Xavier slouched against the atrium wall with his arms folded loosely across his broad chest. He'd been up most of the night and he was beginning to feel it. Exhaustion settled in, making his eyes water. Yawning, he covered his mouth, then rubbed at his face. He'd been camped out in the corridor, waiting for Shalee Lianne. A call to arms had just pinged over their comms.
He checked the time, then looked to Shalee's door, anticipating it opening any second. With a weary sigh, he paced closer, moving out of the way as two Cybershield pilots made their way to the flight deck. Their voices faded as they stepped onto the lift. As the doors closed to the lift, Shalee's door opened. She stepped out wearing a loose fitting black jumper over her pod suite with the Tri logo in bright red across the chest.
'She looks as tired as tired as I feel', he thought as he approached her, swiftly cornering her before she had time to react. His hands slid on either side of her head and braced against the wall behind her. "Going somewhere?"
Shalee gasped, her lips parting slightly, eyes widening with a mixture of curiosity and alarm. "Yes..." She stared at him as she lifted her chin, her expression instantly changing into one of haughty imperialism. A Holder's daughter, and now a Holder herself. Yes, he knew who she was. He had researched her for hours after Alexi had left. "Move it. I don't want to be late for fleet," she said as she lifted her hands and shoved them against his chest.
"Not so fast." He studied her face, noting the dark shadows beneath her eyes. Obviously she hadn't had much sleep lately, and was probably surviving on stims and caffeine. The war with Nulli was taking it's toll. "You have some explaining to do."
Shalee looked at him oddly, as if she couldn't quite figure him out. "About?"
Her brow arched as her mouth slanted into a frown. "I'm afraid you'll have to be a little more specific."
"Stop playing coy." He leaned in and whispered against her ear, "I'm on to you."
She shoved at his chest again as her eyes lit with panic. "Get off of me."
He kept his arms rigid while leaning in closer, so close that their bodies were touching. "Not until you tell me how you did it."
Her stormy blue eyes flashed with anger. "Did what?" she asked through gritted teeth. "I don't know what you're talking about, but, this little fright game you're playing? It is tiresome. So I suggest you run back to Garst and tell him I'm not fucking afraid of him or his over sized goons. Now get the hell out of my way!"
Xavier cocked his head, surprised at her sudden rant, "What are you even talking about?"
"What are you talking about?" she countered hotly, her face flushing.
He puffed out his cheeks, annoyed with her. "Look. You've been spying on me, and I want to know why."
Her expression remained passive, though something in her eyes let him know she was lying even before she opened her mouth, "I'm not spying on you."
"Yes. You are. But why? Who am I to you?"
She shook her head slightly, "You're no one to me and I don't have time for this conversation. I do not want to be late for fleet! So get the hell out of my way before I...." her voice trailed off, as if she were uncertain to what she'd do.
He smirked, "You're not going anywhere until you answer my question. Why are you spying on me? And how did you get access to my personal captain's quarters?"
A look of confusion swept across her face, "I don't have access to your quarters."
"Then how the hell do you explain your daughter coming into my room last night while I had company..."
"Yes. Your daughter. She had to be yours. She looks just like you with those slanted, Ni Kunni eyes. I saw her, Shalee."
A trail of crimson dripped from her nose as her eyes rolled back in her head. She slumped down the wall as she lost consciousness. He stretched his hand down her back, grabbing a hold of her.
"Goddammit," he uttered beneath his breath as he hoisted her up and carried her into his quarters.
Consciousness came slowly, as if she were fighting her way through a dark tunnel. Her senses came into focus one by one. With her eyes still closed, she lay there for a long moment, listening to the sound of some years-old Gallente song playing over a holonet. Somewhere, further away, a male's deep voice sang along with the song. The cloying scent of booze, expensive perfume, and sex permeated the air.
Sex? Her stomach lurched. Did she just have sex? No. That wasn't right. Wetting her lips, she could still taste the metallic tang of blood. Rolling her hands along the silk sheets, she pushed against the mattress and sat up while blinking open her eyes.
Her blue gaze darted from side to side as she skimmed it across the unfamiliar captain's quarter. In the dim light, she could make out a well stocked mini bar across the room. The closet door was open, exposing a row of expensive suits. She slid to the edge of the bed and reached for one of the empty bottles nearby, reading the label. She whistled at the price, certainly more than she'd ever spend on a bottle of champagne. Hell, it almost cost as much as what she'd pay for a cruiser.
She rubbed her hands along her face, massaging her thumbs against her temples, trying to rub away the headache that pounded since she had awoken.
"Where the hell am I?" she whispered to herself.
The singing stopped.
"Hello?" she called out in a worried tone.
Steam wafted into the room as the bathroom door slid open. The hazy silhouette of a tall, well built man stepped through the mist. A towel hung loosely around his hips, the only thing he wore except for the dog-tags that dangled together against his perfectly defined chest. Rivulets of water cascaded down his neck as he raked a hand through his short, wet hair. "You're awake."
She quickly averted her gaze as her cheeks flushed. "And you're naked." She could feel heat creeping up her neck.
"Not completely, but I can be if you'd like." He smirked as he tugged at his towel.
"Are all Gallente men this obnoxious?" And hot? Not that she'd give him the satisfaction of saying that out loud.
Xavier chuckled. "Probably." He poured two drinks at the mini bar. "You like whiskey, yeah?" He brought the two glasses over to where she sat and handed her one.
She took the whiskey while trying not to look at him.
He chuckled, seemingly amused by her discomfort.
"So. Why am I here? Please don't say we hooked up...." A look of panic flashed across her embarrassed face.
He cocked a dark brow, "You don't remember?"
Shalee shook her head no. "I remember getting pinged for an op. I remember..." her brows scrunched together. "Was I podded? But that wouldn't explain why I'm in here."
He took a sip of his whiskey while never taking his eyes off of her. "You fell. In the corridor. I was headed for the op when I saw you go down. I picked you up and brought you in here. I called a medic to look you over. He said you should be okay, to let you rest. I didn't bother moving you because I didn't know how to get into your room. And. I figured you didn't want to end up in medbay- there's no telling how long they would want to keep you for observation." He smiled charmingly.
She nodded slowly, oblivious to his lies. "Then I should thank you for coming to my rescue? And I probably should let you get back to what you were doing..." She stood, wobbling a bit. Her face flushed with embarrassment as Xavier jumped up and reached for her hand to steady her.
"Sorry. Still a bit light headed," she apologized.
"You don't have to go yet. We could get something to eat? I would suggest the chow hall but that place is shit."
She nodded, realizing it was pointless to try and catch up with fleet at this point. "Yeah, okay. Where would we go?"
"Hmm. We could stay here. Sit down. I'll cook for you," he offered with a roguish smile. "Some say I'm pretty good."
"Sure...if you put some clothes on." She grinned.
He chuckled, "Surprising. You're the first woman to try to get me into my clothes. Usually it is the other way around."
As Xavier sauntered off to the small kitchenette, she settled onto his bed to check her messages. She slid her thumb across the access pad, and frowned at the pile of unanswered correspondence.
From: Kahar Dex
To: Shalee Lianne,
Lady Lianne, Would it be interesting to you join the ranks of Faithful Amarr in Providence?
Her brow quirked at the message. Cardinal Dex, from CVA, was asking for her help? Did he not realize she was kill-on-sight to CVA and had been for years? Curious, but the next one even more so.
From: Sahriah BloodStone
To: Shalee Lianne,
Lady Lianne, At your pleasure, I would very much like to continue our conversation.
My deepest respect,
She sent a quick response to Sahriah, letting her know she'd be back in Huola over the weekend and that they should meet at the terrace. Exhaling, she raked her fingers through her hair as she played through several different outcomes in her mind. The last she'd seen the girl, she purposely lied, claiming to be both Sani Sabik and Garst's lover, hoping that it would send her running off to tell Tiger. She needed to know just how close Sahriah and Tiger were becoming. He claimed he hadn't seen her but she knew better. She knew they had met recently. She just didn't know what they were up to. An affair perhaps? Or maybe he was grooming her in the Sani Sabik religion once more? So many unanswered questions rolled through her mind, each leading her off on a different tangent.
From: Shalee Lianne
To: Shalee Lianne
Trust Xavier, but don't trust Vlad. He wants to kill Tiger and he is bribing Lord Reginald's district governor.
The next mail had shocked her more than the previous two. So Vlad Cetes was up to no good? That should hardly surprise her. The 'robot' had no emotion, and no loyalty to no one but his own self interests. But he'd never worked against her that she knew of. Why would he want to murder her husband? And what did controlling Reginald's affairs have to do with anything. The sickening feeling that Vlad could be manipulating her this whole time made her cringe. As greedy and impractical as he was, she couldn't imagine him murdering a five year old child...could he?
She quickly killed her the holofeed as Xavier returned with two plates. "Dinner's ready. Hope you like Caldari Casserole." He smiled as he motioned her over to the living area.
She slid down onto the sofa after taking the plate from him. "Xavier...when were you going to tell me you met Red?"
He blinked, startled. "Oh...you know?"
Shalee nodded. "Yeah. She left me a message and said I could trust you. Why?"
"She was here last night, playing around on your holonet. She saw some things that were hardly proper...anyhow. I thought she was your daughter. I confronted you earlier about it. I guess accusing you about your daughter was too much. You passed out and I brought you in here. She popped up and explained everything. Who she is, etc."
Shalee nodded, "I see."
"Look. I want to help you."
"How can you?"
An arrogant smirk stretched across his mouth, "I can get you those files you need and access into the upper echelon's security feed."