- Epilogue -

It was Perry's ashen face, phone in her hand, that met Ant when she walked through the apartment door. She didn't know what to expect, but she knew that every evening she had come home for the last ten months she dreaded to find Perry the way she was. Ant felt her stomach knot. Her heart seemed to tighten as Perry looked up at her with thinned lips and furrowed brows. The blonde woman swallowed and said, "Dorian's unit was ambushed."

Ant's head felt feint; her legs liquefied; and she edged on to the couch next to Perry. "Wh -- what do you mean?" She stuttered, her heart beating rapidly. "I mean is," she swallowed, "is he okay or what?"

"Only three of them survived; but he was shot in the leg and," she shut her eyes tightly, "doctors say he'll come home with PTSD."

Ant exhaled, glad that he was okay, but worried for his mental state. "At least he's okay."

"Doctors said they don't know how his PTSD will manifest itself. He'll look like he's fine but, Ant," she looked up to Perry as the blonde woman continued, "he's coming home a broken man."

Ant felt the words wash over her, a broken man. What did that mean exactly? She dreaded to know what he might have been going through. Could he still walk? Was he mentally stable?

"When does he come home?" Ant asked quietly.

"In two weeks, but I'll be at work." Perry took her friend's hand in hers. "Could you pick him up? I know you're busy, but after work I have to take Harry to physical therapy." She paused before she added, "And also because, as much as I want to see him, I know you're probably the only person he wants to deal with right now."

Ant realised how much it must have bruised Perry's ego to admit that, and so nodded. "Sure, no problem."

Two weeks couldn't come soon enough. But in many ways, she wondered who she would be meeting at the airport. She had already met, and -- she admitted -- fallen in love with, the various masks of Dorian Bell. She had no doubt that he'd be coming home with yet another facet added to his personality.

- o -

Dorian didn't anticipate the rush he'd get seeing Ant waiting for him at the arrivals terminal. She stood in a sea of people, patiently waiting in a tight, black bandage dress, looking over everyone's heads as they exited. She must have left early from work. And she was better in the flesh than in his dreams. When their eyes met he could swear that time stopped and the people around them disappeared. He was limping, coming off the surgery, so he couldn't take the long strides towards her the way he wanted to. It had been a long ten months, and to know that she had waited for him warmed him in a way that he couldn't explain.

Ant licked her lips as she felt her legs moving in his direction. He seemed to stand there, waiting for her, his army bag slung over his shoulder; uniform perfectly fitted his long frame. She could feel her heart beating the closer she got to him. And the way he was looking at her -- needing her -- made the world around them melt away. She didn't know what to say and didn't know what to expect, but she just needed to touch him and know that he was okay. When she finally met him they stood facing each other; and she was just a little out of breath.

"Hey," she told him.

His eyes softened as he looked at her, and he drew a finger down her cheekbone softly, studying her like she was a painting; too scared he might break her. "I missed you," he said quietly.

She wanted to hug him to her but she didn't, and instead let his fingers continue to trace over her face, and down her neck. He finished with his thumb on her chin, and he tilted her face upwards to look at him. Then he placed a soft kiss on her lips, her nose, her forehead, and drew her against his body. Ant closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his torso. It felt so familiar; so warm; so safe. They weren't sure how long they stood there for, but when they finally parted Ant smiled and said simply, "Let's go home."

- o -

The car ride had been quiet, and as they walked through the apartment door, Ant became self-conscious all of a sudden. She wasn't quite sure why; but she didn't know what to do next. What now? He was back. What did he expect from her? Did he expect anything at all. How does one deal with PTSD. Did he have it now? He seemed okay. She threw her keys on the table and began fussing around the apartment, as more thoughts in the same vein rushed through her head.

"I hope the flight was okay, I fixed your bed even though I know you hate people in your room. I thought you might want to sleep though."

She turned around to face him. Dorian was just standing near the door, having shut it after he walked in. He dropped his bags to the ground and just stared at her with a dangerous lust. She felt nervous under his gaze; it was full of so much wanting and it rocked her equilibrium. She couldn't remember what else she wanted to say. A silence stretched between them and she opened and closed her mouth a few times, before saying, "Um, if you need anything to eat or drink, I could make you something. I'm sure you're tired."

He didn't respond. He just kept looking at her. He was thirsty for her. He took a step forward and she took a step back so she was leaning on the dining table. She wasn't scared, she was downright thrilled as he pinned her in her place with his eyes. She swallowed as he kept walking towards her.

"Or I could order us some pizza if… if that's what you want."

Again he didn't reply, and he just kept stalking towards her with a predatory hunger. When he finally reached her he took her by her head and crashed his lips against hers. Ant responded in kind. His kiss revealed so much of his desire, so much anger and pain, and longing. She gripped onto his uniform and pulled his body closer to her as he moved her atop the table. She wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled her to him, his hands moving under her dress, and over the silky skin of her thighs.

She was breathing shallowly as their heads moved in all directions, tongues duelled mercilessly. She began to unbutton his uniform as he moved his mouth down her throat. He ripped off his shirt before she hooked her arm around his neck, arching into his body. Ant felt like she would explode. The simple touch of his lips sent fire through her body; it was warm; tingly. She didn't want the assault to her senses to stop. She knew what he could do to her, and the thought of what was in store made her shudder.

Ten months. Ten fucking months of waiting just to feel her as he was now. How many nights had Dorian spent thinking about her, or crudely jacking off to her photo? But having her in his arms was more than he could handle. He had tried to control himself, but the moment he saw her at the airport he felt his body responding. The simple thought that she had waited for him made him want her more than he wanted anything at that moment. He wanted to feel her delicious little body yielding to his; wanted her to murmur his name and gasp, 'harder'; moaning that she wanted more; he wanted her to whimper with pleasure.

She was everything to him in his mind. The volley of letters and e-mails got him by. But now, more than ever, he just needed her; after all he had been through, all he had seen, she was his Northern star. This moment was just about them; about her. Her skin. The way she smelt. The sound of her voice when he touched her right. He loved her.

Their mouths found each other again and he lifted her off the table to unzip her dress. It fell with a whisper on the ground. He took a step back to look at her in nothing but her black bra and lace panties. She was still wearing her heels. He felt like he had been punched in the gut.

"What?" She asked with a small smile, cocking her head to the side.

He looked her straight in the eyes and said, "Nothing -- I just love you."

His words sliced through her. She felt a little ridiculous standing in the middle of the room in nothing but her underwear and heels, only to have him thrust upon her his unexpected admission. She bit her lip and tugged him towards the couch where she pushed him to lie down. She crawled over him and bent down to his ear to whisper, "I love you too," before she kissed him feverishly.

He unhooked her bra and rolled them over so she lay under him. After shedding their remaining clothes he then sunk himself deeply into her warm body.

- o -

The room smelt like sex and sweat. He laid his head on her chest, the steady rise and fall lulling him into a calm state. She was running her hands through his hair and down the nape of his neck, then up again. Being in her arms felt like home. It was a strange kind of comfort and reflected just how much he felt for this woman.


Dorian looked up at her with a small smile. "I like being here."

He buried his head against her breasts as she lazily moved her foot up and down his calf. He tightened his grasp on her and kissed her sternum, crawling up her body to nuzzle her neck. She mewled as he touched her and he readjusted himself so that he was completely over her. She wrapped her thighs around his torso and squeezed him between her legs as his mouth descended on hers with a sluggish sensuality.

They were beginning to get ready for round two when the phone began to ring. Dorian groaned and rest his head on her chest as she leant over the couch to grab it. He kissed her neck as he listened absently to Ant speaking on the phone. It was when her face turned serious and she propped her body up on her elbows that he pulled his head away, waiting for her to finish the conversation.

"Okay, sure, I'll call you back. On this number? Okay then, good-bye."

Ant clicked the phone off and looked down at it in her hand with a frown. The call had been very unexpected.

"Who was it?"

She turned to him, her lips settled in a thin line. "Ian Miller."

Dorian scrunched his brows together, attempting to remember why that name sounded so familiar to him. "Who?"

"My biological father."

- o -

TBC… eventually.