Disclaimer: Babylon 5 is the legal property Warner Bros. TNT, and Babylon Productions, and this is a not for profit fan production, and as such, is not intended to infringe on the rights of any legal holders of copyright.

Rebecca Hall


Talia watched as the Babylon 5 command staff filed out of the room. The Captain's briefing on the Inarra situation seemed to go fairly well. Sheridan had asked Talia to explain to the command staff what to anticipate in dealing with a purely telepathic race, and they had then discussed the protocols for working with them during the opening of the Inarra-Drazi Summit tomorrow. Although this was a first contact situation for Earth, Talia was fascinated by telepathic races, and it had become a hobby of hers to study them. She was certain that the knowledge she had shared with everyone at the meeting would be useful in managing the situation.

Even though they were always hectic, she liked being included in the command staff's meetings. She liked knowing that her particular skills were useful to them, that she could help them in their difficult task of running this place. It also helped to make her feel less isolated, less alone.

It was hard for her to make friends here. This was her first posting where she was the only other regular telepath. And being the only telepath on this station meant being the only telepath within light years. It wasn't that she had a problem with "normals" (as her fellow Psi Corps members referred to non- telepaths), it's just that they usually had a problem with her. They were often afraid of her, worried that she spent her spare time rummaging through their minds, unearthing their deepest, darkest secrets. As if she didn't have anything better to do! Some didn't automatically avoid her, but they were the ones who constantly questioned her about what it was like to be a telepath. She didn't really mind explaining, but the main motivation behind the endless questions always came down to the same thing: "Are you reading my mind?" And it would be nice to be able to just interact with people without constantly having to explain herself. She would love to be able to just be with others...

The people on the command staff were easier to just be around than most. At least they didn't constantly grill her with questions. The Captain was respectful towards her, and seemed to genuinely care about her well-being. At least most of the time. Security Chief Garibaldi's constant attempts to get her in bed were annoying to say the least, but under all of that bravado, he was really trying to be a friend. And Dr. Franklin was completely un-ruffled by anyone or any thing different from himself, so he seemed perfectly comfortable around Talia.

Commander Ivanova. Susan. Talia found herself sighing out loud just thinking about her. The Commander was certainly a problem. Not only was she impossible to get close to, she hated telepaths. Actually, that wasn't fair. She hated the Psi Corps, and Talia was Psi Corps. And of all the people on this station, Susan was the one who intrigued Talia the most. Talia wanted to be close to Ivanova more than she had wanted anything in a long time. The fact that she could hardly be in the same room with Talia only seemed to make the longing worse.

"What a set-up," Talia thought to herself. Talia didn't normally think of herself as masochistic. Usually if someone wasn't interested, then that was the end of it, for her. But this was different, somehow. And no matter how much Susan acted otherwise, Talia's gut told her that she wanted it, too. The night she came by Ivanova's quarters with a bottle of wine, Talia was actually able to get her to open up, a little. And she felt something. Something had passed between them, she was certain of it...

There had been quite a bit of progress over the last year and a half. At first Ivanova seemed to avoid Talia at all costs. Talia would never forget the first day she arrived on the station. Psi Corps regulations required her to check in with the second in command at the station, and that person happened to be Commander Susan Ivanova. From the first minute she met the Commander she knew she was in the presence of someone powerful. Talia was a close-proximity telepath, and standing on the catwalk of C&C that day, trying to get the Commander's attention, she felt Ivanova's presence hold sway over her officers. And then their eyes met, briefly, and Talia's stomach turned itself inside out. God, but she was stunning! Ivanova had quickly looked away and then proceeded to dismiss Talia in the most rude fashion. "If you'll excuse me, I'm in the middle of 15 things, all of them annoying," the commander had told her. Talia was struck dumb by force of the dismissal, and her blood boiled.

Ivanova continued to remain distant from Talia, although the few interactions they had during that first year still seemed charged somehow. Things got a little better, and the ice was finally broken that night in Ivanova's quarters. Nonetheless, even though they actually spent a little time together now and then, Ivanova was pretty closed down around her. Ivanova's reticence was impossible to miss, but she also caught glimpses of... something else. A desire for Talia leaked around her best defenses, but the way Ivanova acted around her made Talia doubt her own perceptions. The whole thing was an enigma.

As Talia finished packing her papers into her briefcase, she glanced over to where Susan had been sitting, and saw that she had left her jacket slung over the back of the chair. Talia was surprised Ivanova had taken it off in the first place, but then to forget it altogether? Talia realized that the Commander must be really distracted to do something like this. She had not seemed happy about being put in charge of the Summit, particularly with the thought of working with all of those telepaths. Talia couldn't help but enjoy Ivanova's discomfort, just a little bit.

"oh, well. I guess I better take it with me and return it to her, to make sure she gets it," Talia thought to herself, a small grin lighting her face. Folding the jacket into the crook of her arm, she picked up the briefcase and left the conference room. 


Ivanova had made it all the way back to her office next to Command and Control before realizing she was in her shirt sleeves. "Where did I leave my jacket?" she wondered. She didn't even remember taking it off. She'd been pretty wound up about having all of this responsibility for the Summit tomorrow, and the meeting she just left had made it worse.

The meeting! "I probably left it in the conference room," she realized, and dashed back towards the lift.

Re-entering the room she had just left she saw that her jacket was not there. Maybe she hadn't worn it to the meeting. Or maybe someone felt sorry for her and picked it up. In any case, she would have to go to her quarters and pick up another.


Talia was done for the day. Leaning back on her couch, she was resting her feet on the coffee table. As soon as she had arrived at her quarters, she left Ivanova a message. She had offered to bring her jacket by Susan's quarters, but Ivanova had yet to respond to her message. She figured she could return it sometime tomorrow.

Talia got ready for bed. It was going to be a long day tomorrow and she was invested in turning in early. Slipping on her night shift, she took up Ivanova's jacket and brought it into the bed with her. It wasn't until after she was under the covers, holding the jacket close to her chest, did she realize what she was doing. "Oh, God, Talia, what's wrong with you?" She felt just like a school girl with a crush on a teacher or something. She felt silly. But instead of doing the mature thing and hanging the jacket up in the closet, she pulled it closer to herself, buried her face in it, inhaled the smell of Susan deeply, and drifted off to sleep.

 The dream was wonderful. They were in the turbo lift, just the two of them. Suddenly, the upward movement came to a screaming halt, and Susan was pitched into Talia's arms...

Susan realized it was Talia who had prevented her from falling unceremoniously to the floor of the lift. The two women untangled themselves and straightened out their rumpled clothing.

"Maintenance, this is Ivanova," Susan was saying into her link.

"Lieutenant Warren from maintenance here, Commander. What can we do for you? We have most of our people working on the malfunction in Turbo Lift 3..."

"I'm in Turbo lift 3, dammit!" Susan yelled. She took a quick glance over at Talia, who just smiled. "How soon can you get us out of here?"

"Sorry Commander, it may be a while..."

"Just..." Susan, realizing that she was still yelling, tried to pitch her voice to a calmer level. "Just get us out of here as soon as you can, Lieutenant. and keep me informed. Ivanova out!" Leaning her back against the wall, Ivanova looked the picture of aggravation.

"There's no need to be upset, Commander. I'm sure they'll get us out of here soon," Talia said, walking over to Ivanova. Talia stood close to her, facing her. "And I'm sure we could come up with something to do, while we're waiting..."

"What do you mean?" The Commander was asking, meeting Talia's gaze, eyes questioning.

Talia placed one finger to Ivanova's lips. "Shh...Don't talk. Just watch...let me show you." Not breaking eye contact, Talia began removing Ivanova's jacket. Sliding it off her shoulders, the jacket caught behind Ivanova, holding her hands behind her back. She began opening her shirt, and when she was done, she let Ivanova's full breasts fall into her hands.

Ivanova stood perfectly still as Talia attached her mouth to her throat, caressing with lips and tongue. Talia could tell that Ivanova was trying to fight it, that she was trying to keep her body from reacting. But despite her best efforts, Ivanova's nipples grew full and firm in Talia's hands as she continued kissing her neck, and then her shoulders. Talia's tongue travelled to Ivanova's breasts. Starting to moan, Susan bit her lip.

"Ms. Winters...Talia, what are you doing?" Ivanova was trying to catch her breath.

"Isn't it obvious, Commander? I'm making love to you," and with that Talia slid her hand firmly into Ivanova's pants.

"Talia! We shouldn't...I mean I can't..."

"Tell me to stop," Talia demanded, and unzipping Ivanova's pants, she slid her fingers into wet silk. Both women moaned, hips lurching forward in response. Talia met Ivanova's dark gaze, and as she continued working her hand, she leaned into Susan, pressing her body firmly against her, and resumed sucking her neck. "Tell me to stop," Talia said again, tongue and lips against Ivanova's earlobe.

"I...oh, God..." Ivanova was trying to slide to the floor, but Talia wouldn't let her. Using her own body, as well as her fingers inside, she was pinning the Commander firmly against the Turbo Lift wall. Talia's mouth closed over Ivanova's and she began kissing Ivanova in earnest, tongue movement matching finger movement. Ivanova's thighs began trembling, chest heaving, her breathing labored.

Suddenly Talia stopped. Stepping back just a fraction she let herself take in the picture of Ivanova's need. Ivanova so reserved, so distant, now on fire from Talia's touch... But Ivanova wouldn't have it. Finally shaking her arms free of her jacket, she buried her hands in Talia's hair and pulled the other woman's lips back onto her own. Ivanova was pushing her hips strongly against Talia, demanding a response.

"Don't you want me to stop?" Talia had pulled her lips away and was whispering in Ivanova's ear.


"Don't what?"

"Don't stop..."

 The computer's alarm voice woke Talia from her sleep. Thoroughly disappointed to be woken before her dream could reach its happy conclusion, Talia reluctantly left her bed to start the day. She found that she was still clinging tightly to Ivanova's jacket.


"One at a time, please!" Ivanova was banging the table with her gavel, wishing it was a Drazi skull instead. "Everyone, please take your seats!" Her yelling and pounding seemed to have little effect. The Drazi representatives were milling around the crowded room, shouting at Ivanova and at which ever League representative looked like they were listening. The Inarra delegates were huddled in the back corner of the conference room, clearly intimidated and overwhelmed by the high level of violent emotion in the room. They were all clutching what Ivanova assumed were their ears, the only non-hairy protrusions from their otherwise furry heads.

Ivanova was angry now. She leapt onto the table and yelled in her loudest, most commanding tone "Shut Up!"

Finally. Silence. Ivanova realized she looked ridiculous standing on top of the table, but it seemed to have worked. She resumed her seat, trying to look dignified.

"O.K. That's better! Now, we were discussing the creation of a neutral zone..." And the yelling resumed, this time even louder. Ivanova was convinced if she made it through this day, it would be a major miracle.


Talia was distractedly finishing a salad. She had separated the vegetables on her plate into different piles according to color. She was not hungry. She was having a terrible time concentrating, and it wasn't because of the background chatter of everyone's thoughts in the Zocalo. Images from her dreams last night kept rising to her consciousness, making her feel flushed all over.

She looked at Ivanova's jacket, folded and balanced on top of her briefcase. She could have left it for her, as Ivanova had suggested in her message. Apparently there was no urgency on Ivanova's part, as she was having a very hectic day, and it wasn't a priority. The truth was that Talia was enjoying having it with her, so she had been putting off returning it.

It was hardly the first time Talia had dreamed about making love to Susan. The dreams had become a part of Talia's daily life. She enjoyed dreaming of Susan. But the dreams last night seemed particularly vivid, and the fact was she was getting tired of it. Tired of it only being true in her dreams, that is. Talia couldn't remember wanting someone this badly before.

Talia knew she should tell Susan how she felt. She had the conversation in her mind often enough:

"Susan, I think I'm in love with you," or

"Susan, I want your body," or

"Susan, I'm in love with you and I want your body..."

No matter how many times she rehearsed it, or how many different ways she could think to say it, she hadn't been able to bring herself to really do it.

Everytime Susan took her StarFury out in search of raiders, or some other menace, a part of Talia froze up inside. Susan wasn't the Alpha Wing Commander for nothing--she knew her business and every one told Talia that she was an excellent pilot and fighter, but just the thought of something happening to her out there made the fear wrap around her heart like a vise. And the silliest thing was Talia was horrified at the thought of Susan being killed on some mission without Talia ever having told her--

"God, I can be so melodramatic," Talia chastised herself. But she couldn't help it. She was smitten. She was being driven to distraction by the feelings she had for this station's Commander.

Shoving her plate with its multi-colored piles of vegetables away from her, she got up from the table. Enough was enough. She had to tell her. Picking up her briefcase and Susan's jacket, she walked towards Susan's quarters, determination plain on her face.


She knew God was testing her. There could be no other rational explanation for the morning's events. As Ivanova finally entered her quarters, she draped her spare jacket over the couch and began rummaging through cabinets to find tea. Things were never calm on Babylon 5, how could they be, what with 250,000 beings from all corners of the Galaxy and every where in between. And everyone at each other's throats.

Then last year the Captain decided to add "diplomacy" to her list of duties in an attempt to help her "expand her career." She was beginning to suspect that the real reason for her promotion and her additional duties had less to do with the captain's desire to help her career and more to do with his desire not to deal with the hundreds of feuding lunatics which made up the League of Non-Aligned Worlds.

By the time the tea was ready, she had kicked off her boots into a corner and freed her hair from its leather binding. Collapsing on the couch she placed the cup on the table and concentrated on rubbing her temples in an attempt to quiet the banging in her skull.

O.K. so they weren't all lunatics. They were no more insane then anybody else, these days. Blowing hair out of her face, she took a deep sip of the tea. She would give anything to not go to the second session of the Drazi-Inarra summit this afternoon and take the rest of the day off.

The Inarra had contacted the Babylon 5 Council less than a month ago. They were desperate for help, and asked for protection against the Drazi, who were attacking their home system. The Inarra turned out to be one of the strangest races Ivanova had ever encountered. They were intensely curious about others, since the only non-Inarra they had met were Drazi, and the Drazi were notoriously closed-mouthed about almost everything. They seemed to take great delight in grilling Ivanova about humans and the other races until her head hurt.

The Inarra were genderless, and had very little understanding of the concept. Ivanova had a hard time explaining to the Inarra representatives, if males and females of her race were so different, why were they considered part of the same species? Ivanova had explained what she could remember from her secondary school Biology class, that the definition of "species" turned on the ability to reproduce together. That didn't seem to help at all, since the Inarra reproduction process was complete in each individual... some type of parthenogenesis. They thought it was amusing that it took two humans to make one human.

The Inarra were also telepathic. Every single one of them. They were able to communicate verbally and had been briefed on the other races preference for this mode of communication. But the problem remained that it took them forever to make any point when forced to talk out loud, and sometimes out of sheer frustration, they slipped. Furthermore, they were highly sensitive to the emotions of others, and it was clear that being involved in the Summit and being around so many others not like themselves was wearing them ragged. This un-nerved Ivanova to no end. Telepaths and telepathic communication disturbed her, to say the least, and she wished she didn't have to have anything to do with this whole thing.

But it was her job, and she swore to herself she would do it well. Besides, the outcome of these meetings were crucial for the stability of that sector of the Galaxy. If the Summit were successful, then the border skirmishes between the Inarra and Drazi systems would end.

Nonetheless a part of her was trying to figure out how to duck out for the rest of the day. Since she was chairing the meeting, she realized she would probably be missed. Not that anybody involved bothered to listen to her anyway...

The door chime abruptly roused her from her brooding.

"Enter!" she said to the door, and in walked Talia Winters.

Standing up, she ran her hands down her shirt to smooth out wrinkles that didn't exist. God the woman made her so nervous!

Ever since Talia had arrived on the station, Ivanova found her presence...disturbing. Ivanova was sure it was because Talia was a telepath. She knew Talia couldn't help being who she was, but Ivanova's hatred of Psi Corps for causing her mother's death had made it difficult for her to even be polite to Talia. But then things had changed between them after Talia was forced to face the truth about the organization she had no choice but to be a part of. Talia revealed to her the horrible things she learned about the Corps and what it did to people. She had shared with Ivanova her involvement with the underground railroad that helped rogue telepaths escape the Corps and her feelings of distress and fear about being trapped in an organization that, among other things, murdered their own members who refused to submit to psychological experimentation and forced breeding programs.



"I brought your jacket." Talia stood in the doorway, Ivanova's jacket neatly folded and tucked under her arm. Talia noticed immediately that Susan's hair was down, a rare treat. Talia wanted nothing more than to take it into her hands and bury her face in it--

"Thanks. I feel like such an idiot for leaving it behind," Ivanova confessed.

"Oh it could happen to anyone, really," Talia responded in an attempt to reassure.

"Not to me!" Ivanova pointed out emphatically, and then both women smiled. Talia was thinking about how striking Ivanova's smile was, how it lit up her large soft eyes. A girl could get lost in those eyes, and never find her way home...

And that thought suddenly put Talia in mind of what she had really come here for, and she began to feel uneasy. Hovering by the door, she hesitated to actually enter the room, and was struggling to keep her head up, looking at Ivanova. She would feel much more comfortable staring down at her own feet, like some kind of errant school girl. She forced herself to meet Ivanova's gaze anyway.

"I take it you didn't come here just to bring my jacket?"

"No..." Talia began. "Susan I...I hope I'm not disturbing you, here in your quarters..." 

"No, it's O.K. I was trying to rest where I wouldn't be interrupted," Whoops. That came out much harsher than she meant it to, and she felt bad as Talia flinched, almost imperceptibly. "I mean, interrupted by someone I wouldn't want to see... Oh, hell. Just come in and sit down, will you?" Ivanova gestured to the chair opposite her as she returned to her seat on the couch. "Can I get you something? Some tea?"

Shaking her head, Talia let out a deep breath and sat down on the offered chair. She took a quick look around, enjoying the feel of Susan's quarters.

"So, what is it, Talia?" Ivanova asked in her characteristically diplomatic fashion.

Talia was used to Ivanova's bluntness. She refused to be put off.

"There's something I've been needing to tell you. I just don't know quite, uhm, how to start..."

"Well, why don't you start at the beginning, and go on from there," Ivanova said, smiling at Talia. Talia couldn't help but smile back. And it seemed to break some tension, both women beginning to relax a little.

"O.K. From the beginning. Susan, ever since I came to this station, I ...That's a wonderful perfume you're wearing--"

"What? I mean I don't wear perfume..." Susan looked confused. "Talia, where are we going with this?"

"I'm sorry. I guess I'm a little distracted." and stalling, Talia thought to herself. "where was I...?"

"You were saying that ever since you came to Babylon 5..." Susan tried to look encouraging.

"Of course. Yes. Since I came here, I've felt..."

Ivanova's link chimed. Shrugging her shoulders in resignation, she raised the link close to her mouth.


"Commander," lieutenant Corwin's voice sounded through the link. "a message just came for you, marked urgent. From one of the Inarra delegates."

"What is it?" Ivanova asked.

"I don't know Commander, it's for your eyes only, but they claim it is a matter of life or death."

"Download it to my comm", Ivanova ordered. Rising abruptly from the couch, she crossed over to her computer and activated the console.

"This is strange," Susan remarked, reading the message that had been sent to her.

"What is it?" Talia asked, crossing the room to stand just behind Ivanova. Both women were trying to decipher the message:


    To Human Commander: Come to the central place of the breathers of methane. Matter of great urgentness. Come or there will be a killing. Come now. Come alone...


"What the hell is this all about?" Susan asked, an eyebrow raised in consternation.

"I don't know, but it sounds dangerous, like some kind of set up. Don't go..."

"I have to go," Susan responded. She crossed the room and was pulling on her boots. "It said someone will be killed..."

"What if that someone is you, Susan!" Talia was clearly concerned, Susan realized. Upset would be a more accurate description.

"Talia, I appreciate your concern, but I have to do it. It is my job..."

"Then get Garibaldi to go with you."

Ivanova tucked her PPG into its holster. "The message said..."

"I know what the message said! Please, Susan, no one would have to know he was there. He could hide or something..." Talia had crossed over to where Ivanova was standing, looking for her hair clip. Talia found the clip one the edge of the table. Handing it to her, Talia's gloved hand closed over Ivanova's. "Please," Talia asked again, looking at Ivanova, eyes imploring.

Ivanova looked down at their hands touching.

"O.K." she responded. Giving Talia's hand a brief squeeze, she sprinted out of the door.

Standing alone in Ivanova's quarters, Talia realized that she was still holding Ivanova's jacket.


Susan stared at the Med Lab ceiling, and tried to work it out. She was actually glad Garibaldi had gone with her. If he hadn't accompanied her into the alien sector, she would probably be dead by now. Garibaldi had hid himself from view while Susan waited for the alien to meet her at the Plaza of the methane-breather's section. The Inarra Telepath had placed the information directly into Ivanova's mind. Why it chose her, Susan didn't know. Maybe of all those it knew how to contact, Susan was the easiest to reach. Maybe it knew her from chairing the Summit. She hoped that was the reason, and not because it knew somehow about her latent telepathic abilities. She would hate to think that that would be so easily known by the alien.

In any case, just as the Inarra reached Susan at their designated meeting place, a Drazi came out of no where and blasted it with his PPG. The Drazi assassin must have been following it. Susan caught the Inarra as it went down, Garibaldi killed the Drazi before it could shoot her, and just before the Inarra died it pushed the information into Susan's mind. She had no idea how to access it. She already had a splitting headache from trying, and if she didn't they would never find out who was to be assassinated by the Drazi conspirators until it was too late.

The plan itself was simple. If The Drazi faction could kill someone important on this station and blame it on the Inarra delegation, then they would have succeeded in undermining the first contact situation between the Drazi's enemies and Earth Alliance. This would certainly put off, if not end the chance of the Inarra's petition to join the Alliance of Non-Aligned Worlds being granted. Then the Inarra would continue to remain isolated as the Drazi took over more and more of their territory.

Garibaldi and his people couldn't possibly question every Drazi on the station to find out which ones were involved, before the assassination was scheduled tonight. Damn it! If only Susan had known how to communicate better with the Inarra, maybe there could have been another way to find out from the alien who was going to be killed. Of course they had to be a telepathic race. And it was just Susan's luck that she had been put in charge if the Summit. And now she had this mission critical piece of information stuck in her head, and she couldn't figure it out, no matter how hard she tried.

"How's my lovely patient?" Doctor Franklin inquired as he approached Susan's bedside.

"Besides a splitting headache, I'm fine," Susan responded, rubbing her temples.

"I have to say we were worried about you when Garibaldi brought you in. You were completely unconscious but there wasn't a mark on you. What happened. Did you faint?"

"I don't faint!" Susan yelled, immediately regretting it as it increased the deathly pounding in her skull. "The Inarra, it communicated something to me as it died. The force of it was too much I guess, and I blacked out. I'm fine now. Can I go?"

"I'd like to run a few tests, to make sure you're alright."

"I don't have time for that, I need to talk to Garibaldi.."

"I'm right here, Commander," Garibaldi said as he approached Susan's bed from the other side. "What is it?"

"Have you been here this whole time?" Susan asked, incredulously. "Don't you have anything else to do?" Susan immediately realized that it wasn't the nicest way to thank Garibaldi for saving her life, but this headache was making her more grumpy than usual.

"This whole time has consisted of about 20 minutes. And of course I didn't stay because I was worried about you. I stayed because I was bored," Garibaldi responded sarcastically.

"Maybe we need to give you more work, then." Susan couldn't believe that she had been in the alien sector only twenty minutes ago. It seemed like a lifetime. "Michael, listen. I think I might have a lead on the assassination attempt. If the Inarra was right, we don't have a lot of time. The Drazi are planning to do it tonight. If the good Doctor will let me out of here, I might be able to get some more information."

"If you have to go, go. But check back with me later so I can make sure you're O.K." Dr. Franklin said. "If you want, I can give you something for that headache. For the pain."

"It's O.K., I'll make it" Susan insisted. Carefully climbing out of the bed, Susan tested out how it felt to stand. It seemed to be working. As she walked out of the door, she turned back to the two men. "Michael...Thank you," she said, a little awkwardly.

"No problem. Just doing my job," Garibaldi responded, smiling. "And let me know as soon as you find out anything. Are you sure I shouldn't go with you?"

"I'll be fine," Susan said, as she walked out of Med Lab in search of Talia Winters. "What I have to face now, Michael, you can't protect me from," Susan thought to herself. 

Ivanova walked into the Sea Breeze Cafe and scanned the room. Why someone would choose a name like that for a lousy restaurant shoved into the most crowded part of Brown sector...There she was. Talia was dressed in her suit and gloves, sitting in on some kind of negotiation between a Narn and a Pak'Mara. It was probably some business deal. Even from the other side of the room, Susan could tell that Talia was bored and slightly irritated. Susan pulled a stool up to the counter, ordered some lousy synthetic coffee, and settled in to wait.

From her vantage point she could see that whatever negotiation Talia was in on was getting heated. Suddenly the Pak'Mara stood up from the table and stormed off, yelling in its dysphonic language, full of clicks and hisses. Pak'Mara smell bad enough under normal circumstances, but they emit a really foul odor when they were angry, reminiscent of rotten flesh. The Narn handed Talia a crystal, and then she, too walked off with a look of disgust on her face. She started to walk right past Susan, too annoyed to take in her surroundings.

"Talia..." Susan began. Startled, Talia turned towards the counter. When she saw Susan, her expression changed as a smile lit up face.

"Well this is a pleasant surprise" Talia said, walking over to the counter where Susan sat, perched on the narrow stool. "I am quite tempted to ask what a nice girl like you is doing in a..."

"Resist the temptation, please", Susan chuckled. "I actually came looking for you. But while you were busy, I was pretending to enjoy this rank coffee. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they brew it from the dregs of the recycling bays." Susan grimaced, looking dubiously into her cup.

"I'm touched that you would endure this place just to find me" Talia responded, taking the empty stool next to Susan. "What can I do for you, Commander?"

Pocketing her credit chit, Susan placed her hand lightly on Talia's shoulder. "If you have a minute, lets talk while walking. I can't even hear myself think in here".

Talia, standing once more, moved toward the front door. She found herself feeling disappointed as Ivanova's hand slid from her shoulder. She felt heat rise to her face as Susan's casual touch brought to mind her dreams from the night before...


For the second time today, Talia found herself in Ivanova's quarters. She had thought perhaps ease would come with increasing familiarity, but she was nervous as hell. What Ivanova had asked of her was not that complicated, if it were anyone else. In order to decipher the Inarra's message, Talia would have to do a fairly deep scan of Ivanova's thoughts. The thought of being that close made Talia's mouth dry.

Talia had tried to tell Susan the truth earlier today, only to be interrupted by the station's latest crisis. Until Talia saw Susan later in the cafe, she had been too worried about Susan's safety to think about what had almost happened. But walking with Susan back to her quarters just now, the courage and determination Talia had earlier today evaporated. The thought that she had almost told Susan her feelings for her made her knees shake. Leaning against Susan's kitchen counter, she willed her body and mind to be still, in order to concentrate on the task at hand. Finally, she turned and faced the other woman, determined to do as she had been asked.

"Should we start this?" Talia gestured toward the couch. "This would probably be the best place". As Ivanova sat down Talia sat next to her and removed her gloves. "Direct contact works best for this kind of thing", she explained, placing her hands over Ivanova's.

 The shock of the touch, skin to skin, was instant. They met each other's eyes and immediately looked away.....

 ...And looked back, resolve etched in both women's faces.

 Talia was not the only one fearing this encounter. Ivanova would rather space herself than have a telepath, even Talia, digging around in her head. It was true that she had let Talia get closer to her these past few months, but not this close. Never this close... Please don't let her find out I am the same as her, a latent telepath... Susan felt bile rise into her throat as she heard her mother's words of warning echo in her mind... Tell no one! It was almost all she had left of her mother, that voice of warning, since the Psi Corps killed her. Talia was Psi Corps. She had to be crazy, volunteering to let Talia search through her mind. But her gut told her Talia was different. Could she trust this woman? She had no choice. Lives depended on her being able to access the message the Inarra had put into her mind. Taking a deep breath to fight off the panic, she turned back to Talia and met her gaze, nodding once.

With that Talia began gently slipping into Susan's mind, while placing a thick mental shield to block her own memories from this connection. Memories of secretly watching Ivanova pacing the length of the catwalk above C & C like a mother lion, hands clasped firmly behind her back, her hair pulled back showing a firm jaw, full lips and those huge brown eyes which briefly rested on first this display and then that one, absorbing information vital to the operation of this station. A quarter million lives, alien and human, rested in those capable hands, the hands she was holding between her own just now...

Try to remember anything you can from your contact with the Inarra. Picture its face in your head...That's right.... They went together back to the encounter between Ivanova and the alien...for the briefest of moments she sensed a hard edged fear, as though Ivanova's very survival was at stake. At first Talia thought the fear came from remembering the attempt on her life this morning, but Talia knew it wasn't about that. Puzzled, Talia felt the fear as if it were her own, sharp, poignant...and then it was gone, as if she was blocking Talia from her thoughts. that's not possible...it must be me pulling back. Talia was tempted to use this opportunity to go deeper into Susan's mind, to learn more about her, to understand why she still remained so distant. She must have been hurt very badly...I wish she would open to me! But Talia would not betray the trust placed in her. She would do what she had to do to help Susan get her memory back, no more.

 Ivanova's thoughts were all over the map. ~~Try to focus on one thing Susan, It doesn't have to be about what happened this morning. Pick something, some feeling or memory you enjoy, that makes you feel safe, and focus on that.~~

Taking a deep breath, Susan tried to do as she was asked. She thought about flying her StarFury, trying to evoke the grounding and exciting feelings she felt when flying through space. There; Susan began to relax a little and she smiled to herself. It was much easier for Talia to search when Susan was relaxed and centered, not fighting her. Talia tried to use this opportunity to find the message planted in Susan's thoughts. As she went deeper she saw the image of a Minbari woman, a dim gray image, perhaps as an Inarra would see it. ~~Delenn~~ Talia thought. ~~yes that's it... Thank you~~ Talia felt Susan's sense of relief flood them both.

Talia began to end the connection gently, traveling slowly up through Susan's thoughts. Susan was still using her calming image to focus. As Talia began moving up and out of the other woman's mind she couldn't help but share Susan's memory of flying. Talia had never imagined how...joyful it was! ~yes...~ Ivanova was smiling, responding to Talia's feelings, sharing the experience... As Talia's mind painted an image of the two women in flight she she opened herself to Ivanova's experience of flying, her confidence was palpable as she moved her StarFury through the incredible panorama that was infinite space, the sense of it all being almost too much. She felt the tingling sensation of borderline agoraphobia Susan felt travel down her own spine. Talia's naked hands covered Susan's as she worked the controls, and let the ship become an extension of their bodies. The determination and strength with which Ivanova applied herself to this challenge, the exhilaration of flying the StarFury, it responding to her every touch... Blushing, Talia smiled to herself. A part of her realized that she was completely disregarding her telepathic discipline to remain separate when in the minds of "normals". It was just too tempting to feel this close to Susan. She had wanted it for so long, and the feeling of being surrounded by Susan's inner self was...captivating. So, for just a brief moment, she let herself share the exhilaration and deep contentment Susan felt as if it were her own...

~~Yes, Talia, that's exactly how it feels... I have never been able to describe it to anyone in words, even myself...It's so nice to share it with you ...~~

~~!!You can't be scanning me..?!!~~ The gentle touch was gone. Talia's words and Talia's shock pounded through Ivanova's head.

 Ivanova tried to pull her hands away, but Talia's grip tightened, holding her fast.

 And it all fell into place: Susan's fear of telepaths, her hatred of the Psi Corps...

"Don't turn away from me, please" Talia whispered, pleading with an intensity she didn't even know she had. "I won't hurt you..I could never hurt you. I won't tell anyone, you are safe with me, Susan, please..

Ivanova's terror of being discovered ripped through her mind, she could feel herself coming close to a fear so deep rooted, so profound, she felt as if she was becoming formless...

And then the floodgates opened in Ivanova's mind and she, for the first time, saw herself with Talia's eyes. It was there all along for her to see. A look that spoke of love, of longing and a deep passion...Talia was in love with her!

And as Talia took Susan's hand and held it to her face for the briefest of moments, Susan felt the tears falling from Talia's eyes. Talia stood, dropping her hand and moving away from the couch. Susan's hand fell down by her side, suddenly empty and wet with Talia's tears.

Talia turned, her profile barely visible in the shadows by the door. "I guess we both know something about the other that we didn't want to share. I guess we're even".

Susan was immobilized, glued to the couch. It was all too much to take in, and before she could move or respond, Talia, racked with anguish, fled the room, leaving Susan to stare in shock at the door closing behind her. By the time Susan came to her senses and dashed out the door behind Talia, the corridor was empty. Talia was no where to be seen. Susan leaned against the door frame, trying to collect herself.


First things first. She had told Garibaldi about the Inarra's message, and he was mobilizing the effort to protect Delenn and catch the conspirators. Garibaldi assured Ivanova that he would catch them with "their pants down". Clearly he was looking forward to it. Now it was time to find Talia.

Think Susan...where would she be? Well, she wasn't in the Zocalo. A man selling fake "artifacts" which had probably been recovered on an archeological "dig" in Downbelow, stared at her as she paced back and forth in front of his stall, hands clasped behind her back. She also hadn't been at the Fresh Air Restaurant, the Bar, or Green sector's ambassadorial wing, the command sector, or any of the other places Susan usually ran into her, for that matter. Where would Talia go, where on this station does she spend her time? It suddenly hit Susan that she had no idea. That, in the past when she ran into Talia, it was always where Susan spent her time. All of those "chance encounters". She had been following me, waiting for me all of those times... Susan realized in wonderment. It was funny, really, but Susan was too worried about Talia to laugh.

An idea struck her. While Susan was being oblivious, and Talia was following Susan, Garibaldi had been following Talia! Of course! She often complained about his amorous attentions, which were quite unrequited...

"Garibaldi here." Susan heard the sound of canned laughter in the background. He was watching his Duck Dodgers cartoons, no doubt.

"Garibaldi, it's Susan"

"Didn't we just talk? What can I do you for now, Commander? I am trying to take a break, 'cause it's going to be a long night."

"Just a quick question. Michael, ... if you were trying to find Talia, and you knew she was upset, where would you look?"

"I'd check the Gardens. Why? Is she O.K.? What's wrong? I could.."

"No Michael, I need to handle this myself and I can't explain right now. Thanks for the info. I'll talk to you later."


As Susan set a good pace toward the Gardens, she tried to imagine herself explaining this to Garibaldi. And what would I say? she wondered.

In retrospect, she couldn't believe she let Talia into her mind, no matter what was at stake. Maybe a part of her wanted Talia to know the truth about her telepathic abilities. She helps rogue telepaths she doesn't even know escape from Psi Corps. It's not likely that she would turn Susan over to them. But still, it went against all her mother taught her about self- preservation."Tell no one..."

And now...And now? As the impact of Talia's confession to her finally hit full force, Susan stopped in mid-stride so abruptly that someone crashed into her from behind. She hardly noticed his irritated apology as she moved out of the rush of traffic and propped herself against the side of the central corridor to think.

How could I have been so blind about how Talia feels for me? It must have been there all along. Letting go of a deep sigh, she resumed her rapid pace and her self-interrogation continued.

I just didn't think...No Ivanova you didn't think. If you ever thought about anything besides work and duty and responsibilities maybe..

Maybe what? How did she feel about Talia? Passing into the garden section, and looking upward, she searched the fake "sky" for an answer. Be honest. Stopping and closing her eyes, an image of Talia formed in her mind. She remembered the night in her quarters after the last incident with that Psi Cop Bester. They had talked for hours, although it hardly seemed that long. Talia was so open to her, telling her about how soul-sick she felt since she finally let herself hear the truth about the Corps. About how badly she wanted out and how tired she was of learning things about people she didn't want to know, and not being able to get close to the people she did want...

Talia looked at her black leather gloves laying on Ivanova's kitchen counter as if they were some dead animal.

 "I am so tired of being feared...I feel so shut off..." Talia's gaze briefly fell on Susan's face and then she looked down at her bare hands clasped in her lap. The despair Talia radiated was palpable, and Susan was struck silent by its intensity. Suddenly she felt a flood of empathy for the woman in pain sitting across from her. Talia, normally so self possessed, suddenly looked so little and vulnerable. Susan had an urge to fold her into her arms...Leaning forward Susan closed the short distance between them and held Talia's hands in her own. They felt so warm and soft. The energy between the two women seemed to lighten. Their eyes met and Talia gave Susan a slow half-smile which drew Susan's attention to Talia's mouth. She found herself staring at Talia's full lips, so striking in their size and shape. She began to wonder, if her hands were so soft between her own, what would her lips feel like? She had a sudden image of her fingers tracing the shape of her lips...

It was then Susan realized that she had a little too much wine. Red wine seemed to have this effect on her, letting her mind wander off on amorous tangents. Oh, well, she sighed to herself. She smiled and sat back, releasing Talia's hands from her own.

"I'm glad you came to me with this Talia, and that we are having this chance to open up more with each other. I don't usually let people in like this. It feels good."

"It does feel good, doesn't it? I feel safe with you Susan. Things are starting to get really scary these days and it is good to have an ally... I would like for us to be allies, Susan..."

As Ivanova perched just beyond the entrance to the Garden lost in thought she remembered later that night after Talia left and she was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. She had told Talia so much about herself that night, about her family, more about the loss of her mother and her hatred of the Psi Corps, her brother's death. Her father becoming so distant when Susan chose to join EarthForce, and then dying last year...

And she also remembered feeling inexplicably drawn to Talia, and she couldn't honestly blame the wine. She felt so disappointed when Talia finally left that night, and now she remembered that Talia's leave taking was rather slow and reluctant. Like a place had appeared that would allow the taking of one more step towards closing the space between them. Like it would be almost incongruous or somehow unnatural just to leave it where it was and say good night. But ultimately it seemed easiest to leave it alone, so Susan walked Talia to the door.

But she had admitted to herself that night, staring at the ceiling, that she had wanted so much for Talia to stay; to spend the night. She wanted, truth be told, to have more of her, to know more of her. To know what it would be like to hold her close. But by morning, Susan had securely packed that feeling away and put it safely with all the others. She had learned her lesson well in life, that strong emotion just led to pain in the end, and she was quite adept at shelving feelings that disturbed her sense of order and equilibrium. 

And now? As she finally arrived at her destination, Ivanova could just see Talia standing beyond the hedges near the maze. Talia's back was turned toward her and she was looking off into the distance. Seeing her there, obviously trying to regain her composure, Ivanova felt so...moved. And now all she knew how to do was to find her and discover what there was between them.

"Hey..." Susan spoke softly behind Talia. Startled, Talia turned and, seeing Susan, she turned away again and continued to look with concentration at nothing. "It's a big station, Commander. I'm surprised you found me". Talia crossed her arms over her breasts. Her voice was shaking.

"Being the Commander, it is my station and, well, I always know where everyone is." Judging from Talia's non-reaction, Susan's attempt to lighten the mood seemed to fall flat on its face. She tried a different tack.

"Talia, I..." Susan was suddenly quite uncomfortable herself. She looked around, becoming aware of all the people around them, sitting on benches, strolling through the maze. And she felt silly talking to Talia's back. "Talia. Could we go somewhere where we could be alone?"

"I don't think that would be a good idea right now, Commander..." Talia turned, trying to gain courage to face Susan. No luck in the courage department. Talia kept her eyes on the ground between them.

"Why not?" Susan raised one eyebrow in question.

"Well, I already feel exposed enough to you right now, and ...I just need some time alone to get things back together, where they belong--"

"where they belong?" Susan took a step closer to Talia, prompting her to finally meet Susan's eyes. "That's just the problem, isn't it? We've got to keep any feeling that's too strong put away, where it's safe. I know it well, and frankly I'm getting tired of it"

"What are you saying, Susan?" Talia's voice, hardly pitched above a whisper, seemed even deeper than normal.

Looking down at the grass beneath their feet, Susan paused, trying to find the words she needed. "What I'm trying to say is..." Damn it! Why was this so hard? "I know there is something between us, Talia...and I've been hiding it even from myself. I'm tired of it. I want to know what it is."

They were looking at each other intently now. The commotion created by all of the other people seeking refuge in the Garden faded into the background. The tension between the women was thick.

"I already know what I want, Susan. I want you. I've wanted you for a long time now." Talia's voice fell to a whisper "I'm afraid to be alone with you right now..."

"So far I don't see a problem..." A slow smile spread across Susan's face, and Talia was forced to respond in kind.

And then Susan's link chimed, startling both of them.

"Ivanova here" Susan responded, raising the back of her hand to her mouth, her eyes still on Talia. Talia felt as if she had been nailed in place by Susan's eyes, and suspended with no ground under her feet.

"Commander, your needed up at C & C" Lieutenant Corwin's voice seemed impossibly distant. "There's some new commotion in the main Docking Bay, and the dock workers' rep is here demanding to see you."

"I'm on my way. Tell everyone to keep it together until I get there. Ivanova out." Susan's hand dropped back to her side as an aggravated sigh escaped her lips. "Where can I find you later? I can definitely arrange to be free by...let's say 21 hundred?"

"Let's meet for a late dinner then...how about the Fresh Air?" Talia asked. She could feel herself regaining her composure after all of the morning's emotional upheaval. This was familiar territory. She certainly knew how to ask someone out on a date.

"Lets have dinner at my place instead. I'll see you there at, say, twenty-one thirty?"

Her hard-won composure instantly decimated, Talia watched as Susan headed back in the direction in which she had come only moments before. She was truly amazed at how much had happened in such a short time, and her stomach turned over thinking of what new changes this night would bring. 


She checked her chrono-display one more time, took a deep breath, and activated the door chime. The door swung open instantly.

And there was Susan, standing in her kitchen which looked like a hurricane had hit it. There were pots on every counter, overturned bottles of spices and something that looked like dead sauce on the floor. Susan looked the picture of exasperation. Talia stepped out of the way as the door closed behind her.

"It smells...interesting." Talia was trying not to wrinkle her nose.

"I tried to make dinner but, well, I burned it." The confession was a little awkward. "Maybe we should eat out after all..."

"It's O.K. I'm not really very hungry anyway. I mean I don't have much of an appetite right now..." for food, Talia didn't say.

A smile flashed across Susan's face, as if she had picked up the thought. She took a last look a the mess she had created. "Oh hell", she said, sweeping the pile closest to her into the sink. "I'm not hungry either." Susan walked over to her couch and sat down. "Would you sit?" Susan asked, gesturing to the place next to her.

Talia crossed the room and sat where she was told. Her heart was pounding, but she tried to relax. Sliding out of her shoes, she pulled her legs under herself and turned to face Susan.

"I'm sorry about all the mess." Susan ran her hand over her hair, checking to see if any strands had come loose. As she became conscious of her nervous gesture, she let her hands fall to her lap and stared at them, as though she could find the words she needed there if she only looked hard enough. "Talia, no one knows about me, about being a...telepath..." had she ever said that word out loud, in relation to herself? She didn't think so. Susan rose to her feet and crossed the room. Turning her back to Talia, she folded her arms across her chest and stared out of the view port. She could see the gardens and farms spread the length of the station's tubular central section. The track for the Core Shuttle pierced through the center of it all, like an arrow frozen in mid-flight. "My mother, before she died, had always told me to hide it, to tell no one. And now you, of all people...It's kind of ironic, really..." Susan was fighting back tears.

Talia was hit by a strong feeling of empathy and tenderness for this woman, usually so strong, but now she could see the little girl she hid so well. The little girl who's mother had been taken from her, by the very same organization Talia was part of. Of course she would be scared. Talia rose and closed the distance between them. Giving into the urge to comfort Susan, she gently turned her around, and took her into her arms.

Rigid at first, but then Susan relaxed into Talia. It had been so long since she had been held like this, since she had let anyone this close. It felt...OK. Nice, in fact. Susan let go of the breath she had been holding, and more tears came with it.

Holding her close, Talia wiped a tear from Susan's cheek. She placed a gentle finger to Susan's lips. "Shh...it's alright" she whispered, "You must know I would never tell anyone, that you are safe with me, Susan..."

Susan let Talia's words and touch quiet her fears. Then she became conscious of Talia's finger on her lips, and the feel of her arm around her, holding her. She had a sudden desire to touch Talia's mouth, to feel the texture and shape of her lips. Without thought she reached out and began tracing the outline of Talia's lips with her finger, like an artist trying to comprehend the nature of beauty before attempting to recreate it...

Talia felt the touch like an electric shock. This was no little child she was holding. Talia closed her eyes, and tried to control her ragged breathing, but as Susan's soft touch reached her bottom lip, Talia could no longer fight it. Her lips parted, an uncontrolled response, and her mouth pulled Susan's finger inside. Then her tongue was on Susan's hand, tracing a pattern, first along Susan's finger, then her whole palm...

As Talia's mouth drew rings of fire along the lines of Susan's palm that she could feel all down her spine, she knew, finally, what she wanted from this woman. It was all so clear now, so simple, the truth...Reluctantly, she pulled her hand away from Talia and caught Talia's hands with her own. Their eyes met and locked.

Susan pulled Talia's mouth to her own with a firm hand and kissed her, a long, slow kiss that starts at the lips but doesn't end until it reaches the bottom of the feet. Talia felt Susan uncovering all the inner surfaces with her kiss, heat curling around every molecule in her body. It was so much more than she had ever imagined...much more. She had no choice but to lean into the other woman's strong embrace. Talia had no strength in her legs and knew she would fall to the ground in a pile if she were let go.

But that did not seem to be Susan's intention. Rather she kept holding her tight, kissing her, sending powerful currents through her veins like lightning...

Susan shivered as hair rose off the nape of her neck. Pulling back, Talia reached for Susan's hair and watched as she released it, letting it fall gently, flowing down the other woman's shoulders. Talia moved her fingers through it, enjoying the rich, smooth texture. Then wrapping Susan's hair around her hand she took a firm hold and pulled Susan's lips to hers, and the next thing she knew she was kissing her, deeply, searching. Talia, fumbling for a place to sit, found the floor was as far as she could manage, and brought the other woman down with her. Her skin was desperate for full contact and Talia pulled Susan on to her and their bodies entwined...

 All indecision, all hesitation was gone as much more powerful feelings took over. Susan was holding Talia's hands pinned down and slipping her free hand under Talia's shirt--a low moan escaped both their lips as Susan's hand covered Talia, tracing the lines of her palm with Talia's full breast. Closing her eyes, Talia allowed herself to just float, to let the sensations ripping through her body take over. Suddenly Susan's teeth and tongue were on Talia's nipple, and she felt herself aching, swelling in response, straining to meet Susan's mouth. It was some kind of exquisite torture, feeling as though her skin was stretching to capacity, like it would not be able to contain the sensations Susan was pulling out of her, and she began to respond, quietly at first, and then louder--

Talia, freeing her hands from Susan's grip, wrapped them tightly in Susan's thick dark hair, pulling Susan tightly to her breast, moaning...Her deep smoky voice resonating in Susan's mind... ~~Touch me. Touch me.. Susan... please...~~ Susan yanked Talia's tight skirt down, past her thighs. Susan's hand slipped inside, and wild sensation ripped down every nerve passage in Talia's body. She was on fire, as their bodies pushed against each other in some sort of primal rhythm she couldn't control, even if she had wanted to ~~open to me Susan, feel me with your mind... so good, so ... oh my god ...please...don't stop...give me your mind...yes...

Susan had no intention of stopping, ever. As she was forcing herself deeper, deeper into Talia she felt the other woman, textures changing in her hand, now silk, now velvet, so wondrously soft and as the last wall dropped, as the last defense was ripped away by the flood of Talia's passion, the profound intensity of Talia's need, her demand to open and be opened ever deeper..she slipped into Talia's whole being, sinking into her passion. She felt her very essence get swept away on Talia's desire. As their bodies moved together, the sound of their pleasure resonating against the walls, their minds and bodies one as only two telepaths, as only two women can experience together. Susan was lost, she didn't know where her skin ended and Talia's began, all fear had left her and she would not have changed this moment for the world..

A deep sound escaped Susan's mouth as she found the place that was harder and more full among the other folds and textures. Sliding down Talia's sweat soaked body, she wrapped first her tongue, and then her whole mouth...

Talia's release came hard, and as her body opened, her mind joined with Susan as she shared the sensations flooding through her, and it hit Susan's mind like a tidal wave. They rode it together, the desire Talia felt slowly turning into an aching tenderness for Susan. 

She pulled Susan to her, wrapping herself around her.

"Commander!" Talia's husky laugh was whisper soft against her ear, "I had no idea!" Susan, savoring the taste and smell of Talia, sighed deeply and a smile spread across her face.

The next thing she knew, Talia had turned Susan over on her back and began removing what was left of her uniform...all of it. Talia's eyes took in every inch of the woman under her with unabashed pleasure. "I've wanted this for so long. I have dreamed about this...Let me tell you my dream..."

And as she whispered into Susan's ear, Susan's breath caught in her chest and then her smile widened. "Ms. Winters!" she laughed. "And here I thought you were such a proper lady.."

"I am glad to say that you were quite mistaken in that regard, Commander..." and rolling the full length of her body on top of Susan's, Talia began. first with a light touch and then with deep caresses that sent chills down Susan's body. And then her mouth began to work magic on her skin. Soon her body was arching up toward Talia with abandon and low moans escaped her lips. Any semblance of composure was gone and she began cursing and praying in Russian. As a telepath, Talia needed no translation. "..oh Lord help me!...oh God..." They couldn't help but laugh together at Ivanova's desperate pleas...and then all laughing stopped as Talia's tongue began to slide home and all sensation blurred together. Talia was forced to pin down Susan's hips as they began taking on a life of their own. And then Talia felt her dream come true as Susan completely gave over to her with explosive convulsions. Susan was riding high as the waves of her passion were met so skillfully by Talia's mouth. It was as if the other woman knew exactly where she was going to land as she caught her again and again until Susan could stand it no longer and rising to a final peak, she shuttered against Talia's body and came to rest with a powerful release.

As soon as she could catch her breath she pulled Talia's mouth to her own and kissed her long and sweet and deep.


Susan woke, sick with terror. The images from the nightmare replayed in her head, not stopping, unstoppable. She was in a chair, no visible restraint but unable to move nonetheless. The man in grey was sticking a needle into her neck filled with a liquid that burned as it spread rapidly through her bloodstream. She could feel the poison as it traveled each vein and artery, seeping into every muscle. She tried to scream but no sound would come out of her. She watched in horror as the drug took effect, leaching her flesh from her bones, leaving a brittle white skeleton in its place. She woke as the bones turned to powder and began to blow away.

"Computer! Time!" she croaked, wiping her palms on the sheets. Her night shift was soaked.

"3:30 am" the computer responded, its female voice saccharin smooth.

Ivanova was trying to calm herself be breathing deeply and evenly. She had a crashing headache that felt as though a sledge hammer was battering her skull from the inside.

Then the voices started. Young and old, Alien and Human, male and female. Thousands of voices, spinning and echoing, reverberating through her head. Her own internal voice, as central to her as her own heartbeat, was lost. Her sense of self lost. She was going crazy. Her hands were clasped tightly over her ears, and she was screaming.

~~Listen listen listen to my voice voice voice.~~ The echo was driving her insane. ~~Susan! Susan! Concentrate! Just my voice voice voice...SUSAN!~~

It stopped.

One voice inside her head now.

Only one.


"I'm right here Susan. Take it easy. It's going to be O.K. now. I'm holding the block for you. It's O.K..."

Susan opened her eyes to see Talia sitting on the bed beside her. Talia was holding Susan's hands pinned in front of her between her own and her grip loosened as Susan's breathing slowly returned to normal. Talia's eyes were brimmed with tears. Tears reflected off her eyelashes.

"what...what happened" Susan's voice cracked. Her throat was parched. Holding a glass of water to Susan's lips and stroking her hair, Talia helped her take a few sips.

"I'm not sure. I felt you having a nightmare, it woke me up, and then everything exploded. It felt like a mind burst. I got here as quickly as I could..."

"I don't understand..." Susan found herself shaking uncontrollably as the horrible nightmare replayed inside her head. "Oh, God, Talia, whats wrong with me?" Her fear and panic were causing her to loose control and the voices were coming back, threatening to overwhelm her.

"Fight it, Susan! Stay with me... ~~Stay with me.~~ Talia's voice was once again thundering inside her mind. The block Talia had been holding in Susan's head was weakening from the powerful flood of voices and images. She knew Susan would have to help block or she would become inundated, and if that happened, Talia wasn't sure how she could reach Susan again. ~~Picture a wall, just behind your eyes. Imagine each brick. Feel the texture. It's real...~~

"I can't!"

~~You must! Listen to me, Susan.~~

Susan was concentrating so hard, sweat began to bead up on her forehead. Then she saw it. The wall formed before her eyes, blocking the myriad sounds and images. She felt Talia's strength as though it were a tangible thing, shoring up the wall with her.

Suddenly it was quiet once more. Talia was holding Susan's head to her breast as she radiated calming thoughts, burying her own fear and anxiety deep behind a mental barrier, inaccessible to Susan.

"Good. Rest now."


"We'll talk in the morning. Just sleep now."

A pause.

"Talia?" Susan whispered, her tired voice cracking.



"Of course." Gathering Susan into her arms, Talia rocked her gently to sleep.


Susan was back in Med Lab. The second time in as many weeks. She did not want to make this a habit.

Last night had been the first that she and Talia had spent apart since their first night together, a little more than a week ago. That first night had been... well, it was indescribable. It was more than the unexpected intensity of the passion they had shared. Susan had never been that intimate emotionally with anyone in her life. And if she thought that the feelings couldn't get any stronger than that first time, she was sorely mistaken. Each night seemed somehow more than the one before.

It was wonderful but it was scary, too. She had been afraid that she might loose herself, so last night she had decided to take a break and spend a night alone.

But then the nightmare, and the voices. She was glad that Talia got there as quickly as she had and was able to stop it. They talked it over that morning. After Talia insisted that Susan not go to work today, they spent the morning trying to sort out what had happened.

 "A mind burst? I don't understand," Susan had said, huddled over a cup of hot coffee. "My...abilities... aren't latent anymore. I thought a mind burst only happened the first time the telepathic talent manifests. Besides, after all this time, how could I be so out of control?"

Talia placed the scrambled eggs she had cooked on the counter in front of Susan, who grimaced at the thought of eating. "Your psi talent is not latent, and probably hasn't been since you were a small child. Not latent, but completely untrained. You haven't had any training, Susan, and that has to change. It's just not safe, for you or for those around you."

"How am I going to get training? I can't exactly join the Psi Corps," Susan quipped.

Talia laughed, in spite of herself. "No, that won't work. We'll have to come up with something else..."

"Why do you think this is happening now? It has always been under control before. And when my mother was...dying, I learned to block her thoughts from my mind..." Susan's face darkened in memory.

Talia took the chair next to Susan at the counter. Pulling it close, she took Susan's hands into her own. Susan could see that Talia was sharing the painful memory, the empathy plain on her face, as she responded, speaking quietly, "You learned to block your mother's thoughts in order to maintain your sanity, Susan. But because of your lack of experience and training, you weren't able to put too fine an edge on it. You taught yourself to block out all thoughts..."

"But not your thoughts...Not now."

"Exactly. And since we've been...together," Talia responded, blushing a little, "You've taken down the block. And now it seems you have forgotten how to put it back when you need it."

Susan still looked confused. Talia settled herself more comfortably in the chair, preparing for a longer explanation. "A telepath always hears the thoughts of others, but we learn to push them away from the front of our minds. People's thoughts become a kind of dim background noise...the voices indistinguishable from each other, but the noise is always there. Only when two telepaths are...joined, do the voices stop. I'm not exactly sure why..."

"Maybe because when we are making love, it is all that exists in that moment," Susan suggested, her tone emphatic. She was beginning to understand.

"Yes. That must be it. Everything else loses significance. Especially with you... I've never..." Talia's voice had dropped to an intense whisper before it trailed off. She looked down at her hands, bare and folded on her lap.

~~I know. Me neither~~ Susan responded telepathically. She had placed her coffee cup back on the counter and was gently touching Talia's cheek. Leaning into Susan's gentle touch, Talia looked up. Their eyes met and held.

"I'm scared," Susan said, honestly, simply.

Talia folded her hand over Susan's and brought it to her lips. She placed a soft kiss in Susan's palm. "Me too. But we're in this together, Susan, and we'll make it work. All of it..."


Dr. Franklin had barely been able to hide his shock when the two women had come into his office this morning and the Commander shared her secret in the strictest doctor-patient confidence. Ivanova, a rogue telepath, Stephen thought to himself, shaking his head in wonder. And Talia was virtually hovering over the Commander, watching her like a mother lion guarding her cubs. It didn't take a medical degree for him to figure out what was going on between them. That was also shocking, considering how Ivanova had put so much effort into distancing herself from the station's telepath. Talia's persistence must have finally paid off. Stephen had tried to hide his smile behind a mask of medical professionalism as he listened to the women explain.

"I can certainly run some tests, Commander, and make sure nothing is wrong medically. I agree with Ms. Winters that we should rule out other possibilities, but my guess is that ultimately this lies in her area of expertise. I suggest that you let her start training you as soon as possible in order to protect yourself from this kind of thing happening again. And Ms. Winters," Dr. Franklin turned toward the other woman, "I have faith in your abilities. I'm sure the Commander will be in good hands."

 And as the doctor left to set up her exam, Susan could have sworn that she saw a smile cross his face.

But now Ivanova was laying in bed, staring at MedLab's ceiling, trying to get the courage to leave MedLab, to face the world with this "gift" raging out of control. Dr. Franklin had just finished his complicated battery of tests. Everything had checked out O.K. The EEG readings had been normal.

"But you might be dizzy for a little while. Just rest here for a few minutes, until it passes. And Commander..." Franklin had started to leave the room, but at the last minute he popped his head back in, leaning on the door frame, "Start the training with Talia as soon as possible. Right now it must be your first concern. Understood?"

"But doctor, I have duties--"

"And they will have to wait, at least until your preliminary blocking skills are established."

Ivanova knew the doctor was right. She could not imagine trying to run C&C in this condition.

"What will I tell the Captain? I don't want him to know about..." Susan's voice trailed off.

"I understand. I'll take care of it. I'm sure I can come up with something."

"But I get so stir crazy around here when I'm off duty."

"Aha! the most important reason," Dr. Franklin smiled at the Commander. "I wouldn't worry about that. I'm sure Ms. Winters will keep you quite busy."


Talia had taken her to the most crowded part of the station. They were sitting in a small booth in a little cafe overlooking the Central Corridor during the station's equivalent of "rush hour". Talia told her that a certain Vorlon referred to this time as "the Hour of Scampering." Stores were closing, restaurants opening, security changing shifts. Thousands of people leaving work, going to work, going home, going out. Thousands of people and each one echoing a flood of disjointed thoughts, feelings, images. Talia had withdrawn her help in shoring up Susan's mental barrier, and it was up to Susan to block it all out.

"You are merciless," Susan told Talia as she rubbed her temples. Her mental barriers felt disconcertingly flimsy. She was certain it would all come crumbling down any second. She had to remind herself to keep breathing.

"Your ready for this Susan. Really." Talia responded. Talia was trying to sound encouraging but Susan could tell that she was exhausted. It had taken two solid days for Talia to teach her the most rudimentary blocking skills, enough for Susan to be able to work without going completely insane. The Captain had been worried about her absence, but Dr. Franklin had covered for her, telling him that Susan had contracted a terribly contagious flu that had been latent in her system since her last shore leave. And after the first two days, Talia and Susan had spent every free hour they had together sequestered in Talia's quarters while Talia taught her what she had learned at the Corps. Susan was touched by how much energy Talia was putting into helping her, so she was determined to work hard and be damn cheerful about it.

"Right. I'm ready for this."

Susan hoped her smile was convincing. This whole thing was terrifying. She had spent her whole life in denial, afraid of sharing her mother's fate. She had done a good job pretending even to herself that she was not a telepath, and was able to hide her "gift" well. She had been able to block out the thoughts and feelings of others ever since her mother died and she had successfully prevented anyone from scanning her.

Her intimacy with Talia changed all that. Now it was taking all of her effort just to be able to hear her own thoughts, to separate them from the psychic noise that was flooding her brain. Talia assured her that it would get better soon with practice, but she couldn't even imagine what it would be like to be in a crowd and only experience a background hum.

The training was difficult and often discouraging, but it was nothing compared to the emotional upheaval caused by having to embrace this new identity. And though she knew she could trust Talia and Stephen, it was hard for her to adjust to having anybody know the truth about her. She didn't want anyone else to find out, and that wouldn't be easy.

Looking up, she saw the worried expression on Talia's face. Susan reached out and touched Talia's gloved hand gently, trying to reassure. Their newly established relationship had served to heighten their awareness of each other's feelings, and Susan was afraid that Talia was feeling personally responsible for what she was going through. It wasn't Talia's fault. It was bound to happen sometime, and Susan was thankful that Talia was here to help her. Talia was doing an excellent job teaching her everything she remembered from her own training so long ago, and what she couldn't remember she researched thoroughly between lessons. She was a good teacher. And Talia took great care in explaining everything she knew about psi abilities, from theory to practice. Susan would have found it all quite fascinating if it hadn't become so personal.

After addressing basic blocking skills, yesterday's task was to measure Susan's psi- level. Before connecting her to the Psi-Scanner Interface, Talia had explained the theory behind the testing and the characteristics of each level in great detail. Psychic talents were measured in two main categories: telepathy and telekinesis. Telepathy involved the ability to create mind-to mind contact without the mediation of the more traditional senses. Everyone who rated above a P1 in telepathy could easily pick up another's surface thoughts and their stronger feelings, but the different ratings indicated different talents. For example a P5, like Talia, was a close proximity telepath. This meant that on the scale of 1 to 12, her telepathic abilities were of an average strength. But if she was physically close to someone her ability to pick up their thoughts and feelings was much stronger than normal. If she actually touched another person, her ability was equivalent to that of a P10 acting at a distance, which was why the psi-dampening gloves she wore were so important.

P4's were known for their special empathic skills. Their ability to scan thoughts were not as acute as, say a P5's, but they picked up the feelings of others much more readily. And they could do this without touching. Because of the P4's special vulnerabilities, they tended not to do the kind of work Talia and other commercial "teeps" did. Instead they worked best with other telepaths, and made excellent "teletherapists."

Anyone who rated higher than a P9, the Psi Corps kept for their own purposes. P10s were teachers, and the rare P11 or P12 worked with the Psi Cops.

Telekinesis, the ability to move objects without the intervention of the muscular system, was rated completely differently. A person could be a "teep" and a "teek", but the combination was extremely rare. The telekinetic talents included macro-TK, the ability to move large objects, and micro-TK, the ability to operate on the atomic and perhaps sub-atomic levels. So far, despite all of Psi Corps genetic engineering and experimentation, they had yet to produce a stable micro-TK who was not also completely psychotic. It certainly was a strain to have one's perception of every day objects broken down into its constituent atoms and particles. Energy-TK, the ability to manipulate energy at the macro level, was theoretically possible, since energy was simply matter in another form, but so far no energy "teeks" had been found or created.

After Talia had explained all of this they had set up a time to take care of the actual testing late yesterday afternoon. And after all of this explanation, it seemed like some kind of perverse revenge that none of it seemed to apply to Susan. She took the test several times, but they just couldn't seem to get a fix on the level of her psi abilities.

"Are you sure the power supply is connected?" Susan had asked, and she immediately regretted it when Talia gave her a look that would curdle fresh milk.

"Of course its connected!" Talia felt like slapping the thing.

"Well then perhaps it's malfunctioning."

They were alone in MedLab Four, which housed Dr. Franklin's research facilities. The Psi-Scanner Interface was placed on a metal cart, and the doctor had rolled into the middle of the room and then left the two women by themselves. Talia set the machine for telekinetic scan and placed Susan's hand, palm down into the energy cuff. Susan wasn't sure what to expect, but all she felt was a slight tingling as the cuff flooded with an orange light. The display lit up, indicated that no TK ability was detected, and then cleared. The orange light disappeared.

Then Talia switched the scanner to telepathic scan, and watched the display expectantly. The patterns of waves on the little console appeared as before, but they kept fluttering and shifting, never evening out into a clear reading.

"That's strange," Talia said. She rubbed her eyes and took a closer look, but the readings stayed the same. Or rather, they didn't stay the same. "Its not supposed to happen like that."

They tried it again. Same thing.

Talia told Susan to remove her hand, and then she re-set the scanner. Susan put her hand back in and this time they waited several minutes, but the display still indicated that the scan was complete while the wave patterns continued to shift.

And then when Susan had suggested that it might be broken, Talia set the machine to scan herself and it worked perfectly, the display leveling out at P5. Talia looked up at Susan.

"I guess not," Susan said.

"Well, lets just go on to the last test. We could come back to this one another time," Talia suggested.

In addition to telepathy and telekinesis, there were other psi talents that were less easy to categorize. And as Talia set the scanner for this third and final test, the display indicated that Susan was off the scale in the category of "psi-ability, non-specific." After three resets, they got the same result.

Susan could feel Talia's energy shift from annoyed to worried. Susan had felt more comfortable with annoyance.

"What does this mean?" she asked.

Talia paused a minute before responding. "Well, I hate to say this, but I've never seen anything like it. I've heard about it, of course. We spent a couple of weeks studying non-specific psi abilities in my theory class back at the Corps. The instructor explained that this category was for talents that we don't understand as well, but make a point of testing anyway, to help with the research. He explained that Psi Corps researchers delighted in the rare instance when a subject's readings were so strong they defeated the scanner's ability to measure them."

It was as if the implications of Talia's statement had just become apparent to her. She looked up at Susan, the concern plain on her face. Then an image came to Talia's mind which, in her distress, she inadvertently shared with Susan. It was an image of Jason while he was here on Babylon 5, having escaped from the Corps research facilities. He was in intense pain, both psychic and physical, and Talia could do absolutely nothing to help him. She couldn't remember a time when she had felt so helpless...

Talia broke the painful image inside their heads by abruptly pushing the scanner away from them. Then she stepped between it and Susan, as if the scanner had become the enemy, and Talia had to protect Susan from it.

Talia was so distraught that Susan didn't have time to feel her own concern. She pulled Talia into her arms, and Talia held Susan to her tightly.

"I won't let them touch you. I swear it! I won't let them touch you."


And all that was more than enough for one day. But today they were back at it, full force. They decided to give up on testing, and turned their attention back to training. No matter what Susan's psi levels were, she had to learn the basic skills all telepaths needed to survive and stay sane: specifically blocking, both selective and general, and the ability to control what thoughts and feelings she chose to share with others. And so here they sat in a crowded cafe while Susan clutched the edges of the table, holding on as though her life depended on it.



"I'd like to go now." Susan's hands had curled around the table in a death grip, her brow furrowed in concentration.

Talia tried to hide a smile. It didn't work.

"There is nothing funny about this," Susan insisted, watching Talia struggle, but then she must have changed her mind because looking down she saw her hands clinging to the table and started to laugh. Talia joined her, and then the bus boy who was clearing the table behind them began to stare at them.

"I suggest you move those eyes of your somewhere else. While you still have them." Susan had on one of her best menacing looks. The young man backed up, knocking the chair over behind him in an attempt to get away from the Commander. Susan turned back to Talia and winked, and they began to laugh even harder.

"But Susan...?"


"Your blocking quite well, and you're not even trying."

Susan reached up and touched her forehead, as if she could feel the mental barrier with her hands. "Ha! You're right! I hear absolutely nothing. Well, almost nothing-- " The plague of voices had faded into a distant background noise, and Susan was ecstatic. "Finally, some peace and quiet!" she yelled.

And then her link chimed. Susan slapped the link on the back of her hand. "Ivanova."

"Commander, you're needed here in C&C..."

Standing, Ivanova rolled her eyes and prepared to leave. "I knew I shouldn't have said that word."

"What word?" Talia looked confused.

"That 'quiet' word," Susan whispered it conspiratorially. "Its a religious principle here on Babylon 5, like pronouncing the true name of God in the Torah. The punishment is swift and certain."


Talia sat at her desk, reviewing a stack of transparencies. The final negotiations between TerraCore and Proxima Mining, Inc. were scheduled for less than an hour from now, and she had spent so much time helping Susan with her training that she was dreadfully behind in her preparations. A lot of money was riding on finalizing these procedures. TerraCore was fronting an extremely large sum to Proxima Mining based on their representations that they would do a better job for them than any other mining concern in the sector. It was her job as the commercial telepath representing TerraCore's interests to learn as much as possible about their potential new business partner. The background information made it possible for her to determine with greater accuracy if they were negotiating in good faith, and Talia prided herself on her thorough preparation.

"Computer, time."

"The time is thirteen hundred hours, precisely."

Talia dropped her note pad on the desk, pushed her chair back and sighed deeply. Its true that these past several days had been extremely busy, and the amount of work she had left little time for a decent night's sleep, but it wasn't the only reason she was so exhausted. It wasn't even the main reason. The most draining part of this whole experience was the emotional upheaval it was causing for Susan and for herself.

"The Corps is mother, the Corps is father."

Not long ago she believed this with all her heart. The Psi Corps had been everything to her. It was the only place she had ever felt safe and cared for.

Her telepathic talent had manifested unusually early. She could barely remember her mother, and what little she did remember was not pleasant. Talia thought her mother detested her: she avoided her, withdrew from her touch. It wasn't until much later that she learned that her mother was simply afraid of her own daughter.

What little she remembered of her childhood before the Corps took her in was a blur of pain, alienation and finally, abandonment. The Corps taught her to be proud of her telepathic gift, the very thing that had set her apart from everyone else. The Corps raised her, clothed her, fed her, taught her all that she knew, and all it ever asked for in return was unquestioning loyalty. A loyalty she was more than happy to give, until she came to Babylon 5.

It seemed that everything that happened to her since she came here was a big conspiracy to shove the most horrible aspects of the Corps in her face. First, her strong feelings for the station's Commander made it difficult to downplay the injustice done to Susan's family. And then Jason had come and showed her horrors she didn't think were possible. Jason had been her teacher at the Corps, and later became her lover. She respected him and loved him more than any man in her life. As far as Talia was concerned, Jason represented everything good about the Psi Corps. But then they destroyed him in an attempt to create the perfect assassin. Talia had tried her best, but ultimately she had been unable to help Jason.

And as if that was not enough, that Psi Cop Bester returned, enlisting Talia's help in exposing the underground railroad that protected rogue telepaths. What a wretched little man! Talia thought to herself, and a chill ran down her spine just thinking of his slimy presence inside her mind. Talia had tried to convince the rogues to return to the family, but instead they forced her face the truth-- that Bester and his ilk would just as soon see them all dead. That their lives had become forfeit by simply insisting on their right to a little personal integrity. It was then that Talia had to come to terms with the fact that the Corps would do anything, and hurt anyone, even its own "children" to achieve its goal of absolute power.

In the last few months, Talia's world had been turned upside down. And now she was spending all of her time in the effort to help Susan learn to deal with her talent. And of course Susan would have to have some strange telepathic abilities that defied categorization and all attempts at measurement. It was a lot of pressure for Talia and the stress of it was finally catching up to her. She was only a P5. The teachers at the Corps had to be at least P10s. And it took an expert teacher to handle someone with Susan's abilities. It was only because Susan was so new at this that she had not detected the depth of Talia's anxiety, tucked away behind her strongest mental barriers.

Talia knew only too well that the Corps' researchers would love to get their grubby little hands on Susan, to turn her inside out and find out what made her tick. Ever since their failure with the Psi Scanner Interface Unit, Talia had nightmares about Psi Cops coming for Susan, hurting her in unspeakable ways, and taking her away from Talia.

Talia was overwhelmed by the powerful determination she felt to make sure that no one from the Corps ever laid a hand on Susan. She would die before letting them get to her. And she knew with utter certainty that she would kill as well.

Talia pushed herself away from the desk and stood with a shutter. Walking to the alcove that contained her bed and dresser, she changed into her business suit quickly, concerned that she would be late to the negotiations. Looking in the mirror, she watched herself with a certain detachment as she put the finishing touches on her make up. She noticed that her hands were shaking slightly as she attached the Psi Corps pin to her lapel. Leaning into the mirror, she thought she looked the same as always, although perhaps a little more pale than usual. The vehemence of her new-found convictions was not apparent on her face, but on the inside, she felt like a different person.


Later that afternoon, when the TerraCore negotiations were over, Talia sat on a bench in the Zen Garden, trying to clear her thoughts. Talia had succeeded in getting Proxima Mining to admit to the TerraCore representative the real reason why their bid was so low--the equipment they planned to purchase for the job was hopelessly outdated, and therefore cost much less. They had ended up re-negotiating the entire deal, and now she was completely worn out.

Talia came here often after working. It was one of the most quiet places on the entire station, and being free of the thoughts of others was the only way she could renew herself.

Unfortunately, she couldn't escape her own thoughts as easily. Thoughts of a certain Commander. Things had moved so quickly from the joy of their connection to the pain and fear of coming to terms with Susan's flowering telepathic abilities. And now a week had passed since they began the work of getting those abilities under control. Susan was able to return to her duties after the first few days, but they still had to spend any time they could find training. The long practice sessions weren't really a problem. It was the threat of the Psi Corps finding out about Susan's unique abilities that loomed large in the background of all of their interactions.

Susan had her endless capacity to suffer to shore her up through this the difficulty of the situation seemed only to underscore the pessimistic worldview she insisted was endemic among Russian jews. After all, nothing stayed joyful for long. But Talia wanted to show her that it could be different. She wanted Susan to be able to be joyful in accepting her true identity--she had already experienced more than her share of grief and loss since her mother's death. And so much isolation. Unfortunately being a telepath usually caused more isolation, at least from normals. But there was at least one good thing about being a telepath: the ability to be so profoundly intimate with another. There was the joy.

And as Talia realized that it was this joy that they had lost touch with in the midst of crisis, a slow smile lit her face-- she knew precisely what this situation called for. What she could do to remind Susan, and herself for that matter, of the good parts of being a telepath. Talia would not give up without a fight. She felt the last of the heaviness wash away just thinking of her next lesson with Susan. As she stood to leave the garden, the renewed sense of determination showed in her stride.


"Why are you smiling?" Ivanova asked as she used her keycard to activate the door lock. "You can't tell me you are looking forward to this."

Ivanova stepped inside her quarters and watched Talia come in behind her, trying desperately to keep a smile from her face. Although Ivanova looked forward to spending any time she could get with Talia, it took all of her discipline to keep working at the tortuous Psi Corps training exercises. Talia was a patient teacher, but Ivanova was a very impatient student, and there were other things she would much rather be doing with Talia. Of course even if there had been time for that kind of thing, she had been rather hesitant to initiate anything physical, fearing that it would overwhelm her rudimentary blocking skills. Ivanova was very much looking forward to this whole training period being over.

"Are you going to answer my question?"

"Oh...I was just thinking of a slightly different lesson plan for tonight. A kind of... instructional game we could play, to lighten things up a little."

"A game?" Something in Talia's tone of voice made it clear that she wasn't thinking chess, and Ivanova couldn't help being drawn in to Talia's obvious excitement about the idea. Talia sat down, indicating that Ivanova take her usual place on the couch opposite her.

"Now listen carefully. It goes like this..."

"Your driving me to distraction."

"I'm glad." Talia placed the second glove down on the coffee table near the first and began slowly unzipping her top.

"I could help with that "

"No! Stay there and don't move. You promised--"

"I'm not so sure this game is fun anymore," Ivanova told her, beginning to pout.

"Well, we don't have to play--," Talia began, pulling her zipper back up.

"Yes," Ivanova said tightly. "Yes we do. I promise I won't say anything again, as long as you keep doing--that."

Talia smiled as she took the clasp of her zipper and began pulling it down once again, but this time even more slowly. Her shirt fell open slightly, revealing a hint of something soft and lacy underneath, covering a generous swell of breast. Then she sat, perched on the edge of the chair. Ivanova's swallowed hard when Talia spread her legs and moved her hands under her skirt, lingering long enough to make Ivanova wonder what they were up to under there. Talia caught the garder holding up her stockings with her fingers, and slid it slowly down her thigh. She tossed the garder over to land on Ivanova's lap. Talia never broke eye contact as she rolled down first one stocking, and then the other, slowly, sensuously.

Ivanova watched the tantalizing dance with all of her attention. After taking off her stockings, Talia had removed silk panties and placed them on the table, on top of the gloves. Ivanova reached for them, rubbed the tip of her fingers across the crotch of soft lacy fabric. She brought her fingers to her face and inhaled deeply, pulling the musky smell of Talia into her, watched Talia's lips purse reflexively and her thighs press together.

Standing once more, Talia closed the distance between them and leaned over Ivanova. Her shirt fell open completely now, causing Ivanova's eyes to drop to Talia's breasts, mere inches from her face. Ivanova's eyes followed the line of Talia's cleavage, the skin soft and creamy, full dark nipples swollen tight against the translucent fabric, and Ivanova could feel her mouth water. When Talia started to pull down on the zipper on the side of her skirt, Ivanova reached out, aching to pull Talia's hips toward her.

"No touching," Talia told her, her smoky voice rough with desire. Ivanova's outstretched hand dropped to her lap, and she blew a strand of hair out of her face with an aggravated sigh.

Then the real torture started. For a brief second Talia closed her eyes, her brow furrowed in concentration. When she opened them again, they appeared to glow like a green fire, and suddenly Ivanova felt light psychic touches on all the most sensitive parts of her body, stroking, teasing. But Talia was still leaning over her and now she unclasped her bra, caught her breasts in her hands, then slowly let them fall free. And while the real Talia began to slide out of her skirt, the psychic Talia had pulled Susan's hand to her lips, sucking and pulling her fingers into her mouth one by one. All the while she continued the stroking, touching Susan all over, and all at once in a way no actual hands could emulate. Talia continued this psychic love making, stirring Ivanova into a frenzy. It was like two Talias making love to every square inch of her, and Ivanova twisted and writhed under her caresses.

Ivanova could stand it no longer. She felt herself coming closer and closer to the edge and needed Talia with her. She reached out again, this time grasping Talia's hips, pulling her down and then under her, her mouth covering Talia with fierce, crushing kisses that squelched any attempt on her part to speak an objection.

They broke the kiss to catch air, and Talia looked up at the powerful woman above her. Ivanova's hair had come loose from its binding and fell thickly about her shoulders. Her throat pulsed just above her collarbone and Talia's lipstick smeared her face. Her chest rose and fell with each labored breath, and her lips were parted, swollen. Seeing Ivanova like that inflamed Talia. She felt heat pull between her legs, and was overcome with the need to take and to be taken, and none too gently. She quickly opened the Commander's uniform jacket and shirt, her fingers shaking as she fumbled with the clasps. She dug her fingers into Ivanova's shoulders to pull her down, to feel her breasts against her own, and took Ivanova's mouth with her tongue.

~~God I need you, want you so much...~~

Talia was surprised to hear Ivanova's words so clearly in her mind, more powerful than ever before. Something about the intensity of this connection was focusing Ivanova's newly awakening telepathic skills. Confident that Ivanova could handle it now, she let all the need she felt for the Commander pour from her, holding nothing back, as she answered:

~~Then take me~~

Talia's words and the profundity of Talia's desire set off a bone-deep vibration inside Ivanova which began in the core of her being before engulfing her. She pulled Talia to her more tightly, as though skin and bone and whatever kept their souls apart ceased to exist. She held Talia to herself as a ballast, an anchor in a storm as orgasm took her before Talia could even touch her, with the intensity of it increasing as each wave overcame her. And Talia reached around Ivanova's back and crushed the Commander to herself to feel the power of it reverberate against her own body.

But before Talia even knew what was happening, Ivanova was pushing her hands up Talia's thighs. Sliding inwards, she pushed against Talia's sex.

"Ahhhh--" Talia began to cry out loud, but her voice caught in her throat and she inhaled sharply as Ivanova pushed long fingers inside her. Talia tried to raise her head off the arm of the couch to see Ivanova's hand under her skirt but she could not hold it there. Wrapping her fingers into the Commander's thick dark hair, she pulled Ivanova's head down, whispering incoherencies in her ear.

"More," Talia breathed, and then inhaled sharply as Ivanova pushed deeper inside, long fingers dancing a fierce rhythm, some times moving in unison, sometimes moving separately, burning across all the surfaces at once.

"Yes!" Talia yelled, panting, gasping for breath. The whole couch was moving now, inching along the floor in a matching rhythm. Talia made a feeble attempt to tongue her lover's ear, but then gave it up, as it was all she could do to keep breathing.

"Yes...just-- like-- that..." Talia cried.

Ivanova was deep inside, enraptured by the intensity of Talia's passion, in a state of complete euphoria. Talia managed to disentangle a hand from Ivanova's hair and slide it between Ivanova's legs to feel what Ivanova felt, to ground herself before losing her bearings, disintegrating when the orgasm took them both.

 "I like... that game," Ivanova said after a while, still trying to catch her breath.

"Yes, but you changed... the rules..." Talia's voice was hoarse from overuse.

"Good. The original game was going to kill me."

Talia smiled at the mock-serious expression on Susan's face. "Well I'm glad, then. It would be hard to explain to the Captain how his executive officer died from not touching me."

"Oh, I don't think it would be too hard to explain..." And then Ivanova began placing gentle kisses on Talia's face, neck, shoulders. And as she slowly worked her way down Talia's body, she murmured "This time...soft..."


Talia walked through the gardens, wandering aimlessly, enjoying the rich foliage and dense scent of growing things. She couldn't remember the last time she felt this happy. Her body was positively humming, and she flushed remembering her last evening with Susan. Sensual images flashed through her body which had its own memories of the love-making, sending intermittent searingly erotic sensations flowing through her veins, stopping the breath in her chest. It was pleasurably disorienting, and she needed to close her eyes until the sensations passed or she would lose her balance. Looking down, a bright red flower caught her eye, and she started to bend down to touch it. She took a quick look around, making sure she was alone, and then removed her leather gloves. she cupped the delicate rose-like bloom in her hand, leaned into it so she could smell it properly.

Susan loves red roses, Talia thought to herself, and decided to get some for her. They were quite expensive here on the station, but she had been paid handsomely for her services during the TerraCore negotiations. She smiled imagining the look Susan would have on her face as Talia gave her the roses, eyes lighting up like a happy child. An expression that Susan hardly ever shared with anyone else but Talia.

Continuing her meandering stroll, she found a bench. She sat down, slid off her shoes and tucked her legs under her. She rubbed one hand lightly over the other, enjoying the feel of it free of the gloves she was forced to wear among "normals."

Talia was amazed at how this whole thing turned out. She had been drawn to Susan from the first, admiring her beauty,her power, and confident presence. She could barely stop herself from staring at Ivanova. It did not tale long for Talia to begin imagining what it would be like to take the Commander to bed, and she quickly became determined to find out.

It had taken almost two years. Talia had never had to work that hard to seduce anyone in her entire life. And with each rejection, she became even more determined, even more intrigued with the enigmatic Russian.

When it finally happened, she had been floored by the passion of their connection. She had enjoyed the affairs she had in the past, but with a few notable exceptions, they always stayed casual and she didn't regret moving on. Her work required her to move often, and Talia didn't handle long distance relationships well. But this time was different. Only a few weeks had passed since their first night together, and already Talia had trouble picturing herself without Susan.

Talia tried to understand what happened. What made Susan different from the others. It wasn't just physical, though she couldn't get enough of touching Susan, and she loved how Susan touched her. There was so much more to it. As another erotic image from the day before passed before her mind's eye she admitted to herself that she had never experienced this combination of the physical passion and psychic and emotional intimacy with anyone before.

The fact was, Talia was in love with Susan, and she hoped to God Susan felt the same. This intensity of feeling was scary when you were alone in it. But something deep inside told Talia that she was not alone. That this was something special for Susan too. Talia sighed contentedly as a big smile lit up her face.

"What are you so happy about?" Garibaldi had appeared from no where, as usual. Startled, Talia quickly rose to her feet. Garibaldi raised a shocked eyebrow as he noticed Talia's gloveless hands. Talia followed Garibaldi's line of sight, remembered the gloves, and bent down to pick them up. She felt completely naked in front of the security chief, and she put her gloves back on as quickly as possible.

"Geez, I didn't mean to disturb you," Garibaldi said ruefully. He hated that his mere presence put Ms. Winters on edge. He had enjoyed seeing her look so unusually happy and relaxed, and now he felt like kicking himself for spoiling it. Maybe he could make it better by turning on the old Garibaldi charm, he thought to himself.

"I must say, Ms, Winters, you look, absolutely glowing. I've never seen you looking so well." It was true. She looked really good.

"Thank you, Mr. Garibaldi. You are looking well yourself. Now I must be going..." Talia turned and began to walk away, in the direction Garibaldi had just come.

"Talia..." Garibaldi reached out to put a restraining hand on her shoulder, and then thought better of it as she turned to face him.

"What is it?" She sounded annoyed.

"Can I ask you a... uhm, personal question?"

The corner of Talia's mouth rose slightly. "You can ask," she responded, trying to hide her irritation.

"It seems... Why is it that you don't like me? Have I done something to, uh, make you want to avoid me?"

Talia was suprised at the earnest look on Garibaldi's face. He was honestly confused, and wanted to know. She felt a tinge of sadness for him. she did genuinely like the man, if he would just manege to stop hitting on her all the time. she decided he deserved an honest answer.

"Mr. Garibaldi... Michael. I like you just fine. Its your...persistence I have a problem with. You need to understand that I'm just not interested--"

"Well, jeez, tell me how you really feel, why don't you. Don't hold back, or anything." Garibaldi smiled, trying to keep it light. "If you have to break a guy's heart, can you at least explain why?"

"Why what?"

"Why you don't like me. Am I not your type?"

Talia tried to keep from smiling. She wanted to stop this charade once and for all, and it required that she be serious. "You could say that. But more importantly, there's someone else."

"How could there be someone else, and me not know it? Who is it. Someone back home? Surely we could still--"

"No we can't."

"Can you at least tell me who it is?"

Talia wasn't sure how Susan would feel about telling Michael something so personal. she was such a private person. But the fact was, he would find out sooner or later. If it were sooner, perhaps he would leave her in peace. She began to answer his question.

On the other hand, it would be better for Susan to tell him herself. She was his friend after all.

Michael, please. Just leave it alone." Talia turned and walked away.

"I'll find out!" He yelled after her. "I always do. I'm the head of security, for chrissakes... And Talia, he better be good to you, or I'll smash his head in."

Talia smiled to herself. She didn't understand how one person could be so entirely annoying and yet endearing, all at the same time.


Ivanova sat alone at a table in Amelia's nursing a vodka. It had been a painfully long day. It seemed as though all the ten plagues of Moses had been visited upon C&C today. Ivanova prayed tomorrow would be different, but she seriously doubted it.

"Ivanova. Good. We have to talk."

"What is it Garibaldi?"

He pulled up a chair, sat down. "Can I buy you a drink?"

"I already have a drink. Get to the point, will you? Its been a long day, and I'm trying hard to forget it."

"Ivanova, I need your help. It's about Ms. Winters."

"Oh?" Susan tried not to choke on her vodka, managed to inhale it instead.

"You O.K.?" Garibaldi was pounding on Ivanova's back with gusto.

"I will be if you stop that!" Ivanova yelled, gasping. She leaned back in her chair to protect her back from Garibaldi's ministrations.

"What about Talia, I mean Ms. Winters?" Susan managed finally to respond, trying to sound casual.

"Well, I wanted some advice from you. Hell, you know women better than I do, and..." Garibaldi was fumbling for the right words. He leaned forward and resumed in a more conspiratorial tone. "It's like this. I have a thing for her, Y'know what I mean?"

Ivanova nodded.

"But, she's so cold. I figure she's like that with everyone, and I try not to take it personal. But today when I saw her in the gardens, she looked so pretty, and, well, it just popped out."

"What popped out?" She wasn't sure she liked where this conversation was heading.

"I just asked her if she was interested in me." Garibaldi paused, scratching his cheek in concentration.

"Well what did she say?" Ivanova should probably have felt some jealousy about her friend's feelings for Talia, but she didn't. It was hardly new information, and she felt kind of bad for Michael.

Garibaldi leaned forward again. "She said there was someone else! Can you believe that?"

"But she didn't say who?"

"No, she started to, but then she changed her mind, I guess. And its just been digging at me. Who could it be? I make it a point to know everybody's business." Garibaldi realized how bad that sounded, and he quickly added "I mean its important to know that kind of thing for my work and all. Anyway, you guys have been spending more time together lately, and I was wondering if she told you who it is she's seeing... Maybe in one of your woman to woman talks, you know? What's so fraggin' funny?"

Susan was choking on her drink again, her face bright red. She was trying hard not to laugh, but she couldn't help it.

"Do you know who it is, or not?" Garibaldi asked again.

"Yes Michael, I'm afraid I do know who it is..."


Susan managed to compose herself. Michael deserved a more sensitive answer.

"Its me, Michael. I'm the one Talia is seeing."


"Yes, me." Susan let it sink in, watching the comprehension dawn on his face.

"God I feel like such an idiot."

"Don't, Michael. There's no need." Standing up, Susan gave his shoulder a brief squeeze and walked out of the bar.

Watching Susan leave the bar, Michael leaned back in his chair and rubbed at the day old growth on his chin. "Not her type," he muttered to himself. "Well that's the understatement of the century..."


 Ivanova walked into the Eclipse Cafe, scanned the room, looking for her breakfast date. She had just come off the night shift up at C&C, the fourth night in a row. And there was Talia, at a table towards the back, attention absorbed by a transparency she held in her gloved hand. She was wearing a form-fitting dress that zipped along the front towards the left side. As she sipped her orange juice, she looked quite fresh, her skin glowing. Ivanova was always amazed at how good Talia looked in the morning, and not being a morning person herself, she had no idea how Talia pulled it off. She was looking very good to Ivanova just now, and she would love to get Talia somewhere alone to tell her about it in detail--

"There you are," Talia said, looking up as Ivanova approached. She was smiling warmly up at Ivanova. "You're looking quite beautiful yourself, Susan."

"You know, its impossible to sneak up on you," Ivanova said, seating herself in the chair opposite Talia.

"Well, particularly when you broadcast those kinds of thoughts," Talia responded while reaching across the table to touch Ivanova's hand. "It is hard to miss, ah, certain kinds of attention." Talia ran her forefinger gently along the inside of Ivanova's wrist, causing the hair to stand up on the nape of her neck.

"I thought you would be used to that kind of attention. You do tend to have an...effect on people." Ivanova covered Talia's lightly stroking finger with her free hand, holding it still. ~~and your certainly having an effect on me~~ Ivanova added telepathically, trying hard not to blush.

~~That is all that matters to me, Susan--to have that effect on you~~ Talia sent, and under the table she hooked her leg around Ivanova's ankle. Ivanova pulled her chair in closer in response.

"It is so good to see you, Talia. I hate when we have opposite schedules. do you realize that it has been four nights since we, ah--" Ivanova took a quick look around them, checking to see if anyone at the tables nearby was listening. It seemed that everyone was absorbed in their own conversations, paying no attention to the two women.

"Believe me, I know. I've been missing you," Talia said emphatically. "I was hoping--"

"Can I get you ladies anything? We're serving our breakfast special; A synth-egg omelette with toast." The waiter looked at them expectantly, pen poised above his pad.

"That sounds fine," Ivanova told him, while looking intently at Talia. "And coffee, real coffee. I plan on being awake for awhile--"

"The same for me, thanks," Talia added, smiling at Ivanova. The waiter left, and Talia leaned into the table, closer to Ivanova. "I cleared my schedule until this afternoon, hoping we could spend the morning together--"

"I love watching you speak. You have the sexiest mouth..."

"Can I take that as a yes?" Talia asked, her face flushed.

Ivanova continued to watch Talia's lips carefully. The table between them was beginning to feel impossibly wide. "I would love to spend the morning with you. After breakfast, lets go somewhere where we can be alone."

"On one condition. Toss your link out of an airlock." Talia told her. "I have some very specific plans for you, which will require your undivided attention--" Talia turned Ivanova's hand over, and traced her finger along the inside of her palm. She watched Ivanova's throat pulse, just above her collarbone, and held a picture in her mind of her tongue on Ivanova's shoulder, then her throat, her lips kissing a downward trail--

Ivanova watched carefully as Talia wet her lips with her tongue. It was disorienting, because she could feel Talia's lips on her body at the same time. Looking down, she watched as Talia's finger drew the delicate patterns inside her palm. Ivanova felt herself blush and her breath catch in her throat. Pulling her eyes away, she looked up again and met Talia's gaze.

"I think I could arrange to be--unavailable, at least for a few hours--"


It didn't take them long to finish breakfast and get Ivanova's quarters. Ivanova had placed her link in the dresser drawer and then leaned her hip against it, slamming it shut. Turning to look at Talia, she watched as Talia's eyes slowly traveled the length of her body as though she could see right through Ivanova's uniform.

"God, Susan, you are so beautiful." Talia said while she was pulling off her gloves, one finger at a time. She put them on the counter and walked up to Ivanova, placed one finger on Ivanova's neck where the collarbone met the base of her throat, felt the motion of Ivanova swallowing under her touch.

Ivanova took Talia's finger and brought it to her lips, gently sucking the tip. Talia's eyes fluttered shut for a brief second, opened again, radiating twice the heat. She brought her mouth over Ivanova's, finger and tongue tracing Ivanova's lips. Then Talia felt Ivanova grasp the zipper on her dress and pull it down. Ivanova slid her hands under the collar of the dress, causing it to fall from Talia's body. Breaking from the kiss, Talia stepped clear of her dress.

Ivanova put her arms around Talia, her hands cupping her from behind. Her lips brushed Talia's mouth once more, tongue tracing first her bottom lip and then the top. As her tongue pushed into Talia's mouth, Ivanova's hands squeezed tight, pulling Talia into her. Her skin felt electric where Talia's body touched her own, melding to her like a soft cloud hugging the shore.

Talia pulled back enough to unfasten Ivanova's uniform jacket, and then took off her shirt. Talia sighed as their breasts brushed against each other, an exquisite softness on softness. Opening Ivanova's belt, she slid her hands into Ivanova's pants and rubbed the silky moisture she found there with the tips of her fingers, and then brought her fingers up to touch them with the tip of her tongue. The taste of Susan on her fingers, and the smell of her, like an ocean breeze, caused a wetness of her own, and she could feel the heat of it pooling between her legs. Impatient to feel more of Susan, she pulled off her pants and pushed Susan back onto the bed behind her. With Talia's full weight down on top of her, she wrapped her hands tightly in Susan's thick hair and kissed her deeply. She clasped Susan's thigh between her legs and gave a tight squeeze. Susan moaned into Talia's ear as Talia's hip pushed up and into her, sliding on wet silk.

"Talk to me, Talia," Susan whispered. "Tell me anything, just so I can watch your lips move."

Talia blushed and smiled.



"I love you Susan."

It took a second for the meaning of Talia's words to sink in, and then Ivanova looked up from Talia's lips and met her eyes. There was such a profound openness and sincerity, a depth of feeling in the way she looked at Susan, searching her face for a reaction, that it made a lump grow in Susan's throat. She gently brushed Talia's check with the back of her fingers, and struggled to respond with words.

"Oh, Talia I'm so glad. I love you too. I've been afraid to tell you. You have so much courage." Susan looked at her lover tenderly and with frank admiration.

"Not courage. Need. I needed to tell you."

"And I need to show you." And then Susan kissed Talia, sweet and deep.

"I've missed you," Talia said into Susan's mouth, and then gasped as Susan turned her head and forced her tongue into Talia's ear. Susan used her tongue to trace the folds of Talia's ear and smiled as the touch raised goose bumps on Talia's skin.

Suddenly Talia flipped Susan over so that she lay under Susan, looking up into Susan's eyes. Pausing for a brief moment, she soaked in the heat from Susan's piercing gaze, and the weight of Susan's body on her own. She ran her hands down Susan's back and legs and then slid one hand underneath, traveling up her inner thigh, circled her fingers in wet curly public hair. Talia pushed the tip of one finger, and then the tip of a second into Susan.

"Don't move," Talia whispered. Susan was biting her own lower lip, trying not to make a sound. Susan's legs trembled as she struggled to keep her hips still and poised on Talia's fingertips. But then Talia was moving her fingers, tracing a gentle pattern along the outside edges of Susan's labia.

"you are so cruel!" Susan told Talia, her eyes pleading. "Please..."

"Please what?" Talia asked innocently but with a rakish glint in her eyes. She was going to make Susan ask for it, she wanted to hear Susan's voice--

"Touch me--inside--" Susan whispered harshly, and the sound of those words set a fire inside Talia. Reaching behind Susan, she used her free hand to push Susan down onto her fingers, burying them deep.

"Yes!" both women cried in unison. Talia felt Susan's muscles pulsing against her fingers. She ran her other hand down Susan's back and along the soft hollow at the base of her spine. She traced her fingernails in the delicate crevice between Susan's hips, feeling the downy hairs rise under her touch. Then stretching out her hand, her fingers fully extended, Talia dug in and pulled Susan from behind. Susan gasped, and she began moving her hips in a slow but steady rhythm, matching the movements of Talia's fingers inside her. As they rocked together, Talia attached her mouth to Susan's neck, sucking, tasting sweat.

Susan had her elbows on either side of Talia, and she rested the weight of her upper body while her hips rolled, thrusting. Talia felt Susan's nipples, swollen and hard, digging into her own breasts. Susan was kissing her deeply, fiercely, causing Talia's lips to burn. Talia felt the final wall in Susan's mind go, and the sensations ripping through Susan's body were overflowing but Talia caught them, holding them and her. She fell into Talia, and the boundaries between the two women faded. They floated like that together, without bodies, without skin. But then an explosion of pure ecstasy tore through Susan's core and then outward, into Talia. The sensations consumed them both, they became rigid, transfixed. As the orgasm finally receded they clung to each other, gasping for breath.


"I wish I didn't have to go, but I do. I have to work, and you need to sleep--" Talia was calling out to Susan from the bathroom. Then she emerged from the bathroom dressed in a form- fitting silver silk tank top with matching slip. She picked up her earrings from the top of the dresser, looked in the mirror to put them on. She had bent down to pick up her dress when she saw Susan in the mirror, sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her from behind. Talia stood and turned.

"Your look feels like a touch," she told Susan, voice soft.

Susan smiled, her eyes closing for a brief second, and then she sent a rush of feeling into Talia's mind. As the sensations poured into her body and tangled around each nerve, Talia felt her throat close up. She leaned back against the dresser to steady herself.

As Susan continued to send the passionate mental touches into Talia's mind, she watched the desire Talia felt manifest in her body, saw Talia's lips tremble, her throat pulse. She felt the ache build in Talia's chest, her nipples hardening, pushing against the thin fabric of her tank top.

"Come here," Susan told her. Talia crossed the room and let Susan pull her into her arms and onto her lap. Susan wrapped an arm around Talia's shoulders, and with a guiding hand on Talia's chin, she pulled Talia's mouth onto her own, kissing her deeply.

Then, breaking the contact, she lifted Talia's shirt up and let a full breast fall into her mouth. Moaning, Talia curled her hands into Susan's thick hair, holding Susan's mouth to her as she deftly tongued first one nipple and then the other.

Susan's hands dropped to Talia's hips and she pulled Talia closer. Susan opened her legs, causing Talia's legs to spread and her slip to hitch up above her hips.

Talia hadn't yet put on underwear, so there was no fabric to prevent Susan from feeling Talia's full wetness slide on her thigh. Talia rocked, squeezing her legs against Susan, and Susan held her from behind to feel muscles contract under her hands. With sounds coming from deep in her throat, Talia's rhythmic clenching picked up speed. Clasping her arms around Susan's neck, Talia dug her nails into Susan's shoulders. Meeting Susan's gaze, Talia's hair fell forward, covering her face like a curtain. But Susan could still see Talia's eyes through the loose strands; could see the fire there as Talia's thoughts pierced Susan, demanding to be touched.

Talia shifted her hips forward, adjusting herself, inviting Susan to fill the space that suddenly felt so painfully empty without her. Susan was enthralled by the intensity of Talia's need. She felt it as though it were her own, savoring the look in Talia's eyes, Talia's wet warmth spreading down Susan's thigh--


Talia cried out loud as Susan slid up and into Talia, and she used the hand that was holding Talia from behind to push Talia firmly down onto her probing fingers. As Susan entered her, Talia looked as though she were fainting; her eyes fluttered and then closed, mouth slack as she rested her head on Susan's shoulder. Helpless as Susan pushed into her deeper and deeper, filling her--

"Look at me," Susan demanded. "I need to see you."

Talia's head jerked upright abruptly in response. Meeting Susan's eyes, Talia's pupils were dilated and unfocused; her whole being transfixed with desire. She was riding Susan, hips rocking, meeting Susan, matching the beat she played. Then Susan's heart began to ache as she felt Talia shutter against her. Sensation exploded inside, and the force of it threw Talia against Susan as the orgasm tore through her. Talia's hands dug painfully into Susan's shoulders as she clung tight and her thighs spasmed uncontrollably. Finally, as Talia came to rest Susan caught her, pulled her even closer, and gently rocked her until equilibrium returned.

After a while, Susan pulled Talia down on the bed with her, wrapping Talia and herself up in the blanket. Holding Talia in a gentle embrace, Susan felt her hand tremble as she carefully ran her fingers through Talia's hair.

"Are you alright?" Talia asked, whispering into Susan's neck.

"Yes. But I was thinking..." Susan paused, struggled to put her thoughts into words. Struck once again by how inadequate they were at describing--this. "What would I do with out you?"

Talia looked up at Susan, searched her expression for a visual clue to match her words and the multitude of emotions that coursed just beneath the surface. She saw pain and fear in Susan's eyes.

"I don't anticipate that ever becoming an issue, Susan. After all the--effort-- I put into getting you here, like this, I don't plan on letting you go."

Apparently her words had the desired effect, because Susan gave her one of her glowing smiles, and it warmed Talia's heart to see it.

"How did you know, anyway? I mean--did you have any idea that it was going to be like this?"

Now it was Talia's turn to smile. She was constantly amazed by Susan's honesty. Her willingness to show the vulnerability that lay behind such a composed facade. And it always called Talia to respond in kind, to search her feelings and be as truthful as possible. "I--I don't know, Susan. I only knew that I wanted you with an intensity I had never felt before."

"Why did I have to be so stubborn?"

Talia laughed. "It is one of your most endearing qualities- -"

"No, I'm serious, Talia. Two years! It took almost two years before I would let you in. I just hate to think about all of that time we could've been together. And who knows if either of us will even be here tomorrow, or the next day--" Susan's voice caught in her throat as all the faces of those she loved passed before her mind's eye. Her mother. Her brother, Ganya. Then her father. Her whole family, all of them, gone. They had left her here, alone... But somehow, she had found the strength to go on, showing no pain. As invulnerable as one of those old Russian fortresses. Letting nothing out, and no one in. And meanwhile she had almost let Talia slip through her fingers, almost given up her chance at this--

"All that time, wasted--"

There it was again. Talia could feel Susan slipping close to that edge, that pit of anguish and grief she always carried inside. Talia shifted, looked directly into Susan's eyes. "It wasn't a waste, Susan. It took the time that it took. It could never be wasted time because it brought me to you. Because-- because I love you so much. I've never loved anyone like this before. I didn't even know it could be like this--"

Talia's words, the look in Talia's eyes made Susan's heart surge in her chest. She pulled Talia to her, kissed her deeply, caressing every part of her with the kiss from the inside out, leaving no part un-touched. Susan put all of her soul into that kiss, letting it stand in place of all of those inadequate words. Words that could never begin to describe how Talia made her feel.

"Wow," Talia was finally able to say. She was not at her most articulate. She tried again, then gave up, resting her forehead on Susan's chest. The hint of tears caused her eyes to shine.



"I just want you to know--Have I told you yet today, how much I love you?"

"I don't think you have..." A crooked smile was on Talia's lips.

"I love you, so much--"

"And I love you too, so much. But you need to get some sleep. I was trying to get out of here when you ambushed me. You're going to be on duty soon--"

"I have two whole hours! Why waste them sleeping, when we could be--"

"I'd love to, but Susan, what if you go on shift and there is one of those constant emergencies your always dealing with? I don't want you falling asleep while you are piloting your StarFury or something. Besides, there's always tomorrow. We can be together then."

Susan sighed, accepting defeat. "Oh, alright. I'll sleep. But on one condition."

"Which is--"

"Which is that you stay with me now, let me hold you--"

"Well, if you insist," Talia responded. She pulled the blanket tighter around them, happily snuggling into Susan's arms. "I guess I didn't need to work this afternoon anyway--"


Continued in Part II

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