Chapter 12

Janica awoke, feeling her body entangled with Megan's in a way that had become very familiar to her over the past weeks. It was morning, the ground around littered with randomly distributed bright spots of sunlight sneaking down through the obstacle course of leaves. Automatically, out of habit, she kissed Megan gently, her lips moving wetly against Megan's, feeling Megan respond after a few seconds, making her own contribution to the kiss, her tongue brushing softly against Janica's teeth.

Janica's brain, lagging behind her body in emergence from sleep, suddenly remembered.

She gasped, released her hold on Megan and wriggled back away from her along the ground, shaking her head as she saw Megan looking at her. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! I was only half awake."

Megan rubbed her eyes and stretched, then held her hands towards Janica, palms outward. "Janny, I know, I understand. Who could understand better than I do? We have to stop saying 'sorry' all the time. It's not our fault." She looked around. "What's for breakfast? I'm starved."

Janica smiled, and sat up, wrapping her arms around her shins. "I think Mom stepped out to get us some breakfast rolls." She felt at the lettuce-like vegetation covering the ground. "Think this will kill us?"

Megan got up on her hands and knees, ripped away a few leaves and brought them up to her nose. "Smells okay. A little like cut grass, when you get it up this close." She frowned in thought. "I don't think it can be poisonous. When the men first started settling this place, they didn't have meat..." She hesitated for a moment. Janica wasn't sure why. She knew they had meat now -- she'd been eating it for weeks. Megan went on, "They had to survive on some sort of local vegetation. And it doesn't seem as though the plants on this planet could have evolved any poisons as a protection from animals, because there aren't any animals." Megan winced, as though she'd said more than she wanted to. It was obviously connected with animals which, Janica suddenly realized, had not yet put in an appearance. They must, she thought, all be on another part of the planet.

She was stopped from further meditating along those lines when Megan shoved a wad of the leaves into her own mouth. "Mig!"

Megan chewed and swallowed, and shrugged. "What else were we going to do? You bring your testing equipment?" She sat still for a moment, then said, "Not bad. They don't have a lot of taste, but they're moist, which is really good right now. If there's a poison, it must be pretty subtle. I don't feel anything. Except more hungry. My stomach is telling me to get it more of that stuff." She ripped up another handful and offered it to Janica.

Cautiously, Janica took the leaves and bit off the end of one. When nothing terrible happened, she took a bigger mouthful.

Megan swallowed some more leaves, then stopped, looking down. She opened her mouth twice as if to speak, closing it each time, not getting anything out until the third try. "When I woke up and you were kissing me..."

Janica looked away, feeling her face go red. She fought against the feeling she should apologize again.

Megan continued "...I... my first feeling, not my first thought, my first feeling was... I wanted to keep going. And that just really scares me."

Janica nodded, and sighed. "It's going to be hard to get over it, isn't it? Are we always going to be uncomfortable with each other? Like we are right now?"

Megan pounded the ground with her fists. "Damn it, that is so unfair." She looked up at Janica, and obviously saw the expression of shock Janica felt. Megan held up her hand. "I didn't mean you, Janny. I meant them. I didn't want to say it, but now that you did, you're right, I do feel uncomfortable around you, and that's one more thing they did to us." She turned onto her butt, sat up, and, like Janica, wrapped her arms around her shins. "We have a lot of things to fight against, but we should give priority to that one. That we feel uncomfortable. Because we need each other. It's a survival thing. We need to be on the same wavelength at all times."

A stray thought on how to deal with the discomfort flitted through Janica's mind, and she batted it down mercilessly, knowing where it had come from. But it returned, and with it came another thought: that her haste in rejecting the first thought, and her refusal to consider saying it out loud, were perfect examples of that dangerous discomfort, and that Megan was perfectly correct in saying that a breakdown in their ability to communicate and feel in tune with each other was a deadly danger to both of them.

Janica's heart pounded, knowing that giving voice to her thought could very well make things worse between them. And that was the very last thing they needed. But if I don't say it, she told herself, if we can't communicate because of that fear of making things worse, it will complete a wall between us that will last forever. She worked to control the shaking in her voice. "We're both uncomfortable because they made us have... these sexual feelings for each other, and we've never thought about that as being part of what we are to each other." She saw Megan's brief nod, suggesting she thought that much was obvious, and went on. "We've had sex... and more sex and more sex..."

Megan bit her lip. "Yeah..."

Janica waited to see if Megan was going to say more. She tried to read Megan's expression, and gave up and continued on, growing more nervous. "...and we did it because they made us want it, so much that as much as we tried fighting it, we couldn't beat it. Now a lot of the force of it is gone, but still, last night, we were fighting what was left of it so hard that we couldn't sleep, and we had to give in, and so we're trying still harder today."

Megan gave her an I'm-not-sure-where-this-is-going look.

Janica took a deep breath. "What if we just stop fighting it?"

Megan blinked, and gave her a wide-eyed look. "Huh?"

Janica quickly said, "Look, it's not something I ever wanted, and I know how hard I fought it. But wouldn't it be a relief to stop fighting, and just live with the fact that they made this be an unwanted part of us? And from now on we can just say, okay, it is part of us. Just embrace it, and surround it, and adopt it, and be what it makes us. See what I'm saying?"

Megan turned her head through a small angle and looked at Janica out of the corner of her eyes. "I think I know what you're saying, but I have to make totally sure, because I could really make myself feel like an idiot if I'm misunderstanding. Are you saying you think we should have sex?"

"Let's call it making love. Because I do love you, and I have all your life. Just never in a sexual way. But yes, that's what I'm saying, but to do it because we want to, not because somebody else wants us to. We can't get rid of the feelings, but we can make them something that's ours."

Megan looked more directly at her, remaining silent for a time. Oh shit, thought Janica, I did make things worse.

Finally Megan said, "And you mean right now?"

Cautiously, hoping she wasn't giving the last provocation for a huge fight, Janica nodded.

"And whenever we feel like it? Because it's looking like we'll be feeling like it a lot."

Janica nodded again, pressing her lips together as if waiting for an explosion.

What she saw on Megan's face, though, was wonder, not anger. As if the idea was falling into place for her.

Slowly, Megan reached for Janica's hand, and wrapped her fingers around it. In a choked voice, Megan said, "I always loved you too. I'm sure you know that."

Janica felt her throat tighten, and a small tear leaked from her right eye. She nodded.

And then, not sure how it had happened, Janica found herself in Megan's arms, her eyes looking at Megan's from just inches away. She leaned forward to kiss Megan, and met her lips halfway. The kiss became a series of many kisses, soft, wet, lip-clinging, much more tender and less desperate, and therefore sweeter, than in all the other times they had done it before. Janica ran her hands up and down Megan's body, tenderly, listening to the quiet, satisfied sounds Megan was making in her throat. Megan began licking Janica's neck. And it felt very natural -- something they were accustomed to by previous experience, but now in no way forced, just an expression of intimacy by two wanting to become one.

They lay on the ground now, their movements in tune without a word spoken, and the excitement built, two bodies moving together, building a union by holding, rubbing, kissing, and now using fingers and tongues in what they had learned was the most effective way. Janica could sense the orgasm coming, and held it away as long as she could, wanting this first time -- and really, in an important sense, it was the first time -- to last longer, so it would take up that much greater space in her memory after it was done. But she could hold it off only so long -- and only until Megan also exhausted her ability to hold it away. It arrived, and was as all-consuming, as intense, as any they had ever had.

They lay still, breathing hard, still locked together by arms and legs, each with eyes locked to the other from inches away. Megan gave Janica a tiny smile, looking as if a larger one lurked nearby. "Okay, that does feel better."

Janica laughed and kissed her. "No more fighting?"

Megan grinned. "Not about that." She kissed Janica back.

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