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The Sceptre and the Isle

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"I don't understand either of you," Isabela says, her booted feet kicked up on the cockpit console since the second she put the ship on autopilot. "You've got no idea how hard it is to find good real estate on Trident."

Hawke gazes out the window at the blue streak of FTL and the stars just past it. "Apparently not as hard as you think," he says. "Crash a merchant ship into the ocean, kill a few pirates--no offense--and you've got yourself beachfront property."

"So you're giving up rent control and great beach sex--" she pauses. "It is great, right? The new-boyfriend excitement hasn't worn off?" She eyes Hawke carefully, her lip ring glinting from the LED. "That would be a shame."

Hawke falters, torn between natural shamelessness and the fact that sometimes a man just needs his privacy, and Anders coughs delicately.

"You can only squat for so long before someone decides they might want their house back," he says.

"Ship captains, too," she parries. "You're damn lucky I didn't space you two the second I caught you." Above her smirk her eyes are hard for a moment, the same captain they saw blast through the engineering door with two pistols blazing, but then she chuckles, deep and sultry. "The least you could do is give me some details."

Hawke's not convinced.

Isabela shrugs, the black lace of her bra spilling over her shirt. "You're no fun at all. And I still don't understand."

Anders smiles wistfully from where he's got his arms around his knees on the cabin floor, his mind literally a million miles away. "There are more important things in this galaxy than a free honeymoon," he says.

Hawke reaches down to slip his hand over Anders' shoulder and into his hair, then jerks as the scream of klaxons suddenly floods the room and echoes through the ship, clanging in time with angry warning lights.

Isabela whips back into business. "Balls," she spits as she reads the monitors, "I've got Geth signatures."

Anders starts out of his daze and off the floor. "What?"

"We're sailing in their space today, kitten," she says as her fingers fly over the console, issuing commands and hopefully getting them the hell out of here. "I was hoping we'd miss them again, but no luck." She mashes the intercom. "Merrill, prep the Thanix! I'm not taking any chances."

Hawke draws a breath and slips that arm around Anders anyway, maybe tighter than he means to. He's heard stories, and he's not about to become one of them.

"Well," he breathes, "at least it's not boring." Anders snorts, sort of a scared snort, but he understands.

Something flashes on a screen, and Isabela grits her teeth and grins an ugly grin. "The relay's aligned--I think I can make it before they catch up."

Anders peers out the window, as if he could see them in the vastness of space, not that the blaring sound and lights don't make it terrifying on their own. "And if we don't?" he asks.

The excitement on Isabela's lips finally reaches her eyes.