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Evfra hummed as he watched the human pull on her underwear. She was completely aware she had an audience. Slow almost languidly, she ran her finger under the fabric, adjusting it. Her muscled thighs tensed and relaxed as she pulled on her pair of white Initiative pants, covering all that tanned skin that he enjoyed so much.

She turned and faced him, her pert, round breasts on display. Her steel olive eyes met his. A smile tugged at her lips. “Like what you see?” she asked.

“Yes,” he purred, pushing himself up to rest on one elbow.

She snorted, pulling on her bra. “Well, show’s over big boy.”

“You should take the day off,” he suggested.

“Me? What about you? Evfra de Teeshav, Resistance leader, all round busy man,” she pointed out.

“The Resistance can take care of itself for one day.”

She smiled, her nose crinkling, her freckles scrunching up. A hand pressed against her chest as she inhaled sharply. “Who is this imposter? Where is the real Evfra?” she exclaimed in mock shock. “He is tall, grumpy and frowning all the damn time. He loves working and putting down anyone not good enough.”

He spluttered, torn between protesting and laughing. “I put them down because they don’t do their job properly.” he insisted, settling on frowning.

Evfra stood, the blanket slipping to the floor as he towered over the human. His eyes took in the taut muscles packed into a lean frame, straight lines mingling with soft curves. They tracked upwards past her toned calf, powerful thighs, flat stomach and powerful shoulders. She rolled her eyes and ran her hand through her short blonde hair. Her fingers pushed her fringe up but without her special tub of hair product, it flopped limply back down over her face. She blew at it, her hair danced away, but it fell back down again.

Evfra put his hand on her shoulders. His bio-electricity tingling as he picked up her natural biotics that ran under her skin. His grip tightened as one hand brushed against the scar above her left breast. It was a layer of circular raised skin, as large as his palm. He sighed as he rubbed his palm gently over it. It was still red and angry, not three months old.

“It’s fine, you know,” she said.

Evfra grunted as he bent over to press a kiss over it. “It’s not.”

She reached up on slapped him against his chest. “Enough, damn you man. Get over it.”

It was three months since Skye Ryder, the human Pathfinder pulled his ass out of the proverbial fire. Almost bleeding to death as a result of the rescuing. Evfra didn’t think the alliance between the Nexus and the angaras would have survive the death of their Pathfinder.

After that, they worked closely, trying to strengthen the alliance. Days and nights spent haggling over terms, bashing their heads together over logistics and fighting through red tape had brought about a strengthened Resistance. And according to Ryder, a more open outlook on the alliance by the Nexus.

What started as curiosity, turned into interest and then later physical attraction. Ryder was more than happy to satisfy his curiosity as he was with hers. A romp in the bedroom, turned into a habit. One day of shore leave extended to a week of joint exercises. Evfra never felt more relaxed.

“So is that why you never put me down anymore?” Ryder asked, an eyebrow arched in his direction. “I am the only competent one around here?”

Evfra snorted. “Far from it, I merely tolerate your incompetence.”

“Really?” Her shoulders stiffening, as she pulled her shirt on, covering the scar. “If that’s the case, I should take my skills to where it will be appreciated. Jaal maybe?”

His reactionary growl was instant. She laughed. Rough, open and loud. Evfra looked at her, admiring her lack of artifice. She always spoke her mind. She might omit certain details to further her goals, but she was never anything less than honest in her dealings, even if it would make things easier if she had lied.

And today marked the last day of the joint exercise that was the backbone of their plan. Angaras joining the Nexus’ APEX teams and Nexus’ species joining the Resistance, one team from each group working together to take out kett outposts.

His chest clenched at the thought.

Everything could be handed over to administrators both on the Nexus and Aya after that. Their job was done, at least their work on the alliance. The threat of the Archon still loomed and the Pathfinder was needed elsewhere. The roekaar and kett were constantly testing their boundaries, and the Resistance needed his attention.

Curiosity was sated, their arrangement of convenience had come to an end.

But must it end? 

If anyone were to ask, Evfra would deny with his dying breath, what they had between them was sex, pure and simple.

But was it?

The weight lay heavy on his chest. He didn’t know.

“You’re seriously taking the day off?” Ryder asked, tightening the clasps on her boots. Her face glistening a little from the water she splashed on her face, her hair standing up in a rough semblance of how she usually had it. They both knew it would flop back down at the slightest gust of wind.

“No. If you’re not here keeping me entertained, I might as well be at HQ.”

Evfra took less time to freshen up and pulling on his clothes. Ryder had her arms folded across her chest, her weight shifted from one leg to another as she ran through the messages on her omni-tool. As he clipped his turquoise rofjinn to his leather armour, Ryder looked up from her work.

“Breakfast?” he asked as he started making his bed. His fingers tugged at the sheets to make sure it was crease free and tight.

She sighed indulgently as she watched. “I need to brief the teams, closing speech and all that. Then we’ll be out for our final exercise. Maybe dinner?”

“I have a lot of work to catch up with. Your visits tend to be rather disruptive.”

“And whose fault is it?” Ryder levelled a finger at him as she led the way out.

Evfra’s long strides caught up with Ryder easily in the elevator. He stabbed for the ground level and before the doors slid close, he pinned her against the wall. Her breasts sliding up and down with each rise and fall of her chest. “Mine, all mine,” he growled into her ear.

She chuckled. His chest tightened again. He pushed off the wall as the elevator’s door open. “Sansesyol, is it?” he asked,

She nodded. “Some ra-ra speeching here, then a hop, skip and jump over for some exercises. Then back in time for dinner,” she said, glancing at him. “if you’re not bogged down by meetings.”

Evfra frowned, checking the angara version of an omni-tool. “What about after?” he asked suggestively.

“Fuck, Evfra. Give a girl a break,” Ryder laughed. “I can’t, we’re heading back to the Kadara. Some intel about the Archon’s ship.”

He nodded, he understood. Duty before pleasure. That was how it worked between them. After all, this was temporary. His chest tightened uncomfortably, he rubbed a hand over the spot.

She cocked her head. “Something wrong?”

He shook his head. As they stepped out into the markets, he made sure he was at least half a metre away from her. Their little liaison was not really a secret but in public, he preferred to maintain a certain level of professionalism.

“All right, I’m heading off. See you for dinner,” she said with a little wave.

“Maybe,” he replied noncommittally.

The tightness twitched. “Come back safe,” he blurted.

Ryder turned back and stared at him. Evfra swallowed, confusion, irritation and frustration creasing his brow. What did the words come from?

“Sentiment, Evfra?” she laughed. “You really are an imposter. Where is the real deal?”

He squared his shoulders. “There is nothing wrong with wishing a fellow warrior to stay safe,” he explained gruffly. “This is the real deal, as you say. Only you get to see it.”

She nodded, the smile curling her lips. “Well then, I am a special girl.”

Her hair flopped over her forehead, she growled and pushed them up again. As she turned to go again, he repeated, “Come back safe, my special girl.”

Her steps faltered. Her strange grey-green eyes meeting his. He didn’t know what she saw there. The laughter faded away as her gaze turned serious. She nodded. “I will, big boy.”

With that, Skye Ryder swept out of his day like the breath of fresh air she was.

Special girl, my special girl.

Evfra had been turning his own words around and around in his head. He was as surprised as Ryder was. His admission, his almost confession.

Is that really it? Sentiment. Or something more?

He realised the idea warmed his chest, it was a comforting thought because it was true. Ryder was his special girl.

But how special?


He looked up, realising he got distracted thinking about Ryder. The things you do to me, woman.

Evfra cleared his throat and said, “Thank you, where were we?”

Pushing all thought of his special girl or whatever she was, he directed his attention to the business at hand. It was another two more hours of endurence before it drew to a close.

“I’ll see what I can do regarding an increased Resistance presence on Voeld, Do Xeel.”

He turned to Aavrer, the Havarl Commander. “Reach out to Kandros on the Nexus, I believe he would be able to help. His APEX teams will be best suited to deal with the outlaws there. Also, tightening security and vetting, this shouldn’t be happening. Harvarl is our home world.”

Both commanders nodded. “Understood,” they spoke in unison.

Evfra glanced at the Moshae. She shook her head. “All right, you have your orders,” he said turning back to the commanders. “Evfra out.”

The communication array powered down with a soft whine. His only concession to weariness was a soft grunt as he straightened. His stomach growled unhappily, reminding him that he had skipped breakfast and had only a light lunch earlier. Maybe I can grab dinner with Ryder after all.

The Moshae smiled at him. “I never thank you enough for your service.”

He huffed softly. “It’s my duty.”

Jerking his neck side to side popped the bones satisfactorily. Hours staring at his terminal and the vast number of datapads was taking a toll on his neck and shoulders. Idly, he wondered if the Tempest had returned from their little jaunt to Sansesyol.

“Is that all you think about?” she asked.

He sighed. “What else is there to think about? The fate of our people hangs in the balance.”

The Moshae shook her head and looked at him like he was a wayward child. “Child, don’t lie. I’ve seen you with her.”

Evfra frowned. “Moshae, I’m not young enough to be your child,” he replied gruffly.

Her benign smile seemed to take on a sinister quality. “Evfra, you humour an old woman. My age aside, I’ve seen you with the Pathfinder. She is a nice girl isn’t she?”

“Nice?” he blinked owlishly at her. Ancestors, this is what the others have talked about. The Moshae meddles.

“Yes, nice. Good strong bones and body. A leader among her people. Has the weight of her people on her shoulders, just like you.”

Ancestors, save me from the interfering old woman. He stood abruptly. “I have a dinner appointment. Please excuse me.”

“One with the Pathfinder I hope. I hear she has a beautiful name, Skye. It’s supposed to mean adventurous and free spirited, I hear.”

Evfra gave her a tight smile and escaped. That she is, that she is.