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An Incident Aboard The Kestrel

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Somewhere between the Spheres, the Kestrel floated silently in the darkness.  Most of the crew was asleep -- day and night were relatively meaningless concepts out here, but it was beneficial to maintain a regular rest cycle.  Usually the ship was a bustle of movement and conversation.  Piloting the Kestrel involved extending one's awareness throughout the ship itself and becoming, to a degree, aware of the goings on within.

The experience could be overwhelming sometimes, but Jylliana had become accustomed to checking in on her crewmates during these long shifts at the helm.  She would never intentionally spy on an intimate or private moment, of course.  But there was something soothing about watching Mr. Hurst build an intricate tower of cards, a calm grace to Finn's meticulous kitchen routines -- even Cacophany's riotous outbursts were a welcome distraction from the sensation of being a tiny speck of wood floating in the endless vacuum of space.  The night shift was different.  The ship was quiet, peaceful, and allowed for one to focus intently on the physical realities of the ship.  The largest down side of the night shift, Jyll considered, was that she had very little to distract her from that silence.  Not quite nothing, though...

Up on deck, Lachlan was taking the chance to mop -- he'd drawn cleaning duty and insisted it would be easier at night, without all of the ship's normal chaos.  He wasn't wrong.  A bucket full of soapy water rested on the boards -- as he pushed his mop across the deck, he nudged the bucket along with one foot and hummed to himself.  Occasionally he'd spare a glance up towards the helm and wipe a little sweat from his brow.

Jyll always felt a little awkward turning her focus towards him, and especially so during the night shifts.  Her own feelings towards him were... complicated.  She was definitely interested, but Lachlan was a hard read.  He'd compliment her, but never follow up -- or ask her to dance, but only when he was drunk.  This would all be a lot less complicated, Jyll thought, if she knew whether he had feelings for her as well.  Still, he was kind, and charming in an awkward sort of way, and oh god he just took his shirt off.

Jyll blushed and quickly turned her attention away.  Of course, she realized, that made sense.  He was hot.  Not... no, not... over-warm.  He was over-warm.  Of course he'd take his shirt off.  It was the middle of the night.  He was allowed.  She didn't need to see Lachlan's abs, or his biceps, or his... Jyll swallowed hard and closed her eyes.  The Kestrel's spelljamming helm responded to her thoughts through the magical connection she had forged with the ship at the beginning of her shift, and so behind her closed eyes, the helm showed her Lachlan.  Sweet merciful Ethla, she was going to be in trouble.

The muscles of Lachlan's back shifted with each push of the mop, his powerful biceps rippling as he deftly moved across the deck.  His shirt, which he had tucked into his belt, swayed with the movement of his hips.  He picked up the pace, his breath quickening and his chest rising and falling.  Thin beads of sweat rolled down the sides of his neck, across his broad shoulders, and traced a trail down his sides to the small of his back.

Eventually he came to the railing.  He paused for a moment, stretching his arms above his head with a massive yawn.  His belt slid low around his hips, exposing his obliques and lower abs.  Jyll yelped softly and the ship shuddered.  Lachlan paused and turned to look up towards the helm.  Then he winked and put a finger to his lips.  In the helm, Jyll gulped.

She briefly opened her eyes, peered around the helm, and wished that she'd locked the door at the start of her shift.  For better or worse, she was stuck here until Wyn came to relieve her in the morning.  She bit her lower lip, blushed deeply, and closed her eyes again.

Lachlan had tossed the used mop water and was in the process of refilling the bucket.  He removed his shirt from his belt and Jyll couldn't tell whether she hoped or feared that he'd put it back on.  Instead, he took a moment to soak it in the newly freshened bucket and wrung it out over his head.  As the cold water streamed down his form, he shivered -- and as he did, Jyll's heart beat harder than she had imagined a healthy heart could.  Perhaps this was what dying felt like.

Lachlan used his shirt as a rag, polishing the Kestrel's long railing.  In the helm, Jyll squirmed and flushed.  The spelljamming helm's connection was primarily visual, but there was a tactile element to it as well.  It was necessary mostly for atmospheric flight, when proprioception helped guide the ship's movements.  Out here in the vacuum, it was easy to ignore unless one focused.  Jyll was very focused.

Lachlan took a moment to rub his hands together, working some heat into them against the chill of the water, and then set to work.  His hands were strong, but soft -- slightly rough, but surprisingly delicate.  He polished the rail in long, slow strokes, his thighs pressing against it as he worked.  He knelt down to detail a particularly stubborn spot, and breathed a warm sigh against it before working his thumb in tiny, insistent circles until it shone.  Jyll was practically shaking, and the Kestrel was beginning to list slightly.

Lachlan moved on to the rigging, which was constantly in need of sorting.  As he ran the lines through his enticing hands and looped them around his arms, Jyll felt herself becoming disentangled as well.  She leaned back, sighed deeply, and surrendered entirely to the sensation of being sorted through Lachlan's skillful fingers, resting against his firm muscles afterwards, looping upon herself and losing track of where she began or ended.

There was a hard thump! and Jyll opened her eyes with a start.  Her heart was beating fast and sweat was forming on the palms of her hands -- which, she found, were gripped tight on the arms of the Kestrel's helm-seat.  She reached up to wipe the heat from her face and realized that she could hear shouting from below-decks.



A few days later, the crew gathered around a furiously blushing Jylliana and Lachlan in the common room, while Cacophany gleefully recounted the tale of how the Kestrel hit an asteroid.