Admiral Claudius Rodney sat at his desk
impatiently. His eyes focused on a communication panel that remained
silent ... no transmission had been received. He had grown tired of
waiting for a response from Kerrie, who was long past due to check in.
He feared the worst ... that she had somehow failed her assignment and
had either been wounded, captured, or perhaps even killed. There could
be no other logical reason. He tapped his fingers on the ornate,
polished wood that comprised the surface of his desk. "Damn it
all," he finally cursed in frustration. He lowered his head and sighed
hopelessly. He was beginning to think he had seen the last of that disk.
He slumped down against the desk and held his face in the palm of hands
and exhaled in a long, drawn out groan of frustration that echoed
throughout the room. This was not now he wanted to spend his evenings.
"Claudius..." Htaere's soft melodious
voice with its thick Hapan accent came from the threshold of his office.
She stood watching him intently, a concerned look about her. A pastel
purple gown of a flowing chiffon material draped her amazing figure, her
hair curled up into a two-tier bun with matching ribbons. Her hands were
folded together in front of her, her sleeves cascading from dainty
Claudius let his arms limply fall to the
desk below, resulting in a *thud* as they impacted to the wood. His head
remained lowered for a moment, relying on the muscles in his neck rather
than his hands to keep it elevated above the desk. Finally he rose his
head and looked towards Htaere, trying to form a smile upon his face. He
adjusted his posture in the chair, sitting more upright. "Good evening,
Htaere..." he said in a quiet, kind voice, "It seems I am once again
having another late evening at work."
Htaere drifted towards his desk,
standing in front of him and regarding him curiously. An empathic
sadness seemed prevalent on her lovely youthful face. "What has
disturbed you so?" she asked gently.
Claudius' eyes looked down towards the
transmitter for a moment, a soft sigh escaping his lips. His eyes then
returned their focus on his beloved Htaere. "I was just hoping to have
received some news by now..." he said, sounding very tired and anxious.
"It is nothing important," he concluded, obviously holding back the
Htaere glided around the side of his
desk, behind his chair and placed her hands on his shoulders. "Then
leave it for now, Claudius. I would be grateful for just a moment of
your attentions" she pleaded in a low voice. She pushed with her
fingertips into the fabric of his tunic, kneading the skin gently to
loosen the muscle tissue beneath it. "Can you not find it in your
schedule to relax with me a moment?"
"For you I can find several moments,"
Claudius said to her with a smile. He swung his chair around and rose
from his seat. He made his away around the desk and over towards a couch
where people often sat to confer with him. He smiled at her politely and
took a seat on the right side of the sofa. He softly patted the left
side of the sofa, indicating there was plenty of room for her to join
him. "Is there anything in particular you would like to discuss during
this moment?" he asked, curiously.
Htaere followed him over and took the
seat next to him that he offered. She smiled at him, eyes gleaming.
"Well, it is true Claudius that I do worry for you. I have not seen you
behave this way before. What troubles you so greatly that your behavior
has changed so dramatically?"
"You know I cannot reveal classified
information, Htaere,' Claudius began to explain, turning on the sofa to
lean back and face her, "There has just been a particular development
lately that has become a rather irritating stone in my shoe ... and
despite my best efforts to remove it ... there it remains." He raised
his eyebrows at her and tilted his head with a slight smile, as if to
say 'and there it is.'
Htaere's mouth opened slightly to
accompany the slightly stunned expression on her face. "Oh..." she said
slowly, her head nodding once. Her eyes dropped, taking him all in
entirely. "Should I leave you be?" she asked, scooting to the edge of
the cushion of the sofa on which they sat.
"No..." Claudius said quickly, not
wanting her to leave. It seemed people were always quick to want to
leave his presence at the first sign of trouble ... he wondered what
that was about. "Your presence is the only respite I have from this
life," he explained to her, a warm, reassuring smile forming upon his
face, "Let us turn to more pleasant thoughts..."
She grinned and settled back against the
cushions. "Yes, let's. When will you next have personal time for a much
needed vacation? Just me and you and no one else for once" Htaere asked,
gazing at him expectantly.
"Vacation?" Claudius thought to himself,
he dared not even consider stepping aside from his job during these
difficult times. However, he did not want to let her know how troubling
the current situation was. "Would you enjoy a vacation?" he asked her,
genuinely interested, "Is there someplace specific you would like to
"Anywhere as long as you are with me"
she answered with youthful honesty. Htaere became quiet and seemed to
withdraw for a moment. "I apologize Claudius. Perhaps it is unfair of me
to push you so. I meant only that I miss you" she added finally.
"I miss you as well, Htaere," Claudius
informed her quietly. He reached around her with his right arm, draping
his arm behind her neck and over her shoulder. He pulled her close again
him as he leaned into her. He closed his eyes and did his best to relax,
enjoying the peaceful silence and being this close to the woman he
Htaere welcomed the display of affection
and reciprocated eagerly. She leaned towards him as well, nestling
against him comfortably and resting her head in the crux of his neck and
shoulder. Her eyes half closed, she reveled in the moment, grateful for
the time he had, as little as it was.
"I understand your mother has once again
entered your life," Claudius said, in a curious tone. He moved his hand
up slowly around her, running his hand through her hair gently. He had
yet to open his eyes, believing that if he did the moment would be
"She intrudes my business as your father
intrudes yours" Htaere replied. "She has sent someone to aid in the
security efforts." Shifting against him, Htaere turned to face him
further, all but curling up beside him, her outside arm curling in to
rest across his solar plexus, fingertips curling slowly over the grey
fabric of his tunic. "I will deal with her. Spare yourself the
triviality of such a peripheral nuisance" Htaere mumbled dreamily.
"I could send Major Kiley to deal with
her if you would like," Claudius said in a manner that could be
conceived as half-joking, half-serious. "I am sure that would make both
of our lives more pleasant," he concluded. Finally a smile cracked his
visage, followed by a short laugh.
"I fear for the major's safety. My
mother is potentially not a pleasant woman" Htaere answered, unmoving
still. "Let me handle her. She cannot stay angry at me because I am her
daughter and she is dependent upon me to represent both the family and
the Consortium. She does not need to practice diplomatic immunity in her
dealings with anyone else." Htaere all but shook her head, reflecting
upon the treachery of Hapan elitists.
"Do you think after the marriage
ceremony your mother might become a bit..." Claudius searched for the
words, fumbling to find the correct ones, "more hands off." His face
reddened slightly, realizing that it was not the most flattering of
analogies to use.
"If she does not, then I will make it
so" Htaere said matter-of-factly. Once married, Htaere became the
foremost concern of someone other then her mother, and consequently
Htaere was ready to use the proverbial big guns when addressing concerns
regarding her mother. Htaere's eyes opened and she smiled up towards
him. "Do not fret. I will take care of the problem."
"Perhaps we can book your mother and my
father on a trip around the galaxy," Claudius said with a jovial nature.
"It would only take several years for them to see everything," he
continued to explain. When he was finished he turned his head towards
her, leaned forward, and placed a soft, tender kiss upon the top of her
Like some ridiculous school girl, Htaere
wiggled with delight. "Mmm that does sound like a good idea" she
replied. "A few years...of some peace and quiet" she pondered. Her distant
expression refocused as another reality shoved its way into her revelry.
"She will be very insistent with the wedding" she stated. "She will make
"Speaking of the wedding..." Claudius
began, playfully as he continued to gently run his fingers through her
well-kept hair. "We really should consider when to have it..." he said,
waiting to see how she would respond before pushing the matter further.
"And where..." Htaere supplied, mind
already spinning with visions of the big day, flowers, place settings,
pomp and circumstance...so much to do. "I believe my mother has begun the
plans for her end."
"We could elope..." Claudius pondered,
half-considering it himself. Numerous dignitaries had planned on the
wedding and it had become as a function for politics and society ...
their wedding had become merely a sideshow in their parents plans to
hoist their families onto the HoloNet and society pages.
"My mother will hunt me down and destroy
me" Htaere mumbled, following that line of thinking to the likely
conclusion. "Perhaps we may be afforded time for just the two of us
after the wedding."
"They have not yet invited themselves on
the honeymoon?" Claudius asked her. He sighed, knowing they might very
well insist on coming along. He had considered several locations for the
vacation, all of them out of the way and hopefully avoiding them some
private down time.
"No, most thankfully" Htaere shrugged.
She smiled a bit, patting his belly softly. "Considering what you are
marrying into, I respect if you decide to withdraw. Were I not already
relations to my family, I would not choose to willingly be so" she
chuckled. "Unless you will still have me?"
"I'm sorry, Htaere," Claudius said as he
finally opened his eyes. He turned his head towards her and smiled
widely, before continuing, "but you're stuck with me." He then leaned
forward and placed a gentle kiss upon her lips, his arms rapping more
tightly around her.
Htaere offered no resistance, her soft
supple lips tasting his for a handful of precious heartbeats. "How lucky
for me" she said in a low tone, smiling to his aged face. Her grip on
him remained firm, holding him as close as she could for as long as she
could for as long as he let her.