Dirt and gravel grind under the Nomad. Paved roads make it easier to traverse the path through the winding hills, months of people pushing their vehicles to the limit to make the climb have made the effort much easier. She can’t blame them for their enthusiasm. The view from up top is a beautiful thing, surreal and overwhelming all at once. During the day, blue sky spans the reddish cliffs, glittering light reflects off the surface of the lake under the hot sun. Talk of beachfront properties and vacation resorts spring up. Dreams of the rabble, but she won’t reel it in because she secretly wishes for that sort of luxury too.
Bradley tells her the name of the peak overlooking Prodromos but she ignores it. Everyone else calls it something cheesy like, “Hope’s Peak,” or “First Plateau.” Blah blah, symbolism, blah. At night, it’s her spot, or rather, theirs.
Jaal squeezes her thigh and she shoots a quick look at him. He smiles back at her, lips occasionally twisting into a wider and more endearing smile as he rubs her leg.
Not many planets in Heleus offer an unimpeded view of the thing she cares about most. Havarl is too lush, too rife with thick trees and Remnant obelisks, canopies stretching high overhead and blocking everything but the sun on good days. Elaaden doesn’t experience night—the outline of the planet it orbits serves as its mesmerizing backdrop that reminds her of just how small she is. Kadara could be an ideal place to peek at the stars if only the frontier wasn’t wild and violent. Voeld comes close, but the green light of its aurora lights up the sky and prevents her from seeing it the way she wants to experience it.
Everywhere else is too bright and too loud. Not enough space and too much of it all at once. It’s the one thing she knew that was going to be difficult to avoid throughout this journey—trying not to see all the space as emptiness but rather as potential.
Potential to explore new horizons.
Potential to meet new people.
Potential to do something bigger and better than she could’ve in the Milky Way.
Limitless possibilities painting the much-desired pictures of her future in the hope-filled dreams and vivid imaginings she indulges every now and again.
Prodromos delivers pretty quickly after the first vault is activated. Everything else sort of falls into her lap, much like the hand wriggling and stroking soft patterns along the sensitive flesh of her thigh, teasing, touching, and reminding her not to get too lost in her thoughts. She focuses all her attention on the road (or she tries to). A dangerously low chuckle accompanies the silent act of her parting her legs just a bit.
The worn path evens out into flat ground dusted with sand. Prodromos sleeps on the other side of the basin, brights light still blocking out the sky but generously leaving this stretch of land untouched. The Nomad’s wheels shift and lock, mechanisms switching to accommodate the rougher terrain. Easing into a spot takes no time. Unbuckling when Jaal leans over takes a little more time to accomplish.
He comes at her all lips and raw feelings, hand gripping her thigh tight but mind clearly asserting control over body. A shame—she was looking forward to that unhinged passion from a few weeks ago. She distinctly remembers a lot about that day—workbench, wall, and a lot of other places in between remind her every time she comes sauntering into his space. He likes to remember it too. Re-live it when he can, all hands and lips as he plays with her skin.
He parts, teeth grazing her bottom lip and rough grunt vibrating through his chest, and she briefly closes her legs to stem the heat pooling between them. They have a plan. A very strict plan.
“Hrm,” he grunts, searching for the controls to his seat, “It’s beautiful out here. I suppose we should drop the lid.”
“The top.” He stares blankly at her. “Never mind. Dropping interior tint…and…whoa…”
It goes on forever. The vast frontier she grows to love as a child stares back at her, little winks of white lights gracing her as they sit comfy in the darkness. Blue stars shine the brightest, never blinking but steady beaming down much like the hot sun. Her mouth hangs slightly agape and her mind picks through the stories Jaal relays to her.
“There,” he points and a screen pops up, white lines appearing where his finger weaves a complex pattern through the celestial bodies. When he finishes, she can’t ignore the way her heart skips in her chest at his smile. “Ishoraan, lady of the sky.” He finds another pattern and silently maps it. “Mevfetiik, son of the galactic sea.” More patterns light the interior. Lines upon lines map the stars on the inside of Nomad’s reinforced hull.
Tavatiiray, mistress of the moon;
Lakshour, brother floating in the cosmic wind;
Bevsiit, Ninan, and Moesan, each an avatar of the sun, the journey and the deep.
She remembers them in name and significance. For those she cannot, Jaal fills in the gaps. She hasn’t told him, but she knows the pain of having culture and home stripped away from oneself—intrahuman struggles don’t just disappear for the sake of togetherness, regardless of the mission.
But she also knows what sort of strength a people must have to cling to the bits that remain. It’s easy to snip it all away, to forget and to bury until there’s nothing left. Her people couldn’t and neither could his. It’s a beautiful thing seeing something thought lost return once again, just as beautiful as it is to see new stories catch on and fill in the holes despair and grief leave behind.
He’s strong, much stronger than he gives himself credit for. To be lost but certain at once, fighting for a future he knows he wants but struggling to find a place he knows would be best for him. She’s been there. She still is.
She’s stopped listening to the stories he tells and reaches over to tilt his face towards her. Gazes locked and she finds herself smiling at the curious look on his face. “Hey there.”
A smile tugs at his lips. “Hi.”
They simply stare at one another, words refusing to form on either of their tongues for a long moment until his heart floods and his eyes grow softer.
“You’re beautiful,” he says softly. She knows what he means—he once told her, deep down, that her soul felt as hot as the core of the brightest sun. Jaal touches her face as well, still to this day he commits every detail to memory with eyes and with hands that sometimes tremble as if she might be unreal. “I was hoping you might...You are here and I know why but I…I’d like to…”
His eyes are as blue as Earth, home. Yes. His eyes ground her in a little slice of home she desperately misses. He blinks through his confusion, words dying on his lips and endless blue searching her face to see if he’s said something wrong. His eyes flit between her lips and back up, desire quickly flooding the blue depths, overflow with passion that he doesn’t know how to express any way other than openly.
“Kiss?” she asks, both hands cupping his face and holding him close. “You wanna kiss, Jaal?”
He shivers under her fingertips at the sound of his name. “Please?”
It’s slower this time, sweeter. Lips press close and soon, tongues explore. They part only once so she can moan—his hand has snaked its way between her legs again. She’s tired of restraining herself tonight, plans be damned.
“Touch me,” she urges, patting around for the controls to her seat. It sputters to life trying to accommodate settings it doesn’t usually abide by and she wonders what she must look like to him, starry eyes burning with hot desire, pleading with him to do what they like to do best during moments like this. “I want to feel you, Jaal. All of you.”
“Drea,” he growls and leans forward again, more kisses shared between them, hot, hungry, and too much. Fingers brush along her damp core, gliding over her pearl and she gasps. He shifts, further pressing her into the seat and wrapping his arms around her as well as he can. His thigh slots between her legs and she releases a shaky sigh at the teeth nibbling so slowly down her neck.
That memory comes back to her all of a sudden. What were they even doing? Bantering about something that didn’t matter, for certain. But it’s what he says next that makes her think, leaves her shuddering beneath his gaze and distracted on the days she showers alone.
His face twisted into a snarl then, something primal in that reaction startled her. He did it the first time they tried this. It took him a moment to realize she was staring at him in confusion because she’s never seen a partner do it like that. Since then, he tried his best to restrain that emotion.
But that’s the funny thing about angara—they don’t do that. Ever. He knew he would have to with her at first.
Then they started that silly banter and he just—he stopped and leveled her with such a visceral stare that felt the exact way she would describe someone visually pulling her apart, piece by piece, something burrowing further than skin and piercing all the way through to her soul. And he leaned close, slowly, and he said—
“I want to devour you.”
Jaal threads their fingers together and lifts her hands up. Her shirt is gone in the span of a sharp gasp. Lips attack her neck, attack her collarbone, and her being. There is fire in her, heat pooling in belly and beyond, powerful thigh grinding her wet core and his grunts rumbling through his chest when she grinds back.
She grips his rofjinn tight, arches her back, his feverish kisses leave a hot trail along dark brown flesh and—and—
“Oh fuck,” breathless, air snatched from her lungs as little ripples of energy skitter across her flesh. “Yeah, keep doing that. Just like that, oh crap.” Lips glide along her breasts and she twitches. He places a kiss upon her chest, right above her heart and she jerks. The clasps of her bra come undone and it falls between the seats somewhere—gentle tongue sliding along familiar planes of warm skin, teasing, yes, but also seeking as he sends steady pulses of energy deep beneath flesh. His tongue curls around one nipple, mouth closing around it in the next second, and she cries out.
Her fingers scrabble at the clasps of his rofjinn and undo each. Blue fabric slides down his broad shoulders, slips across his back, and is tossed to the back seat for the time being. They work on the bodysuit together (and she misses his touch immediately). It and his boots join his lonely rofjinn. He leans over her and stares.
Always staring. Like every time they come together yields something new about her to him. His eyes rake over her body, heaving chest and stomach, back up to her parted lips—
Narrow when her tongue darts out to wet them—
Fix her with a heated look she grows to love the longer they spend together and he says it again—
“I want to devour you.”
“Christ,” she responds immediately, arms reaching up and hands cupping his face, bringing him back down to her. “Jaal, please. Please, I want you so much. Please.”
He growls, kissing her neck again, shifting further down to tease her nipples once more. Fingers find her core once again and touch her in time with the eager mouth lavishing her nipples. She wants, stars, she wants everything. Stroking her the way she likes, his soft chuckles caressing her as she writhes beneath him. Higher. She wants to climb higher. So high she could reach out and catch the stars between her teeth.
The clasps on her pants come undone, quicker and much cleaner than she treats his rofjinn, and he slips his fingers into her gasping mouth. Each one she wets, eyes trained on him and tongue flitting around each digit through breathy moans. Stars, the look in his eyes. As if he truly wants to eat her, swallow her whole and squirming until there is nothing left. His bare thigh presses through her clothes but it isn’t enough.
“Yes,” he pinches a nipple with his free hand, gently twisting, and her whole body shivers. “Yes, just like that. Show me everything, darling one. I want to see all of you.” Again he twists and she stifles a shout with the fingers in her mouth, hips rolling over his thigh and she is certain he must be wet where his skin touches her core.
He strums carefully, plucking and pulling at her strings, little flares of energy pulsing beneath his fingertips, and she is left writhing at his mercy. Her hips twitch and desperately chase what relief she can find. Her shouts sometime fill the silence, garbled cries resembling words accompanying the heavy gasps between them. She tries to focus on wetting his fingers as best she can, but he doesn’t make it easy.
Jaal slips his fingers from her mouth.
Trails them between their heated bodies, and touches her where she wants him to touch her. Her head snaps back, “Yes. Yes, like that.”
His lips press against her neck and he sighs contentedly. “Will you sing for me, beloved? Your voice is so beautiful like this.”
Slow strokes at first. She is wet and she aches terribly. He doesn’t want to overwhelm, not that that matters either. Trembling thighs open. Steady moans pump nothing but hot air into the Nomad. Her hands—where are her hands? There, one on his back making him squirm as fingertips trace the skin along the ridges of his bones and the other on his wrist, guiding him, showing him, reminding him how she likes to be touched. Even here, there, energy stutters through her body. She licks her lips and leans closer for a sloppy kiss, not caring that it misses his mouth completely.
Her eyes snap open.
When did she close them?
Blue eyes watch her with a deep-seated hunger. Teeth bare, snarl on his face, touches her harder and faster, and he cups her neck with his free hand, pulling her to him for a proper kiss. He is indecisive, pure desire guiding his whims. Lips part long enough for both of them to hear the way his name stutters as it falls from her mouth. Growls vibrate through skin in time with the small currents teasing between her legs.
Taking her apart, piece by piece. Dismantling her to her core. Scattering what remains to the sky and beyond, dust in the cosmic wind.
“I—” It’s her voice, hoarse and needy.
His free hand digs into her curls and she can’t even manage a sound of protest. Her head tilts back and their gazes lock, her thighs are pushed further apart, and she can’t remember what it was she wanted to say. Harder? Yes, teasing her and dragging her along this ride. Faster? Yes, just like that. More? Oh, yes. More, more, more—
“Jaal, please! I need—I want—” There. There. Thighs shaking with such a force, voice fading in and out through her passionate cries, and kisses swallowing precious air in between and she is left with nothing more than unstable body and the contortions of her face as he presses harder. “Jaal,” he bites along her pulse, loving all too well the way his name comes out like a breathless prayer. “Jaal, please. You’re driving me…oh god.”
Words. Words. Whimpering but what are the words?
She doesn’t register his fingers stopping, nor the way his hands curl like claws along the waistband of her pants. They are gone, cool air making her shiver, and she tilts her head up to see. To watch his fingers slowly rise to his lips, eyes never once straying from her, silently demanding that she never lets hers stray from his as he laves each digit with his tongue—
Devouring just that little bit of her.
Wetting his fingers once more before sliding his hand back down between now bare thighs and core, stroking through wet heat and over throbbing pearl pulsing in the cool air.
She bites her lip, hips squirming and body refusing to obey her, instead obeying him pulling her apart. Piece by agonizing piece. Hands on her body, his of course, but this time they are hers, trailing fingernails up her twitching stomach and cupping her breasts.
Tentative touch, the flat of his tongue traces a path along the pressure point in her collarbone until it laves down…and down…tender bone softly bit and her toes curl. Again and her fingers pinch her nipples, hips limply following the rhythm he sets. Again and his name is a strangled cry on her lips.
Again and again. Again and again. Tongue and then lips, lips and then tongue, fingers, touch, stroke, and pull her by fraying nerves to the edge of an eternal abyss. Touching her. Kissing her. Dragging her. Shaking thighs parted for him, gentle but powerful hands stringing her along beautifully—hands that set a careful ripple of bioelectric energy through her body and distract her from the currents he lavishes upon her pearl.
It’s too much. Wonderfully too much. Just like him.
Everything he wants to be and everything she wants to be with him, all at once assaulting her senses the way his presence and warmth do to her all the time. Bombard her with these feelings that wash her away in a sea of calm and love. Drown her in these sensations that remind her how vulnerable she is. Submerge her in the beauty of him, of her, and of wave after wave of passion that sweeps them further from the shores of the world around them.
“You sing so beautifully, my dearest.” His voice has dropped dangerously low—the sort of low that signifies he too yearns for more. Insatiable hunger flashes in those blue depths, his head turns towards the junction of her thighs and his fingers touching her. She gasps sharply when one thick finger teases her opening.
“But, darling. I know your voice. I know the songs you are capable of singing for me.” Wet, she’s so wet. Dripping from her body and sliding down her cheeks. Her eyes roll into the back of her head and she lets out a long moan—inside, he slips his finger inside and she can’t stop the way her whole body shudders. “Oh, yes. Such sweet sounds. Higher, my darling, higher. I know you can do so much more.”
Shouting, moaning, and screaming herself hoarse, her hips dance to the tune he strums and her body yearns for more. His eyes are on her when she forces her eyes open for him and her body erupts into little spasms, feet planting on the glass hull. Footsteps light the sky, the balls of her feet twisting and toes curling along star patterns still highlighted on the panels.
Ishoraan, lady of the sky, entwines with Tavatiiray, mistress of the moon, and entangles with Lakshour, Bevsiit, and Ninan. Linking with one another through the artificial cosmos and she tumbles with them through the infinite black, fingers pressing deep into the grooves of her lover’s head and he sighs with her. Is he touching himself? Is he enjoying her so thoroughly? A string of shelesh is whispered in her ear, smooth like water and rippling through her every nerve, “Dearest one, your passion stirs these wild thoughts in me. I wonder: can the heavens hear you the way I hear you?”
Can the heavens hear her, crying out for him in this small space, straining against the controls and her seat, twisting and molding herself to receive him? Can the heavens hear the eagerness and the frustration in one, the thrum of her heart pounding in her chest, the rasp of the dryness clinging to the back of her throat as she whispers his name?
Arms wrap around her thighs, expose her body with such ease before he kisses her belly, soft and so very loving, tender, and with certainty that nearly frightens her at times. His eyes and his face, they twist with such heavy emotion—kindness, love, so much and yet not enough.
Her head flops back and her body heaves, begging for precious air.
His lips trail across the sensitive flesh of her thighs. Always the thighs first because his fingertips flood her with sensation, make her twitch and tense, muscles flexing beneath hands that gently soothe her. Because he loves in one breath but he wants to take her apart. Figure her out. Explore every inch and learn how to love every part of her.
She clutches the armrests, takes a deep and shuddery breath when his face inches closer to her core.
Wicked thing, he is. Wondrous man, he is also. A dreamer and a thinker—curiosity more insatiable than any person she’s ever met in her life. But for now, he is a wicked man whose tongue does wicked things to her.
The first touch laves at the flesh still trembling in his hands, pulses of his energy stuttering through her body and winding her up, and then soothed by the shocking press of warmth along the more sensitive parts of her. The second trails a wet path along the junction of her body, dips into the grooves of her hipbones and gently bite. Her hands cover her face, breath dipping and shuddering out of control.
“Oh…oh god…” she whispers into her hot palms. It’s flaring in her, fanning the flames he so loves to ignite. So slowly, he lavishes every inch with affection and attention. So surely, deft and strong hands hold her close, coax her along, and the wet smack of his lips on her body stokes the heat flooding in her cheeks.
It’s so visceral but so gentle at once. This way he delves so deep inside of her, reaches into her soul and pulls it open. What lies there for him to see? What makes up the deep space and the dark corners of a heart like hers?
Deft and strong hands grasp her wrists and pull her hands away from her face. Tears gather in the corners of her eyes—not formed of sadness but of frustration. Jaal teeters her on the edge, pushes her to the fringes of this cosmic feeling and dangles her along. Takes his time because he wants to see, to hear, to know everything that he does to her so he can remember how to do it again. Maybe he enjoys it, seeing her hang on the very edge of her sanity.
She looks down at him, sees his blue eyes watching her with such intensity. His gaze skirts across every inch of her, notes things about her she may not even know about herself when she gets like this. Wheels turn in his head—passion and deep-seated hunger bubble within the depths. He guides her hands back to the armrests and leans down to kiss her belly again.
It’s the same every time—that tenderness and that care in his actions, masking the truth behind his intentions. Another kiss upon her thigh—she remembers the words clearly. The way he says them and the way he embodies them through his every action.
Hot breath puffing between her legs, upon her throbbing core—
“I want to devour you.”
Tentative is the first press of his mouth to her, careful not to overwhelm her too soon and all at once. Her hands grip the rests, itch to cover her mouth but she forces herself to remember how much he loves hearing her sing. For him, she sings a melody that frays his nerves, makes the blue pulse of his body rise off him in steady waves. He lavishes her again and at the height of his stroke, he closes his lips around her pearl. Releases her after gently teasing her with that wicked tongue of his and he laughs when she hisses curses into the air.
Again when he does it once more, arms and hands curling around her legs, exposing more of her to him. How much more of her is left? What places has he yet to see? Fingertips press deep into her skin, hold her in place and stroke her hips and belly. How does he soothe and make her tense in the same breath?
Another and he establishes a steady rhythm, times it in tandem with her heavy moans, uses fingers on her pearl to draw out the long gasps. Does what he likes to do best when they get like this—push.
To the edge of the world—up and between her folds, teasing the flesh and tracing lips and tongue along the parts of her that make her fingers dig into his skull.
To the edge of the universe—lips around her pearl and deft hands stringing her along with sure but tentative touches to soothe the achy pulses driving her wild.
To the edge of eternity—eyes on the hull, chest heaving and struggling to breathe, billions of little lights above them covered by the fog clinging to the glass, winding within her, the tight knot in her stomach and the delicious heat spreading from core to body with every passing minute.
Balance on trembling nerves and toes, just barely hanging on to the last of her frayed nerves by a thread.
He hums at her, looks up so she can see what she does to him. Look at me, darling one—see what you do to me too?
The gall of him to say so much with so little words. The gall of him—her head tilts back and she cries out.
One hand caresses her body, hot skin buzzing beneath fingertips dancing along her stomach, passing between the valley of her breasts, circle hardened nipples before he traps one in his grasp. Her thighs rise up, cradle his head tighter between them and his other hand makes the same journey towards her other breast. Alternate—sometimes gliding nails along her sides and relishing in the sharp sounds that leave her throat.
How dare him. How dare. She wants to caress him, hold him close but she wants that mouth and those lips, wet and burning hotter than fire, than the stars above. He pulls away from her to which she whines.
Stars above—she whines. What has he done to her?
“My darling one,” he croons and carefully climbs back up for a long and gentle kiss. “The warmest star in the cosmos… My mind and my heart…” Drea weaves a hand between them, heaving chests nearly trapping her fingers, and she caresses him. She’s been selfish to him, strokes his cock the way he likes while he presses his face into her neck. “I yearn for this—for you…”
He is eager, precome beading at the tip, and she works until he is slick and panting heavily in her ear. The reverberation of his voice vibrates through their bodies. Something…blue…ripples across his skin. Luminosity is a rarity, or so he says. Strong currents rise and fall, uneven control reflected in the jerk of his cock in her palm and his body as he squirms atop her. Small cracks of bioelectricity lick at the air. A twist of her hand, fingertips sliding from base to tip, her tongue darts out and traces the metal piercings on his brow and he trembles the same way he makes her tremble.
Teeth on the cartilage of her ear.
She smiles and does it again.
Steadily rises off him in waves, a magnificent spark of blue energy strikes like lightning and she briefly wonders if he could crack open the hull.
“Look at me, Jaal…Pretty please.” He grunts and looks at her. Looks? Stares. A string of one thousand words run through her mind. How to ask. What to say. Touch him some more and feel the blue zigzag its way through her skin. “I need…Inside…”
He won’t simply give it to her. He needs to hear.
He tries to mask his desperation with a tender kiss upon her lips. Again and the leather seat screams under his tight grip. Again and he stares deep into her eyes, face twisting so serenely at her touch. “Tell me what you want.”
She bites her lip—swallows around the dryness in her throat, thinks of the words and traces her tongue over the grooves of each letter in her mouth.
“I want you inside of me.”
There is a smile. He likes being needed, wanted, desired. Jaal reaches between them, his hand curling around hers on his cock. Together, they guide. Together, he touches her and she touches him. Her mouth falls open when he presses in, although her head cannot tilt back—not when her grips the base of her neck and watches her so carefully. Every shift of her face, thighs shaking once again, and he is there, soft kisses shared between them, peppering along her forehead and eyelids because she is precious to him.
Seated fully in her and she calls for him.
“I am here.” Always. “I am right here, darling one.”
“Yeah. Yeah, you are. Move, please.”
His hips gently shift back and she wills her body not to squeeze (wills her voice not to scream but fails), and gently, he slides back inside her again.
Once more and he cups her face in his hands, kisses her through the powerful shudders of her body, returns once again and swallows her moan with a growl.
Again, until he sets a steady rhythm for them both. Again, until her fingers dig into the flesh of his back. Grinding together, climbing higher together, her legs wrap around his waist and her cries bounce off the glass. Black night above them and blue energy radiating off him, millions upon billions of stars scattered across the sky, and he rocks them through the galaxy.
Open mouthed kisses and heavy breath on her neck, his gentle touches carry her through space and time. When was the last kiss? (A second ago.) And when is the next kiss? (Right now, darling one. Right now.) Full hearts and full bodies entwine, dancing through the greater body of Andromeda, and she sings for him. Sings praise, and names, and curses that make him laugh, moan, and cry out.
“Drea…” Her eyes are closed again. “Let me see you...”
Endless blue eyes—blue Earth—her home—
“You feel,” the voice in her head translates the words so smoothly, but she doesn’t listen. Not truly. Not to it, but to him and to the way the words claw their way through his throat, raw and desperate to reach her ears.“Tiio kratt…I want it here. All of you, everything. I give you all of me. Will you? Give me all of you? May I have it?”
Electrified touch at his fingertips caresses down her face and body. She arches up, higher and higher, crying out. Ripples across her skin, more and more, no. Crackles down her sides and skips through bone. Reaches, claws, scratches its way deep into her soul and tugs on her whole being.
“May I have it?” He asks again, sparks shooting between them, his currents and her biotics clashing. It’s too much. Words, words, where are the words? “Andrea. Darling. Look to me, my beloved.” Screaming and it coils tight in her belly. Twisting, careening through the sky. Stars beyond open eyelids and blunt nails dug so deep, she may draw the blue of his blood. Tangling and fucking her deep. Making love to her the way the cosmos makes her love it back. Tighter in her belly.
Tighter in her belly.
Jaal. Ama. Darav. Rolls off her tongue because she needs to know, needs him to know, wants both of them to remember why she flies across gas giants and asteroid belts. Sailing through her first love on the currents of a more tender love, swimming through the deep and the stardust, meteorites breaking across her skin, rising higher to the bright blue star in the center of Andromeda and beyond.
“May.” Blunt nails up her belly and her thighs are quivering.
“I.” Hands grasp her neck and never squeeze, only hold her so she can look deep into his eyes and see the wild contraction of his pupils.
“Have.” Losing control. Slipping further. He struggles to say the word and she struggles to keep her voice down. No. He doesn’t want that. He wants to hear, to know, to feel everything. It’s why he asks.
Reckless, they are gone. Heat and hard bodies crashing together, sailing through stars, dark space, and luminous skies. They tumble into one being. Merge into one soul.
Crash. Fly higher.
Soaring. Keep going.
Careening through the cosmos. Don’t stop!
Tumbling over moons and stars. Jaal, please, oh my god, I’m going to—
There, in the center. Blue and white light bursting across her brown skin, catching her in an intimate embrace and swallowing her whole. Jaal! Jaal, god! I’m—I’m—
She remembers Earth, home. Blue skies on the good days, but on the better ones, the sky is pitch black with stars peppered in the blanket of the void beyond the borders of such a small sphere in the Sol system. Waves crash against the shore and wind wisps through her hair. She looks up at the brilliant moon, fascinated and terrified in the same. What lies in the deep? What waits in the beyond? What beauty has she yet to see?
Back. She comes back, slowly, but most assuredly.
The glass is fogged up and the interior is sweltering hot. Her chest heaves and her body is sore. Above, the stars wink at her.
She glances up at her lover reclining all the way back in the seat they now share, one arm slung around her waist, the other cradling his head, and glossy eyes tracing the many stars above them. He kisses her forehead and she drags herself atop him, tucking her face into his neck and thighs trapping his hips. Stars, he smells so good and she sighs.
“Dude, I’m gonna die if you keep doing me like this.”
“Hm. That’s a shame,” he sighs woefully. “Especially since you sang so beautifully for me.”
Heat floods her cheeks and she buries her face to hide her embarrassment. “Jesus. Jaal. I hate that.” She lightly smacks him in the shoulder. “You just—I love you, but fuck, how do you talk about the way I sound when I come like it’s nothing? I just…ugh.”
He looks up at the sky, dreaming even in this awakened state, eyes dancing across star patterns he fixed during her brief slumber—Ishoraan and Tavatiiray; Mevfetiik and Lakshour; Ninan, Bevsiit, and Moesan. But with them are more patterns, more stories, more wonders he is generous enough to share with her.
Jaal looks at her. There are so many things in his eyes all at once—joy and then the remnants of that hunger, a little spark of adoration and a whole lot of love. Yes, mostly love. Tenderness. All things that make her heart beat so fast and loud in her chest.
He smiles wide.
“Because I love you,” he finally says and, stars, do the words always shift her whole being when he says them. He pulls her leg tighter over his hip, is careful with maneuvering closer so as not to force her head into the jagged bones of his chest. He yearns for closeness during moments like these, the smell of her lotion on her skin, the oils in her hair, and him somewhere lingering within her. “Ryder…Drea…stars above, I love every part of you, every inch, and with every ounce of my spirit. Talking about it should feel as natural as breathing.”
She opens her mouth, tries and fails to find the right words for him. To love someone so completely and to be so unafraid of admitting it—
Jaal scares her sometimes. But she can’t hide the way it makes her feel being with him—safe, secure, and so cherished.
“I…” Her eyes flutter shut and she loses herself in her other senses—the sound of his even breaths and his heart beating, the smell of him, and the feeling of his warm skin against her. “I love you too, Jaal.”
She rests a little, laughs a little more, stars and skies their only witnesses and he holds her close until they make love all over again.
She lifts her hand to shield her eyes from the harsh sun. Give it time and Eos will be the paradise everyone dreams of. Dust and sand sweep past her feet.
Drea glances back at Liam sitting in the Nomad and tries not to snicker at the frustrated expression on his face. The seat constantly whirrs, rising up and shifting forward, leaning and scooting back into the same position. Fingers mash the pad but the results don’t satisfy him.
With an exasperated sigh, he gives up and throws himself back into the seat.
“Well, it doesn’t just move itself!” he exclaims, scrubbing a hand across his hair.
She’s not telling him. He doesn’t need to know.
“Somebody probably accidently brushed up against the controls when they climbed out,” she offers. She drops her hand to her hip and leans back until her spine cracks. “No biggie. I can get SAM to adjust it back the way you want it.”
He huffs, but then takes another breath. “I’m being a brat. It’s nothing, I promise. A little annoying after all the fussing I did to get it right the first—” Liam shakes his head and smiles warmly at her. “I’ll be fine. Thanks for offering.”
He suddenly nods and she turns to see Jaal approaching. He nods back at Liam, though his expression completely changes when he glances at her.
“Running a little late, big guy?” Liam playfully greets.
Time slows the closer Jaal gets. Memories of heat, stars, and blue pulses rush through her mind in an instant. Drea steps to the side when he gets close enough—a courtesy so they can walk side by side to the Nomad—but instead, he brushes his shoulder against hers, head turning so clearly to look into her eyes.
She doesn’t know how long they hold each other’s gazes before he turns back to Liam, whose eyes flit nervously between them as if he just witnessed something so blatantly intimate.
“My apologies,” Jaal finally says, reaching back and loading his things into the seat behind Liam. “I overslept a little. It won’t happen again.”
Liam shrugs. “It’s no big deal. We’ve all had nights like—”
At this point, Jaal slides into the back and his arm must brush against the controls to the seat because Liam suddenly jerks upright. Jaal doesn’t say anything, but a look crosses Liam’s face. The spacing… Jaal is six feet and six inches—long legs and wide-bodied.
He looks to Drea and she looks away. He turns and looks at Jaal in the back seat, only to be met with the blankest expression the angara can manage. And again, he looks to Drea and she refuses to meet his gaze.
And then he looks to the seat. The control panel. The space needed to accommodate Jaal’s legs. Back at Jaal—
Who smirks at him.
Liam sighs, exasperated once again and Drea has to cover her mouth to stop herself from laughing aloud.
“You guys are dicks,” he says, crossing his arms and sinking back into the seat.