This is all your fault."
Rhade rolled his eyes for the millionth time and he was sure that if he did it one more time that they would likely fall out. Trust Beka to blame everything on him. As usual.
"I wanted to take the stairs, but nooooo Mr. I-think-we-should-take-the-elevator just had have his way now didn't he?"
All right. That part was true. He had suggested taking the elevator when Beka had felt like walking down the stairs. But how was he supposed to know that there'd be a malfunction? He wasn't omnipotent like Trance was.
"...and did you even hear a word I just said?"
He turned his attention back to Beka as she stood with her hand on her hips.
This was not good.
What had she been saying?
"I didn't foresee this Beka."
"That's not what I asked you."
"Do you just tune me out whenever I start talking to you?"
"I'm boring now is that it?"
"Beka, we're stuck in an elevator."
The First Officer threw her hands up in the air, "It's like talking to a wall."
Rhade rolled his eyes and was more than slightly surprised when they stayed put inside his head.
It appeared now that instead of blaming him for their current situation she had decided to give him the silent treatment and face the opposite wall.
Not that he minded. She was actually quite pleasant when she was silent. It gave him a small reprieve from her constant nagging and blaming him for whatever she felt like.
Last week she had blamed him for the Slip Fighter doors malfunctioning, the lack of coffee on the Andromeda, and for there beingno hot water on the Maru (how she had come to that conclusion he would never know).
And just yesterday it was apparently his fault that she had tripped in the corridor when he had been twenty feet away from her and yet no matter how hard he tried to convince her that, no, he didn't have any secret Nietzschean voodoo powers, she still gave him a funny look in the halls.
He was really starting to worry about her.
"You know something?"
Rhade hung his head as Beka turned back to face him.
"I bet you planned this."
His head shot up, "What?"
"You planned this," said Beka with utter conviction.
"Of for the love of...Beka I did NOT plan this, you really are paranoid you know that?"
"Always suspect super sneaky Nietzscheans of super, sneaky, secret activities."
Rhade started at her unable to come up with a response. Super sneaky?
He made himself a mental note to ask Harper what he'd been putting in Beka's coffee.
"I had nothing to do with this."
"Please, we're on Tarazed, Rhade. Your home planet. And what with being an ex-Admiral and all, exactly how hard would it be for you to ask a maintenance man that you've stayed on friendly terms with to set this up?"
Again Rhade just stared at her blankly. The woman was insane.
Taking his silence as admittance of his guilt, Beka smiled trumphantly.
"You're crazy," stated Rhade.
"You've said that already."
He groaned and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Who the hell was responsible for getting them out of here? Did anyone even know that they were stuck?
"So why then oh omniscient one, did I purposely get us stuck in an elevator?"
Beka crossed her arms, "You tell me."
"I would if I had even the slightest clue of what the hell you are talking about."
"I'll break it down for you: You. Got us. Stuck. In. An elevator. Understand? Or. Do. I. Need. To. Speak. SLO-WER?"
Rhade gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to bash his head against the wall. "This isn't my fault."
"Do I have to-"
"State your evidence."
Rhade smirked at her brief uncetain look. And was it just him or did her breating just hitch?
"What proof do you have other than the fact that I suggested an elevator to get down quicker or that I just happened to be born Nietzschean, not something I had any control over mind you, and further more how are those things even evidence?"
"I...didn't say they were. Just...reasons."
"Umm...this was your idea!"
So they were back to that now were they?
"Beka, relax. Someone has to know we're in here."
"Yeah the maintenance guy..."
"...that I hired to stop the elevator," said Rhade finishing off her rant, "Yes, I think we've well established that."
"So you admit it then?"
Sighing deeply, Rhade gave up, "Sure, why not?"
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Love In An Elevator
Beka sighed from her spot on the floor. She had long since given up standing in favour of pillowing her head on her jacket and kicking her feet against the wall. She could tap out beats and watch Rhade from the corner of her eye until she got bored of that. Not of watching Rhade, but from the tapping. She would never get tired of watching him...
Beka also found it slightly interesting to note that everytime her foot hit particularly hard or on an odd resonance, he'd wince just the slightest from his over-sensitive hearing. Beka guessed that being stuck in a small box with only their breathing and past bickering might have made his senses go into...whatever they do in quiet closed environments...what was she an expert on Nietzscheans?
Sighing again, she supposed she was. Hadn't she just generalized Rhade as being as conniving as the rest of his race?
But wait, he was!
It was, after all, his fault that they were stuck in the elevator in the first place, just like it was his fault that the slip fighter doors malfunctioned. Andromeda could go on and on about Harper messing up certain systems when he was bypassing some circuit to clean up from a previous battle and now that she thought about it more clearly...Rhade might have not had anything to do with that...
BUT! He did have something to do with the lack of coffee...even though he didn't drink coffee...Dylan did...maybe Dylan ordered Rhade to hoard the coffee for him...it could happen...
And the hot water on the Maru, well, he could have messed around with something the last time he took it out on a mission...or maybe with all the cold showers she had been taking lately she didn't even check the hot water...but the cold showers? Those were definitely all Rhade's fault.
And then there was yesterday. Beka bit back a half moan as she remembered what exactly it was that caused her to trip in the corridor.
She had been jogging her morning course on the lower decks of Andromeda like she always did and apparently Rhade had decided to run on the same deck that day. Which was something she didn't know until she was nearing the corner and he came around it. She managed to keep her legs from collapsing beneath her until she was twenty feet from him and tumbled.
That sexy, sweaty Nietzschean bastard.
Sleeveless T-shirt and the tightest pair of black spandex shorts she had ever seen.
He was breathtaking.
To cover up tripping over her own feet at the sight of him, she had blamed him and his voodoo powers. She honestly couldn't believe that he had bought it and started to explain to her that he didn't have "voodoo powers". She thought that his senses would have picked up her heart rate and certain other...things. She had never been more thankful for a dense Nietzschean male.
And now here they were, trapped in an elevator. Together. Alone. By forces of nature, the Divine's Will, or some sneaky maintenance man, they were stuck and she was bored.
"I'm bored," said Beka, "We've been in here for what four, five hours?"
"It's been less than an hour and a half."
"What? There's no...do you even have a watch?"
"No, but there's one built into the wall," he said pointing above the button panel.
"So what did you want to do?"
"You said you were bored," said Rhade, "What do you suggest?"
"Uh...I don't know..."
"Well I suppose we could sit around and get back to 'Lets's blame Rhade for everything that's happened'."
"You know um...I was maybe, kind of...upset..."
"I had a bad week?" she said feebly. She watched him as he contemplated her excuse.
Rhade shrugged and sat down by her feet, back against the wall, "All right then, what do you suggest?"
Beka was surprised. She had blamed him for how many things and he just shrugged it off? He was a myestery this one. She had never met anyone like him.
"Uhhh, well how about..." Beka racked her brain for things they could do in their situation and came up with something from her younger years. She hoped he didn't laugh.
"Truth or Dare?"
He did laugh but it wasn't what she expecting. Instead of condescending it waswith amusementand his next words proved that.
"Why not? I haven't played that since I was in the Acadamy."
"Really?" she smiled.
He nodded, "Though dares are pretty much pointless in our case as there's nothing much we can do in here, but getting some truths out of you would help me get to know you better."
Beka groaned. No wonder he was so willing. After everything she had put him through, done to him, he still wanted to know her. He was persistently consistent, she'd give him that.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Love In An Elevator
"…and then they made me their chief."
"I'm not lying."
"That didn't happen Rhade."
"I swear to you it did."
After that it was finally too much for Beka and she couldn't help but laugh. There were pictures? She could only imagine what they would contain if he were telling the truth. She had so far discovered that his younger nieces and nephews were a highly taught bunchtrained with militarily precision by their fathers to take out a fully grown Nietzschean, namely Telemachus. Quite the bunch of hooligans; Beka couldn't help but think how much they'd get along with Harper.
"It's true, why would I lie in this game?"
"I'm going to need to see proof."
"Then you'll get it," promised Rhade. "If we ever get out of this elevator that is."
'Ah yes, the elevator,' thought Beka. That was one of the sole reasons for their little game of Truth or Dare, the other reason being sheer boredom. Admittedly though, Beka had to say that this game of theirs had turned out to be quite entertaining. As long as Rhade stayed away from asking her any direct questions that is.
"All right apart from a ton of nieces and nephews, how many brothers and sisters are they all coming from?"
"Three brothers and two sisters," said Rhade, "Wasn't it my turn to ask you though?"
Beka smiled, "My game, my rules. So where do you fit in the Rhade Family pecking order?"
"I'm the youngest."
Beka snorted and tried to cover it with a cough, "You're the baby?"
"Is that so hard to believe?"
She shrugged, "I just always thought you'd be from oldest to middle or somewhere. But I guess that just means we have one more thing in common."
"You have siblings?"
"An older brother who I haven't seen in, oh what? Three years now?"
"That's quite a while."
"Yeah well, before he showed up on the Andromeda I hadn't seen him in almost six or seven years."
Rhade's eyebrows shot up, "Six or seven years?"
"I can only imagine what that must sound like to a Nietzschean. Anyway it's my turn."
"You asked your question."
"No I didn't."
"'Ten years?' that was a question so it's my turn."
Rhade rolled his eyes and waited for her to speak.
"Uhhhh…oh I know! What was the High Guard Academy like? All rigid and rule-like? Ever play any pranks?"
"I'm going to ignore the fact that you asked two questions. In short it was rules, standards, procedure, demerit points, you wouldn't have liked it. You've never struck me as a saluter or a 'Yes sir, yes ma'am' kind of woman."
"There was the class training, though I preferred the physical training."
"No really?" said Beka wryly, "Can't imagine why."
"Obstacle courses, combat weaponry, hand-to-hand, it was nicer as we moved up in rank and got to choose our specialties. As for pranks there was one involving panty hose and a chicken that I'm not going to get into."
"No, it's my turn."
"What was your specialty then?"
"Oh come on that's still part of my question about the Academy. If you won't tell me about the chicken in drag then more details on the other parts."
"I would have hoped it was obvious what my specialty was," said Rhade, "Ever since I can remember I wanted to fly."
"But then you were promoted out of it right?"
"Correct. I piloted through most of my junior ranks and first senior ones. When I was promoted to Commander and First Officer I didn't pilot as much as I used to, then came Captain and Admiral and all the bureaucracy and politics that went with those ranks. I remember on my off days, as few as I had, I'd take a slipfighter out and just fly. There's nothing like it in the world."
"Don't I know it." The first time she ever flew was an incredible experience, and even now when she just needed space, time alone, or to take a break, the helm of the Maru was always her favourite place to be.
"So when was your first time?"
Beka almost choked, "What?" she squeaked.
"Flying, when was your first time flying."
"Oh. Right. Flying." Beka cleared her throat and ignored the amused look on Rhade's face. "I was six. My dad promised me that I could flythe Marufor Chiristmas. I sat on his lap while he told me what controls to push and how to handle the grips. It was great. By the time I was twelve I could fly better than him."
"It's no wonder then why you're one of the galaxy's best pilots."
"What about your first flight? Academy?"
"Academy," he confirmed. "You used to run cargo, what was that like?"
Beka chewed her lip while she thought of the old days, "Well if you like not knowing when your next pay is coming in, or where your next job is, and all the credit you make goes on repairs and debt and not eating for a while then it's great, really great."
"All cushy on Tarazed you guys have no idea what it's like out there."
"Since joining the Commonwealth we're starting to."
"Still, you're all High Guard warships not independent little cargo ships being shot at by Resters, Nietzscheans, andeverything elsein this universe."
"It may not look like much but, admittedly, the Maru can take a lot of damage."
"You know I think that's one of the nicest things you've said about my ship all the while I've known you Rhade."
Rhade smiled, "There's something else I've been meaning to ask..."
"You had your turn."
"You did it to me so I'm asking it."
"It's my game."
"It was your idea Beka, you don't own the game and besides your unorthodox rules should apply to the both of us if you're going to use them."
"No they shouldn't."
"About your Clarinthian Angel Doll..."
"Don't go there Rhade."
"I never pegged you as the girly doll type Beka so why..."
"Hey! I can be girly! Besides I love that doll. And what about you? Still sleep with a baby blanket?"
"No, I had a fish," he said smugly before turning thoughtful, "but I think it got taken away because I kept trying to eat it...at least that was the story followed by pictures when my mother gave it back to me for my twentieth birthday..."
Beka giggled, "There's pictures?" She could only imagine a one-year-old Telemachus Rhade chewing on a little stuffed fish before shoving it in his mouth with only the tail sticking out.
"I'm probably going to regret telling you this, but if we ever get out of here just go ask my mother, I'm sure she'd gladly pull out every baby picture she has. She has invited the entire crew for dinner tonight but I'd prefer it if one else saw those pictures."
"You're trusting me?"
"My turn," he said ignoring her.
Beka groaned and hoped she'd be able to dodge whatever he asked her.
"Exactly what have you done blindfolded?"
She groaned. "I don't like this game anymore."
"Well if you wanted we could try it blindfolded."
Beka punched him in the leg, "I'm going to pretend you didn't say that. Besides it's my turn now."
"You didn't answer my question."
"And I'm not going to."
"You told Harper."
"In the exact same way I said it on Obs. Deck that day, and if you must know the original comment came about when I was out-flying a group of Resters."
"Sure it was."
"You don't believe me?"
"I didn't say that."
"Trust a Nietzschean to equate everything to sex."
"I didn't say that either." He smirked.
"You were thinking it, admit it. Even on the Obs. Deck when everyone was staring at me. I knew that look you gave me."
"The one you're giving me now…stop it…"
"You know what look…and stop smiling."
"You trapped us in an elevator, of course I'm paranoid."
"For the last time Beka, I did not trap us in here."
"So you say."
"So I say, what possible reason would I have to trap us in here?"
"I think you know."
"Do you trust me?"
"What?" Beka was momentarily confused as Rhade switched topics. What did trusting him have to do with being stuck? Oh wait. Maybe he meant trust him because he didn't get them stuck.
"I'm not another Tyr Beka."
Or not. So he was getting serious on her now was he? Talks about Tyr always were. They were personal and usually involved one or more of her disastrous relationships. Whatever made Harper tell Rhade about her love life she would never know.
"I've noticed," she said absently.
Beka hesitated slightly, he was really going in a whole new direction with this trust thing, "I told you about Talia didn't I?"
"You wouldn't have if Aleiss hadn't let it slip."
"I meant on Command, after her wedding. I didn't have to elaborate but I did. I bet your little Nietzschean genes were dancing all over that bit of blackmail."
He sounded hurt, and why oh why did she have to look up at him, for he looked it too.
"Who else knows?"
His eyes were doing that thing again. Like he could see right through the walls she put up around herself and was unable to understand why she couldn't let anyone close. It was annoying. Annoying because it was just another one of those things that Telemachus Rhade did that made her want to fall into his arms.
"No one. Can you imagine if Dylan knew? He'd be rushing off to Oedekirk to sign them to his Commonwealth and reunite the wayward daughter and her evil mother…"
"Do you really think Dylan would do that to you? That he would care more for Oedekirk and reaching out to the woman who abandoned you? If we reached out at all it should be with a fully charged force lance. As a Nietzschean I can't understand the willing abandonment of ones own child. It's appalling."
"That's one thing Nietzscheans have going for them. You love your children."
"Or in my case nieces and nephews."
"Yeah about that," started Beka. That was one of the things she had always wondered about. She had always expected a double helix wrapped around his arm and when she didn't see one it had surprised her. "Admiral of the Home Guard, Genetic Reincarnation of Gaheris Rhade and you weren't surrounded by a harem of fifty wives because…?"
His mouth lifted into a half-smile, "Well for one thing, Tarazed Nietzscheans are monogamous so the fifty wives is automatically out."
Beka eyebrows shot up. One wife? That's it? They only take one?
"As for the 'why I was never married' portion of your question. Do you know how the Pride Matriarchs have to approve the marriages beforehand?"
"I'll take that as a no. In Nietzschean cultures when a male and female wish to marry they present their DNA to the Matriarch who decides if their combined genes will bring strength to the Pride in later generations."
"And here we go with the kids again. So you're not married because…?"
"Because everyone I brought to my mother she hated. In her opinion none were good enough for me. Though every time I'm home she complains that I'm not married, pressures me to find a wife, and then the cycle of rejected potentials starts all over again."
Beka blinked, did she even want to meet Rhade's mother at dinner tonight? If she had to approve of his choices…wait, Beka shook herself, she wasn'tone of Rhade's choices, heck she might never be one of Rhade's choices. And besides, he needed Mommy's approval for marriage and Beka certainly wasn't planning on marrying him...right?
She wasn't thinking it.
And why were they talking about marriage again? Oh right, because she opened her big mouth.
"Tough lady," said Beka staring at Rhade.
"Tell me about it."
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Love In An Elevator
"Is it just me or are we hopeless?"
"Hopeless of getting out of here?"
"Now who's bringing that up?" asked Beka, "I meant…are we so messed up that all of our relationships have to fizzle out and die?"
"Maybe it's not us."
"Harper's told you all about my love life hasn't he?"
Rhade smiled lightly, "It has come up."
"How does my business come up in a conversation between an engineer and a Nietzschean?"
"You'd be surprised."
"What were you going to say?"
Rhade gave her a look. "Beka…"
She was going to say something before, that he knew. Rhade was also pretty sure that it was about a past relationship. Or all of them. He had heard about the majority from Harper especially his griping about a one Bobby Jensen who the engineer happily proclaimed to be dead. Finally. Rhade didn't ask.
Beka's past relationships; a sore spot for her but a bonding opportunity for the boys. He really wanted to hear whatever she had to say, she was actually starting to open up to him, even after only two hours stuck in the elevator. Though with her constant whining, Beka seemed to think they had been in there longer than they actually were and was starting to believe that they would live out the rest of their lives trapped in an elevator.
"Why do they always leave?" As soon as it was out Beka wanted to take it back. Why did she have to say that to him? It was none of his business and maybe…okay he was male and she thought he could maybe shed some light on the minds of his gender.
Being Nietzschean, the only way they would leave their mates was through death or female rejection.
"Maybe you scare them?"
"What?" Beka stared at Rhade. Maybe she scared them? "Scare them? So what, I'm hideous or something?"
"Beka, that's not what I meant." Rhade watched the shields go up in her eyes as she crossed her arms.
Why did this always happen? He always managed to get close to her only to do something that ended up with her pushing him away again. "What I meant was that maybe they were intimidated by you. After meeting people outside of Tarazed, most of them don't look like they could handle being second best to an independent ship Captain. Include First Officer to the New Commonwealth's flagship...and can you start to see where I'm going with this?"
Beka chewed her lip as she looked at him. Why did he always have to look at her like that after a misunderstanding? It was the same soothing look he gave her after saying he didn't think it possible for her to melt and that me meant it as a compliment.
"I'm not girly enough for them?"
"Maybe you can be, maybe you're not. How many people have really seen you who you really are?"
"This is who I really am."
"You put up defenses Beka, I know because I've hit every one of them."
"With good reason."
"I'm not Tyr Beka. I will never be Tyr," said Rhade. He found himself having to repeat that fact to her; maybe if he did it enough she would start to see it. She said she did see it a little while ago. He hoped she wouldn't regress back to her old ways of regarding him.
"How do you know?"
"I'm Commonwealth. Through and through."
"So was Gaheris and look what happened."
"Gaheris was first raised as a Nietzschean, pure and simple. He was raised with their expectations and upbringings; I was born here Beka. Three hundred years of Commonwealth loyalty went into this planet. I'd die defending that. The Nietzschean peoples have lost themselves. My loyalties are here with Dylan, Tarazed, and what's left of Majorum Pride."
"What do you want?"
"I want you to trust me."
Beka laughed half-heartedly, "You know what the scary thing is? I think I do."
She trusted him? Rhade blinked.
When did that happen? An hour and a half ago she was accusing him of blackmail. Rhade let this new information settle in. Why were they never trapped together somewhere before now? Given time, Beka did start to open up.
It was after her trust admission that Beka decided that her mouth and brain were no longer connected. These were things she shouldn't be telling him about. And for all this she blamed Aleiss. If she hadn't opened her big mouth up about Thalia then Beka never would have talked to Rhade about it. She wouldn't have started trusting him. Probably wouldn't have started noticing how he listened to her without judgment or just how attractive he was...
Damn you Aleiss!
Rhade nodded and his mouth quirked, "You trust me so much that I get accused of trapping us in an elevator?"
He gave her that all too familiar soft smile of his whenever he tried to lighten a situation, she felt her skin tingle and couldn't help return the smile. Beka also found herself starting to damn Tarazed to hell for producing such beautiful men. She still remembered that Lancer Regiment that was lined up for her personal inspection their first trip to Tarazed which she found herself enjoying for all the wrong reasons.
"Yeah that's still your fault."
"Had I known we were going to get trapped we would have taken the stairs."
"But with our luck we'd just end up stuck in the stairwell."
"Probably. And it'd be a longer wait to be freed. Once they're locked no one really checks them. The elevators have a safety light-up in the control room telling them there's a problem."
"So why haven't they freed us yet?"
Rhade shrugged, "More pressing problems, no one's seen the light yet. Someone could have a file over top of the switchboard…"
Beka groaned. "Why don't we have our communicators?"
"We're on Tarazed. What could go wrong?"
"Being trapped in an elevator comes to mind."
"It doesn't happen often," he assured her.
"I bet you say that to all the girls."
Rhade rolled his eyes. "I give up."
"I'm not going to fight you on this Beka, it'll turn into one of those 'Did too! Did not!' situations, and I'm not four."
"Are no—I see what you're doing."
"I didn't think Nietzscheans gave up so easily. Don't you guys always have to win?" Beka looked at him suspiciously before her eyes widened and she sat up quickly. "You're planning something!"
Rhade groaned as he tried not to fall over in frustration. More accusations, just what he needed.
"You are the most paranoid woman that I've ever met in my life. I'm not planning anything Beka."
"Bet you are."
"Bet I'm not."
"Bet you are."
"I'm not planning."
"I don't have secret plans."
"I think we need to get out of this elevator before you have a nervous breakdown."
"I'm not going to have a nervous breakdown Rhade, I just want to know what you're going to do."
"I'm not doing anything."
"Yes you are."
"No I'm not."
"Yes you are."
"No I'm—you know what? Fine I am going to do something." This ought to shut her up.
"Aha! I knew"
Beka sat there in shock. She couldn't blink, she couldn't move. Her breathing had got caught in her throat when Rhade had pressed his lips hard against hers. It took her brain a few moments to actually process what the hell was going on.
He was kissing her.
And…wow…where did he learn to do that with his tongue? Beka couldn't stop herself from relaxing against him and returning the kiss.
Her relationships had sucked before, and whatever this thing with Rhade turned out to be she found herself sending a silent prayer for this time to be different.
Breaking the kiss they were both breathing hard, Beka ran a hand over his cheek as their foreheads leaned against each others.
"Secret plans?" asked a breathless Beka.
"The most secretive…"
He kissed her again and somewhere along the way Beka found herself sitting comfortably in his lap, still attached to his lips. They were both so absorbed in each other that neither noticed when the elevator doors finally slid open and then closed once more.
Rommie watched as Harper unplugged his dataport and looked at her triumphantly.
"Told you I could do it."
"I think someone owes me money."
"It wasn't a bet Harper, all I said was that you couldn't make Beka and Rhade get along."
"You saw them just now didn't you? Don't make me reopen those doors. I mean that. Don't make me."
"It wasn't a bet," said Rommie crossing her arms.
"It sounded like a bet."
"Well it wasn't."
"Then why'd you hang around to see if they'd stop fighting?"
He watched her shift awkwardly. "Well…"
"Beka said something to you didn't she?"
"Of course not!"
"Ha! I knew it! I knew the boss had a thing for Rhade. Why I'll never know, but hey, he's better than what she usually picks up."
"I'd have to agree there."
"And to thank me, the two of them can name their first born son after me in honour of this moment."
Rommie sighed. "Oh Harper…"
"Or if it's a girl they can call her 'Zelazny'…"