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“You, my dear, are absolutely ridiculous. As is that troublesome brother of yours.” The two of them are sprawled out on her massive bed, fully enjoying a little downtime in between missions and meetings; Ryder near comatose and down to nothing but her civvies, Jaal lounging comfortably atop her pillows and void only of his rofjinn and gloves.

Their combined laughter mixes in the air, floating above them to hang like a cosmic cloud, a clashing of galaxies in the most gentle way possible. “Hey, you leave Tobias out of this,” she says, eyes still closed and her arms folded beneath her head as Jaal traces nonsense patterns into the skin of her back. “He was innocent. Mostly.”

Jaal lets out another laugh, this one in exaggerated disbelief, “I can hardly believe that he would miss out on the chance to let a pyjak loose in your father’s workspace.”

“Okay, yeah. Not even I can try to pretend that he would pass up the opportunity.” Callidora sighs, contentedly shifting as Jaal’s fingers trail innocent sparks across her skin. “Dad was pissed though. Apparently, our seller thought it would be funny to feed the little guy a handful of dextro-nuts before giving him to us.”

“Oh no.”

“Oh yes,” she mimes back, smiling at the memory, despite the ass beating they got afterward. “Poor thing used Dad’s office as his own personal toilet.” It didn't help that pyjak have an affinity for throwing their...secretions, especially in stressful situations. Like, for example, being fed dextro-based foods and subsequently being locked in a strange room. “Now that I think about it, Tobias and I were sent off to boot camp not too long after that.”

He hums a thoughtful little sound and says, “I wonder why.”

Callidora flings a hand out, halfheartedly slaps his thigh and leaves it there, half-asleep and too comfortable to do much more. Especially with how he had switched from teasing trails of his fingers to full on digging the heel of his hand into the tired muscles of her lower back. She turns her head to face him, her hair mussing with the movement, and lets out a groan that was breathy enough to almost be considered a moan as he hit a particularly delicious spot.

She can feel his eyes on her face, watching, studying as he continues his ministrations. It was nice to be able to just relax like this, no gunfire or explosions to be heard or diplomatic relations to attend to, even if it wasn't to last for very long, at least they had this.

He moves his hand and massages the muscle in her side and oh god, she pushes herself into the mattress as she loosens a pleased groan, arching her back in attempt to press closer to his hand.

“You are exquisite, my stardust.” Jaal murmurs, almost low enough that she doesn't quite catch it in her blissful state. Ryder cracks open an eye and gives him a small smile, trailing the hand on his thigh up to drape over his waist as she settles back down into the fluff of her comforter.

“Why do you call me that?” She asks, voice muffled and lost to the depths of a poly-cotton monstrosity that had no business being as comfortable as it was. Jaal hums his curiosity, not bothering to further vocalize his thoughts. “‘Stardust’,” she clarifies, “why do you call me that?”

Jaal is silent for a beat, hand no longer tracing or massaging, simply sliding down the smooth expanse of her back, stopping only to allow his thumb to trace over a particularly nasty scar. “Hm. Well, you know of how my people believe in reincarnation.”

“Mhm. I've also heard them talk an awful lot about the stars.” Callidora moves her head enough to be able to look at him with both eyes open, and he carefully brushes her hair out of her face. “I take it that has something to do with it?”

“Yes. You see, it's believed that a soul will be reincarnated as many times as it must until it has reached its full potential, and when it has, a star is born, and that soul is finally laid to rest.” He rests his hand along her cheek, running his thumb along her cheekbone as he stares at her with those gorgeous galaxy eyes. “Sometimes, in rare cases, it's believed that a soul is born only once, and in that incarnation, they live more than one should. That they live all of their lives in the first, they love and live and learn more than one can handle. When they die, they do not come back. They are stars, with no need for more chances to grow.

“And so, those who are born this way, born too full and live too fast—they are called stardust. Alone, they are what makes a star. They need no one else to be whole.”

Ryder stares at him for a long, still moment. Then, slowly, she moves to her knees and climbs atop him, straddling over his thighs so that she could properly look him in the face. Through all this, he watches her warily, still unsure of how she might react to such information about his culture. She is the alien here.

Jaal settles his hands on her thighs, feeling the strong muscle that hides beneath her deceptively soft skin, his nervous energy sparking along the surface. She cups his jaw in her hands, feels that tension slowly flow from his body, and asks so, so quietly, “You really think I'm...I’m stardust?”

He huffs a small laugh, hands roaming higher up her thighs and his fingers dip beneath the fabric of her shorts to run along her hips. Callidora wasn't sure if all angarans were this touchy-feely (though she had a strong leaning towards yes) but Jaal certainly was.

“Not just me,” he says. “The Moshae, my true mother, even Evfra cannot deny what is true. Talk of you, of what you have done and will continue to do, have fully convinced my people.” And, stars above, she's so beautiful. He kisses her, snaking his arms around her waist to pull her closer, shuddering as she runs her tongue along his bottom lip. Jaal pulls away and rests his forehead against her own, eyes closed and enjoying the feeling of having her so near. “The fact that my people believe that you may be stardust, is...astronomical. If they believe that you, one of the Milky Way aliens, could perhaps hold the highest form of rebirth known to us, could very well be the difference between and alliance and a friendship.”

“Kett? Kett have no birth, no rebirth, nothing. They are hollow husks of what they should have been and because of that, they were doomed to us from the start. But you?” He breathes deeply, squeezing her almost imperceptibly tighter. “You're magnificent. You're stardust.” Callidora smiles, feeling the gentle spark of his bioelectricity along every point of contact of his skin on hers, and she can't help herself—the way he stares at her so openly, his feelings written in his eyes and painted every touch, her heart swells in her chest as if unable to contain her own love—she peppers his face with kisses. Her smile growing almost too wide for her to be able to keep going as he laughs beneath her, his strong arms crushing her to his chest.

She finally places a kiss to his lips, their teeth clacking as their laughter subsides, his hand slides from her waist down to her ass and he shifts her to sit more firmly in his lap. Callidora takes the hint and rolls her hips, grinning wickedly at the shudder that goes through him. Taking that grin as a challenge, Jaal flips them over, laying himself between her thighs as he presses fleeting little kisses along her neck and collarbones.

Ryder sighs as she smooths her hand down the side of of his cowl, enjoying the feeling of his lips and tongue as he mouths at the tops of her breasts. His fingers dance along the band of her bra, following along the cut of fabric as if deciding to remove it or not. Apparently, he chooses the latter, as he decides instead to flatten his large hands against the sides of her ribcage and press a final kiss to the space between her breasts before resting his chin there. Jaal gives her the barest hints of a smile as she continues to run her fingers along the textured skin of his head, her nimble fingers following along the grooves and indents like tracing along the edges of an Andromeda-made Rosetta Stone, an entire galaxy of things to discover and learn, all laid out before her. Literally.

“You know,” he begins, voice deep and soothing, vibrating through her chest. “Even though I'm not sure if I'm convinced by my people’s beliefs...I do believe that you are stardust. And I know that this life will not be my last.” His fingers draw down over the line of her ribs, feeling each bump and committing it to memory. “And though it saddens me to think it,” he pulls in a shuddering breath, leaning into her touch as she places her hand upon his cheek, “you will not follow me into the next life.”

“Oh, Jaal.” Callidora whispers, a weight settling on her chest much heavier than the angara layered upon her.

He presses his hand over hers, curling his fingers to squeeze her smaller hand in his own. “However, I must admit that it is comforting to know that, if what they say is true, I will be reborn with you watching over me.” She huffs a laugh and his bioelectrical field spikes a bit with his growing enthusiasm, the fine hair on her arms standing on end. “Imagine it, my love. The star shining brightest above my future homeworld; Callidora, from stardust to starlight. You will guide my people home.”

Ryder blushes, a fine dusting of red falling over her cheeks and the tops of her ears, only endearing her to him more. Jaal raises himself up and kisses her again and again, savoring the muffled feeling of her nails digging into the thick leather padding on his shoulders as he grinds against her, her hips rising to meet his own. He breaks the kiss first, unable to ignore how the way her lips swell a bit after their kisses only feeds his desire.

“There is no where I feel more at home than in your arms,” he says, allowing her the moment to smile sweetly, before adding, “or between your thighs.” Her face burns darker, something he wasn't sure possible, and the way she traps her bottom lip in her teeth just might be his undoing.

“So, that being said: Callidora, please, allow me to return home.”

Ryder whines and she nods, her words trapped in her throat and lost to her. Jaal’s lips quirk into the smallest smile of victory before he ducks his head and begins kissing his way down her body, each sweet kiss followed by gentle bites and the soothing sweep of his talented tongue. He makes his way down her chest, over her sternum, across the taut plane of her belly, and he drags his teeth gently across the place where the band of her shorts meet her skin. She shivers, lifting her hips and smiling in anticipation as he pulls both her shorts and underwear down, planting searing kisses down the lean length of her legs until the offending garments are free, and he tosses them behind him with a flourish.

Jaal wastes no time in hooking her legs over his broad shoulders, trailing teasing passes of his lips across the soft flesh of her inner thighs, his eyes constantly on her face. He passes his thumb down her sex, delighting in breathy sigh that falls past her lips, her eyes dark and heavy lidded. His breath ghosts over her sensitive skin, ever the tease after finding Callidora’s impatient streak.

The smug bastard wanted to hear her beg.

And when she was about to give into his silent request, her mouth parting to grant him those sweet, sweet pleas—


Ryder nearly screams, her hands fisting in her sheets. Jaal’s silent laughter just makes it worse. “Yes, Suvi?”

“Sorry to, erm, interrupt, but Director Tann is on vidcom for you.”

Jaal presses a kiss to her hip bone and peels himself away, swatting her hands away when she tries to pull him back down. Usually, Callidora doesn't know when to accept defeat, which is what made her such a good pathfinder, but Jaal’s incessant smugness and Suvi’s patient-yet-awkward silence made her much too tired to try to press her luck.

“I don't suppose there's any chance it could wait until later?”

Suvi laughs a little, “Afraid not. He marked it as both ‘immediate’ and ‘urgent’.”

Ryder sighs and rubs at her eyes, annoyed at how close she was to having a very good night off, only to have it snatched away at the last second. The work of the pathfinder never ends, intones SAM on their private channel. She shoots a glare at his mini-node on her desk and forces herself up from the bed, padding across the room to snatch up her discarded clothes. “Fine. Put him on hold and I'll be up in a second.” Suvi’s line cuts out and leaves them in blissful silence once more.

Forcing herself back into clothes was torture enough as is, even having to search for her long lost shirt was a challenge in enough itself (it was under the couch), so when she turned around to find her boyfriend lounging upon her bed, ungloved hand slowly stroking along the very prominent bulge in his pants as he gave her a look that could only be described as bedroom eyes...she wanted nothing more than to personally punt Tann into one of the Nexus’ fake lakes.

Callidora stomps over to her insufferable boyfriend, closes her hand over his wrist, and gives him the dirtiest glare she could muster. He merely looks at her innocently, face flushed a pale blue and his eyes so dilated she could nearly see her own reflection in his pupils. “Is something the matter, my dearest?”

Oh, he is so lucky she was a merciful woman.

She kisses him on last time before talking that damned call, but before she leaves him, she squeezes his wrist a little tighter, lays her hand purposefully over his covered cock, and with a hairsbreadth between their lips she whispers, “Do not finish this before I get back.”

Jaal shudders deliciously, his bioelectric field flaring so much that her hair stands on end and drifts toward his skin. “I-I wouldn't dream of it, my love.” She smiles almost sweetly as she leaves him, padding barefoot up the ladder and to the comm room, ignoring the pointed looks some of her squad sent her way.

And when she hits the vidcomm controls a little too harshly, well, what can she say? She's horny and irritated.

“Ah, pathfinder, I was beginning to think you weren't going to answer.” Tann gives her a once-over and his lip curls a bit in disdain. “What...unconventional attire, you have on.”

“Yes well, if you do recall, tonight was supposed to be an off night for me and my crew.” She crosses her arms over her chest, clearly displeased. “I'm sure you understand the lack of formal attire.”

“Of course. I suppose I can only hope that the face of humanity is able to look more...appropriate, when representing your race.”

Callidora grits her teeth. She could handle being denied some incredible head for an emergency call, but to be insulted not only about her clothes, but about how she presents herself as pathfinder? She thinks the fuck not.

“You know, you're absolutely right.” She says, noting the clear surprise on Tann’s face. “I should be much more proper when representing humanity. Who knows what could happen if someone was given the wrong idea.”

“Exactly! I'm so glad we could see eye to eye on the matter.”

Perfect. Ryder smiles almost serenely as she pops her leg up onto the console, the flat of her foot smacking against the metal and causing Tann to jump, despite being light years away. “Good thing I'm not representing humanity right now.”

The salarian sighs tiredly, “Ryder, please…” Well, who was she to deny the director of the Initiative. Callidora, being the flexible asshole that she is, raises her leg off the console and instead holds it as high as it could go, her calf level with her head. “Okay, first of all, that's disgusting. Secondly, I had originally called just to update you on our continued relations with the angara but,” he pauses, as if swallowing back bile, “clearly, I've caught you at a bad time.”

“What makes you say that, Director? I have plenty of time to talk.” Though realistically, she didn't. Her self-indulgent boyfriend can and will take matters into his own hands (literally) if she didn't speed things up.

“No, no. We can speak when you're feeling less...volatile. Goodbye, pathfinder.”

Well...sometimes a victory is a victory, no matter what form it takes.