Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:2:27) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate).
Ewwiekewwieikkie, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and, Commander Sierra Rodney.

The Rodney estate on Esseles stood in the mountains outside of the city of New Calamar. After attacks on the family, the estate had been increasingly militarized. There was a large perimeter wall around the grounds, a large Imperial military presence including walkers, and low altitude TIE patrols. It was more a small military base than a home these days, although the Storm commandos had been transferred away limiting the defenses somewhat. From the edge of the grounds the distant city could be seen with its bustling Terril Naval Base. Claudius Rodney had not spent much time at the estate, but he was eager to see Drusilla and Ewwiekewwieikkie who he had felt best not to keep aboard the Dreadnaught. This was the first time Sierra would be seeing what was now her house, but rather than repeat the misfortune of what had happened aboard the Retributor, he had made sure to have all of his ex-wife's belongings removed. It was a clean slate for a fresh start.

To ensure a repeat of Jelena's death didn't happen, it was important to keep Drusilla and Ewwiekewwieikkie away from the Retributor. They were, in at least some ways, untouchable to Arden on Esseles. Sierra Rodney was relieved to be going *home*. A home she had yet to see, but one which offered privacy away from the ISB hidden cameras. There was no where safe on the Retributor. She felt excited to see the girls, having not spent any time with them since after the wedding. She also anticipated what this home would look like. The military that covered the grounds was necessary. After landing the small ship, Sierra collected a bag and a distinct, hard violin case. It wasn't much of a move in, given that she had limited her personal belongings since she began to call the Retributor home. Her free hand took hold of her husband's, offering him a smile as they moved down the ship's ramp. "Home, sweet home?" No one had ever been considered sweet to her. Though she loved Alderaan, her home had never really been a *home*. The Dreadnaught also had not provided for a positive environment. Claudius' estate was the last contender.

Claudius turned to face Sierra, but before he could speak the distinct screech of a TIE fighter soaring overhead drowned out all of the sound. He squirmed uncomfortably, waiting for the noise to pass before addressing her. "It's home. I don't know how sweet it is," he said, before taking her by the arm, and leading her from the shuttle landing pad towards the double doors that would lead inside of the extravagant three story estate. The ground level consisted of a living area with an open kitchen, and a modest office. The second floor was the living area with rooms for Claudius and Sierra, and a separate room for each of the children. The third room was dedicated to an observatory, which had been a passion of his since youth. "It seems the children are upstairs, so we have some peace ... for the time being," he said to her, with a half smile, as he moved towards the kitchen to see if there was anything cold to drink. As Regional Governor he rarely had time to go to the market, so he never knew what to expect in storage.

The loud screech from above quickly solved the question as to why he seemed to rarely visit his estate. How did one sleep with the noise of TIE fighters? Together, they entered *their* home. Sierra didn't know what to expect. She hadn't thought of decor in ages, much less what Claudius' taste might be like. "Why do you say that? I thought you loved the sound of screaming TIE fighters early in the morning." She rested what little belongings she'd brought on the couch. Like the curious girl that she was, she drifted away from him to scope out her new home before joining with him in the kitchen. "Ah, the joys of parenthood," she winked. "Speaking of. What are the chances I can take the girls out tomorrow? I will attempt to limit Drusilla, but no promises there. I'm still attempting to buy her love." Joking! She eyed the refrigerator, wondering when it was last opened. She'd need to round up all the liquor in the house to keep her husband from slipping. He seemed to be doing well. Her fingers danced over the countertop. "It's nice to be in an actual kitchen. I'd offer to cook for you, though it'll probably make you want to marry me again." Sierra grinned. Maybe she could help make this more of a home for him.

"I love the sound of knowing my family is safe from Rebel agents," Claudius said, as his eyes moved skyward at the ever present patrols that safeguarded his home. "You can take them, but I'd want to send at least a platoon of Stormtroopers with you. This isn't Leiliani. New Calamar is a warzone. There was recently a bombing there that killed several officers and local officials," he lamented, as he struggled to open a jar. He let out a loud groan, his teeth grinding against one another, as his cheeks reddened. "Blast," he cursed, as he let go of the jar and put it down on the counter. It seemed to him that the kitchen was as daunting as the war against the Rebels. "You certainly could not do worse than I," he said, with a laugh, as he moved towards her swiftly. His hands connected with her hips, lifting her off the ground, and spinning her in a dramatic flourish. As he let her feet touch the ground again his lips connected with hers in a passionate kiss.

"I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't want to put the girls in a dangerous situation. I'm sure they would appreciate some fresh air. I'll find some quieter places for us to shop." She would also wear a weapon when she went out. Ewwie and Drusilla were part of her family long before she became their stepmother. She, personally, wouldn't allow harm to come upon them during her watch. She watched him attempt to open the jar. Before she could help him, because Sierra was a problem solver like that, he whisked her off of her feet. She laughed. "Au contraire," she objected with a growing smile on her face she spun her. *Swoon*. He was so far out of her league. She would always be pleased that he picked her over anyone else. Her lips touched with his. He drew her into that sweet, passionate kiss. Thin arms wrapped around his waist tightly. Mindful of the presence of children, Sierra kept things fairly modest. She ended the kiss long before she actually wanted to. She reached across the counter, grasping the jar he had attempted to open. She untucked her tunic, using it to help her open the jar. With a loud *pop*, the lid came off. She offered him the open jar. "You made it easy for me," she teased, turning around so he could view her wiggling backside as she moved to investigate the contents of the fridge. She opened up the freezer side. Empty. She opened up the fridge side, her nose twitching. There were beverages, but there was also something that looked black and demonic in the corner of the fridge. "Claudius ... did you bring home a doggy bag from our meal with the Emperor?" She pointed to *it*.

The sound of a disturbance in the kitchen was enough to make Ewwiekewwieikkie's ears perk in the upper level of the estate. She made a loud gasp before she ran out of her room and moved towards the stairs. Unfortunately, she was so excited that she tumbled down the stairs in a large ball of blue fur that landed awkwardly at the bottom. This only deterred her for a moment before she scampered back onto her feet and moved towards the kitchen. Seeing the jar in her adoptive father's hand she leapt on him like a domesticated animal, pouncing him to the ground and moving to stick her nose in the jar. "Om nom nom," she groaned, as she inhaled the contents before Claudius could even have one. When she was finished, she looked up towards Sierra with wide, yellow eyes. "More! More! More!" she demanded, before diving headlong into the still open refrigerator.

Ah ... the pitter patter of little feet. Correction: the crash, banging noises of Ewwiekewwieikkie tumbling down the stairs like a hurricane. Sierra looked towards the stairs, seriously thinking the little Squib had been hurt on her way downstairs. Instead, the girl was up and at it like nothing had ever happened. Sierra laughed, watching her pounce her adoptive father and consume the contents of the jar at a record breaking speed. "! Ewwiekewwieikkie!" The horrible old food in the corner of the fridge needed to be quietly outed before Ewwie accidently ate it. She wiggled beside Ewwie, reaching out to snatch up another jar of fruit pieces. This jar popped open easily. She offered it to her step-daughter, closing the refrigerator in the process. While Ewwie ate, Sierra offered Claudius a hand so she could help him back to his feet. "Looks like we need to stock up on some food. That was the last jar of fruit." She looked towards Ewwiekewwieikkie with a loving smile on her face. She instantly decided that they needed to return home more frequently for this family was *good* family.

Claudius lay on the ground in great discomfort, as his last escapade with Sierra aboard the command ship had seen him smashed through a coffee table in his office. He looked up at her helplessly, not wanting to reveal just how much Ewwiekewwieikkie's pounce had injured him. Instead he just lay there with a dumb grin on his face, trying not to grimace and reveal that he was in pain. He tried to sit up suddenly, but failed, and soon found himself flat on his back again. He placed his hands on either side of him, pressed down, and boosted himself up again with a loud groan of pain. He quickly extended his hand to lean against the wall to support himself. He was getting old, but he did not want to admit it to either his wife or daughter.

"Last jar?" Ewwiekewwieikkie repeated, with her head still plunged deep inside the refrigerator. The words were agony to the young Squib, who quickly removed her head, now partially covered in frost, to look at Sierra. "No! No last jar!" she said, as her lower lip began to quiver. Tears began to well up in each of her large yellow eyes, followed by the desperate sound of sniffles. She wrapped each of her blue fur covered arms around Sierra's lower legs as she began to cry hysterically at the fact that she was now nom-less. She buried her face against the black pants of Sierra's uniform, blowing her nose obnoxiously loud and coating her mother-in-law with a mixture of tears and mucus. "Noooooooooooooo!" she cried out as she pulled her head up, before taking a dramatic gasp of air, and burying her head once more. It was all too much for the poor thing to bare.

Sierra could only imagine how her husband was feeling at the moment. Just the other day, she'd had to pick the remains of his glass coffee table from his back, all the while apologizing that he got hurt during their heated session. As much as she wanted to help him, the little blue Squib with eyes so sad that it broke her heart had snatched up every ounce of Sierra's attention. Her quivering lip was almost too much to handle...and then came the dramatic water works. The young girl played Sierra like a harp. She crouched down, wrapping her arms around Ewwiekewwieikkie after she coated her trousers with mucus and blue fur. She squeezed the poor dear. "Ewwiekewwieikkie, don't cry! I... I'll get you more food, right now! I'll swim you down a river of jarred fruits and other yummy stuff." She rocked the Squib from side to side. If Claudius was truly only going to have daughters, Sierra was screwed. Ewwie was *too* adorable. Her hand ran over Ewwie's back. She eyed Claudius. For all of his suffering, she was going to make sure he had the chance to actually relax tonight while not pointing out that he needed to 'take it easy'.

"Hmm," Ewwiekewwieikkie murmured, thinking to herself, as she listened to Sierra's promise of more food. However, before the food could be delivered she moved her mouth forward and took part of Sierra's pant leg into her mouth and began to chew on the fabric. "Blech!" she groaned, as she spit out the pants, and began to run around the kitchen again. She grabbed the largest pot she could find and quickly placed it upon her head like a helmet. She then grabbed a large, wooden spoon and began to hit the side of the pot repeatedly. "Food! Food! Food!" she began to chant as she banged on the pot, unaware of the damage she was doing to her own head. "Ugh," she groaned after a while, as she began to feel dizzy. She collapsed suddenly, landing on her butt, as her head spun around in a circle. She was literally seeing stars underneath her pot helmet, as she sat there, impatiently expecting her next meal.

Oh, no, no, no! Sierra's pants couldn't possibly taste delicious. That was a lesson Ewwiekewwieikkie learned before her stepmother could relay the information. She stood upright, watching the little Squib move at a speed quicker than light. The girl bore her pot-like helmet as if she was prepared to go to war with food itself. Her requests for food could not be met quickly enough. Instead of fumbling through the process of getting food from the store and then feeding Ewwie, Sierra choice the instant gratification route. Standing, she made a bee-line for her bag. She produced her handy dandy holopad from it, which she then used to order ten pizzas. Yes. *Ten*. Sierra had no idea how much Ewwiekewwieikkie could pack away by herself, not to mention that she still had to feed Drusilla, Claudius, herself, and Bruce! She added an extra amount for quick delivery, fearing that Ewwiekewwieikkie might attempt to eat the pot next. She returned to the kitchen. "Food is on the way!" She proclaimed like it was the holy word.

After the food arrived, the evening went by smoothly. The first family meal was enjoyable. Sierra only had to advise Ewwiekewwieikkie not to eat the plates three times! She tried to breach the gap with Drusilla, but she simply wasn't sure how the girl felt about her. Ultimately, everyone retired to the second floor. Sierra instructed Claudius to relax in the bedroom while she took care of tucking in Ewwie and reading to her. It really was like having a young one of her own already. When all was said and done, she brought her belongings into their bedroom. "Ewwiekewwieikkie is tucked and Drusilla is ... doing something in her closet." She reported. "You're going to get spoiled for the rest of the evening. Undress yourself and meet me in the bathroom." Sierra smiled. She was having such a good night. Her heart was full of happiness even though her pants were cold with Ewwiekewwieikkie's mucus.

Claudius was pleased that Sierra had solved the food crisis ... *again*. This was not as severe as the Delayan refugee crisis, but feeding Ewwiekewwieikkie was always important. As he looked into the bathroom he smiled towards his Sierra and began to strip himself from his uniform. His undershirt had drops of blood from the earlier collision with Ewwiekewwieikkie that had reopened the wounds on his back. He grimaced as he pulled his shirt from his body, and then began the process of unbuckling his belt and allowing his pants to fall to the ground. He stepped forward onto the cold tile of the bathroom, letting out a small yelp as the sensation shot up his spine. He moved quickly across the floor before joining her near the bath. "Are you *sure* they're occupied? I'd hate to traumatize them," he joked, as he let his hand enter the water, and swept it back side to side to circulate the water.

She prepared the bath for them to share. It seemed like the right note to end the evening on. Relaxation, followed by cuddling and sleeping. She'd solve the at home food crisis long term tomorrow. For now, her attention was only for her husband. She was bent over the tub, monitoring the temperature of the water when he joined her in the bathroom. She had already abandoned her uncomfortable boots. Even through her stockings, the ground was *so* cold! His yelp sent her attention backwards to him. Sierra was already thinking about the status of his back. In one hand, she held a damp wash cloth. His joke made her laugh...and worry. "You know, I'm going to check the lock on the door one more time. There are some things I never want to explain to Ewwiekewwieikkie." She jogged out of the bathroom. She checked the door once, twice, three times. No one was going to stumble in on them.

She entered the bathroom for a second time. "Okay, we're safe." As safe as they were getting. Her hand touched with his shoulder blade. Her other hand brought the cloth to his bleeding skin, gently cleaning his wounds. "I'll preoccupy the girls tomorrow. You can enjoy a real day off, okay? Oh..! Bath's full." She stepped out behind him to turn off the water. "Get in. Leave enough room for me to slip in behind you." She squeezed his bare body against her clothed one. Eee! She loved him! Sierra happily began to undress afterward. One by one, each article of her clothing fell to the floor until she was naked. It seemed her happiness had spread all over. She looked beautiful.

Claudius put one foot into the hot bath water, gasping suddenly at the change in temperature from cold to hot. He soon allowed the rest of his body to slide into the tub, but when it made contact with his genitals, he lifted back up quickly as he was extra sensitive there. Eventually he settled into the water, and then scooched forward to allow her room to enter behind him. "You know I never really used this," he said to her, as he turned to look over his shoulder at her. As the water brushed against his cuts and bruises he let out little gasps of minor pain and discomfort. He needed a spa treatment desperately.

"Really? Why not? I love baths. I'm not sure you get much better than a bath for two." She stepped in once he had adjusted to the temperature of the water. She shivered, having gotten cold sometime in the evening. Slowly, she, too, sat in the bath. Her legs rested on either side of his. Her chest was very close to his back. She kept a little bit of distance between them. Resuming cleaning his wounds, Sierra's legs squeezed him lovingly. "I'm sorry your wounds got reopened, my love. For the sake of our furniture and your abused body, we should probably take it easy on each other," she chuckled. "I have a lotion I'll use on your back when we get out. It'll help with the pain and healing." Her free hand brushed down the side of his body slowly.

"It's alright, Sierra. You should have seen her when she was a child. I'm surprised the bite marks healed," Claudius said, remembering the happy times with her when he first rescued her from Skor II. "She did not mean anything by it. It's her nature," he said to her, before leaning back, against her chest, and allowing his head to rest on her shoulder. He let out a contented sigh as the hot water rose over his body, soothing his tired old muscles, and allowing him to relax for the first time since the events with Jelena began months ago. "I am thankful for these times with you, Sierra," he told her, before turning his head, and placing tender kisses upon the side of her neck. The water was not the only thing in the tub that was hot.

"Oh my, Ewwiekewwieikkie as a child..." She tried to imagine her as an infant Squib. All that blue hair and those eyes! Sierra wanted to squee like a little girl. "If you have any pictures of that, I *have* to see them." She wished she could have seen Ewwie's younger days. That included experiencing Ewwie's bites. Together, they settled in the tub. Sierra's arms wrapped around her husband's waist. "She's so sweet. Ever think of adopting another squib?" She snickered. The bath's effects were working on her. All the tension faded from her body. The teenager was massively enjoying herself. His comment cause a disruption in the beating of her heart. The kisses that followed were the kind that riled her up and caused things like the end of the glass coffee table. She purred, her eyes rolling in delight. "I am too, Claudius. I've had such a lovely night with you and the girls. You've made me happy in a way I never thought I would be." She confessed to him. All those years living out heavy abuse had lasting effects on her. The idea of someone loving her like Claudius did had been foreign. And then there was *him*. One of her hands released his waist so her fingers could work through his curly hair.

"I do not think any human family can survive more than one Squib. I still remember finding her on Skor II after the Republic liberated her world. Her home was in ruins. Her parents ... my friends ... dead for some time. She was all alone. I could not leave her to that," Claudius said, becoming overly emotional as he sat there in the tub with his wife. "There were some in the family, and many in the Empire, who scoff at her presence, but she is very much an equal part of this family," he said to her, as he let his body slide all the way down until his head momentarily dipped beneath the water. A moment letter he emerged from the water, spitting out a jet of water from his mouth as he allowed himself to let go completely and relax. "Are you sure you can handle another shopping excursion with them?" he asked, somewhat apprehensively, as he closed his eyes and tried to forget the war and all that threatened them outside of their reinforced compound.

The origin of Ewwiekewwieikkie had never been told to her. She had always enjoyed playing with the Squib. Ewwiekewwieikkie was carefree in a way that she could never be. Her childlike innocence was a beautiful thing that Sierra wanted to help protect. She listened, sadly, to the abridged version of how he came across her. She held him tighter. "You're a good man. Anyone other than you would have left her for dead. She's wonderful. You can feel free to make me a list of the idiots who scoff at her. I will punch them in the face," just like Arden! Sierra smiled. She'd come equipped with love for both of his daughters; her family. It was nice to see him relaxing. Her hands tucked behind her head while she did the same. "Yes, I'm sure. We had a good time in Leiliani. Don't worry." She sounded confident. She wanted to make a point to spend more time with the girls and attempt to form good bonds. Sierra wasn't going anywhere any time soon, after all. She sunk deeper into the water, watching him. "Stop worrying! I can see you worrying!" She playfully splashed him!

"You should try out for the fleet's next shockboxing tournament," Claudius joked at her, as she suggested simply beating up all of their enemies. If only life were that simple. "Yes. I am worrying, my love. They are quite a handful, and I worry about the potential of a Rebel attack. They killed Jelena, nearly killed my father, and nearly killed you and Gaius," he continued, listing a list of false allegations against them. Although he did not care about Gaius. "It is so kind of you to reach out and spend time with them. Drusilla's mother died during childbirth. And Ewwiekewwieikkie's mother died when she was very young. Neither of them has ever really known a mother..." he said, sadly, as he considered their plight. "And I ... I was always absent," he said to her sadly, wanting to put himself under the water again and hide from his guilty conscious.

Sierra laughed, "Thank you, Claudius. I appreciate your support." If only life were that simple. The Rebellion would be a lot easier to beat down if they could do it one punch at a time. She heard his worries. Times had been hard lately. All it would take was someone killing her, Ewwiekewwieikkie, and Drusilla to push him off the cliff. Her fingers stroked through his hair once more. As he began to unload his guilty conscious on her, Sierra found that she didn't feel the same way towards him as she did in her school girl days. The days when her and Jelena would curse their families for abandoning them in different ways. Now, she felt more understanding of his situation. "I hope that they can see me in a better light eventually. I may not be either of their mothers, but I love them endlessly. I want to make them both happy, even if it means shopping with Drusilla." She inched towards him. He couldn't hide from his wifey! Sierra latched onto him, wrapping both arms around his neck. She placed a kiss on his cheek. "I can understand your guilt, but you can't stew on it forever. Everyday is precious. Everyday is a chance to change *anything*. You can become a more attentive father. You already spend more time with them now than before. I know the war is raging and we get busy, but we both need to come home more often. I see how much you care. You *are* an amazing father."

"Just promise me you won't try to purchase Drusilla's affections. I do not think the treasury can withstand it. She is quite effective at manipulating situations like this to her advantage," Claudius said, laughing slightly, but with keen remembrance of the expense reports that routinely crossed his desk. She thought he did not know, but he knew ... he just did not know how to say 'no' to her. He was an absentee father for most of her life who swept in with presents and a line of credit at every major store on the planet. While refugees starved Drusilla added more shoes and jewels to her personal collection. If she succeeded him as Duchess there would likely be a coup. "I want to spend more time with the children before they grow up and leave me," he revealed to Sierra in a vulnerable state. He was overcompensating now for losing Jelena.

Sierra laughed hard. "Boy, I've seen that first hand. I'll never forget the year Julius forgot to purchase her a birthday present. I won't try to purchase her affections, I swear to you that. Not simply because we cannot afford it, but also because I don't want our relationship to work that way." She said this, as he had just seen Ewwie work her like no other. Those big, yellow eyes and quivering lip had been too much for Sierra. Claudius' worries did not fall on deaf ears. Sierra held him. In a such a vulnerable state, she would be his shield and protection. "Then you shall, my love. Even if I have to drag you away from your work, we'll come home as often as we can. Every night, if possible." She felt that the family was important, especially the children. Drusilla would be eligible for marriage within a few years ... as scary as that was to consider. She didn't want her to leave the nest with Claudius feeling like a neglectful father.

"Do you think it is safe here?" Claudius asked her, as he took hold of the sponge and began to wash his chest. "Or do you think I should have them moved back to the Retributor?" he asked, riddled with self doubt, and no longer trusting his own judgment. "If they're aboard the ship it would be easier to see them. If they're here on Esseles they at least would be able to go outdoors and have something more akin to a home," he explained, as he wrestled with the idea intensely. "I just do not know what is right for them. You're closer to their age. What would you prefer?" he asked her, as he turned his head around to get a better view of her. "There is at least a larger tub here," he said, before playfully splashing her with some of the soapy water like someone half his age might have done.

He asked a difficult question: was it safer here? Sierra began instantly weighing pros and cons. The Retributor's greatest pro was that they could see the girls every day. They had already decided additional time with them was important. Esseles, however, gave them a semi-normal life. She couldn't imagine Drusilla being happier on the Retributor. "Hmm..." She was still thinking when he splashed her. Not expecting it, Sierra was hit! Her blonde hair fell in her face. "Hey!" She swept it away, promptly splashing him back. "This isn't a war you want to start!" She threatened him. Empty threats, of course. "It's a difficult situation. Is it safe here? I think so. If nothing else, there's no Arden here. In my opinion, I do think the girls are better off here, on Esseles. They can have a semi-normal life here. Like you said, they are able to go outdoors and achieve some semblance of normalcy. I feel like Ewwiekewwieikkie and Drusilla would be a lot less happy there... And the tub is a plus." She offered him a smile. "How often can we come here?"

"Alright. Then we shall keep them here," Claudius said, as he dodged her efforts to splash him. Their rapid movements caused the bath water to splash back and forth, occasionally spilling over the rim of the tub onto the floor. "We can come as much as the Rebels will let us. When I purchased this estate my desire was to commute to work, but by the time I was done with meetings and briefings the children were already asleep and I decided to simply sleep here," he said, lamenting how his career had interfered with his being a father. "You'll have to ask my new adjutant. If she can keep my schedule manageable then perhaps I'll be more available to come here," he again teased her, before attempting to reposition himself in the tub. As he attempted to turn to face her, he slipped, and crashed down upon her roughly. "Oof," he groaned, uncomfortably, until he was finally facing her, with his back to the other side of the tub. He smiled across at her, his soap body occasionally becoming visible as the ebb and flow of the water rose up and down over him.

"You know, I'm pretty close to your new adjutant. She's pretty nice. I'm sure she can properly arrange your schedule so you can spend nights at home, *before* the children are asleep." She grinned widely while he began to reposition himself. She didn't expect him to fall down on her. "Eek!" She squeaked. A big wave of water spilled from the tub and hit the ground with a splash. They were making an absolute mess! At least this time he fell down on her, instead of her falling down on top of him like seemed to be their norm. She squirmed until they had corrected their position. Sierra; seated with half of her body lingering outside of the soapy water and the other half hidden beneath. As if she hadn't learned from Claudius' position change, Sierra moved closer to him. She wrapped her arms around his neck while kissing both of his cheeks. "I'll do everything I can to make you feel better, my Claudius. I think it would do you good to come home every night. You've got Drusilla, Ewwiekewwieikkie, and all the daughters we're going to make to take care of." Her fingertips gently rubbed over the back of his neck.

"More daughters?" Claudius exclaimed, with mock horror, as he playfully covered his eyes in fear. "Do you want to have children?" he asked her, as he peaked out from behind his clasped hands. "You are young yet. I would hate to burden you with motherhood before you've even reached the prime of your existence," he said to her, with genuine concern for her well being. "Tell me. Before all this what did you want to be?" he asked her, as he moved forward through the water until his face was nearly in front of hers. "Tell me about the life I plucked you from," he asked her, determined to get to know more about this teenage he had so unexpectedly wed. He placed a soft kiss upon her cheek, blowing some bubbles into her ear, before repositioning himself for what he intended to be a serious discussion.

She giggled. If all she gave him was daughters, then he'd likely drown in estrogen! That, or feel a lot less inclined to come home. "Yes, I want children. Don't you? I, er... I'm not on birth control. It is the way I was brought up. Mother was very strict." He knew about that. "That can change!" She added just in case she caused his blood pressure to raise with her confession. "Motherhood is no burden in my eyes. I look forward to it, whenever it happens. *If* it happens." She understood that Claudius was much older than her. If he didn't want more children, then she would accept it. Her nose nuzzled against his. He was so kind to her. He worried about her. Sierra was excited to tell him about her life. She knew so much about him from Jelena, and was learning every day. But what did he know about her? She cuddled him in the water. "I wanted to be a musician." Sierra laughed. "Mother had always pushed me in that direction, so, of course I had to be as rebellious as possible. Helping people has always been a passion of mine. I wasn't upset with going into psychology. My life before you wasn't all that special. I've actually had a hard time since I moved to the Retributor. Schooling seemed like it passed in a flash. I felt like I was ill-prepared to fix some of the people who came to me. I never meshed with the other ISB officers either. Then there was Alderaan, of which I have many mixed feelings about. You know my story before the Retributor. Schooling, that terrible academy, and a whole heck of a lot of abuse at home. A man who tore out my heart and skewered it was my reason for joining the Empire. You asked me before, and I was too embarrassed to admit it. I was running away from my problems." Her eyes darted away from his. Now she was exposed. "Every time I think about my childhood, it solidifies why I want to be a mother. I want to do all the things Mother never did for me to a child of my own. I have that unconditional love inside of me. I could empower our child, instead of ripping them apart."

"You will have to play for me some time," Claudius encouraged her, as he listened to more of her life story. "Yes. You are not the typical ISB agent," he said to her, with a reassuring smile, as he reflected on his past experiences with the bureau. "Is that something you wish to continue? Helping people with your psychology background?" he asked her, as he turned to adjust the temperature of the bath water as it was beginning to get cold. "I am sorry about your past history, Sierra. Did her perish on Alderaan, or should I have him tracked down and flogged?" he asked her, with a joke that was in very poor taste. "What is it you wish to do with your life? You don't have to give it *all* up for me, you know," he said, as he activated the jets that turned the bath into a whirlpool. "My first wife worked. She was a teacher," he said, but almost immediately regretted bringing up his past history to her.

"Of course. I brought a violin with me. I'll subject you to my music. Hopefully you'll like it." Because he was going to have to deal with it for a *long* time. Claudius was asking good questions. She had been taking the future one step at a time lately. Depression had hit her hard after Alderaan, causing her to lose control of her life. "I don't know yet. Maybe. It's difficult to be a psychologist. The things that other people have gone through make my problems look insignificant. It's depressing and limiting. You can't reach inside a person, pick out the bad part, and replace it with something new. You have to work with the remains that are there. Sometimes you can't even tell what part goes where." She knew she didn't have to give up her life because of him. The sky was the limit, mostly. She snickered, "I'm sure he perished on Alderaan. There's some comfort in that, right?" It was a terrible joke, but the man had been a horrible person. "I worry that Mother did not perish, however. I had night terrors for weeks after all of that. I even tried to find her in the refugee camp. I fear her coming back and..." She shivered, her hand reaching behind her to touch a back that should have been badly scarred. The jets turned her attention away from the invisible scars and the make believe pain. Sierra understood that he had lived longer than she. He had a past, like it or not. "That sounds pleasant," she commented. "I know I don't have to give it all up for you. The problem is that I don't know right now. We've had so many rapid changes lately. What I really want is to be *happy*. So much of my life has been unpleasant. I want to enjoy myself for once, and I am."

"I look forward to hearing you play. It would be a welcome break from the jizz that Drusilla and Ewwiekewwieikkie are always listening to," Claudius said to her, as he positioned his injured back in front of one of the jets. He let out a pleasing groan as it blasted the aching small of his back. "We have all complicated relationships with our mothers," he said to her, thinking of his own, who still loomed over them. "I am sorry you did not get a chance to resolve things with her before the end," he said, as he reached out with his arm, and drew her in close to him. "I think everyone in the service could use a good psychologist. I'm sure I could benefit most of all," he said, with a soft laugh, before moving to place a soapy kiss upon her cheek once more. "I want you to be happy. More than anything your happiness is my greatest concern," he said to her, as he reached under the water and took hold of her hand with his, squeezing it reassuringly. "About what you said earlier..." he said, breaking eye contact, and instead focused on the bubbles as they rose from the surface of the water and then burst. "I do want more children. I would like a chance to do it *right* this time and ... not to sound *too* much like my father, I would like a son, if only to spare Drusilla the burden," he said, but in reality he wanted to spare the people from her.

He certainly would get a change of pace with Sierra's playing. Contrary to what she would say, she had been playing since she was four. She knew her way around her instrument as she would show him soon. His affection was sweet and necessary after becoming so raw in front of her husband. Both of her arms wrapped around his waist. Livia was complicated as well, she knew that much from witnessing her for years. She was happy to be on the woman's good side, for she couldn't imagine that it was like to be in Zara's shoes. "It's okay. I'm not sure there was ever going to be a resolution. As cold as it sounds, I'm relieved it ended the way it did." She looked up at him. He pumped confidence into her and even made her laugh. "Thank you, Claudius. I love you. I'm astonished how you can make me feel better about everything. Have *you* ever considered a career in psychology?" She teased. Her hand squeezed his back. Her heart was filled with love and happiness. Things in her life had balanced out thanks to him. She stared down at their soapy hands, smiling quietly. He made up the perfect husband for her. Giggling, Sierra placed a kiss on his forehead. "I understand. You'll get your second chance, I can promise you that." For she had no reason to believe she couldn't have children, contrary to what she told Doctor Tohan. "As for a son. . . I'll put in a request." She winked. "Statistically speaking, if we go at it like senseless animals for the rest of my child bearing years, we'll eventually have a baby boy." She didn't want to see Duchess Drusilla happen either. How horrifying. Delaya would be deemed bankrupt within days.

"Me a psychologist? Never!" Claudius said with a laugh, as he snuggled up against her under the constant pounding of the jets of the tub. "I am a diplomat. Psychology is the art of listening, but diplomacy is the art of talking," he explained in rather succinct fashion. He was hesitant to touch too much on the subject of her mother, as he knew it was still a raw nerve, but he expected in time she would come to mourn in her own way. "Well it will certainly be a pleasure trying," he said, as his hand moved down beneath the water, and clutched her inner thigh. "If Marcus can get a son on the first try, I figure I can produce one eventually," he said, sounding somewhat jealous of his younger brother. The desire to produce a male heir had never mattered to him as he always believed Jelena would make an excellent Duchess, but Drusilla on the other hand... He stopped himself before he had any more negative thoughts about his youngest daughter.

Aahh. The bath had intended to be relaxing for only him, yet Sierra had begun to melt. She enjoyed that they were getting to know each other better. She laughed, imagining Claudius playing the role of a psychologist. "Oye, and you're very good at that art form, aren't you?" She prodded his side with her little elbow, laughing. The water seemed to get a teeny, tiny bit hotter when his hand collided with her inner thigh and he made a remark like that. "I agree with that. I considered writing you a thank you note after the first night. It was *that* good." Sierra was beaming again. She leaned in, nipping him on the neck to distract his jealousy. "I think so too. We have a lot of time to try. You never know. That whole coffee table escapade may have resulted in a son." She nuzzled her hips towards his hand. She wanted him to touch her and enjoy her. "I have a theory. We're *only* going to have sons."

"Yes. I am an excellent talker, or so I tell myself before every speech," Claudius said, in jest, as his hand moved up her thigh towards parts unknown. The nip to his neck caused more than the water to boil, as their two bodies combined to make more heat than the artificial heater in the tub. "Well that would be excellent news. The table was a gift from the Governor of Rhinnal. It would be good if it died for a good cause," he said, as he continued teasing her beneath the water line. He knew *exactly* what he was doing when he poked and prodded her that way. "Only sons, eh? Well, at least an heir and a spare, like me and Marcus," he said, mocking his younger brother. "It'll break Drusilla's heart to come this close to the throne and then lose it. Perhaps I'll make her a Countess," he said, with a snort of laughter as he considered all of their futures.

"I feel like I should start carrying around something to jot down all your inspirational quotes, Claudius." She had moved into a playful mood. As much as she teased him, she loved him very dearly. She sucked in a sudden breath when his hand continued wandering up her thigh. She wondered if she should remove them from the bathtub before they attempted to conceive for the umpteenth time, or if they were less accident prone inside of the bathroom. Her hips wiggled from side to side. He knew full well that he was invoking her! "We'll just have to wait and see." Only time would tell if they would have a son. Though Sierra didn't voice her wants she, too, wanted a boy. Every woman wants a son, that's a fact. Sierra shifted. She carefully climbed into his lap where she could settle herself and keep her husband from harm. Her hands planted themselves on his shoulders so she could slowly rub herself against him. "You should. You should also wear a full suit of armor when you have to tell her she has a little brother on the way. Anddd... Not it!" The last thing he'd seem was her smile before she kissed him on the lips.

"You need not concern yourself, Sierra. You can simply have your boss, Major Zevrin, play you recordings of everything I've said," Claudius said, as he looked about the room cautiously. "I can only hope she never got a recording device in the house," he said, continuing to look at every corner of the room. He let out a soft groan of pleasure as she climbed onto his lap, his hands moving around her to hold her in place. "Maybe we can just release the news to the HoloNet and let her learn that way, with us conveniently off planet," he thought, smiling at his beautiful young wife as she moved upon him. For the first time, in a long time, he had everything he wanted. He wondered how long it could last before misfortune found it again, because he knew that as soon as he found something, or someone, that he loved he had to worry about losing them.

"Mmm... Don't talk about her. I already punched her in the face once this week.." Though, his words had lit paranoia inside of her. Was the house safe? She decided she'd spend some time in the morning searching around. She needed to see if the house was a safe haven or not. Not just for her and Claudius, but for the girls as well. Thinking about that woman made her so mad! She needed to figure out a way to knock her from her post...but not now. Intimate time with her husband was hardly the time to fight their enemies. She teased him with her hips. His idea about the Holonet was amazing. She laughed. Drusilla would be furious. They'd be safe, hiding out on the dreadnaught. "My, my. That's a damn good idea. I'm sure she prefers that news than us going the route of Marcus and Zara." There would *never* be a sex tape of them.

Speaking of, he seemed to naturally find his place between her thighs. As soon as she felt his cock at her entrance, she sunk herself down on him. Sweet sensations flowed through her. Everything had happened for her too. She was glad that Claudius had married her. Her future existed with him. She settled in his lap. She didn't move, instead, she savored being close together. "You are the greatest thing since sliced bread, Claudius. I love you so much."

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