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They were together, now, but not Solemated. It was a step they would not take, yet, because neither was certain of where their healing lay.

~Sima garo provides.~

It was a thing that they had thought, many times. It seemed there was no rush, as they learned to fully rejoin their lives, as individuals. If it was meant, if there could be enough healing, sima garo would indeed provide the means of it.

Patience was not an easy thing for her, but she was preoccupied with the Otherworlders, and so could wait.

Patience was natural for him, and, when he was not engaged in helping her to understand the workings of the installation, and to plan for the eventual effort to excise them, he learned himself…

Still, though, danger lurked. From the Otherworlders, and from the new closeness between them, linking them more and more closely. Eventually, a Solemating might be inevitable and involuntary, and, for both of them, Solemating would eventually require nothing less than a physical consummation.

And he was readying himself for Everdeep, at last – but to go to the being that compelled him. He no longer longed to join with it, but knew now the dangers of it, because it was destroying and threatening more destruction, as it sought a connection that would fulfill it.

This mission might kill him, and there would be pain in being amongst his friends. He knew now that they might have pain and emotional discord regarding his exit from their lives. That would not be so on his world, but his friends were not of a kind with him, and he was beginning to brace himself from the coming onslaught of their feelings.

Jeniah felt him, attempting to hide within himself, and that was a thing that she knew and understood – from her days alone at Osiraan, or as a child alone in the Huntlands.

~If you must withdraw, Kaivelt, I understand. Sima garo provides.~

~You do not see it as further rejection?~

She pondered this for a moonslength – there was no hurry, just now, and time to learn and grow. He would not wish to rush the answer; he had far more use for truth than comfort.

~It is a rejection, of sorts,Kaivelt. And there is pain in it – but is there not pain in all such partings? ~

~I have found it to be so.~  There was something that spoke of surprise, as though it was a thing he had never before considered.

~I left my children to come to the diggings, and did not bid them farewell. Perhaps we all must, at some breath, make such farewells. So, go, if you must, even if that means no farewell. ~

~But there is a thing you would ask of me.~ He could feel the place in her mind, but she knew he would not enter without her bidding. Smiling, she opened it to him, and invited him to explore what was within.

He came inside hesitantly – for all of their involuntary sharings, they were yet shy in these spaces of self. Bathed in her, he seemed to grow stronger, and wonder filled his next sending.

~You offer me so much – with no assurances -?~

~I need no assurances, fierce one. It is my wish that you be well, and at peace, within yourself and without. If I can aid you as you are aiding Aletris, that seems a thing provided by sima garo.~

~And for yourself? Is there nothing you wish, for yourself?~

~You know there is. Do you wish me to describe a prey you can see so clearly?~

This time, it was he who paused, considering. ~Yes, you know that I do.~

~You must not withdraw fully, if you wish the sharing. Also,if I am to be able to draw on your knowing to rid Aletris of those who would dare to break her skin and suck out her life, leaving poison in her wounds, I must be able to touch you.~

~I will remain, as long as I am able. Will you study the stars, Jeniah?~

~I will. It will be so, whether you think me a dream or believe me real. I will watch the stars, as now, and share them with you.~

~There is more, between us.~

This was a mind-whisper, and hesitant. He trembled, in her mind, and there was a note in it that she knew well, and that he would not recognize – it was always hardest to see the danger one wished would not appear. Likely, the stalking would be near done before he knew the threat of it. She could ease it, and that would grow the link between them, even though he would not know what she did.

~Much, much more, fierce one. Let us be only in this breath, and then the next, and the one that follows. ~

Because he might think to protest, and was likely to put thinking ahead of Matehunt, she slipped into his mind, along the silvery threads that led to his places of pleasuring.

~My own !~ A delighted gasp as a shivering response began to tingle into her mind, hesitant but with a clear knowing of the paths that would most stir her. He had not known his own wanting until she had shown it to him, but hers was as a cherished prey, and he stalked it expertly.

~I am not yet yours, fierce one – and I ever shall be my own. But, perhaps, this is a way to Hunt our healing, for us both.~

But he had no words with which to answer, and would not, now, until the long journey of Souldance had wound down to the languorous and sensual sharing of the time after Sating, after Completion.

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It had ever been so, with him, and would be now, that she did not command their hunting. It was a thing they pursued, together. Sometimes, the Hunt demanded that they flow as one; others, it made of them almost enemies, plunging and grappling their way to the prey –

Always, he was pulled in so fully that no words were left him, only the sounds of a pleasuring animal, virile and fully present in the coupling. This was a thing she loved greatly in him, that his calm certainty held within it this elemental male, whose sole purpose was to live these moments with her.

She held those parts of him tenderly, even when they beat and crashed upon and within one another, and offered them shelter as they Hunted…


Not her lover’s voice. No, he was no longer in her arms, and she was straining in the throes of the passion just before Sating. She groaned in pleasure and disappointment.

“Sister, leave off your pleasurings. Or, if you cannot, I bid you to find Sating quickly.”

Urgency pierced a tiny hole in the ecstasy of promised release; her hips bucked and thrust into her hand. Her fingers were frantic and would not obey her mind; he still sent the pulses of energy into her pleasuring places, and there was no resisting…

“Go ’way!” she hissed, desperately, and then gave herself over to the melting, gasping flow of tingling Sating. Yes, yes, more, more…

He was with her, his strange male Completion the counterpoint to Sating, the other face of her release. He clung to her in that moment of utter vulnerability, owned by what he felt as he seldom was, and his gaze was fixed on hers, searching, offering, pleading – and yet, victorious as all men were in the bloodpulse of release.

Bloodpulse and breath beating together, they quivered upon and within one another. She felt no desire to release him, or to rise, or to release his mind.

~We both have duties to tend to…~ He let the thought trail off and fall into the space between them, softly.

And Vaara seized the moment, thrust herself into it. “I’ve waited as long as I can. Come, sister. You must leave off your pleasuring, and come with me. Some wildlings are coming to kill the Otherworlders, and we may already be too late to save them from coming to death themselves.”

Shock, and a moment of not being able to comprehend what it meant. Then – ~ Stay with me, fierce one -please. Do not go yet. I have need of what is in your mind.~

~You go into danger?~ He asked, but he knew, already. She felt his helplessness, and his feat that after all that they had endured.

~Often – as you do, fierce one. But, if you are with me, perhaps danger can be avoided for all. ~

~I will remain with you so long as I am able. What are the details of the threat?~

Jeniah was beginning to remember how to function with him in her mind. “Vaara, will you share with us, that we may both have what you know?”

Vaara nodded and opened her mind, and the sharing began.