Written by: Susanne Beck and Okasha

She is never sure, afterward, what wakes her. Perhaps the snick of the key in the lock, perhaps a footfall or the voices of her dream, slipping through the pines in the wind. Asi stands by the bed, his ears up, tail stiff. Not a dream, then. Something is not as it should be. Early morning light sifts through the branches that are all that she can see out the one, high window at the apex of the roof, lays pale squares of light against the oak floorboards. She feels Kirsten’s body go suddenly rigid against her, her voice a barely audible whisper. "Dakota? What is it?"

"I don’t know yet. I think someone’s in the house."

Carefully she slips from the bed, her muscles moving smoothly and silently as Igmu Tanka’s own. Without sound, she lays a quieting hand on Asi’s head, then pulls on the jeans and shirt folded over the back of a chair, tucking the gun on the lamp table into her waistband. Kirsten glides from the bed behind her in one, smooth noiseless motion, reaching for her own clothes and weapons. Still barefoot, Koda steals toward the spiral metal stair that leads down to the ground floor. The loft opens onto the long side of the house, giving it privacy from the kitchen and living area below; all she can see from the head of the stair is the small game table by the floor-to-ceiling window and the shadow of the roof where it slopes to within a few feet of the ground. She stands there, scarcely breathing, her eyes closed as she concentrates her whole attention on her hearing, her thought spiraling out from her to touch the sense of wrongness that pervades her whole mind.

Someone is in the house. Quiet, not moving. Waiting.


"Koda. There are men in the woods behind us. With guns." Kirsten’s voice is no more than a breath at her ear.

Dakota crosses the room to step up onto the chair beneath the small window. There are perhaps half a dozen of them, two of whom she recognizes from the bachelor groups of the night before. Which makes the whole situation quite suddenly quite clear. "Goddam asshole baboons," she mutters, biting her lip as she assesses options.

One. They can break the window and pick the idiots off. While satisfying, that still leaves whoever is downstairs, not to mention a riled community. Not a viable first choice.

Two. The skylight over the bed is just low enough that she and Kirsten can pull themselves and Asi through it. That leaves a long, risky slide down the roof, possibly a long, risky, noisy slide down the roof into the arms of the idiots presently gathered behind the house. Asi, particularly, is not likely to perform the maneuver quietly.

Three. Draw the said idiots toward the front of the building. Then proceed with Two.

She whispers, "I’m going to go downstairs and create a diversion. While I’m doing that, break out the skylight." Kirsten gives her an alarmed look, then her face clears as she nods her understanding.

Koda slips into her boots, loosening her shirt around her waist to hide the butt of the pistol. As she steps out onto the metal rungs of the stair, deliberately clanging her heels against them, she can hear Kirsten chiseling away with her knife at the sealer that holds the lexan skylight in place. She clatters down the staircase and around the corner of the kitchen. She pauses there for a long moment, hooking her thumbs into her belt next to her gun. A man sits at the table, a cup by one hand, a rifle by the other. Koda lets the silence drag out, then says, "Well, now. I sure don’t remember inviting you to breakfast."

Ariel Kriegesmann grins over the top of his cup, taking a long drink of the steaming coffee. "I remember it just fine. And here I am."

"How’d you get in?"

For answer, Kriegesmann dangles a ring of keys. "You forget. I’m the landlord."

"Funny. I thought that was your father."

A flush spreads across Kriegesmann’s face, pale in the early light, but he says evenly, "For the time being."

Koda moves toward him, out of the east light that silhouettes her against the window. His gaze follows her, half appraising, half hungry. "Does he know you’re here?"

"Actually, it was his idea. We need someone with medical skills at Elk Mountain." He shrugs. "We have plenty of food, relative safety, some of the comforts of civilization. It beats wandering around in the mountains."

Crossing behind him, Koda is faintly surprised to find the door is not locked. That must mean there are more armed men out in front, which is where she wants them. Holding it open, she says, "Then tell Julius I appreciate his offer, but Annie and I need to get on to Salt Lake. It’s been nice knowing you, etc., etc.. Now get out."

"Jeez, aren’t you the grateful one. How about, ‘Thank you for the good food, Ari.’ Or,

‘Thanks for letting us spend the night in the cabin.’"

"Thanks for the good food, Ari," she says. Her sight narrows, hunter-vision pinpointing him in a cloud of darkness. With an effort she shakes it off. She does not want to have to shoot him. That would take time she does not have. "Thanks for letting us spend the night in the cabin. Now get your ass out of here."

"Well, see, it’s not quite that simple." He rises easily, stretching. Strutting. He comes to face her across the open door. "It’s not just doctors we need. You may have noticed we’ve got a surplus of men."

"I noticed."

" Well, then. We need women. Healthy women who can have kids. You, for instance." He gestures toward the staircase. "Your little friend, for instance. You could be very comfortable here, you know."

"Is that a proposal? I decline." It requires all her strength to keep the contempt out of her voice. She does not want to goad him into a demonstration of his manhood here and now. The darkness closes in on her sight again. Gods, the stupid arrogance of the idiot.

Laying his hand on the door, Kriegesmann jerks it shut with a slam. "I’m not asking you. I’m telling you. Get used to it."

To the end of her life, she will never know how she manages not to laugh in his face. Instead, she steps back, and in one swift motion draws her pistol and fires three times past his head. The plate glass in the tall windows shatters and falls to the deck, and as Kriegesmann jerks around to follow the sudden sound, she darts around him, snatches his rifle off the table and sprints for the stair. Grasping the center post to swing her herself up the spiral two steps at a time, she never pauses to look behind her. From outside, she can hear shouting. That is good; that means that the idiots under the window are now with the presumed idiots at the front, reinforcing their inglorious leader.

Kirsten, her own gun in hand, stands at the head of the stairs, one foot on the first tread. She backs up, relief clear in her face as Koda steps out into the loft. The skylight leans against the wall by the bed, nothing now between them and the pines that tower over the roof.

She answers the unspoken question. "I broke some windows, that’s all. Give me a hand here—"

Together they pull the bed over to cover the stair head. It will not keep the men out for long; what will keep them out longer is the belief that she and Kirsten are holed up in the loft with a small arsenal. With luck, they will be long gone by the time the ruse is discovered.

"The packs?"

"Already out on the roof."

"Okay. Let’s go."

Making a stirrup of her hands, Koda boosts Kirsten up and halfway through the open skylight. Anchoring herself by the frame, Kirsten scrambles the rest of the way through and scoots over to one side. Asimov is next. Dakota gives him a pat and a "Good boy," then lifts him through, halfway into Kirsten’s lap. Last Koda grasps the edge of the opening and levers herself up onto the shingles. The pine branches grow thick along this stretch of the roof, giving them at least some cover from below. Not that that will matter in a second or two.

From here, the slide looks decidedly longer and steeper than it did from below. Asi, looking down, gives an anxious whine, scrabbling against the rough surface with his nails. There is no time to waste thinking about it. Before Koda can speak, Kirsten gives herself a shove and goes hurtling down the slope, bumping along the shingles with Asi still halfway across her. Koda follows, coming off the edge of the roof six feet above the ground with a somersault that lands her, if not on her feet, at least not on her head or on her rifle. Kirsten, beside her, unfolds upward with a groan, while Asimov dances around her, tongue lolling. "Chirst, you beast," Kirsten says, and it is not at all clear whether she means her dog or her lover. Then they are running, all three, for the line of woods behind the house, Koda with her rifle in her hands, Kirsten’s finger on the trigger of her automatic. From behind them comes shouting, the sounds of a coalescing mob. A single gunshot cracks the air, followed by a full-throated roar from a dozen throats.

Sprinting among the trees, leaping the tussocks of undergrowth that bar their way, Kirsten pants, "Y’know—I’m—not sure—that’s—all—about us."

"I don’t think it is," Koda answers without breaking her stride.

"They want—what I think they want?"

"Yeah. And Ari’s—" Koda pauses to duck under a low branch that bars their way—"got the Oedipal thing bad. Gonna overthow papa."

Ahead lies the main drive to the lodge. Koda pulls up, motioning Kirsten and Asi to halt, and listens. The shouting of the idiot posse comes to them through the trees, along the side path that leads to the cabin. Faintly, from the tarmac that leads past the headquarters-cum-palace, comes the sound of running feet. A dozen or so, coming on fast. Shit. Koda pumps a round into the chamber of the 30.06; Kirsten, her mouth drawn in a grim line, pulls back the slide on her pistol. "Ready?"

"Ready," Kirsten answers, and they burst out of the trees onto the road just as Tanya and Elaine, three other armed women behind them, come pelting around the bend of the road.

But Tanya yells, "Go!" motioning them across the road with the sweep of her arm. "I’ll deal with them!"

With a salute of thanks, Koda and Kirsten, Asi loping full out beside them, sprint across the road and into the deep woods. Behind them gunfire erupts in a rapid exchange. The sound fades as the trees, towering pines and spruce, close about them, fallen needles silencing their steps as they become shadows in the darkness only, running ahead of the sun.


At evening, they camp on the shoulder of the Medicine Bow Range. The Platte runs blue below them, its course marked with brilliant splashes of color: the scarlet of Indian Paintbrush, golden yellow columbines, lupines in rose and purple. Snow blankets the high ridges of the mountains that rear toward the sky behind them. A faint breeze, chill from its passage over the latest fall, winds about them as they sit by the remains of their fire, their pots scoured and stowed, their supper of jerky and tinned beans lying comfortable if not tasty in their bellies. Asi, oblivious, lies snoring in the warmth.

"I’m going to get up any minute and get into the tent," Koda says, smoothing Kirsten’s hair against her shoulder. "Any minute now."

"Mmmm," says Kirsten. "Just drag me in after you."

After a moment, Koda says, "Those are pretty big mountains. You wanna go over or run parallel to ‘em down into Colorado?"

"You’re supposed to be the trusty native guide. Which way’s quicker?"

"Over, probably."

"Over it is, then.

"Know something?"


"I’m never gonna say something’s no skin off my ass again. I’m almost scared to take my pants off and look at the damage."

"Want me to take ‘em off for you?"

Koda flashes her a grin. "Why, Ms. President. I thought you’d never ask."


"Looks like rain soon," Kirsten observes as she looks up at the sky and its rapid gather of clouds like guests to a party they absolutely cannot miss. Her breath comes hard and fast from the exertion of climbing nearly (to her) vertical grades with not a level plane in sight. She walks with the aid of a stout stick nearly as tall as she is. Asi lopes along happily, occasionally darting off the game trail they are following to investigate something interesting to his dog senses. Wiyo easily paces them high above, riding the currents of the increasingly chilly air.

They have made good time since The Elk Mountain Incident—as Kirsten is coming to call it, capital letters and all. They’d managed to scare up a couple of mountain bikes that had gotten them a good long way before a blown out tire ended that adventure for good. Not that it would have mattered soon anyway. The grades they were now climbing were too steep to even entertain the notion of riding a bike, unless one was Greg LeMonde, a title neither of them claimed.

Cars, of course, were out. Even if gas hadn’t been a problem, which it was, and they had been able to find one that would start after sitting idle for six or more months, which they hadn’t, riding in a moving vehicle might as well have painted a target on their heads, together with a sign reading "KIRSTEN KING IS HERE!!! COME AND GET HER, BOYS!!"

Androids do not drive cars.

While continuing her easy, long-legged stride, Koda cants her head, nostrils flaring as she scents the air. "Not rain," she murmurs. "Snow. And a lot of it by the look of those clouds."

"Not that I’m a weatherman or anything," Kirsten replies, chuckling, "but in case you’ve forgotten, it’s July, love. It doesn’t snow in July."

"Up here it can. Weather patterns are different up this high. A July snowstorm isn’t all that uncommon. People can get tricked up here sometimes, and come unprepared."

"If you start making Donner party cracks," Kirsten states with a nervous chuckle, "I’m gonna start running back down this damn mountain as fast as my slowly blistering feet will carry me."

Koda smiles. "We’ll be alright. We’ve got a little time yet to find shelter."

Kirsten looks around, seeing nothing but trees, trees, bushes, and more trees. "Um…I don’t want to sound alarmist or anything, but I haven’t seen anything even remotely resembling a town for hours. Hell, I haven’t seen anything resembling a house for hours."

"We’ll find something. C’mon."

With an exasperated sigh, Kirsten trudges on, every so often taking a wary glance at the clouds continuing to build and stealing the last of the bright blue of the sky.


Heavy flurries are threatening to turn into a full-out blizzard as Dakota leads them deeper into the forest. Her eyes constantly scan, ears primed for any sounds of danger. Asi ranges back and forth in front of them, nose to the ground and tail held at stiff attention. Though Kirsten trusts Dakota with her life, her old childhood fears of being lost in the woods have sprung to the surface with the turning of the weather, and though a chill wind is now blowing, a greasy sweat dots the exposed surfaces of her skin, dripping into her eyes and causing them to sting.

Suddenly, Asi’s haunches stiffen and he lets go a volley of barks that almost sends Kirsten into orbit. She steps closer to Dakota as a huge flock of birds rises, screeching their displeasure. To her surpise, her lover seems quite relaxed, even smiling as she eyes the angry birds. "I don’t see what’s so funny," she snipes, angry more at herself for her jittery nerves than at her partner’s seemingly inappropriate sense of humor. "For all we know, he could be barking at a grizzly."

"It’s no grizzly," Koda replies, still smiling as she meets her lover’s eyes. "Birds wouldn’t be roosting around a bear."

"So…what is it then?"

"You’ll see."

"It" turns out to be a shack, though to use the term does great disservice to shacks everywhere. Short and squat, perhaps eight feet to a side if that, it has the faintly listing look of a party-goer after one too many shots of Cuervo. The only window peers out at the world through shattered glass, and the door, or what’s left of it, hangs forlornly from one rusted hinge. The roof, minus most of what passes for its shingles, is slightly canted and the rocks from a fireplace chimney rise from it like a strangely shaped mushroom.

To Dakota, it looks like nothing so much as a long abandoned ice-fishing shanty, though she knows that the nearest body of serviceable water is miles away in any direction. Still….

"Well, it’s not the Watergate, but it’s got a roof."

At this point in time, Kirsten is all in favor of anything that involves protection from the hard-driving snow and the wind that cuts through her light windbreaker like the blade of a knife. She takes a step forward, only to be held back by Dakota, who unshoulders her rifle and aims for the door.

"I thought you said there wasn’t any danger?"

"No, I said there weren’t any grizzlies," Koda replies, smirking. "Stay here a second. I’ll be right back."

Confident in being obeyed, Koda steps easily forward and nudges the door open with the nose of her weapon. It gives way grudgingly, squealing its protest via its one rusted hinge. The strong odor of animal spoor assaults her nostrils, but the scent is nowhere near as strong as it would be had it been currently occupied, so she relaxes and steps inside. Aside from the aforementioned spoor and spiderwebs festooning the corners like forgotten party streamers, the shack is abandoned. Warped floorboards bear dark stains and the walls have jagged cracks running through them, but even so, the place seems relatively sound for all that.

"Wowza. A little ripe, huh?" Kirsten’s voice sounds beside her left elbow and she turns her head to gaze down into the shining emeralds of her partner.

"I thought I told you to stay put?"

"So you did," is the complacent reply. "The fault in your logic is thinking that I’d actually obey. And since I’m the President and you’re only the chief cook and bottle washer, well…." Kirsten’s tone is light and playful. "Besides, I didn’t want you having any fun without me."

"Oh yeah. Fun."

Setting her rifle to stand in one corner, Koda, after a questioning eyebrow toward her partner, liberates Kirsten of her walking stick and walks to the good-sized fireplace taking up almost one entire wall. Squatting on her haunches, she maneuvers the stick up the chimney and pokes. A soft rain of elderly, almost white ash filters down, together with sticks, twigs, leaves, and part of a very old bird’s nest, sans birds. "Flue’s clear." With a nod of satisfaction, she hands Kirsten back her stick and rises gracefully to her full height, dusting off her hands. "I’ll go out and get us some firewood before the storm gets much worse, then we’ll figure out how to close off that window and get some warmth in here."

"Hang on a second," Kirsten says, unshouldering her pack, unzipping it, and pulling out one of their tightly rolled blankets. "Throw this around your shoulders. It’s too damn cold out there to be walking around in just a shirt."

"Best to keep our blankets dry," Koda counters. "See if my heavy flannel is in there. I won’t be out long."

Digging further, Kirsten comes up with Koda’s thick, lined flannel shirt, and she tosses the garment over. She watches as her lover shoulders it on and flips her braid out from beneath the neckline. "Be careful out there, alright?"

Koda responds by kissing her lightly; a kiss which quickly deepens as their bodies realize exactly, to the very second, how long it has been since they have last made love. The nights of late have found them both so bone tired that it has been all they can do just to strip and slide into their joined sleeping bags before falling deeply asleep, huddled closely together. "Hold that thought." Koda’s voice is suspiciously husky as they finally break for air, hearts pounding in tandem.

"Hurry back," Kirsten replies on a breath that is just as ragged.


The wind howls as it soughs through the trees like an express train headed east. Already, half an inch coats the summer-warm ground, and more accumulates as the seconds pass. Practically snow-blind by the driving blizzard, Koda hunts for firewood on instinct, straying near the deciduous trees with their new growth covered in crystals of virgin white. Within twenty minutes, she has all the wood she can carry bundled in a more or less neat stack, and is silently thanking her father for many such a chore in her growing-up years. She picks her way carefully through the newfallen snow, her inate sense of direction leading her surely to the small shack in the middle of nowhere that they’ve chosen as their temporary—she hopes—shelter.

"Get in here!" Kirsten shouts to be heard over the shriek of the wind, all but pulling Dakota through the doorway. "God, you’re soaked all the way through!"

"That’ll be remedied soon enough," she replies, walking to the fireplace and setting down the branches she’s managed to forage. Her fingers, quite numb from the cold, are sluggish to cooperate and Kirsten, seeing this, kneels down to help, scowling at her.

"You just get out of those soaked clothes. I’ll start the fire."

Koda’s stiffening knees send out twin bolts of pain as she rises, and she walks gingerly back to where Kirsten has laid their packs, rummaging about for some warm, dry clothing. She takes in a deep breath, and is pleasantly surprised at the vast reduction in rank odor permeating the place. "Nice," she hums.

"House-cleaning for backwoods shacks 101," Kirsten replies, shaking out a wooden match from the waterproof tube and lighting it on the first strike. "Find a branch with dead leaves—instant broom."

"Learned that from the felonious Martha did you?"

"Ha. Ha. I’ll have you know that beneath my bookish looks and geeky charm lurks a genuine Rosie the Riviter."

"Mm," Koda’s liquid voice sounds right next to her ear, "I like your bookish looks and geeky charm."

"Jesus!" Kirsten utters, as much at the sudden onrush of hormones as at the fact that she has almost burned herself to a crisp. "Honey, I love you, but I think I learned in Girl Scouts that it’s unwise to seduce someone when they’re trying to start a fire. At least…one in a fireplace."

"Interesting troop you belonged to, canteskuye."

"You have no idea," Kirsten purrs, this time managing to get the tinder to light underneath the larger branches and logs.

"What else did they teach you?"

Kirsten shoots her a coy look from beneath partially lowered lashes. "Get out of those cold, wet clothes, and you just might find out."

"You must have gotten the incentivising for fun and profit merit badge."

"Frist time out," Kirsten replies smugly. "Now scoot!"

"Consider me scooted."

As she turns away, Koda notices another improvement in the shack. Kirsten has used her bright yellow rain poncho as a windbreak, using their roll of duck tape to lash it securely over the hole masquerading as a window. Added to the now burning fire, the warmth is palpable, and Koda lets go a shiver as the pins and needles of sensation rush into her warming skin.

"You okay?" Kirsten asks, moving over to her side and helping her remove the sopping garments.

"Getting better. Nice job with the window, Rosie. Have any more talents you haven’t shared?"

"Maybe one or two," Kirsten replies, grinning. "However, they still don’t include cooking worth a squat so…any suggestions?"

"Trail rations, at least for tonight. And some hot tea to wash them down with."

Kirsten’s lips mou. "I could have done that."

"True," Koda replies, pretending to consider. "I suppose I could open the door and invite a couple of rabbits to hop into the stew pot—assuming we had one—but I think, personally, that they’d rather take their chances with the blizzard."

"Mm. You have a point there. Tell you what, I’ll scare up our jerkey and crackers, and you heat up the water for tea. Sound fair?"

"More than." Slipping on her loose sweatpants, she moves to their gear and pulls out the stacked cooking gear they picked up from the camping store, pours some water from one of their canteens into the largest pot, and sits it on the heath to warm. After setting out a couple of tea-bags, she moves to the door and, with a bit of effort, manages to get it seated more or less securely into its swollen, warped frame. By the time she’s completed that task, the water is gently steaming in its pot, and she returns to the fireplace and pours the water into two travel mugs, allowing the tea to steep.

Kirsten has already laid their sleeping bags atop a thick blanket, and has used a second blanket to cover the blackened floor. Their simple fare sits atop this blanket, several pieces of jerky, a tube of crackers, and some cheese she’d liberated from a holiday basket some weeks back. It’s not a feast, no, but when she thinks about it, it’s not too different from the cardboard tasting microwave dinners she’d used to eat when she was living in the lap of civilization—when she remembered to eat at all, that is.

And, she thinks, looking over at the beauty who comes to sit comfortably by her side, tea mugs in hand, the company is infinitely preferable.

"Penny for your thoughts," Koda remarks, tossing a piece of jerky to Asi, who sets to with vigor.

"Is that the going rate these days?" She chuckles. "Actually, I was just sitting here thinking that there could be worse places to be than holed up with you in some shanty eating cold food and waiting out a blizzard."


"Yeah. Home, for instance. I mean…the home before all this started."

Koda thinks for a moment. "What would you be doing if you were there instead of here?"

"What is it, about six or so?"

"Thereabouts." Neither wears a watch, but, as with many things in this brave new world, they’ve learned to get by without them.

"I’d probably still be at work. I never left much before nine or so."

"Hillary kept you running ragged, huh?"

Kirsten smiles. "Nah. I was pretty much a workaholic anyway. I was doing something I loved, and there really wasn’t anything for me back home…"—she is interrupted by a rather outraged whine—"except for Asimov, of course, I’d never forget you boy." She ruffles him behind the ears, earning a grunting acceptance of her oblique apology. "How ‘bout you?"

"Mm, pretty much the same thing," Koda remarks around a mouthful of tea. "I usually kept my clinic open till late. More often than not, Wash or one of my other brothers would be down helping, and I’d drive them back home and take dinner with the family. I’d usually hang out with them for a bit, see if there were any chores that needed doing, then drive home. One last check of my patients, and I’d head to the house for bed." She shrugs. "With Tali gone, there really wasn’t much else to do."

With the mention of Tali’s name, Kirsten feels a burst of insecurity, but it’s more of an echo now, not the sharp, bitter tang she might have felt not three months before. She smiles internally, pleased at the growth she can feel in herself. I’m getting there, she thinks. I might not be all the way yet, but I’m getting there. She blinks, startled as a tin cup clinks softly against her own, and looks up into Dakota’s soft, loving eyes.

"To us, and to the future we’ll build together."

"To us," she replies softly, the warmth rushing through her an answer to unuttered prayers.

The rest of their meager repast is eaten in comfortable silence between them. The shrieking of the storm outside is mellowed by the cheery crackle of the fire. And though the shacks cracked walls and questionable roof lets in some of the cold, the warmth between them more than makes up for it.

Kirsten sets her empty cup down on the blanket and wraps her arms around Dakota’s lean waist, snuggling her head against one well-muscled shoulder and sighing in contentment. Smiling, Koda sets her own cup down and trails her fingers through Kirsten’s now long hair, watching as the strands sift through her hand like rays of warm spring sunshine. "Cante mitawa," she whispers as Kirsten tilts her head up and their mouths meet, slip away, then meet again in loving welcome. Kirsten’s lips part to the tender, inquisitive touch of Koda’s tongue, and she shivers with delight even as her hand slowly raises to cup her lover’s firm breast, caressing it with her thumb as she feels its warm weight in her palm. The hand in her hair tightens and she feels her neck arching as her head is drawn firmly, tenderly back, exposing the strong column of her neck to the ravenous lips, tongue and teeth of her lover. She shivers again, then moans as her bounding pulsepoint is nipped, then soothed with the tip of an amorous tongue. A low growl sounds from Koda’s throat as she removes Kirsten’s hand from her breast and eases the younger woman back onto the blanket, lips still attached to her throat, suckling at the pale, tender skin presented her. Her hands and fingers are demanding as they tug and pull at Kirsten’s T-shirt, easing it up until her lover’s breasts are exposed to the chill air and her voracious gaze.

"Beautiful," she rasps. "So beautiful." Her eyes are the sky of a moonlit night, her pupils black holes and Kirsten feels herself drawn into their vortex. Long fingers dance over the pale, silken flesh, circling nipples hard and aching even as her thigh slides up and seats itself between Kirsten’s legs, pressing and releasing and gently grinding. Kirsten trembles, then cries out softly as a warm, wet mouth moves down over her left breast, taking her in and sparking a fire that flows through her veins, making her limbs heavy and leaden as sharp teeth graze her nipple and a tongue soothes the sting.

As Koda moves over to Kirsten’s right breast, her hands dance down over belly and hips in long, slow, reverent strokes, then work the button to her jeans with expert precision. Rolling partially away, Dakota draws down the jeans and undergarments over strong thighs and tanned, toned calves, and tosses them in the direction of their packs. She then returns, grasping her lover’s legs and bending them, spreads them wide. Her tongue peeks out to wet her lips as her eyes feast on the evidence of Kirsten’s passion shining in the dancing light of the fire. With a soft groan, she eases back between those legs, rocking her pelvis until the soft fabric of her pants chafes against Kirsten’s swollen need.

"Oh God!" Kirsten gasps out, fingers digging into the ragged blanket.

"Mitawa," Koda growls, circling her hips against Kirsten’s swollen wetness. "Mitawa." Leaning forward so that her thick, black hair forms a curtain around them, she melds her lips to Kirsten’s, nipping her lower lip and tonguing the fold in slow, suggestive strokes and circles.

Kirsten’s legs move of their own accord, wrapping themselves around Koda’s waist, pulling her closer. "Please," Kirsten whispers. "Please."

Sliding her hands down to Kirsten’s hips—hot hands they are, so hot, searing her skin like brands—she begins to thrust in earnest, the soft cloth of her sweats giving her lover the exact friction she needs. Reaching up, Kirsten, in a burst of passionate strength, rips open Dakota’s T-shirt from hem to neck, then pulls the sweaty back down so that their breasts and bellies slip and slide along their lengths in time to their rocking thrusts. "More," Kirsten moans, her body liquid fire. "More, please, God, more!"

Dakota’s lips blaze a trail over her cheek and jaw and latch onto the fleshy part of her lobe; her tongue traces the whirles and whorles, still rocking, still thrusting, meeting Kirsten’s need with her own in a circle that has no end. Her hand slips between them and she groans as liquid heat bathes her fingers in a benediction of passion.

"Mitawa," she growls into Kirsten’s ear as she thrusts three fingers deep into her lover’s core, claiming her, filling her, loving her. Kirsten’s head slams back against the ground; her body arches like a bow bejeweled with sweat, every muscle taut and straining, every vein plump and thrumming just beneath the surface of her skin. Koda pulls her fingers out to the tips, twists, and thrusts back in with force, her eyes fluttering closed to her lover’s scream of ecstacy. Holding herself up by one trembling arm bent at the elbow, she begins thrusting in earnest, advancing and retreating to the rhythm of Kirsten’s wildly bucking hips. Her grunts of effort into Kirsten’s ear are low and guttural and send waves of sensation flowing through her and into her lover, causing Koda’s vision to blur and her head to spin. She slips out again, then adds a fourth finger to Kirsten’s delighted shout, and her thumb curls up to circle tease the engorged flesh, circling, circling, circling until Kirsten, finally, can take no more and crests on a thunderous wave of spiraling light that seems to have no end.

Sensing her lover is at her breaking point, Dakota begins to slow the rhythm and force of her thrusts, bringing Kirsten back to earth in the sweetest possible way. She lays butterfly kisses along closed eyelids and furrowed brow, on cheeks, and chin, and passion-swollen lips until finally Kirsten relaxes and drops back to the blanket, spent and gasping for breath. Koda gathers her in close, gently stroking hypersensitive skin, murmuring words of love and adoration she knows go likely unheard.

After several moments, emerald eyes flutter open, slightly dazed. "That was…you are….GOD."

"No," Koda jokes, "just a minion."

Kirsten rolls to her side, grabbing tight to the t-shirt she’s ripped and pulling Koda belly to belly with her. "I love you. I love you. I love you. I could say it a million times a day, and it wouldn’t be enough. Never enough."

"More than enough," Koda replies softly, tilting her lover’s chin so that their eyes meet. "More than enough, cante mitawa." Their lips come together again, and this time it is Kirsten who pulls away.

"I need to taste you," she says urgently. "Now. Right now."

Not needing to be told twice, Koda slips up to a sitting position and shucks off her sweats and undergarments in one easy move. As she moves to lay down on the blanket, Kirsten halts her. "No, sit up with your back against the wall. I want you to watch me. I want to watch you."

The naked, cracked wall is scratchy on her now naked and sweating back, but that minor annoyance is completely forgotten as Kirsten, licking her lips, spreads Dakota’s long legs, bends them at the knee, and situates her lover’s feet flat on the floor. Then she lowers herself onto her belly and takes in a deep breath. The spicy, exotic scent of her lover’s arousal flows through her senses, kick-starting hormones that had just given up the ghost. Her mouth waters and her eyes, filled with joyous anticipation, catch the dark, blazing eyes of her lover watching her every move.

With a little smirk, she begins by kissing the insides of Koda’s long, muscular thighs, using her tongue to gather up all traces of her lover’s passion and moaning in happiness over the taste that is, to her, finer than anything this world has to offer. "Touch yourself," she whispers, "your breasts. Make love to them as I make love to you. Here." Dipping two fingers into Dakota’s wetness, she reaches up and paints her lover’s nipples with her own essence, which shines like molten gold in the light of the fire. Dakota’s hands come up to caress her breasts, using the moisture to stimulate her nipples until they are stiff peaks that ache with sensation. "Now watch," Kirsten orders, dipping her head and using just the tip of her tongue to part Dakota’s lips. Dakota’s head slams back against the wall and she hisses with pleasure as she feels her lover’s talented tongue explore her folds, gently at first, then with more vigor. The first touch of Kirsten’s tongue on her clit almost sends her over, but she holds back with everything in her, squeezing her nipples and trying to keep her hips as steady as possible—a nearly impossible task given what Kirsten is now doing with her mouth.

Pursing her lips, Kirsten draws Koda inside, then traps the shaft with gentle teeth, leaving the turgid bud smooth and pulsing on her tongue. First lapping like a kitten to cream, then twisting and dancing, she finally settles down to a staccato rhythm that she knows Dakota particularly loves. Her lover is silent, like she usually is when being made love to, but Kirsten need only hear her labored breathing and feel the wiry tension in the inhumanly strong muscles clamped to her sides to know that she’s nearing the edge. With a final swirl of her tongue, she bites down as hard as she can without breaking the skin, and applies the perfect suction. One more touch of her tongue, a gentle, long lick, and Dakota climaxes, her entire body shuddering with the force of her explosion. Kirsten greedily drinks at her lover’s font, taking in every drop that springs from her like a waterfall until Dakota collapses, boneless, against the wall.

Getting to her knees, Kirsten moves forward and gathers her semi-conscious lover into her arms, stroking the sweat damp hair and whispering nonsense words into her ear as she recovers and comes back to planet earth.

"You…learned that in…Girl Scouts…did you?" Koda asks as strength and sensation finally opt to make a reappearance.

"That one I thought up on my own," Kirsten replies cheekily. "I’m glad you liked it."

"Liked it? As soon as I can find the top of my head around here, I’ll show you how much I liked it."

Kirsten chuckles. "We’ve got plenty of time for that, my love. Right now, I think sleep’s calling."


"Come on, boneless one, time for bed."

A truly aggrieved sigh follows, but Dakota allows Kirsten to help her to her knees and over to where their sleeping bags lie ready for them. They settle in, back to front, and Koda presses a kiss to Kirsten’s salty shoulder. "Love you."

"I love you too, Dakota Rivers. I love you too."

And with that, the two lovers fall into a well earned slumber.


Another episode’s ending…but at least it ended on a high note, yes? <G> To those of you still hanging in, thanks! Drop us a line so we know how we’re doing, k? . Till next week, ciao!

Continued - Chapter 55

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