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A Different Kind of Bond

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Private Kaylin Neya loved many things. Children, swearing, betting, and family all taking their places at the top of the list. Her family was not Barrani family or traditional human family. Her only blood relative, her mother, had passed away when she was a child in the fiefs. The next closest thing, Severn, had helped her build a new family and had later destroyed her by killing them. Yes, he’d saved the world — and her — in doing so. No, she hadn’t known that at the time. Yes, they’d gotten past their bloodied history. And no, neither of them would ever be able to forget that, nor fully forgive it. But Severn she loved now like a brother, and he loved her as a sister, and they had each other again. 

Marcus and his Pridelea were her family, as was Caitlin and Tain and Clint and the other Hawks. Bellusdeo and Makkaron, Tara and Helen, the foundlings and the Thalani. All were people she considered family. With them she felt at home — Helen being the sentient building that actually was her home — and she loved them all dearly. They made her feel content and happy, satisfied in their company despite the occasional argument or fight. 

Teela — of course — was also part of that family. Of course she was. She had been the towering figure who taught her the ways of the Hawks with her partner Tain. She was the beautiful Barrani who apparently considered her kyuthe. Yes, sometimes they got annoyed with each other and yes, sometimes Kaylin got sore from being the butt of so many demeaning jokes about mortals, but Kaylin considered her an important, essential part of her family anyways. 

She didn’t love the female Barrani as she loved Severn. She couldn’t. They were different people. She gave Teela love as she would give love to an older sister, and she did so quietly, subtly, because otherwise Teela would get annoyed with her sappiness just like she got annoyed with her worry. Kaylin convinced herself that when she wasn’t thinking about Teela as a superior Hawk, or Barrani, or sister, it was because otherwise Teela would bare her teeth at the open awe or admiration on her face. That was it. 

But now, sitting in the dark of her room, toes pushing into the bedsheets at her feet, arms curling around her bent knees, she stared at the wall and frowned. Recently a strain of thought had stuck in her mind and for the last two days nothing she thought about could fully dislodge it. 

Teela had been furious when she had seen Nightshade’s mark, as had Tain and Nightshade’s brother. From what Kaylin understood of it, it was a claim, a brand that meant something she didn’t like thinking about. If Teela considered her family, then all the more reason why she would have been so enraged. But Teela’s rage seemed different somehow. And Teela had also argued with her cohort, the group of Barrani closest to her heart and who held her True Name, about Kaylin. Specifically, about how they should wait for their test because if something went wrong, Kaylin was here. She had argued that they could afford to wait until Kaylin’s mortal life was finished, so she wouldn’t get caught in their problems. Kaylin couldn’t understand. She’d encountered danger time and time again. Teela had warned her about jumping headfirst into things she didn’t understand time and time again too. But Teela was never bored because of it, or so she said. 

And then she had put Kaylin outside of what she considered family. 

Kaylin’s fingers twisted into the soft sleeves of her shirt, closing her eyes. Her chest felt tight, like she’d been punched one to many times in the ribs and was only just beginning to heal. She couldn’t remember if Teela had ever actually said that Kaylin was kyuthe. People had mentioned it, had inferred it, but had she actually heard it from Teela’s mouth? 

She couldn’t remember. 

Not for the first time, she cursed her poor mortal memory. She jerked back into her bed, wrapped the covers over her, and curled into her pillow. Hope huffed from above it in annoyance, but didn’t bother to do anything else. More than a little angry, annoyed, and confused, Kaylin fell into what she knew would be a restless sleep. 

————— 

“Kitling.” a familiar voice called, intoned in such a way that Kaylin realised it wasn’t the first time she’d been called. 

Her eyes dragged up from her breakfast, bread paused halfway to her mouth, and stared across the dining room to Teela, who stood with her arms crossed in the doorway. Familiar words slipped from her mouth. “Don’t call me that.” 

“Was there an emergency at the Foundling Hall then?” she asked, propping a lean shoulder against the wall. 

“No.”

“The midwives?”

“No.”

“Then what?”

“Nothing.” The bread finally entered her mouth and Kaylin looked back down to her plate as she picked up a piece of cheese. They were off duty today, so why was Teela even here? 

“She’s here to see the cohort.” Helen answered, her avatar appearing at the end of the table. She stared at Kaylin for another moment before turning slightly to look at their Barrani guest. “They’re in the training room, dear.” 

“I see.” Teela said. There was a moment of silence as Kaylin continued to munch through breakfast, staring adamantly at her food, before the faint rustle of fabric alerted her that Teela had moved away. To see her family. Kaylin frowned around a piece of meat. 

“Barrani family ties are not the same as yours, dear.” Helen said. Kaylin glanced up at her. 

“I know.”

“Sometimes it seems you forget.”

“I know.” Kaylin turned away, staring down at her empty plate. 

“Would you like more food?” 

“No.” 

The silence was punctuated by Helen’s raised brow. Kaylin found it surprising that she knew she was doing it without actually looking at the avatar. 

“Helen.”

“Yes?”

“Do you remember if Teela ever called me kyuthe ?” At the additional silence that followed, Kaylin glanced back up to see Helen frowning at her. Hastily, she added; “Uh, out loud?”

This time the silence stretched for long enough that the food on her plate lost its appeal. She was about to acknowledge that the avatar of her home wasn’t going to give her an answer when Helen said, quietly, “No.”

“No you don’t remember or no she never said it?” Kaylin’s frown deepened. Her hands clasped each other on her lap and she stared hard at the gripping digits as they slowly turned white. 

“She has never said it here that I can recall.”

Something in Kaylin’s chest tightened. Her hands unclasped each other to grip onto the arm rests of her chair. She was staring at a spot between her feet when she felt the table move away from her and Helen’s familiar face moved into her line of view. The avatar crouched in front of her, her frown deepening. 

“Dear, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, Helen.” The words passed from her lips with ease, despite how tight her skin felt. 

“I don’t understand your thoughts. They seem...confused.”

“That’s because they are.” she whispered, rising from her seat. She maneuvered around the dining table, raising her eyes towards the door she was aiming for. 

“Where are you going?”

“Just for a walk.” Kaylin replied over her shoulder, without glancing back, shutting the door firmly behind her. The cool draft of wind swept over her narrowed eyes as she hunched her shoulders and walked off the property. She felt Helen’s gaze on her but didn’t look up back to her home to see what expression the avatar was wearing. Right now she just needed to move. To do something . Being that it was her day off, she angled herself towards the Foundling Hall, brushing back the tears from her eyes that came from the wind. From the wind. 

————— 

Her dreams a week later were not the unmemorable flashes of images or the glimpses from cases from her memories that they usually were, though this one was based on a memory. 

Warm water lapped gently against her bare skin as she rested with her back against the edge of the bathing pool. There was a vague thought that the water felt nice, carassessing her sore muscles as it was, taking away the toil from that day’s work. She couldn’t quite focus on it though, because she could feel someone else sitting in the pool with her. She turned her head to the side, her wet hair against her upper back within the water, and quietly regarded Teela. 

The Barrani Lord’s long ebony locks cascading down like a dark shadow across the back of her neck, slipping behind her shoulders and down her spine. The steam from the bath gave her skin more glow than usual, water droplets catching the light like gems over her cheeks and collarbones and shoulders. Teela must have heard the movement of Kaylin turning her head because she turned hers too, dark lashes brushing her cheeks as she blinked at the small woman beside her. There had always been a lazy yet lethal grace about Teela, like she was a large, powerful cat that was simply waiting until she got hungry to start a hunt. Kaylin witnessed that same sharp intent as the Barrani’s blue-green eyes shifted to more blue as she saw something in Kaylin’s expression. 

“What’s wrong, Kitling?” Her voice wasn’t loud but there was something behind it that made it seem so. 

“Nothing.” Kaylin murmured, shifting a bit. The bathing pool had a ledge for sitting around its circumference, and the smooth stones of it whispered against her skin with the movement. Her thighs splayed a bit with the shift, making the water shift to caress in between them. She sighed, turning her head away from Teela, who’d plagued her thoughts and twisted them day and night so much recently, and tried to relax into the dream water. Kaylin tilted her head back to rest against the edge of the pool, raising a cupped hand to trickle some water against her own collarbones, relishing in the calming warmth it gave her. This was the best dream she’d had in a while. 

For the first time in a week Teela drifted from her thoughts. Everything drifted from her thoughts. Her muscles relaxed completely under the gentle waves of water around her. Until she felt something like a mental probe.

“-something.” 

Kaylin blinked her eyes open, raising her head slightly to stare at Teela, who’d moved closer since Kaylin had closed her eyes. 

“What?” 

A faint look of bemusement filtered through those blue eyes, but not enough to change their color. Teela leaned closer, staring hard at Kaylin’s face. 

“I said , there must be something. You haven’t been speaking much the past few days but I’ve always been able to hear you think. You do it too loudly.”

Kaylin huffed. “No I don’t.”

“Don’t think?” Teela mused. 

“Don’t think loudly !” she scowled at the Barrani, watching the edge of her lips quirk up slightly before her gaze trailed after a droplet running down her throat to smear across the top of her — her eyes darted back up meet Teela’s, cheeks warming as she wondered if she’d noticed where Kaylin’s eyes had been. 

“But you’re thinking.” Teela said, brushing a few wet strands of ebony back behind a pointed ear. Kaylin didn’t see what the action brought out of the water because she was too busy making sure not to. “I know you are.”

“So what?” 

“So tell me what you’re thinking about, because you obviously haven’t solved whatever the problem is.”

Kaylin scoffed, looking away. Long fingers latched onto her chin, guiding her head back. Those eyes were no less blue. 

“I wasn’t asking, Kitling.”

“I’m not telling, An’teela .” Kaylin tried to jerk her chin out of that firm grip to go with her sharp words, but found herself stuck. Teela pulled and Kaylin’s head and body followed, slipping over the seat until their thighs brushed. Kaylin sucked in a breath, about to demand to be released. 

“Just tell me.” The Barrani snarled. 

No.”

Kitling.”

“Why should I?” Kaylin jerked within Teela’s grip, feeling like she was being branded. The water felt too warm around Teela. The simple contact between them made her feel as if she was standing a step too close to a fire. 

The fingers around her chin slackened and Kaylin pushed away from the seat, forgetting how deep the actual pool was. Her head went under and before she could think to kick back up a hand circled her arm, pulling her forward and up as another wrapped around her other one. She broke the surface and coughed, feeling like a child as she was held up, half out of the water, by Teela’s strong arms. Because of the grip on her arms Kaylin couldn’t wipe her face, so she had to make due with blinking rapidly to get the water out of her lashes before meeting Teela’s eyes. Her darkened blue eyes. 

“You don’t trust me?” Teela asked softly, slim eyebrows lowered, lips turned downwards. 

“Of course I do.”

“Than why won’t you tell me?”

“Just because I trust you doesn’t mean that I need to tell you everything. I don’t tell Severn everything.”

“I’m not Severn.”

“I know. That’s why.” Kaylin’s jaw clamped shut before she could say anything more. Teela’s eyes narrowed. 

“That’s why what?” 

When Kaylin stubbornly refused to answer the question or meet her eyes, Teela once again jerked her forward. Their legs brushed and then pushed against each other, Teela’s seated position causing Kaylin’s legs to open to accommodate her knees without conscious thought. The smaller woman hung suspended over the other’s lap before Teela’s teeth snapped in her face and she jerked back. Her lower half collided more than settled into the lap beneath her.  Kaylin jerked in surprise at the feeling of smooth skin brushing up against the sensitive nub between her legs and froze as a soft sound escaped her mouth. Her eyes widened and she felt like combusting in heated shame as those dark blue eyes before her flared into a vivid gold and then started changing to something darker. 

Panic rushed through Kaylin and she began to thrash in her beloved friend’s arms, not wanting to see that dark blue or midnight, not wanting to see the same shock and dismay her own reaction had prompted in herself, and she didn’t realize she was chanting “Let me go let me go let me go let me go” until suddenly Teela did and Kaylin jerked awake, gasping for air. 

In the next moment two things occured; Kaylin’s thighs pressed tightly together, twitching around the wet heat between them, and she pulled a dagger from underneath her pillow. The figure in the shadows beside her bed shifted into the beam of moonlight filtering through the window. Kaylin only allowed herself a second of recognition before she shut her eyes and lowered her dagger. 

“Why are you here, Teela?” she whispered. 

“You were sleeping. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“Most people, upon finding the person they are looking to talk to asleep in their room, would have just left and came back another time.” Kaylin managed to hiss out, curling her legs to the side and into her body. She knew how keen Barrani senses were and found herself hoping the scent of her room and her sheets would mask the current scent of her

Silence filled the air between them. Kaylin scounged up the nerve to open her eyes but didn’t have that extra bit needed to meet the Barrani’s eyes and see what color they were. Her gaze ended up jerking away from Teela’s lips to rest in the safe and enviously flawless haven of her left cheek. 

“What did you want to talk about?” Kaylin caved, dread and hope forming chaos inside her head. Was it a coincidence that Teela just happened to be in her bedroom when she’d had that dream? She reverently hoped so. 

“I already asked.” Teela’s voice was soft but her words felt like a slap to the face, dashing that hope. Kaylin clenched her teeth, trembling without realising she was doing so. Then they’d both experienced that dream. Teela knew what had happened in it, how Kaylin had reacted. Perhaps she’d ignore it. Maybe she’d give Kaylin a lecture of some sort. There was a fear building in Kaylin’s chest, getting larger as the silence dragged on, as her thoughts made her chest squeeze with each scenario, each reaction that they dredged up until — “But given your reaction I think I need to say something. Kitling— .”

“No.” Kaylin sucked in a painful breath, words spilling from her tongue. “ No. You don’t get to call me Kitling like it means what I know it means, because you’re not using it that way. To you, it means child or inexperienced but to me and the Leotines it means more. It means family , Teela, and I know you don’t see me that way. You never did. All I ever was to you was the mascot, the subordinate, the friend — maybe on a good, fortunate day — but that’s it. We’re not family like I want us to be because you’re family is the cohort and I’m just weak, mortal Kaylin, following you around like a lost puppy, always getting into things over my head, never thinking enough and thinking too loud when I do, and—”

The snarl that spilled from Teela’s throat sent a chill running through Kaylin’s bones just like a Leotine’s would have. Nevermind that Leotines were made to make sounds like that and Barrani weren’t supposed to even have the equipment to do it, she only had a moment to flinch back as Teela leapt for her. Long fingers wrapped around her wrists and a lean body slammed into hers, making her jerk out her curled legs to thrash. Teela’s legs bracketed her own through the sheets, locking them together between her longer, stronger ones as she bore down on her, white teeth flashing in the gloom just above Kaylin’s face. 

“You’re such an idiot! ” Teela hissed into her face. “Of course I’ve never seen you as family! You know what Barrani families are like! You know what mine was like!”

“But you know what family is. You have the cohort yet you don’t see me like you see them!”

“You’re not them!” Those long fingers squeezed her wrists to go along with her words. “You’re not Barrani! You can’t move like us or sense like us or fight like us or live like us! I can’t see you like them! I’ve tried!”

Kaylin took a shuddering breath. “B-But I want us to be family. I need us to be family, because I love you and I love Severn and I love Marcus and his Pridelea and Helen and so many others and I want you to be a family with me I want that family to have you in it and it hurts, it hurts Teela because you tell me not to do things because I’m mortal and I’m weak and I won’t survive and you never have faith in me you never trust me even though I trust you with my life and and a-and I don’t want you to be disgusted with me I didn’t mean for that to happen in the dream I just reacted and I don’t want to lose you—” 

Kaylin’s breathing broke down as she took gasp after gasp of air, eyes burning from tears she knew were coming. She had never liked crying, especially in front of others. She gave weak jerks at her limbs, trying to pry free without any hope. She still couldn’t bear to meet Teela’s eyes. She couldn’t. 

Kaylin .” Kaylin’s eyes jerked a bit higher on Teela’s face. She could see her nostrils flaring. “You idiot, I’ve trusted you with my life more times than I can count. I’ve trusted you with the cohort’s lives too. They wouldn’t be here without you. How many times has this mortal body saved us all? You think I haven’t noticed? You think I haven’t been watching you grow into the woman you are today, facing your fears one by one, conquering your demons, rising up to meet the challenges so many throw at you, myself included? You think I don’t admire that? Admire you? For a long time now I’ve thought of you as someone close to me.”

“But not— ” a hiccup erupted from Kaylin’s lips, “family.”

“No, not family.” Teela drew back, releasing her arms but still stradling Kaylin’s waist, still pinning Kaylin’s legs with her own. 

“Why not?” The words hurt, but Kaylin forced them out of her quivering lips. There was a long moment where the silence pulled her heart into her throat.

“When Nightshade marked you,” Teela began, brushing her fingers against the mark on Kaylin’s cheek, “I saw red for a good long while. I hid it from you and everyone else as well as I could, but I was furious. And I realized that I wasn’t furious because I saw another man staking a claim of my sister or my daughter or my cousin. I saw a man staking a claim on my friend, but she was more than that. She was the woman I’d been trailing with my eyes anytime she walked past. The woman who alleviated my boredom like nothing else, who dragged me into things I never would have dreamed of seeing or doing, making me so angry and so surprised and so happy that at times I wondered if those marks weren’t just manipulating me to her bidding. Nightshade claimed something I wanted for myself.”

Kaylin’s mind reeled, her heart giving a confused — and confusingly hopeful — squeeze, but before she could open her mouth Teela was continuing. 

“I’ve never looked at someone the way I noticed myself looking at you. I never cared about someone the way I care about you. Tain isn’t the same; he’s somewhere between friend and family, and when I thought perhaps my feelings for you were just...frustration… he helped me see that they weren’t. And I knew I couldn’t tell you, because I’m who I am and you are who you are and you were still growing into your place here. I couldn’t bare to tell you and see obligation or pity or disgust or misguided love in those eyes. I love you, idiocy and danger and all, Kaylin. But not as blood family, not as a sister or a daughter. I love you as a woman.”

Kaylin finally locked eyes with Teela and saw that the stained irises she was so afraid of seeing were a beautiful, vivid purple. Her pupils ate up most of the color but the sight of them, along with their owner’s words, took Kaylin’s breath away. Her mouth opened to say — what? All her feelings were jumbled up, her body and mind sending her mixed signals that she’d never felt. 

The Barrani above her raised an eyebrow at her uncharacteristic speechlessness and somehow seemed to understand. Teela’s muscles relaxed slightly and that feline grace returned as she lowered herself again and grasped one of Kaylin’s shaking hands in her own, raising it up to slip both underneath the waistband of her pants. Kaylin let out a gasp as her fingers trailed over taught muscle and hot, smooth skin, and all that breath rushed out again as her fingers met wet heat. 

“I feel it’s important to mention that I also want you as a woman.” Teela’s lips beside Kaylin’s ear caused the moan she’d been trying to swallow to leap from her lips and her thighs to clamp together. She felt those lips curve into a smile against the shell of her ear as Teela whispered, “I’m honestly not sure if that dream was my fantasy or yours.”

“Teela.” Kaylin gasped, fingers twitching as more wetness slicked against them. She didn’t even notice that Teela’s own hands had abandoned her pants for Kaylin’s underwear until a hand was brushing against her, sensually spreading her own juices across her nether lips. Kaylin jerked, letting out a broken moan as Teela’s finger circled her clit, sending sparks up her spine to burn every nerve in her body. “Teela!” 

Suddenly the fingers against her went utterly still and she instinctively bucked, trying to restart that delicious friction. Her own fingers dipped slightly into the woman above her and Teela made a sound somewhere between a groan and hiss, using her free hand to gently remove Kaylin’s. 

“I need to know that this is alright; that you’re alright with this.” The Barrani said down to her. It took Kaylin a moment to register the words over the raging beat coming from her heart, and the heat coming from her core. 

“Yes.” She said, bringing her fingers up to taste the wetness clinging to them as her eyes locked once again on Teela’s. The tangy taste of Teela sent more slick leaking from her. “It is.”

A growl ruptured the air. Teela’s lips crashed into hers and Kaylin gasped a soft laugh that sputtered into a moan as a tongue tangled with her own and a new wave a pleasure rushed through her. Kaylin felt the press of Teela’s lean body over hers, the heat seeping through the sheets from one body to the other and felt her lips tug up into a joyous smile. Teela broke away to stare down at her, brushing some hair out of Kaylin’s face. 

“Happy?” she murmured, the purple in her gaze giving way to some specks of green as it roved over Kaylin’s expression and pliant body underneath her. 

“Yes.” Kaylin’s smile grew as she reached up to link her fingers behind Teela’s neck and pull her back down. They spent a good amount of time like that, tangled legs and tongues, sucking lips and teeth. Teela nippled on Kaylin’s lips more often than not, drawing tiny gasps from the smaller woman, all of which the Barrani swallowed up. 

Eventually one of them — Teela — remembered there were more things they could do than kissing. So the one with more thinking capacity — Teela — pulled away from Kaylin’s swollen lips with one final nibble, smirked at the breathless moan the action prompted, and descended down the bared throat before her. Kaylin jerked and hissed and moaned and panted under Teela’s biting and sucking and licking until she realized that she could take no more stimulation and that Teela had begun biting over marks she’d already made. Kaylin’s fingers carded through the mass of silk ebony hair flowing from the Barrani’s head, scraping her skull lightly with her nails. Teela raised her head, eyes darkening, slips peeling back into a feral smile. Kaylin’s entire body shuddered and the Barrani raised a perfect brow. Her tongue swept over her own swollen lip and her nostrils flared. 

“Excited, Kitling?” that husky voice caressed her like a physical hand. Kaylin’s insides clenched and she huffed out an unstead breath. 

“If you call me that here I’ll never be able to hear you call me that normally without thinking of this.” 

“Hmm.” Teela’s fingers were slightly colder than Kaylin’s skin as they began to push her nightshirt up her ribs. As her skin met open air, Teela swooped down to begin laying kiss after kiss against it, claiming each inch revealed. “As much as the thought turns me on, I hesitate to give you another reason to not pay attention on the beat.”

Kaylin rolled her eyes. “Thank y— ”

“So I’ll have to limit it to just being whispered in your ear, alright Kitling ?” Teela’s voice rumbled into her ear before she pulled off Kaylin’s shirt completely. Kaylin would have thought the rumble sounded suspiciously like a purr had she not lost all thoughts save for Oh god Teela is touching my breasts.  

Deft fingers tweaked her nipples, unleashing a flow of passionate curses as Kaylin twitched and pleaded for more. A mouth joined the fingers but did not stay long before it was trailing down to nibble at the skin above the waistband of her underwear. Thumbs dipped underneath the elastic as Teela’s hands circled her hips. 

“Can I take these off?” 

“Please.” 

Kaylin lifted herself onto her elbows and they both watched the slow removal of the garment, both saw how soaked it was as it parted from her and slipped down her thighs, then her knees, whispering over her shins and stopping as Teela gently picked up one foot and moved it free, kissed the inside of that ankle, then pulled the underwear off the other leg and kissed the ankle there too. Kaylin didn’t noticed where she threw the piece of clothing as she tilted her head back and watched through lidded eyes as the woman she loved pulled her legs a bit wider and rested them over her hips. Eyes she was so used to seeing blue with cold intelligence seared over her in flickering hues of green and purple. Teela’s fingers smoothed over her knees, climbing up her thighs as she leaned further into her. Kaylin felt her muscles coiling in anticipation and cried out softly when those fingers finally reached her. 

Her legs clenched around Teela, inadvertently pulling her closer, pressing her further against her. A thumb rubbed against her clit and she clutched Teela’s shoulders, wanting to feel skin but only grasping at clothing. 

“Take… these off.” She panted. 

Teela’s smile was lazy as she murmured, “In a minute” and continued her ministrations. A finger rubbed against her lips before dipping inside, sending a jolt through her and a cry to spill from her lips. Lips met her own as Teela began to finger her slowly, sensually, circling her clit at the same pace, causing Kaylin’s body to twitch and shiver and convulse with pleasure. Kaylin’s fingers grappled against Teela’s shoulders, nails clawing against fabric. Another finger slipped inside, deliciously stretching her. 

Kaylin’s head lolled back, breaking the kiss as a long moan spilled from her lips.“Teela!” 

The Barani followed after her, reclaiming her mouth, sweeping her tongue inside as her fingers thrust and scissored inside of her. Wave after wave of pleasure swept over her, building and building as the thrusts came faster, deeper, and suddenly Teela’s fingers curled and Kaylin’s wail was swallowed up in their kiss. Her entire power went taut, toes curling, back arching as the orgasm slammed into her. She clamped down around Teela’s fingers and came with such force that everything went white for a long moment. 

Teela pulled away to let her breathe, her fingers going still. They made an obscene squelching sound as they pulled out of her. Kaylin twitched, a blissed-out moan whispering out of her. She heard rustling from beyond the dark of her eyelids and opened her eyes slowly to see Teela stripping out of her clothes. As more and more sleek lines of flawless skin and muscle revealed themselves she let out a long-suppressed appreciative noise. Teela paused, fingers having just unbuttoned her pants, to turn her gaze down to the pliant woman before her. 

“Enjoying the view, kyuthe? ” 

Her heart fluttered at the Barrani term, happiness blooming across her face despite the sated fatigue currently liquifying her muscles. “I am.”

Teela snapped forward so suddenly Kaylin would have startled had she not been so out of it. Their lips crashed together like a sealing spell, making arousal flare like a wildfire inside Kaylin’s quivering stomach. She felt heady with it and the smile she could feel pulling up Teela’s lips. Her hands shook with it and minute nerves as she caught the waistband of Teela’s pants and tugged. Their hands bumped and got in each other’s way as they worked to get it and her underwear down her impossibly long legs. Kaylin distantly heard the thump of the discarded clothes hitting the floor. Her thoughts narrowed to the feel of Teela’s lips on her own, Teela’s long fingers bracketing the underside of her breasts, following the expansion of her ribs as she gasped into the kiss. Their legs slotting together,skin slipping on skin. 

Kaylin felt like pleasure was running through her veins. Every piece of contact set her aflame, or so she thought until their legs opened and their bodies came together and the friction between their clits cause them both to throw back their heads and gasp. 

They grinded together, and Kaylin lost herself in it. Long fingers tweaked at her nipples and she jerked underneath Teela, who pulled away from their kiss, watching through hazy eyes as Teela’s hips circled and dropped and thrust forward, riding against her, her breasts swaying sensually, her long neck glittering with droplets of perspiration, her mouth parted, and her eyes! Kaylin gasped at the heat of the look, the pure satisfaction and pleasure she was taking from their movements, Kaylin’s twitching underneath her, all of it. 

And that look tipped her over, Kaylin’s thighs quivering against and around Teela, who gripped them in her hands, Kaylin’s heels digging into the mattress. Teela murmured something Kaylin couldn’t hear over the rushing inside her ears, speeding up against her, making her cry out, over-sensitive as she was while still in the midst of her orgasm. Teela’s thrusts quickly became jerky, less coordinated, and soon she was stiffening against her, hissing and digging her fingers into Kaylin’s thighs. 

Come gushed from them both, the white liquid mixing against each other, spilling in between and underneath their thighs. Kaylin watched it smear between them and slowly turned her eyes up to Teela. Teela looked down at her, her skin flushing like Kaylin had never seen, not to mention the beautifully mixed colors of her eyes. That erotic look hadn’t faded, and though Kaylin’s body screamed that it was spent, arousal still curled pleasantly in her gut. She licked her lips, and slowly sat up, groaning as Teela shifted their legs to allow her to move without tangling them. 

Kaylin crawled over to Teela, who now sat with her legs spread, leaning back against her hands on the bed, and kissed her. Teela hummed like she approved and promptly proceeded to devour her. She lost her train of thought for a long while. When she finally gasped and pulled away, Teela had rolled them over so she was on top of her again. The Barrani tried to reclaim her mouth but Kaylin nibbled at her lower lip. Teela stilled, eyes flashing, but Kaylin saw her chance and slid down the lethal body above her, spread Teela’s thighs quickly, planted her mouth onto her, and began to suckle off the remnants of their mutual orgasms. 

Teela jerked above her, hissing and cursing for a moment before she shifted and thrust her hips down against Kaylin. Kaylin moaned against her lips, swiping her tongue over as much as she could, paying special attention to Teela’s clit. She liked the feeling of Teela over her, liked the smell of her, the taste of her, the feeling of her. She liked pleasuring her, and liked it even more when long fingers grasped at the hair at the back of her head and smashed her faced further into her. 

Teela’s juices smeared across her face, wafted up her nose, tentalized her tongue. Kaylin couldn’t breathe deeply but it didn’t matter because Teela was grinding harder, swearing louder, pressing Kaylin closer, squeezing her thighs tighter and then she was coming, juices flooding into Kaylin’s mouth, making her seal her lips tightly against Teela’s skin to try and drink it all up. 

She stayed there, lapping and cleaning, oddly pleased with herself, before she felt a hand circle her wrist and yank her up. 

She yelped softly as Teela’s breasts brushed across her face in her ascent and she was released back at the top of the bed, green and purple eyes looming over her. Kaylin smiled drowsily up at them and murmured, “You taste good.”

Purple warred with green. Purple won. 

“I’m going to make you scream and come so hard you won’t be able to walk tomorrow.” Teela’s lips were blood-filled and sultry as she delivered the threat. 

“You can’t, Teela.” Kaylin murmured, nosing against the hand holding Teela up beside her. She heard an intact of breath but couldn’t be bothered to look up because her eyes were already drifting close. “We have work.” 

“We’ll see about that.” 

“No, we won’t. Marcus will have my head.” 

“Not if I tell him you were up all night working on Barrani business with me.” 

Kaylin achieved the victory of re-opening her eyes, if only to glare at Teela. “He’s going to smell me on you.” 

“It won’t make any difference to him. We’re together so often our scents are always on each other.” There was that feline look again, that proud, you-can’t-win-against-me-when-I-want-something tilt of the chin, narrowing of the eyes, curl of the mouth. Kaylin blinked at her, raising her arms to loop them over Teela’s neck, pulling her down to meet her in a soft kiss. 

“I love you.”

“I love you.” Teela murmured against her. 

“I convinced myself I loved you like a sister for so many years. That it felt different from loving Severn because he’s male and I’ve known him longer and he’s human and he’s different in every way. But every time you inadvertently treated me differently, or you praised me or you lectured me or you followed me and put your trust in me even though I’ve messed up time and time again, my heart would tug and pound and I’d use every excuse I could to convince myself. Because I needed you. And the most meaningful bond was always family to me. And it still is, but this is a different kind of bond from that, and it means so much to me, Teela, it means so much my heart feels like it’s on fire.”

“You have me.” Teela said, pressing their foreheads together. “Kitling, you have me. You are more than kyuthe , more than family, more than friend. From now until the end, I will love you.”

“The end of what?” Her eyes drifted close again. Teela planted soft kisses on her lids, replying in some kind of Barrani Kaylin had never heard. “What does...that mean?”

“It means until the end of all worlds and all words.”

“At least take me to dinner first.” Kaylin joked, barely awake now. The other woman in the bed scoffed, maneuvering their limbs until she rested against Kaylin’s back, arms wrapped around her middle, and brought the sheets up to cover them. 

“I have. Many times.” Teela said into her ear. 

“Drinking…doesn’t count.” 

“Shut up and go to sleep, Kitling.”

Kaylin fell asleep content, sated, and more happy then she’d been in her entire life. She had her home, her love, and her family. She had her friends and her world. There was never a guarantee for any of it, just as there was no guarantee for tomorrow. But these were life bonds she was making, and she would treasure them until the end, no matter what.