Written by: Susanne Beck and Okasha

Disclaimers: In chapter one.


Kirsten looks up from her pacing as the door to the vet clinic opens and Koda steps out into the waning sunshine. She runs up to the other woman, noting the grim set to her jaw and the thin, bloodless line of her lips. "I just heard," she says softly. "How is she?"

"Stable for now," Koda replies, distracted. "I need to go. I have to find her pups."

"I’m going with you."

"No. I’ll go alone. Stay with Shannon and keep watch over the mother."

"Please. I…I want to help." She holds up a hand to forestall comment. "I know you don’t need it. Hell, you’ve probably done this a million times before, but….I’d like to help anyway."

Kirsten receives her answer by way of a handful of blankets being pressed into her chest and a curt "let’s go". Peering over top of the blankets, she settles them more tightly against her front and starts off at a brisk trot, trying her best to keep up with Koda’s long-legged strides.

Within moments, they’ve breasted the snowy crest, and both stop, though for different reasons. Koda cocks her head, scenting the air and listening to the area around her. All is silent, save for the wind rustling through branches yet to have seen the first touch of spring green.

Kirsten, on the other hand, is staring at a large bird roosting atop the very tallest of the trees ahead. "Koda," she whispers in her softest voice.

Hearing her, Dakota slowly turns her head until she is looking down at the woman at her side. Her eyebrow lifts in silent inquiry.

"That bird…it’s a hawk, isn’t it? If it’s anywhere around the pups…."

Koda grabs Kirsten’s hand as she lifts it and returns it to her side. She softly utters an odd, three-note whistle With a heavy, almost sub-sonic, beating of wings, Wiyo lifts up from the tree’s top and glides effortlessly onto Koda’s upraised arm. Kirsten stares on as if her sockets are the only things keeping her eyeballs from popping out and rolling around like marbles on the ground. Giving Kirsten a look that could freeze a volcano, Wiyo calmly sidesteps up to Dakota’s shoulder, barely missing her Stetson, and settles there, looking regal as a queen on her throne.

Koda continues on, leaving Kirsten staring after her, slack-jawed, until a soft "coming?" floats back to her and spurs her feet into motion once again.


By Kirsten’s reckoning, it is ten minutes later when they once again stop, Koda’s upraised hand giving her direction better than a verbal order. These ten minutes have been silent though, at least from Kirsten’s perspective, far from uninformative. In that short space of time, watching Dakota tracking the wolf pups, Kirsten has received a flash of insight—though perhaps "flash" isn’t the right word. It is as if an elusive puzzle piece has finally slipped into place, providing her with the answers to several questions she’s been asking herself for these months in the other woman’s company.

Watching Dakota’s profile, its sharp lines softened by descending twilight, the image of the blue-eyed wolf, her guardian, comes to her again, superimposing itself over the noble, striking features of the woman before her. She finds herself flushing, shamed at having come to this rather obvious conclusion so late in the game.

Some scientist. Can’t even see what’s in front of my face. God.

The answers, however, raise even more questions, but Kirsten pushes them to the back of her mind as she watches Koda gracefully lower herself to her haunches and stare down at the snow-covered ground for several long moments. When she rises again, her face is carved of granite, absolutely expressionless save for her eyes, which are burning embers glittering with an anger that takes Kirsten aback and has her wishing desperately that this reaper’s gaze will not set itself upon her.

It does, though only briefly, and she feels almost faint with relief as it passes on, leaving her untouched.

Silent as the grave, Dakota resumes her pace, leaving Kirsten struggling to keep up. But not before looking down at the place that had lit the fires of Dakota’s anger.

There, in a small pile, is a heap of bones and bits of fur. Tiny bones, so very tiny, and yet unmistakable even to a city-bred girl like Kirsten. The bones of a wolf-pup; predator turned prey. She slaps a hand over her mouth as her gorge heaves, threatening to expel whatever remains of her breakfast—the only meal she’s eaten today. After a long moment, her stomach settles itself and she takes her hand away, forcibly ripping her gaze from the tiny mound of bones at her feet. Dakota is a dozen yards ahead and pulling away rapidly. Kirsten breaks into a run to catch up.

She has just slowed down to walking speed when Dakota comes to another abrupt halt, forcing Kirsten to jig slightly to the left to avoid a collision. "What is—?"


Kirsten looks on, slightly annoyed, as Dakota cocks her head in that increasingly familiar listening posture of hers, and stiffens. It’s obvious she hears something, though Kirsten, who knows by virtue of her implants that her hearing is at least five times as acute as a normal human’s, can’t hear a thing.

Of course, I don’t know I’m listening for, she consoles herself, not quite sure why it suddenly matters so much.

A whispered word to the beast on her shoulder, and the hawk flies off to God-knows-where, leaving Kirsten even more annoyed than before. Why am I the only one who’s flying blind here?

She didn’t ask for your help, that more rational part of her brain reminds her. You more or less forced it on her, so don’t be getting all pissy when she doesn’t recite her intentions to you chapter and verse.

Dakota utters a small, soft, whining sound that has Kirsten looking on in amazement. Instinctively, she knows that she has not just heard a human imitating a wolf’s call, but rather a wolf making that call.

Will wonders never cease?

Then she hears it. A soft, almost inaudible cry off to her left. Koda repeats her call, and the cry is likewise repeated. Kirsten stands unmoving as Dakota plucks a blanket from her hands. "Stay here unless I call you."

Kirsten simply nods and watches as Koda heads with silent steps to the medium-sized rock outcropping ahead and to the left.

With twilight rapidly deepening into night, Koda senses the den’s entrance more than sees it. It’s small and narrow, forcing her to drop to her knees, then to her belly in order to squeeze her way inside. Before moving, she stuffs the warm blanket into her jacket and removes a small, but powerful, flashlight from a pocket and switches it to "wide beam" before clamping it between her teeth and beginning her trek inside.

The rocks brush hard against her broad shoulders and, though not one prone to claustrophobia, she feels the weight of the entire formation pressing in on her from without. It’s not an entirely pleasant feeling, but she shuts her mind to it and continues on, using her elbows to propel herself forward.

The stench of putridity and decay is indescribable, but it’s something she’s well used to, given what she does—or did, she doesn’t know anymore—for a living. Still, she finds herself mouth-breathing to keep the smell from burning itself into her sinuses.

Approximately two bodylengths from the entrance, the den widens, becoming a more or less circular structure surrounded by solid rock on all sides. In the center are the pups, or what remains of them. There were four in the litter—five if she counts the obvious stillbirth remains she’d come across earlier. Only one still lives, clinging to that life by the meagerest of threads. The others are long dead, their bodies cold and stiff; maggots already beginning their gruesome work on the corpses.

Attracted to her living warmth, the pup lifts his shaking head, blindly groping for her, struggling beneath the weight of its dead siblings.

Gently grabbing the pup by its ruff, Koda tenderly pulls it from its macabre nest. The pup hands limp from her hand, and she absently checks its gender before she bares her teeth in an unconscious and soundless snarl. With a soft cry of revulsion mixed with anger, she uses her free hand to pluck the squirming maggots from his living flesh, crushing them between her fingers and flinging them away.

Task complete, she pulls out the blanket and wraps the pup carefully within its folds, murmuring nonsense words to him in Lakota. He whimpers softly, oh so softly, and collapses against her, completely spent. She feels frantically for a pulse, and sags in relief when it is there—too weak, too thready, but there.

"C’mon, boy," she whispers, tucking the final fold about his tiny, defenseless body. "Let’s get you home to your Ina."


Kirsten stands outside of the den, eyeing the helter-skelter jumble of boulders with deep suspicion. Her dream (and what else could it possibly be? She refuses to entertain the notion that even her hallucinations would feature a talking raccoon with an attitude problem.) comes back to her in soft-filter, like the camera lenses they used to use on movie stars. Back when there were movie stars.

"She needs your help. Go to her. Go to her now."

She eyes the rockpile again. Is that a rumble she hears? A shifting of stones presaging a total collapse of the structure? Is this why she is needed?

"No," she whispers, horrified.

Another image flashes before her, this one in sharp, stark lines and bold tones of red and black.

The outcropping is collapsing, drawing down unto itself in cracks of thunder and stifling dust that chokes her as she screams Dakota’s name into the blackness of the night.

Her hands. Blood on her hands. Her palms scraped raw, flesh hanging in tatters as she desperately pulls rock after rock away this charnel house.

"She needs your help."

Her voice, hoarse and ragged, screaming Dakota’s name over and over and over again.

"Go to her."

Her lungs. On fire. Sending out pluming jets of vapored, panicked breath.

"Go to her now."

Her heart. Thundering in her chest. Fear and a savage, piercing grief fueling its frenetic pace.

"No," she whispers. And "no" again.

And almost launches herself to the moon as Dakota materializes in front of her like a wraith from the mist.

Her face is still harsh-planed, but her eyes have softened a bit from their earlier rage. Kirsten suspects—when she can think again—that that softening is a result of the tiny bundle she holds so tenderly in her large hands.

Her heart rate slows, though grudgingly. She doesn’t like shocks. Never has. And she’s had more than enough to last several lifetimes. Somehow, though, she doesn’t think Dakota will appreciate the sentiment. She’ll have to remember to tell her later.

"How—how many?"

"One," Koda replies tersely. "The rest were dead."

"Oh god…I’m so sorry."

"’s alright. Nothing anyone can do about it now." Though her words seem offhand, her tone is clipped, each word as precise as a knife cut.


Dakota’s eyes harden. "Let’s get this one back to his mother."

The pair takes only a couple of steps before a screeching call splits the silence of the night. Both look up, two pairs of keen eyes tracing a shadow against the shadows, flying low over their heads and landing in a tree some forty yards distant.

Kirsten finds herself suddenly cradling the tiny wolf pup as Koda stares deeply into her eyes. "Go on ahead. I’ll be there shortly."


She finds herself talking to air.

Dakota has disappeared.

"Oh no you don’t, Ms. Bossy," Kirsten mutters half under her breath. "You forget who you’re talking to here, I think." She looks down at the bundle in her hands. "Hang on for a little longer, little guy. I have something I need to do."


The deep black of the night parts like a cloak before her. She sprints, full out, toward the tree, keen eyes already spotting the thick chain wrapped around its gnarled base. Wiyo screeches again. Koda looks up at her briefly before rounding the broad trunk, intently following the chain links as they stretch off to a shadowed spot not ten feet away.

A thick, frost tipped pelt comes into view, and her heart shudders in her chest. "Oh no," she moans, low and deep. "No. Please, Ina, no."

Her soft prayer goes unheeded, as she knows it must. Tears sting her eyes. She wipes them away with a savage swipe of her arm, not noticing the pain as the stiff cloth of her jacket rakes across her wind-chapped cheeks.

He lays there in his own filth and blood. The one her brothers call Igmu Tanka Kte -- "Cougar Killer"-- for his fierce defense of his pack from a hungry mountain lion slinking down from the hills in search of easy prey.

The one who has visited her dreams and visions for years.

Who has shared with her bits his life and his ways.

The proud Alpha.

The one she calls Wa Uspewicakiyapi.


His rear left leg, half gnawed through in a desperate bid for freedom, is caught in a steel-jawed trap—the kind that has been illegal for decades. His soft underbelly is flayed, the skin hanging in flaps, blackened from frostbite and infection. His ruff is spiky with dried blood and she can only imagine the terrible wounds hidden from her view beneath the thick pelt.

He is mortally wounded, and yet lives still, bound to life by some strength of will that she can only wonder at. His chest moves weakly, sporadically, pulling in air he soon will no longer need. When she squats carefully by his massive head, he looks up at her through eyes that are glassy and exhausted and utterly calm, as if her presence by his side had always been expected.

Perhaps even anticipated.

"Hello, old friend," she murmurs in the language of her ancestors, reaching out to gently stroke his proud muzzle. "I’m so sorry." Tears fall now, and she allows their passage, watching as his image trebles before her, fracturing even as her heart fractures. "So…so sorry."

Feeling the tentative, weak touch of his tongue on her hand, she shakes her head, blinking away the tears and clearing her vision. His eyes, likewise, have cleared, and she finds herself drawn into them, drawn as if bound by a puppeteer’s strings.

In those eyes, she can see visions; bits and pieces of his life, and hers, and the bond that draws them together closer than kin.

She slips free of herself, and for the last time they run together, unfettered and uncaring, into the nightwind, into the hills and valleys of the home they share as the moon, ripe and full, watches on from her perch above. They run for the joy of running, for the freedom of their souls, for their fierce love of the Earth and all who live upon it.

Then, at last, after what feels like hours, she finds herself gently released and in her own body once again.

Breaking herself free from his gaze, she leans down and touches a soft kiss to his head, then whispers into his ear, "Tóksha aké wanchinyankin kte. Wakhan Thanka nici un."

And, not allowing herself to think, she moves her hands to his now-fragile neck, and twists.

His spine snaps. His chest settles slowly, and his eyes grow distant and fixed to a point only he can know.

All of her grief, all of her rage, washes through her with the force of a tidal wave, bowing her back and arching her neck to the uncaring sky. She howls in a voice that none would recognize as human, and all would fear.

Still howling, she jumps to her feet and pries the brutal trap from his leg by brute force. Grabbing the chain, she hurls the trap against the tree again and again and again, screaming incoherently, eyes flashing, glowing as if lit from the internal fires of her rage. The tree shakes, bark flying from its trunk in great spraying chunks.

Kirsten, who has forced herself to stand by and watch even as tears stream down her face unnoticed, finally breaks free of her paralysis, and steps forward. Only to dance back as the trap comes perilously close to bashing her head in. She stands for a moment, undecided, her lower lip caught pensively between her teeth. "Dakota," she tries softly. And then louder, "Dakota!"

Dakota stills abruptly and turns to face the intruder, murder in her eyes. Her lips spread in a snarl as feral as any wolf’s, and Kirsten steps back again, fear delivering a jolt to her heart and belly.

"Nituwe he?" Koda demands.

"I—I’m sorry, I don’t--."

"Iyaya na!"

"Dakota, please. I don’t understand--."

"Letan khigla na!" Winding up the chain, she slams the trap against the tree. "Iyaya na!!" And again. "Iyaya na!!"

And again.

And again.

And again.

Every single instinct inside her is clamoring for her to flee, to seek refuge far away from the madwoman Dakota has become. And yet, something even stronger compels her to stay. Some internal voice that she cannot shut off, cannot turn away from, no matter how much she might wish it. Gathering up every shred of courage she possesses, she steps forward, deliberately into the line of fire, and speaks, "Dakota. Please. Listen to me. I want to help. Please. Tell me what to do." Her tone is as calming and as soothing as she can possibly make it, and she senses, through blind instinct, that it is somehow getting through to the grief-stricken woman.

"Please," she repeats, in a voice just above a whisper. "Tell me what to do."

There is a muted "thunk" as the trap and chain slips from Koda’s hands. She follows it down, collapsing to her knees and burying her face in her hands. Her whole body shakes from the force of her sobs. "Wicate," she murmurs over and over into her hands. "Wicate. Too much. Too much! Wicate. Too much!!" Her head tips back and she howls.

The sound chills Kirsten to the bone. She can feel the wolf-pup still in her grasp respond, struggling weakly against her hold. She looks down, then back at the grieving, howling woman. Gently, tenderly, she unwraps the pup from his blanket and, taking slow, calm, deliberate steps, closes the gap between herself and Dakota. Then, just as carefully, she lowers herself to her knees and waits, the pup held tenderly in her hands.

Dakota’s howl tapers off like a toy whose battery has finally run down. Her head drops, hanging low between her shoulders. Her tears drip into the snow, melting it.

"He needs you, Dakota," Kirsten whispers into the profound silence left behind. "Look at him. He needs to you care for him, to love him." She swallows, suddenly understanding. "Like you loved his father."

After a long moment, Dakota’s head lifts, and she looks down at the tiny, defenseless pup. A trembling hand lifts, hovers, and then drops back down into the snow. "I—can’t."

"You can. Yes, you can."

"You don’t understand!"

"Yes, yes I do. I do understand. Dakota, you’ve never turned away from anyone who’s needed your help. He needs your help now. He needs you."

Their eyes meet and hold. Kirsten feels tears welling yet again as she reads so easily the bone deep grief pouring from Dakota’s soul. Cradling the pup in the crook of her arm, she reaches down and grasps the other woman’s hand, bringing it, palm up, between them. With sure movements, she places the pup into Dakota’s hand, then takes the other one and places it on top, securing her grip. "Help him," she whispers, still staring into the liquid pools of Dakota’s eyes.

Dakota looks down at the tiny life in her hands. Her face dissolves as fresh grief flows through her. Kirsten does the only thing she can. Using one arm to brace Dakota’s own, she slips the other around a slim waist, melding their bodies together.

Dakota stiffens, then relaxes, leaning into Kirsten’s quiet and gentle strength. Her head bows and rests against an offered shoulder as her tears continue to flow.


Kirsten looks up from the desk, a desk she’s starting to believe she’ll grow old and die in (picturing herself as a gray-haired old lady with hearing aids in her implants and coke-bottle glasses, staring at line after line of code) as the front door slams, shaking the entire house down to its foundation.

"No!" Maggie’s demand rings loudly through the home, obviously continuing a disagreement begun prior to entering. Kirsten cringes a little at the sound of it; not in fear, but rather in pain, as it adds to a headache which has spent most of the past twelve hours building, though lack of sleep and tension enough to fell a rutting elk have supplied more than their share as well. She’s tempted to turn off her implants—both for the fact that she’ll at least have some blessed peace from the noise, and because she half-suspects she might be unintentionally eavesdropping on a private conversation—but something stays her hand.

"Will you at least respect me enough to pretend you’re listening to me??"

Kirsten winces at that one. She deduces that the resulting silence is Dakota (who else can it be?) stopping, turning, and fixing Maggie with a glance so emotionless it might as well be carved from the side of a mountain. Kirsten knows that look, having been on the receiving end of it from the moment they left the small glade the night before.

"Dakota, listen. You—what you’re proposing to do here is—it’s…crazy! No wait! Please. I didn’t mean it like that, okay? It’s just—damnit, Dakota! Think about what you’re doing here!"

"I’ve thought about it." Her voice seems to be coming from the bottom of a very deep, very dark, very cold well.


"I’m going."


"I’m going. End of discussion."

It is the silence during a gathering storm. "Fine! You want to kill yourself? Be my guest. I hope you have fun doing it."

Kirsten shoots to her feet as the door slams once again. Wasting no time, she shoots around the desk and out into the short hallway in time to see Dakota disappear into the bedroom. She stares after her for a long moment, undecided, then turns the other way and trots outside. "Maggie! Wait!"

With exaggerated movements, Maggie slows, stops, and turns. "What?"

"I…heard the argument…at least part of it. What’s going on? What’s wrong?" Kirsten comes to a stop before the older woman, feeling the anger radiating off of her slim form.

"What happened last night?"

"Excuse me?" Kirsten asks, brought up short by the apparent non-sequitor

"Last night. I know you followed her out of the gates, and I know you came back with a wolf pup. What happened in between those two events?"

Kirsten ponders the question, unsure how much to reveal of the evening’s proceedings.

Maggie sees the hesitation and throws up an elegant hand. "Never mind. I don’t need to know the particulars. It’s just…I’m afraid for her." Her gaze is intent, beseeching. "It’s like someone ripped out her heart and put a stone in its place. She’s been like this all day. No matter what I do, I can’t get through to her."

"There’s something more, though," Kirsten intones, needing to get to the meat of the matter as quickly as possible. She senses time is definitely of the essence here.

With a heavy sigh, Maggie nods, proud shoulders slumped against the heavy weight they carry. "Yeah. Your friends—Franz and Anna, is it?—they remembered the name of the clinic where they were housed. Dakota’s gotten it into her head that she’s going to go up there, alone mind you, and bust everybody out like in some goddamn Wild West shoot-em-up movie or something. Fuck!" She drags a hand through her short-cropped hair. "It’s suicide. Goddamn suicide." The beseeching gaze comes again, mixed with a tiny hint of swallowed pride. "Can you…talk to her maybe? See if you can talk her out of this nonsense? I don’t—we can’t lose her."

Kirsten nods and turns to leave, then turns back, just catching a pained gaze, swiftly masked. "Maggie, I—I promise, when this is over, I’ll tell you what happened last night. Or at least I’ll try to get Dakota to tell you. It was—not good. She lost something…someone…very dear to her, though I don’t think any of us will ever know just how dear. Except, maybe, her brother. Okay?"

Maggie tries to summon up a smile and fails. "Okay."

Kirsten feels her heart clench. It’s a new experience for her. Compassion has never been her strongest suit, though she suspects it would take a heart of stone to miss the misery playing itself over Maggie’s noble, handsome features. She reaches out and touches the other woman’s arm, giving it a brief squeeze. "It’ll be okay. You’ll see."

And because she can think of nothing else to do, she turns fully away and trots back to the house, well aware of the eyes at her back.

She steps inside just as Koda exits the bedroom, pack swinging from one fisted hand. Their eyes meet. Koda’s drops quickly away and she crosses the room, moving as if to brush by the young scientist without a word of parting.

"Wait," Kirsten murmurs. "Please."

Unintentionally miming Maggie’s earlier actions, Dakota stops and turns. Annoyance is the only expression that can be read on her face. "What is it."

"Please don’t leave. Not right now."

"Look. I’ve already explained—."

"I know, but I’m asking you to hear me out. I’m not saying that freeing those women isn’t important. It is. But you’re needed here, too."

"Not as much as I’m needed there."

"What about the wolf and her pup? Shannon’s a decent tech, but you saw the look in her eyes last night. She’s absolutely terrified having that little pup in her charge, let alone his mother."

"Tacoma can handle it. Manny, as well. They know what to do."

Kirsten sighs. "Well, would you at least consider taking some backup with you?"



"No. It’s already been decided. By me."



"Why? Why do you feel you have to do this alone? Why won’t you accept help? There are a couple hundred men and women there who would die for you if you asked it of them." She winces as the words leave her mouth, having somehow stumbled on exactly the wrong thing to say. "I’m sorry. That wasn’t what I mea—."

Koda holds up a hand. Their gazes meet again. This time, those blue eyes soften the tiniest shard. "Look. I—I need to be…alone right now, okay? This place, these people, they’re all…it’s just…too much right now. I need some time…to think." She smiles, very slightly. "Besides, what I’m doing isn’t all that difficult. The facility is small, and there are, at most, three androids there." The smile falls from her face. "Look. Despite what Maggie says, I’m not on a mission to end my own life. It’s just—trust me, okay? I know what I’m doing."

A moment longer, and Kirsten nods, accepting Dakota’s words for truth. She can see it in the other woman’s eyes, in the set of her shoulders, in the clench of her jaw. "Alright," she replies, nodding. "I’d rather you just hunkered yourself out in the woods somewhere for a couple of days, but…alright. Can you do me a favor, though?"

Koda’s walls go up. Kirsten can fairly hear the alarm bells going off in her head. She smiles to diffuse the situation. "Just wait here. I’ll be right back."

A moment later, she returns and hands Koda a minicomp the size of a credit card. Dakota looks at her questioningly. "This morning," Kirsten explains, "while I was running the code, I came across this slight anomaly. I traced it through to the end, and discovered a way to temporarily disable the androids’ motor functions."

Dakota’s eyebrow raises. "Impressive. How temporary is temporary?"

"I’m…not sure. Exactly. Five, ten minutes max. Theoretically."


"Well, I just discovered the code this morning, and it’s not as if we have a handy supply of androids to test it out on. It works in simulation. Beyond that…." She shrugs. "I’ve put the chip with the code in that minicomp. All you have to do is activate it when you’re ready, and set it down somewhere. The transmission will go through just about anything, so you don’t’ have to be in the same room with the droids when you set it off." She smiles a little. "Think of it as a concussion grenade on a grander scale."

Koda nods and slips the minicomp into the breast pocket of her light jacket. "Thanks."

"You’re welcome."

A moment of uncomfortable silence descends between them. "Well…I’ll see you later."

As she turns to leave, Kirsten draws her back with a touch to her arm.


Kirsten takes in a deep breath and lets it out very slowly, gathering her thoughts. "Just…be careful, okay?"

"I will."

"These people, Dakota," Kirsten continues, "like it or not, they depend on you. You’re important to them." She pauses very briefly, gathering her courage, yet unable, for all that, to meet Koda’s intent gaze. Her voice, when she finally speaks, is soft as a rose-petal. "You’re important to me."

With an expression that is equal parts fondness and sadness, Dakota lifts a hand to tenderly cup Kirsten’s cheek. The eyes that finally meet hers are stormy with indecision and, if looks closely enough, fear as well. The fear of a child who has just spilled her deepest secret and now waits for the lash of a palm against her face. Who hurt you? she finds herself thinking even as her head lowers, drawn down by the shining, fearful countenance of the woman before her. Who made you so afraid to speak your heart?

As if in a dream, Kirsten feels the brush of Koda’s lips; soft, like the wings of a butterfly, warm as a promise kept.

Fundamental, like a piece of her soul, long knocked askew, finally coming home to rest.

It is over in an instant of an instant, but when she opens her eyes, she knows that she has been forever changed. Koda is smiling at her, a sweet, tender smile filled with so much, with…everything.

And as the other woman bids her a soft "goodbye" and turns away, she can only stand, stunned, her fingers trailing gingerly over her lips.


What’s that? Do I hear cheers? Do I hear "FINALLY!!!" "ABOUT TIME!!!" Or maybe it’s just yawining. <G> Anyway, we hope you enjoyed this week’s offering and hope equally that you’ll tune in next week! Drop a line if you like to See ya next week!

Continued - Chapter 21

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