Conspiracy of Swords
by Shadowriter

(See Part 1 for Disclaimers)

Shadowriter can be reached at


Yes, this is the conclusion of Conspiracy of Swords. I finally did it! <g> I want to once again thank my beta readers, Peacemonger, and Ari, for their help. Without them, I 'd have foundered more than once. Thank you both -- you're the best and I love you!

Also, a great big thank you to Miss Ellie. She graciously allowed me to use her poetry for the song lyrics in this last chapter. Neither poem is used in it's entirety, so if you wish to check out the full versions, or read more of Miss Ellie's wonderful work (which I encourage you to do!), you can go to the poetry page at the Academy of Bards. From there, click on Ellie Maziekien. Or you can just follow the link from this page. <g>

Thank you to all of you who have followed me this far. And a double thanks to those of you who wrote me -- it really made a difference!

I hope everyone enjoys the last chapter. Take care.



Chapter Forty-two -- Conclusion


FBI Agent Alexia Reis let herself drop down into the chair in her partner's living room. David was once again on the couch, this time with his wife beside him. Sarah and Maggie, who had joined them for dinner, were seated next to each other by the fireplace, Maggie comfortably snuggled in Sarah's embrace.

"Ah, Miri, that was a wonderful dinner."

"Thank you, Alex. I'm glad you enjoyed it. You looked like you needed something special."

Alex nodded. "Yeah. Besides, you make the best orange-sesame chicken in the world."

Miri chuckled. "I'm not sure about that. But thanks anyway."

David leaned forward. "So, you wanna explain what happened? Or are you keeping it to yourself?"

"No, I'll talk." She smiled at him. "Wish you'd been there, buddy."

"Me, too, partner." He winked. "Now, talk to us."

"Okay." She leaned her head back. "Where should I start?"

"Well, how about telling me a little about what I missed? The stuff in Europe would be nice."

"Europe. Okay."

Alex started the tale of how Teren had taken her to Switzerland, and their investigation at the art gallery, and the dinner with Meinhard. She continued with their receipt of the bank records and the discovery of their pursuers, then the subsequent train ride to Germany.

"You mean you guys took a five hour train ride together. In a sleeper car."

"Yes, Miri."

Her eyes twinkled. "Don't tell me you spent the whole five hours talking about the case, Alex."

"No." The blonde grinned. "We played chess."

She continued on, explaining their trip to Jurgen von Odbert's house. Alex had to swallow when she spoke of the old man's suicide. That was followed by a quiet recounting of the gun battle in the cemetery, and her fear when Teren had been shot. She stopped for a moment, letting the tears roll down her cheeks. Miri handed her a box of tissues, and she offered back a sad smile.

"So, that was the day that Gerd and I went through the papers that the BKA had seized from Eisenbein's office."

"And you found the connections between them and Treville and Dawkins?"

"Right. See, Radcliffe had agreed to the principle of CJ's plan, but wanted nothing to do with the operations. So, he had Treville dealing directly with Eisenbein. They set up the separate account, with Treville and Richmond's name on it. The money came from the fortune Odbert, or Hoppe, had collected during and after the war."

"What was the plan?" asked Sarah.

"Well, to put it simply, they wanted to kill certain individuals, and blame it either on the far left or the far right, whichever they could, to make themselves seem more rational. Meanwhile, they started getting rid of people who were either in their way, or who stood for things they hated. They also wanted the left to be afraid, too afraid to act -- and for a short while, they succeeded."

"Okay," David sat up a little straighter and frowned. "So, you guys found the connection, and the papers that named the guilty parties. Then you came back. Why didn't you just go to Cliff and the Justice Department and have them arrested?"

"Because we had no idea who CJ was. With him still loose, nothing was certain. We could have arrested whoever, and he would have either killed them to stop them from talking -- which is what he sent Treville and Davies to do --or he would have found a way to destroy our case. Director Collins knew from Ken and Cliff that there had to be a traitor, and he knew the guy would protect himself -- which was why he had a CIA badge waiting for me when Teren and I got to the safe house. He figured that if he could get me out of the clutches of CJ, whoever he was, no more information would slip through-- and Teren and I could close in on the others. Because of the international connections, the CIA had legal right to be involved. And while they couldn't hold White and Dawkins as prisoners for the US, they could for Germany -- which they did. The BKA wants all of them for their participation in Eisenbein's Nazi agenda. It's a serious crime in Germany, and if we hadn't ever gotten to CJ, White and Dawkins would have been handed over to them."

"But now?" Maggie asked.

"Now, they're testifying against Richmond. In return, the BKA will not prosecute them in Germany. Though, they did have to agree to a long prison sentence, and a very large restitution. Basically, they both lost everything."

David shook his head. "I still don't understand. If Mark and Ben were able to get the information on Richmond while reporting in at the Bureau, why didn't CJ, or rather, Bishop, warn Richmond, or try to get rid of Mark and Ben?"

"Cause he didn't know. Mark and Ben had told Cliff they were chasing the money angle. They also told him that they thought there was a traitor in the FBI. He agreed, and let them have free reign. They didn't tell anyone anything. So, nothing got to Bishop on what they were doing. With Tom and Rudy off chasing White, there was no one else on the team to give Bishop, or Richmond, the message."

"How did they get their information?"

"Through the tax returns I'd requested, and through Jenny, from Research, who spent several days with them going through the records."

"And they found a way to link him to the killings?"

Alex laughed and shook her head. "No, David, they didn't. Which is really ironic. Richmond wasn't originally arrested for anything involving the conspiracy. He was arrested for tax fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, and money laundering. If Dawkins and White hadn't agreed to testify against him, he wouldn't have been linked to the conspiracy by anything but two very flimsy German documents. He'd have pled out and be serving time at a federal resort, instead of looking at life in Leavenworth or some other place."

"Think it's a strong case against him?" Miri asked.

"Yeah, definitely. I mean, we were able to bring charges on the original warrant, and then add conspiracy, six counts of conspiracy to commit murder, six counts of murder, one attempted murder, as well as a myriad of lesser felonies. If convicted, he'll never get out. And if ever he does make parole, he's to be sent to Germany on charges against the German people."

"Thank the Goddess," Maggie said.

Alex nodded.

"Okay. So, you confronted Richmond, and he told you about Bishop? That he was CJ?"

"Nope." Alex smiled. "But he gave me a clue without realizing it. He said he could call CJ. The phrase kind of stuck in my head, and I started thinking about calling, and phones, and cell phones, and last dialed numbers, and then numbers in the memory. I figured if Treville and CJ were that close, he'd have the number in his cellular. So, Teren and I went and found the phone. Bishop's house was number 4 in Treville's cellular memory."

"Once you knew that, you went to Cliff?"

"Right." Alex nodded. "Once we knew for sure that it wasn't Cliff, we knew we needed his help to get Bishop. So, we went to see him, and Director Collins -- who reinstated my badge that Wednesday morning. But, as a final precaution, he had us bring White and Dawkins in from the safe house where they were being held. They'd already identified a picture of Bishop, but Collins wanted a rep from the JD there, along with himself, to make it official. After that, Cliff would come up to help in the arrest."

"So, what went wrong?" Miri asked quietly.

Alex stared at the floor. "Everything." She sighed. "For starters, Teren and I were supposed to just wait in the office. Cliff was supposed to join us, and we'd all arrest Bishop. But he he came in early for some reason, and Cliff was late." She shook her head. "No one even considered the possibility that anyone else was in it with him. I mean, we knew about Tom and Rudy, but figured that had been it. So, when his secretary tried to stop Cliff and the others from entering Bishop's office, it was a complete shock. It's a good thing she couldn't shoot, or there would have been several dead agents in that hall. Instead, they got lucky, and took her down with a couple shots. She'll stand trial in place of her boss -- who we later found out was her lover."

David tilted his head. "I thought Bishop was married."

"He is. Had two mistresses, it turned out. One is going to prison, the other is trying to convince everyone that she knew nothing of what was going on."

"Think she's telling the truth?"

Alex nodded. "Yeah, Sarah, I do. I think it's very likely that she didn't have a clue. After all, she was a twenty-two year old dancer that he picked up one night and decided to keep as his lover. She barely knew anything about him -- he just paid her rent and came by to screw her once in a while."

Maggie wrinkled her nose. "That's sick."

"Uh-huh." Alex leaned her head back again, and sighed. "I really wanted to take the son-of-a-bitch alive, but I'm not that unhappy he's dead, you know? I mean, the Conspiracy is broken, Brogan, Treville, and Bishop are dead, as well as their German counterpart Eisenbein. White and Dawkins will testify against Richmond, who's going to go to jail for a long time. Hell, he might just end up with the death penalty -- who knows?"

David nodded. "We can only hope." He held Miri's hand. "So, Alex, what about Tom and Rudy? They were working for Bishop?"

"Yeah. That was the reason they were put on the task force -- to basically make it an inefficient operation, and keep Cliff under control. Tom made the phone call from Cliff's office to the Philly P.D. Rudy was the one who kept CJ informed of things in our investigation. That's how CJ knew that we were meeting with Brogan. Cliff told the task force, and Rudy told Bishop."

"And how did Davies fit in? He was in it, too?"

"Yeah, Dave. He pulled the trigger on the bomb that killed Mather and Wilford. He was there, remember?"


"Well, I checked the tape again yesterday, and found him. There's one point where he turns and makes eye contact with Mather, then he quickly leaves the room. It's just minutes before Mather kills Dabir."

"He left so he wouldn't be in the room when Dabir was killed?"

"Well, no. He left because he needed an unrestricted place to detonate the bomb. He left the hotel by another entrance, and waited till Mather and Wilford were moving, then he flipped the switch." She shifted her position in her chair. "He also killed Wister, before the ambush, so he couldn't call for back up. The gun he killed Treville with was the same .22 he used that night in Philly. They found it in the limousine with his body."

David shook his head. "But why did he do it?"

"He was Bishop's cousin. Seems family was important to these two. When we had Treville cornered, he considered giving us CJ to save himself. Davies killed him for it."


"Alex?" Sarah's voice was quiet. "Is it over now? For good?"

Alex sighed. "I don't know, Sarah. I think so." But in her mind she could hear Bishop telling them that there were more accounts, more Nazi money in the hands of the right wing. "We can only hope so."

They were quiet for several moments, until the sound of feet on the steps pulled all their eyes to the front door. It opened to reveal Arlea, riding atop the shoulders of her newest playmate.

Ken Thomas came in behind them. "Hey, did you guys know Arlea is talking?"

David laughed. "Yeah, she's been getting pretty vocal. Her favorite word is go. What'd she say this time?"

"She said 'ride' -- and then she pointed to Teren." He glanced at the woman carrying the little girl on her shoulders. "And Teren obliged."

Everyone grinned.

Alex stood up and sauntered over, following Miri, who was gently trying to pull her squalling daughter off Teren's neck.

"Hey, easy, kid, watch the head. No pulling the hair, remember?"

Finally, they got the girl disentangled. Teren leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek, receiving a very wet kiss back. She wiped her face while Miri carried her daughter to the restroom to wipe the ice cream from her face.

"I was about to come looking for you, Ter. Thought maybe I'd lost my playmate for good."

Teren grinned. "Nah. I'm just an interesting diversion. She'll be back to climbing all over you in just a couple of days -- you'll see."

"MmHmm." Alex nodded. "Thing is, though -- I wasn't talking about Arlea." She winked into the blue eyes.

Teren winked back. "Not a chance, pal. You couldn't get rid of me if you tried."

"Why would I try?"

"Don't know. But don't bother."

She leaned forward and kissed Alex on the cheek.

Completely forgetting that they were in front of several friends.

Ken grinned. Maggie and Sarah chuckled, while David whistled.

"Hey, Alex? Do I have to come stand guard over your virtue?"

"You try it, David, and I'll kick you in your virtues."

They all laughed.

Alex leaned closer to Teren. "Was a great dinner, huh?"

"Yep. Sure was."

"But I'm ready to go home. Will you drive me?"

"Yep. Sure will." Teren winked and put an arm around her shoulders.


They said their good byes, with many hugs between all of them. Teren smiled and laughed, amazed at how wonderful it was to have friends again. She felt a slight pang in her heart as she thought of Perry, and how he would have loved the laughter of this group. For a moment Teren was filled with a sense of melancholy. But it passed quickly, unable to stand up under the weight of the hugs of her friends, and the feeling of Alex's hand in hers as they walked to her car.

They didn't say much as she drove. They didn't need to . As Teren pulled to a stoplight, she'd glance over to find Alex's eyes on her, watching her closely. She'd smile, and Alex would smile back.

Alex's apartment house was only blocks away when Teren broke the silence.

"Can I stay?"

"I'd be disappointed if you didn't."


Alex opened the door to her apartment, fully expecting to be jumped on by her furry four-legged companion. When she wasn't, she looked up to find Teren holding Appleby in one hand, high above their heads.

"Teren, what are you doing?"

"He jumped. I caught him." Even as she spoke, she moved her arm back towards the top of the bookcase, and the cat scrambled back up to his perch, looking rather indignant at having been stopped mid-leap.

"He always jumps. I'm used to it."

"Yeah, well, if I'm going to be visiting, he and I are going to have to talk about that little habit. He's gotta stop trying to surprise me, or one day I might turn him into a Swiss Cheese kitty -- with lots of little holes in him." She glared up at Appleby, almost daring him to jump down on her.

He appeared bored, and began to wash himself.

Alex laughed. "Ignored by a cat. Gee, maybe you're not as tough as you think, Miss Superspy."

Teren looked at her. "What did you call me?"

"Hm? Oh, nothing. It was just a name Ken invented for you."

"Uh-huh. I'll have to talk to him about that."

They pulled off their coats, and Teren kicked her shoes off. Alex pulled her boots off, and put them in her room.

"Have a seat on the couch, Ter. I have something I think you might like." She disappeared into the tiny kitchen.

Teren sat, leaning back a bit. She closed her eyes and rested -- until the thump of something hitting the floor made her sit straight up.

She glared at Appleby. "You know, cat, you and I are gonna talk."

He seemed unconcerned, regarding her with an innocent look.

"Ah, don't play that game with me. I know what evil thoughts lurk in the minds of cats. I had one growing up, and I know what you little guys can do. So, don't try to play the angel with me -- it won't work, cat."

Alex stopped in the doorway of the kitchen, regarding her friend on the sofa.

"Talking to the cat? Should I be worried?"

Teren grinned at her. "Nah -- Now if I start talking to the walls, then you need to be careful."

"Gotcha." She approached the couch, carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses. "I called over to Pedro's, and asked Phillipe for a bottle of wine. He recommended this one. I hope you like it." She sat down next to her friend and poured.

Teren tasted the deep red liquid, and sighed. "Heavenly." She gently swirled the wine in her glass, watching as Alex poured her own glass, and set the bottle on the coffee table. the blonde then turned sideways on the couch to face her. Teren did the same, facing her friend.

For a few minutes, they simply drank their wine, letting their bodies and minds relax. There was no where else they had to be, and nothing else they had to be doing. For the first time since they'd met, neither was occupied with anything other than what was happening, right there, and right then.

Teren found herself tongue-tied.

Alex was just nervous.



Teren hesitated. "Thanks for not letting him kill me."

Alex stared into her glass. If he had, I would have killed myself. "You're welcome. I'm sorry he hurt you at all."

"Ah, don't worry." She rapped on the side of her head, opposite her wound. "Hard head, remember?"

"Yeah, right." Alex could still see the blood pouring from her friend's head, the dazed blinking of the blue eyes as she held Teren in the office of the former Assistant Director.

"Hey." Teren reached over and touched her face. "Alex? Don't do that. It's over. It's okay."

Green eyes met blue, and Alex swallowed, unable for a moment to break the spell of memory. Then Teren leaned forward and kissed her.

When they broke apart, she was able to smile.



They sat for a few more moments, just enjoying the peace, and the wine, and each other's company.

"Would you like some music?" Teren asked. "I brought a CD over for you. A fairly new group, mainly accoustic guitar and piano. They're really good. From Colorado. Ann sent it to me."

Alex winced inside at the name of Teren's old lover. Teren stroked her cheek again.

"Don't be jealous, Alex. She said I should play it for you."

"She did?"

Teren nodded.

"Then I'd love to hear it."

"Hang on." She got up and retrieved her jacket, pulling a CD case out of the inside pocket. "I will tell you," she said as she moved to the stereo, "the lyrics are kind of , um, intense."

"How so?" Alex wondered if she was seeing things, or if Teren was truly blushing as she put the CD into the player.

"Well, they're kind of, um, uh --" She stopped. "Just listen, okay? You'll see what I mean."

Alex smiled and nodded. Teren pushed the play button and moved back to the couch, picking up her wine glass as she went.

The soft strains of a violin, accompanied by a strummed guitar floated out of her speakers. Alex looked up from her wine glass to find Teren's eyes on her.

We are long lived butterflies --
always striving towards inner beauty,
inner peace, when daily struggles,
the stresses of life; its routine,
weigh heavily on us; wear us down.

We are chameleons --
changing, sometimes minute by minute . . .

Alex laughed softly. "That is so unlike you -- yet it describes you."

Teren smiled. "The song is called 'Changelings.' The group is really new, and young -- Ann said they're oldest member is like twenty-four or something."

"What's the name of the group?"

"Stone Krummholz."

We are puppets --
manipulated by the strings
. . .

"I like them."

"Me, too."

We are actors on the stage of life --
our lives out there for anyone to see,
but only on the outside.
They never see behind the masks.

No, they never see behind the masks.......

Alex nodded, looking down at her glass again. "Have you ever let anyone see behind your mask, Teren?"

Teren nodded. "Yes. But only once." She waited for Alex's look of inquiry, then smiled. "Only you, Alex."

Teren leaned forward and kissed her gently, softly, barely brushing her lips to Alex's. They stayed that way, quietly sharing soft kisses until the song faded.

Teren pulled back, taking their wine glasses and setting them aside on the coffee table. Teren let her hand caress the side of Alex's face, sliding down her neck, to her shoulder, and then her arm. Gently she stroked her friend's skin above her wrist, then took her hand and pulled. Alex moved closer, willingly.

The song changed, this time a solid drum providing the slow but steady rythm. Each beat seemed in time with Alex's heart, as she felt Teren's hands on her back, her lips sliding along Alex's jawline.

I want all of you; I cannot get enough.
Each kiss is more intense as
your touch goes deep, sending me into
a whirlwind of sensation . . .

As Teren's lips touched her throat, and hands caressed her shoulders, Alex dug her fingers into her friends back. Quickly, she reached to pull Teren's shirt from the back of her jeans.

The passion we share makes me weep
hot, helpless tears of joy . . .

Teren let her hands wander down Alex's back, as she moved her lips back to her lover's mouth. Alex moaned as Teren's fingers slid beneath her sweater, holding her firmly. As Alex reached under Teren's shirt, she pulled back to see the blue eyes.

Those amazing eyes, so cold and forbidding
when shuttered against the world,
are clear, warm and wide open to me . . .

Alex reached for the buttons of Teren's shirt, only to find her hands caught and restrained in a firm and loving grasp.

You lift me up, holding me gently,
touching deep places
with an almost painful intensity . . .

"No, Alex, relax. We're not on a schedule, here. There's just us. No train, no one chasing us, and no one we have to go meet." She kissed her and pulled back. "Let's just take our time, okay?"

Alex saw the desire in Teren's eyes, a soft passion that aroused her more than anything ever had.

Now your touch is firm, commanding.
I know your need; it matches mine.
What we share is white hot, intoxicating . . .

It also frightened her, and she had to swallow as once again Teren leaned in to kiss her. She pushed against her, working her way into Teren's mouth, but her dark lover simply pulled away, and moved her lips to the area behind Alex's ear. Her hands --

Your hands are everywhere,
your lips capture mine and your kisses are deep . . .

slid up Alex's back once again, as her tongue gently traced the sensitve skin of her neck.

our bodies tangled, our heart beating as one.
I want more of you, I cannot get enough.

Alex moaned softly, aching to feel more of Teren. She reached again for the buttons, but Teren stopped her once more, looking softly into her eyes.

She could see the need in the younger woman's eyes, and knew that if she didn't cool things just a bit, they'd never make it to the bedroom. And she really wanted that.

She knew that up until then she'd been mostly passive in their sexual encounters. Alex had begun most of them, and taken control more often than not. They had been more than a way to relieve tension, but none of them would be called 'making love.'

Which was what Teren wanted to do tonight.

She smiled and reached for the wine glass, offering it to Alex, who took a healthy swallow from it. Teren did the same, keeping her eyes locked on the green ones that flickered in the glow from the floor lamp.

"Are you alright?"

Alex nodded, not trusting her voice. She licked her lips, and reached up to stroke Teren's cheek.

They kissed again, slowly. This time when Alex requested entance, Teren allowed it, staying with the kiss until Alex was pushing her back against the arm of the sofa. Then she gently disengaged, wrapping her arms around the blonde woman and holding her.

"I think it's time we moved this, don't you?"

Alex chuckled. "Yes, please."

She stood, offering Teren her hand. Leaving the music on, they walked to the bedroom, hand in hand. Alex stopped at the doorway and reached back to turn off the light in the living room. Teren found the small light by the bed and turned it on, only to illuminate one orange and white cat, curled comfortably around himself in the middle of the bed.

Only to illuminate one orange and white cat curled comfortable around himself in the middle of the bed.

"Okay, Cat, move."

He didn't even look at her.

"I said move. Shoo, even." She motioned with her hand. He opened his eyes and for a moment, she thought he'd raised an eyebrow at her.

"Come on, get. Outta here, go on." Teren reached down and pushed him that time. Appleby raised his head and looked at her indignantly.

Alex laughed. "Shall I come save you, Ter?"

"No, but you might wanna move him before I do something nasty and cruel." She tried to sound tough, but it wasn't possible as she stared down an opponent that wasn't even a foot tall.

"Okay, buddy." Alex picked Appleby up and moved him out to the living room, placing him on the couch. He looked annoyed at her, and she smiled, rubbing his chin and throat. After a moment he began to purr. She smiled at him. "Now, you just be a good boy and stay out here, okay? Otherwise, Mommy might let Teren turn you into cat sausage for breakfast tomorrow. 'Kay?"

He sighed, and blinked at her.

"Yeah, I don't believe me either." She stood, moving back to the bedroom, closing the door till only an inch of light spilled from the bedroom to the living room.

She find Teren stretched out on the bed, leaning against the headboard, with one leg out in front of her and the other bent at the knee.

"You look comfy."


Alex walked over to her, and Teren turned, putting her feet back on the floor. Alex moved to stand between her legs, and then bent to kiss her.

They stayed like that for several minutes, with Alex's hands on Teren's shoulders, and Teren's hands curled around Alex's waist. Time and time again, their mouths separated, only to come back together, balancing on a fine edge between hunger and control.

Finally, Alex reached for Teren's buttons, and this time she wasn't stopped.Button by button, she opened the shirt and pulled it away from Teren's jeans. Finally, the last one slipped through, and she pulled her head up and stared into the blue eyes as she pushed the shirt from Teren's shoulders.

"Hey, that's not fair, you've got a tank top on."

Teren laughed, and pulled Alex in for another kiss. She slid her hand up under Alex's sweater, letting her hands caress soft skin as she lifted the material. With Alex partially bent to kiss her, it didn't take much to pull the sweater over her head, and off her arms. It joined Teren's shirt at the foot of the bed.

Teren teased Alex's sides, brushing her fingers against her ribs, until she squirmed.

"No tickling, Ter."

"Why not?"

"Cause." She looked into the blue eyes again.

"Cause why?"

"I -- " Alex stopped. "I don't know, just cause."

"Okay." Another kiss.

Alex's hands lifted the edge of the tank top, gently drawing it up. Teren held the kiss as long as she could, pulled back and raised her arms. Alex pulled the tank off and dropped it, not caring as it slid to the floor.

"Oh, and a bra underneath two shirts. Tsk." She reached for the hook in the front of Teren's sports bra, but her hands were held to her sides. Teren leaned in and kissed her stomach gently, looking up into the fiery green eyes.

"I love you, Alex."

Alex swallowed. "I know."

Teren frowned. It wasn't the answer she'd been expecting, or hoping for. "How did you know?"

"You told me. In Germany. When you were lying in that hospital bed. You whispered it just as you fell asleep."

Startled blue eyes widened. "I don't remember that."

"I didn't think you did. That's why I didn't say anything. I figured it could have been real, or simply a response to almost dying. I didn't want to get my hopes up."

Teren smiled at her. "How could I not love you? Everytime I'd get crazy, you'd be there."

"And everytime I'd have nightmares, you'd hold me."

"I couldn't do anything else. I wanted to take them away, but I couldn't."

Alex nodded. "I know. I loved you for that." She smiled back. "And for everything else as well."

She leaned down again, feeling Teren's strong arms go around her, hands warm against her back.



"Why do you wear bras without hooks?"

Alex laughed. "They're more comfortable."

"Yeah, but they're harder for me to take off." Teren finally stood, pulling the offending garment over the blonde head and tossing it to the floor. "Better."

She sat down again, and caught Alex's hand as it reached for the hook on Teren's bra. Wrapping one arm around Alex's thighs, and the other just above her waist, Teren turned, pulling the smaller woman with her. Alex landed on her back, directly into the center of the bed.

"Much better."

Alex grinned up at her, then closed her eyes as Teren lowered her mouth again.

Soft brushes across the sides of her breasts caused Alex to inhale deeply, as did the feeling of Teren's mouth once again returning to her throat. This time, however, it didn't stop there, but continued on, down to the hollow between her breasts, and back up the other side. Alex moaned, her fingernails trailing across Teren's back.

Keeping her touches gentle, Teren slid her hands down and around Alex's breasts, cupping them, holding them. Her mouth met Alex's soft lips once more, then descended, this time trailing around the outside of her breasts, moving slowly.

Alex was beginning to squirm under this gentle attention, and her hands flexed time and again. Finally, she reached for the hook to Teren's bra, this time opening it with a single twist, and letting Teren's breasts fall slightly forward. She cupped them lovingly, pressing them up and squeezing gently.

Her grip got stronger as she felt Teren's mouth finally cover her nipple.

"Teren -- oh, please."

She left one hand stroking Teren's breasts, and used the other to run her hand through the dark hair, pressing down slightly. Teren refused to increase the pressure, and simply held her position, teasingly, until she heard Alex groan again. Then she moved to the other nipple to give it the same treatment.

She continued teasing Alex's nipples, while her right hand slid down across the flat stomach, and slipped in between the jeans and skin. Using a fluttering movement of her fingers, she tickled her way from side to side, across the front of Alex's belly.

Alex couldn't think. All she knew was that Teren was driving her mad. It was frightening for a moment, the intensity of her need, and she gripped hard at Teren's shoulders. Slowly, the blue eyes raised to hers, and Teren's lips came willingly back to caress Alex's.

Finally, her hand slid the button through the hole, and began to pull down the zipper in Alex's jeans.

Alex lifted her hips, but Teren ignored her plea to take them off, instead easing herself down the smaller body, spreading more kisses across the soft skin. When she reached her lover's navel, Alex reached to push her jeans off her own hips.

Teren looked up at the green eyes. "No. Let me."

"Then do it, please?"

Teren smiled. "In a minute."

Alex groaned.

Teren folded back the material, exposing blue cotton briefs. She smiled, and gently pulled them down. Then starting at Alex's waist, she kissed her way to the bottom of the 'V' and back up. Only then did she give in and hook her fingers under the jeans, sliding the denim down Alex's legs, taking her underwear with them.

Gripping the blankets with her hands, Alex panted, trying to get more air into her lungs. She had never felt so loved, yet so very vulnerable. As Teren's hands stroked her hips, her lips kissed the inside of Alex's thighs.

"Relax, Alex." She trailed her tongue along a corded muscle in Alex's leg. "Relax."

Alex nodded, but couldn't help jumping every time Teren touched her. She felt so open that it scared her, and for a moment she thought of stopping.

Teren saw the fright in her eyes, and pulled herself back up Alex's body. She kissed her mouth again, gently, stroking her hair with one hand while leaning her weight on the other.

"Are you alright?"

She received a nod in reply, but frowned when the green eyes wouldn't meet her own.


Her eyes closed, and Alex took a deep breath before opening them to stare into the electric blue she loved. She felt better with Teren next to her, and she calmed, her breath coming easier.


"Don't be." Teren sat back on her heels, pulling Alex up with her. "I've got an idea."

She had Alex stay sitting up, then reached behind her to move the pillows. Sliding in behind her lover, Teren leaned her back against the headboard, and stretched her legs out on the bed, pulling Alex back between her denim clad thighs. She leaned forward slightly, her mouth close to Alex's ear.

"Should I take my jeans off, first?"

Alex shook her head. "Not yet." She gave Teren an embarrassed smile. "I kinda like the feel of them against me."

Teren grinned and kissed her ear. "Okay, cross you ankles over mine. Yeah, that's good."

Reaching forward, Teren trailed her hands down from Alex's collarbones, over her breasts and across her stomach. She stroked the soft skin inside her thighs, and kissed the sensitive spot behind her ear. Keeping her movements slow and tender, she followed the same trail again, this time coming closer to the area between Alex's quivering legs.

Soon, Alex was panting again, practically begging. Teren's touch, and her kisses, combined with the words she whispered hotly in Alex's ear, were enough to drive her partner beyond anything but need.

Alex cried out as Teren gently entered her, stroking the velvet warmth she'd been slowly edging towards.

With one long arm wrapped around Alex, holding her arms still, Teren kept whispering, talking to her.

"That's it, Alex, relax. You know I love you. Let me do this for you, give this to you. Just let go, love."

"Teren, I --" Alex pressed her head back, driving her hips forward. Her hands wrapped around Teren's strong arm, gratefull to have something to grab onto. She closed her eyes, letting Teren take her higher than she'd ever been.

When Teren bit gently into the corded muscle of her neck, it was too much, and she broke, crying out for a long moment as her body shook in Teren's embrace. She felt Teren hold tighter, then relax as the wracking spasms became lingering shudders.

Teren stayed with her, holding her, whispering to her.

"I've got you, love. It's alright. Shhh. You're safe. I'm here."

It took her a moment to realize that Alex was crying.

When she did notice it, she gently turned the woman in her arms, drawing her knees up. In that position, she cradled her, letting Alex rest against her shoulder and chest. Ever so gently, she began rocking her lover, her arms wrapped around the blonde woman.

It took several minutes, but Alex's breathing finally calmed. She lay quietly, eyes closed, just enjoying the rocking.

"You okay?" Teren finally whispered.

Alex nodded. "Yeah. Sorry." She raised her head to look in Teren's eyes. "I didn't mean --"

"Shhh." Teren covered her mouth with a hand. "It's nothing. Don't worry about it."

Alex put her head down again. "I'm not used to being out of control."

"I know." Teren's voice was soft. "Thank you for trusting me."

Alex kissed her throat. "Teren?"


"Why do we always make love on the outside of the blankets?"

Teren chuckled. "I don't know. Good question."

"Think we could get under them now?"

"Absolutely. Can you move?"

Alex looked up at her. "I don't think so."

Teren laughed again, and gently moved out from behind her, easing her backward onto the bed.

"Okay, you just stay still, and I'll get the blankets out from under you."

Alex smiled. "Okay."

Teren pulled the covers down to Alex's head, then lifted her friend into a sitting position. She pulled them down to her waist, then wrapped an arm around Alex and lifted. Using her free hand she pulled the covers down further, then deposited Alex onto the sheets. After that, it was a matter of lifting Alex's legs, and sliding them under the blankets.

When it was done, Teren straightened. "There. All better?"

Alex shook her head. "No."

"What's wrong?"

"You're not under here."

"Oh." Teren smiled and leaned down to kiss her. "We can fix that, I think. But first," she reached for the button on her own jeans.

Alex sat up and moved her hands away. "I'll do that." She slipped the five buttons through their respective holes, and then slid her fingers inside the waist, pulling the jeans and white briefs over Teren's hips.

"Thank you." Teren kicked the jeans the rest of the way off, then climbed into the bed.

Alex curled up at her side, gazing up at her. She reached up and gently touched the wound that still showed clearly on Teren's head.

"Does it still hurt?"

"Nah. Not really." She sucked in a breath at the feeling of Alex's fingertips running across the still sensitive tissue.

"I thought it didn't hurt." Alex raised an eyebrow at her.

"Doesn't. Just a little, um, tender, yet."


Alex pulled herself up, laying on her side, next to Teren. She let her fingers trail down from the temple to Teren's cheek, then on to her ear, and down her neck.

"You know, eventually, we're going to have to talk about us."

"I know."

Alex licked her lips. "Teren?"


"I love you."

Her dark lover smiled at her. "I know. I love you, too."

Alex leaned forward and kissed Teren, pulling away and quickly going back for more. She did it again and again, each kiss lasting longer than the one before. Soon it was Teren breathing heavily, as Alex's hands crossed her collar bones, and slid down, teasing her nipples to a painful tightness before wandering lower across stomach muscles that clenched as she stroked them.

"Relax, Ter."

"I'm trying. You're not making it easy."

Alex smiled, and moved her kisses lower, following the line of Teren's throat, and the curve of her neck. She ran her tongue along both collar bones, from the center to the shoulder area. After that, she went lower still, kissing the valley between Teren's breasts, gently teasing her lover until she reacted with a sharp gasp.


The whispered word carried softly to her, and she raised her head and whispered back. "Easy, love."

Teren felt her eyes roll back in her head, as Alex worked her way down to her stomach. Her hands curved around the blonde's shoulders, needing to hold something. The intensity of this gentle exploration was beginning to get to her.

"Alex, please." She heard a chuckle in response.

Her fingers searching for the velvet warmth of Teren, Alex raised her eyes, again, wanted to see Teren's reaction. She smiled at the closed eyes, and the way Teren was biting her lower lip. She chuckled again, and started the long journey back up her lover's body, once again leaving kisses in her wake. Her hand, though, found the warmth it was looking for, and she began stroking, keeping her rythm steady and relentless.

Teren was whimpering by the time Alex returned to kiss her lips. She was sweating, her forehead glistening, and a tremor had settled into her limbs. She pressed a hand against Alex's head, holding her to their kiss.

Alex pulled back slightly, wanting to see the electric blue that she loved. Teren opened her eyes, locking them on the green in front of her.


"I'm here, Ter. I'll catch you."

And Teren let go, her eyes widening, then slamming shut as the spasms spread through her body, forcing the air out of her lungs in a great wild yell.

Alex slipped her free arm under Teren's shoulder, sliding her hand under her neck. She leaned close to her ear, whispering softly, and planting tiny kisses on her lover's cheek.

As the shudders began to subside, Alex pulled back, laying again on her side, her hand holding her head up. She stayed in contact with Teren, tenderly stroking her still quivering stomach.

She smiled as the blue eyes finally opened again.


"Hey. Did I ever tell you you're amazing?"

"Not yet."

"You are, Alex."

Alex kissed her, and pulled her arm out from under her head. She stayed on her side, watching as Teren lazily rolled to face her. They pulled the blankets up to their shoulders.



"You okay?"

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah." Alex scooted closer, snuggling against her partner. "I'm good."

Teren smiled, and reached up with one hand to switch off the light by the bedside table. The room was plunged into darkness.

Alex wrapped an arm around Teren's waist. Teren responded by circling her shoulders, and kissing the top of her head.

"Sleep well, love."

"Sweet dreams, Teren."


A few moments later, their breathing settled into two steady rythms. They slept easily in each other's arms.

Neither of them heard the soft footsteps that approached the door, or heard the door pushed slightly more open.

Appleby glanced around the darkened room, and then jumped lightly onto the bed. He approached his owner, and then her guest, sniffing delicately. Finally, he rubbed his head against her arm in a friendly manner. She pulled slightly away but didn't wake.

He moved away from the two sleepers, finding a spot by their legs. Turning himself around once, twice, three times, he dropped down with a heavy sigh and closed his eyes.

A quiet peace stole over the apartment.



The End

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