(Turning Tides, cont’d.)


"Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me

No hope, no harm, just another false alarm...

Last night I felt real arms around me

No hope, no harm, just another false alarm...

So tell me how long before the last one

And tell me how long before the right one

The story is old, I know, but it goes on...

It goes on." - Morrissey




Allison juggled her briefcase, her purse, and her coffee travel-mug in one hand as she fumbled with her house keys in the other. Unlocking the door at last, she walked in and pushed it shut with her foot. Hearing nothing but the slightly muffled sound of a television, she walked into the darkened house and plopped her things on the kitchen countertop.

"Hey Babe? ...I'm home!" She called out, flipping the lights on.

A moment passed until Alli heard soft footfalls, and she turned around to greet her lover. M.J.'s looming figure stood on the other side of the kitchen, one hand on her hip, the other holding a glass of wine. She didn't look very happy to see her partner.

"Where the hell have you been?" M.J. snapped.

Alli gave her a surprised look, "At my office, of course... I had a late meeting, remember?" M.J. knew where she was... what was with the third degree?

M.J. made a disgusted noise, "No... no I don't remember your late *meeting*." She said in a snide tone as she walked further into the kitchen, sitting her empty glass down and fetching the carafe out of the refrigerator to refill it.

Alli watched in confusion, not understanding why her lover was so upset, and wondering why she was drinking. "Hon, what's wrong?" She asked.

"What's wrong?!" M.J. spat, spinning to face Alli with blue fury. "What's *wrong* is that I told you to be home HOURS ago! I *told* you that we were going to stay home and have a nice dinner tonight... but did you listen to me? Did you do what I asked? Nooo!"

Alli could only stare in astonishment at the anger radiating from M.J.'s tall form. The brunette turned away and took a long gulp of her drink. What the hell was going on?

Suddenly, M.J. turned back to look at Alli again, only she was no longer M.J. ...she was a completely different person. Alli gasped aloud and took a step backwards as dark, angry eyes glared back at her.

"I'm fucking sick and tired of you not being around when you're *supposed* to be! I'm sick of you not *LISTENING* to me!"

The reddened face and screaming voice belonged to a man... a familiar man... a man who was once her husband.

"You're supposed to be here, at home, taking care of ME, goddammit!" Eric grabbed Alli's arm roughly and pushed her backwards, slamming her back against the sharp edge of the counter.

Wincing in pain and grasping at the counter edge to steady herself, Alli's mouth dropped open even further as she watched in horror as her ex-husband morphed back into a woman again, only this time, the tall figure had curly blonde hair and a wild, desperate look in her umber eyes.

"Why couldn't you love me Alli... when all I ever did was love you?!" Kris's familiar face cried and tears streamed down her face. If Alli didn't think she was losing her mind before, she definitely did when the face changed again, morphing into an older version of herself.

Alli stared in wide-eyed horror as she looked upon her mother's countenance and listened to the woman's harsh, southern-tinged chastising, "You're nothin' but a slut! A foolish, stupid little *SLUT*!"

Allison jerked awake, her eyes popping open suddenly only to be met by the dark stillness of the night.

A dream... just a dream, she thought in relief. ...Jesus Christ.

Her foggy mind soon became aware that she was lying on her stomach with something rough and uncomfortable scratching her tummy and her hips, and something very warm and smooth blanketing her left side. A panic began to well up in her throat and she pulled herself up onto her elbows, blinking her eyes rapidly and forcing her vision to focus. Just as she realized she was lying on the carpeted floor of her own living room, a warm hand caressed her bare back.

"Hey... you okay?"

Alli heard the familiar, low murmur and turned her head toward the sound. M.J.'s pale eyes regarded her with gentle concern, the light blue irises soft and luminous in the near-darkness of early morning. Alli couldn't answer... she couldn't say anything. Scattered memories of the prior night suddenly flashed through her head, and her eyes grew wide as she came to fully realize what she had done, and whom she had done it with.

"Oh my God." The words came out in a horrified, raspy whisper. Alli pushed herself up onto her knees as she started to back away from M.J.'s naked form, her eyes stuck open in shock the whole time. M.J. sat up and looked back at her, unsure of what to say or do.

"OhmyGod, ohmyGod," Alli mumbled again as she got to her feet and stared down at the spot on the floor that she'd just vacated.

M.J. stood as well, carefully keeping her eyes on Alli, preparing for her to flip out. Everything around them seemed to go absolutely still and silent for a moment and M.J. braced herself for the impact of the panicked, regret-filled explosion she could sense building inside the blonde.

After a silent, tension-filled minute, M.J. cautiously reached a hand out, wanting to comfort and reassure. "Allison-," she began, but Alli flinched and backed away from her, giving her another wild-eyed look before turning and dashing out of the room.

"...Shit." M.J. cursed quietly to herself.


Alli had been in the bathroom for a dreadfully long time, and M.J. supposed she should go and check on her to make sure she hadn't passed out or drowned herself in the toilet or something. She knew the blonde had been drinking at least a little bit before she arrived last night; she had noticed the open wine bottle, and she could see it in Alli's glassy eyes and taste it on her tongue.

Great... well it's good to know I can still make them dizzy with desire - oh no, wait, strike that - it's dizzy with the desire to *hurl*! She thought sarcastically, rolling her eyes.

Waiting just another minute, she decided to walk back the short hallway to see what was up. Arriving at a closed door, M.J. could hear water running, but nothing else.

She hesitated for a moment before knocking lightly, "Alli?" No answer. "Alli... are you okay?"

There was a long pause before a shaky voice answered simply, "Yes."

M.J. made a face to herself, not quite knowing what she should do. "Okay." She said with equal simplicity.

Returning to the living room, M.J. realized she was still naked. She wasn't quite sure what to do; this wasn't exactly how she'd hoped the morning would turn out, after all. Should she leave? Should she stay? Should she call 911? With the bathroom door remaining closed and Alli giving her no indication of what lay ahead, she felt like an idiot. A very naked idiot. Deciding she should probably just get dressed, she slipped her undergarments back on, figuring that it was best to be prepared for anything. Who knew what Alli would say or do or want when, and if, she returned.

M.J. shrugged her blouse on and was just zipping her suit pants when the bathroom door finally opened and Alli emerged, dressed in a bathrobe. Her face was pale, and her eyes were pink-rimmed and nervous, unable to meet M.J.'s.

"Are you alright?" M.J. asked cautiously, watching Alli's expression.

Alli shook her head, keeping her gaze fixed on the floor, "No."

...Uh oh. "What's wrong?"

More head shaking. "I can't...," Alli hesitated and brought her hands up to hold her head, "I can't believe this... I can't believe we did this! I can't believe *I* did this! Oh God! Oh my *God*!" She wailed and collapsed onto the sofa, breaking down and crying distraughtly.

Even though she had sensed it coming, M.J. was still taken aback by Alli's woeful regret. Again, she didn't know what to think, or how to react. Should she be hurt? Angry? Offended? She just stood there, feeling only shock and confusion.

Suddenly Alli shot up off the sofa, bright blue-green eyes boring into M.J. as she stepped toward her, "You have to go." She spoke the words curtly, her expression desperate. "You have to get out of here!" Alli said louder, her eyes wide and wild.

M.J. could only look at her and frown in disbelief. What the hell was going on? She opened her mouth, "But-," was the only thing she got out before Alli interrupted her by picking up her suit jacket and her shoes and shoving them into her chest. M.J. stumbled backwards slightly, still unable to comprehend what was happening.

Alli started shaking her head, "This did not happen... this did *not* happen," she murmured over and over.

M.J. stared at her incredulously, "But Alli... it *did* happen-," Again she was cut-off harshly.

"NO, it DIDN'T! It did *NOT* happen!" Alli yelled this time.

"Yes it DID!" M.J. yelled back, "It *DID* happen!"

Alli shook her head forcefully, "No... no... no nonono!" She mumbled, bringing her hands up to clutch her head again.

"Allison-," M.J. began, only to be stopped again.

"No! You don't understand!" The voice was tremulous and tears began to make their way down fair cheeks again. "I can't do this... I can't *do* this, M.J.! ...I CANNOT let this happen!"

M.J. just looked at her, the shock and disbelief beginning to give way to crushing hurt.

"I want you to go," Alli said, turning back to M.J. and reaching out to give her a push.

M.J. staggered backwards, unable to move, her mouth hanging open in wordless astonishment.

"Please! Just *GO*!" Alli pleaded, pushing harder as the tears came faster and she cried openly now. She pushed and shoved M.J.'s tall frame repeatedly, begging and forcing the dazed brunette to take more backward steps.

When they at last got close to the front door, Alli looked up at M.J. The wintry blue eyes pinned her intensely, and they held a mixed look of anguish, agony and building fury. A long silence passed and Alli grew nervous, the hair on the back of her neck rising in a slight twinge of fear as the pale eyes suddenly went dark with an unreadable, unspoken emotion. Alli averted her eyes quickly, reaching for the door and jerking it open, silently insisting that her guest leave.

M.J. walked slowly toward the exit, still stunned over the unexpected turn of events. She looked at Alli one last time, wanting to see the truth in those oceanic depths; needing to see if this was really what she wanted. But the blonde head was cast downward, refusing to look at her.

Another silent moment passed until M.J. finally spoke, "This isn't over Allison... not by a long shot." The voice was low and solemn, and the message was clear. Then she turned and walked out.

Alli flinched when the door slammed loudly.



"I don't wanna die, but I ain't keen on livin' either

Before I fall in love, I'm preparing to leave her,

I scare myself to death, that's why I keep on runnin'

Before I've arrived, I can see myself comin',

I just wanna feel real love

Feel the home that I live in

'Cause I got too much life runnin' through my veins,

Going to waste;

I need to feel real love, and a love ever after

I cannot get enough,

I just wanna feel real love, and the love ever after,

There's a hole in my soul, you can see it in my face

It's a real big place." - R. Williams




Alli walked around her apartment like a zombie for nearly an hour. She straightened up her living room, she rinsed the few glasses and utensils that sat in her sink and tossed them into the dishwasher, she even did a load of laundry. She did anything to keep her mind occupied; anything to detour her thoughts from what had taken place... what had happened... what she'd done. Eventually though, she ran out of distractions, and the memories began to surface.

She sat on her sofa, listening to the whir of the dishwasher and the muffled chugging of the washing machine. It all felt so surreal, like she was dreaming again, only this time everything made sense. Still, she sat on her sofa and stared into space for a long while, hoping that maybe she'd wake up to a different reality, preferably one that would weigh easier on her conscience. But a different reality never came, and she soon realized, like M.J. had said, it *did* happen.

She and M.J. had consummated their long-standing lust for one another, and this time, both of them were active participants.

Her first instinct was to curse herself for succumbing to M.J.'s charms again, but after she calmed down and thought about it, she realized that it wasn't just a matter of her falling for the tall beauty's wiles again. As much as she wanted to refute it, M.J. *was* different, and she had treated Alli differently this time. She hadn't taunted her, she hadn't manipulated her, and she hadn't controlled her. Alli did what she did because she wanted to, and M.J. had allowed her to do whatever she desired.

And oh my God... what I desired, Alli thought, feeling a flush race over her body as her eyes drifted shut. She drew her knees up against her chest and wrapped her arms around them as she closed her eyes and prepared to let her sketchy memory wander and roam free.

She remembered M.J. showing up at her door; she remembered the look on her face and the intent clearly displayed in her eyes. She remembered kissing and feeling completely, utterly swallowed by a tidal wave of want and need. Her hunger for M.J. was like nothing she'd ever experienced before. She was certain that she had never been so aroused and so completely out of control.

She recalled the glorious sight and feel of M.J.'s long, toned frame as they merged into one another, touching, kissing, grasping, and devouring. She remembered raking her nails across the broad back; blue flames boring into her eyes as bodies tensed and voices moaned in ecstasy; muscles straining as they tightened and flexed repeatedly; hips rocking, pushing, thrusting. She recalled warm, smooth lips canvassing her flesh and long, soft strands of hair tickling and brushing against her skin as M.J. hovered above her, trailing her tongue down her body and pausing to suck and bite here and there. She remembered crying out and squeezing her thighs tightly around the dark head that plundered her so thoroughly, her hands roughly grabbing handfuls of hair, and her breath catching as her back arched up so high while she fell so far.

Alli felt her body flush with heat and she swallowed hard against the lump that had arisen in her throat, but she allowed the memories to continue.

She remembered the exquisite feel, smell, and taste of M.J.'s body. The luscious beauty had let Alli have complete control to do whatever she wanted, and Alli remembered nearly everything. The strong arms that held her tight as they kissed and ravaged one another again and again; the muscles of M.J.'s stomach as they convulsed and contracted; the thighs that opened and trembled under Alli's rough kisses and caresses; the hands that clenched and fisted in her hair; the burning heat and desire that spilled out of the brunette; the flavor and texture that saturated Alli's tongue; the overwhelming intensity of M.J.'s earth-shattering climax. Alli remembered falling over the edge herself, just from the sound and feel and taste of M.J.'s release.

It was so unbelievable... so intense... like nothing I've ever done or felt before, Alli thought. This was what I'd been waiting for, wasn't it? ...This is what I've always wanted... and so what did I do? ... I freaked and threw her out. ...Jesus. Slumping down further into the sofa, she shook her head and glanced down at the living room floor... the floor where they had made love... several times. She swore she could still see the indentations that their bodies had made in the carpet.

"Oh my Goddd." She groaned aloud, bringing her hands up to cradle her aching head.

But had they 'made love'? It didn't really feel like it... not quite. It had felt more like... just sex... just raw, carnal fucking. It had been harsh and intense and frenzied; there had been little, if any, gentleness, and there had been no softly-spoken words nor tender declarations of devotion. There had been lots of calls for divine intervention, but that didn't count.

If we've never declared our 'love' for one another, how could it be 'making love'? Alli thought. Do I dare to even *think* that I might love her? ...Could she ever truly love me? Her eyes went wide as she pondered the dreaded question.

Actually, she recalled feeling a burning urge to tell M.J. that she loved her; she had come close to blurting it out while in the throws of passion, but besides being horribly cliche, she was drunk... at least part of the time. Thankfully her intoxicated mind had managed to keep her foolish impetuousness under wraps somehow.

And that's all it was... just stupid drunken thoughts, she insisted silently to herself.

Still... she couldn't help but wonder what M.J. would have thought if she had blurted it out. Would she have found it absurd? Would she have been touched? Amused? Horrified, maybe? It was too hard to tell. All of this had happened very quickly, as ridiculous as it sounded. They had already been involved, long ago... how could it be 'too quick'? Yet it was. They went from not seeing each other for almost two years, to suddenly and fatefully meeting up again and madly fucking each other's brains out, all in the same night.

And let's not forget the fact that I was already involved with another woman, Alli thought. Oh fuck, no... don't even go there, she scolded herself, rolling her eyes. The mess with Kristine would have to wait until later. Right now, she had to concentrate on whatever it was she was going to do about M.J.

Shaking her head in frustration, Alli decided that she was too exhausted to concentrate on anything. Picking herself up off the couch, she trudged back to her bedroom where she flopped down on her bed and almost instantly fell asleep.


Across town, M.J.'s early morning wasn't progressing much better.

She had driven home from Alli's place in a trance-like state, unable to process everything that had happened. She had fantasized so many times about doing what they did that she struggled to come to grips with the fact that it actually and truly *did* take place. She and Allison had finally, at long last, taken that final step and crossed the line that had been drawn in the sand so long ago. And they had done it together... over and over and over. It had been unbelievably amazing.

Now showered and lying on her bed, M.J. pondered about how and why she had so willingly let her defenses down and opened herself up to Alli. She had never done that before. She had never given up her control so freely, and she had never let herself be completely vulnerable like that.

Its was so different than what she'd become accustomed to for so long - what she'd *made* herself become accustomed to. It'd been years since she'd even held another woman close, let alone completely falling for them. She had mastered the art of staying detached and in complete control, and in her isolated perfection, she'd forgotten what being close to someone was like. But this was way beyond just being 'close'. This was maddening erotica... this was warm sensuality... this was gentle tenderness... this was real... and it was right.

M.J. wondered if the intensity of her feelings was due to the long and complex relationship she'd had with Alli... or maybe it was because their chemistry was so explosive... or maybe it was just simply *Allison*... she didn't know. Whatever it was, it had caused her to allow herself to open up and feel. After all this time of fighting it, after all the years of being so aloof and so isolated from everyone, she had finally taken the enormous step.

She had given something precious to Alli... and in return, Alli had thrown it back at her and pushed her away, quite literally.

Goddammit, she thought angrily, feeling tears well and burn in her eyes. She supposed that she deserved it, in some way; she knew that Alli was still upset by what had occurred between them two years ago, but it hurt to be scorned so vehemently.

I knew this would happen, didn't I? If you take a chance, you just end up getting crushed somehow, M.J. thought, shaking her head and blinking annoying tears away. Rolling over onto her back, she forced herself to push aside the pain of rejection, letting her mind drift back instead to the night of delirious desire she shared with Alli.

Her lips twitched in a slight smile as she remembered how they had kissed so lasciviously and pleasured one another so thoroughly. Their numerous unions had been forceful and hungry, and they seemed absolutely possessed in their desperation to consume each other and drive away whatever demons still lurked inside their hearts and souls.

She recalled pinning Alli to the floor, raking her mouth and teeth down her chin, her throat, her clavicles, her tummy, down to her deepest, most intimate places. M.J. had devoured her savagely, the passion spilling freely from Alli's body as knees drew up around her head and thighs squeezed her tight. She had clutched Alli's hips and held her securely as the petite body tensed and arched high up off the floor when the explosive release at last came. M.J. swore she could still feel the warmth and taste the lingering sweetness of Alli's essence. She groaned aloud and covered her face with her hands.

And then, when Allison had taken control and turned her desire loose on M.J., how exhilarating and erotic it had been. No words had been spoken, no gruff demands, no impassioned entreaties, no enticing taunts. The only sounds that could be heard were strangled moans and garbled groans, and the desperate gasps for breath mixed with the telltale sounds of hungry feasting and skin meeting skin.

A rush of warmth flowed through M.J. as she opened her eyes and looked up at the spinning ceiling fan above her bed. She recounted the raw carnality and aggressiveness of Alli's actions and realized that she would never have pegged the little blonde to be so forward and bold. M.J. couldn't help but wonder if it was the alcohol's influence, or if Alli had simply gained a hell of a lot of experience in the past eighteen months.

They had been brutal with each other, but it wasn't borne out of anger; it was instead borne out of a desperate, all-consuming need. A need they both shared. Feeling an unexpected surge of emotion, M.J. remembered having to fight for control of her feelings last night, too. They had threatened to betray her several times, and she could feel them yearning to break free, still.

M.J. wondered what Allison had really felt last night. She knew that Alli was still attracted to her; she had felt it the first time they'd kissed back at the convention center. And Alli hadn't denied it; she just said that she was unwilling to get involved again. So... why did she give in then? Was she really so intoxicated that she didn't have control of herself? Did she just give in to her lust because she was worn down and weak? Had it just turned out to be a classic case of 'morning-after regret'?

M.J. had wanted to show Alli how much she wanted her, but she also wanted to show her that she wasn't merely interested in a quick fuck for old time's sake. That was why she'd opened herself up to Alli so willingly. That was why she'd let her share the control last night. She wanted to prove to her that change was possible, and that she had accomplished it. However, now that she'd been essentially slapped in the face, she thought that it'd all been in vain.

She had allowed Alli past some very well-constructed, heavily-armored walls, and with that loss of security, M.J. knew that she now risked being seen for what she really was... vulnerable... needy... and foolish. She felt very stupid for doing what she did, but she couldn't help it. She had wanted Allison, plain and simple. Even as she lay on her bed now, feeling doubtful and pathetic, she still craved the blonde with a fierce urgency. The only problem was, M.J. was highly uncertain if Allison would ever want her again.

No matter... I learned my lesson... and I won't chase after her again, she asserted to herself. Despite her resolve, images of Alli's lovely nakedness danced persistently inside her head. Sighing deeply, M.J. tried to erase the tormenting thoughts by following the spin of the ceiling fan blades until she felt dizzy and had to close her eyes.

God help me... I'm so crazy about her, she admitted, feeling an amazing clarity despite the short-lived dizziness.


Alli awoke from her fitful sleep still feeling sluggish and hung-over. The muscles of her thighs and buttocks ached as soon as she moved, vividly jogging her memory about her overzealous activities from the previous night.

Deciding that she would not mope around her apartment all day, Alli finally made herself get a much-needed shower. Stripping and tossing her robe into her clothes hamper, Alli turned and caught her naked reflection in the full-length bedroom mirror. Her mouth dropped open as she took in the angry red marks streaked along her throat, clavicles, waist, and hips. The stark, visible reminders of her frenzied, impassioned coupling with M.J. made her stomach clench, and she quickly climbed into the shower, overwhelmed by a sudden urge to cleanse herself of her wrongdoing.

She wetted her body and hurriedly began lathering herself with soap as more memories infiltrated her mind. Images of M.J. and the look in her eyes as she moved above her, against her, and inside her... the sounds of ecstasy that filled the room... the feeling of slick, hot skin against skin. As she scrubbed herself, Alli felt equal parts relieved and saddened. She was cleansing herself, yes, but she was also erasing the evidence that she had shared something extraordinary with the dark-haired woman who would probably haunt her until her dying day.

She didn't want to admit it, but as the thoughts continued to crowd inside her head, Alli found herself thinking that M.J. could very well be her perfect lover. It was surprising, really, considering how domineering and heartless the brunette used to be. But she wasn't like that this time... not at all. M.J. had come to her, open, willing, indulgent, having changed - it seemed - into the person Alli had been wanting and waiting for all her life. And Alli simply had not been prepared for that.

But instead of taking a moment to stop and think about the impact of what they were doing, instead of staying in control and insisting that they just slow down and take it easy, she had given in. She had thrown all propriety out the window and let herself succumb to her own lustful desires. She wanted to say that she just couldn't help herself, and she supposed she could take the easy way out and blame the wine, but that wouldn't be entirely true.

I knew what I was doing... at least vaguely, Alli admitted shamefully.

And then, to make matters worse, instead of talking about it in the morning and explaining to M.J. that she needed time to think things through, she completely flipped-out. She panicked and asked M.J. to go.

No - I *forced* her to go. I screamed at her and pushed her out into the street, half-dressed! She thought with deep regret and more shame. Well congratulations Allison... you're officially a psychotic bitch, she thought to herself as she slumped against the shower wall, suddenly feeling unable to get herself any more clean. She could still picture the look of anguished astonishment on M.J.'s face when she shoved her away the first time. She would bet that the tall beauty had never been rebuked like that before.

"Oh what have I done? ...I've made a complete mess of *everything*!" Alli murmured aloud, bringing her hands up to cradle her now-throbbing forehead.

More thoughts piled up and tumbled around her head in a whirlwind, her emotions again sucked into a vortex of turmoil and confusion. She wrapped her arms around herself, feeling the oncoming surge of fear and worry and dreadful unhappiness. She did not want to cry over this again... she refused to break down... she would *not* cry.

She cursed herself as a single tear escaped from beneath dark lashes and trickled down her cheek.

...Goddammit! Alli couldn't withhold the agony any longer, and she covered her face with her hands as her body began to shake with heart-wrenching sobs.

She stood there in the corner of the shower and cried for a long time, the sadness, confusion and pain she felt inside constricting her heart and strangling her soul more profoundly than ever before. She cried for herself... she cried for M.J. ...she even thought that she cried for Kris.

She had thought that her life was finally changing for the better; she thought the tide was finally turning in her favor. But it wasn't. And this wasn't a turning tide. It was a savage, brutal rip-current, and she was being viciously sucked in by the powerful undertow and dragged helplessly out to sea where she would most certainly flounder and drown.



"Backbeat, the word was on the street that the fire in your heart is out, I'm sure you've heard it all before but you never really had a doubt, I don't believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now; And all the roads we have to walk are winding, And all the lights that lead us there are blinding; There are many things that I would like to say to you, But I don't know how;

Because maybe... you're gonna be the one that saves me, And after all, you're my wonderwall." - Oasis




The agonizing weekend finally came to an end, and Alli was grateful to go back to work. She needed something to distract her, and burying herself in work was just the thing.

Unfortunately, that was easier said than done. Hard as she tried, Alli was unfocused and lackadaisical all week long at the office. All she could think about was M.J. and what they'd done together, and all she could feel was a deep ache in her heart. She was seized with acute fear over the realization that she may very well be in love with M.J., and her brain waffled constantly with thoughts of what she should or should not do about the whole thing.

She thought about picking up the phone and calling the brunette to at least apologize for her rash actions, but she just couldn't bring herself to do it. Surely M.J. thought she was sleazy and psychotic for sleeping with her and then tossing her out on her ass... surely M.J. wouldn't want to talk to her after the way she'd behaved... would she? But they should talk... Alli knew they should talk. They should at least clear the air and discuss what had happened. Although her pride begged her to just forget about it and move on, Alli knew she couldn't leave things hanging like this between them. She hated 'unfinished business'. But every time Alli looked at the phone, her stomach twisted into knots and she lost her nerve.

By week's end, Kris had stopped calling her and leaving messages. Alli was grateful for that reprieve, but she was still severely troubled with the matter of M.J.

Alli had begun walking on the beach in an effort to quell the confusion that constantly raged inside her head. She would come home from work and just as the sun was setting, she'd head down toward the sound of the pounding surf, doffing her shoes when she reached the sand and walking for miles while her mind tossed and turned. The constant sound of the crashing waves somehow calmed her soul and helped to ease her restlessness as she strolled aimlessly. She would walk just at the surf's edge, letting the cool, salty water rush over her feet, wishing that it could wash away her troubles and drown her sorrows.

She knew that she had royally screwed things up between her and M.J. - perhaps irreparably. The question was... did it really matter? Moreover, did it matter to M.J.? M.J. hadn't called her, so either she was upset, or she'd decided that it didn't matter, and therefore Alli didn't matter. Or maybe she had finally just given up?

No, that couldn't be it. She wouldn't have gone to the trouble of tracking me down just to walk away again... would she? Alli questioned herself silently. The vision of M.J.'s intensely burning eyes and her final, departing words of 'this isn't over Allison' again filled Alli's mind. She's just waiting for me... waiting for me to make the next move, Alli thought. But dear God... can I do that? Can I make the next move? She considered for a moment. What *move* could I make? What move *should* I make? Alli wondered, feeling a small swell of panic. Oh I'm going to go mad... completely, *utterly* mad! She thought to herself with a shake of her head as she continued walking.

The same questions hounded her over and over... had she made a mistake by giving in and being with M.J.? Was it right, or was it wrong? Was it a wretched misstep, or was it a beautiful culmination of longing and desire? Was she wise to push it away, or was she missing out on the chance of a lifetime? Was it foolishness, or was it destiny? Alli had no answers... only questions... only fears.

Fear of hoping... of taking the risk... of putting her heart and soul out there on the line. She had done it before, and she had gotten hurt. She feared wanting something too much... wanting some*one * too much. And she wanted M.J. She wanted her so badly that she physically ached inside. She wished that she could just let herself fall into the mesmerizing, hypnotic pool of M.J.'s blue eyes and disappear forever. She thought about it constantly. She couldn't sleep, she couldn't work. She was a wreck.

She knew she had to do something, but what? The ball was in her court... and she really sucked at sports.


Saturday morning arrived early for M.J. She arose just before dawn, unable to sleep or even rest. As usual, her never-ending thoughts and questions about Allison woke her up, so she got out of bed and showered, determined to find something to do that would get her mind off the blonde.

She ended up deciding to clean up her motorcycle and take it out for a nice long ride. The weather was perfect, and it had been ages since she'd spent any time riding her beloved Hog. Donning a pair of worn jeans and a t-shirt, M.J. headed for her garage to fix the beast up and get it ready to rumble.

Putzing around with her bike was enjoyable and satisfying, but it unfortunately did not chase all thoughts of Allison away. As she sat on the concrete floor of the garage shining the bike's dirty chrome with a rag, M.J.'s thoughts began to roam.

She wondered what Alli was thinking... what she was feeling after a week. Had her days and nights been miserable, like M.J.'s? Did she think that their joining was a mistake? ...Or did she think it was perfection? Was she still horrified? ...Or had she forgotten it and moved on? As tempting as it was to chase after Alli and hunt her down again, M.J. knew that she could not.

She would not call Alli... she would not go to her. M.J. felt that she'd done the right thing by going to Alli and confessing her sorrow and her feelings, and showing her how she felt... as many times as possible. She had done all that she could. Alli probably had no idea how incredibly difficult it was for her to do what she had done. ...Or maybe she just didn't care? Maybe the hurt that M.J. had caused in the past was too great to forgive and forget? She didn't know. She only knew that despite Alli's rejection, she still longed to feel and touch and taste the luscious blonde, now more than ever.

M.J. knew that it was the most amazing sex she'd ever had, but whether or not it meant anything more to Alli remained to be seen. It had meant much more to M.J. than just fabulous sex. Their impassioned union had been more than just carnal lust; the two of them had shared something incredibly intimate and extraordinarily rare. M.J. wanted to label it 'love', but she was afraid to. She was afraid to hope for such a thing... she was afraid to hope that Allison felt the same way. It was one thing for her to privately admit that she was in love, but to open herself up wide and wear her heart on her sleeve for another person, and all the world, to see… that was too dangerous.

M.J. was afraid that if she told Alli how she really felt, everything would come crashing down around her. And with each day that passed without word from Alli, it seemed that was indeed the way things were going to end up.

The worst part was, now that she'd had Alli - now that they'd consummated their long-standing desire for one another and she'd had a taste of what it was like to love Allison completely - she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to survive without it. ...Without her.

But she would not chase after Alli again; she had to let it go. She would not humiliate herself anymore. Alli wasn't the only one with feelings... she wasn't the only one with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. M.J. could feel hurt too... she wasn't immune to pain... she was just better at covering it up.

She had given it her best shot, and she had failed. Now she would just have to live with it. But it would not be easy. Not at all.


Alli's mind was heavy with uncertainty as she drove down the winding, never-ending road that ran along the river. Huge, old oak trees towered high above the asphalt, stretching their ancient, gnarled fingers out across the narrow roads and darkening the gated driveways that passed by Alli's searching eyes. This was an exclusive, upscale area of old and new homes, all of which sat far back from the road, safely tucked away and hidden by long private drives and scattered clusters of natural vegetation and scrub.

Alli snatched the wrinkled piece of paper out of her purse, checking the address again. She still couldn't believe she was doing this. As she read her own scribble again, she realized that she was getting close. Finally, she saw a pair of large stone pillars with the correct number on it. Alli slowed her car and turned into the concrete driveway until she met up with a large wrought iron gate and an intercom box.

She had caught a glimpse of M.J.'s home one time before. She had been nosey - or maybe obsessed - long ago, and she'd looked up the address and drove past it just to see where it was and what it looked like. She hadn't been able to see much from the road, and sitting in the driveway now, she still wasn't able to discern a whole lot. The driveway continued back from the gate through some trees, to a point where she could just barely make out a huge two-story structure. It looked stately and magnificent, and Alli was impressed in spite of her nerves.

As her mind danced with wonder about what the interior of the house looked like, Alli noticed that the door of an adjacent building - presumably a garage - was open and some type of truck or SUV was parked out front.

Oh great! Someone else is here! She thought in a sudden panic. Well of *course* someone else is here! Like I thought M.J. would be sitting around pining after me? After *ME*!? Jesus CHRIST! I must be a fucking IDIOT! Alli covered her face with one hand as old doubts and lingering fears began to raise their ugly heads once again. Drawing a deep breath, she shook her head, fighting for control over her insecurities and waffling emotions. No... I can't stop now. I came here to have my say and correct my misstep, and goddammit, I'm going to do that! She thought determinedly.

Alli eyed the security camera that was mounted beside the intercom box and nervously chewed the inside of her cheek. The little red call button seemed to taunt her, and her stomach twisted in anxiety. Did she really want to do this? Did she really dare? Was this *really* necessary?

Yes! Yes it is! Just *do* it, you chicken! She asserted internally. She took another deep breath and blew it out loudly before lowering her car window and reaching her arm out as far as it could go.


The loud beep that signaled someone calling from the gated entrance startled M.J. She had always disliked the intercom system, but now that the area was becoming more built-up and she was disturbed by nosey buyers and realtors more frequently, she was glad for it.

Still, M.J. glared up at the intercom and security system that was housed inside the garage and gave an annoyed sigh as she arose from her position on the floor. She didn't have the camera monitor turned on - she rarely did - and she didn't bother to poke her head out the door and look down toward the gate. The caller surely must have seen her Jeep parked out front and saw that the garage doors were open, so she couldn't pretend she wasn't here... although she considered it for a brief moment.

M.J. walked over to the flashing light on the intercom and depressed the 'talk' button. "Yes?" She barked impatiently at the intrusion.

The caller paused for a moment. "Yes, uhm... I'm - I'm looking for M.J. Whitton." The female voice asked the question meekly, but M.J. recognized it nonetheless. She would recognize the clear, slightly melodic tone of Allison's voice anywhere... it was something she'd been anxiously waiting to hear for a week.

Glancing over to the monitor, M.J. quickly depressed the power button and turned the screen on. Sure enough, the black and white display showed a VW beetle sitting at the gated entry. M.J. faltered, not knowing what to say. She couldn't believe that Alli had actually come looking for her and was right here, right now. Deciding it best not to say anything, M.J. just pushed the remote entry button, allowing the iron gates to swing open and admit this most welcome visitor.

The little blue beetle hesitantly crept up the driveway until it pulled into the circular drive at the front of the house. Alli got out of her car and glanced around, wondering if the abrupt, tinny-sounding voice she heard through the intercom was M.J. or someone else. Turning her head to look at the garage, she got her answer.

M.J. was walking toward her, clad in beat-up blue jeans and a rumpled, white t-shirt with some kind of faded emblem on the front. Alli's breath caught in her throat as she watched M.J. come to a halt about ten feet away. The dark-haired siren said nothing; she just stood and stared at Alli with those mercilessly haunting, pale-blue eyes. She looked relaxed, but tired; her hair was held back in a loose ponytail, and she looked... younger... softer... much less threatening than she usually appeared. It suddenly occurred to Alli that she'd rarely seen M.J. wearing anything except a crisply tailored suit.

Well... either a suit or absolutely nothing at all, she said to herself. Alli blushed and her hands began to fidget with her car keys as the two of them stood there and absorbed one another for a brief moment.

"Hi," Alli finally said, unable to stand the silent scrutiny any longer.

"Hi," M.J. returned simply, letting her eyes wander up and down Alli's petite frame. The blonde was similarly dressed in jeans and blue t-shirt. She looked nervous and unsure of herself, but M.J. thought she was breathtaking all the same.

Alli felt M.J.'s invisible caress, and another warm blush raced over her entire body. Oh God... maybe this was a mistake, she thought in a sudden panic. No! I have to get this over with... I have to say my peace, then I can leave, she insisted to herself.

"I uhm... I wanted to, uh... talk to you," Alli began with a stammer, "I mean, if you have time... are you busy with something? 'Cos I can leave if you're busy." She spat the words out in an unsteady rush.

"I'm not busy." M.J. said with a simple headshake, her unreadable expression not changing.

Alli hated that she was still unable to decipher what lay behind those enigmatic, sky-colored eyes. She briefly thought about bolting, but finally mustered up the courage to speak. "I just wanted to apologize," she started, "for last weekend... for the way I acted. I... uhm...," Alli trailed off, rolling her eyes and looking away while she drew a deep breath. "It was... I was just... I don't know...," she faltered again, sighing heavily.

M.J. gave her no reaction; she simply stood still, watching and waiting.

Of course she wouldn't make this easy, Alli thought, steeling her nerves. "I wasn't thinking clearly, and... I was upset, and... I'm sorry for the way I treated you." Alli looked up at M.J.'s blank expression and wanted to say more, but she didn't know what else she could add... especially if M.J. was unwilling to join in. She felt tears sting her eyes, and she knew she had to leave before she completely lost it.

"Well... that's all I wanted really. I just wanted to say 'sorry', and 'I'm an idiot.' So... I'll be going now." Alli spoke quickly, wanting to get the hell out of there and save face, if possible. She turned and started to walk back to her car, but M.J.'s voice stopped her.

"Alli... wait." M.J. called out, wanting and needing to say something, but not quite knowing what. As reluctant as she was to stick her neck out on the chopping block again, she knew that she couldn't let Allison simply walk away. Not now. ...Maybe not ever.

Alli stopped and hesitated, blinking her eyes several times before turning around. When she did, M.J. was standing very close to her.

"You don't need to apologize for something I've had coming to me for more than two years." M.J. said, her voice low and solemn.

"Oh no... no, it wasn't that! I - I wasn't trying to get back at you or anything like that!" Alli insisted, realizing that M.J. had the wrong impression. M.J. just looked at her in confusion. "I just... I was taken off-guard by the whole thing... I - I gave in to something I shouldn't have, and then I was upset with myself, and I took it out on you, and I shouldn't have." She rambled haphazardly.

"So, you really do think it was a mistake then?" M.J. asked, her brows furrowed.

"Yes... I mean, well, no... I mean... uh, shit!" Alli held a hand up to her forehead and shook her head, pausing to catch her breath and calm her nerves. Things were suddenly threatening to veer out of control and become severely misconstrued, and she would not allow that this time.

"Look, M.J. ...we've both made mistakes. We've both done the wrong thing and said the wrong thing, and...," Alli continued slowly, "I just want to forget all that. Just... forget all the bullshit, and move past it. ...Y'know?" She looked up at M.J., hope and eagerness written on her face.

M.J. didn't say anything; she just averted her eyes for a moment and gave a small nod of agreement.

Alli drew a deep breath, gathering her nerve for the plunge she was about to take. "I can't deny that I'm incredibly attracted to you, M.J.," she began unsteadily. "I think it's pretty obvious that we have a real... *chemistry* between us." Alli nearly stumbled on the words and quickly darted her eyes away, at last causing a tiny smile to erupt at the corners of M.J.'s mouth. "But... as satisfying as that is - and it *is* satisfying... *amazingly* satisfying, actually," Alli added, blushing as she fought for control of her feelings. "I need...," she hesitated and looked up into M.J.'s eyes again, "I need more than that."

M.J. dropped her eyes for a second and shifted her jaw slightly. She was fairly certain that she knew what Alli was insinuating, and she wanted to blurt out that she would pledge to give Allison anything and everything she desired. But now was not the time for such overzealousness; besides, she could tell that the little blonde had much more to say.

"We need to talk about things, M.J." Alli said at last. "We need to resolve some issues and talk about what we're going to do with... this," she added, motioning between the two of them with her hands, "because just sharing a night of passion here and there isn't enough for me."

M.J.'s eyes roamed over the fair face, but she still said nothing. She didn't trust herself, really; she didn't want to talk... she wanted to lean forward and kiss the dainty, rose-tinted lips in front of her.

As usual for Alli, however, she couldn't tell what the aloof brunette was thinking. But, since she'd started this confessional, she figured she might as well go for broke and finish it. "I'm not saying I want to jump right in with both feet... I just don't want to go into it blindly. If we're going to get 'involved', I want us to be open and honest with each other."

Keeping her eyes trained on M.J.'s unwavering expression, Alli reached out and gently grasped M.J.'s arm, forcing the blue eyes to meet hers squarely. She wanted to make certain M.J. understood where she was coming from; she didn't want any unspoken thoughts or confusion this time around.

"I need to know what you're thinking and feeling." Alli said with soft sincerity.

M.J. stared at the bright aqua depths of this woman that she loved. She certainly wanted to tell Alli what she wanted and needed and desired... she wanted to tell her of her hopes and dreams and plans for the future. But not right now. Right now, all she wanted was to feel and taste and pleasure this gorgeous, incredible beauty who had touched her so deep inside.

M.J. stepped closer and reached up to softly cup Alli's face with her hand, "We can talk later. Right now, what I want to feel is your body against mine."

Alli's mouth opened, but no words emerged; this wasn't exactly the response she was expecting. Smoky blue eyes locked with brilliant jade, and before Alli could force any type of sound across her lips, M.J. converged on her, wrapping long arms around her shoulders and tucking the smaller body into her larger one. Alli brought her arms around M.J.'s back, returning the hug tightly and pressing her face into the warm softness of M.J.'s chest with much relief.

They held each other close for a long time, silently reassuring, comforting, confirming, promising. M.J. kept her nose buried in the softness of Alli's hair; the lightly flower-scented strands tickling her nose and filling her senses with a soothing sweetness that belonged only to her blonde lover. Alli inhaled the combined aroma of M.J.'s cotton shirt, the unique fragrance of her perfume, and the faint smell of humid air mixed with a dash of sweat. It was intoxicating and it melted her insides like butter.

After what seemed like an eternity, the two of them drew apart and gazed at each other. Longing, understanding, affection, arousal, hunger... a range of emotions played across their faces in an instant, and they realized at that moment that the ever-changing tides were again turning.

And their destiny was at hand.



"You make me feel so divine, Your soul and mine are entwined, Before you I was blind; But since I've opened my eyes, And with you there's no disguise, So I could open up my mind; I've always loved you from the start, But I could not figure out, That I had to do it every day; So I put away the fight, Now I'm gonna live my life, Giving you the most in every way; I belong to you, And you, you belong to me too." - L. Kravitz




Alli awoke feeling uncomfortably warm in the large bedroom. I should get up and turn that ceiling fan on, she thought idly as she glanced up at the unmoving blades that hung in the center of the room. But... I don't really think I can move from this spot, she decided. Rolling over onto her side, her lips curled into a tiny smile at the sight that greeted her. My God she's beautiful, Alli thought... again.

M.J. was asleep. One arm was stretched up above her head, the other one was partially draped across her stomach, and one leg was stretched out and intertwined with Alli's legs. Alli watched the steady rise and fall of M.J.'s chest and listened to the rhythmic, even cadence of her gentle breathing. Inhaling deeply, Alli closed her eyes and absorbed the aroma of perspiration and sex that hung in the air. The little grin stayed on her lips as she recounted the glorious euphoria that had filled the room just a short time ago.

The absolute hunger they felt for one another was staggering, and it made their first joining greedy, needy and explosive. Their week-long hiatus caused them to come together in a lustful collision of pent-up want and desire. It had started with a series of deep, searching kisses while still standing outside, and it ended with both of them collapsing half-clothed and panting onto M.J.'s bed.

The next time was a little calmer and slower. They at least managed to take a moment to fully undress then explore one another's bodies thoroughly. Alli felt like this union was much closer to 'making love', and she was certain she'd never come anywhere close to experiencing such bliss and perfection. She was quite relieved that she was completely sober this time, and she made it a point to ingest and remember every wondrous detail. As she lay quietly on the bed, Alli closed her eyes and recalled the extraordinary feelings and sensations.

They had inspected every square inch of each other's bodies. Every mole, every scar, every downy little hair... all of it had been touched and tasted, then catalogued and memorized. It was so intensely erotic, and so gently loving. M.J.'s passion was at one time powerful and overwhelming, and the next time, tender and sensual. The darkened blue of her eyes pierced Alli as she touched and kissed her all over, wordlessly promising pleasure, silently delivering ecstasy.

Alli sighed as she remembered the feeling of M.J.'s long, silky tresses as they tickled her while moist, warm lips fleetingly kissed and caressed her entire body... how their sweat-slickened skin melded together as their bodies tensed and strained and insistent hips pushed and thrust together. It was so good.

Oh God... it was so *unbelievably* good, she thought dreamily to herself. The things she did to me and made me feel... uhh!

All of it had far exceeded every hope-filled dream and fantasy she'd ever entertained. She was certain she'd never come with the ferocity and emotion that she had with M.J. It was so profound... so exquisite and deeply moving. She felt like they were truly joined now... as though their soulful, physical couplings had absolutely bound them together, and they would be forever linked by some kind of cosmic, karmic prophecy or something. It was a sort of epiphany for her.

But as Alli lay there contemplating the sudden clarity and depth of her feelings, she couldn't help but wonder what M.J. thought, and what she felt. They had not had their 'talk', and they had yet to voice any kind of love or devotion for one another.

Alli knew that M.J. had been with other women - more than likely a *lot* of other women - and she naturally felt a little envious and inferior. Had M.J. already experienced the kinds of feelings Alli was just now experiencing? Did she perform the same intimate, soul-touching acts with other women too? Did she reach inside those other women the way she reached inside Alli? Was it all nothing new for her? Could she have loved any of those other women?

Could she love me? Alli's subconscious spat the thought out before her conscious had time to censure it. Dammit... why am I doing this to myself? Alli cursed inwardly and squeezed her eyes shut.

They really needed to talk. Their hunger and desire had understandably side-lined the serious discussion they'd agreed to have, but Alli's mind was impatiently jumping the gun. She thought about the future, wondering where they would be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. She questioned their devotion to each other and their intent. Would their time together be only an occasional occurrence? Would they just have a casual affair? Would they ever venture out and acknowledge themselves as a 'couple'? Would M.J. consider coming to her place for the weekend, or would she insist on hiding-out at her house?

The questions piled up relentlessly, and Alli felt her confidence waver. She knew she was thoroughly, hopelessly smitten with M.J. - she had been for two long years. But insecurity is a terrible thing, and it can undermine even the most steadfast certainties.

They *definitely* needed to have that talk, and Alli was determined to again broach the subject once they were both fully lucid and satiated.

A soft sighing noise and movement of the long leg tangled beneath her thighs stirred Alli from her worrisome ruminations, and she shifted her eyes to look at M.J. again. A small smile crept onto her lips as she let her gaze wander over the long, moonlit form that lay recumbent and sprawled out on the bed. M.J.'s face was relaxed and peaceful; the complete opposite of her usual intense, serious look. Her long, lean body was firm and toned just so... it was as close to perfection as you could get. Alli thought about how unfeminine M.J. appeared at times. Well, not 'unfeminine', exactly, just... severe. Too severe, and too stiff.

But that wasn't how she looked now. Right now she looked breathtaking, surprisingly vulnerable, and unbelievably sexy. She was all smooth planes and gentle curves, and was completely, unquestionably, feminine. Alli swallowed as her eyes strayed to the gentle expansion and contraction of M.J.'s chest and stomach. The lightly tanned skin had a thin sheen of sweat on it, and Alli bit her lower lip at the sudden urge she had to lick every ounce of dampness from the sumptuous body before her.

Smiling and propping herself up on an elbow, Alli bent her head down close to the valley between M.J.'s breasts and stuck her tongue out, delicately lapping at the beads of moisture that had pooled there.

Ohmygoddd..., Alli thought as she felt a gush of hot moisture between her legs, ...that 'satiated' part is going to take awhile.


The next time Alli awoke, she was lying on her stomach, and something warm and wet was peppering a trail of kisses from her shoulders all the way down to her calves. She smiled and turned her head to see what M.J. was up to.

Seeing that her lover was awake, M.J. grinned and teased a little more, running her hands over Alli's buttocks and thighs and gliding her fingers along curves and into crevices. Alli hummed a small moan of approval and M.J. smiled again, finally bringing her body to lie down on top of her lover. Releasing another groan of contented pleasure, Alli closed her eyes and absorbed the warm weight that enveloped her.

M.J. pushed long blonde hair aside and kissed the back of a tender neck, "How much do you trust me, Allison?" She whispered seductively into a dainty ear.

Alli's eyes flew open, "What?" She asked, her surprise obvious.

M.J. chuckled lowly, "Do you trust me?" She asked again.

Alli didn't answer right away... She couldn't. She was distracted by what M.J. had been doing, and she wasn't sure what the brunette was now asking of her. She thought for a moment, then whispered, "I want to."

M.J. chuckled again, "That's not exactly an answer, is it?"

Alli didn't respond, she could only breathe heavily and grip the sheets as M.J. resumed running her hands all over her naked flesh.

"Tell me this then," M.J. amended, "will you let me do something? Something I've been thinking about and wanting to do for so, so long...?" She rasped the enticing words into Alli's ear.

Alli swallowed hard, her heart beginning to hammer loudly in her chest at the thought of what her more-experienced lover could be planning.

M.J. leaned down closer to Alli's face and placed a gentle kiss on her shoulder, "I won't hurt you or anything... I just want you to give yourself up to me... completely... alright?"

"Oh Jesus...," Alli groaned in return, squeezing her eyes shut.

M.J. grinned and laughed softly, "Just a simple 'yes' or 'no' will suffice," she said, nipping at Alli's earlobe. "Don't worry... I think you'll like it."

Alli hesitated. M.J. wouldn't hurt her, she knew, but she couldn't be sure what kind of surprise the brunette might have up her sleeve.

"...Yes," Alli finally acquiesced in a soft hush, her fear and anxiety just barely overruled by her arousal.

M.J. smiled at Alli's sweet timidity and she placed another kiss on the back of her neck, "Good," she whispered, "you won't be sorry."

Alli felt the bed moving and heard rustling behind her, then the heat and weight of M.J.'s upper body pressed upon her again. Soft kisses were placed all over her back as M.J. slowly inched her body upward. Just as M.J. completely covered her back and nestled her face into the side of her neck, Alli felt M.J.'s hips touch against her backside, and something firm and rigid slipped in-between her thighs.

*Holy * fuck*, Alli thought as she sucked in a sharp breath. She was actually expecting something like handcuffs or a blindfold, not a strap-on.

M.J. smiled at the reaction and pressed her face into her lover's fragrant blonde hair. "Spread your legs a little farther," she instructed softly, reaching down to persuade Alli's thighs apart.

Alli shivered as M.J.'s breathy, sultry voice washed over her and warm hands touched her skin. The gentle touch comforted and aroused her at the same time, and she found herself cooperating and opening herself up to her lover. She was fully exposed and very vulnerable, and she idly wondered if M.J. had any idea how hard this was for her.

Sliding her knees up so that they touched Alli's thighs, M.J. grasped the blonde's waist and moved her hips so that the turgid toy slid along her lover's wetness. Alli's entire body surged with heat as M.J. stimulated her by stroking the smooth phallus back and forth, and she groaned in anticipation while arching her back and gripping the bed sheets fiercely.

M.J. grinned again, admiring the writhing movements of the supple, softly muscular body in front of her. She placed her hands on Alli's buttocks, kneading them gently while she continued to move her hips and tease. Alli pushed back, desperate to be filled and fulfilled by the brunette and what she promised.

Alli felt M.J. lay down upon her again, "You are so beautiful," the contralto voice whispered into her ear just before warm lips placed a tender kiss on her shoulder.

Before she could fully absorb the soft words of praise, Alli felt M.J.'s familiar weight disappear from her back. A second later, she felt a firm hand on her waist and another brushing against her inner thighs as it helped the phallus gently ease into her. Guttural groans erupted from both of them, and M.J. quickly grabbed Alli's hips and pushed inside further. Alli squeezed her eyes shut and gasped aloud as incredulous sensations rocketed through her body from the tight, pleasurable fullness. Feeling M.J.'s hips and stomach pressing against her buttocks, she responded by thrusting her bottom back against her lover, evoking a soft growl from the brunette.

The harnessed end of the phallus stimulated M.J., and her already-raging need throbbed harder with every movement her petite lover made. She was unable to keep things at a moderate pace, and her pelvis began a rhythmic pumping against Alli's firm backside. Hips and thighs picked up the tempo, bringing their bodies together harder and faster, and Alli felt herself quickly climbing toward ecstasy. But she needed something more... she needed to see M.J.'s face and hold her close as they partook in this most intimate, coital act. Alli stopped her movements and twisted herself around, causing M.J. to cease her actions as well.

M.J. was somewhat confused and thought that perhaps Alli didn't like this after all. She felt a sense of loss as the warmth of Alli's body disappeared and she was forced to withdraw from her. She looked at her blonde lover with anxious questioning in her sex-hazed eyes. But Alli alleviated her fears quickly.

"Come here," the blonde urged, her voice hoarse with desire as she grasped M.J.'s hand and pulled her toward her now-reclined body. M.J. immediately positioned herself between the open, welcoming legs, and Alli maneuvered a hand to grasp the phallus and guide it back into her aching sex. Alli released a soft moan as M.J. pushed slowly and the shaft filled her again.

M.J. rested her hips on Alli's pelvis, holding herself above the smaller body while both of them heaved great breaths and wordlessly watched the emotions and expressions that played across one another's flushed faces.

M.J. could almost see the puffs of breath as they escaped from between Alli's parted, panting lips. She trailed her eyes all over the face before her... the cheeks were tinged pink, lips parted, eyes half-lidded. It was the look of pure ecstasy... it was total erotica... it was absolute beauty. She thought she had never seen anything or anyone more breathtaking. Words of love and devotion and desire swirled inside her head and danced behind her eyes, but she couldn't persuade them to make the journey across her tongue and lips. She held her breath as she continued to helplessly drown in the glistening oceanic eyes that stared back at her and invaded her very soul.

Alli fought to contain the tears she could feel welling mercilessly in her eyes. The musky smell of sex and overheated flesh permeated the moist air between the two lovers, and Alli inhaled it freely, wanting to inhale and swallow every last morsel of the moment. She was overwhelmed by the intense feelings and raging emotions that filled her heart, and she felt it beating violently and threatening to burst free from the confines of her chest. M.J.'s face hung close to her, and she felt her eyes fill with still more tears as she considered how very deep her feelings for this beautiful brunette ran.

She had never given herself to anyone the way she gave to M.J., and she had never wanted anyone to fill her and consume her and take her the way she wanted M.J. to. She wanted to memorize every touch, every feeling, every taste, every smell... every second of every moment. She wanted to capture it all and bury it inside, keeping it safe and holding on to it forever. Her feelings were a jumbled mixture of amazement, worry, desire, adoration, trust, and most certainly... love. Alli's heart pounded loudly at the sudden, earth-shattering realization that swept over her.

My God... I love her... I really do love her.

The tears that had gathered finally escaped from the jade eyes, trickling down flushed cheeks as Alli looked up and fell deeply into pools of searching, penetrating blue. With a timid, nervous heart, Alli reached up and cupped M.J.'s face, finally whispering aloud the words that had taunted and terrorized her for so long.

"...I love you, M.J. ...God help me, but I do." Alli said in a hushed, quavering voice.

M.J. was stunned into absolute stillness. Her mouth fell open, but nothing ushered forth.

Oh God... ohGodohGodohGod, she thought, unable to grasp nor believe it. She loves me... she loves me? ...She *loves* me! She wanted to protest it, or deny it, or decline the honor, but she didn't. She knew she should answer back, but she couldn't do that either. All she could do was stare at Alli in complete, utter amazement.

Alli's heart pounded even louder in her chest as she watched a multitude of emotions race across the elegant features of M.J.'s face. She instantly feared that she might have made a mistake; the expression on her lover's face was one of shock and awe, then of affection and tenderness, and finally, of anxiety and panic.

But Alli would not let M.J. panic and pull away from her. If the brunette didn't return the feeling, she would have to find some way to deal with that later. Right now, what she needed was to hold her dark lover close, calm her profound emotions, and squelch the fire that raged between her thighs.

Alli silenced all thoughts by quickly winding her arms around M.J.'s neck and pulling her down to sear their lips with a ferocious kiss. Then, using what little energy she had left, she pushed M.J. to her side and flipped the larger woman onto her back so that she was now on top.

Continuing the deep, searching kisses, Alli poured every ounce of love and desire that she held inside into the oral union, and M.J. responded in kind. Tongues locked and battled as they kissed and sucked and swallowed each other's overflowing passion.

Finally breaking away, Alli pushed herself upward, bringing her knees up alongside M.J.'s waist and sliding them apart to adjust the fit of the rigid toy inside her. She slid her hands down to rest on M.J.'s taut stomach and began rocking back and forth gently, using her thighs to control and cushion the thrusts. M.J. groaned as shock waves jolted her every time Alli moved, and she reached down to clutch firm buttocks, squeezing, pulling and pushing them in an effort to speed up the action.

Soon hands began seeking out skin to grab 'hold of, fingers gripped tightly as hips thrust together, and bodies collided faster and harder against one another. Heated flesh sweated and tensed as arms and legs strained and thighs began to tremble in anticipation. Teeth clenched together and breathing hitched while fingernails dug painfully into skin and muscles began to convulse and contract in uncontrollable spasms of climactic release.

Alli threw her head back and cried out, squeezing M.J.'s body between her thighs and gasping loudly for breath. M.J. grabbed Alli's hips and held on tightly, acutely feeling her lover pulse against her with the paroxysmal energy of a shattering orgasm. The burning heat that had lain coiled up inside M.J.'s body ignited at last, blinding her as she also came with a violent surge of intense ecstasy. She made a choking noise as her lungs struggled for breath and her whole body shuddered. Her fingers gripped soft flesh and she pressed her pelvis upward, pulling Alli's hips down and holding them fast against her while the lingering shockwaves resonated throughout her body over and over again.



"Desperate for changing, starving for truth

Closer to where I started, I'm chasing after you;

I'm falling even more in love with you

I'm letting go of all I've held onto

I'm standing here until you make me move

I'm hanging by a moment here with you;

I'm living for the only thing I know

I'm running and not quite sure where to go

And I don't know what I'm diving into

Just hanging by a moment here with you." - Lifehouse




A whisper of freon-cooled air drifted across the bedroom, ruffling the window blinds and chilling the dampened flesh of the woman who lay wide awake on the king-sized bed.

M.J. had been awake for some time, watching her sleeping companion and basking in the quiet, peaceful serenity of the moment. Well... it had been *somewhat* peaceful and serene.

Ever since Alli made her heart-stopping admission, M.J. had felt nervous and a little high-strung, unable to do anything but replay Alli's words over and over inside her head. She distinctly remembered the look in the watery aqua eyes... she recalled the other-worldly feeling that had swept over her... and she rehashed her brilliant, spur-of-the-moment response of... silence.

...Idiot. *Why* didn't I say it back? Why didn't I say *some*thing!? M.J. chastised herself repeatedly. What must she have thought? What must she think now?! ...I'm such a *fucking* jerk, she lamented.

M.J. turned her head to look again upon the beautiful, fair face of her lover. She was so tranquil and delicate in sleep; the rose-colored lips were slightly parted, the dark lashes were closed... she looked like an angel. M.J. reached out and lightly fingered a strand of long, flaxen-colored hair, closing her eyes as she thought about the beauty and passion they'd shared this night.

Alli was an extraordinary lover... not too shy, not too bold. She had the perfect combination of demureness and aggressiveness; at one time soft and yielding, at the next, forward and in control. M.J. marveled again at how she'd never felt secure in giving up her control to anyone before, but with Alli, she didn't mind at all.

She reveled in the taste of Alli's lips as they lavished her mouth with kisses, speaking their devotion with every swirl and stab of the dainty tongue. She loved the feel of the petite body lying on top of her, guiding her movements and manipulating her release. With relish, she replayed the erotic experience of having Alli's petite, shapely legs straddling her head as the blonde knelt above her and allowed her eager tongue to delve into the secret recesses that drove the small woman wild with pleasure. She adored the warmth of Alli's body as it wrapped around and merged with hers, infusing her with affection and desire... and love.

She wished Alli was awake; she wanted to tell her that she was sorry for once again being such a coward. She wanted to kiss her and taste her and make love to her again. She wanted to show her that she trusted her... that she loved her. She did love Allison... she just froze up when it came to saying it out loud.

...Idiot, M.J. thought again, rolling her eyes at herself.

She edged toward the blonde head and kissed it very lightly, blue eyes fluttering shut as she inhaled the comfort and warmth of Alli's presence. Her tightly-wound libido threatened to make M.J. do more than just kiss her lover, but she knew that she should let the little blonde sleep. She should be sleeping too, but that was pretty much out of the question by this point. One more kiss was delivered, then M.J. silently slipped out of bed and headed for the bathroom.

Quietly closing the door and flipping on the lights, M.J. began to run the shower. Hoping to quell the strange feeling that had arisen in the pit of her stomach, she stepped inside and immediately immersed herself in the hot water. As she began to wash herself, she examined her body. It was the same body she washed every day, but it seemed somehow different now. It was as though it had experienced something completely new, and it felt ... altered... alive... loved.

She had no idea that it could feel this way to love and be loved - truly loved - in return. She never would have believed it possible.

So is this what it's like to really love someone? To make love? To be *in* love? She mused in amazement. But what did this newfound closeness mean? What was the next step? Where should things go from here? What does Alli want? The relentless questions were coming hard and fast, and M.J. closed her eyes in exasperation, slumping into the corner of the shower and resting her head against the tile wall.

Her mind was a maelstrom of thoughts. There were many things she had questions about, and there were many answers she didn't know; but one thing she did know was, she was completely in love with Allison. Undeniably, unquestionably, without a doubt... she loved her.

Now all she had to do was overcome her crippling fears and tell Alli that.


When Alli awoke, she could feel that something wasn't right. She jerked her head up off the pillow and immediately turned to the other side of the bed.

It was empty.

Oh Jesus... I knew it... I knew it would freak her out, Alli thought, feeling an immediate panic. You just *had* to go and blab the 'L' word, didn't you Allison? ...Just *could not* wait until we had our 'talk'... nooo... had to go and ruin it... *AGAIN*! Fuck! Alli scolded herself internally as she sat up on the edge of the bed, wondering where M.J. might have snuck off to, and wondering what she should do now.

As she glanced around the neat but sparsely-appointed room, Alli saw a robe lying at the bottom of the bed. Obviously M.J. had laid the garment out for her, and it made her lips twitch in a small, hopeful smile.

Well... maybe all is not lost, Alli thought as she slipped the over-sized robe on.

She tied the sash and pulled the collar up around her neck, inhaling a scent that unmistakably belonged to M.J. The thought triggered a flash of memory, and Alli reveled in the recollection of the burning sensuality and tender affection that had poured from her dark lover during their night of intense, deeply emotional lovemaking.

Many times during their couplings, M.J.'s face had worn an expression that Alli had never seen before. It was soft and beautiful and incredibly loving... it was gentle and adoring and awed... it was giving and devoted... it was trusting. Something had broken free somewhere inside her. M.J. truly had changed. That was part of the reason Alli had blurted out her feelings... she had thought that it was 'safe' to confess them. But M.J.'s surprised look and silent answer seemed to disagree.

Why didn't I just keep my mouth shut? Alli lamented again. I wonder what she'll say this morning, she mused worriedly, I wonder what's going through her mind. Well... only one way to find out, Alli concluded, drawing a deep breath as she headed for the door.


Finally arriving downstairs, Alli's nose led her toward the smell of coffee and the kitchen, where she found M.J. freshly showered and standing at the counter. Alli watched for a moment as the brunette buttered toast and poured coffee into two cups. Alli supposed she should feel slightly embarrassed that M.J. had obviously been up for some time while she still slept... but then again, they had given each other quite a workout last night.

Alli was admiring the damp glossiness of M.J.'s long, dark hair when the taller woman suddenly sensed her presence and turned around. They absorbed one another for just a second before breaking into mutual, nervous smiles. They both hesitated but said nothing; the tiny grins on their lips were the only expressions of feeling they gave away. They knew they needed to talk about everything, but neither one wanted to take the first step.

The only thing that filled Alli's mind was the fear that she'd scared M.J. by saying 'I love you' last night. Part of her wanted to turn back the clock and take it back, but another part of her wanted to just walk up to the tall beauty and kiss her and hold her and reassure her that everything was alright. But the pensive, uncertain look on M.J.'s face warned her away from that thought.

M.J.'s mind could only focus on the fact that she had not said 'I love you' back to Alli, and that the blonde was probably upset with her. She hated the awkward silence that hung in the air and she forced herself to say something to ease the disquiet.

"Uhm... I was going to bring you something to eat," M.J. finally muttered, motioning toward the toast and coffee. She'd never had an overnight guest, and she felt woefully inadequate when it came to playing hostess.

Alli smiled uneasily, "Thanks, but, uhm... mind if I grab a shower first?" She asked, motioning her thumb over her shoulder.

"No, no, go ahead." M.J. murmured, not moving from her spot. She watched with mixed feelings as Alli quirked a tiny smile then turned and disappeared from the kitchen.

Well what the hell am I supposed to do now? M.J. thought, releasing a sigh and rolling her eyes skyward.


Allison stood in the huge tile-and-glass shower, letting the jets pummel her head with hot water. Her mind was a jumbled mess of worry, confusion, and anxiety. She thought about last week, about last night, and about this morning; she wondered about what had happened, what's going to happen, and what she *wanted* to happen.

M.J.'s hesitation and apparent discomfort worried her. Was this just the brunette's typical, aloof 'morning after' persona, or was she just nervous because of what Alli had said?

Fuck if I know, Alli thought to herself, beginning to feel the familiar, crushing grip of frustration as it threatened to strangle her heart. *Why* did I have to go and ruin things?! I sort-of told her what I wanted yesterday, but she never told me anything! I have NO idea what she wants from this whole thing, and STILL I had to go and blab 'I love you'... Dammit! Alli cursed herself inwardly.

What was I thinking?! That she'd be perfectly *fine* with it? That she'd just act completely casual and at-ease? That she'd instantly invite me to stay with her the whole weekend? ...Christ, I must be a *complete* idiot! She closed her eyes and raised her face to the pulsing water.

And I must be even crazier to think that she'd consider coming to stay with me or anything, she chastised inwardly. Maybe it'll never be more than this one-night stand shit... maybe we're just *too* fucked up to 'make it' together... maybe I'm just fooling myself, Alli lamented, feeling old doubts and fears surfacing again. ...How fucking stupid can I *be* in one lifetime?! She thought, feeling her heart constrict with worry.

But... a part of her refused to give in to defeat so easily; it refused to surrender after finally melting away the icecap that had frozen them for so long.

God... get a *grip*, Allison! She chastised, shaking her head and forcibly pushing the wretched thoughts from her muddied mind.

Yes, they still had problems; all couples have problems. They had made great strides, but it would probably be a long, difficult journey before they reached any kind of 'normalcy' in their relationship. But they would reach it... Alli was determined. She really didn't know what she was doing, and she felt like they both were floundering about in a sea of confusion. She didn't know what M.J. wanted, and truthfully, she wasn't entirely sure what she wanted either; but she would not just give up and walk away.

You don't walk away from something like this, she told herself, you don't walk away from something so incredible and so beautiful and so... right.

Maybe she had just pushed too hard, too quickly. If M.J. needed time, Alli would give her time. She would give her space and room to breathe... but she would not walk away. Not this time.


When Alli finally reappeared in the kitchen entryway, M.J. was startled to see that she was fully dressed. Alli gave her an uneasy look and stood there, not walking any closer. It seemed obvious that she'd been thinking about things too much, just like M.J. had been, and based on her attire, it also seemed obvious that she was not staying. M.J. felt a twinge of disappointment constrict her throat, and she suddenly had trouble breathing.

"Do you, uh, want something to eat?" M.J. asked, motioning to the toast and coffee that still waited on the table.

Alli hesitated for a second, her fingers nervously clutching her purse, "Uhm... thanks, but... I should probably get going." The words were quiet and heavy with uncertainty.

"Oh... okay," M.J. replied, averting her eyes and frowning slightly in disappointment and confusion.

A multitude of thoughts rushed forth. Was Alli just feeling awkward and uncomfortable? Was she upset because M.J. had not returned her declaration of love? Or was she having regrets and second thoughts again? M.J. felt like screaming, but she refrained. She couldn't say anything; her tongue felt thick and dry and tangled up inside. She felt like she was trapped in a bad dream, and she didn't know how to get out or wake up. She just continued to watch Allison in silence; her dark brows twisted in conflict and her pale blue eyes riveted to Alli's glistening blue-green.

Alli saw the mixed emotions flash across M.J.'s face, and she briefly thought that perhaps she had misread the body language coming from the complicated brunette. Still, as M.J. stood there saying nothing and looking like a puppy about to piddle on the floor, Alli knew that she should just go and leave M.J. alone. Both of them obviously needed a day to decompress and think things over.

She didn't want to push M.J. any further, but Alli couldn't help but feel a small bubble of worry well up inside her chest. She sensed history about to repeat itself as she watched M.J.'s internal struggle. She loved the tall, stoic beauty, but this muted, unspoken shit *really* had to cease. Alli felt the distinctive burn of frustrated tears as they began to accumulate behind her eyes.

I will not cry... not now... not again.

A few more seconds elapsed and they stood in the bright kitchen in uncomfortable silence, each tortured by their own perilous thoughts. It felt like an eternity had passed until Alli finally cleared her throat and spoke.

"Well, I guess I'll uhm... talk to you later...?" She spoke the words with quiet, questioning hesitation and a sad, tearful undertone.

"Okay." M.J. murmured in response, nodding slightly and feeling numb.

Their eyes met once more before Alli turned and walked away.

M.J. stood there, staring dumbly. Her brain felt like it was melting away like wax, her heart thumped dull and hollow in her chest, and her feet felt like they were stuck in rapidly-hardening concrete. The sound of the front door closing echoed through the empty house and jarred her all the way down to her bones.

What the hell just happened?



"There used to be a graying tower alone on the sea

You became the light on the dark side of me;

Love remains, a drug that's the high and not the pill

But did you know that when it snows, my eyes become large

And the light that you shine can't be seen;

Baby, I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the gray

The more I get of you the stranger it feels, yeah

And now that your rose is in bloom

A light hits the gloom on the gray." - Seal




Alli lay on her bed staring up at the ceiling, the silence intermittently punctuated by a lingering sniffle. She meticulously counted and dissected every crack and brown water stain in the stucco... anything to avoid thinking about what had gone wrong back at M.J.'s house. But the distraction couldn't last forever.

She ended up crying most of the whole way home, and when she reached her apartment, she went straight to her bedroom and stripped off her clothes. They held a combination of her own scent plus the distinctive aroma of sex mixed with M.J., and her olfactory senses just couldn't handle it.

As determined as she was not to dwell on any depressing thoughts, she couldn't help but rehash the morning over and over. Hoping to discover any signals she may have misread or any signs she might have missed, she tried once again to decipher M.J.'s enigmatic hesitancy.

I just don't understand WHY she won't talk to me?! She talked to me before... she told me about her father... why is this time different? Why can't she just *tell* me what she's thinking? I've spilled my guts to her, but all she does is stand there and give me that LOOK! If I scared her or came on too strong, why doesn't she just *say* so instead of saying *nothing*! JESUS! Angry tears burned behind Alli's eyes as she turned the events over in her mind.

I probably shouldn't have walked out - I *swore* that I wouldn't walk away - and yet, here I am. A chicken-shit fugitive... on the lam from something and someone I want *so* badly. Goddammit... why does this have to be so fucking HARD?! She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, fighting the urge to scream.

Maybe she just doesn't love me. Maybe it's just ME who wants the relationship and the commitment. Maybe she can only be 'committed' to a little roll in the hay every once in awhile? Just a little fuck-buddy to have a nice, orgasmic fling with now and then. Fear and doubt riddled her mind like a cancer, eating away any surety she'd thought she felt.

No... that can't be it... she CAN'T just want that... can she?! Oh GOD! I just don't KNOW anymore! I don't know *ANYTHING*!

Theirs was an unconventional relationship, for sure; it had been from the get-go. They'd never officially 'dated'... they'd never 'gone out'... they'd never even called each other on the phone, for chrissake. All they'd ever done was have wild monkey sex together, and then part ways without discussing a single thing. It was *completely* fucked up. So how could she expect any of it to go smoothly? How could either of them expect any sort of normalcy, now that they'd jumped the gun yet again by sleeping together before discussing anything?

"Auggh! Why does this always happen to me?!" Alli yelled aloud, not receiving an answer. It all seemed so impossible and improbable, and it was frustrating as hell.

Alli began to doubt all possibility of them ever having any kind of 'normal' relationship. She had been holding out hope, telling herself that no matter what, they could somehow make it work. But now she wasn't so sure.

In the back of her mind, hidden away from everyone - even herself at times - Alli had begun to think about a future with M.J. She had begun to make plans and thought constantly about what she wanted for herself, for her partner, and for the two of them together.

She wanted to get inside M.J.'s head. It would be a challenge, for sure, but she wanted to break down all the barriers and tear down all the walls that surrounded a heart that, she knew, was aching to break free. She wanted to cross every pointless boundary that her dark, complicated lover had ever constructed for herself. She wanted to strip her naked, figuratively as well as literally.

She also wanted to be closer to M.J., so close that she could crawl inside her skin. She wanted to go to bed with her every night knowing that she'd be there when she woke up in the morning... she wanted them to move one another to tears and then soothe them away, together. She wanted to find out what M.J.'s favorite foods were... she wanted to go grocery shopping together and make dinner together and have breakfast in bed together. She wanted to go to the movies and walk hand in hand on the beach at sunrise and sunset... she wanted to curl up together on a lazy Sunday afternoon and rub M.J.'s back and play with her hair until they both fell asleep. She wanted to lie in front of the fireplace and talk about the past and the future and all the possibilities that lay ahead of them. She even thought about wanting the ultimate - to try to have a baby together some day.

But these were all things that they needed to *talk* about... these were things that they *should* have talked about before sleeping together, *AGAIN*. It seemed that their relationship had started out ass-backwards, and they would have to work in reverse, extra hard, to achieve any type of 'normalcy'... *if* that was even possible anymore.

But, was Alli willing to do that, still? In light of all the repetitive agony and constant head-fuck, was she willing to do anything to make it work with M.J.?

She didn't know. She only knew that, despite the frustration and the constant set-backs, she loved M.J., plain and simple.

Only problem is, we're not plain, and love is *never* simple.


M.J. lay on her bed, staring once again at her whirling ceiling fan. She pretty much had every idiosyncratic movement of the damn thing memorized by now, right down to the tiny little squeak it made after running for exactly 22 minutes. Her body was unflinching, but her mind spun like beaters in a mixing bowl. So many thoughts crowded her mind, she felt her brain swell under the maddening pressure.

Sighing aloud, she finally turned on her side, reaching out to grab the pillow that Alli had lain upon just that morning. As she pulled it to her face, she inhaled the fragile scent of Alli's aroma, which clung to the fabric and surrounded her like the faint memory of a wonderful dream. She desperately missed the gentle warmth and supple silkiness of Alli's body lying beside her, beneath her, and on top of her. She longed for the delicate touches, the intimate kisses, and the passionate embraces.

In her mind's eye, she recalled the soft but intense emotion that overtook Alli's features when they locked eyes... the silent declaration of love that was always there... the adoration and devotion that shone so brightly in the clear oceanic depths. How could she have ever mistaken the meaning of the look that came from those aqua soul-doors?. They were always so open, so honest... they pierced her very soul with their overwhelming beauty and emotion. How could I be so stupid? M.J. asked herself as she stared dumbly at her bedroom wall.

She had said that we weren't going to jump right into anything, but then she said 'I love you' and threw me for a loop, and I just didn't know how to handle that... I wasn't prepared for it, and I panicked, M.J. thought, rolling her eyes at herself.

More than that, though, M.J. asked herself why she was so afraid, STILL? How long would she let fear and cowardice run her life into the ground? How much anguish would she subject herself to because of her stupid, fucking insecurities? It had to end. It could not go on. She had let fear rule her for far too long. Fear of the past, fear of the future, fear of the unknown... all of it had to go before it ruined everything. And she knew that she was indeed in danger of ruining things with Allison for good.

She blamed herself for today's fuck-up. She should have said what she wanted or talked about how she felt, especially when she knew that was what Alli wanted and needed. But Alli's sudden declaration of love came out of left field, and she had been caught off-guard. They had agreed to talk about things, and M.J. *was* willing to talk, but Alli abruptly disappeared before she'd worked up the nerve to say anything.

'Nerve'? What 'nerve'? You don't have any nerve whatsoever, you fucking pussy! No wonder she bailed on your pathetic ass! M.J. scolded herself and rolled her eyes. You had the perfect opportunity, dumbass, and you blew it - AGAIN... when are you gonna *LEARN*?!

She thought she had learned; she thought she had gotten over her fears and dropped her cowardly habits. But old habits die hard, and the fear of being hurt is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome.

M.J. knew now, for certain, that Alli loved her... so what was the problem? Why was she still scared? Why was it so difficult to just take the plunge and admit that she loved her back? She knew she was completely in love with Allison; she wanted to be with her, she wanted a *real* relationship with her, and she wanted a *real* commitment.

However... that acknowledgement, and the realization that her life was on the verge of changing permanently and irretrievably, was what scared her beyond belief.

She'd only ever had one other serious relationship in her life, and when that ended badly, she declared that she was finished with 'love' and swore she'd never fall for anyone again.

Easier said than done though, isn't it? She thought. When you find the right one, you can't stop yourself from falling, she admitted. It's a natural phenomenon, falling in love... why can't I just let go and let it happen? She scolded internally. I love her... I want her... I want to build a *life* with her, for chrissake, she thought. I've never wanted that before... not with *anyone*, *ever*... surely that's a 'sign'.

But not all the answers to life's dilemmas can be found in 'signs', and even then, the 'signs' are often unclear.

Alli loves me, M.J. assured herself, knowing that this was perhaps the only 'sign' she really needed. I love her, and she loves me... I love her, and she loves me... I love her, and she loves me...

The words became a looping mantra inside her head as her eyes slowly slid shut and she drew a deep, soul-cleansing breath.

M.J. Whitton lived her life feeling very confident and secure with herself and her abilities. But right now, she was more scared and uncertain than she'd ever been in her 34 years.


A restless afternoon and evening passed, and as night finally began to fall, Alli sat slouched on her sofa, mindlessly watching a bad cable movie. She had not eaten dinner, and her stomach growled loudly as she watched the two lead characters proclaim their undying love for one another before kissing and undressing and falling into bed together.

"Oh yeah, sure... on *TV* they can say 'I love you' to each other with noooo problems. But not in the real world! Noooo siree... the real world is too *fucked* for that!" Alli spoke the sarcastic words aloud. She shook her head at herself and ruffled her hands through her hair, thinking that she was just being ridiculous and pathetic. Her stomach growled again, seemingly endorsing her thoughts. She was just considering calling for a pizza delivery when her doorbell sounded, interrupting her food musings.

"Fuck off," she murmured aloud again. She most definitely did not want to see nor speak to anyone.

The ringer sounded again and she rolled her eyes in irritation. Sighing loudly, she pulled herself up off the sofa and shuffled to the doorway, not bothering to look out the peep-hole.

What she saw when she opened the door nearly took her breath away.

M.J. stood there, an overnight bag slung over her shoulder, and a hand clutched tightly at her side while she shifted uneasily from one foot to the other. She had an uncertain, almost frightened look in her pale blue eyes, and a nervous hand raked through her already-disheveled hair.

"I'm sorry," M.J. blurted out immediately.

Alli's eyes went wide and her mouth opened in silent surprise.

"I didn't want you to leave this morning... I should have told you that... I should have told you a lot of things," M.J. said, her voice tremulous and low. She drew a deep breath and closed her eyes, and when she reopened them, they pierced Alli with a bright, profound clarity.

"I... I love you, Allison." M.J.'s voice cracked from the strain, but the words were most definitely clear, and most definitely real.

Tears immediately flooded Alli's eyes, and she had to bite her bottom lip to keep from crying out. A hesitant tongue darted across M.J.'s lips as she continued to pin Alli with an intense, earnest look.

"I'm sorry I didn't say it before... I *wanted* to say it, but I...," she paused, fighting to control her rapid-fire blubbering, "...I was... scared. I was *so* scared."

M.J. spoke in a near-whisper and her voice quavered unsteadily. Her eyes darted all around Alli's face, trying to gauge the blonde's expression and prepare for the reaction. Before she could even take a breath, Alli reached up and grabbed her, pulling her down for a long, deep, emancipating kiss that lasted at least a full minute.

Finally breaking apart, they kept their foreheads pressed against each other as they paused and breathed and thanked the fates above for this turning tide.

"We can be scared together...okay?" Alli finally whispered, her lips brushing against M.J.'s.

M.J. smiled and nodded, "Okay." She answered, her arms wrapping around Alli's waist and hugging the petite body against her.

With those simple words, and in that brief but power-packed moment, all Alli's doubts melted away, and all M.J.'s walls of fear came tumbling down.


The first rays of dawn were just filtering through the white mini-blinds, illuminating the small bedroom in a soft sheen of golden, misty light.

Alli's eyes fluttered open, her internal clock waking her much too early for a weekend morning. She sighed and closed her eyes again, telling her brain to give her a break and go back to sleep. Shifting slightly, she immediately became aware that something, or someone, was touching her. A smile touched her lips and slowly spread across her face.

M.J., she thought, ...she's here... she's really and truly here with me.

She was lying on her back and M.J. lay on her stomach beside her with one hand splayed out across Alli's stomach. Alli reached down and gently placed her hand on top of M.J.'s, feeling the way it rose and fell with each breath she took and reveling in its warm strength and security.

It felt so familiar, lying there with M.J., as though they'd been together like this for years and years. And yet, it had taken them so long to reach this point. So much pain and anger; so much sadness and longing and frustration.

But it all worked out... the tides finally turned in our favor, Alli thought as another smile flitted across her lips. Her hand slid up M.J.'s arm and she let the pads of her fingers trace a delicate trail on her slumbering lover's velvety skin.

M.J. stirred, the warm hand on Alli's stomach twitching and squeezing gently. Alli smiled again and turned on her side toward the brunette. She slid a thigh over M.J.'s hip, bringing her leg to rest on her lover's firm ass as she reached her arm across the broad shoulders and gave a tender, reassuring hug.

M.J. released a soft sigh and turned so that they faced each other and Alli immediately wiggled in closer, sliding her leg up over M.J.'s thigh and slipping her arm around the trim waist, pulling their bodies closer together.

Alli felt the pressure of a kiss pressed lovingly against her temple, and she grinned into the neck that she snuggled into. M.J.'s arms encircled her body and soft, gentle hands stroked the skin of her back... around and around... up, then down... up, then down. Alli placed a kiss in the hollow of M.J.'s throat and let her hand trail across her lover's waist and down her stomach until it came in contact with the small patch of soft, wiry curls.

M.J. drew a deep breath and held it for a moment as Alli's fingers glided across her slickened sex. When the nimble, probing fingers eased into her, she released the breath as a lingering groan. Not wanting to enjoy the rush all alone, M.J. slid a hand down to Alli's legs, stroking the ultra-soft skin of the blonde's inner thighs before slipping her fingers into the waiting wetness.

Slowly they began their mutual, rhythmic motions, their hips moving against each other and their breath quickening as their desire mounted. Alli was the first to succumb to the sweet torture, the waves of pleasure crashing all around her as her body spasmed and she came, contracting and pulsing around M.J.'s thrusting fingers. Her climax triggered M.J.'s, and the brunette fell right behind her, hard and fast.

They held on to each other tightly as they slipped beneath the surface of the unseen water, tumbling head over heels in the surging, roiling ocean surf. A breathless eternity seemed to pass before the darkness receded and they opened their eyes. Gazing at each other in blissful wonder and adoration, they smiled and pressed their lips together, breathing life into one another and confirming their immeasurable love and devotion with each tender kiss and caress.

They finally broke apart, their faces still touching as their eyes closed and they breathed in gentle harmony together.

"I love you." M.J. whispered against Alli's lips.

"I love you." Alli returned before joining their mouths again.

No longer would either of them yearn for someone to love. No longer would they be afraid. No longer would they flounder in the deep, dark, uncertain waters.

The turning tides had at last washed their lonely, frightened souls ashore. They had been rescued.


*** THE END ***


Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to send feedback and comments to a_k_naten@yahoo.com , or visit me at: http://www.geocities.com/a_k_naten .

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