Role Playing Related Fiction by The Company of Strangers  
   
 

The Mess On A New Ship:

It is late at night and Myrani is having a hard time sleeping. She dresses herself in a comfortable, flowing robe of wine colored silk and slips on a pair of soft trousers with slippers. Rather than tying her hair back as she usually does, she simply brushes it and leaves it in a long loose curtain. Her usual fringed scarf is tied about her forehead. It isn't as if she's going to meet many people in the halls at this time of night/morning. And if she does, they will make no comment on her appearance if they know what is good for them. But nor does she wish to alarm anyone ... and very few have ever met any of her people before.

Her new quarters are luxurious compared to her quarters aboard the Osprey's Shadow... but then, she'd thought *those* quarters luxurious when first she'd arrived. Her inability to sleep has nothing to do with her surroundings. Certainly, Hashik has done well by his crew. She's never seen such a well-equipped med lab - with the exception of that torture bed that was removed as quickly as she could manage to have it removed. And if she has pangs of loss from missing the previous ship... well. That's her own silly fault. She didn't know that ship nearly as well as Wumdi or Hashik or Jiljoo and they all seemed fine with the move from what she could tell. Maybe it's only certain places on the ship that she misses ... Ahem. But that too, is her own silly fault.

And as if she conjured him out of her thoughts, she turns a corner towards the mess hall and sees Hashik - or rather, his life force - and it is unmistakable as anyone else's - through a layer or two of the ship's walls, settled at a table with a cup of something that seems to be steaming. Well. She'd wanted to talk to him. Considering no one else seems to be around, now would be the opportune time.

She takes a deep breath and lets it out softly. Then she walks, stepping softly down the halls until she comes to the entrance of the mess hall. Once there, she quietly makes her way towards him until she can sit down across from him, hopefully without causing him any alarm.

"Good morning," she says, her voice low and gentle. There is no one else in the mess hall at this time of the day - it being well into the early morning when most are either on their shift or asleep. "I couldn't sleep. It seemed the perfect time to take advantage of this new mess hall arrangement... What is it you're drinking?"

There is more to say, obviously. Far more. But one doesn't rush these things. Care must be taken ...

*~*~*~*~*

Hashik sat in the new mess area on the new ship. Everything about the ship was battered and worn from the recent action against Lorganís pirates; yet. Everything was also new as well. Hashik sighed. Heíd miss the Ospreyís Shadow. It had been with him for many years now and it was almost a part of him but Lorgan would be a good master to her. And who knew? maybe Hashik would win her back again in another Pazac game. A wry smile creased his lips as he remembered how the shape had exchanged hands that time, and how he had passed off the absence of the ship to Wumdi with the lame excuse that it needed in-depth repair and maintenance, and I thought Iíd give you a vacation.

He sipped the cup of Bothan Tea, its bitter taste making him wince briefly. ĎStill,í he thought to himself, ĎI see a lot of potential in this ship. Now whatever am I going to name her?í Perhaps he could poll the crew for their ideas in that area.

Changes. Drama. His life seemed to have no shortage of either lately. And running into Seria with Lorganís crew, THAT was a bit of a surprise. It wasnít surprising that his ex-wife end up commanding a small ship in Lorganís crews. She was, after all, almost as good a pilot as Lorgan was. But it was surprising that she greet him with a slap in the face and a big kiss when the met in the cantina.

A small flush ran through his face as he remembered it. It wasnít that the kiss stirred any passion in him. Their brief teenage marriage had been one primarily of convenience. More for her than him - but even at seventeen he wasnít one to turn down a good opportunity. And marriage to a seventeen-year-old Seria did have its good points. Hashik smiled at some of those remembrances. But that relationship ended, not really on a sour note - just ended, when they went their separate ways after a year or so. Seria went her way and Hashik joined the Republic navy. True, they had worked together from time to time ever since they had crossed paths as freighter pilots shortly after Hashik took command of the Ospreyís Shadow. And some of those occurrences had led to a more physical form of reminiscing, but they always parted as friends and nothing more. Well, friends 'with benefits' he guessed was the best way to put their relationship now. And even that may have changed, as she didnít seem too pleased that the last time theyíd worked together Seria had ended up, through unlucky happenstance, to be caught with smuggled goods and Hashik hadnít been around to bail her out. He was just somehow luckier than she was. He giggled to himself a bit when he thought back on how he had asked his friend Lorgan to get her out of the mess she was in, but had asked that he wait a few days before he did. Hashik guessed sheíd been working with Lorgan ever since.

No, what caused the flush was ruminating about how Myrani, the lovely Miralukan healer, had handled the situation. Myrani was now his current lover, although he was hard pressed at times to know whether they were or were not speaking. Currently they were not. Hashik sighed and sipped his tea. He could see how she had been upset at what had happened months ago at the K&N launch party. He being affected by that female alienís pheromones and enjoying a rapturous half hour in his private room, and Myrani discovering the tryst when she came looking for him. He could see how she might be upset over that. Hashik still didnít think it was his fault as he had been affected by the pheromones after all, but he was willing to concede the point as Myrani hadnít known about that aspect at first.

But her reaction to Seria kissing him and then learning that she, at one time, had been married to Hashik just baffled him. Hashik didnítí see what she had to be upset about. In fact, he was the one who was upset this time, as it seemed Myrani had gotten angry over nothing, as Seria was just a friend.

Hashik sipped his tea again and wrinkled his face at the bitterness. Putting the cup down on the table, he went back to looking over a series of repair manifests and shipís specifications, dragging his hand through his shaggy unruly mane of red hair. One thing was for sure, this new ship would take his mind off his current women problems and all the other little drama that had unfolded in his life of late.

He was just going over the status of the various crew stations when Myrani entered the mess hall. She eased her way effortlessly into the chair opposite him and said, "Good morning. I couldnít sleep. It seemed the perfect time to take advantage of this new mess hall arrangement... What is it youíre drinking?"

Hashik waved his hand at the carafe beside him. "Bothan tea. I developed a taste for it when the Osprey was working a supply run to Bothawui back in my navy days. I must warn you that some find it excessively bitter." He passed her a mug and sat back. "Trouble sleeping? Is there some troubling news? Your family? A disturbance in the Force?"

*~*~*~*~*

Myrani accepts the mug... but merely watches its outline as she brushes long fingers over the cool ceramic. Does she need any more bitter tastes in her mouth? No. Not really. In a moment, she'll get up and get something less exotic. Maybe. That will depend on how things go here, now won't it.

"New ship," she says softly. "I suppose I foolishly miss the old one. The quarters are lovely here. I couldn't ask for a better equipped med lab ... but I still miss the Shadow." She sighs. "Silly, hmm?"

There is a short silence as she continues to observe the mug. When she speaks again, her voice is soft.

"And I owe you an apology."

There. She'd said it. Not *quite* what had kept her up in the first place, but definitely what she'd been dwelling upon since being unable to get back to sleep.

She lets out a quiet breath and tries to explain... hopefully without making things worse. That seems to be the way of things between the two of them.

"At first, I was ... well. It felt like that woman at the launch party all over again. We'd spoken about that. I knew it wasn't your fault. Seeing you with a wife you'd never mentioned - and you didn't mention her as your *ex*-wife at all... And then realizing you never came back to the ship that night ... well." She can still remember how it felt. The tunnel vision. The feeling that something she'd thought was good and right was just ... slipping through her fingers. She hadn't been able to sleep very well that night either, if she recalls correctly.

"When you explained..." She pauses, nibbling on the fullness of her lower lip as she tries to put this feeling into words. How strange it is to try and describe it. Rather like someone trying to describe color to her, she suspects. "Some part of me understood. But I was hurt and angry... and that hurt and anger had no place to go." She lifts her head so that she might sense the expression on his face. "I am not a Jedi, Hashik. I have no schooling in the controlling of my emotions as they do. I am far from perfect. And this is nothing I've experienced before. I've led a fairly... settled life up until meeting you and the rest of the crew. I am ... not in my element at all."

She once more lowers her head to regard the mug, a slender forefinger tracing over its handle. On any other, it would be an act of seduction, perhaps, the slow tracing of that finger. With her, it is something of a nervous tick.

"Maybe I should use my telepathy more often. It seems likely you had no idea you were doing anything to upset me." She sighs a little, the very slightest quirk of a smile tilting one corner of her lips. He is charming, walking through life with a blithe acceptance that she has always found difficult herself. That is likely what attracted her to him in the first place. But she must accept that the very same thing she was attracted to, is likely also responsible for his not thinking about how certain things will be taken by those on the outside looking in. And she is most definitely on the outside. Is that his fault? No. Likely not.

"But I use it only in the gravest of emergencies. It seems rude to me to use it otherwise." She shakes her head slowly, dark hair sliding against her shoulders. An almost rueful motion. "I am sorry. I know you have more than enough to worry about. I did not mean to lash out. It just ... happened. And I apologize for it."

*~*~*~*~*

Hashik listened as Myrani suddenly came out with a halting speech. She was so sexy when she bit her lower lip like that; something she normally only did during... Mmmmmm.

He could tell from her obvious discomfort that it wasnít so much a rehearsed speech as one that suddenly formed in a tumble of words. He felt that it was only due to her subdued and quiet nature that the words didnít come out faster and faster as she continued to talk.

He watched as her hand lingeringly traced idle circles on the mug in front of her on the table. He caught the way her hair, uncharacteristically worn down, softly caressed her shoulders even as his own hands had done in the past.

Why did she attract him? He wondered at that. Although he had first keyed in on her physical attractiveness, she wasnít really his type. But he had gained a fondness for her as the time they spent together wore on.

This was also the first time she had mentioned that her peopleís tradition in using the Force was different from that of the Jedi. Thinking back on it, it had been evident that she didnít seem bound by the same strict code that drove Quinlan and Castin. But this was the first time sheíd actually mentioned it casually as part of her personal make-up, her being.

He raised his cup, and then just as slowly lowered it again to the table. He looked at her across from him, canting his head slightly to the side. A weathered hand brushed through his mop of hair again, his unconscious habit. He decided to tackle the easy question first. "Use your telepathy more? Uh, I think youíre right when you say that it could be considered rude. Thatís probably not a good thing, no." He took a sip of his tea. Having Myrani, or anyone else for that matter, peek into his thoughts on a regular basis unannounced felt extremely unsettling to him. ĎI donít know why,í he thought to himself. ĎI havenít had any larcenous dealings lately. Well ... not too larcenous. And as for women, she is it. Currently. I mean, there was that flirtatious cantina girl back on Onduran. But that was just a flirting thing on her part. Of course, if I hadnít been with Myrani ... well, the girl was pretty. And what a smile! Waitaminute... what if Myrani is using her telepathy right now?í Hashik quickly took another sip of his tea, spilling some on his lower lip.

Clearing his throat, he said, "As for the other, well, I didnít mention my once being married because it was so long ago. It seems as if it was almost in a different life." He paused. "Iím sorry too. I didnít realize that you werenít ... I donít know ... experienced in these matters?" He fidgeted with some paperwork on the table. He was never any good at these kinds of talks and felt that it would probably result in his putting his foot in his mouth if he wasnít careful. "I ... uh ... You see ... um ..."

He really felt that Myrani was special. Hell, if she hadnít been then that bargirl on Onduran would have been easy to say yes to. But was he getting too tied down to her? What was her take on their relationship? It had started out as just fun. An enjoyable way to pass the time. But it seemed to have grown into something else. Why was he so protective over her? And why over JilJoo? In the old days, he would have been the first one to try and seduce her into the sack. But Myrani seemed to have affected him somehow. And her mood right now. Contrite. A little scared. Definitely nervous in a tentative manner. Was she falling in love with him?

More importantly, was he falling in love with her?

*~*~*~*~*

Valid questions. That she's not hearing because she's not using her telepathy. Nope. She takes his first words to heart and nods. "I would not do that to you, Hashik. Nor anyone on this ship. Our thoughts are private. I will not take anything you do not wish to give." The words are soft, but they are heartfelt. It's clear she means what she says. That violating such a trust - with someone she cares about, especially, goes against everything she has ever been taught to believe in. So he should have no worries on that account.

She nods slowly when he speaks of his marriage. She can understand that. Now. With a cooler head. It isn't as if she's told him about all her old boyfriends. Not that there were ever many of them. Her training had always been her highest priority on her home planet. Study and attending classes and doing her research had always taken up the majority of her time. When she'd had affairs, they'd been brief, perhaps explosive, but never lasting. And they'd always been with other med techs. For some reason, the combination hadn't worked very well in the longer term. A brief flare while both of them got momentarily distracted from their work ... then back to what they'd been doing almost as if nothing had ever happened, both too consumed in themselves to recognize the importance of what the other was doing. When it happened for the second time, Myrani had sworn she'd never get involved with anyone she worked with ever again.

Why, then, had she gotten involved with Hashik? A heat of the moment decision, really. She'd been lonely. On a strange planet with strange people she didn't understand. Her first time away from home. Perhaps, in a vain, woman's way, it had appealed to her that the charismatic captain chose her over the far more obviously seductive JilJoo. Certainly, JilJoo had the *rest* of the ship's compliment panting after her. Not that such a thing shouldn't be the case. The girl really was lovely. And far more adventurous than she herself, when it came right down to it. A fact that often made Myrani worry for the Twilik's safety - the conclusion of their latest mission, aside.

The motion of Hashik's thick fingers moving through his rumpled hair brings the hint of a smile to her rosy lips. She should stop asking herself "why". That nervous and yet endeearing motion, right there, is a partial reason why. There are many others. No relationship is perfect. She will simply accept. And see where it goes from there.

"No..." she says softly. "I could count the amount of intimate relationships I've had on one hand. Actually, only *part* of one hand." Another slow, rueful shake of her head follows. It's true that this started out as a diversion. A bit of fun for them both. What has it become? And what is it becoming? She has no answers to such questions. For now, she will allow herself to be relieved that all has been explained. That they're talking again... His stuttering has her tilting her head though. She waits for him to finish, allowing him to take his time getting the words out.

*~*~*~*~*

Hashik drew a breath and tried to compose himself. "I see. Well." He took a sip of his tea. "This is sort of new for me as well. Iíve had a few paramours in my time, but what with travelling about the galaxy shipping things from here to there and back again, it never really left any time for a long-term relationship. I wouldnít say I had a girl in every port of call ... but there are more than a few ports of call where I have... (*cough*) had a girl."

He swigged his tea again to clear his throat, the briefest of misty smiles passing across his face as he recalled a certain Zabrak woman he had spent some time with on one of his many visits to Hutt space. Ah, there was a fine -

Bringing himself back to the matter at hand he put his cup back down and continued, "Look, I donít really know where ... Ďusí ... is going, or where itís going to end up, or even if there IS an Ďusí," with a sigh. "A lot of that depends on you. I do know a couple of things though. One is that I have come to care for you more than is usual for me. I find concern for your safety and for your opinion of me creeping into my consciousness from time to time." He looked her in the eyes. "Donít get me wrong. Iíve led a, shall we say, Ďcolourfulí life. Some might even say exciting ... although our recent adventures show a distinct more excitement than even Iím used to."

He reached across the table and gently grasped her hand, the familiar warmth bringing a brief smile to his face and warmth somewhere considerably further from his face as his fingers unconsciously began to trace small patterns on her palm. "I guess you could say that I am a scoundrel. I canít promise you much - if anything. Iím not even sure of my own feelings right now. About the only thing that I can promise you is that life may be ... interesting ... as we go along. It certainly wonít be dull."

He looked into her eyes and smiled a bright cockeyed toothy grin. "So... would you like a little roguish excitement in your life while we try and sort this out?"

*~*~*~*~*

She has to smile as she watches his face. She doesn't need telepathy to know from that look as he explains about his many ports, that he is remembering some wild times. Nothing wrong with that. He's a red-blooded male (not all in the galaxy are, of course), and such things are natural.

Her hand returns the gentle squeeze of his and she watches those twined fingers for a short time before replying. When she speaks, the words are barely above a whisper. "I do not know when it happened, really. But I do know that I worry for your safety too. The idea of you being tortured aboard that Sith ship..." She nibbles on her lip again. She tends to do that when she's considering what to say. Outside of a more intimate setting, that is. "I ... I knew you were in pain, Hashik. I do not know how I knew it ... Nor is it something I have ever felt before." And remembering that time brings to mind the time shortly afterwards, when she touched his mind with hers ... and some of the thoughts that had been reeling around in there. A soft flush touches her pale cheeks. She hadn't meant to hear them. She'd only meant to communicate with him. To let him know they were on their way ... But it had certainly been very pleasant to know that her voice soothed him. Especially in the midst of such pain...

"I care," she continues softly, still looking at those joined fingers. "I do not know the extent of it. I hardly expect you to know. Where it goes from here ... well. I suppose only time will tell."

And as he looks into her face - for there is only fringed scarf to meet him in the place where eyes would be, she too, smiles. "I think that roguish excitement is what I most appreciate about you, Captain," she murmurs. When she calls him "Captain", there is almost a playful purr in her voice.

This too, is a side of her that few others have ever seen.

*~*~*~*~*

Hashikís smile broadened, almost into a small leer. "Well then ĎDoctor,í with all the excitement weíve had over the last little while perhaps you could pull me away from this tedious paperwork and give me a check-up. I think I may have pulled a muscle in that fall I took when I crashed my swoop bike." He looked down at the mess of papers strewn around, then back up at Myrani and cocked an eyebrow. "Interested?"

*~*~*~*~*

All thoughts of *tea* go out of her head when he makes that suggestion. Her smile warms considerably. Just mention of that swoop bike incident makes her want him all the more - if only to keep him *safe* for a time. It was a crazy stunt. And all the more courageous for all of that.

She offers another squeeze of his hand and rises from the table, moving closer to him. There is the faintest scent of cinnamon upon her person. "I think a check-up could be arranged...", she whispers, her lips very near his chin. "Though ... the med lab is still being worked on. My quarters will suffice if you will follow me?" There is the barest of pauses before she touches a tender, feather-soft kiss to his rough chin. "I've missed you..." she whispers. Only that. No more is needed.

After another instant, she drops his hand, backing away so that she can walk towards the door with a subtle, sensual sway to her hips that makes her robe swish about her long legs. Her steps make nearly no sound at all as she leads the way out. Towards a far more private location.

And what happens there, is no one's business but theirs.

*~*~*~*~*

 
 

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