Freya's Tears

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Quiet Evening

Mission: Book Two - Ginnungagap
Location: Lafayette

The second sun was setting when Els exited her quarters, stomach grumbling. She paused in the tiny promenade at the nose of the ship, looking out over the peaceful star port. Pale green skies had deepened to emerald as twilight approached, both small moons brightening as they began their night’s chase across the heavens.

Els stretched and yawned. The ship’s silence unsettled her. The lack of sound from the engines seemed awry, improper. A ship required the rumble of its engines, the barely detectable vibrations of the deck, the chatter of its crew to indicate life and power. This peacefulness didn’t occur often enough for her to become comfortable with it. If the engines weren’t disturbing her peace, it was the sounds of her crew roaming the ship—yelling, cooking, showering, playing cards, lifting weights. This silence disrupted her equilibrium, made her sense that something had gone haywire.

Tonight was Austin’s and Kasli’s security rotation aboard ship. Everyone else had gone to the NCO club to celebrate a new job and get some last minute drinking done before tomorrow’s lift off. With Kasli not able to partake, Els had chosen to remain behind, receiving the expected number of lewd comments from Naya and Hrothgar as they paraded off with the others. Someday her brother would discover the love of his life. And when he does I’m never going to let him hear the end of it.

Els trotted downstairs to the empty bridge, checking the security sensors and cameras before settling at the navigation station. All external entry points were secure and no one had tripped the alarms. It appeared that they’d get through their stay without a disaffected space hand attempting desertion. She called up the data from the work station in her cabin and entered her computations for the next leg of their trip. She triple-checked her work before shutting down the station. There. Finished for the night. There was nothing left to do but relax for the remainder of the evening. She paused to confirm that Austin had patched the alarms into the ship intercom and left the bridge, safe in the knowledge that a clangor loud enough to wake the dead would sound should anyone attempt to sneak aboard.

The common area was vacant though the faint aroma of cooked food persisted in the kitchen. The lingering scent of dinner reminded Els that she was hungry, and she rummaged around for something to eat. Finding leftovers in the cooling unit, she popped them into the heater and set it on low. To tide her over, she checked the overflowing cabinets for an energy bar, happy to have a choice after their recent shopping trip. The pickings would be slimmer come their arrival at Bliss next week. She snagged the coconut flavored one and left the kitchen.

Kasli’s door stood open. Els munched her snack and peered inside. Empty. Leaning against the door frame, she turned to scan the vacant common area. Austin was more than likely holed up in his cabin with his holoprojection unit, but where was Kasli? The head? Els went over and knocked on the bathroom door.

No response.

Well the ship wasn’t that big, and Kasli wouldn’t abandon her post. Els checked her dinner to ensure that she had plenty of time before it was ready and left the common area. Kasli would be in one of two places—either the cargo hold where the crew stored their weight-lifting equipment or at her turret. With the turret access on this level, Els headed there first. As she walked along the tight corridor, she heard movement and the faint clink of tools ahead. She smiled as she bypassed the stairs leading down to the cargo hold beneath her for the metal rungs imbedded in the port bulkhead. Looking up, Els saw the sole of one familiar boot dangling over the ledge above. Beyond the boot and the armament equipment was the deep green night sky, dusted with a sprinkle of glowing stars through the turret windows. “Hey.”

There came a clatter and Kasli’s head popped over the edge. She smiled. “Hey.”

“What are you doing up there?”

Kasli scanned the interior of her domain. “Running a couple of diagnostics, nothing much.” She returned her gaze to Els. “Something to do. You were busy.”

“I’m done. Just calculating our flight path and entering it into navigation.” Els crossed her arms over her chest, peering up at her friend. “I’ve got dinner reheating in the kitchen. Are you hungry?”

“I could eat. Let me wrap this up.” She ducked back from Els’s view, the sound of closing panels and computer beeps and whistles indicating the diagnostic’s completion.

Els dropped her arms and stepped away from the tube as Kasli climbed down, admiring the view. “Everything good up there?”

“Tip top shape, Captain.” Kasli leaned in for a sweet kiss. “Mmm. You taste like coconut.”

In reply, Els waved the empty energy bar wrapper she still held in one hand, receiving a thorough exploration of her mouth from Kasli. As they broke apart, she licked her lips. “If you like it that much I’ll stock up on the coconut.”

Kasli gave a breathless laugh. “You do that.” She ran her fingers through Els’s unruly blonde curls, tucking recalcitrant locks behind one ear. Pressing her delicious body against Els, she whispered, “I want you.”

Els swallowed hard, her internal organs having long since melted into a puddle. Despite the sharp stab of arousal, she hesitated and cursed herself for it. Taking their relationship to the next level still wasn’t something she could do quite yet and she didn’t know how to verbalize her concerns.

She must have done something to telegraph her uncertainty because Kasli’s seductive activities mellowed. The kisses Kasli draped along Els’s neck and jaw lessened in intensity and Kasli’s hands retreated from dangerous territory. Pulling back, Kasli smiled, not the least bit repentant for driving Els crazy. “Sorry. Sometimes I can’t get enough of you.”

Panting, Els huffed a low chuckle. “Can’t say as I don’t like the sound of that.” She struggled to calm her heart and catch her breath, flushing with unrequited desire and faint shame at her diffidence.

Kasli’s smile widened. She kissed Els on the lips, more than a peck but not with the same smoldering heat as before. “No need to push things. We’ve got all the time in the world.”

Els stared deep into Kasli’s brown eyes, not sure for what she was searching and receiving only calm acceptance in return. This woman was her best friend—strong where Els wasn’t, kind-hearted, wicked with a gun and a staunch supporter. It scared Els silly that she might destroy their friendship. How long could she sit on this precipice before Kasli gave up in exasperation? Somber, she said, “Do we?”

Smile fading, Kasli regarded her with the same seriousness. “Yes. We do, mahasanni.” She made a show of looking around them before refocusing on Els. “Neither of us are going anywhere and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. Can you?”

“No.” Els’s trepidation eased. “Unless, of course, you have an old flame you want to bring aboard ship?” she asked, referring to her recent situation with her former lover, Bennie. Els meant it as a joke, but sharp pain jabbed her heart as soon as the words were out of her mouth.

A slow grin curved Kasli’s lips. “Never.” Before Els could register relief, she continued, “I have them in every port, but I make it a rule to never bring them aboard ship.”

Els gaped. “Wait—what?”

Kasli laughed at her surprise. She hugged Els close, pecking her on the nose. “Gotcha!” Before Els could respond Kasli turned and bolted toward the common room.

“Oh, you…You’re in so much trouble!” Els chased after, reluctance forgotten in the desire to get even. Kasli’s giggle led her onward through her ship.

 

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