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    1. #1
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      ...And Straight On 'Til Morning


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      The mottled blue-white sky of hyperspace streaked by at dizzying speeds. Jazz checked the chrono wrapped around her wrist. It was getting close to time to wake Dar up. She straightened up from her spineless slouch in the captain's chair and took a moment to look over the diagnostics and readouts. So far, so good. The backup hyperdrive was doing well. Despite it being much slower, they were still making good time.

      With a sigh she swiveled around and stood, fetching an empty cup on her way out of the control room. She made her way to the galley and dropped the container in the cleaning equipment. A moment later she headed to Dar's room and pushed the door chime, sending a pleasant and musical series of tones through the room.

      "Dar," she called gently, but loud enough to be heard in the area or so she hoped. "Naptime's over."

      They were headed for Klatooine still. There they could set down, repair, refuel, get some info, and get back into hyperspace. It was under Hutt control so they had some pull if they needed it. Or at least Dar claimed he had some pull he could access. She'd know in a few hours. But first... a nap. She was fighting off the exhaustion clawing at her as it was. She didn't feel it while up and moving, but when she was too still in mind, or in body... it would begin to encroach once more.

    2. #2
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      It was a good thing the bunk in Dar's room was set high enough to be able to sit up without smacking his head. As her voice cut through his rather disturbing dream, he heard her crying out for help. "WHAT!" He sat bolt upright at the sound of her call and had to bite his lip. She was fine, just on the other side of the door. Nothing bad was happening to her. He said it to himself a couple times before managing to find his own voice and calling back. "Yeah..."

      He got up and took three or four steps before tapping the control panel and opening the door. He was standing there clad in sweat pants and nothing else. Barefoot, shirtless and no tie drawing back the dreadlocks that toppled over his shoulders and halfway down his back. "We ready to make the jump?" He reached over to the chair by the door and grabbed a tank top. Pulling it over his head, he then stretched his arms so one was on either side of the door frame as he watched her. He was glad she was safe. Something in his dreams told him if she was ever in danger, a side of him he had managed to bury... wouldn't stay buried long.

      If she had been watching his face, he would see a look that seemed overly gentle a moment before a blink cleared his features and once more he was just 'Dar, the mechanic'.

    3. #3
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    4. #4
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      She caught the look. It was a dangerous one. Dangerous for her, magnified by the slight catch she felt in her core. She shook her head, then gave him a wry smile. The smile itself was lopsided and had stopped more than a few hearts, and was completely unconscious, unintentional. "No silly. I told you I'd wake you up when we were halfway to Klatooine." She poked him in the chest. "Gives me time to get about six hours sleep. We're past the halfway point."

      The pink-skinned woman paused, shifting he weight as she lapsed into silence but awkwardly didn't seem to want to move away or head somewhere else. Finally she came to something and spit out what troubled her mind. "I'm sorry if I startled you awake. I didn't mean to ..." she trailed off, wobbling her hand side to side.

    5. #5
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      As the young pixie before him tapped his chest, Dar smiled and dropped his arms. "Well then... I guess it's time you tuck you in for a bit, huh?" He took a couple steps and grabbed his jacket off the top bunk where he'd tossed it. Shrugging it on, he turned back to her and smiled. "Go on... off to your bunk. I'll take us to Klat. Go get some rest."

      He walked back up and stood in his doorway. He wasn't going to push her back, but she wasn't moving. It didn't occur to him that being half dressed, stretched across the doorway, and smiling at her had been so disruptive to her composure.

      As she apologized for startling him, he curled up the corner of his lip and shrugged it off. "Nothing to be sorry about... don't even remember what I was dreaming," he lied. Before she could call him on it, he tugged up the zipper of the jacket and nodded towards the other room. "Off to bed with you before I toss you in it." He wriggled his eyebrows teasing. He wouldn't touch her without her making the first move. The question was... did she know that?

    6. #6
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      She shook her head backing up a little. "You can certainly try," she said with a grin, then tilted her head, looking up at him for a moment. She picked up a whirlwind of turmoil, brief, like flashes of color splashed over him. Deception, worry, amusement, desire again, with teasing or flirting. Hard to tell with those in play. They were close cousins emotionally. Some consternation came though, along with a spark of interest and hope, followed by.. .. reservation.

      It was interesting feeling it, seeing it in his gestures, hearing it in his tone. It came through so fast it would have been dizzying. Overall though he seemed to be mostly mellow with a little worry. Some about the job, some... about her. And a strong protective drive under it. The smaller flashes were like micro-expressions, and something she only picked up in close proximity and with growing familiarity. She was getting to know him, she realized. That's interesting.

      The desire to protect caused her to relax, noticeably slow as her shoulders dropped. The cat and mouse game proved to be fun so far. She found herself enjoying it a bit more now. As they headed for the forward section of the ship she mused on this, unable to keep a playful sway to her hips as she walked. Finally she stopped at the entry to her cabin and turned to regard him with such innocence it couldn't be believed. "You... you don't want to tuck me in," she asked sweetly.

    7. #7
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      He laughed and held a hand out for her to preceed him towards her room. "As you say..." was all he countered.

      It was a good thing her back was to him because his eyes strayed to her hips. The catlike grace, he knew, was being exaggerated for him. But he also knew that it was an easy thing for her because under those clothes was the body of a lithe creature capable of everything the teasing suggested.

      As she reached her room and the door opened, she turned to him and asked him in that voice that most women got when they were testing a man. Baiting him to see if he would lunge or retreat. He chose to retreat. With her sweet invitation to tuck her in, he shook his head and smiled as he leaned down and kissed her on her forehead just as her hairline. "Nope...." He then turned without another word and began whistling an absent tune as he headed for the kitchen to make a snack before his turn at the helm. His bare feet silent as a mouse as he moved away from her.

    8. #8
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      The kiss to her forehead was almost fatherly but there was no way she could imagine there was anything like that in the gesture. But something else. At the same time she wanted to close her eyes and lean into that closeness, contact, comfort. It bordered on desperation, something she was starved for. It was a kind of closeness and intimacy that had nothing to do with sex, but everything to do with the right kind of person. At that desire, an image of the top gunwale of the Horizon popped in front of her mind's eye for a split instant. Her standing at the ladder, looking up where the ruined emplacement was, the brown and crimson stains on the wall. The stench of ozone, smoke, and cooked meat. It was there and gone in less than the blink of an eye, but it acted like a glass of cold water dumped down her shirt.

      Finally she sighed, and stepped back. "Too bad," she said. Whether it was to him, or to herself one would have had a difficult time telling. One hand keyed the door shut. It sealed, and she turned around to lean back against the door with a slight thump. She tried to smile, enjoy the moment, but ... she could feel the ragged hole inside where He had been. Most of the time it had gone numb but that had been like dragging steel wool across an open bit of road rash.

      She blinked a few times as her eyes started to water, before wiping at them a little in irritation. Finally she made her way over to the nightstand and pulled out a bottle of Corellian whiskey and took a long drink from, then slapped the cap back on. One delicate hand wiped at the corner of her mouth then dropped, leaving her standing there... adrift and alone in her own high tech cave hurling across the cosmos, inside an alternate dimension.

      Finally she sighed and stripped to just her undies and kicked back the covers on her bed, and was unconscious before she made the second bounce.

    9. #9
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      Oddly enough, several years away, another back had just landed against the wall. Dar took a ragged breath and slowly exhaled. Had she been serious? Her departed weird, half whispered, had still been heard. Had they been for him?

      "You're an idiot, Dar.." he sighed, shaking his head and moving to the cabinets. He found a half full bottle of whiskey and took a long slug if it. Coughing once, the back of his hand silencing it, he shook his head. "Gotta stay up, boyo..."

      He put the cap back on the bottle and turned to make his snack as his mind played her over and over in his mind... Her hips swaying... The smell of her hair... The taste of skin...

      ***
      A few hour later, dishes done, kitchen cleaned, cockpit back to rights from the mess of six hours of boredom, Day cycled them down it off hyper drive and back to cruising speed. They were about an hour or so from the planet and he wanted to wake her to see if she had a particular plan.

      He finished sending a message to an old engineering busy about a special request then got up and headed for her room to wake her.

      He stood outside her for a moment before knocking, his hand resting flat on it as if by she will power he could see, hear or sense her in there. He had no Force abilities he was aware of, but his friend had been a Jedi and had tested him often. He took one of those lessons and tried again. His mind tried to picture her in her T-shirt, laying in bed. He thought her name and willed her to wake up for him.

      It was silly, he thought... It never works.

    10. #10
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    11. #11
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      Jazz's eyes popped open. The last twenty-four hours since leaving Drifter's Paradise kept her up. Finally getting some rack time left her in a deep sleep. With a groan she shifted on her bed a little. The woman had hardly moved since passing out face down. She'd moved enough to have turned her face toward the door.

      One hand reached for the spare holdout blaster under her pillow. Finding the cool metal of the grip gave her some reassurance as she listened. Something woke her up. It took her a moment to realize the backup drive wasn't thrumming. They were in realspace again.

      More than that, there was a feeling in her gut. Not that she could immediately put a finger on, before realizing it. She could feel a presence close by. Quiet. Like that feeling of someone coming up behind you, even though you couldn't see it, like a shadow or shape of a shadow. Only it was there on the other side of the door. It felt... warm. Big, masculine. Immediately she was put in mind of Dar.

      A tingle of worry went through her. Why had he stopped? Why did he not follow her request? If they were parked between systems did he have something else in mind? Was he going to try to do something? Was he trying to circumvent her security lock on the door?

      Her mind whirled about, but then one of the first lessons in Zeltron education, first day of school, came to mind. When the teachers wind up manipulating the emotional state of their new students. It was a lesson designed to teach them one thing - Do not be lead around by your emotions. You control them and you're in charge of them.

      She took a deep breath, holding it for a moment, then let it out, and let that rising anxiety go. So far Dar hadn't done anything that would warrant something untoward. Hell, if what he'd broadcasted emotionally around her, she was sure he'd probably take a blaster bolt for her. But what if he feels I owe him something? It was a little niggling thought that floated through. She quickly silenced it as well. Enough!

      Rolling off the bed, she landed on her feet lightly a trio of seconds after waking. As a smuggler, and one who spent a lot of time in situations where she had to be ready to go at a moment's notice, she was fully alert most of the time the moment she woke. With one hand she grabbed a gray sleeveless top and began pulling it on. She padded over to the door and keyed it to open part way. The weapon in hand was just out of sight, off to her right. Jazz reached up with her left hand, and ran her fingers through her hair, pulling it out of her face. "What," she demanded, the word sounding a little sharper than she intended. Maybe she was still a little on edge.

      Clearing her throat, she shook her head, trying again. "What's going on? Why are we stopped," she said more gently, casting her eyes around behind Dar for a moment.

    12. #12
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      Sleep tussled and probably holding a knife in her hand out of sure, Dar was pretty sure that she was the most fascinating creature in the Galaxy he had ever encountered. As she scanned behind him for trouble, he shook his head. "Nothing's wrong, my little spitfire." He grinned a moment. "I just figured a moment to catch your breath and beating may be in order. So we're about a half hour out at regular speed. Wasn't sure if you had a favorite port or location in mind."

      He leaned on the wall right his right arm as he looked slightly down at her. The gaze he gave anything but menacing. At the very least, it was teasingly sultry. "Captain says she wants to take her in, who am I to argue?"

      That smile was all for her. He wanted nothing more than to kiss that furrowed brow... Then her lips... Then...

      He straightened up to pull himself away and flourished a gallant bow. "Would the Lady like some caff brought to the bridge for her?" He was definitely teasing now.

    13. #13
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      She stuffed the holdout pistol into the waistband of her pants, except she only had on a thong. Her reach was aimed for the small of her back, but realized the thin band of cloth would never hold the weight, delicate as it was. And the metal would have been cold against he warm skin. She saw the gaze wander, and could feel the color of his thoughts and felt her own face flush with heat to the tips of her ears. The emotional cocktail from him hit her like a wave strong enough she could almost pull imagery from it.

      It wouldn't have been the first time she'd been caught out her sleepwear. She hadn't thought about it as she'd responded to a potential emergency. Modesty was only the barest of concern then. But at the same time, she knew she was an attractive young woman. Enough people told her so even if they never said it out loud. It was in the way they reacted. She knew Dar felt the same, if not earlier... then now for sure. His desires were clear as a bell, and while that was tempting, the first day of school every Zeltron learns not to be lead around by their emotions and desires. .... even if the idea of holing up in her room with him sounded like heaven. It would probably be temporary.

      Instead she took it as high praise. She could have felt self-conscious, and she did a little, but this was her ship. Her home. She wouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable in it. More than that, she enjoyed the attention and she knew it. Modesty wasn't something high on her list of priorities anyway. A body was a body, even a nice one. She was pretty sure he'd seen plenty of them in his time, as had she. So she mentally waved it off.

      "I need to grab a shower and stuff," she mused, and gave a stretch with a groan, making the tail end of her shirt rise up over her midriff a bit, before falling back in place. The stretch felt amazing, and helped ground her into her body a little more. And perhaps it was a subconscious, and subtle little tease. "But no, no preferences. This is your stop. Caff sounds good." Among other things.

      Standing there in that level of attire it was easy to see she was still very much in her prime, fit and toned, with the musculature of a gymnast or martial artist, well rounded muscled legs but not over-built, with a thin layer of fat to power her body without slowing her down. Excellent shape for a spacer, but probably not for someone who made it a career to avoid trouble, and be ready for trouble when it came.

    14. #14
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      Her body was exactly the reason he had backed off. Leaning on the door frame had brought him close enough to smell her. And with barely any clothes on, the scent of her was intoxicating enough to make him swear off booze... almost. Perhaps if he tasted her...

      When her hand went to the small of her back, he smiled. He couldn't help the comment that slipped his lips. "My guess is that won't work..." As she made the mental connection at the same time, he smiled. "Grab your shower, spitfire... I'll go make some caff. And while I may be the one to hit the brakes, she's your baby. You decide her fate." He nodded to her and moved to the kitchenette. The words were double sided. He wanted her as much as he guessed she wanted him. But when, or rather if, they ever did fall together, he wanted it to be because she truly wanted him. Not half hazed from whatever dreams she had had or how dressed or undressed they were.

      As she stretched, he turned away. Any higher and his reactions wouldn't be contained. He knew from her look that it hadn't been on purpose. And if it had been, she would have to learn that subtlety didn't work on him. He knew well enough that lots of times, flirting was just a way to take the edge off. He wouldn't take advantage of that.

      His back to her, he did allow a small swagger to his step as, once more, his absent whistling filled the small confines.

    15. #15
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      She frowned a little as he turned to go but then shrugged it off. Her eyes lingered maybe a second longer than necessary before she thumbed the door shut and tossed her backup weapon on the bed. What the hell are you doing, Jazz? Shaking her head at herself she peeled out of what little she had on and padded to her refresher station.

      A quick moderately hot shower with the greywater from the ship left her reasonably refreshed, the room filled with steam. She had a sonic shower which she used sometimes, but the feeling of water running over her body , over her skin was too luxurious to ignore. The sonic shower had it's perks, but so did a traditional one. And then maybe there was the idea of both? She shook her head, and headed back to quarters.

      There she quickly dressed in a calf-high set of boots, off white pants a midtoned vibrant purple tank top that clung to her, then pulled on her jacket. She grabbed her gunbelt putting it on, leaving it at it's a rakish and canted angle. She added her holdout pistol and a vibro-shiv to theensemble, then her identistick and cred sticks. A hair band went around each wrist, along with her comlink and a tunneler. The only thing to make her more ready for trouble would be an autocarbine and combat armor, some grenades, and maybe some more hired muscle. Didn't make for easy walking around or concealment. The idea was to be ready without making waves, attracting the wrong kind of attention.

      She added a little bit of makeup. Eyeliner and a little bit of color to set off her features. A faint mist of perfume, a little thing she'd left home with and renewed now and then when she was getting low. It was soft, and a mix of floral and tropical, but without knocking anyone down from three meters. Something more ... intimate. They had to be close to pick it up. It also mixed well with her natural pheromones.

      With that she palmed the door open and headed for the bridge, letting her damp hair dry in the air. She'd give it a pass with a brush shortly to straighten out the volume it would take on. Almost immediately the scent of freshly brewed caff warred with the soft bodywash and perfume scents wafting off of her in a heady contrast that reminded her of mornings in general.

      Instead of checking the kitchen though, she headed for the cockpit, and made her way in casting her gaze about as they floated in the black. Even with a hard burn from the engines, they were moving at imperceptible speeds.

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