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Ectothermy.

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At first, Bo wasn't sure where she even was. It came back to her when she realised Lauren was still wrapped around her in a possessive, protective embrace. The fire had burned down some, but her sickly chill was fading at last. She could tell that it was still dark outside, although with the snow that didn't mean anything.

Lauren must have sensed she was awake, and stirred from a light doze. Her hand was still flat to Bo's rising and falling chest, and her other arm still cradled Bo's head faithfully. Lauren's body answered every contour of her own, and their breaths and their heartbeats came in matching time. Bo tried to imagine how she could possibly have slept without having her so near for so long.

Fearful of breaking the spell, they just lay together in a charged silence for a long while; feeling each other's presence, breathing each other in.

Then, and without a word, Lauren leaned in to slowly, and deliberately, press home a single kiss on her bare skin. Bo slipped an aching sigh and shifted automatically to invite more attention.

It was such a simple gesture of presumed intimacy, but that it. That was all it took to dispel any risk there might have been of re-establishing the pretence.

They were not simply two women taking comfort from one another's nearness, or friends finding a peace again. They weren't exes, or rivals or anything else - they were lovers who'd been parted. No more. No less. She suddenly realised what Lauren already had; that for a few short hours, they didn't have to pretend otherwise.

As difficult and complicated as their relationship had gotten, right now it was easy to believe that perhaps it could be simple how it mattered. If Bo was in pain, Lauren would fix it. If Lauren was in danger, Bo would fix that. It was that simple; as plain and true as a scientific law. It was all so simple without the real world to ruin it for them both. And for now, that could wait.

Bo released Lauren's hand and reluctantly made space between them so she could slip the borrowed shirt off. Lauren took the cue and pulled it off the rest of the way for her, scattering more and more urgent kisses on her shoulders and back as she did. Bo realised with a private smile that the doctor was already in only her underwear.

Bo pivoted around, and for a moment, they just took each other in, in a slow and intimate silence. They searched each other's features for something neither of them could have named, and Bo traced a careless line on Lauren's face with her fingertips.

At last, as if seeing each other again for the first time in a hundred years, they closed in to a deep, needful kiss. She felt Lauren's hands on her face, she felt Lauren's lips enquire gently of her mouth. As that final distance between them evaporated, it seemed sad and ridiculous that they had taken so long, so long, to find their way back here. Why had they both gone without the touch, the taste, the trust of the other? Why had they taken so long, and made it so difficult? How could they have wasted so much time when there was so little of that to be found for them already?

As Lauren moved over her, as hands began to eagerly map the curves of each other's bodies again, as tongues started to tease past lips, as kisses found each other at last, it all seemed such a waste. Their pace became greedier, hungrier, more demanding. They could have been together, they could have been finding ways to be together, all the time they were apart. Oh, what they'd missed. All the seconds and minutes and hours they'd wasted, and for nothing that seemed of consequence now.

Lauren broke away gently, and now her kisses found Bo's jaw, her cheek, the tender point behind her ear. She felt her pendant swing free and hesitated. The prospect of ruining all they'd rebuilt together with one clumsy presumption reared in her mind, and she frowned.

"Bo, we don't have to do this now" she said quietly, although it didn't escape Bo's notice that she carried on gently nuzzling the same sensitive, tender point as she spoke, as if to reassure her of her own intentions. "Not if you're not…"

Not what though? Not willing?

Able?

Certain?

It didn't matter - the thought process collapsed when she saw the concern on Bo's face.

"Do you… do you not want to?" she asked, and Lauren almost laughed.

"No! God no, it's not that," she said, betraying a little more incredulity than she intended. She spoke again as her smiling lips closed softly along the cleft of Bo's throat.

"But you know that, right?"

She laughed gently into Bo's skin.

"That's how it works. I always want to, and you always know."

Bo chuckled, but couldn't deny it. It was true, after all. Lauren's aura always flared to fill the room when she knew Bo was near. From the start, so long ago, Bo delighted to see how she made the careful doctor burn so brightly. Later, when everything between them was bittered and sore, she took a simpler pleasure in just seeing the hold she still had.

But it was true; always, she always knew. And Lauren for her part made little actual effort to hide or dampen it on a level visible to Bo. No matter the status of their relationship, Lauren had never actually pretended to feel less than she did, not really.

All of that was an ugly memory of an ugly time, and one that blessedly faded away under the delicate attention this beautiful woman was lavishing across her throat and shoulders.

Bo's hands slipped eagerly around Lauren's back and released her bra clasp. Lauren shrugged the suddenly unwelcome garment off. With a brazen grin, she stretched back to offer Bo an unimpeded view of her body, and the succubus heard herself let an involuntary whimper. Her breasts were beautiful, Lauren was beautiful, and Bo told her so, even as she set about them reverently. She heard Lauren's soft murmurs, felt her arch to offer more of herself to her mouth and hands, and obliged gratefully. She felt Lauren's hand sin into her hair to pull her closer, more firmly against herself. 

In a strange way, Bo sometimes wished other people could see this side of the woman - almost as much as she reveled in having it to herself. Most people treated Lauren like she was made of ice; a colourless, lifeless shell lent authority only by the Ash's grace. Bo knew better - Bo knew she felt everything. Past her carefully constructed facade, she absorbed every care, every slight, every wound, and she loved fiercely. She felt everything, and she endured everything, and for far too long, she had done it alone. This woman, gripping a straddled lover by her hair, this was Lauren. This was the real Lauren, naked in all ways. Passionate, protective, and unbroken by five years of duty and defeat. Bo adored her for all that, and feared for her too.

She mouthed and sucked and nipped first one breast, then the other, and heard intoxicating moans that might have been her name. She was hardly aware of her own bra falling away, but her whole body responded when Lauren's elegant hands glided over her own naked breasts instead. She broke away to moan aloud herself, and Lauren's lips found her own again in a kiss. She'd often wondered what Lauren might have been like six or seven years ago, before she had spent so much of her heart and soul in cruel, useless slavery. She saw a wicked glint in those soft eyes, and felt expert fingers trap her nipples with devilish intent. Lauren pinched a little, and again, and she could see the doctor observe the effect with an impish bitten lip. As Bo hissed and winced and smiled to those cunning, artful touches, she realised she might have an idea of that younger, freer Lauren after all. 

Lauren's lips replaced the tantalising fingers of one hand, winning delicious sounds from the other woman. She gently teased the sensitive, stiffening nipple with her tongue, welcoming more and less, more and less into her mouth, and Bo was helpless to her. She was already so lost she was only barely aware of the gentle, insistent tug at her waistband; she hardly even heard herself whine in anticipation even when her underwear slipped away. Lauren grinned wolfishly, giving herself a long moment to savour every single detail of the flawless creature here waiting anxiously for her. She could be a torturously patient woman at times, and hearing her lover's mounting want brought out mischief in her. Succubus or not, Bo was a stunningly beautiful woman. Every bit of her was perfect, sensual and precious, and Lauren appreciated all of it with a discerning eye.

She leaned back in, taking Bo's earlobe in her mouth and tugged gently as her hands moved down Bo's body. She whispered into Bo's ear again, and this time, her breaths were hot and urgent. "Bo, listen… Feeding won't help with the cold, but it might take your mind off it."

Bo needed a moment, Lauren's mouth already starting to plot a leisurely trail across her chest, but eventually gathered focus just enough shake her head.

Mercifully, she didn't press the issue, because God help her, Bo wasn't sure she could refuse a second time. With an effort, she cleared the haze and snapped out of it. No, this simply wouldn't do - Lauren had taken care of her all night already. She wanted to show Lauren how grateful she really was, she meant to show her all the things she couldn't always say. She fully intended to do all the things a succubus, and a lover, should, and she wanted to do them for Lauren.

She ignored the last nag of cold and easily shifted Lauren around onto her back. Lauren's obvious impulse was to protest, but the succubus' enthusiastic mouth and hands articulated her intentions so very persuasively on her skin, that she couldn't find an objection for the life of her. 

Hard to believe this was the same woman who seemed so sick and defeated just a few hours earlier, but Bo was… ah, well, she was Bo. 

Her hand lingered under Lauren's knee, then slid with slow appreciation up her inner thigh. Her touch began to wind a maddeningly steady path up an elegant limb, and Lauren's legs shifted apart for her a little more in reply. She groaned quietly in frustration - all that famous patience, it turned out, could strain desperately after all.