Outlaw Star Fan Fiction ❯ Outlaw Star; The Ryunoken Sword(revised, rededited, and better than ever) ❯ Only Human ( Chapter 15 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

CHAPTER 15:

Only Human

(Official disclaimer: This work is entirely a fan fic. I do not own the rights to Gene, Melfina, or any of the themes, concepts, planets, alien races, or any of the other characters that appear in the "Outlaw Star" anime or manga. So Bandai, Sunrise, or whoever owns the rights to "Outlaw Star," PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T SUE ME! I'm only doing this to honor your work and to show my respect and appreciation for what has become my favorite anime.)

(Author's note: This is it, the big lemon chapter. This is the first lemon that I've ever written. I hope that you all like it.)

Flowers sleep, a silent lullaby.

I pray for reply, I'm ready.

As she finished her song, Melfina looked up to the stars above her and sighed sadly. A cool night breeze blew across her, ruffling the fabric of her cloak. She and Slag were alone in the garden behind Jubei's tower. Beside her, Slag sat and listened to her sing. When she finished, he cocked his head back and howled softly, his cry carrying through the night air. Melfina never knew where the song came from or how she knew it. Maybe it was a memory from her previous life as the Maiden of the Leyline. But wherever it came from, whenever she felt sad, singing this strange melody always seemed to make a little bit of the sadness go away. And sadness is exactly what she had felt since her talk with Keibara earlier that day. Melfina knew that Keibara didn't mean any harm, but when she had pointed out the feelings that Melfina carried for Gene, it had been an all too painful reminder of the way things were and what couldn't be. Melfina just didn't understand. Why did she have to feel this way? Why did she have feelings at all if she couldn't act on them?

Just then, the sound of footsteps appeared behind her, causing Melfina's heart to jump in her chest. The last time she had sung her song on a strange world, Harry McDougal had appeared behind her. Had he followed her all the way to this world? But then, Melfina realized that the footsteps were far too heavy to belong to Harry. They were forceful, made by someone with power and strength. She turned around just as a large figure appeared out of the shadows.

"Wow, nice tune." Melfina couldn't believe it, Mazren had finally returned. She ran over and threw her arms around her brother's waist, hugging him hard while Slag ran up to wrap himself around Mazren's legs.

"Where've you been?" she asked. "I haven't seen you in nearly two days."

"I know I'm sorry," Mazren said as he hugged her back, his other hand reaching down to rub Slag's head. "I didn't mean to make you worry. I just got so involved in my training that I lost track of time."

"Well at least you're all right," Melfina said as she and her brother walked over to the fountain in the center of the garden. Melfina was glad that Mazren was back; it just wasn't the same without him anymore. She told him everything that had happened while he had been gone; how Suzuka had gotten a new bokuto from Korde, how Jim had cracked the Toku's computer system, how Aisha had learned a new fighting style, and how she had made a new friend with Keibara.

"Sounds like you all have been busy," Mazren said. "But what about Starwind, what's he been doing all this time."

"He's been training with Jubei and Tyr," Melfina told him. "They're teaching him how to use the Sword's power."

"Has he made any progress?"

"I really don't know," Melfina replied. "He's been so busy that I've only seen a little more that I have of you. And when I do, he acts so strangely, as if there's something troubling him." Of course, she had seen even less of him today. From what she had heard from Keibara, something had happened this afternoon during Gene's training, something that had kept him wandering in the jungle until almost late at night. When Mazren didn't comment on it, Melfina looked up and saw that her brother's face had a stern look to it.

"Melfina," he said. "There's something that I need to ask you again. And this time, I need you to be one hundred percent honest with me."

"Um okay what do you need to know?" Mazren turned to face her, his fierce green eyes locking with hers.

"Why do you hang around with Starwind? What's the real reason?" Melfina didn't answer at first. She instead walked over to a flower bush and studied the blossoms.

"You don't like Gene do you Mazren?"

"I don't only dislike Starwind," Mazren answered. "I don't trust him either. And I don't like the thought of my little sister hanging around with a guy like that."

"You don't have to worry about Gene Mazren," Melfina said as she turned to face him. "He's always been kind to me."

"How?"

"Gene was the first person to ever show me true kindness," she told him. "The Kei pirates created me just to use me for their own plans. Hilda saved me, but deep down, I knew that she wanted me to do something for her in return. Still, she promised that she wouldn't mistreat me. And I thought that maybe if I did what she wanted than she'd take me to where I would be safe afterwards. There was also someone who claimed that he loved me, but actually just wanted to posses me like I was some kind of trophy."

"And what about Starwind?" Mazren asked. Melfina gave a soft sigh as she remembered how she and Gene met.

"When I first met Gene, he seemed so cold and distant, I thought that maybe he didn't like me. But after Hilda died, he learned that I was a bio-android and that I had no memory of who I was or why I was created. Gene then said that I was his responsibility and that he would do everything possible to help me find out why I was created." Melfina smiled sadly at the memory. "Gene had gotten involved with Hilda without knowing what was going on, and he certainly didn't have anything to gain by helping me, but he did anyway."

"So is that the only reason?"

"No," Melfina answered. "When Gene promised to help me, he invited me to join him and Jim. He didn't try to take me like Hilda did. He gave me a choice instead. And a little while later, when I guess he thought that I didn't want to stay with him and the others, he said that I didn't have to. Because of that, I always feel safe around Gene. I know that he'd never try to force me to do something that I wouldn't want to. But that's not the whole reason either."

"What is then?" Mazren asked. Melfina looked up to the stars as even more memories of Gene surfaced.

"I like the way Gene makes me feel." When it became clear that Mazren didn't understand, Melfina explained even further. "Sometimes, not knowing who I was or why I was created was so frightening to me. I looked human, I could feel what I guessed were emotions, and no one seemed to be able to tell that I wasn't human. But I knew, only I didn't know why. And if I didn't have a purpose or serve a specific function, than I sometimes worried that I didn't have a right to exist at all. But every time those thoughts surfaced, Gene would appear in front of me. He would talk and joke with me, acting as if it didn't matter to him why I was created. And when he did, it always made me feel the same way." Melfina looked back to her brother and smiled slightly. "I'm surprised that you and he don't get along better. You're both so much alike."

"I beg your pardon?" Mazren asked.

"You always act so hard and tough Mazren," Melfina explained. "But underneath it all, you have a kind heart. Gene's the same way. I guess that he's just too proud to show it most of the time, but he always does when it counts." Mazren didn't say anything at first. He just looked down to Slag who whined as if saying: Don't look at me. She's the one who said it.

"I'll have to get back to you on that one," he said. "But what about his promise, did he ever fulfill it?"

"Unfortunately yes."

"What do you mean by that?" Melfina looked downwards for a few seconds. This one memory always brought mixed emotions for her. It was a painful one, but a happy one too.

"At the Leyline, I learned from Hazonko that I was created only so that I could guide the way to the Leyline and then activate it for whoever wanted the Leyline to grant their wish. He said that I was nothing but a puppet and that my only value was to be used as a tool." Melfina paused for a second as she tried her best not to shed the tears that threatened to overtake her. "I was devastated. All that searching and wondering just to find out that my thoughts, my personality, and even my feelings were all meaningless. But still, I thought that maybe I could at least repay Gene for all of his kindness. I offered to use the Leyline to grant him anything that he desired. But he said that all he wanted was for me to come back with him. I realized then that even if I was created to be just a tool, Gene didn't see me that way. And even through all the difficulties we went through, Gene was the one person that was always there for me no matter what. I told him that I didn't want to be the Maiden, and that I wanted to be with him forever. Gene said that he wanted the same thing and then…"

"And then what?" Mazren asked.

"And then he kissed me," Melfina answered as she looked back up to her brother. "And the part of me that was the Maiden was removed." As she spoke, Melfina wiped a tear from the corner of her eye before it could escape. "Hilda was the one who saved me, but Gene was the one who freed me. Because of him, I learned that it didn't matter why I was created. I was me, and I could be whoever I wanted to be." Mazren nodded in understanding.

"So what happened afterwards?"

"After the Leyline," Melfina told him, "I knew that I would have to make my own purpose. It was frightening, and sometimes I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to do it. But Gene was there for me like he always was. He encouraged me in whatever I did, and showed me so many wonderful things that I never noticed before." Like that carnival, she thought. She still kept the Teddy Bear that Gene had won for her in her quarters aboard the Outlaw Star. And sometimes, when she was alone, she liked to hold it to her heart and pretend that it was Gene.

"But did he ever tell you that he loved you?" Mazren asked. "I don't want to say anything that might hurt you Melfina, but one kiss doesn't exactly mean that you're soul mates."

"Gene isn't very good at saying what he feels," Melfina answered. "But I could tell how he felt by how he spoke to me, or the way he would hold me. Little things he did that told me without words how much he cared for me." Reaching up to her neck, Melfina raised the small diamond pendant that she wore over her tie. "Gene gave me this to celebrate our first month of being together. He said that he wanted to get me a better one, but this was all he could afford. But I loved it just the same, if for no other reason other than it was a gift from him."

"So what happened then?" Mazren asked. "If Starwind was Mr. Wonderful than why'd you two break up?" Melfina closed her eyes as she continued to hold back her tears. What she was about to say she hadn't been able to tell anyone. But maybe her brother would be able to understand and give her some insight.

"After the Leyline," Melfina said, "my doubts as to who I was were gone, but new ones appeared to take their place."

"What kind of doubts?"

"Sometimes," she answered, "when we were alone or on a date, Gene would tell me stories about himself or his life. And every time he did, all I could do was listen. I had no memories of my own that I could share with Gene. My life literally began when I met him. As a result, I always felt as though I was taking from him without giving anything back."

"Is that all?"

"No, there were other things."

"Like what?"

"Gene once told me that there was no way for him to tell that I wasn't human," Melfina said. "But there is one way that I'm not."

"How?" Mazren asked. Melfina blushed slightly as she prepared to give her answer, trying to find the best way to say it without making Mazren uncomfortable.

"I don't…cycle." Mazren raised an eyebrow in question, then flinched uncomfortably as it finally hit him. "I'm sorry Mazren. I don't mean to say anything to offend you."

"Uh, none taken," Mazren said as he rubbed the back of his head. "You know, I really don't know what to tell you about that. But maybe it's like dreaming. It takes awhile for us to learn how to dream, so maybe it's the same way with you and…this other thing. Or maybe it's something that'll happen automatically once you know that you're ready."

"But what if it isn't?" Melfina asked. "What if one day Gene wanted to have a child? I wouldn't be able to give him that."

"So is that why he broke up with you?"

"Gene didn't break off our relationship," Melfina confessed. "I did. And there was another reason. One that couldn't be ignored." Mazren waited as Melfina took a deep breath. "Sometimes, a client would need to go with us on a job. And when they did, they'd sometimes ask about me and how I piloted the Outlaw Star. Gene would always tell them that it was some experimental technology that only I knew how to work. They all seemed to believe it, so not one of them ever found out that I was a bio-android. One of them even offered to pay me a lot of money if I built a chamber for his ship and showed him how to work it."

"Why did he lie about it?" Mazren asked. "Was he ashamed of it or something?"

"That wasn't it at all. Gene did it to protect me." Melfina bit her lower lip as the most painful of truths began to surface. "There are a lot of things that I still don't understand Mazren, but I do know that some people don't like androids. Ron McDougal once offered to buy me from Gene once. And another time, Gwen Khan locked me in stasis mode to force Gene to go into Gehenna Prison to find the coordinates for the Leyline."

"I heard about that," Mazren said. "I wondered why he did something so damned crazy. Now I know." Melfina simply nodded.

"Gene had to keep what I was a secret so that no one would use that knowledge to hurt me or to use me against him." Melfina gave a heaving sigh as a single tear escaped from her eye. "I loved Gene so much, but he never would have been truly happy with me. Having to give up what a normal girlfriend could give him, living a lie just to protect me. But I knew that Gene wouldn't break off our relationship for fear of hurting me, so I did it for him."

"Didn't he put up any kind of a fight?" Mazren asked.

"Not really," Melfina answered. "When I suggested that we go back to being just friends, he actually seemed to be a little relieved. I don't blame him though. I don't think that I was even the kind of girl that Gene could really love in the first place."

"What kind of girl does he like than?"

"I think maybe someone like Hilda," Melfina answered. "She was strong, beautiful, and so sure of herself. She and Gene shared a room when we first went to Blue Heaven, and Gene always thinks of her fondly. I could never compete with that." The sound of heavy footsteps signaled Mazren moving closer to Melfina. He rested his powerful hands on her shoulders and Melfina looked up to her brother.

"I have to be honest with you Melfina," he told her. "Starwind is not my favorite person in the universe, and I honestly feel that you deserve better than him. But if he wouldn't want to be with someone like you, no matter what his reason, than he's an ever bigger idiot than I thought."

"Well on that we both agree," someone said. Melfina's heart skipped a beat as she and Mazren looked to the source of the voice and saw Gene move out from behind one of the garden's trees.

"Hey Starwind?" Mazren growled. "Didn't your mother teach you it's not nice to eavesdrop on people?" To add his two cents, Slag ruffled his fur and snarled slightly, but Gene didn't seem to notice.

"My mother died when I was three. You think that you and your mutt could give me and Mel a moment alone?"

"If you think for one second that I'm going to leave her with you after…"

"Mazren," Melfina interrupted. Her brother looked down to her and her eyes told him that she needed him to go. Gene had overheard everything and Melfina knew that she couldn't avoid a confrontation now.

"All right," he said with a shrug. "But it you need me just…"

"Yeah I know," she said. Turning around, Mazren patted his hip for Slag to come and they left her and Gene alone in the garden. Melfina watched her brother leave and heard Gene's footsteps coming towards her.

"How long were you standing there?" she asked, not turning to face him.

"Long enough," he answered.

"So you know?"

"That's not all I know." Melfina wondered what he meant, and was answered when Gene reached up to caress her right cheek, his thumb drawing a pattern underneath her right eye. He turned her head to face him and Melfina saw that Gene's eyes were filled with both hurt and betrayal. "Melfina why didn't you tell me what Harry did to you?" Melfina gasped in shock. He couldn't mean that. How could he possible have known?

"Gene, what are you…"

"Melfina stop it," he told her. "I know all right. When I fought Mako, he rubbed it right in me face. I saw everything; the roses, what he said, even how he smacked you. Melfina why didn't you tell us what happened? Why didn't you tell me?" Melfina's vision blurred and she turned away from him. She now knew why Gene had been acting so distant to her. There was no use holding them back anymore. A stream of tears flowed down her cheeks as she pulled her cloak tighter around her body. "Melfina?"

"I was ashamed!" she cried out.

"Ashamed!" Gene yelled. "Ashamed of what? Did you think I'd blame you for what he did to you?"

"No, that's not it."

"Than what?" he asked. "Tell me!"

"He told me that we were the same," she sobbed. "That I belonged with him and not with you and the others. I tried not listen to him, but then he asked me if I ever felt left out or unwanted. And the truth is sometimes I did. Like when you and Jim were talking about your life and friends on Sentinel III. All I could do was listen from the outside. And at the time, I was starting to fear that you…"

"That I had forgotten my promise to you," Gene interrupted.

"And for a moment," she continued, "I began to think that maybe he was right. But I didn't want him to be right. I didn't want to think that you'd forgotten your promise. I didn't want to belong with Harry. And I didn't want to be like him, I was afraid of him. So I pushed him away as hard as I could. I kept telling myself that he was wrong, but I couldn't stop thinking about what he said. And because of that, when he came for me at the Grave of The Dragon I…"

"You what?"

"I almost went with him willingly." After a moment of silence, Melfina heard the rustle of fabric followed by Gene's coat being laid across her frame. He grasped her shoulders and gently turned her around, but Melfina didn't look up to his face. She didn't need to. She already knew that he was mad at her. It was then that Melfina felt Gene's breath move closer to her face, followed by his lips brushing against her right cheek. Melfina gave a tiny gasp of surprise as her eyes rose to meet his, her hand rising to the spot where he had kissed her.

"It wasn't your fault," he told her. "You were scared and couldn't think straight. Harry took advantage of that. Melfina you are nothing like him and you don't belong to anyone. Not to Harry, not to the Pirates, not even to me." But Gene's words barely registered in Melfina's head. All of her senses were still focused on the kiss.

"Gene, after you saved me from Mako, you kissed me didn't you?" It hadn't been her imagination, it had really happened. "Why?"

"I'll tell you in a minute. But first I need you to hear me out. It's now my turn to talk and yours to listen."

"All right." Gene took a deep breath and then locked his gaze with hers.

"Melfina," he said, "I'm sorry, but I broke my promise."

"What?"

"I lied to you," he confessed. "After the Leyline, I promised that I wouldn't keep anymore secrets from you. But that's exactly what I did. Except for one time, I haven't been with a another woman or gone on a real date since we broke up."

"Gene, I…I don't understand," Melfina said. "Why are you telling me this?"

"You told Mazren that my type of girl was Hilda," Gene continued. "But what if I don't want someone like Hilda? Melfina, what if I want someone like you?"

"But why me?" Gene could have any girl that he wanted. Women seemed to be attracted to him so easily. Why would he settle for her? Especially considering all he'd have to give up.

"What the hell am I supposed to do?" he asked. "Melfina…I love you." Melfina's breath froze in her throat as her eyes widened in shock. Loves me? she asked herself. Gene said that he loves me? Was he telling the truth? Harry had said the same thing at the Leyline, but Melfina knew from the far off look in his eyes that he didn't really mean it. But Gene's eyes were different. They were serious and brutally clear. He was telling the truth, and that was what made it hurt so much. Melfina's vision blurred once again as she looked away.

"Melfina?" she heard him ask.

"Gene please don't say that."

"What!" he almost yelled. "What the hell do mean don't say that?"

"Weren't you listening?" she asked. "You'd never be happy with me. I can't give you the things that a normal girlfriend could. If you stayed with me you'd just be cheating yourself."

"Yeah I heard," he said, his voice steadily rising in volume. He grabbed her shoulders and forcefully pulled her against him. "I also heard that you loved me. Am I just supposed to ignore that? And what about how I feel about you? Or are you so scared of your own feelings that you don't even give a shit?"

"Gene stop it please!" she wailed. He was scaring her. She wanted to escape, to run away and hide. She squirmed in his grip and beat her hands against his chest. But unlike Mazren, she wasn't built for strength. After a brief struggle, he yanked her hard against him and wrapped his arms around her, pinning her against his chest. She tried to push away but Gene only increased his hold, crushing her against him so tightly that Melfina could barely breath.

"I never planned on feeling this way about you," he told her. His voice was softer, but still held intensity to it. "I never planned on feeling this way about anyone, it just happened. If people could plan on falling in love, or even choose who they fell in love with, than things would be a hell of a lot simpler. But you know what Melfina, it just doesn't work that way." Melfina didn't know what to do. The intensity in Gene's voice and the tightness of his hold frightened her, but the sound of his heartbeat through his chest was deeply soothing.

"Gene, I…"

"Okay," he interrupted, "so you don't have memories of your own that you can share with me. So what? We'll make our own memories and we'll share them together."

"But Gene…"

"So you can't have kids," he continued. "Melfina, there're clinics that can help with this sort of thing. And if that doesn't work out than we'll just adopt Jim. He already thinks of you like a mother anyway." Gene loosened his grip a little and Melfina looked up to him in surprise. Jim thinks of me like a mother? she asked herself.

"And so you're a bio-android," he told her. "Melfina, I don't care. I never have and I never will. And I don't care what anyone thinks about it either. If I did than I wouldn't be an outlaw. But as it stands, the only opinion about me that I even give a damn about is yours." Gene paused for a second as his hand reached up to brush a tear from the corner of her eye. "Melfina, I know. I know that you overheard what Jim and I talked about in the Laundromat." Melfina's eyes widened again before she looked downwards in shame.

"Gene, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to o…" but Gene silenced her by pressing his finger against her lips as his thumb hooked her chin and raised her eyes back up to meet his.

"Melfina I was running away," he told her. "I was afraid of what would happen if I ever lost you. Either because I wouldn't be able to protect you, or that I would do something so unforgivable that you'd fall out of love with me. That's why I didn't put up much of a fight when we broke up. But I'm not running anymore. I've been running away my whole life and I'm sick of it. Melfina, I don't want you just to stay with me. I want you to be with me, but not if it's not what you really want as well. So I'm going to ask you the same thing that I did at the Leyline. Melfina, what is it that YOU want?" Melfina looked up to Gene, saw the sincerity in his eyes, heard the passion in his voice, and realized that there was only one answer that she could give him.

"I don't want to leave Gene," she half-sobbed. "I want to stay a part of the Outlaw Star's crew. But most of all…I want to be with you Gene. Always. And forever." Gene smiled softly at her and moved his face closer, his hand parting the bangs that hung over her eyes.

"So who the hell says that you can't?" Melfina opened her mouth to speak, but before she could, Gene closed the distance between them and captured her mouth with his. Melfina's eyes shot open and her entire body tensed. But as the warmth from Gene's kiss permeated her being, Melfina relaxed and leaned into it. Her entire body went limp and her legs failed her, but Gene held her up against him. When they finally broke apart, the length and sheer intensity of it all had left them both gasping for air. "I've been wanting to do that for a very long time," he told her.

"So have I," she said. Melfina then wrapped her arms around Gene's neck and pulled him down to kiss him again, the coat he placed on her shoulders falling to the ground. As their lips met, Gene's tongue gently forced its way into her mouth and caressed against hers. Melfina wept at the sensation, but this time the tears fell for a different reason.

"I've missed you," she whispered as his lips left hers and climbed her face.

"I've missed you," he whispered back as he began to kiss away her tears. As he did, the tears stopped. There was no longer any reason to cry. Instead, there was a sweet warmth that began to grow inside of her. A warmth that only Gene seemed able to bring out.

"Gene," she suddenly said. "I need to ask you something. But I don't know how. I don't even know if I should."

"Melfina don't be ridiculous you can ask me anything." As he spoke Gene's lips moved from her eyes down to her neck and across her throat and chin. "What is it? Do you want something like a dress or some jewelry? Or do you need me to do something? Melfina just tell me what and I'll do it right now." Melfina looked up to the stars above them and took a deep breath for courage.

"Let me stay with you tonight please?"

Walking down the steps from the garden where he had left Melfina and Starwind, Mazren would occasionally cast his eyes back in that direction. Although he had respected his sister's right for a moment alone with Starwind, Mazren still felt as though he had just made the biggest mistake of his life. "So what do you think?" he asked Slag. "Should we go check on them or wait until Melfina calls us?" Slag looked up and whined a little, obviously in as much indecision as his master. Mazren scratched the wolf's ears and they continued on their way. What the hell am I going to do now? he asked himself. His talk with Melfina hadn't gone as planned. He had guessed that Melfina carried a thing for Starwind. But he had thought it was nothing more than a crush. After all, Melfina had only been awakened a year ago. How could she possibly know enough to know what real love was? And yet, when she spoke, there was nothing naive or delusional about it. She spoke with a frank honesty and insight into Starwind's character that he had failed to see. But did Starwind love her in return? Mazren pushed the thought out of his head as he and Slag came out onto the flat courtyard that made up the first half of the fortress' top.

"I haven't seen you around lately." Mazren about faced and saw Suzuka sitting on a makeshift stone bench drinking some tea. By her side lay a bokuto with a hilt carved in the shape of a dragon.

"I've been busy," he told her. As detached as he tried to make himself appear, Mazren had a hard time not looking Suzuka over. Her long midnight black hair drifted down her shoulders and back, clashing nicely with her marble skin. Even under the loose kimono robe and geisha bindings underneath, he could clearly see what an amazing body the lady assassin had. The sight of her in that red two-piece on Tenrei still gave him more than a few pleasant dreams. A breeze blew across the fortress top and carried to Mazren a rather unusual, but pleasant scent. Violet perfume, he realized. "That a new bokuto?" he asked, if for no other reason than to make some small talk.

"Yes it is," she answered. She picked it up and held it out to him. "It was made for me by Korde while you were off training." Mazren nodded and took it. He twirled the wooden blade in his big hands, noting such details as weight, balance, and overall design aesthetics.

"Pretty good work," he said as he handed it back. As he did, a thought sprung into his mind. "Suzuka, what's your impression of Starwind?"

"Why do you ask?" Mazren leaned against the wall as he told her of his talk with Melfina, how Starwind had eavesdropped on the whole thing, and how his sister had asked him to give her a moment alone with the guy. "I see," she said as Mazren finished. "Hopefully, all will turn out for the best."

"Meaning what?"

"That maybe this will be the moment that brings them back together."

"All right that's it," Mazren quickly said. "I'm going back up there." But he hadn't taken two steps before Suzuka reached out and grabbed his wrist.

"Just leave them alone will you?"

"Fine." Mazren snapped his fingers and signaled for Slag to go in his place. But the wolf hadn't taken two steps before Suzuka snapped her own fingers and pointed downwards. Slag got the message and immediately lay down. Marzren stared at her in surprise. Even though he couldn't believe what he had just seen, he had to admit that he was just a little bit turned on.

"I know that you want to protect Melfina," Suzuka told him. "But don't you think that maybe you're overdoing the big brother act just a little? Melfina's grown up a lot in the past year. She's capable of making her own decisions about her life. If you're worried about Gene, you don't have to. He's done a lot of growing himself, right alongside Melfina."

"That's beside the point." Pulling free of her grip, he walked over to the nearby edge of the fortress to survey the jungle. "Melfina hasn't had the same level of experience in life that I've had. She needs someone to keep her safe. And Starwind doesn't have the skills to do that. He doesn't even have the right. That's MY job." Realizing too late that he had said too much, Mazren turned around to see a small smile spreading over Suzuka's features.

"Now I understand."

"Understand what?"

"Why you're jealous of Gene."

"Jealous of Starwind?" he laughed. "I think you need to check the expiration date on your tea."

"Just hear me out would you?" Suzuka asked. "Now from what you've told us, the Kei pirates planned to make you the ultimate assassin. But you didn't want to be their puppet so you escaped and decided to make your own destiny."

"Uh huh."

"But here's the problem," she continued. "After you escape, you find that you don't know what to do with your new found freedom. And although you chose not to be an assassin, the concept of fighting is still very much a part of you. It's all you've ever known you're entire life. It's what you were created for. It's quite possible that you are the only truly born warrior that has ever lived."

"Are you going somewhere with this?" he asked. Psychoanalysis was not something that Mazren was particularly keen on.

"I am, just be patient," Suzuka answered. "So as a result of your being born to fight, you choose bounty hunting, a profession where fighting is a necessary skill. This way, you can indulge your talents while having the freedom to choose your battles. But one problem still remains. You're alone. You have no family, and probably very few close friends. Therefore, you dedicate your life to seeking out battle after battle because they're your only reason for existing. But then one day, you realize that you're not alone. You have a family, a little sister. You now have someone you can protect, someone you can fight for. So you go looking for her, only to find there's someone else who loves her just as much as you do and wants to protect her as well. And if I was in your place, I'd immediately see that other person as a threat to my relationship with her." Mazren started to say something, but realized that there would be no point. Suzuka had hit the nail right in the head.

"So do you have any advice?" he asked.

"Just this," Suzuka answered. "You don't have to fight with Gene over Melfina. She has more than enough love for the both of you. And no matter what form her relationship with Gene becomes, you'll still be her older brother, and someone who she needs very much."

"Maybe," he said as he looked in the direction that he had left Melfina. No matter what his personal feelings were, he realized that maybe he should trust Melfina's judgment. But if Starwind did anything to her, Mazren would take great pleasure in inflicting vast amounts of pain on the guy. "But I still don't like it."

"Well," Suzuka offered. "If you like I know of a way to take your mind off of it."

"Oh yeah?" Mazren asked. He turned back to her just in time to see a wooden blade swung at his head. Mazren bent back to avoid it and then dodged as Suzuka slashed at him before jumping clear out of her reach.

"What the hell!" he yelled. Slag, sensing that his master was in trouble, ran over and stood by Mazren's side, his fur ruffled and his teeth barred. Suzuka, meanwhile, raised her bokuto and pointed it straight at him.

"I am Twilight Suzuka. Mazren the Wolf, I accept your challenge."

"Challenge, what challenge?"

"On Heifong, you said that you would like to spar with me, but didn't have time at the present moment," she reminded him. "But you do now. Now draw your blade and face me." Though struck dumbfounded at first, Mazren quickly regained himself and felt a smile grow in his face.

"All right," he said as he took off his jacket. "Sounds like fun." After pulling his katana free from its scabbard, he tossed his jacket over onto the bench previously occupied by Suzuka. "Sit this one out boy," he told Slag as he tapped the wolf's head. Slag looked up to his master in question, but he obeyed and went over to lie down in front of the bench.

"Then whenever you're ready," she told him. Mazren raised his katana and angled it across his face. Suzuka assumed a similar stance, and the two warriors circled each other like dueling predators. They locked their eyes, and assessed each other. It was Suzuka who made the first move. She raised her bokuto overhead and leapt straight at him. Mazren countered her blow and the two clashed together. Mazren had the strength advantage, but Suzuka had far superior speed. Mazren's katana deflected and slashed at Suzuka's bokuto, and she countered and parried for each attack. She pushed him back towards the wall of a building, but he leapt and spun free. Landing at an open side, he charged for it, but Suzuka turned and blocked in time. Mazren pushed her up against the edge of the fortress, attempting to pin her against the drop. But when his sword came down, Suzuka disappeared at the last minute. He heard the whoosh of a blade behind him and angled his katana to block

"Ready to quit?" she asked.

"Don't bet on it," Mazren grinned as he spun, slashed, and pushed her back. They stood and stared again at each other for a second; beads of sweat forming on both their brows. "Time out for a second."

"For what?" Suzuka asked as Mazren unlocked his body armor, then peeled off the T-shirt underneath.

"That's better," he said as the cool night air caressed his bare chest. Flexing his chest muscles, Mazren raised his sword and prepared to attack again.

"Charming," Suzuka said coolly. "Are you expecting to try and use your physique to make my heart go a flutter?"

"You tell me," Mazren answered. After another stare down, Mazen took off running along the side of the fortress with Suzuka following alongside. Mazren couldn't help but admire her grace. Suzuka moved like the wind, quickly but silently, her feet barely touching the ground. Mazren matched her in speed, but his steel-toed boots thundered heavily along the surface beneath him. Reaching another end, Mazren spun and slashed underhand; and Suzuka jumped straight up to avoid it. She landed off to his right, and Mazren twisted to meet her attack. Time was lost as they danced across the courtyard in a blur of motion and blades, forged metal clashing with reinforced wood, raw power against elegant speed. All the while, Mazren kept his eyes locked with Suzuka's. They were clear and focused, calm but with an underlying intensity. Maybe that was why he had been attracted to her at first. Mazren was curious as to what would happen if he cracked through Suzuka's cool shell and allowed the passion underneath to seep through to the surface. They continued to spar until Mazren's katana locked against Suzuka's bokuto, his hard green with her clear brown, their clashing power radiating off from them.

"I've got to admit," he said, the sweat beading on his brow, "you're one hell of a fighter Suzuka. No one's ever lasted this long against me."

"That's because I've found the one weakness in your technique," she told him.

"And what would that be?" Suzuka's answer was to raise her ki, causing a maelstrom to rise and swirl around them. The sudden increase of power pushed back against Mazren as he was slowly overwhelmed.

"You rely too much on your own physical strenth and that of your weapons," she lectured. "By using a bokuto, I am required to use both my ki and my mental abilities to their utmost. Therefore, I've heightened them both to their maximum level."

"Actually," Mazren commented, "by only using my strength, I conserve my ki. That way, when I need to, I can do things like THIS!" Raising his own ki, Mazren energized his katana with the Lightning Blade, bolts of electrical energy crackling around them. Mazren's power proved to be superior to Suzuka's and he easily began to push her back.

"Very impressive," she said as she strained against him. "But I still have one technique left. And it's an attack that no man can defend against."

"I'd like to see that," Mazren smirked.

"As you wish." She then thrust her face above where their swords met and kissed him. Caught off guard, Mazren's eyes exploded and his concentration faltered. Suzuka was quick to capitalize on the moment and she pulled back. Flicking her wrist, she sent Mazren's sword flying free from his grasp before thrusting her bokuto behind his ankle and tripping him. Falling onto his back, Mazren tried to get back up, but stopped as Suzuka pounced on his waist and pressed her bokuto against his throat. "I told you no 'man' could defend against it. Your kind are so predictable." Mazren was too stunned to say anything, hoping that Suzuka wasn't feeling the action that was going on just below where she was straddling him.

"Okay okay!" he laughed as he raised his hands in surrender. "I give."

"You're acting rather good natured for someone who just lost a fight," Suzuka observed.

"Well I've already told you. I like strong women." Suzuka smiled slightly in amusement as she lowered her head closer to him.

"Do I have a 'kick ass' body as well?"

"Would it help if I said yes?" Suzuka's answer was to close the distance and kiss him again. Her midnight black hair fell over them both as Mazren reached up and hooked the back of Suzuka's head to deepen the kiss. Hooking up with these people wasn't such a bad idea after all, he thought.

Gene was about to tell Melfina yes when the realization of what she had asked finally hit him.

"What?" he asked.

"I'd like to stay with you tonight Gene," Melfina repeated, a slight blush staining her cheeks. Gene didn't know what to tell her. He had never thought that Melfina would be bold enough to make the first move. He always thought that he would be the one to suggest it, then sweep her off her feet and carry her off into pure bliss.

"Melfina, are you sure you know what you're asking?"

"I know what's supposed to happen," she answered. "I've done research."

"What kind of research?" he asked, not sure if he should be worried or not.

"Well, Aisha loaned me one of her books and…"

"Wait a minute," Gene interrupted, doing his best to keep a straight face. "You learned about sex from some pulp romance novel?" Gene's comment caused Melfina's flush to deepen in hue.

"Well I wanted to be sure that I could do it if you ever asked me to. I think I have everything that's required."

"I'm sure you do," Gene replied, a little embarrassed with how frank Melfina was being. "But Mel, I still don't understand. Why are you asking me this now?" Rather than tell him, Melfina instead pressed her body against him, her raven mane brushing up and tickling his chin. Gene buried his nose into the thick mass and inhaled deep the strawberry scent of her hair. God I've missed this smell, he thought.

"I can't give you everything that I wish I could," Melfina told him. "But I can give you myself. Gene, I want to be with you in everyway that I possibly can. I've already wasted three months; I don't want to waste anymore time." Gene couldn't believe it. It was all just a little too good to be true. Reaching down, he lifted her chin to meet his gaze.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes Gene." Staring into her eyes, Gene saw there was nothing false in them. Only a genuine longing for him that no other girl had given him before, as well as what looked like a trace of fear. Ah what the hell, he thought as a small smile spread across his face.

"All right. Come on." Melfina started to walk in the direction of Gene's quarters, but she hadn't taken two steps before Gene leaned down and easily lifted her up. Melfina gave a tiny cry of surprise as she felt herself swept off her feet and into Gene's arms, a wave of dizzy elation flooding her head.

"Gene, I can walk," she stammered as he began to head toward his quarters. "You don't have to carry me."

"Yeah but I want to," he told her. "It's a guy thing."

"But your coat…"

"Just leave it. I can get always buy another." Rather than argue, Melfina instead wrapped her arms around Gene's neck and pulled herself closer to him. Please don't let this be a dream, she silently prayed as she laid her head on his shoulder, the scent of his cologne filling her head.

Gene was amazed at how light Melfina felt. Or maybe it was just the fact that he was holding her that made him feel so much stronger. But whatever the reason, he easily carried her towards his room, glad that he hadn't run into the others. As he reached his quarters, Gene shifted Melfina's weight enough so that he could open the door, being careful not to drop her. After entering, he kicked it closed and set the latch so that they wouldn't be disturbed. With his bed bathed in the light of the full moon that shone through the window, he broughther over and sat down at the foot, positioning Melfina so that she sat across his lap. Grasping her cloak, he gently pulled it over her head, revealing the nubile curves underneath the loose fabric of her blouse. As the cloak was peeled off her, Melfina's raven tresses fell free and cascaded over the both of them as he reached up to the back of her head and reeled her in, his scarred cheek brushing against her smooth one.

"If I do anything that you don't like," he told her. "Just tell me and I'll stop."

"That won't happen Gene," she assured him.

"Mel I'm serious."

"So am I," she said. "If you do it Gene, then I know I'll like it." Once again, Gene found himself speechless. Melfina was willing to place herself so completely in his hands without so much as a second thought. Gene still didn't know why an angel like her could trust him so completely, much less even love him. But if she did, than maybe there was more to him than he gave himself credit for.

"Then do you wanna start?" Melfina nodded and he took her hand in his to unbutton the cuff of her sleeve. When he moved to her other, he noticed the thin red lines that ran the length of her delicate finger to her thumb. "What's this?"

"Keibara and I found a Scale Leopard cub that was trapped in some vines yesterday," she explained. "I got some scratches from the vine while I was freeing it." Gene looked at the scratches for a second before lowering his head to her hand, his lips moving the full length of the wound.

"Do they hurt?"

"Not anymore," she answered. Gene turned her hand over as his mouth began to explore the slender extremity. He kissed her knuckles, the back of her hand, her palm, and then her wrist. He moved higher, his lips traveling the full length of her arm. Using one arm to support her back, his other hand moved down to her leg and gently caressed her thighs. Through the thin fabric of her tights, Gene could feel Melfina's muscles jumping with each stroke. Damn she's responsive, he thought. Sliding his hand between her legs, he grasped her inner thighs and kneaded them like dough, causing Melfina to keen softly. As he reached her shoulder and kissed it through the fabric, Melfina shifted her weight slightly. The combination of her movements and cries were highly arousing for Gene, but not nearly so much as the anticipation of eventually having nothing between them but bare, uncovered skin.

"Gene wait," she said as she began to shift uncomfortably. "Stop a minute."

"Why what's wrong?" He didn't think he was doing anything she didn't like, not by the way she was moaning in his ear.

"Could you take your gun belt off please?"

"Huh? My gun belt?"

"Your gun," she explained. "It's poking me in my rear." Gene looked at her for a second, not believing what he had heard before shaking his head and laughing softly. "What's so funny?"

"Melfina I'm not wearing my gun belt." Raising her eyebrows, Melfina looked downward and wondered what he meant. If he's not wearing his gun belt, she thought, then what is it that I'm sitting on? It was then that the realization finally hit her. Melfina gasped in shock and looked away, her face burning with embarrassment. "Guess you forgot to take notes on that part huh?" Gene whispered into her ear.

"Don't make fun of me!" she wailed as she pushed away from him. Melfina frantically squirmed in his lap as Gene gave an agonized groan. Before he lost it in his pants, Gene pulled her against him, his arms pinning her against his chest.

"Melfina it's all right," he assured her as he stroked her arm. "Everyone gets a little nervous during their first time." His words and motions seemed to calm her down as Melfina relaxed and buried her face in his throat.

"But I shouldn't be," she said. "I trust you Gene. I know that you wouldn't do anything to hurt me, but I can't help feeling a little scared."

"Well damn Mel what do you expect? After all you're only human." Melfina looked up to him in question, but then smiled as she realized what he meant.

"Yeah I guess I am," she said. "But Gene you're doing everything. Shouldn't I be doing something as well?"

"You don't have to do anything," he told her as he removed the necklace he had given her to toss on the nightstand by the bed. He then proceeded to unravel her tie and gently yank it out of her collar. "Just sit back and enjoy the show. I'll take care of everything."

"All right," she said as she laid her head on his shoulder. With the necklace and the tie out of the way, Gene set to work on unbuttoning her blouse. He undid the first two, and stared fascinated by the graceful shape of her throat, leaning forward to inhale her scent before kissing the beating hollow at its base. Unbuttoning a third, he pushed at her suspender and the fabric of her blouse, baring the strap of her bra. Black cotton, Gene observed. He kissed alongside the base of her throat and neck before running his tongue along the dip of her collarbone, causing Melfina to shiver in delight.

"Stand up for a second."

"Why?"

"It'll be easier to take your clothes off," he said. "Besides I want to see you." Melfina complied and got off from his lap as Gene turned her around, positioning her between his legs. Grasping her suspenders, he pulled them both off her shoulders before reaching down to unbutton the hem of her skirt. Gene watched hypnotized as the skirt with nothing to hold it up, glided across her hips and down her legs. He then reached up to unbutton a fourth button on her blouse before pushing it back and letting it slide down Melfina's body to join the skirt on the floor. Stepping out of the puddle of clothes, Melfina stood before Gene, shivering from a combination of excitement and exposure, her gray tights and her black bra and panties her only covering. With only the bare essentials hiding her body from him, Gene slowly drank in the sight. He started at the bottom, his eyes roaming from Melfina's slim ankles to her beautifully slender legs hat seemed to account for over half her height. He reached out and rasped her thighs, stroking slow and deep up from her knees and all around their sides. His hands followed his gaze as they traveled together up her narrow hips, her flat stomach, and her trim waist. He stroked her sides as his eyes rose to admire her breasts. Though not the largest he had ever seen, they definitely weren't the smallest either. They were flawless in shape and perfectly sized for Melfina's build. He continued his visual trek up to her thin shoulders, her swan neck, and then her angelic face. He reached up to cup her satiny cheeks, stained slightly pink from her flush as he explored their subtle perfection. And when his eyes met hers, Gene
found that he couldn't look away. Melfina's large brown orbs were the same shade as coffee with two sugars and a crème, just the way he liked it. So warm, deep and soulful, they held nothing back from him. And any doubt as to her feelings for him vanished in an instant. Taking his hand from her face, he ran them though her mane of raven hair. Thick and collar length except for her side bangs, Melfina's hair gave her an exotic look that clashed nicely with her innocent features. Leaning back, Gene drank in the full sight of her and rubbed her flanks up and down, feeling the Goosebumps rise on her flawless alabaster skin. The moonlight from the window illuminated her enough for him to analyze her, but not enough to keep all the shadows of the darkened room at bay, bathing Melfina in a mixture of darkness and light that was hauntingly beautiful. Fully drunk on the image, Gene pulled her against him, burying his face in her soft stomach.

"God Mel," his muffled voice groaned. "You've got the most gorgeous body I've ever seen."

"You don't have to say that Gene," she told him as her hands stroked and petted his fiery red hair.

"I mean it Mel. Every part of you is perfect." As he spoke, Gene's lips began to lightly assault her stomach. Melfina's muscles tightened with every touch as she began to moan softly, then giggled as Gene swirled his tongue in her navel, and then gasped in both fear and excitement as his lips wandered over the rim of her panties. "It's just like you were made." Too late, Gene realized what he had said. "Mel I'm sorry I…"

"It's okay Gene," Melfina interrupted. "I know you meant it as a compliment." It was just like him to say something stupid to ruin a beautiful moment. And it was just like Melfina to forgive him when he did. Like that night I was challenged, Gene thought with a frown. "Gene?" she asked as she saw the sober expression appear on his face.

"Melfina, I never apologized to you for that one night." Melfina didn't quite understand what he meant, until she remembered Gene's duel with Leilong.

"Gene it's all right. You don't have to."

"No it's not, and yes I do."

"It wasn't your fault. You were a little drunk. And you were stressed. You thought that you were going to die."

"That's no excuse. Melfina, just let me do this okay?" Melfina saw the seriousness in his eyes and realized that this was something that Gene needed to do.

"All right." Gene closed his eyes and took a deep breath before looking back up to her.

"Melfina, I'm sorry. I had no right to treat you like that or to say what I did. You did nothing to deserve it." Melfina smiled sadly down at him and reached up to touch the scars on his cheek.

"I forgave you a long time ago Gene," she told him. Grabbing her hand, Gene pushed it deeper against his cheek.

"Melfina I am nothing like Harry."

"Of course you're not Gene."

"I'd never knowingly do anything to hurt you."

"I know that Gene."

"That's why I'm telling you that if you have any doubts about this, any at all, than we need to stop right now. Because if we go any further, I don't think I'm going to be able to." Melfina's eyes grew a mixture of fear and hurt at his words, but she didn't say anything in response. Instead, she set her hands on his shoulder for balance and climbed back into his lap, her legs tucked in and straddling his waste. Gene felt the heat from her smoldering thigh burn through his pants and he strained even harder against the restricting fabric. Before he could ask what she was doing, Melfina leaned forward and kissed him. Never expecting Melfina to become the aggressor, Gene was even more surprised to feel Melfina's soft tongue force its way into his mouth and caress against his.

"Gene," she said as she pulled away. "I want to stay. Please don't tell me to go."

"I'm not," he quickly assured her. "I'm not. I'm just saying that if you don't think that you're ready than you don't have to do this. I'd never force you to do anything you were uncomfortable with."

"I'm not doing this because I have to. I'm staying because I want to. Gene why? Why can't you understand?" Rising up a little, Melfina grasped Gene's head and pulled it down to lie across her left breast. Damn, he thought as he pressed his head deeper into the firm softness. And I thought her stomach felt nice. As he did he heard a steady, but rapid thumping underneath her breast, Melfina's heart. But Gene knew that a heart didn't beat this fast unless its owner was deeply afraid. Was she afraid of him? No, that wasn't it. She was afraid that he wouldn't return her feelings, that he would push her away and leave her. Well, Gene decided. I'll just have to show her that I won't. Raising his hand, Gene gently cupped her other breast, filling his hand with the small, perfect mound, and feeling her pert instantly.

Melfina looked down at Gene, not quite understanding what he was doing. When he grasped her breast, she had noticed a change take place. It almost felt as if her breast was starting to swell and tighten a little. And when he began to stroke and knead it, the feeling only intensified. Melfina moaned softly at the sensation as she leaned into his hand, his calluses scratching the fabric of her
bra and the sensitive skin underneath.

"I never thought that it would feel this good," she said only to cry out as when his lips lightly caressed the top curve of her left.

"And it's only going to get better," he whispered as his mouth blazed a trail up her throat where he kissed all the way from her jaw to the velvety skin underneath her ear. When he switched hands to treat her other breast, his free hand scratched down the lines in her back until it slid underneath her rear and gently began to fondle her buttocks. Melfina whimpered at the combined sensations as her own hands began to explore of their own, trying to feel Gene through the fabric of his tight shirt.

"Gene please," Melfina gasped, "I want…let me touch you too." Gene laughed as his hands rose to cup her chin as he kissed Melfina's forehead.

"How could I possible deny you?" Grasping the edge of his shirt, he pulled it up over his head and tossed it onto the floor. With his top bared to her, Melfina's eyes wandered all over him as her hands caressed his chest, stomach, arms and shoulders. Gene had a fascinating build. He wasn't as slim as Harry, nor was he a towering wall of muscle like Mazren; but actually seemed to be somewhere in between. His muscles were lean and hard, giving him a look that was both sleek and strong. He's like an iron bar, Melfina thought. But while an iron bar would be covered in rust, Gene was covered in scars. They seemed to be a trademark of his character. Each one seemed to tell a story. Noticing an old one that ran across his heart, Melfina frowned slightly as her finger traced its path.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"I was just wondering," she said. "All these scars, do they ever hurt?" Gene thought for a while on that one. He had been with girls who said that his scars were a turn on, and others who did their best to ignore them. But no one had ever asked if they were painful.

"A few," he truthfully answered. "Like the one you were just touching, and these two." As he spoke, Gene pointed to the two parallel scars that ran alongside his left cheek. Melfina stared at them for a while before leaning forward to kiss them, her lips slowly traveling the length of each one. She then dipped her head and did the same to the scar that ran across his chest, making Gene groan in agonized pleasure. Melfina had meant her action to be a gesture of affection, but she had no idea what a huge turn on this was for Gene.

"Do they still hurt?" she asked.

"Not anymore," he said, his hand roaming to her back where his fingers deftly undid the catch of her bra. His other pulled at the front and slid it effortlessly off her breasts and down her arms. Tossing the garment aside, Gene licked his lips as he looked upon the pale surface and the erect peaks, the areolas flushed from rose to a dark pink, but he held himself back. Instead, he grasped them both in his hands and began to knead them again. Melfina gasped at the feeling as her hands rose to take his, guiding him in the movements that she liked best. Moving to their side, Gene squeezed gently before moving his thumbs over her buds, rubbing them into two hard little points. Melfina tossed her head back and almost screamed from the painful bliss Gene was inflicting upon her when he suddenly stopped. Before she could tell him not to, Gene slid his hand underneath her rear and lifted her, twisting his body and laying her on the bed in his place. He then set to work removing the rest of her clothes. He slid off her heels, then removed her anklet, which he tossed onto the nightstand to join her pendant. With one hand, he lifted her hips while his other began to peel off her gray tights. Melfina gave a tiny whimper with each new area of skin that was exposed to the night air. When her legs were completely bared, she expected him to remove her panties next. But instead, Gene sat at the edge of the bed where he quickly kicked off his boots and pants. When he stood up to face her; Melfina's eyes widened at the sight of Gene's erection, barely contained by his boxers. He rejoined her on the bed and began to crawl toward her. Reflexively, Melfina retreated backwards as Gene slowly pursued her, cornering her at the head of the bed. Melfina lay back on the pillow as Gene loomed over her, and quickly realized just how vulnerable she was. She could feel his erection pressing against her thigh as he straddled her hips, trapping her beneath him. Melfina knew from the book Aisha had loaned her that a man's "member" as the book called it grew during sex. But just how big was it supposed to get? Were she and Gene even size compatible?

Looking down at Melfina, Gene felt his blood begin to thunder inside him. Her eyes were wide, her cheeks were flushed, her breasts rose and fell with each heave of her breath, and her black hair had been splayed around her head and pillow like a halo. It had been so long since he had last been with a woman not wanting anyone else but Melfina. Gene wanted to plunge into her, to ravage and devour every inch of Melfina; but he took a deep breath and steadied himself. This wasn't like the other times, a night of cheap sex that had no meaning or value. This was going to be their first time together, and he wanted to make it long and memorable for the both of them. Lowering himself down, he supported his weight on his elbows and pressed his body against Melfina's, his hand rising to caress her forehead. "You're trembling," he observed.

"I…I'm a little cold," Melfina said, doing her best to ignore the butterflies that were flying around in her stomach. Gene smiled slightly as he leaned down to kiss her forehead, the bridge of her nose, and then her chin.

"I'd better warm you up than shouldn't I?" Gene continued his trek down her throat and stopped in the valley of her breasts. Turning his head, he deeply kissed the swell of her right and Melfina cried out loudly. Gene then began a slow, winding trail up and around the curves of her breasts; causing Melfina to gasp and moan louder the higher he climbed. Each touch only sensitized her even further, swelling and tightening her breasts until it felt as if they were going to explode.

Gene took his time, moving around her breasts in a figure eight pattern, and enjoying how Melfina's chest continually rose and fell against his face. When he finally reached the peak of her right, he kissed a circle around the areola, but never actually touching the bud. Raising his head, he stared down at the nipple, pondering how to approach it. Pert and flushed with arousal, it was almost begging him to take it. But Gene wanted to tease Melfina just a little longer. Extending his tongue, he prodded and circled the hard little peak, making Melfina squeal in a mixture of pain and bliss. She arched her back, attempting to reach Gene's lips that he kept just out of her reach. Deciding that he had tortured her enough, Gene lowered his head and finally took the pert and hard nipple into his mouth.

Melfina's eyes exploded as she realized where Gene's lips now were. It was her last conscientious thought before Gene began to suckle her, sending a wave of release through her body that sent the blood rushing from her brain in a flash. She felt warm, limp, and dizzy, almost as if Gene was sucking the life force out of her. She had never felt anything quite like this before, but she eagerly
surrendered herself to the intense surges of pleasure that Gene sent coursing through her body, arching her back to offer more of herself to him.

Gene growled hungrily as he continued to work his magic on the sweet little bud. Melfina had the most delicious breasts that he had ever tasted. They were sweet and clean, like they were coated with vanilla. He suckled, licked, and then gently gnawed on the peak, raising Melfina's cries from a soft moan to a barely contained scream. When he finally moved over to the other one, he tried to
repeat the same, slow teasing he had done, but Melfina grabbed his head and guided him into position, almost forcing the nipple into his mouth. Well if that's the way she wants it, Gene decided as he accepted her offering. As he tended equal attention to her other breast, he moved off of her partway, sneaked his hand down her stomach, and slid it underneath her panties. As he did, Gene stopped in his work, surprised at what he had found. How could I have missed this? he asked himself.

"Gene?" Melfina asked, confused as to why he had stopped.

"You're bare," he said, his hand roaming over her nether regions. There's no way this could be natural, Gene thought. But I don't feel any bumps so it has to be. It was then that the reality of if all came crashing down upon him. Melfina was too soft, too smooth, too perfect. She was made to be. The Kei pirates had created her to be their tool. And if you make a tool, you might as well give it a nice package to look at. Gene closed his eyes and grit his teeth in anger as he pictured Melfina being leered at in her chamber, then being led off to some pirate's quarters to be raped.

"Gene, is it really that bad?" Gene looked up and saw that Melfina was frightened. Christ she thinks that I'm mad at her, he realized. Gene shook his head and pushed the anger out of his mind. He wasn't the same as the pirates who created her. The mere fact that Melfina would never even consider the possibility that he would hurt her was proof enough for him.

"No it's not," he told her. "I'm sorry. I just got distracted and my mind wandered. That's all."

"So it's not a problem?" she asked. For a second, Melfina was afraid that maybe she was flawed in some way that would make Gene not want her. Gene hummed in thought as he began to explore her secret place again.

"It's different," he answered, his hand running over the smooth surface. "I like it." Lowering himself to rest on his elbow, Gene continued his exploration of Melfina until he at last found the treasure he was looking for.

"Ohhh!" Melfina gasped, her hips bucking into his hand. Gene gently rubbed his hand across the opening, then took his finger and traced the outline of her nether lips before inserting it into the slick folds, eliciting another buck of her hips. She's even softer on the inside, he thought. Gene's finger explored the first layer of wet velvety folds before he pressed even deeper, making Melfina writhe and squeal underneath him as he searched for her little magic button.

"Ah there it is," he said. Before Melfina could ask him what he meant, Gene's finger stroked something near the top of her opening, and Melfina yelped as an electric shock shot from her groin all the way to her brain. He continued to stroke and press the bundle of nerves, causing Melfina's hips to rock against his hand as she felt herself lost in the increasingly dizzying surges of bliss.

Bored with simply fondling her, Gene retracted his hand, grasped the rim of her panties-wet with her essence-and pulled them down to her ankles, fighting the urge to rip them clean off of her. Melfina came to her senses and whimpered as she felt the last barrier stripped from her body and tossed away. With her body bared completely to him, Gene's eyes surveyed every inch of her, stopping for a second over her barren groin. An unblocked view of paradise, he thought. He could feel his erection throbbing painfully underneath his boxers, but he knew that Melfina wasn't quite ready yet. Besides, there was still one more thing he wanted to do. Still, he reached down and inched the last of his clothes off, finding some small relief in giving his erection some freedom.

Melfina looked up at Gene as he began to remove his boxers. As his erection finally sprung free, Melfina's eyes widened in fear and she pressed the knuckle of her pointer finger to her mouth. She had seen Gene naked once before, but that was under completely different circumstances. When she took him into her chamber to heal him from the poison; his member seemed so limp and harmless. But now, it was erect and hard and almost seemed to be pulsing with a life force all its own. When Gene looked back to her, Melfina mentally prepared herself to accept him. But instead, Gene lowered himself down and nuzzled his head between her breasts. Curious, she watched as he kissed her sternum before moving down towards her stomach, planting butterfly kisses as he traveled down her body. Melfina leaned her head back and felt Gene move lower and lower as her curiosity changed to apprehension.

"Gene," she gasped as she felt his mouth pass her navel. "Wha…what are you going to do?"

"Didn't you read about this in your research?" he asked. As he reached her hip, he swerved to the side and kissed halfway down both her legs. Extending his tongue, he slowly licked up her inner thighs and stopped just before he reached his target; close enough to smell her natural perfume, close enough for Melfina to feel his hot breath on her center.

"I, I'm not sure, I can't…"and Melfina's voice was lost in a yelp as she felt something warm and damp caress her nether lips, sending another electric shock straight to her brain. Only after the feeling passed did Melfina realize that what she had felt was Gene's tongue.

"Did you like that?" he asked.

"I don't know," Melfina gasped. "I…" and Melfina's voice was lost in another yelp as she felt Gene lick her again.

"I'll take that as a yes." Before Melfina could say anything else, Gene grabbed her hips, locking them in place, and began to lap at her opening. He started with quick, short strokes; and then changed to slow, deep caresses. Gently parting her nether lips with his fingers, he probed his tongue into her recesses, savoring her salty sweet taste. Even her musk tastes clean, he thought as he felt Melfina writhing in ecstasy.

Melfina moaned, gasped, and squealed from the caresses and probes of Gene's tongue. She couldn't remember if she had read about this in Aisha's book, didn't know if she should be frightened, or even if she should tell Gene to stop. Her entire brain had shut down from sensory overload. She felt Gene's tongue move higher up her opening and prodded the same bundle of nerves his fingers had stroked a few minutes earlier. Reaching above her, Melfina grabbed handfulls of the pillow and held on as she felt a slowly rising bubble of pressure grow and swell inside of her. And when Gene's lips closed around over the sensitive little nub and lightly sucked on it, the bubble bust; making Melfina scream and shudder as a wave of pleasure so intense spread through her, she felt like she was going to die. When it passed, she laid back on the bed; her breath heaving, her head swimming in delirium.

Wiping off the essence that had flowed onto his mouth, Gene looked at Melfina and couldn't help but laugh slightly. Melfina looked as relaxed as overcooked pasta and had a dazed look in her eye like she had just seen God. As much "research" as she might have done with that book of Aisha's, she obviously wasn't prepared for the real deal. Switching positions so that he lay beside her, Gene supported his weight on his elbow and stroked her stomach in small circles, giving Melfina a moment to catch her breath. After she had recovered, she looked up to him, then down to his erection, her eyes widening at how close they were to a connection. "Do you want to touch it?" he asked.

"I…I can't," she said.

"Why not?"


"I…don't know how." She realized that it was probably a foolish answer, but it was the only one that she could give.

"It's easy," he told her, grasping her hand in his. "Just go like this." Before Melfina could object, Gene lowered her hand and placed it over his erection. Melfina gasped as she realized what she was holding, but her fingers didn't seem to want to let go. It felt hard, but was soft textured. And as she held it, she could feel it throbbing in her hand. In a daze, Melfina slid her hand down to the
base of the shaft, causing Gene to groan noticeably. She looked up to him, thought about what just happened, and slid her hand back up to the tip; eliciting another groan from Gene. I'm pleasuring him, Melfina thought with excitement. She then began moving her hand up and down Gene's erection, delighting in the fact that she was making him feel as good as he did for her. Eventually, Gene rolled onto his back and Melfina laid herself across his chest as she continued to handle him. She experimented with different motions; tickling the underside with her fingertips, rolling the tip in her palm; judging by the sounds he made how Gene liked to be touched. It was silly of me to be afraid of this, she told herself, as she laid her head against his chest, listening to his quickening heartbeat. After all, it's a part of Gene. And Gene wouldn't harm me.

Gene continued to steadily groan louder as Melfina stroked and rubbed his erection. Her hands were so soft and smooth it felt like he was being handled with silk gloves. He could hardly believe that this timid little thing who had almost fainted when he first whipped it out was now giving him the best hand job he had ever gotten. And when he looked down to Melfina, she seemed to be having as much fun as he was.

"I like it when I touch you this way," she told him.

"And I LOVE it when you touch me that way," he groaned as he reached down to remove her hand. "But I think that maybe you'd better stop."

"But why?" Melfina asked. "Did I do something wrong?"

"What? No, hell no." Gene assured her. "I don't think you could even if you tried. Let's just day that if you kept going, I'd finish before I've even begun." Melfina's face grew a puzzled look, obviously not getting the joke. Gene laughed indulgently as he leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose. "Don't worry about it." He rolled her onto her back and took one long look along the length of her beautiful body before looking back up to meet her gaze. "So do you think that you're ready?"

Melfina bit her bottom lip slightly. This was it, the moment when she and Gene were supposed to join. "I guess so," she answered.

"I won't lie to you Mel," he said. "If you're as human as I think you are, than this first time is going to hurt. But I promise it'll only be for a second."

"I understand." Slipping a hand between her thighs, Gene parted her legs and positioned himself between them. He placed his tip at her opening and looked up to her for permission. Melfina nodded and Gene slowly began to push his way into her, her nether lips slightly resisting before yielding and closing around him.

"Ooooooooooh," Melfina whimpered. She could feel herself being stretched and pulled as Gene began to invade her. She knew that it was only his tip, but it felt as though her body had already been filled to the limit. Gene stopped in his passage and gave her time to adjust to the strange feeling. As soon as she was comfortable with the sensation, Gene continued on his way, but stopped again as he met a shield inside of her that blocked his way. He pressed against it, making Melfina whimper in fear as she tightly shut her eyes; instinctively knowing this was the part that he had told her about.

Gene could feel her reflexively tighten as he reached her hymen. He'd have to find some way to distract her. It would only hurt worse if she were tense. Lowering himself down so that their bodies pressed together again, he softly stroked and caressed her forehead. "Melfina?" he asked. She opened her eyes and looked up to him.

"Yes Gene?"

"You're everything I want and I don't need anything more." Gene felt her loosen a little and decided to go before he lost his chance. Withdrawing a little, he tensed his lower back and plunged as deep as he could into her, his eyes rolling back in his head as he felt himself swallowed by Melfina's tight, wet, searingly hot passage. I'm in heaven, he thought.

Melfina felt his entry as her barrier ruptured, sending a stinging pain throughout her whole body. She cried out loudly and bucked her hips as tears filled her eyes. And then, just as quickly as it came, the pain vanished. And in its place she could feel a gently throbbing heat that seemed to spread all the way to the back of her eyes. An unknown void in her body and soul had been filled by
Gene, making Melfina weep with joy.

"Hey there," Gene said as he began to kiss away her tears. "It's okay. The bad part's over now."

"But it's not bad Gene," she told him as she looked up to him. "I can feel you inside of me…and it's the most wonderful thing I've ever experienced."

"So you want to keep going?" he asked.

"Yes, please don't stop now."

"Yeah sure," Gene said, kissing her forehead one final time before he began to thrust into her. He moved slowly at first. He had to. Melfina was so small and tight he didn't want to hurt her. But it wasn't long before he found his rhythm and his mind gave way only to instinct, leaving only enough control to maintain gentleness.

Melfina cried out as she felt Gene moving inside of her. Each thrust sent a wave of sensation through her so intense, it felt as though her entire body would be torn apart. But each passing surge only made her long for more. Instinctively, she wrapped her legs around his waist and hooked her heels in his back, guiding him in deeper and using them as leverage to buck her hips in time with his thrusts.

When Melfina began her own movements, Gene rolled onto his back and switched positions, placing Melfina on top. Melfina rose off of him, and slowly consumed Gene all the way to his hilt. Gene opened his eyes and looked up at the divine being who was straddling his shaft, the moonlight bathing Melfina in silvery light. He stroked her thighs as Melfina ground her pelvis against his, her body bouncing up and down on his hips. His hands rose up her stomach and grasped at her breasts, but it wasn't enough for him. Lurching upwards, Gene pulled her against him as his mouth wandered from her swan throat to her chest where his mouth eagerly devoured her breasts. He could feel his time was coming as his thrusts became harder, his motions faster.

Melfina wrapped all four of her limbs around Gene as the world around her began to disappear. The combination of his thrusts inside her and his mouth on her breasts was too much for her to handle. Her body had lost control and moved of its own accord, bucking and grinding her hips in time with Gene; her cries becoming louder until she was practically screaming. The pressure was starting to rise again, but this time it was bigger. It was swelling and ballooning, filling her entire presence. In the dark, Melfina's hand searched blindly until it found Gene's. Their hands clasped together, and the bubble finally burst, ripping Melfina's mind from her body and sending it soaring into the heavens. Gene felt Melfina climax as her sheathe clamped his erection tightly while her body convulsed around him, her head throwing itself back to fill the room with a scream of pure bliss. He then gave himself release and exploded into her core as white fire seared his mind. Similar to when he first used the Sword, but a thousand times sweeter.

Their mutual climax was long and drawn out. And when it abated, they fell together onto the bed, their senses restored to normal. Gene stared at the ceiling, his mind and body drained of all energy. Melfina meanwhile, clung tightly to him, frantically sobbing into his shoulder. "Mel?" he asked. Was he too rough towards the end? Did he accidentally hurt her? But when Melfina's head rose to meet him, he saw that her tears weren't of pain, but of pure happiness.

"Thank you," she whimpered. Gene stared into her glistening eyes before he leaned forward to kiss them.

"Thank you," he told her. With a tired sigh, Melfina collapsed on top of him, burying her face into his throat, and began to murmur softly. In the afterglow of the moment, Gene held her against him as Melfina's warmth began to slowly spread through him, causing a strange feeling to grow in Gene that he had never quite felt before. It wasn't contentment; he had felt that with every girl he had sex with. It was more like a sense of completeness, as if he had found a piece of him that had been missing for a very long time.

Just then, a breeze blew in from the open window and caressed their naked bodies, making Melfina shiver slightly. Reaching underneath him, Gene pulled out the bedsheet and wrapped it tightly around them. Under the warmth of the covers, Melfina stilled and snuggled even tighter against him as she continued to speak in slurred words. Between the energy he had used up, Melfina's soft cooing, and the heat from her body; Gene found that he couldn't keep his eyes open.

"Melfina," he whispered. Her voice was the last thing he heard as sleep overcame him.

"I love you."

Stepping out of the elevator, Xanax made his way to the entrance of Lord Shidowkun's quarters. The akuma guards whisked him through and he entered the luxuriant room. Looking to his left, the captain of the Damocles Sword saw the Toku Emperor looking out the observation window. Before them, the sword's planet was looming into view.

"What do you have to report Xanax?" Shidowkun asked.

"My lord we have just come out of sub-ether space at the Sword's planet," Xanax answered. "At the moment, we are approaching at roughly one-fourth light speed. I've also had the helmsman set a course that keeps us facing the planet opposite the side where Gene Starwind has taking shelter. This way, we can move in without being detected in any way."

"Very good. What about our forces? What is the status of the invasion group?"

"Sir, all weapons have been loaded onto the drop ships. Lady Aeslea has put all warriors on standby alert. All that is waiting is for your signal." The Emperor turned to face him, his burning gaze narrowing in satisfaction.

"Excellent. For the time being, continue on our present course until we achieve an orbit with the Sword's planet. Once then, we will begin the attack to take Melfina; an attack that I shall lead personally. You Xanax shall stay aboard the Damocles Sword to make sure that Gene Starwind and his friends don't take off."

"Yes Lord," Xanax said with a bow. He turned to leave when out of the corner of his eye, Xanax saw the Emperor tense, his glowing red eyes widening in surprise.

"Sir is there something wrong?"

"No," Shidowkun replied, turning back to the observation window. "It's right. It's very, very right." Looking out at the approaching planet, the Toku Emperor began to laugh slightly. His laughter slowly growing in volume until it filled the room, its sound carrying through the ventilation ducts to the entire ship.

(At long last, Gene and Melfina have had their night. But while they lie in each other's arms, darkness is fast approaching. Will their re-found love give them the strength needed to overcome this latest threat? Or is Gene about to learn first hand why Shidowkun is called the God of Death? Tune in next time. Same outlaw-time. Same outlaw-website. Don't forget to review. Especially if you liked the lemon.)

Chapter 14
Chapter 16

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