Author: Debbie
Rating: NC-17 (for 1 scene - otherwise PG)
Disclaimer: I couldn't own 'em even if I wanted to -- Last I heard they weren't for sale. ;-)
Author's Note: Thank you Bennie, for taking the time to look this over for me.
Dedication: To my neighbors Joe and Helen (who would probably be appalled if they knew, lol)
Feedback: Please take the time to send me feedback. It only takes a few seconds and it means so much to me. Both constructive and positive feedback are fine.
If you are anti-Max/Iz, please keep all bashing comments to yourself.

"Thanks Grandma Izzy and Grandpa Max!"

The kids each grabbed a couple of cookies off of the plate and then raced down our porch steps, eager to return to their games.

I sat back down on the porch swing with Max, setting the treats down on the little table we have out here in case any other kids stopped by. They always did. I might not have been terribly domestic when I was younger, but somewhere along the way I learned to bake a mean chocolate-chip-oatmeal cookie.

Max waved at the kids, acknowledging their thanks for his role in "taste-testing" the dough. Then we both leaned back in the swing, letting it rock gently as we watched the children at play. They're not our real grandchildren; we are not their grandparents. They are just neighborhood kids, and we aren't even married. But kids go by what they see, and we've shared this house here on Bannock Street for so long that I think half the neighborhood forgets that we're supposed to just be brother and sister. Neither Max nor I correct them. The truth is, we like it this way. We might not be legally married, but we would have liked to be. And we've still managed to spend a lifetime together.

We've always been close, ever since we came out of the pods. Our adoptive parents raised us as twins and we fell into the pattern right away. As children we shared everything -- friends, toys, secrets, and as many classes as the schools and administrators would let us get away with. When we got older Max and I even chose to go to the same college -- the very idea of being apart for four long years was appalling.

We did, however, have to live separately that first year. It was required that underclassmen live on campus, in the residence halls, and as freshmen we were simply assigned a place at random. Our dorms ended up being on opposite ends of campus. That was really difficult -- even though we still made time to see each other, it just wasn't the same as living under the same roof. The following year we made sure we were in the same dorm and, as soon as it was permitted, Max and I moved off-campus and got our own apartment.

Over the years I've often wondered if were we this close in our previous lives. What was our real relationship then? Despite all our efforts, all our attempts at memory retrieval, all the things we learned about our alien background, this was one thing that was never made clear. And after the Granolith was destroyed, we lost any means of getting back to our "home planet" anyway, so what did it matter? We just went with how we felt in this lifetime instead.

I think Max and I had been in love for a long time, probably since we came of age and were old enough to be aware of such feelings and desires. We were so firmly entrenched in the idea that we were siblings (even if only adoptive siblings) however, that we had always denied that we felt that such things for each other. Even when we finally got our own apartment, we each had our own room and we slept separately. Oh, we'd kissed occasionally, but it never went farther than that and I think we always just wrote it off as nothing unusual. Never mind the fact that none of our friends interacted with their siblings the way we behaved around each other.

I will always remember the night everything changed. Max came home late from the library one night during our senior year, complaining of back and shoulder tension from sitting hunched over his psychology research. He stretched out on his belly on the living room floor and I sat on him so I could work on his abused muscles. Nothing too unusual there. But then something changed. Why then, and not sooner or later, I don't know -- but rubbing his neck became something tender and loving, not just relaxing. Sensing the change, Max rolled over onto his back so he could face me. I continued to trail my fingers over his shoulders, around his jaw and down his throat with a light, gentle and loving touch. Our eyes locked and held -- wondering, accepting gazes. We were finally acknowledging that what we felt for each other was something more, much more.

Finding the amount of accessible skin too limited, I started to unbutton his shirt, something I had never done before. One by one the buttons loosened their grip, exposing a lengthening V of Max's smooth chest. When the last fastener was gone I let the material fall to the side so I could run my fingers over the entire bared surface, tracing circles around his bellybutton, raking my fingernails gently over his nipples, running my palms over the firm muscles.

Max reached out and took one of my hands, drawing my fingers to his lips so he could kiss each tip in turn, stopping to pull the last one into his mouth so he could suckle gently on it. I remember gasping at the rush of sensations that accompanied that simple gesture. In response I bent to press my own lips to his neck, trailing kisses down his bared throat. I moved lower to nibble my way over his chest, stopping to circle his nipples with my mouth before finally giving in and acknowledging each tiny nub with a quick flick of my tongue.

The enormity of what we were doing was suddenly almost overwhelming, and I stopped for a minute to lay my head on Max's broad ribcage. I listened to the soothing rhythm of his heart, feeling his skin against my cheek and marveling at the contrast of that softness with the hard strength that lay beneath it. We didn't speak, but I think we both knew it was a moment to reaffirm our connection, to make sure this was what we really wanted. Max answered the unspoken question by pulling me up so that our bodies lay fully pressed against each other, bringing my head down to his so that we could share our first true kiss. I know I said we'd kissed before, but this was the first kiss of our new love, our new life. The first kiss of acceptance. It may sound like an insignificant difference to you -- kissing is kissing, right? -- but in reality the change was dramatic. This was a hungry kiss, hot and wet and possessive. Given and shared in desire, not in our previous interpretation of brotherly affection.

The whole evening was a masterpiece of sensual discovery, rendering any past experiences we'd had with other people insignificant. Max tugged my shirt up so that we could lie skin to skin, and we marveled at the increased contact. When I eventually sat up again, he reached out to cup and caress my breasts, rolling my nipples between his fingers and eliciting a gasp from me as the electric sensations shot through my entire body. I next tackled the fastenings on his jeans, dipping under the elastic band of his boxers to expose his curved length, stroking the velvet strength of his erection. Pulling the denim off his long legs was an easier gesture in comparison to our tangled attempts to get my jeans off and I eventually had to break contact and stand up in order to rid myself of the restrictive material. But then we were at last free to admire one another, to take in the changes that had occurred since our last childhood glimpses of skin. Max was beautiful -- long and lean, strong and yet gentle, and radiating a sexual energy so potent it took my breath away.

And so the evening went with our continued sensual explorations, gradually working each other up into a frenzy of need that could no longer be contained. And when we finally came together -- Max still on his back, me poised over him, taking his full length into my body -- we knew a joy and fulfillment like nothing we had ever known before.

Despite the change in our relationship, we knew instinctively that we could not go public with our love. Even though we were only adoptive siblings the shock would have been too much for most people to handle, and it would have killed our parents -- people we loved dearly. So, reluctantly, we continued to put up a front. We dated other people and eventually got engaged, choosing mates who believed that Max and I were inseparably close because we'd been raised as twins, and who respected that bond.

Max and I insisted on a double wedding, claiming we wanted to spare our parents the added expense of throwing two bashes in such close succession. The truth was, though, that this was as close as we were going to get to marrying each other. We stood side by side at the altar, garbed in the traditional gown and tuxedo, and spoke our vows of promise. To the public eye, those vows were for our actual betrothed's ears, but we both held the words close to our hearts as being for each other.

This is not to say we were just screwing around with our real spouses. We each had a long, reasonably happy life with them. They were good people, my husband and Max's wife, outsiders and not people from our old high school group. As much as Max cared for Liz and I for Alex -- we probably could have lived with them quite happily -- Max and I believed they would probably eventually see through the charade and recognize the true feelings we had for each other. In reality, they may have guessed the truth anyway, but at least this way they weren't being hurt by it. Instead, Liz returned to Kyle's arms and married him. We saw them from time to time, and they seemed very happy. Alex's long-distance relationship with Lianna turned serious and he eventually moved to Sweden to be with her. We received regular letters from them, including their wedding and subsequent birth announcements. As for the others ... Michael and Maria continued to dance around their on-again-off-again relationship for several years until Maria finally announced she was gay and moved to Denver with her lesbian lover. Tess helped Michael deal with the loss, and they eventually discovered that they were better suited to each other than they'd been to any previous partners. They, too, had a happy life together, full of fire and zest.

Like I said, my husband and Max's wife were respectful of our "twin" bond, and did not question our need to stay close to each other. We rented apartments in the same complex, and later purchased houses on the same street. Our children were raised almost communally, as part of this extended family we had created.

Actually, my daughter really was ours -- mine and Max's. It was done deliberately, but, of course, in secret. I knew my cycle very well, and Max and I knew when we made love that night that a child would result. I then allowed my husband to sleep with me three days later -- close enough that it would look convincing as the conception date, late enough to be safe. It was a gamble, but fortunately my husband also had dark eyes and hair, and it turned out that Elena Diane (named for her grandmothers) took mostly after me, anyway. Max and I recognized which features were his, of course, but we were thankful that no one else seemed to notice. To avoid the hospitals I had a home birth, with Tess in attendance as the midwife. I never thought she would be the one to go into medicine, but I was very grateful that she did. However, even with all her midwifery skills and her Gifts, there was only so much Tess could do for the pain. I guess that's why I had only the one child.

It turned out that Max's wife had fertility problems, so they ended up adopting their two children. Probably just as well -- we were already playing with fire by bringing one mixed-alien child into the world. This way, Max's other offspring were fully human. Elena, on the other hand, did manifest some of our powers as she got older. My husband occasionally wondered at some of the things she seemed able to do, but, as my own parents had done, he brushed them aside and rarely tried to look too deeply into them. When Elena was old enough to understand, Max and I took her to visit Tess and Michael and the four of us explained our background, explained how Mommy was different (we left Max's role out of the discussion). We then gave her the rudimentary lessons she would need to better control her abilities, and made sure she understood the need for secrecy.

Otherwise, our lives were relatively normal. As normal as they can be when you're secretly in love with your supposed sibling, and raising your love child along with the others, anyway. But as the years rolled by our two families remained as close as ever. We lived and loved, we raised our children, celebrated holidays and milestones, and grew old together.

My husband died when I was 60, a heart attack claiming his life. Although I never loved him the way I did Max, he had still been my friend and companion, and my sorrow was genuine. Max's wife died seven years later, and I comforted him as he had eased my pain before. Then, with shared grief uniting us even more, we packed up my belongings and I moved into the house he had once shared with her. Everyone agreed that it was an appropriate thing to do -- that we needed each other.

As our pain healed, Max and I rediscovered each other. After so long, we were finally free to be together again. We built a new life, better and stronger than it had ever been in our youth, with wisdom and experience bringing a new depth to our love. People see what they want to see, and our children and grandchildren, who had always known us to be close, never questioned us. Nor did any of the neighbors. As the years passed, newcomers simply assumed that we were a normal married elderly couple and we never bothered to correct them.

And so we came down to today, where Max and I sat on our porch swing watching the local children play. He brought his arm around me to bring me in close, and I patted his other hand with my own. After all this time, we no longer need any flashy gestures to convey our feelings. Just these simple acts and simple words express the treasured message: "I love you."

How many people can honestly say their love lasted a lifetime? We can -- and it was worth all the obstacles and waiting we endured to get here. We are together, and we are happy.


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