Title: Rock On!

Author: Rain

Summary: Theran Ryan is about to attend Kiera Aigner's second rock climbing course, done on location, in realtime; ten days of intensity and death defying heights...

Rating: R

Feedback: kieratheran@yahoo.co.uk

Disclaimer: Any characters resembling anyone or anything are well, incidental. No profit is being made from this and it is original anyway. Contains romance between women, so if this is not your thing, go find something else to do or to read...

Copyright: This entire document/story is © Copyright, 2005 by Rain.

Notes: This is the second of a planned three stories... The reading of: Rock Me! - Is recommended, but not completely necessary. Feedback is always appreciated, thanks for reading!

- Chapter One -

As she switched the ignition of her car off, Theran Ryan looked over the tiny, dusty, impromptu parking lot she had arrived at. Three other four wheel drive vehicles were parked neatly together, as was a powerful looking dirt bike, the former making Theran curious and the later sending a shiver of excitement through her body.

It had been four months since she had completed Kiera Aigner's first climbing course, four months since Kiera had become her lover, in many ways, her life.

Theran knew that she was in love with Kiera, knew that the brunette woman was in love with her, but their relationships was something in a category all of its own.

Never before had Theran been in a relationship, where she felt liberated, versus oppressed. Kiera, with her night coloured eyes and brilliant smile, had filled Theran's life, even when the other woman was off climbing, often for weeks at a time.

Theran had no doubts about the other woman's feelings or intentions, so it just added to the excitement and the joy that she experienced in the other woman's presence.

Theran had last seen Kiera two weeks ago, just before the master climber had gone off to collect herself in preparation for this course. They had spent a week together, making love, talking, climbing and Theran had learned how to be the perfect passenger as Kiera rode her powerful motorbike through the day and the night.

Theran had accepted even before becoming involved with Kiera, that any relationship between them would be unique and so far, she was quite happy with how things were turning out and she expected to be quite happy for the foreseeable future, hell for the rest of her life too.

With that in mind, the blonde woman got out of her car and quickly unloaded her equipment, consisting of a large rucksack and her small climbing bag. After securing her car, Theran made her way up the trail, knowing that the campsite that they were scheduled to stay at was about a 15 minute walk away, just secluded enough that the average camper would not bother to venture to it.

It would suit Kiera's course perfectly as a consequence...

- Chapter Two -

As the last of her students made their way to camp, Kiera did a subtle roll call, checking off the participants from a very short master list.

This course only had 5 participants and Kiera had once again asked two of her protege to help her for the duration.

The dark haired woman smiled inwardly as she watched Theran Ryan make her way into the camp, surprised as always at the depth of warmth that simply being in the blonde woman's vicinity caused her.

The camp had already been set up by the Outfitters in whose name the course was being run. Sleeping areas carefully brushed free of stones and debris and tarps laid out at the ready for the climbers to choose from.

Food, drink, a comprehensive first aid kit and all non-personal climbing equipment had also been provided. The camp site itself had basic amenities, a large fire ring, a latrine well away from the sleeping area and a solar heated water tank avéc shower and sink to attend to personal hygiene with.

As Theran had by now set her rucksack down and was greeting the 4 other climbers who had already arrived.

Kiera's two apprentices would arrive in the early morning and so the master climber stretched her legs out and waited patiently for Theran to finally arrive at her location and when she did, quickly found herself pined by eyes as blue as a summer sky.

Forgetting herself for several long moments, Kiera finally smiled and spoke.

"Welcome Theran... As you can see, you are the only one from your first course's group who made it to this one; those four are from last year's first level course..."

Kiera allowed the warmth she felt towards the blonde woman to seep into her tone.

The master climber was not at all surprised to see Theran here so quickly, the blonde woman had what it took to be a climber in a league of her own and Kiera knew first hand, that it was a rare day where Theran was not working on her climbing one way or another.

Her lover had installed a simple climbing wall in her apartment in addition to a small workout area, had modified her life to fit around her climbing passion in every aspect and spent all of her free time climbing walls in various indoor locations and outside locations where almost any vertical surface was considered and attempted or added to a list for a future attempt.

Fighting the urge to take Theran into her arms and kiss her, Kiera rolled to her feet and stood, moving over to the fire ring where the other four students had gathered and sitting down once more.

"Welcome back everyone... We will spend ten days here, each day attempting a different climb and working on refinement of skills and technique. Tomorrow two of my students from several years ago will be joining us to assist me in my instruction. We will begin each day's climbing at 10 and finish when we are done... You are all experienced enough that I should not have to check any equipment or ask you if you need first aid. You know yourselves just what is riding on keeping yourself and your gear in good order. Tonight, I want you to prepare yourselves and your gear and your body and minds for tomorrow..." With those words, Kiera held the gaze of each student for a few long moments, before she once again stood and moved over to her sleeping area, leaving the 5 students to think over what she had said...

- Chapter Three -

Evening fell quickly with Theran and her fellow students carefully arranging possessions and bedrolls and climbing gear ready for tomorrow, eagerness and anticipation making all of them have singular focus on their task.

Theran had been aware that Kiera had disappeared from the camp soon after having made her welcome speech and once she was done, the blonde woman decided that she was going to search for her errant lover.

She confidently walked into the deepening darkness, having decided that Kiera was probably somewhere near the rather large boulder that was resting about 100 feet away from camp.

The rock seeming like a large marble tossed by some long ago giant and no doubt an irresistible temptation even to a climber such as Kiera Aigner.

As the blonde woman neared the boulder, she immediately caught a glimpse of something light in the deepening shadows.

Kiera had been wearing a light gray sweatshirt, so no doubt that was what she was seeing.

Theran stopped about 10 feet from the boulder, not wanting to disturb Kiera's concentration and was completely fascinated by what she was witnessing.

The dark haired master climbing could either see like a cat, or she was climbing by feel alone...

Stretched out in a marvelous display of her flexibility, Kiera was hooking her bare toes into the rock and levering herself upward like she was moving on a horizontal surface.

Theran never ceased to be amazed when she watched Kiera climb, the woman just possessed such mastery of her chosen world that one would have to be blind not to see it.

A few moments later, Kiera stood at the top of the boulder like some primitive goddess and looked out over the darkened land for a long moment before Theran saw her bend over, presumably to put her boots on.

The blond woman smiled, it was so typical of her lover, tossing her shoes on the top, thus forcing herself out of sheer necessity to conquer the rock. Theran also had an idea that Kiera had probably already climbed several sides of the rock in the time she had been away from the camp.

As Theran continued to move towards the large boulder, she heard a muted thump on the other side of it and deduced that Kiera had jumped off the stone at a lower point and so made her way around to meet her halfway.

Even in the almost darkness that had descended over the land, Theran thought that Kiera was one of the most striking people she had ever seen.

The dark haired woman's features spoke of an ancestry that was quite mixed, but favoring only the best genes and Kiera was quite a tall woman, her limbs and body muscle bound and the very picture of health.

Dark, almost black hair and eyes that were black as night completed the picture and that was just the physical side of things. Theran had more of an inkling now to how the master climber's mind worked and was still somewhat in awe, though Theran knew her lover was completely human and a warm and loving person to boot.

Theran opened her arms as Kiera rounded the rock right in front of her and the sable haired woman easily moved into the welcome embrace.

'Oh but this woman felt good, delicious, fantastic...' Theran mused as she felt arms as strong as steel bands close around her body and the two of them spend several long moments communing with eachother and the night.

Immediately, a flare of intense desire started in Theran's body, a sensation that she welcomed as it gave everything a delicious edge and made her anticipate the moment when she and Kiera would connect physically as only soul mates could.

Right now was not going to be that moment, but Theran did not mind, there was no lack of passion in their relationship and the blonde woman was sure that Kiera bottled her passions intentionally...

The thought sent a delicious shiver down the length of her body and she kissed the underside of the dark woman's jaw, realising not for the first time, that she had found a lover, a friend, a companion and a soul mate who seemed to be almost supernaturally compatible with herself.

"Come, we'd better get some sleep..." Kiera's smooth voice filled Theran's ears and made the blonde woman smile as she gave the much coveted and beautiful body of her lover one last squeeze and stepped away.

"Walk me to my door, Ms. Aigner?" Theran said playfully, catching a glimpse of Kiera's black eyes as they sparkled with an inner light, even in the almost complete darkness that surrounded them.

"But of course, Ms. Ryan..." With Kiera's words the two women made their way back to the camp and were soon settled into the almost silent night and sleep...

- Chapter Four -

The next day found Kiera and her little climbing troop on hiking to a nearby, well, rock. The protrusion stuck up from the ground as if some angry child had stomped it there in the fit of rage and simply left it.

The rock was approximately sixty feet tall and with a circumference that the whole group could almost encircle if they held eachother hands and stretched out and, most importantly, it offered a multitude of ascents.

Today's task was to attempt at least two of them, after which Kiera would put them through a specially designed workout routine and then have them collect a pile of rocks to bring to camp to practice grips on. Kiera Aigner was firm believer in the basics and in muscle memory and though her students might think it odd that they would sit around a fire and play with rocks, Kiera thought it would be a good thing for them to do.

The master had not seen her students from the previous year climb since the last time she saw them, so she wanted to evaluate them before moving onto the more demanding climbs that the rest of the course would comprise of. This rock would be a good introduction for everyone, though Kiera private thought that Theran would scale it without trouble.

Sticking her apprentices with her students, dividing them into 2 students, with 1 apprentice with a rotating student to receive personal attention from her, Kiera told everyone to get ready, that attempts would be done two at a time.

With that, the master climber carefully chalked her feet and slid them into her climbing shoes, securing them before slipping the end of a rope into her shorts. Then, after a long look at the rock, Kiera proceeded to ascend the rock, her movements sure, steady, slow, they ate up the distance and in what felt like moments, the master climber was standing on top of the rock.

"We need one more rope up here..." Kiera called down with a smile in her voice. She could easily ask one of her protege to bring it, but first she wanted to see if any of the students would volunteer.

A moment later, she saw Theran's blonde head move and then her lover was bending to tie on her shoes.

"Belay the rope carefully, no jerks at all!" Kiera called down to her apprentices as Theran chose a spot to start and then proceeded to move up the rock.

Now Kiera was leaning over the edge of the rock, hooking her feet into a fissure and monitoring Theran's progress, silent but ready to offer any advice or help should the blonde woman ask.

Slowly, carefully, but surely Theran inched her way up the rock, her hands and feet steady and as the blonde woman crossed the half way mark, Kiera's sharp eyes could see that she was breathing calmly and steadily, now past a height where a fall would probably be severely damaging or even fatal. Kiera moved away from the edge, not wanting to do anything to disturb Theran's concentration and knowing that any little thing could do it.

Theran was becoming a superb climber, but she had not yet learned to tune everything out, especially when something new was happening or she was attempting something she had not tried before.

Soon enough, Kiera saw the blonde woman pause and catch her breath, the entire ascent taking a kind of stamina that Theran would have to work for a good while longer.

Turning to tie off the rope she had brought up, Kiera waited for Theran to arrive... She would get her students to scramble up the rock and secure the ropes for the case that anyone would want to use them, but Kiera suspected that Theran's demonstration would insure that most, if not all of the students would at least attempt to free climb the rock.

Finally, a hand reached over the edge of the rock and Theran levered herself onto the top, sweat glistening in the bright sun and her face filled with delight.

Kiera thought that she would like to be somewhere else, or at least here with no one else around, as she suddenly wanted to make love with the blonde woman and the feeling was intense.

"Welcome!" Kiera said as she approached Theran on the tiny top of the rock and enveloped her into an embrace, kissing the side of the blonde woman's neck and inhaling her scent.

She felt Theran moan deep in her chest and knew that her lover was as moved as she was.

However, now was not the time, even if it was the correct moment and the right place...

- Chapter Five -

The day went smoothly, with Kiera being pleased with the performance of each climber and making notes for tomorrow's activities.

The master climber wanted to tailor the program to suit individual needs where possible and it was clear that even in the small number of students she had for this course, style and ability varied quite a bit.

Some climbers would never be able to mentally attain a level where they would take on a 400 foot climb with nothing except a chalk bag and shoes, other would become specialists in just that kind of climbing.

Kiera did not mind either way, but she did want to explore the potential and increase the confidence and technical perfection, not to mention the mental strengths of each of the climbers who passed her way.

Later, with the days activities concluded and solar showers taken and evening meal prepared and cleared up, the climbers sat in camp and talked, read from notes that Kiera had provided them with and kept their hands busy with a pile of rocks that had been hauled into camp.

Tomorrow would be a busy day and everyone was tired, so it was not long before silence descended once more and the sounds of sleep and of the night were the only things to interrupt it.

Or so it would appear anyway...

As soon as it seemed that everyone in the camp was asleep, Kiera sat up and slid out of her sleeping roll, her bare feet silent as she moved across the soft, cool sand to where she knew Theran's bedroll lay.

Sensitive eyes, easily picked out Theran's blonde hair even in the darkness of the moonless night and Kiera would tell that her lover was awake.

Smiling slightly, the dark haired climber arrived as quietly as a cat to Theran's side and lowered herself onto the bedroll that the blonde woman was sitting on.

Kiera heard the slight gasp as Theran was startled by her appearance, but the blonde woman's white teeth flashed in the night and she spoke in a whisper that was more of a vibration than anything else.

"Want to go for a walk?" The tone was clear, even though the words were almost silent.

Kiera stood up, reaching down to grasp Theran's hand and then the two of them tiptoed away into the night, their bare feet silent as they went...

- Chapter Six -

As dawn sneaked across the land the advancing sunlight caused Kiera to stir in her bedroll and as she did, she became aware of Theran still asleep at her side. The feeling, though becoming more familiar to the dark haired climber, was still such a novelty that Kiera forgot everything else as she looked down to examine the blonde woman's sleeping features.

For someone who had spent most of her life alone and pursuing solitary activities, Kiera was completely unused to the idea that there was someone in her life, was at once disturbing yet appealing.

In the past 4 months, Kiera had found that Theran not only accepted her need for space, but understood it, if not share the need herself.

At the same time, the dark haired climber felt cherished, loved and special...

The thought caused her to squeeze the blonde woman and that in turn caused Theran to come awake with a deep breath and a sleepy fluttering of indigo eyes.

As the blue orbs focused on her, Kiera felt like she was being burned by a blue flame, her body calling to mind the activities of the previous night where the two women had explored eachother for hours before finally falling asleep under the night sky.

Theran shifted her gaze to the sky and Kiera could see the hint of a smile come to her lovers features as she slowly disengaged from Kiera's arms and stood up, the sweats she wore slightly sleep rumpled.

"You're adorable..." Kiera heard herself say and privately wondered if she had been possessed, so unlike herself it was to say something like that.

A sweet smile was her reward, before Theran made her way to her own bedroll and then slid into it to catch a few more hours of sleep before they would actually need to get up.

Kiera smiled as she pulled herself free from her bedroll and carefully rolled it up for the day, her hands quickly finding sandals and chalk bag and climbing shoes before the master climber slid sunglasses onto her face and walked away from the campsite with a purpose in her steps.

Se wanted to do some private climbing before the duties of the day would place demands on her time.

In the third and final climbing course that she ran, Kiera was not adverse to showing the full range of her abilities, but it was still too early to show her students as it could just as easily dishearten them as it might inspire them.

After ten minutes of steady walking, Kiera arrived at a large boulder, its dimensions and angles geometrically mind boggling.

To reach the top, Kiera would need to attach herself to the underside of its rim, hanging on with less than a two feet of space under her as she would attempt to get to the more vertical surfaces of the boulder.

The distance from the ground would of course increase as distance was gained along the horizontal side of the boulder.

It was a boulder that only the most experienced climber could hope to conquer, dispute its less than imposing dimensions, having to traverse several yards upside down so close to the ground meant that strength and technical skill were in a premium...

- Chapter Seven -

The next few days went without a hitch and Theran found herself looking forward to what Kiera had planned for the remaining five days of the course. So far the master climber was simply steadily increasing the difficulty level of the climbs, seeming to choose climbs perfectly suited for each individual on the course.

During the evening and night, Kiera took them though workout routines, designed to increase balance and coordination and in particular, she concentrated on the muscles that extended the fingers.

This was something Theran found quite interesting, as all climbers had excellent flexor muscles, the muscles responsible for grips and fists.

The master climber had explained in great detail about the kinds of problems or injuries that a climber could become prone to, if all the muscles were not in balance, so she had set out demanding routines and distributed a unique piece of equipment, designed specifically to train the muscles responsible for splaying the hand out flat.

Told to use it in conjunction with whatever hand training methods they chose to utilize privately, the students found themselves with new respect for their already much respected teacher.

On the morning of the fifth day, Theran woke at dawn, this time feeling that she did not need to rest any longer and instinctively looked around for Kiera. Seeing that her lover's bedroll was empty and carefully rolled away for the day, the blonde woman immediately became curious as to where the dark haired woman was.

Quickly grabbing her climbing shoes and chalk bag, Theran walked over to Kiera's bedroll, hoping to determine which direction the master climber had gone in.

Clear footprints marked a direction and Theran allowed her mind to go blank as she followed them out of the camp area, the path that the other woman left was quite clearing the soft dusty ground.

Eventually, a likely destination became apparent; a large boulder in the middle of a completely flat piece of ground...

However, Theran could not see her lover anywhere so as she approached her steps were silent, just in case Kiera was doing something very demanding.

It was only when she was close to the rock, she saw exactly where her lover was and what she was doing and the site caused the blonde woman to stop in her tracks with mouth agape.

In just a few moments, Theran became aware of just how much she still had to learn...

- Chapter Eight -

Mentally shaking herself out of the shock she was in, Theran crouched down to get a better view of Kiera.

The dark haired master climber was hanging upside down under the belly of the rock, long hair brushing the dirt as she hugged the rock and made her way along it. From what Theran could see, Kiera was defying gravity and no doubt, gravity was severely pissed off.

Impossibly, Kiera made her way along the rock and as she moved from the horizontal to the semi-vertical, Theran saw muscles straining with the effort it took to maintain the position, fingers searching for purchase and legs splayed out, demonstrating the extreme flexibility and power of the master climber.

Then, quite suddenly Kiera was on her way up the rock, her movements confident, betraying nothing of the difficulty she had just undergone and then the master climber was on the top of the rock, sweat glistening off her tan skin as the morning light shone down on her.

Speechless, Theran moved closer to the rock, kneeling in the dry earth to examine the underside where Kiera had just been. There were some chalk smears, showing clearly where the master climber had touched and when Theran reached out to touch a location, she became aware that Kiera had been jamming her hands into fissures that were only deep enough to allow the first knuckle of Theran's fingers to fit in.

"Wow!" Theran mused aloud as she sensed her lover come up behind her, pleased at finally being able to recognise her perceptions of the other woman.

"I've had lots of practice, Theran... Don't be put off." The voice was quiet and on hearing it, Theran stood and looked up at her lover.

Untidy, almost black hair was pulled back from Kiera's beautiful face, framing her tan skin and night coloured eyes and for several long moments, Theran felt as though she was looking into eyes of someone much older than she knew Kiera to be.

The master climber seemed to embody something ancient and every so often, Theran caught glimpses of it and realised just how little she knew her lover...

"I am not put off, I want to try!" Theran heard her voice say and she was sure she saw a warm look cross Kiera's eyes before the other woman nodded.

"Ok, get your shoes on and crawl under there, I'll watch and give you pointers from here. I know the rock by heart..." Kiera's voice was warm and Theran was suddenly very pleased, realising that she was being allowed into one of the very private parts of her lover and mentor.

Carefully tying on her shoes, Theran made her way under the rock, seeming to feel its weight press down on her and wondering if she was dreaming the impossible as she heard Kiera's voice tell her that she could begin her attempt.

Focusing on the rock, the blonde woman flexed her hands and then jammed her fingertips into the shadows she only barely perceived, once her hands were in place, she raised a leg, pushing against an indentation in the underside, having realise that she would need to maintain tension at all times and when she shifted her grip and her feet that it would be hardest to do.

A moment later, Theran felt her body lift off the ground and then her muscles shifted, adjusting to holding her weight in such an awkward position.

Amazingly, she was able to hold on for several seconds before her foot slipped and she crashed down to the packed dirt.

"Try again..." Came Kiera's voice from somewhere outside of Theran's concentration and immediately, the blonde woman complied...

- Chapter Nine -

Over the next hour, Kiera watched as Theran determinedly tried and tried again to move upside down in the cramped space, each attempt causing the blonde woman to adjust her technique minutely and by the time the master climber called it quits for the day, Theran had actually managed to move her hands twice before falling off the rock.

Kiera was suitably impressed, the rock was demanding, even for her...

As the two women moved back to camp, Kiera mentally planned the day out, having decided to take it up a notch for each climber, which meant that had an hour long hike before they would reach the small canyon that she intended to use as a training ground today.

First, the students would have to repel down into it but Kiera had decided that no ropes were going to be used today for the actual climbs.

The walls of the canyon were angled slightly, so the rock appeared to reach out above the head of the climber. This would add an element of difficulty and the canyon offered several excellent climbs, from beginner to intermediate to advanced, so Kiera was confident that each climber would find something suitable.

With that thought in mind, Kiera smiled and turned to Theran.

"Kiss me..." The quiet request caused blue eyes to turn in her direction, their depths suddenly aflame with a desire that Kiera knew she had no resistance to.

A moment later, her lover wrapped her arms tightly around Kiera's body and they kissed in the sunlight, aware only of eachother and the moment itself.

Kiera felt the fire that was always ready in her belly, ignite and for a long moment, Kiera thought to resist it, but as Theran's body filled her body with heat as the sun warmed he skin, the master climber decided that she would not resist, not this time...

- Chapter Ten -

Theran could feel Kiera's hands on her body, pushing aside clothing, seeking her skin and then she felt her knees give out, relying only on her lovers strength to hold her up and thrilled that the dark haired woman was strong enough to do so with ease.

Kiera's intent was clear, as was the aching passion of her kiss and in a blink of time Theran ceased to think about anything else, eager to feel her lover's naked skin and uncaring of who or what might see them together, caring only for the dark haired woman herself.

Tearing her mouth away from Kiera's lips, Theran leaned against the warm body of the other woman and gasped, feeling molten lava pour its way through her body, threatening to start a fire that only Kiera could quench.

Looking around, Theran saw that they were actually standing amongst some dry grass, plants that had no doubt been waiting for the rains to come and would continue to wait for a good while longer.

Coming to a decision, Theran pulled her shirt over her head and dropped it to the ground, quickly adding Kiera's and soon they had a piled of clothes to lay down on.

The mingling of naked and hot flesh caused both women to moan outloud before their kisses became frantic with desire...

Theran was unable to stop herself from biting Kiera's broad shoulders as she felt her lover trail a strong hand down her body, aching for Kiera's touch.

Though Kiera's hands were calloused and slightly rough, they were warm and gentle and when Theran felt strong fingers stroke through her wetness she was lost once more, as she had been the first time she had set eyes on this woman and the first time they had made love, every time she set eyes on her, every time they made love...

As the morning sun rose higher, the two women celebrated eachother in the dry grass on chalk stained clothes, with eyes and hearts only for eachother...

- Chapter Eleven -

"Shit!" The exclamation exploded from Kiera as she started to run...

It was day 8 of the course and the group was working on setting ropes from the ground up, Kiera demanding perfect rock work from everyone and instilling in each of them the fact that in the end it was only them and their equipment that stood between being hurt or killed and making the top.

Reaching the rock face, Kiera kicked off her shoes and latched into it with bare feet, her muscles fueled by adrenaline and decades of constant training.

Moving quickly, she scaled the wall like she was walking on the ground, heedless of anyone who might be watching or who might see just how good she could be.

One of her students was dangling from his rope, his grip having failed and as she had watched, Kiera was sure the man had hit the rock with enough force to at least stun himself.

"Alan, get here and help me, Susan, to the top, with rope. The rest of you, get the first aid kit ready and be ready to receive!" Kiera's voice broached no argument as she made her way to the man, willing herself to remain calm, lest she start sweating too much and her grip become slippery.

Instantly following her orders, one of her protege started to make his way over to her while the other was climbing full tilt up the rock face to secure rope from the top.

Kiera did not spare any glances in their direction, her only concern being getting to the man who was injured.

She knew that her protege would be able to handle her demands and she could only hope that her students would remain calm for the duration.

Pushing aside memories of her brother and how he had been killed in a fall, despite anything she had done, Kiera finally reached the man, taking time to examine him, trying to see if he was merely stunned or knocked out.

Seeing that his eyes were open and he was breathing, Kiera spoke in a low voice.

"Don't move, at all, don't even talk... Not until we can secure you..." Kiera did not touch the man as she ascertained his condition from a careful visual inspection.

A few minutes later, Alan arrived on the man's other side.

"He seems ok..." Kiera said in a low voice as the two climbers clung to the rock face waiting.

Susan, who was one of Kiera's most experienced apprentices, had by now reached the top and Kiera could see the rope slowly being fed down the rock face, inching its way along with subtle movements designed to bring it as close as possible to the two climbers.

Long minutes later, Kiera and Alan secured the stunned climber and unclipped him from the rock face.

"You go up, I'll go down..." Kiera said quietly, receiving a wide eyed nod from Alan.

With that, Kiera started to pick her way down the rock, her movements sure and quick, each one calculated for maximum speed, but also maximum safety.

She had sent Alan up, knowing that the an did not have the needed skill to go down quickly enough, though he would be able to do it given all the time in the world.

As she touched down, Kiera spoke.

"Someone get me my shoes, three of you get ready to receive him, two of you ready with the first aid kit!" Kiera's tone was commanding and broached no argument, not that any would have been forthcoming in the first place...

- Chapter Twelve -

By the time the man had been lowered to the ground the whole group was much more relaxed, the initial shock and excitement of the situation having worn off.

Now, as they watched Kiera and her two apprentices look at the student who had been injured, Theran could almost feel the awe in the air.

All of them had witnessed Kiera climb the rock face like it was a walk in the park and then, what's more, they had seen her climb right back down again with equal ease.

Soon, the injured student was standing under his own power and Kiera instructed everyone to go back to camp, telling her two protege to run them through a work out routine and to give them a grip quiz before finishing the day.

Eventually only Theran remained, watching as Kiera sat down on the dusty ground and put her head into her hands...

Unable to hold herself back anymore, the blonde woman walked up to her lover quietly, sitting next to her and wrapping her arms around the much loved form.

"It's ok, Kiera..." Theran whispered into her lovers ear, feeling the tension in Kiera's form.

A moment later, she heard a sob and Kiera collapsed into her arms...

The tenderness that welled up in Theran caused an errant tear to escape from her eyes as the dark haired master climber shook both of their bodies with her silent sobs.

What felt like along time later, Theran felt strong arms disengage from around her and Kiera lifted her face to look at her.

The beautiful dark eyes, seemed to look right through her and for a long moment, Theran felt that Kiera was looking into her soul.

"We need to get the ropes..." Kiera finally said, her voice hoarse from tears.

Theran nodded, leaning forward to kiss her lover's tear stained lips before saying.

"Okay, just tell me what you want me to do..." Theran was hoping that Kiera would ask for help, but did not want to push it.

"You retrieve the rope he left attached to the wall, I'll get the one from the top. You have the skill Theran, just take it easy and take your time and most importantly, if you feel you can't, turn back in time, promise me ok?" Kiera's voice was stronger now, but it still wavered slightly as she spoke.

Theran smiled a soft smile and nodded slightly before rising to her feet and moving towards the wall, shoes and chalk bag in hand...

- Chapter Thirteen -

As she made her way carefully to the location where the man had been hanging, Theran could not help but be in awe of her lover's skill on the rock, Kiera had practically run up the rock and though intellectually Theran knew that it was not a difficult rock face, she also knew that one never took anything for granted in rock climbing.

So, in reality, Kiera's feat was awe inspiring...

As Theran carefully retrieved hardware and disengaged rope, she was oblivious to anything around her, so it was with a slight internalized shock that she looked up from her task and right into Kiera's night coloured eyes.

The other woman did not interfere with Theran's task, rather she shadowed the blonde woman on her journey downward and then, once they were at the bottom, the two women carefully collected the equipment and made their way back to camp.

The walk back was silent, each woman occupied in her own thoughts and as they arrived, Theran handed over the rope and bag of hardware she was carrying, before moving over to participate in the grips quiz that Susan was running.

Theran figured that she had already had quite a work out, though she made a note to work on her hand extenders later in the evening.

The atmosphere in the camp was somewhat subdued but cheerful and the student who had fallen seemed to be in good shape, just some bruising and scrapes to show for his ordeal as well as being a little stunned.

The evening progressed with the usual showers and dinner and then silence fell over the camp once more.

When all was still, Theran quietly rose from her bedroll and made her way over to Kiera's sleeping area, her footsteps silent as the night itself.

The blonde woman felt her heart clench in her chest, when she looked down at Kiera's star-lit face.

The woman was not asleep, that much Theran could tell, but her eyes were closed.

A moment later, Theran heard Kiera speak.

"Lie down..." The request was made in a half whisper and in a few moments, Theran had ensconced herself into Kiera's arms and bedroll and with a gentle kiss, Theran felt herself drift off to sleep with the sound of her lover's strong heartbeat in her ear.

- Chapter Fourteen -

The next two days passed quickly, with Kiera taking some extra time to reestablish confidence in the student who had fallen and by the end of the course, all the new graduates had been presented with signed certificates to the effect that they had been successful.

Each was also given an assessment, with Kiera's recommendations as to what in particular they should pay attention to and if they should aim for the third stage course available this year, or wait until next years course in order to gain more experience.

As they cleared up the camp and replenished the firewood, Theran reflected on the past ten days...

She felt as though she had progressed a great deal and she also felt that her relationship with Kiera had matured a little.

The master climber was still a mystery to the blonde woman, but Theran was nonetheless determined to unravel it, regardless of how long it took.

Theran paused in her packing to examine her evaluation once more, noting that Kiera had recommended that she attend the third level course in 4 months and that the list of specific things she should work on was quite detailed indeed.

Theran understood it as meaning that Kiera expected great things from her and the blonde woman was alternately pleased and intimidated by the prospect.

In any regard, she would follow through with whatever Kiera suggested, after all, it was clear that the master climber knew exactly what she was talking about, so who was Theran to dispute it.

Already mentally deciding to adjust her work schedule, maybe even take a Sabbatical from it, after all she was owed many months worth of vacation and sick leave, Theran walked the path back to her car, tossing her things into the back and sliding into the drivers seat.

There was no sign of Kiera, but then Theran knew that her lover was hardly predictable so with that thought she turned her key in the car's ignition, pleased that it caught and then after a deep breath backed out of the parking lot and started her journey home.

She hoped that she would see Kiera before the dark haired woman went off on her next climb, but Theran had accepted her lover as she was and loved her for the reasons that made the master climber so unique.

- Chapter Fifteen -

Much later on the same day that the course had ended, Kiera smoothly dismounted from her street bike, having gone home to shower and change.

Now she was standing outside of Theran's apartment building and looking up at the blonde woman's balcony.

The temptation to attempt to climb to it was strong, but Kiera resisted it for the time being, maybe later she would give Theran a little surprise and knock on her balcony door instead of her front door.

Quickly tapping in the door code to enter the building, Kiera bounded up the stairs to her lover's apartment, suddenly wanting more than anything to be with the blonde woman immediately.

Only a few minutes later she was standing outside of the heavy wooden door that separated Theran's private world from her pubic one and Kiera knocked smartly, resisting the urge to shift restlessly as she waited for the blonde woman to answer the door.

A few moments later, the door opened and Kiera found herself looking at the softly smiling face of Theran, the other woman's infinitely blue eyes shining even in the dimness.

"Come in..." Theran said in a low voice and Kiera felt her heart smile as she stepped through the doorway.

It was going to be a good night...

The End

Rock Hard!



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