Disclaimer: Some concepts and characters in this story belong to ABC TV, and no, ABC TV has no idea we're writing naughty stuff about their characters. They didn't give us permission. We're just borrowing them, in any case. NOTE: This piece has a high NC-17 rating for explicit M/F and M/M sexual content. So, if you can't handle reading about people having sex, or you're under 18 and don't have parental permission, DON'T READ IT!!

FYI: This story takes place in Kellie's Prey universe, not Tere's. Tere was just fascinated by the idea and, since Kellie wasn't finishing it in a timely fashion, offered to help. Timeline-wise Prometheus took place a couple of months *before* the "Lewis" story-arc in the series. Into The Fire takes place about eight months after Prometheus, and this story occurs after Into the Fire. For the sake of Kellie's storyline, we're assuming the 13 eps took place over a much more extended period of time then they appear to in the series, and totally ignoring the stupid October deadline thing-- which the producers did, too, so we feel justified.

Thanks to Julia Kostaka, MaryAnn Verhovsek, Suzanne Vollmer and Carol Stoneburner for Beta-ing this for us. As always, comments encouraged. --Kellie Matthews & Tere Matthews

(And, no, believe it or not, we're not related. :-D)

Program 43
by Kellie Matthews & Tere Matthews


Tom looked up from the book he was reading, eyebrows lifted. "Hmm?"

"What's training program forty-three?"

His jaw actually dropped. Shock, incredulity, embarrassment, interest . . . they all flashed across his face within a span of seconds. Whatever it was, it must be good.

"Where did you hear about program forty-three?" he asked, recovering quickly.

Sloan leaned forward, nonchalantly propping her chin on her hand. "Oh, just something Lewis mentioned."

Tom's eyes widened, then narrowed. "Lewis? I thought you told me he didn't do anything to you when he kidnapped you!"

"He didn't." Sloan said firmly, wondering what Tom thought Lewis might have done. "Well, not really," she hedged, not wanting to admit the way the other man had made her feel. Thinking about it still sent her pulse racing, and not from fear. Why did she respond this way to Dominant males? She knew her DNA was fully human, so what was it that rendered her so sexually receptive to them?

Tom studied her intently, his nostrils flaring as he inhaled deeply. Suddenly he stood up, fists clenched. "Not really? What does that mean? Did he touch you? Did he . . . "

"Tom, calm down!" Sloan exclaimed, surprised by his reaction.

Tom clamped his hands around her upper arms and pulled her to her feet, nose-to-nose with him. "I mean it! I want to know what he did to you! You've never really told me, and I think it's time you did!"

Sloan stared into his eyes, stunned at the raw emotion she saw there. He never put his hands on her, except in the gentlest fashion. It was beginning to dawn on her that he was jealous.

"Tom, let me go, you're hurting me," she said as evenly as she could, hoping her calm would quiet him.

His grip loosened slightly, but he didn't let her go. "Tell me," he insisted.

She didn't want him to know she'd talked to Lewis in his cell the night they'd rescued Carlie Martinez. She swallowed hard, knowing Tom would catch her in a lie, so she had to be really careful. "Well, like I told you before," Sloan said, keeping her voice carefully even. "He just talked to me, taunting me, about you mostly, asking about our. . . relationship. He wanted to know if we were . . . intimate."

Tom's hands eased a little more. "Did he touch you?"

Sloan took a deep breath. "Well, a little."

His grip tightened again. "How? Where?"

"Just my face, and my hair."

His gaze moved across her face, and he lifted a hand to touch one loose curl. "Like this?"

She nodded.

He moved his hand to her cheek, trailing his fingers across her skin, down to her lips, brushing them with just the tips. "Like this?" he asked, his voice husky, sending shivers through her.

She nodded again. He traced a finger over the damp inner surface of her lower lip, where it was most sensitive. She licked her lips, memories of that night surging up, superimposing themselves onto the moment. His eyes narrowed again, and she saw flickers of emotion in them, primal, violent.

"He touched you." Tom said softly.

The emphasis was odd, not 'he touched you' but rather 'he touched you'. What did that mean? In her head she heard Lewis' voice. "I know how special Tom is . . ." The implication that he knew something she didn't; his amusement, his disdain, his incendiary sexuality -- Sloan looked up, suddenly struck by a new interpretation of Lewis' words. Could he have meant . . . No, surely not. Her gaze sought Tom's, curious and startled.

"What do you mean, ' he touched me'?"

Tom released her abruptly, his gaze sliding from hers. Sloan gaped, realizing that her interpretation hadn't been wrong at all, and suddenly wondering just who Tom was jealous over -- herself, or Lewis? Maybe this explained why, after all these months and her own clear willingness, their relationship remained essentially platonic. She'd thought it must have something to do with their not being the same species, but perhaps that wasn't it at all. She stared at him.

"Tom?" she said uncertainly. "Um, I never thought to ask you this before, but are you . . . well, are you gay?"

He slowly shook his head. "No, not like you're thinking anyway. You don't understand. We don't have the same inhibitions you people do."

Sloan stared, shocked. "Then, you did mean that the way it sounded?"

Tom sighed. "I suppose you would interpret it that way, yes. However, that doesn't have anything to do with my feelings for you, Sloan. I do want you, I think about you a lot, about being with you, intimately. It's just that I've never done it alone before."

Sloan frowned, puzzled. There were a lot of implications in that sentence, some of which were clear, others not so obvious. "You mean you've always had someone else with you, other then the person you were having sex with?" She heard her voice squeak a little and winced. She hadn't meant to sound like that. Tom nodded, and she managed not to whistle. "I . . . see."

He looked up, earnest. "Do you?"

"I'm not sure," she confessed, still trying to process the knowledge. Somehow they had never gotten into any discussions about Dominant sexuality before. "Is that how your people usually do things?"

"No. I don't think so, anyway. I've never mated, so I'm not really sure."

Sloan felt like she was part of a 'who's on first' session. "But you just said . . ."

"That's different. It was training. But I've never been just myself, with a female."

"Training!" Sloan gasped. "What do you mean training? You were trained to have sex?"

He nodded.

"So then training program forty-three would be . . . ?"

"It's one of the sections on seducing human females."

"But you're not human! Why would you need to know that?"

Tom looked at her, and smiled. "Pleasure is often a much better means of control than pain. Lewis was a master of both, his touch could bring death or delight." Tom studied her for a moment and then, to her surprise, he smiled again, a little wistfully. "But you know that already. He touched you, too. Now I understand why you wouldn't tell me. I understand that you couldn't help feeling what you felt. It's always that way with him."

He sighed, his expression an odd combination of loss and dejection. What loss was he feeling? Lewis? Sloan's imagination filled her mind with images of Tom and Lewis and some anonymous woman sprawled naked among tangled sheets. The woman took on her own face and she shuddered with reaction, not appalled, but fascinated. What would it be like? What had it been like for him? It must have been incredibly intense. Sudden discouragement flooded her as she realized what she was up against. She shook her head, sighing.

"Well, I guess that explains a lot." She felt a flare of anger. "How the hell am I supposed to compete with Lewis?" She took a deep breath trying to control herself, then spoke as calmly as she could, trying to get more information. "What did you do in this program forty-three, anyway? Is that what you used to get close to me?"

"Sloan, no!" Tom exclaimed, reaching to cup her cheek in his palm. "That wasn't it at all!"

She pushed his hand away angrily, no longer able to keep control, and stood up, pacing. "No? Then what is it?"

He sighed. "It's difficult to explain."

"Find a way," Sloan snapped, her emotions roiling.

She closed her eyes, realizing it wasn't just anger that was making her so volatile. She couldn't stop thinking about what he'd told her. An image of pale skin against darker, two perfect male bodies flushed and damp with sweat. Humid heat bloomed in her belly, an insistent ache. Why did the idea of Tom and Lewis together practically make her salivate? Sloan had always thought of herself as quite sexually conservative, but the idea of Lewis pressing against her from behind, while Tom held her from the front excited her more than she'd ever thought possible. She suppressed a gasp at the sudden thought of both of them, inside her at the same time, and tried to ignore the sudden heat that flooded through her. God, was she some sort of pervert?

Sloan shuddered, and turned so Tom couldn't see her flushed face, moving quickly away so he wouldn't realize what was in her mind. She should go out for a walk or something, before this got any worse. She reached for the knob, but he was there, right behind her, one hand braced against the door to keep her from leaving, his body crowding her against the wooden surface. She could feel he was aroused, the hard length of him pressed against her backside. She held perfectly still, half afraid, half thrilled, waiting to see what he would do next.

* * *

"Tom? What are you doing?"

Sloan's voice was a bare whisper. He heard fear in her voice, fear and desire. Tom felt a surge of anger. Damn him, Lewis was right. Sloan responded to dominance. It maddened him to realize that Lewis had known after only a few short hours something that Tom hadn't suspected until this moment. Tom put his lips against her ear.

"You want to know about training program forty-three?" he said softly. "Very well, I'll take you through it, but remember, you asked." He took a slow, deep breath, remembering. "First, we would go to a place where humans gather, and find one who suited us, but for now, you're here, you'll do."

Sloan stiffened, and he felt her pride lead to anger, knew she was responding to that offhand 'you'll do.' He could feel himself slipping into the strange detachment of training mode, and struggled against it.

"Very nicely, in fact," he amended, and felt her relax a little as he continued to paint his word-picture for her, drawing her in, knowing that human females loved the images in words.

"We would flank her, one of us on either side."

He braced his arms on either side of her, letting her feel how it would be, trapped between them. Her eyes were closed and he knew she was envisioning what he described. Her scent was stronger now as her temperature rose. He breathed it in, felt himself respond. The insistent demand of his body was controlled with a little less ease than usual. He had been trained to patience, but this was a new situation, and one that involved him in a way none of the others had. When he spoke again, he kept his voice soft and calm, like Lewis always had.

"Once we determined that she had no escort or friend with her, we would begin. Sometimes it didn't matter whether she was alone. If one of us found her attractive enough, if we wanted her, in particular . . ." He trailed off as a tiny shiver ran through Sloan. "It was part of the training to learn how to convince a woman that she wanted to leave her escort to go with us. Words, touches, glances, woven between us and her, waking her desire until she forgot her fear or inhibitions. Once we were certain of her compliance . . ."

He paused again, studying Sloan, smiling as he gauged her reaction to that word. As he thought about what to tell her next, he remembered standing across from Lewis, a woman between them. Lewis' eyes would meet his and a slow, sensual smile would cross his face. Tom shivered at the memory of the pleasure Lewis could bring. His body reacted involuntarily to that memory, and he found the softness where Sloan's thighs and buttocks merged, pressing into the warm hollow. A tremor went through Sloan, a tiny sound escaping her.

He leaned closer. "Convincing our quarry that it was safe to come with us was not always the simplest task." He touched his tongue to the edge of her ear, and she gasped. "Human females are so repressed. Fortunately, it seems that being with two men is a common sexual fantasy. That makes it easier. Also, with the right clothes, the right car, the right address . . . Certain types of women were easier to convince than others. We kept a house just for these kinds of training exercises, always well stocked with anything that might be needed."

Sloan turned her head a little, and Tom could feel her curiosity. She would never ask, but knowing would excite her further.

"Exotic foods," he whispered, "liquors, music, candles, and most importantly. . ." he slid his hand between them to the small of her back, then down to rest it lightly on her buttocks " . . . toys, lubricants, that kind of thing."

Her eyes widened and her lips parted in shocked surprise. "Tom! I really don't need to know about this. . ."

He nuzzled her hair aside and kissed the back of her neck. "Oh, but you were curious. You wanted to know."

"I've heard enough!"

"I don't think so. I don't think you'll be happy until you know it all."

"I will," she said earnestly. "I promise."

He let his teeth graze her neck lightly. "No, you won't. You think you will, but it will sit there in the back of your mind, nagging at you until you find out. I may as well tell you all of it now, and save you the embarrassment of having to ask again."

She didn't protest. He knew she was waiting for him to continue, knowing he was right, wanting to hear the rest of it. Her protest had only been pro forma in any case. She was enjoying the way he'd taken charge, wanted him to continue.

"In the car, one of us would sit in the back with her, distracting her so she wouldn't focus too much on the fact that there were two of us."

As he spoke, he moved his hands to her sweater, unbuttoning it slowly, exposing the soft curves of her breasts, cupped in ivory lace and satin.

"Often it didn't matter, but sometimes those inhibitions would surface. Whichever one of us was with her would have to calm them again, to arouse her past the place where her conscious mind objected." One hand rested lightly on her waist, his fingers trailing patterns on her skin and he could feel her stomach moving with the rapidity of her breathing. Using a fingertip from his free hand, he traced a pathway along the upper edge of her bra from one shoulder, down across her breast, into the deep vee between them, up over the other breast, to her shoulder.

"Of course, we would also have to keep the passion from burning out of control, make her wait until we reached our destination. It was a difficult balance to maintain."

She caught his hand in hers, pulling it down until his palm covered her breast. He felt the hard rise of a nipple through the fabric and shifted his fingers to pinch it lightly. She gasped. He brought his other hand up and did the same thing to her other nipple. She moaned, her head falling back, her hips moving, clearly becoming very aroused.

"We would take her in the house, to the bedroom, and both of us would undress her. We took it slowly, testing her responses, learning what aroused her." He unclasped the closure on Sloan's bra and it fell open, baring her breasts. His hands moved gently over the exposed flesh, barely touching her. Her back arched as she tried to press the round globes into his hands. He nuzzled her neck as his hands moved slowly over the front of her torso, exploring.

"Different things arouse different women," he whispered in her ear. "Some women are aroused by strength, some by gentleness, some by being dominated." Another shiver went through her and he shook his head. How could he have missed it? "We asked questions so we could feel and interpret her responses."

"Lewis did that," Sloan said in a husky voice. Tom could feel her startled realization of what Lewis had been doing that night. "He asked what I loved about you, if it was your strength, your intelligence, your courage."

His hands froze for a moment as he pictured that scene. Lewis far too close to Sloan, asking her questions so he could interpret her emotional responses. Tom felt Sloan's response to each word she spoke as well. The image of Lewis touching her made Tom even more aroused and angry then he had been. He'd sensed her excitement when she thought of his mentor before, felt the racing pulse, the sexual arousal. He shoved his feelings aside and concentrated on Sloan's responses to the words she'd just spoken.

Strength and courage seemed to conjure stronger feelings in her than intelligence did. Interesting. Why would that be? Possibly because she knew many intelligent men, but few who possessed those other attributes? Humans had a saying, 'familiarity breeds contempt.' Perhaps her own intelligence had conditioned her to expect that in others, but had left her vulnerable to more primitive aspects. Tom could provide both. He filed the information and continued with his story-image.

"Sometimes the woman would participate in the process. Other times she was shy and we had to undress each other, removing our clothing while we removed hers. The sight of us touching each other was generally even more stimulating to her. It's amazing how much the thought of two men together can arouse a human woman."

Sloan made a tiny, negative sound, protesting that thought even as her body reacted to it. He smiled. She didn't like being predictable, and, again, her automatic response was to pretend modesty.

He moved a hand to his own shirt and opened the buttons quickly, then slid Sloan's sweater and bra off completely, leaving her bare to the waist. He pulled her against him so she could feel the bare skin of his chest against her back. She rubbed against him, unconsciously. He kept thinking he should stop, that she would be angry with him later about this, but he didn't really care at the moment. He could tell by her scent that it was safe for him to take her now, she wasn't in a fertile part of her cycle. She wanted him, he wanted her, and he wanted her to understand as well. By taking her through this, he was showing her exactly how strong the pull was.

"Are you beginning to see, Sloan? Are you beginning to understand how it was?" he whispered.

Her breath caught and she didn't answer, not verbally anyway. He could feel her arousal, though, could see it in the faint flush that swept her skin, smell it in the sudden change in her scent that told him her body had begun to prepare for penetration, hear it in her quick, shallow breathing. She understood.

His hands moved to her waist and he turned her toward him. "Keep your eyes closed," he whispered before she could open them. "There are two of us here. Tom and Lewis."

A shiver ran through her and she took a deep, ragged breath. He caught her hand in his and lifted it to his mouth, placing a kiss against the pale, smooth flesh of her wrist, where her heartbeat raced in blue-veined tracery just below the surface. He opened his lips and rasped his teeth across the delicate skin there before releasing her hand. His hands moved to cup her buttocks and he caressed them lightly through her skirt. He leaned close so she could feel his breath as he spoke.

"Once clothing had been dealt with, the next phase began. Understanding the psychology of how to get her into the bedroom was the first part. How to arouse her, stimulate her, make her desire what we wanted her to was the next objective. In the club and in the car, we had to stay at the pace that worked for her. In the house, the goal was to bring her to something outside her nature - willingly and eagerly."

His hands moved slowly up to her waist, one arm gently circling her to hold her against him, his fingers moving on her bare back. His other hand stole between them to cup her breast, his thumb lightly caressing the nipple, making it even harder.

"We sought out her secret fears and made her want us to give that to her. A woman who liked it fast and hard would be brought to an understanding of the pleasure of a slow seduction. A woman who preferred things slow and gentle would beg for us to take her roughly -- or beg for other things."

Sloan shuddered again, a tiny gasp escaping her at his choice of words. He smiled slightly. Apparently a bit of crudity aroused her. He wondered idly how far he could take it. Part of him recognized that he was still in the detachment of training mode, experimenting, trying to see what moved her and drove her. Another part knew that if he let himself go, he'd move too fast. He'd wanted Sloan for a very long time.

He leaned close, and nuzzled her hair out of the way, rubbing his nose along her jaw. She gasped, shuddering, clearly remembering another time, another place, another man, but the same gesture. Tom made a low sound, almost a growl and drew back, framing her face between his hands, staring into her eyes.

"He did that, didn't he?" he asked.

He'd done it without thinking, remembering countless times he'd seen Lewis do that, countless other times experiencing it himself. It was a staple of his mentor's repertoire, the invasion of personal space, the aggressive sensuality. Sloan's reaction told him that hadn't changed.

Staring down at her, he lowered his hands and gently grasped her wrists, pulling her arms behind her back. He took both wrists in one hand, simulating the way she'd been bound when Lewis held her.

"He did this," he said softly, nuzzling her again.

Her arms jerked once and he could feel her startled desire and a tiny flicker of fear.

"Don't be afraid of me, Sloan," he whispered, moving his nose over her face. His hand came up to her mouth, gently tracing the lower lip, moving inwards as he had earlier. He retraced Lewis' path, following Sloan's reactions, wiping out those memories of fear and replacing them with new ones of trust and desire. Her eyes closed as his fingers moved, caressing her cheek. As his palm passed over the lower half of her face, he felt her fear return. Lewis must have covered her mouth with his hand.

Tom slowly moved his fingers around Sloan's jaw and chin, up over her lips again, letting her feel the warmth of his palm near her face until she relaxed again. His other hand slid up and down her wrists, replacing the memory of rope with the feeling of his fingers around her slender bones.

As he worked to erase her fear of the actions, his head cleared enough for him to wonder what he wanted from this. He wanted more than to simply bed her. He could have had that at any time. She'd been ready for quite a while now.

Did he want her to forget Lewis? Did he want to show her the reality of the training, make her understand where a person could be taken that they never thought they'd go? Or did he want to show her the fullness of pleasure, let her understand how he'd been taught to play a woman's body? Did he even have that much control with her? He wanted her to understand him. He also wanted to give her more pleasure then any man ever had. He knew he was capable of that. Lewis had trained him, after all.

Her eyes were closed, her face tilted upwards and her lips were parted. His fingers trailed down her cheek to her neck and he couldn't resist dragging his lips across hers. She moaned softly and twisted her wrists in his hand. His fingers tightened, just enough to hold her, and his mouth played across hers, never giving her the deep kiss she wanted from him. He wanted her to take it, to break her passivity and initiate the contact she craved. She wasn't ready for that yet, though, so he went back to his story. His mouth drifted away from hers, back to her ear.

"Always, the intent was to control her desire, to use it, to channel it for our own purposes." He felt her intellect stir at that statement, and knew he had to distract her. That wasn't where he wanted to go right now. He remembered her response to the thought of him and Lewis together, and smiled.

"With some women, we didn't even have to touch them to give them pleasure. At times, just observing us together was enough to . . ." he chose his words carefully, " . . . arouse them completely. When the woman lost control, she was where we wanted her to be. Then we could determine just how far a person could be taken, how far outside her nature she would be willing to go to experience pleasure."

Sloan's gaze lifted to his, curious, embarrassed. "How far were you willing to go?" she asked in a tiny whisper.

Tom could feel interest and trepidation, desire and inadequacy. He kissed her throat just below her ear, and gave her the truth.

"As far as it took. Sometimes only a little ways. Lewis would move behind me as we stood together, both of us looking at her. His hands would come around me, moving over me." Tom turned her in his arms so she couldn't see his face, and let his hands skim her body, much as Lewis' had his own, dipping between her thighs, feeling the thin, soft fabric of her skirt between his hand and the moist heat of her sex.

"His mouth and teeth moved on my skin, my shoulders, my throat . . ." Memories sparked a response in his body as he simulated those actions as well, tightening already taut flesh, sending a rush of blood through him. Her scent augmented the memory, increasing his desire almost painfully. His body refused his command for stillness, his hips pushing into the soft curve of her buttocks. He forced himself to pull back. He fought for, and found his control, and resumed, hoping his voice was calmer than his mind.

"If the woman was sensitive to her own desires, it might not take much. Lewis would hold me still with one arm around me while his other hand moved down, his fingers curling around my cock, stroking me, and that was all it would take. Other times . . . " his voice failed momentarily, and he had to swallow to bring moisture to his suddenly dry throat. "Other times, he would take me, fully." He paused, knowing she wanted more detail, but he couldn't bring himself to give it. He was on the ragged edge of control as it was.

"Tell me," she whispered after a moment of silence. He felt her emotions clearly; a tangle of sympathy and desire, of understanding and amazement, curiosity and denial.

He stared at the door, trying to master himself, feeling his body's demands. He wanted her more than he'd ever wanted any woman. He'd never wanted anyone this much - except Lewis. That thought brought him up short. What was the same about them? The idea that there was anything similar between Sloan and Lewis was like cold water being thrown on him. He felt control return and decided to continue his narrative. Maybe the answer lay there.

He lowered his head, bracing his hands against the door on either side of her. The memories were too intense, too immediate. He couldn't touch her while he spoke of this or the minimal control that had just returned would vanish and he'd pull her to the floor and take her.

"We would watch her reactions, study her. If she was open, simply enjoying the show, then there was no point in continuing. If she tried to maintain her control, Lewis would move more slowly, barely stroking his hand over my cock, teasing, standing close behind me, letting me feel him against me, letting her see us together."

Tom swallowed hard, remembering the feel of Lewis hard body against his, remembering how difficult it had been to maintain control then, stunned at how difficult it was now, just from a memory. For a moment, he lost himself in that memory, thinking of one night, in particular. The training section containing Program forty-three had only begun a week before . . .

* * *

Lewis was in an odd mood that night. No one had interested him. Without speaking Lewis left the bar, and Tom followed, obediently. When Lewis drove away from the downtown area and headed for the residential neighborhoods, Tom expected him to take them back to the work house. He was a bit surprised when they pulled into the driveway of the training house instead.

"I'm going swimming," Lewis said, the implication being that Tom was welcome to join him or not. His tone was casual, but, as always, his glance was unreadable.

Tom nodded in agreement. He was tired, and a soak in the hot tub sounded pretty good right now. They walked into the house and out through the courtyard. Lewis stripped silently and dove into the pool. Tom followed suit and they swam for a few moments, then Tom climbed out of the pool and went to soak in the hot tub. After he'd relaxed in the heat for a while, he got out and lay on one of the deck chairs, eyes closed, half asleep.


Lewis' voice was as smooth as silk. Tom knew that tone, knew what it meant. His body began to respond even before he opened his eyes. When he did, he saw Lewis standing over him, looking down. Tom's eyes flickered to Lewis' erection, then back up to his ice-blue eyes. Lewis extended his hand and Tom took it, allowing his mentor to draw him to his feet.

Lewis smiled, sensual anticipation clear on his face. Tom smiled back, equally eager, if somewhat confused. He reached out empathically, trying to sense the other man's intentions, but Lewis' emotions were as concealed as ever. Lewis had never initiated anything with Tom before, except as part of the training. Maybe this was training. He had no way of knowing.

Lewis gestured and Tom started walking, heading into the house. No direction was offered, so Tom went down the hall to the master bedroom and opened the door. As he walked through, Lewis caught him around the waist, stopping him in the doorway.

Tom took a deep breath, enjoying the sensation as Lewis' hand moved over his chest, slowly caressing. As Tom held himself still, Lewis' other hand moved up and his fingers circled Tom's nipples. They hardened in response, achingly tight at the touch. Tom's eyes closed and he took another deep breath. He wasn't certain why Lewis wanted this, but he was more than happy to oblige.

Soft lips touched the back of his neck and he lowered his head. Lewis accepted the invitation and trailed his lips and tongue down from Tom's hairline to the small knob of vertebra where shoulders and neck met. Lewis stepped back and turned Tom suddenly so they were face to face. Lips that had been as soft as velvet on Tom's neck were suddenly harsh and demanding against his mouth. He responded, opening his lips and welcoming Lewis' invading tongue with sallies of his own. His hands splayed across Lewis' waist, then around his back, pulling him closer.

Lewis' hands came up, holding Tom's head still, deepening the kiss. Just as abruptly as he'd turned Tom before, Lewis suddenly pulled back, his lips brushing over Tom's, then moving across his jaw to his ear. Tom trembled slightly, trying to interpret the swift mood changes purely from physical actions. With Lewis' shields solidly unbreachable, he still didn't know whether this was training, or if Lewis was just doing it just for the hell of it. Not that knowing would change his own response. He couldn't help that.

Lewis' hands slid downwards, cupping and stroking. Tom stiffened as Lewis' fingers curled around his cock, closing his eyes again at the pleasure that came from the skilled caresses. Lewis' tongue flicked Tom's earlobe, then traveled down to the juncture of throat and shoulder where he bit gently. Tom leaned forward, intending to return the touch, but Lewis stepped back.

"On the bed," Lewis said casually.

Tom's eyebrows rose, but he turned and obeyed without hesitation. He lay down as ordered, trying to control himself. He was amazed at how aroused he was. There was something so different about this -- different from how it had been with the others who'd taught him about sex and different from all the other times with Lewis, as well. The uncertainty of not knowing his precise role heightened the experience.

His breath caught as Lewis walked slowly toward the bed. He lay still, uncertain what Lewis wanted. He didn't bother to reach out again. If Lewis wanted Tom to feel something, he'd project it. Again, Tom tried to understand the situation based only on Lewis' actions. He seemed unwilling to be touched, yet he was the one who'd started this. Tom waited for the other man to indicate what he wanted next.

Lewis smiled and took a bottle of lubricant from the drawer of the night stand, setting it on top, within easy reach. Tom smiled back and Lewis lay beside him, pulling him close for another deep kiss. Lost in the sensation, Tom almost didn't notice when Lewis pressed him onto his back, moving to lie half on top of him, one leg thrown over both of Tom's. Lewis' hand slid down and grasped Tom's cock again, his thumb sliding over the tip.

As Tom groaned in pleasure, Lewis' mouth left his and moved down his throat, over his chest. Lewis' hand continued its slow, sensuous motion as he rolled Tom's nipples between his teeth and tongue. Tom arched into Lewis' hand, then gasped as a tongue suddenly joined the fingers. He'd seen Lewis torture and tease before, but had only been a peripheral recipient until now. Now he understood fully why the women they brought here reacted as they did.

He arched again as Lewis' teeth grazed his cock. His breath was coming hard and fast and he wondered how long he could keep from disgracing himself by coming so soon in the process. Lewis was straddling his legs now, giving his full attention to what his hands and mouth were doing.

Tom arched and threw his head back, grasping for control, then suddenly sat up, pushing Lewis away. Shock and surprise warred in Lewis' face as Tom wrapped an arm around Lewis' hips and pulled him forward, leaning down to put his own skills to use. The shields were still up, though. A hiss of breath, perhaps pleasure, perhaps anger, escaped Lewis, but he didn't pull away.

Tom gently cupped Lewis' balls with his free hand, fingers searching out the sensitive places and stroking them. His mouth covered Lewis' cock for a moment, then released it to travel the length, his tongue and teeth working to give Lewis the same pleasure he'd just given to Tom. Lewis' hands slid over Tom's shoulders, then up, grasping his head and pulling him back and away.

Tom felt himself pressed down again as Lewis' mouth covered his own, tongue thrusting deep. He felt Lewis' weight come down on top of him and wrapped his arms around Lewis, pulling him closer. The kiss was fierce, but the conclusion was foregone. Lewis pulled back and smiled, his expression a mixture of triumph and passion. Tom wished that Lewis would let him feel something empathically. He wanted to feel what Lewis felt, to know if he was giving the same pleasure he received, if the passion on Lewis' face was echoed in his mind.

"Turn over," Lewis said in a husky voice as he rolled free and reached for the lubricant.

Feeling strangely bold, some part of him hoping to get more from Lewis then just his body, Tom leaned over, intercepting the other man's hand. He took the lubricant and squirted some into his hand, then reached for Lewis' cock. Lewis smiled slowly and leaned back against the bed as Tom began to rub his hand up and down, around, fingers circling and tugging.

Lewis' unaccustomed acquiescence made Tom even more bold and he leaned forward, lips and tongue moving over Lewis' chest, teasing his nipples, moving up to capture his mouth. Tom's hand, slick with the lubricant, continued to stoke Lewis' erection. A tiny sigh of pleasure escaped Lewis and he arched a little into Tom's hand.

Tom felt a flicker of something empathically and pressed his advantage, deepening the kiss as Lewis had before. Suddenly, the flicker was gone and Lewis reached up to cup Tom's head, pulling him close and taking back control. His hands moved to stop Tom's fingers, intertwining for a moment before he sat up, pushing Tom with him, then moved swiftly to position himself behind Tom. Tom started to lean forward, but Lewis stopped him, holding him upright.

Lewis' mouth moved over Tom's shoulders and throat, biting, sucking, licking and kissing. His hands were firm as they moved over Tom's cock and balls, the lubricant that had smeared off Tom's hands making Lewis' touch slick and even more exciting then before. Knees moved between Tom's thighs, pressing them apart and Tom felt a flare of arousal, more intense then anything he'd known as Lewis finally pressed him forward and down. He caught his breath in anticipation.

Lewis' hands moved, parting Tom's buttocks, his fingers, still slick, sliding inward, preparing Tom for a deeper invasion. Tom panted, pressing himself backwards against those searching fingers, letting the other man know he was ready and eager. A soft moan escaped him as he felt Lewis finally move into position.

Tom expected Lewis to enter quickly, powerfully, but instead, it was agonizingly slow. Another moan escaped Tom as he pushed himself back, equally slowly, prolonging the exquisitely intense need as Lewis filled him. As he finally felt Lewis slide home, felt Lewis' hips press against his buttocks, he noticed they were both panting. A surge of exultation filled him. If Lewis' physical reactions were to be believed, he was experiencing equal pleasure, enjoying himself as much as Tom. Of course, it could all be an act, but what would be the point?

A soft chuckle came from behind him and Lewis pulled out as slowly as he'd entered, holding Tom's hips in place. Tom shifted his weight onto one arm, reaching for his own cock, to enhance the pleasure.

"Don't," Lewis ordered softly.

Tom obeyed, repositioning himself, then pressing backwards again to meet Lewis' next slow thrust. Lewis reached down, sliding his hand along Tom's hip until he found Tom's cock and gently squeezed. Tom involuntarily shifted his hips, pressing into Lewis' hand. Lewis followed with his hips, pushing himself deeper inside Tom.

Lewis pulled out again, another slow glide, then pressed in, his hand moving over Tom's cock. Tom moved again, not meaning to, and found that in following Lewis' hand, he was moving away from Lewis' cock. Lewis followed though, obviously intending to create the dichotomy. His speed increased the slightest amount so that his cock entered smoothly as Tom moved into his hand.

They began to move together, both of them pumping slowly in rhythm-- Tom into Lewis' hand and Lewis filling Tom. Tom pulled back when Lewis did, Lewis moving always slightly faster and harder, keeping the dominant position. The pleasure was overwhelming and Tom found it hard to think. He'd rarely reached this point before, always been in control of himself in the past. A tiny flash of clarity made him wonder if Lewis ever reached this point, wondered what it would take to bring him here. He reached out empathically and felt something from Lewis again. Pleasure was there, both physical and emotional, but Lewis was still in control.

The feel of Lewis' hand around Tom's cock, squeezing, occasionally tugging, thumb caressing, made Tom want to know what it would be like to press inside Lewis, to spread him wide and make him feel as much as Tom was feeling now. A powerful thrust from Lewis drove the thought from his mind, and he cried out as the pulsating waves of ecstasy began to course through him. Lewis' hand clamped down at the base of Tom's cock, keeping him from climaxing, and Lewis thrust harder, increasing the pleasure and the tension.

Just as Tom felt the orgasm would occur despite Lewis' restraining hand, Lewis stopped, buried deep inside him. Tom cried out again at the exquisite agony, feeling himself balanced on the precipice as Lewis held completely still, his fingers still pressing at the base of Tom's erection.

Tom felt Lewis' weight come down on him as his the other man leaned forward and began to kiss and lick and bite Tom's neck and shoulders again. Lewis' free hand traveled Tom's chest and stomach, soft caresses over almost unbearably sensitized skin. Tom gasped and pressed backwards as Lewis slowly, so slowly pulled out again and resumed his achingly leisurely thrusts.

As the need receded slightly, Lewis released Tom's cock and resumed his firm squeezing, tugging, caressing with his fingers. Tom moaned as the pleasure built again, pressing into Lewis' hand. Again, Lewis matched his movements, always thrusting harder and faster then Tom. As Tom approached the climax again, he held his breath, wondering if Lewis would let him come this time. As the thought crossed his mind, Lewis drove hard and deep, his hand moving on Tom's cock in perfect counterpoint and he exploded with ecstasy.

* * *

Tom shook himself free of the memory with difficulty, remembered pleasure increasing his arousal, and also his desire to be certain Sloan understood. With a deep breath, he took up his narrative where he'd left off.

"Sometimes Lewis would be in the mood to take it all the way regardless of what the woman needed," Tom whispered. "Occasionally all he had to do was reach for the lubricant, and she would lose herself. When he was ready, Lewis would move me to the bed. Depending on her responses, he would be slow and gentle, or hard and fast. Have you ever seen two men together, Sloan?"

She shook her head, vehemently. He wasn't surprised. She was very naive, out of touch not only with her own sexuality, but with all the myriad other potentialities of sex as well.

"But, didn't it. . ." Sloan swallowed hard, ". . .hurt?"

Tom suppressed a laugh. She was so inexperienced. "You've never tried it, have you?" He didn't wait for an answer. He knew it already. "Do you understand how it works?" he asked gently, not wanting to make her feel ignorant.

She nodded. "Yes, I understand." Her voice was a husky whisper. She took a deep breath. "So, did you enjoy it?"

He reached out with a finger and turned her face until he could see her eyes. Holding her gaze with his, he posed his own question. "Did you enjoy Lewis' touch?"

She blushed furiously and looked away. He felt the surge of remembered arousal in her and smiled. "There's your answer."

"What happened to the woman, then?" Sloan asked. "It almost sounds as though she was superfluous."

"She was. She was just a tool."

Sloan stiffened. "Is that how you see all women?"

"Not you," he answered honestly.

* * *

Sloan relaxed at Tom's quiet statement. She couldn't feel his emotions the way he felt hers, but she knew he was telling the truth. She took a deep breath, trying to deal with all the conflicting emotions that had arisen during Tom's narrative. A shiver ran through her as the image of Tom and Lewis together flashed through her mind again.

"Sloan . . ."

She reached up and put her finger to his lips, then stopped hesitantly. She wasn't sure what to do next. While she was rarely passive in any other area of her life, when it came to sex, she'd always preferred it when a man took charge. Tom stood very still, just looking at her. His mouth opened slightly under her finger and she moved it over his lower lip as Lewis and then Tom had done to her. He inhaled slowly, his tongue slipping out to touch the tip of her finger.

She shivered again, this time at the sensations Tom roused in her. She wanted him to sweep her off her feet and carry her to the bed, but for some reason he seemed unwilling to do that. Unsure what to do, she leaned forward and kissed him. The last time she'd tried this, he'd been leaving her apartment. That time he simply stood and accepted it. This time, his arms went around her and he pressed her close.

His lips moved on hers. It was a hungry kiss, as though he wanted to taste all of her at once. Just as she was letting herself go, falling into his demand, she felt him tense slightly and the kiss gentled, his tongue gliding over the insides of her lips. As her arms slid upwards, around his neck, he drew her closer, one hand slipping under the waistband of her skirt, under the fabric of her panties. He cupped her buttocks, pressing against her, and she could feel his erection.

She moaned and her mouth opened to him. His tongue dipped in, teasing and tantalizing, never quite filling her. Frustrated, she tilted her head and cupped his face in her hand, demonstrating what she wanted. As she deepened the kiss, he responded, letting her feel his strength and desire in the movements of his mouth.

She pressed herself closer, rubbing her breasts against his broad, bare chest, absorbing the feel of him against her. Finally. God, she'd been waiting so long for this! She lifted her hand to his hair, feeling it against her palm, soft despite its shortness. Slowly she drew back, breaking the kiss. She looked into his eyes, and was shocked at the fire she saw there. Tom was usually so controlled, so unemotional.

Her body reacted to the heat in his gaze with a clenching spasm of desire so intense it was nearly orgasmic. The memory of his words heated her more, sparking a deep ache between her thighs. Was this what he meant when he talked about women who would lose control just from vicarious experience? Right now, she thought she could.

He stood still, not moving, save for the rapid rise and fall of his chest. Slowly she placed her palms against his chest, stroking the sleek, smooth skin there. She let her fingers stray outward, brushing lightly over his nipples. His breath grew ragged for a moment, and she felt the flat disks pebble beneath her fingertips. She wondered if Lewis had done this to him?

A little defiantly, Sloan let herself enjoy the stab of arousal that followed the thought. Why shouldn't she be turned on by that? Tom was. Men got turned on thinking of two women together, why should women be any different when the tables turned? The taboo was part of it, but not all. Part of it was just the sheer, overwhelming beauty of so much maleness in one place.

Sloan's breathing quickened and she slid her hands up his chest to his shoulders, pushing his shirt the rest of the way off. It caught at his wrists, and she let her hands skim down his arms to the cuffs, unbuttoning them one at a time so the shirt could fall free. She took his hands in hers and started to walk backward toward the bed, pulling him with her. Tom smiled, and allowed her to lead him. She knew he allowed it, there was no way she could compel him to do anything. She savored that knowledge.

She stopped a few steps from the bed, and let go of his hands. Keeping her eyes on his face, she moved her hands to her waistband and slowly pushed skirt and panties off, letting them fall unheeded to the floor. Sloan saw his eyes sweep down her body, narrowing. His nostrils flared, and his eyes closed briefly, his expression that of a starving man scenting food. His eyes flashed open again, and he reached out, touching one of her nipples with just a fingertip.

She caught her breath, feeling that clench in her sex again. Tom's eyes locked on hers as if trying to see into her soul. She shivered, his gaze suddenly reminding her of Lewis. He scowled.

"I won't share you with Lewis." Tom said flatly. "Not ever."

Sloan looked back at him, understanding. Somehow he knew when she thought of his mentor, as opposed to him. Well, if he was jealous, it was his own fault. He was the one who'd insisted on telling her the damned story. In any case, she didn't want Lewis, she wanted Tom. Lewis had aroused her, she couldn't deny that, but he'd also terrified her and she wasn't sick enough to like that.

Still, remembering how Tom had acted when he spoke of Lewis, there was one more thing to be said on the subject. She put her hands on his shoulders and her lips against his ear.

"I won't share *you* with him, either," she whispered fiercely.

Tom started and drew back to look into her eyes. He seemed surprised. Maybe no one had ever felt possessive about him before. She smiled, enjoying the feeling of being the first to do *something* with him, since he'd apparently already tried everything else.

She ran her hands over his shoulders, enjoying the feel of his smooth skin and the hard muscles beneath. Funny, with his clothes on he looked more ordinary, but bared, she could see the strength in him that clothing hid. She'd sensed it when he held her, but never seen it so plainly before. His hands moved to rest lightly on her hips. She was used to feeling him touch her. He touched her often, holding her, sometimes kissing her forehead. Even with all the casual contact between them, though, he'd always maintained a sexual distance. Her eyes narrowed as she realized that he still was. Despite his obvious arousal, he was still controlled. Why? What was he waiting for? He was an empath, he knew what she wanted.

She looked at him. The look he returned was wary and questioning. She couldn't think what the problem could be, then finally it came to her. Of course. So simple. Was this all he'd been waiting for? How could she have been so stupid? She could have had him months ago! She didn't understand why an empath required the action, but if that's what it took . . .

She ran her hands down his chest, over his stomach. His eyebrows lifted in surprise as she met his eyes and slowly unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans. She moved closer and pushed the pants and briefs down, freeing his erection. His eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared, then he stepped back, shoving the clothes off completely and stepping out of them. He moved back to her and yanked her up against him, his mouth covering hers in a harsh, feral kiss that she felt all the way to her toes. It was primitive and unequivocal. He was declaring his intent, staking his claim.

She shivered in his arms as the intensity of his hunger flooded her, fierce and wild. No one had ever kissed her like this before, and it woke something primitive inside her. She answered his kiss with equal passion, trying to put the depth of her own desire into what she gave him.

Tom's arms tightened on her, leaving her breathless for a moment, then he let her go with a soft growl. Before she could recover, he bent and lifted her, placing her on the bed, then coming over her, covering her body with his. She held him to her with arms and legs, reveling in the weight of him, the feel of his strong, hard body pressing against her. This was what she wanted, needed, for him to take control.

His hand moved down her body, seeking her most intimate places. She gasped as his fingers touched the sensitive flesh there, sliding easily in the slick moisture his words and his hands had conjured. His touch was bold and deliberate. Had he been anyone else, had the situation been anything else, she would have protested, but as his fingers opened her and pushed inside, testing her, she welcomed them, arching upward with a soft cry of pleasure, close, so close to the edge.

He laughed, clearly pleased, and his mouth took hers again, his tongue echoing the movement of his fingers within her, foreshadowing his next action. He lifted his head, leaving her gasping, and slid his fingers free. She closed her eyes, waiting, and he leaned down, his lips against her ear.

"Open, your eyes, Sloan."

She obeyed, looking up into eyes of such a pale blue that they were almost colorless, only the black irises lending them a hint of gray. Remarkable eyes, frightening, almost, in their intensity. She felt him lock into her, as if her mind was as exposed as her body. He moved against her, shifting his position, probing, his fingers touching her, opening her to him. Knowing he was about to enter her, her instinct was to close her eyes, but the intensity of his gaze wouldn't allow it. He shook his head, slowly, his eyes never leaving hers.

"I won't let you hide your response from me, Sloan, not on any level. I want to see it, feel it, smell it, taste it. I want all of you."

As he spoke the last word, he moved, forging inward in a smooth, hard thrust. Sloan cried out, clutching him as the pent-up need within her shattered, exploding through her like a firestorm. Waves of heat spread through her, pulsing with each heartbeat, with each tightening of her body around his as she came. She keened her pleasure aloud, holding him tight with her arms, and her thighs around his hips, keeping him deep within her while the sensations began to ebb.

Still his eyes held hers and a feral smile curved his mouth as he absorbed her pleasure into himself. As she started to fall, gasping, from the peak he'd taken her to, he caught her, and moved again, withdrawing, returning, hard and fast, lifting her hips with the urgency of each thrust. His eyes changed color, darkening as they dilated, going bluer, and she stared, fascinated, realizing she was watching him loose himself.

It excited her anew, refueling the fire of her pleasure as he drove into her once, again, then held himself there, buried deep. She felt a warmth that wasn't her own fill her, and his eyes went distant, unfocused and soft. She lifted, trying to take more of him into her, and felt the pulses begin again as a second orgasm swept her on the heels of the first, drinking his pleasure. At last he closed his eyes and let her go. She let her head fall back, gasping for breath.

As she began to finally think once more, Sloan understood suddenly what he'd been waiting for all these months. After the story he'd just told her, it was obvious. Of course Tom had needed her to prove she wanted him. He'd always forced desire from the women he seduced, using the tactics Lewis had taught him. With her, he wanted it voluntarily, without coercion or manipulation, and he'd waited patiently for her to express it, to give him permission on a deep enough level that he could feel its reality.

A flood of tenderness went through her, and she stroked Tom's hair. He reached up and caught her hand in his, looking into her eyes. She saw her own tenderness reflected in his open gaze, and it shocked her. She'd never seen that in him before. Never.

He smiled. "No, I had to learn it from you, first."

She stared, wondering how he'd known what she was thinking.

"I know you, Sloan. I can't help but understand you."

She shivered, not sure how she should react to this. It was almost like he was reading her mind. She remembered Kevin, and was momentarily afraid, but Tom touched her face with gentle fingers, and shook his head.

"No, don't be afraid, it's not that. But you're very open to me right now, and your emotions are very strong. When I feel them, knowing how you think, I can guess what you're thinking. But if it bothers you, I'll stop."

She knew she had nothing to fear from him, and shook her head. "No, don't. It's kind of like another way you're inside me."

The boldness of her words surprised and embarrassed her, but his reaction was worth it. His gaze grew focused and that primitive feeling returned as he pushed himself up on his arms. The action made her suddenly aware of his body in hers, startled to realize he was still hard, or perhaps, hard again.

"You like feeling me inside you?" he asked, his voice silky, and warm.

She shivered. "Yes," she whispered, feeling a blush sweep over her.

He smiled slowly. "Good, because I intend to be inside you a great deal, from now on."

She closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation, realizing she'd gotten her wish. She'd wanted him to take charge and he was, in spades. Remembering his command to look at him, she opened her eyes again, and his gaze held hers as he moved slowly out, then back in, letting her feel his presence.

"A very great deal," he murmured.

* * *

Tom looked down into Sloan's eyes, feeling all of her emotions open to him. She was embarrassed, but he knew he could bring her past that. It was mostly habit, human convention and prudery. He'd dealt with it before. Occasionally it had been useful , something to work around or manipulate. Now, he wanted it gone completely so he could feel all of Sloan's enjoyment when he touched her, the way he had when her mind had been taken with pleasure.

He pressed completely into her, then lowered himself, cupping her head in his hands. His eyes held hers as he slowly lowered his head and teased her lips open with his own. His tongue explored her mouth, learning her. She kissed back with the lazy kisses of a sated woman. He smiled against her mouth, knowing she thought she was done, that she was just going to let him take his pleasure without giving hers again. There was so much more pleasure he could give her, though, if she would let him.

He shifted slowly, bringing her with him as he rolled onto his side. He didn't want to crush her with his weight, although she enjoyed feeling him above her. His hand trailed a path down her body and he pulled her upper leg higher so he could settle himself deeply into her again. She sighed with pleasure as his mouth resumed it's slow exploration of hers.

His hands traveled over her back, learning each curve and valley. When he was satisfied that he had fully plumbed the secrets of her mouth, his lips traveled sideways, across her cheek. He took her earlobe into his mouth and bit gently, caressing with his tongue, then slid his tongue downward, over the soft flesh of her neck. He bit again, gently, where her jaw and throat met, his hand coming up to push her tangled hair aside so he could concentrate on the sensitive spot he'd just discovered under her chin.

His lips moved down further, following the line of her collarbone into the hollow at the base of her throat. There was so much of her to learn. He pressed into her a bit deeper as his mouth traveled back up to her ear, preparing himself for the separation.

"I'm going to leave you for a little while, Sloan."

She whimpered softly as he began to pull outward. He could feel her sudden protest and realized she thought he meant he was leaving the apartment. He smiled against her ear.

"I want to explore all of you," he whispered. "I need the freedom to move."

The protest changed to anticipation as he eased out of her. She made a little sound as he moved away, and reached for him. He caught her hands.

"No, later. For now, just let me play."

Her mouth curved in a smile. "Play?"

"Play," he confirmed.

"I don't think anyone ever told me they wanted to play with me before."

"Good." He grinned, and she caught her breath as he reached out and ran his hands down her torso.

He'd been studying her body covertly for a long time now. He knew every inch of her, despite the fact that he'd never seen her completely naked before. But knowing what was there and being able to touch it, feel it, caress it were entirely different things. She'd given him the freedom of her body, and he wanted to claim her completely, to make her fully his, so much that no other would ever tempt her away from him. For so long, he'd been hesitant to touch her sexually, afraid that by doing so he would spoil the fragile bond between them, destroying his only link to the life he wanted to have, instead of the one he'd always known.

He'd already learned her mouth, explored her neck, now he shifted his attention to her breasts. Some women had sensitive nipples, others preferred a touch on the soft underside of her breast, for some a man had to search elsewhere for the places that brought pleasure. Other women's responses no longer mattered, he wanted to know Sloan's.

Carefully he cupped each breast, fingers trailing over the soft flesh. He leaned down to touch one nipple with his tongue, then rolled it between his teeth. Within moments, she was gasping with pleasure, just from the little he'd done, her hips pressing upwards. Tom was always surprised at how little pleasure human women were accustomed to receiving, given that they were capable of experiencing so much.

In the past, he'd worked to prolong the need, to draw out the desire, but not anymore. He wanted to give Sloan as much pleasure as he could, not tease her. One hand slid over her stomach, then down between her thighs as his other hand and his mouth explored her ribs. She was still wet and his fingers slipped easily over the sensitive crest above the opening of her sex. She moaned as he slid lower, spreading her legs wider for him, forgetting her pre-programmed modesty.

He was surprised to find his control slipping away again. Desire flooded him, the most primitive part of him driving his response to her. He wanted to cover her with his body, fill her with himself, push into her hot, slick depths and lose himself there. He leaned down, lying to himself, telling himself that taking her this way was just as good, that there was time for the other later. He kissed the gentle curve of her upper thigh, brushed his lips over the soft, damp curls. Her scent filled his mind, pushing his need higher.

"Tom," she whispered, her hands grasping at his shoulders.

He touched her with the tip of his tongue, caressing her clitoris, tasting both her and himself. She bucked, shuddering, as his fingers slid into her. He worked harder, pushing her toward orgasm, trying to ignore his body's insistence. He could do this. He had, many times. Why was it so difficult now?

"Tom, please!" Sloan's voice was a husky moan, pleading.

He was determined to maintain control, but the soft sounds of pleasure she made, the movement of her hips and the way her hands frantically clutched at him were too much. With a regretful caress of her inner thighs, he moved back up, fitting himself against her. His mouth covered hers again and she wrapped her arms around him, pulling him to her.

He pressed into her, rocking gently, entering her as slowly as he could bear. Her hips lifted under him and he put his hands under her buttocks to support the movement as she urged him deeper. She grabbed his head with both hands and pulled his mouth to hers, kissing him deeply, only stopping to gulp a breath before returning once more.

Now that he was inside her again, it was easier to regain some control. He could moderate his pace, since the urgency had been eased once already. It wasn't enough, not after so long a wait, but enough that he could make sure she gained as much as she could from him before he had to give in to his own need. He kept his thrusts shallow and slow, breaking their kiss and lifting his head so he could watch her face as he did.

Her mouth was soft and very red, a little swollen from kisses. A hectic flush fanned across her cheeks, her eyes were unfocused as she concentrated on the feelings he was stirring in her. She shifted her hips beneath him, bringing up her knees, changing the angle a little. He grinned, knowing what she was after. He pushed up onto his arms, and gave her what she wanted, deepening his penetration, making sure he slid across the most sensitive part of her with each stroke.

Remembering her earlier reaction to explicit words, he leaned over and put his mouth against her ear. "Come for me, Sloan, I want to feel you come."

She gasped and he could feel her shock and excitement at his words. He said it again and she came, practically on command. This time, not so close to his own release, he could feel it in her, the rhythmic, clenching shivers that closed her tight around him. He waited, motionless, letting her drain the last dregs from her pleasure without distraction. Finally she relaxed beneath him with a sigh, her hands stroking his back, his flanks, learning him as he'd learned her.

He shifted onto his side again, taking her with him, using his hand to move her upper leg higher, over his hip. Sloan sighed and murmured sleepily, and he chuckled.

"Oh no, not yet," he said softly, sliding a hand down her body, easing his fingers into the tangle of wet curls where they meshed. "Definitely not yet."

Her eyes opened in surprise. "Tom, I couldn't. Not again."

"What makes you say that?" he asked, amused.

Embarrassed, she looked down so her lashes veiled her cinnamon gaze. "Well, I mean, I never even did more than once, before." Her confession came out a half-strangled whisper.

He ruthlessly controlled his laugh, knowing she wouldn't understand. "Never?" He prompted. "Not even by yourself?"

She gasped, her eyes widening in shock. "Tom!"

Clearly, even thinking about giving herself pleasure was scandalous, or at least discussing it with a man was. More stupid human taboos. He couldn't help it. He laughed. "Oh, Sloan, I have so much to teach you."

He lifted his hand and found hers, then guided it down to where his had rested a moment earlier. Color brightened her cheeks, but she let him do it. Gently, because she obviously wasn't accustomed to so much activity, he showed her, moving her fingers. She tried to pull her hand away then, but he held it in place.

She hid her face against his shoulder and he could feel the heat of her blush against his skin, but she tentatively moved her fingers. He smiled, and showed her another touch. She shivered, her hips moving with her fingers as she repeated the caress, unaided.

He held still, wanting the urgency of a thrust, but controlling it. He wouldn't disrupt her discovery, not just for his own pleasure. He urged her fingers lower and she made a soft sound as her fingers slid over him, then herself. He closed his eyes, savoring her touch. She pushed against him, then slid away, her fingers following each movement. It was almost enough to assuage his need, almost.

Tom could sense her growing arousal, and her surprise. Sloan really hadn't thought herself capable of more. His opinion of human males dropped a few notches, not that it had been high to begin with. Maybe it was the empathy, but he couldn't imagine making love with a woman who didn't respond fully, passionately. He paused, struck. Making love. That was what he was doing. He wasn't taking her, or fucking, or having sex he was making love. That was the difference, and a vast one.

"Tom?" Sloan sounded uncertain. "Are you all right?"

He looked up, startled, into her concerned gaze. "Yes, of course, why?"

"I don't know, you just seemed kind of distant."

He was surprised she'd managed to sense that he'd gotten distracted. Smiling, he reached up to cup her cheek in his palm. "No, not distant, not with you. Just concentrating. Kiss me?"

She smiled, reassured, and leaned in to touch her mouth softly to his, brushing her lips lightly across his mouth. He put his hand over hers where it nestled between her thighs, and urged her to continue while they kissed, slow, and languid. He felt her growing excitement in his mind, and in his body as her movements became faster, more rhythmic.

"Tom!" She sounded surprised. He knew she was getting close again.

"Don't fight it, Sloan. Let it go," he whispered. "Let me feel it again."

He could feel her desire to experiment as she pushed him over onto his back, coming onto her knees above him so she could control everything, the speed, the angle, the depth. He put his hands on her hips, holding her lightly, not controlling, just feeling the silky curves with his palms as she rode him. She reached down and found one of his hands, bringing it up to cup one breast, and he teased the nipple between two fingers. Her head fell back, the line of her throat exposed and taut.

It was getting very, very difficult to let her do this herself. Every instinct, every trained reflex, told him to control her, but he resisted. It wasn't what he wanted, not with Sloan. Equality, not control. Give and take, instead of just take. He had to keep thinking, distracting himself, forcing himself to remain at her command.

Her pleasure was almost peaking, almost there . . . he held still, but opened his mind fully to her feelings, letting her excitement become his as it crested, and he felt it explode through her and into him, triggering his own orgasm in the first wave of hers.

She sank down against him, her face hidden in the crook of his neck, her breathing gradually slowing. Their legs were still intertwined and he wondered if her modesty would cause her to draw away from him soon. This time he let her have the slow, lazy drift back from pleasure that she'd expected before. He could have gone on, rousing both of them again, but he didn't want her to get sore. Time for a break.

He let his hand rest on her hair; it was tangled now and sweaty. He gathered the silky weight of it in his hands and lifted it, blowing softly across the back of her neck to cool her. She shivered a little, and lifted her head, looking shyly embarrassed.

"I guess you were right," she whispered.

He grinned. "Of course I was."

The flush on her cheeks darkened. "You don't have to be so smug."

He gentled his smile. "I'm not. I'm pleased that you enjoyed it so much. You did enjoy it, didn't you?" Tom persisted, wanting to hear her say it.

She nodded, not meeting his eyes, then she looked up. "Did you?"

He could feel her hesitancy, and studied her, puzzled. "Why would you think I might not have?"

She bit her lip. "Well, you've had so much experience. I must be pretty tame, compared to what you've had before."

Tom stared at her, surprised. Why would she think . . .? Oh. It hit him then. Without empathy, she couldn't know. He touched her cheek lightly. "No, Sloan, that's not what's important. Not at all. It's never been like this for me before. I've never felt so much before, never felt anything except the physical."


He started to assure her that was so, and stopped, struck suddenly by a thought he'd rather not have. He pushed it aside and shook his head.


She looked at him thoughtfully. "That was kind of a long pause. What were you thinking?"

He shook his head. "Nothing important."

She pushed herself back until she was upright, and gazed down at him for a long moment. He could feel a tangled mix of emotions from her, but mostly intense curiosity and a strange calm.

"Do you love him?" Sloan asked finally.

He frowned, puzzled. "Who?"


"No!" Tom snapped harshly, feeling his face contort in a snarl. He struggled to normalize his expression, and to find words. "No, of course not!"

He knew that wasn't enough. He couldn't leave it there. He had to persuade her, make her understand.

"Sloan, my feelings for Lewis are nothing like what I feel for you. Nothing. I feel anger toward him, I wanted to kill him that night, I really did."

She nodded, her gaze not letting his go. "I'll grant you that night. But what about before?"

He stared at her, sensing danger. "Before what?"

"Before you knew me. Before you started to change, to understand that what your kind is doing is wrong. What did you feel for him then?"

Trapped, he had only two options. He could lie to her -- and himself -- or tell the truth. He struggled with that, trying to reason out a third path, one that would leave him unscathed, and his fledgling relationship with Sloan unchanged. As he tried to find that other way, she reached out and touched his face.

"You've never lied to me, Tom. Don't start now."

He couldn't figure that out. How had she known? Was he so transparent that a human could read him so easily? Had he forgotten everything Lewis had taught him, or had he just let his guard down with Sloan because of his feelings for her? Whichever, it was very disturbing.

"I didn't love him, Sloan," Tom said firmly. He was sure of that, so he wasn't lying.

She nodded. "But then, you've told me you don't know what love is. Was what you felt for him, then, similar to what you feel for me, now?"

Damn. She would remember that. He struggled with his memories, with his emotions, and finally forced himself to be honest. "There are some . . . similarities," he said through clenched teeth.

"Such as. . .?" Sloan prompted.

He was tempted to push her away and remove himself from this conversation. He could feel how important it was to her, though.

"I was thinking about that before," he admitted slowly, "when it was hard for me to control myself, to wait until you were ready."

Sloan's eyebrows lifted and he could feel her amusement. "I've been ready for a long time, Tom."

He smiled at her, reaching up to cup her cheek. "Not entirely. And I was talking about tonight, in particular."

"So, what similarities were you thinking about while you were waiting for me to be 'ready'?" Her tone and her emotions told him she didn't really believe that he'd been right to wait, but she didn't want to argue about it. She was chasing another topic right now.

"I was thinking about how I've never wanted anyone so much - except Lewis," he admitted.

Sloan stiffened a bit and he felt a flicker of jealousy. "I'm not sure I like that," she said honestly.

"There's no reason to be concerned, Sloan. There's nothing between us now."

She eyed him narrowly. "Then why were you thinking about him?"

Tom gazed back at her evenly. "Doesn't anything ever remind you of past events in your life?"

She looked away, then nodded. "I guess. I just don't like sharing you, especially not with him."

"You're not," he said flatly.

"Yes I am. Tom, even if you're mad at him now, you had a relationship with him that was very close. You had something with him you've admitted you never felt with anyone else. It may not have been love, but I'm betting it was as close to it as you've ever gotten before. You've never resolved that. Sure, you left him, but it wasn't quite voluntarily. I don't think you ever really stopped to think what consequences there would be to joining us. You never thought about not seeing him again, until it was too late. Yeah, you're mad at him now, but how much of that is because he tried to take away something you feel is yours?"

Tom frowned. "Like what?"

Sloan lifted her chin. "Me."

When Tom started to protest, she held up her hand, cutting him off. "Don't. I know you think of me as yours. It's obvious. If you weren't what you are, I'd never put up with it, because I don't belong to anyone, but I understand that's an artifact of your upbringing and your training, if not your genetic makeup."

Tom stared at her in surprise. This kind of thinking wasn't like her. It was too analytical, too psychological. He narrowed his eyes. "Sloan, who have you been talking to?"

She looked past him slightly. "No one. Lately."

"Who?" he demanded.

She sighed. "Carlie. We talked about you, and Lewis, and what makes you the way you are."

Tom felt a peculiar mixture of annoyance and pleasure. "You talked about me, and Lewis, with Carlie?"

"Well, not about you and Lewis, together, but about you, and Lewis separately. I didn't know about this, then." She frowned suddenly, and a shocked look stole over her face.

Tom could feel it reflected in her emotions, dismay, even horror. Before he could ask what was the matter, she caught his hand in hers.

"Oh my god, Tom! I just remembered! Carlie told me that Lewis started training you when you were only nine or ten! When did Lewis start . . .?" She blushed, bit her lip, and went on. "I mean, how old were you?"

Tom finally figured out what she was implying, and shook his head. "No, Sloan. It wasn't like that. Lewis isn't a child molester."

The thought was amusing, really. Even though Dominants reached sexual maturity much earlier than humans, Lewis would never be interested in a child. He preferred mature partners, men and women who provided a challenge to his sensuality and seductive nature.

"He never touched me until we began to do field work together, and then only in the context of those aspects of my training. I was, as your laws like to put it, a consenting adult."

"Never except as part of the training?" Sloan's skepticism was easy to read.

Tom nodded. It wasn't a lie. He still didn't know whether that one night had been training or not, and Lewis had never done anything like that afterwards.

"But you wanted him?" Sloan asked softly.

He nodded again.

"Didn't you ever initiate anything?"

Tom opened his mouth, then shut it again, wondering. He would never had made the first move with Lewis, but what if he had? What would Lewis have done? He almost laughed outright. Not only had he never initiated, he'd carefully sublimated the other fantasies he had, knowing they were even more unlikely. No one took Lewis. No one. He knew Sloan was waiting for his answer, and shook his head, slowly.

"No. Frankly, it never occurred to me to try," he said slowly.

Sloan looked surprised. "Never?"

He smiled. "Never. You've met Lewis, could you imagine anyone taking the initiative with him?"

Sloan thought about it a moment, and grinned. "Well, Walter's mysterious boss-lady, maybe." Tom laughed, and Sloan laughed too. The thought was clearly ludicrous. Just as suddenly, Sloan grew serious again. "I think you should know something, Tom."

She was so somber that he couldn't resist teasing her a little. "What? Don't tell me, you forgot to turn off the coffee-pot at the lab?"

She shook her head and shifted off him, severing the warm connection of their twined bodies. "No. I mean it, Tom, be serious."

He could tell this was important. She was a little afraid. Even without his empathy, the other signs were evident, accelerated pulse and respiration, and the fear-scent. He sat up and took her hands in his.

"What is it, Sloan? What's wrong?"

"Remember the night we went to get Carlie out of that place where they were holding her?"

He nodded. She continued, hesitantly.

"That night, while you were in the room with her, and I was alone, I saw Lewis."

Tom frowned. "How could you have seen him? He was locked in his cell!"

She fidgeted some more, pulling her hands from his and twisting her fingers together. "No, he wasn't. The door was unlocked. He . . . pulled me in."

Tom's hands clenched into fists. "What did he do to you?"

She looked up, looking him in the eyes. "Nothing. That was the amazing thing. He did nothing. He just asked for my help."

"He wanted you to help him escape?"

She shook her head. "No. He wanted me to help Carlie escape. He wanted her out of there."

Tom stared, shocked beyond words. It made no sense. "It was a trick of some kind, he was manipulating you."

"No. I manipulated him."

His eyes narrowed. "How?"

"I didn't let on that we were there to get her out, anyway. I made him make a deal with me; I made him give me something to help her get out."

"What?" His mind raced, trying to think of something, anything she might have wanted from Lewis. What could he possibly have had there, a prisoner as he was?

She wrapped her arms around her knees and put her cheek against them, looking at him, but unconsciously protecting herself. "Your release code."

He didn't understand at first. "My what?"

"He gave me the release code for your trigger phrase."

He understood finally. Shocked beyond words, he could do nothing more than stare at her for long moments. Finally he found his voice. "He gave you that?"

She nodded solemnly. "He did. And it was real."

"How do you know? How could you possibly know that?"

She lifted her chin, swallowing hard. "Because I used it."

"You what!"

She flinched, and Tom realized his voice was too loud, too harsh. He gentled his tone, trying to explain it to her. "Sloan, that's not possible. How could you have used it without my knowing?"

She held her ground. "Isn't that the way it always works? Without you knowing?"

He realized she was right. He never had known when he'd been 'triggered.' Not until he was released again.

"What happened? When did you do it?" He suddenly discovered that his hands were wrapped tightly around her upper arms, and he didn't even remember grabbing her. He released her instantly, soothing the red marks with his fingertips. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean . . ."

She shook her head. "It's all right, Tom. I should have told you this a long time ago, but I was afraid to. I didn't know how you would react."

He looked at his hands, disgustedly. "Obviously a wise decision."

"No, I think it would have been better if I hadn't lied to you. That wasn't right. I'm the one who should be apologizing. You've always been honest; I should have been too." She took a deep breath and went on. "Do you remember that night in my apartment, three days after we rescued Carlie, when you had that 'sleepwalking' incident that confused you so much?"

He did remember, of course. He remembered everything-- except, apparently, what he really needed to remember. "Yes."

"That was it. I used it then."

"What happened?"

"Well, at first you started to get all cold and strange, just like you did the night Lewis called you. But you were confused, you looked all around, picked up the phone, put it back down, like you didn't know what you were supposed to be doing. I guess you were waiting for orders. Then I did the rest of the stuff he told me to do, and suddenly you were yourself again. Perfectly normal."

"How do you know he didn't just teach you how to turn it on and off?"

She looked at him evenly. "We shall reign in the world of men."

He stared back at her, puzzled. It was a very odd phrase, almost biblical. He had a vague recollection of her having said it before, too. When had that been? What as the context? As he tried to remember the exact circumstances, she smiled.

"See, it doesn't work any more."

"What doesn't work any more?"

"That was the phrase that used to trigger you. It doesn't any more."

That was it. That was when he'd heard it before. That night, the night he'd been 'sleepwalking.' He stared at her. "You were testing it out to see if it still worked!"

Sloan drew herself up, trying to look dignified, which was difficult considering her nudity. "Well, I may not have the brains of a Dominant, but I'm not stupid. Of course I tested it out. I needed to know if it worked. It did. No one will ever be able to manipulate you against your will like that again."

Tom ran a shaky hand through his hair, staring at her, aghast. "Sloan! That was incredibly dangerous! What if it had been a trick? What if that phrase had been an order to kill you? To wreck the project?"

She shrugged, calmly. "I knew it wasn't. He was being honest with me. I could tell. Women know these things."

Tom didn't know whether to laugh, or roll his eyes. "That's ridiculous, Sloan!"

She lifted her chin. "Oh? Then I shouldn't have trusted you, either, should I?"

Her words took Tom back in time, to them standing in Carlie's empty house, discussing the morality of assisting Carlie and possibly Lewis in escaping their human captors. "There was a time that everyone I knew asked me that very question about you. Why would I trust you? Why would I help you? After all, I knew you were a killer." It was, he had to admit, a persuasive argument. Perhaps there was some human talent called 'intuition'. After all, what was that but a variation on his own empathic abilities?

Suddenly a new thought intruded on him. He had always wondered about the incredible coincidence of there having been a fire at that facility the same night they rescued Carlie. The event had served to cover their tracks perfectly, but it had always seemed extremely fortuitous to him. If Lewis had been free of his cell, though, he might have set that fire purposely to allow Carlie's escape to go undetected. If that was the case, there was an extremely high chance that Lewis was very much alive.

"Sloan, are you sure that Lewis wasn't locked in his cell that night?"

She nodded. "Absolutely. I guess they must have figured that out right after we left, though, otherwise he'd never have stayed there to get caught in the fire and die."

Tom eyed her narrowly. "Do you really think he did? Think about it. Not only did that fire destroy all records of our having been there, it also destroyed all the records we could have used to determine if the recovered corpse was Lewis'. His PCR gels, dental records, everything was stored there on site. All we know is that the body was that of a Dominant male of about the right age, height, and weight. That's a little too convenient for me, now that I know he was loose."

As his words registered on her, Tom sensed a sudden, intense flash of fear from Sloan; her usual reaction to a mention of Lewis, though this time minus the erotic undertones. To his surprise, the feeling faded quickly.

"So?" Sloan said, almost belligerently. "Even if he is, that just proves I was right!"

"How?" Tom demanded, wondering what had gotten into her.

"It's been months since that fire, and he hasn't come after us. In fact, he hasn't been around at all."

"That we know of." Tom put in.

Sloan conceded that with a shrug. "That we know of. But don't you think things would be going better for Them if he was running the show? From what you've told me, he was their main organizer. The quality of their operations seems to have taken a sharp downturn of late. If he did escape, I think he's with Carlie and the babies. That would explain why she decided to move so far away, wouldn't it? She knew if she stayed close enough for us to visit regularly, we'd eventually figure out that Lewis was with her."

Her reasoning was, he hated to admit, pretty sound. There was one flaw, though. "They wouldn't let him just quit. They're not like that. You don't just walk away."

She looked dismayed for a moment, then brightened. "But Lewis would know how to get around that. I mean, he's the one who made the rules, if anyone was going to be able to break them, it would be him. Maybe he has some clout and pulled strings. Maybe he set it up so They don't know he's alive, either. I don't know. I still think he's with Carlie. I could call our contact line, ask her to get in touch with me. She might tell me the truth, if I promised not to use it against Lewis. She trusts me."

Tom lifted his eyebrows. "Would you tell someone who might not have my best interests at heart where I was, if you were hiding me?"

Sloan thought about that, and smiled sheepishly. "Good point. I guess that was a little naive, wasn't it? Okay, you're right, she probably wouldn't tell me. But we could always go visit. How do you feel about a Washington vacation?"

"I think it might be best to let sleeping dogs lie, as you humans are fond of saying. Now that I know he may be alive, I'll be more cautious, but there's no point in looking for trouble. If he is alive and feels threatened by us snooping around, he'll be much more dangerous than if we pretend we think he's dead."

Sloan nodded, "There is that."

Tom gazed at Sloan, all too aware of what she'd risked for him. If Lewis had lied to her, if the words his mentor had given her had been a command to harm or kill her, she might be dead now. But she'd cared enough for him to risk her own safety to free him from the last real chain that bound him to his prior life.

That tenderness he'd felt earlier returned as he looked at her, along with a possessive pride and a desire to protect her. The gentler feeling made him uncomfortable. He didn't really know what to do with that emotion, how to deal with it. He focused on his other emotions, and frowned. Protection was a problem. Obviously, she was willing to risk herself and he wasn't comfortable with that either.

"Don't put yourself at risk for me again," he said sternly.

Her jaw dropped a little, then he could feel her amusement as she decided he was joking. "I don't take orders, Tom."

"Sloan," Tom said warningly. "I mean it!"

Her eyes narrowed and her jaw tightened stubbornly as she studied him. "You do, don't you? Well so do I! Nobody's brainwashed *me* into mindless obedience. I have to do what I think best." Her stubbornness softened a little. "Besides, you'd do the same for me, you already have. Tom, you're worth the risk to me. That's what love is about -- give and take. I hope you feel the same way."

"Of course I do, Sloan. Why do you think I don't want you in any danger?"

She laughed. "Tom, I don't think there's any way for me not to be in danger at this point, so I guess we'll just have to put up with it, won't we?"

He couldn't really argue with that. "I guess we will."

But at least so long as she was with him, he could try to keep her safe. And apparently she would keep him safe, as well. No one had ever wanted to do that for him before. Thinking about that made a strange, almost painful feeling happen in his throat, in his chest.

He experienced again that dangerous, unbridgeable gap between what he felt, and his ability to interpret it. He had learned this feeling from her, but still didn't really understand it. Tenderness, and something else. Something deeper, stronger. He both enjoyed and feared the intensity of it. Shaking it off, he reached out and touched her face gently.

She covered his hand with hers, her palm warm against the back of his hand. "I love you Tom."

He knew she did, and it made him want her again, suddenly, with an intensity that surprised him a little. It must have shown on his face, because her eyes darkened, and her lips parted. He smiled at her response, pleased by how quickly it happened. She might not have a Dominant's empathic abilities, but she had a good share of human ones.

"Tom?" she asked, a questioning smile answering his.

His nostrils flared as she smelled the change in her scent that signaled renewed arousal. She was ready for him again and he felt himself harden in response. He'd waited until she was ready, waited for her to initiate something, then given her a chance to explore her own sexuality. Now he wanted her to respond to him, to lose herself completely in his touch. He knew it was what she wanted as well, to have him take control again.

She leaned forward suddenly, surprising him with a passionate kiss. He responded, kissing her back fiercely, reaching up to slide his fingers into her hair, cupping the back of her head, urging her to kiss him deeper still. She reached up and wrapped her fingers around his wrist, tugging his hand away.

He allowed her to remove his hand, her sudden initiative waking a primal response in him. He let her push his arm down to his side, breathing deeply, waiting to see what she'd do next. She let go of his hand, and moved her hand up his thigh to his stomach, across the plane of muscle there, pausing a moment to outline his navel with a fingertip before letting that finger trail down his abdomen and into the dark thatch which surrounded his sex. He found himself holding his breath as her finger went lower, lower, and finally touched the tip of his cock, circling it, like she had his navel.

She put her other hand against his chest and pressed him toward the bed. He lay back slowly, watching her, tense with desire to take charge again. When he was leaning back on his elbows, her finger stopped its maddening circuit of his cock as she brought the tips of four fingers against him, then her hand closed around him. His breath caught as he felt the thrill of daring that shot through her. The sensory combination of mental excitement she projected, and the physical reality of her hand on him was exquisite.

Her exhilaration grew as she slid her hand down to the base of his cock and leaned down toward him. He smiled slowly, knowing what she was about to do, closing his eyes at the feeling of possessive desire that emanated from her. He tensed, inhaling sharply as she touched him with her lips, lightly, softly. The brush of her lips across his full, taut skin was maddening, more so because of her own arousal at the action. Then she took it a step further and he felt the heat and moisture of her mouth close over him.

His breath hissed over clenched teeth as he drew it in sharply, and his hands clenched into fists. Her tongue moved on him, circling like her finger had before, and her hand moved on him too, stroking, tightening around him, working against the movements of her mouth and tongue. Involuntarily his hips lifted, moving with her touch, and it got difficult to breathe normaly. The loss of control shook him. He never lost control.

Wanting to get it back, he reached for her and felt her flare of anticipation which was all the permission he needed. Her breath caught and the thrill of excitement she felt at giving him pleasure shifted immediately to an excited response to his touch. He pulled her up and kissed her, running his hands over her back, spreading her thighs to press her against him. He lost himself for several moments in the wonderful feel of her mouth moving on his, her tongue caressing, her body covering him. The intense need that had developed over the long months of waiting hadn't been assuaged yet.

Her hips shifted as she tried to get closer, until her sex was pressed against his, rubbing the wet heat of her over his cock. Tom sat up, pulling her close and lifting her onto her knees. He positioned himself, then thrust upwards, deep into her. She gasped and pressed down and he moved his hands, urging her to wrap her legs around his waist so gravity and the position brought her closer still. He kissed her again, sliding his hands down to her buttocks, shifting her against him until he was deeply inside her. She gasped again, her eyes going wide, her hands clutching at his shoulders. This was clearly new to her.

He moved against her, under her, and felt her wiggle her hips, which was about the only thing she could do, given her position. He smiled and used his hands to assist her, lifting, then slowly lowering her again. He did it again, letting her feel his strength as he easily supported her weight. Her passion flared at his display and her eyes closed. She tilted her head back, arching her back to press herself down on him. The slope of her neck demanded his attention and he had to stop himself from biting so hard he left a mark. She moaned and pressed her throat against his lips, her arms tightening on his shoulders, her fingers digging into his back, her body tightening around him.

He lifted her again, easing her down slowly, controlling her movements and his own, drawing it out, not letting her have the speed she craved. A soft sound of pleasure and desperation escaped as she rocked against him while he moved her on him. Her involvement in her body was growing, deepening, she wasn't thinking consciously or rationally now, she was just feeling, concentrating on the need that drove her. The intensity of sensation was delicious, exciting, driving his own response higher.

He shifted his hips slightly, changing the way her flesh rubbed against him and her eyes flew open. He moved her again, feeling the response as she tensed and twisted against him, trying to get the relief she wanted.

"Tom," she gasped out.

Something snapped inside him as he realized he was teasing her as he'd been trained to, realized she loved it, but wanted more. So did he. He wanted to loose himself in her, to forget his training and simply feel. He growled and moved, leaning forward, deliberately pushing her up against the headboard. He held her body against his with one hand under her buttocks, the other hand braced against the wall. On his knees, he began to move, abandoning slow and deliberate in favor of hard and fast and deep. Her smile held an edge of triumph as she absorbed his thrusts into her hot, slick center with a shuddering cry of delight. He thrust harder, feeling her about to climax, driving her to it, pounding into her. A gasp escaped him as she came for him again, and he caught the curves of her buttocks in both hands, thrusting deep and holding himself within her as he let go again, this time truly letting go, gasping and almost sobbing as the pleasure tore through him.

* * *

He had just enough energy left to pull her down next to him on the bed and draw her into his arms. They lay quietly for a long time, bodies slowly relaxing, sweat cooling. Tom drew up the covers when Sloan shivered. She smiled and put her hand over his, holding the cover and him in place.

"So, are you going to stay?" she asked sleepily.

"Did you want me to leave?" Tom asked, oddly uncertain.

"No, but you always seem to anyway."

She sounded sad, so he kissed her and looked into her eyes. "Not any more, Sloan. I told you before that I'd never leave you. I mean that."

Sloan sighed, and smiled. "That's what I wanted to hear."

Tom looked up at the ceiling, his mouth curving in a mischievous smile. "Besides, this sure as hell beats the damned couch."

Sloan stared at him, momentarily shocked, then she saw his smile and started to laugh. As her laugh turned into a yawn she put her head against his shoulder, closing her eyes. He drew her closer and stroked her hair; she'd earned her rest. So had he.


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