“Dayna’s a very beautiful girl, isn’t she?” Vila said one day to Soolin. It was a slow day on Xenon base, which was to say the kind of day that Vila seemed to enjoy and that Soolin found almost intolerable.
“Are you saying I’m not?” Soolin asked, without looking up from the gun she was reassembling.
“Why would I?” Vila said. “I’m not blind, and I don’t have a death wish either.”
“Good. What are you saying then?”
“Nothing,” Vila said. “Just making conversation. Just mentioning that … Dayna’s very beautiful. Athletic, too. Funny. In fact, she’s a very attractive lady.”
“Clearly I agree with you or I wouldn’t be screwing her.”
Soolin allowed herself a slight glance upwards. Vila was trying not to obviously react, but was doing a bad job of it, despite (she knew) having expected the answer. He looked both delighted and deeply disappointed at the same time.
“You’re sleeping with Dayna?”
“Do you have a problem with that?”
“A problem?” Vila said. “Me, a problem? When have I ever had a problem with two beautiful young women choosing to express their affection for each other through physical gratification? Just checking, that’s all. Can I watch?”
“I thought you said you didn’t have a death wish, Vila.”
“Good point,” Vila said. “Forget I said anything about it. I think I’ll … go and see what Avon’s up to.”
He slunk off. Soolin snapped the top-case back onto the gun, and pulled it back so that the weapon was armed. It made a satisfying click – a legacy from the times when guns had contained bullets – but there was no one to shoot today. Tedious. She powered the gun down, and (judging that Vila had well and truly gone by now) leant over and activated the wall comm. through to Dayna’s room.
“He bought it,” she said, and heard Dayna laugh.
“Thanks. That should stop him hitting on me, at least for a while.”
Soolin considered this. “I wouldn’t count on it, but I’ll try and be as intimating as I can, if I see him skulking around.”
“My hero,” Dayna said with amusement, and rang off.
The threat of reprisal kept Vila from making any inappropriate remarks for a few weeks. There wasn’t even a need to glare at him (not any more than usual, anyway), or remind him of the supposed relationship, and so Soolin didn’t. In fact, she didn’t mention it at all until the Cancer incident.
There were probably simpler ways of stopping Tarrant’s insinuations regarding Piri (kicking him in the crotch, perhaps, or just ignoring him), but when he brought it up again (“You were jealous, weren’t you?”) Soolin chose to tell him the same thing she’d told Vila. (“Of her, no? Of you – perhaps. Piri was very beautiful – but don’t tell Dayna that I said that.”) He liked Dayna too. (“Why should it matter to Dayna?”) It would be a lingering pain. (“Well, as far as she’s concerned, the only woman I should want to sleep with is her.”)
Tarrant blustered a bit more, but his attention had been diverted. He made his excuses rapidly, and charged off to confront Dayna.
So, it had worked.
Soolin followed at a more leisurely pace. She was confident that Dayna would support her story, so there was no need to signal her behind Tarrant’s back. Sure enough, when she arrived back on the flight deck, Tarrant turned towards her, and (from behind his back) Dayna winked.
Soolin leant casually against the door frame. “You didn’t believe me?” she asked.
Tarrant gave a rather sheepish smile. He held up his hands in apologetic surrender. “Just checking.”
“Sorry Avon, but I can’t do it,” Soolin heard Dayna say as she entered the rec room on Xenon Base.
“What can’t you do?” Soolin asked as she took a seat on the sofa and began to sort through the latest transmissions. Nothing of interest, really. The Federation had bombed another rim-world, but not one that Soolin particularly liked. “I thought your talents were limitless, Dayna.”
“Talents, yes,” Dayna said, taking a seat next to Soolin, “but Avon doesn’t want me to exercise them. He just wants me to flirt with some disgusting old technician – a disgusting technician with a reputation for wandering hands.”
Soolin looked up at Avon, who sighed. “A distraction,” he explained. “While I break into his office and steal the plans for the new pursuit ship.” Soolin had heard him speaking about this the previous day – the technician in question (a man named Rugul, with, as Dayna said, an unsavoury reputation) was very paranoid, and hadn’t had the decency to put the plans on the tarriel-cell network. If they wanted the plans, it would have to be a physical extraction.
“And I said I can’t do it,” Dayna said, “because I didn’t think my partner would like it.”
“No, I wouldn’t,” Soolin said without missing a beat. “And I think, Avon, that you’ll find Technician Rugel is bisexual. So as long as you located someone reasonably attractive--”
“--who could hold an in-depth conversation about computers,” Dayna put in.
“--and laugh at the right places,” Soolin said, “it wouldn’t actually matter what gender they were.” She smiled at Avon, who to his credit had hardly blinked at either insinuation.
“I assume you aren’t talking about Vila,” he said, and when Soolin and Dayna shook their heads, he bared his teeth in a grin. “Just checking. Soolin, I assume you have no objection to Dayna stealing the plans?”
“I don’t mind if she doesn’t,” Soolin said.
“Then I’ll distract Rugel, and Dayna breaks into his office,” Avon said. “Soolin, can you operate the teleport? Dayna – let’s get kitted up.”
“Thanks,” Dayna said, grinning, to Soolin, and surprised her by pressing a kiss to Soolin’s temple as she got up to leave.
A single shot would start a diplomatic incident, and a firefight they would be lucky to escape from alive. Vila and Tarrant were still two minutes away from teleport range. Servalan knew that, and so she was being deliberately provoking.
“Poor little Dayna,” she cooed as Avon blocked Dayna’s gun arm to stop her firing. “You’ve been trying to kill me for so long, and it hasn’t worked. But then I suppose you must be used to failure by now.”
“Not as used to it as you are,” Avon said. “How’s your empire, Servalan?”
“Waiting,” Servalan said with a smile. “For my triumphant return. How’s Dayna’s father? Justin?”
“Dayna,” Avon barked as Dayna growled and tried to launch herself forward.
“Still dead?” Servalan said, still smiling. “Silly me – but one does have to check. Tell me, Dayna, is there anyone who loves you still alive? I’d be happy to rectify that for you.”
“I’d like to see you try,” Soolin said. Avon was too busy blocking Dayna to stop her as she raised her gun. “Unarmed, blind, old men are your sort of opponents. I’m none of those things.”
“Bringing you up now,” Vila’s voice said through the bracelet on her wrist as Soolin fired. The circular warp of teleport swirled around her less than a second later. She still had her gun out as the three of them materialised on the deck of the Scorpio.
“Did you get her?” Dayna demanded.
“I don’t know,” Soolin admitted, disgusted and disappointed with herself. She never missed. “The teleport field might have deflected the shot, I can’t be sure.”
“But you tried,” Dayna said, eyes blazing. “And she won’t get away next time.”
“No. Not if we--” Soolin began, but Dayna had pulled her into fierce kiss, and it was difficult to keep talking if she wanted to kiss back.
“I thought they were joking!” she heard Tarrant say somewhere behind her.
“No,” Vila said happily. “The universe is very kind.”
“Soolin,” Dayna said as they lay, twined together, three hours later in Soolin’s cabin on Xenon base. The door was wedged shut, and there were jackets draped over the cameras in the room in case anyone else on the base had any ideas about checking up on them. Soolin felt warm and heavy and contented in the wake of the last orgasm. Dayna’s hand had been stroking Soolin’s hair, but it stilled as Dayna said, “Have you ever though that perhaps we should be in a real relationship?”
“Dayna,” Soolin said, looking up from where her head was pillowed on Dayna’s breasts, “I’m fairly sure we are in a real relationship.”
Dayna laughed and Soolin felt it rumble through her body. “I thought we were,” she said, and pulled Soolin up for another kiss. “Just checking.”