs at his
ears, trying to guide him back to the source of her pleasure.  Urgency taps him on the shoulder and
encourages him to work faster, but he likes the gradual crescendo of sighs and moans, the fingers working
through his hair and occasionally pulling at his ears when he moves away to tease her.  The hips begin to
surge upward against him, and her hands leave him as the cries become more urgent and less intelligible.  
John pauses long enough to nudge her legs further apart, generating a long cry of frustration, then works his
way back to where they left off -- sighs and cries echoing quietly off the metalloid walls.  He sucks at her, driving
his tongue hard against the swollen mound of nerves and she climaxes, her legs closing in around him, her
cries lost to his ears as he listens to the song of pleasure emanating from her body.  

She lies quietly at last, her chest heaving as she fights for air, her belly and breasts his horizon as he rubs her
thighs.  The vibrations are still there, hidden beneath the surface, waiting for another slow rise to arousal.  John
moves up to lie alongside her body, and traces a pattern around her breasts and down her stomach with a
single finger, watching the sweat trickle into the fringes of her hair.  He cherishes the moment, having spent
more than a cycle thinking it might never arrive.  Aeryn’s not panting anymore, so he leans over to kiss her,
tasting the salt tang of sweat on her lips.

Her arm snakes around his neck and he’s on a brief roller-coaster ride, only he’s the car and she’s the rider.  
“Peacekeeper trick,” he accuses, looking up at her.  She’s managed to straddle him as she flipped them over,
her warmth engulfing his trapped cock where it’s pinned against his belly.   The pulse in the underside is ticking
a Morse code of desire into his bloodstream, setting his body on fire one heartbeat at a time.  The view is
almost better from here, staring up at her nakedness leaning over him.  He fingers her breasts, playing with her
as she bends over him to kiss him.  She rubs against him, coating him with her own fluids, smiling as he stiffens
the last bit, swelling to rigid need underneath her.  He gasps, the friction and pressure coaxing him closer to
explosion.  

“I’ve missed that look,” she smiles.  She sits back on him, a near painful pressure on his engorged shaft, and
massages his chest and ribs.  

“What look?”  He can barely breathe, let alone talk.  Urgency has found a new home, but she’s sitting on it and
not doing anything to address his needs.  Aeryn doesn’t answer him.  She slides her hips down his thighs a little
bit, still resting most of her weight on him, until the head of his cock emerges from beneath her, glistening with
her moisture.  She looks down at where he’s trapped under her warmth, smiling deviously, and runs a finger
across the sensitive tip.  “Oh, sweet Jesus!”  It’s a groan of desire emerging from his lips in a near yell.  She
does it again and he shakes all over, struggling for control.  He bites his lower lip and closes his eyes, waiting to
see what else she’s going to do to him.    

“That look,” she whispers, leaning forward.  Her fingers trace his lips, moving up to where her thumbs smooth
his eyebrows, brushing away the first beads of passion-induced sweat.  She squirms against him, and he
whimpers, nearly undone by the warm pressure against his rigid length.  “Yes.  That’s the one,” she laughs and
moves against him again.  

“Gonna kill me,” he pants.  She rises up, releasing his erection, and ducks her head to look down at where he
stands at attention.  John peers down with her and nearly loses it when she rubs herself across the tip of his
cock.  He lets out a long whine of desire, and pulls at her, silently asking for the one thing she hasn’t given him.  
She smiles, and then lowers herself onto him in stages, finally settling against his hips with a thump, burying him
inside her.  “Oh, shit,” he groans, ignoring the first call to release.  Aeryn only laughs, sending the ripples of
muscular contraction through his engulfed erection, and somehow short-circuiting his brain in the process.  The
fuse is still burning, and there isn’t much time left.

He closes his eyes, committing himself to tactile input alone.  Aeryn’s waist flexes warm and taut beneath his
grasp as she moves on him, doing all the work.  There’s no thought left, only sensation, so he can’t consider
how anything so smoothly warm can create such wonderful, mind-shattering friction.  He begins to pant, jaw
dropping open as the pressure builds within, demanding a response to his new god -- Urgency.  Her breath is
rasping as the first vibrations build within her hot, wet grasp around his cock.  John sucks in a long breath of
infinite excitement, his belly hollow and taut as he tries to wait for her.  Aeryn’s fingers find the overwrought
muscles, rubbing his stomach in encouragement as she continues her labors over his body.  She’s repeating
his name over and over again, a one syllable litany of love.   

His world fuses with hers in a mindless aria of deep breaths and small cries, reaching out toward the final
explosive release.  He calls to her, stringing her name out over several microts, trying to tell her there’s no time
left.  “Good,” she cries, somehow turning the word into three syllables, and he lets himself go, diving into the
sensations.  A long groan rumbles in his chest, hands trembling out of control as he pulses within the grip of
her frantically clenching muscles.  He opens his eyes to watch her head thrown back, eyelids fluttering as Aeryn
comes a second time, lost in her own ecstatic fireworks of a nervous system out of control.  Her fingers fumble
for his chest, tweak his nipples and he yelps, his cock pulsing again in a long continuation of his climax.  His
entire universe is there between his legs, ecstasy flooding through him, taking all of his energy with it.  

She thrusts herself against him one last time, shivering as the final contractions bid him a short tale of her
ultimate sensation, transmitted through softening tissue.  A small tug against her wrists brings her into reach,
hovering over him with the curtains of dark hair closing out all scenery except her face.  “I love you,” he
whispers before pulling her down for a kiss.  Her lips are swollen and wet, her mouth welcoming.  

“I love you,” she says against his lips, then she lowers herself the rest of the way onto his chest.  They manage
to find the covers, working together to pull them over their joined bodies without disturbing the union.  “I thought
I’d lost you for good this time,” she says into his throat once they’re settled.  

“I know.”  He strokes the back of her shoulder.  “Same here.”  The words are extraneous.  Everything has been
adequately said by their bodies.  He kisses the top of her head, and she shivers against him slightly.  The tiny
quaver of her body tells him that the first days had been worse for her than they had been for him.  “I’m sorry,”
he whispers into her hair.  Some things need to be spoken aloud.  

“For what?”  Her fingers are wandering around on his shoulder beside where her breath is tickling his chest.      

“For storming off that day.”  He addresses the hurt -- a wound both aged and yet raw.  “For not hearing what
you were trying to tell me all those cycles.  For not listening.”  

“You seem to be listening fine now.”  She wraps both arms around him and pulls herself tighter against his
body.  

John doesn’t even nod.  He’s too involved with the song flowing through her body, transmitting the message of
her love through the small touches and caresses that continue until she falls asleep.  His own hand continues
its exploration up and down her back until long after he too, is otherwise asleep, trying to let her know how
much he loves her.  


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