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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:1:17) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: The Captain's House).
Lord Marcus Rodney and Lady Zara Rodney.

The city of Leiliani was still a buzz from the spectacle of the wedding of Gaius Rodney to Nona Jast. Having seen the absurdity of it all he much preferred his secluded beach wedding to Zara. Unfortunately, yet *another* hungry craving had come over his young wife, forcing them to detour their speeder from the spaceport to a nearby restaurant. Many of the restaurants were closed as the wedding was considered a holiday, but he had managed to bribe the owner of a seafood restaurant to open just for them. The Captain's House was the finest seafood restaurant on the city, but while once it had been alongside a pristine waterway, the rear waterfront seating had been permanently closed to the public due to the extreme pollution by the growing industry. Still, the menu was excellent, the wine list was superb, and almost all of the ship had been imported from off world to ease the public's concerns about potentially toxic fish. Marcus carefully led her from the speeder, free from the paparazzi who were busy covering the wedding, and into the dimly lit restaurant. Only one table was set, with a serving for two, and a flickering candle on top. When they were entered they were met by the owner, who led them to the table, placed two menus in front of them, and gave them the privacy they deserved. Before sitting, he was quick to pull out Zara's chair, before taking his own opposite her. "Have we ever been this alone outside of the chalet?" he asked, as he settled into his own seat and studied the menu.

The wedding spectacle that was Gaius and Nona's wedding was something Zara had never wanted. There were so many guests and a massive amount of preplanning for a day that was necessary to go perfect. She never understood how people had time for their significant other while attending to their social necessities. Zara and Marcus' wedding had been about nothing but the love they shared together. It didn't matter what the reports had said. The facts were the facts. Zara wouldn't change their secluded wedding for the world. She was happy to discover the advantages of the wedding. The paparazzi weren't swarming them anymore, nor were any irritating guards sent to act overbearing. Zara's stomach had decided that it would be smart to take advantage of the situation. The hungry pregnant woman threw off their plans for a quick escape. However, it put on the plans for a lovely, intimate dinner together.

The Captain's House was completely empty. A single, candlelit table drew her attention. It was relieving to get away from everything and have a meal together. There was no one to pressure them about the Duchy, their son, or anything else. She looked up at Marcus before she sat down. "Thank you, honey." She said sweetly, situating herself in the seat he'd pulled out for her. She looked around in awe, letting herself enjoy the silence. "I don't think so. It seems there's always someone dropping in on us, huh?" She faced him, smiling brightly. She fingered open her menu and began browsing over the options. Meanwhile, her stomach rumbled more demanding than ever. She looked above her menu at Marcus. "I'm happy we didn't get married like that." She said, seemingly randomly. "Our wedding was perfect."

Marcus put the menu down, so that there were no obstacles obstructing his view of his lovely wife. "I know my parents wanted a formal ceremony like that, but now, looking at how much has changed I wonder if all of the excitement might not have caused my father to drop dead on the spot," he said, half-joking, but also half-serious. He reached out across the table, removing the menu from her hand, and taking each of her hands into his own. He squeezed them, rubbing his thumbs over her palms in an effort to relax. "You know I love you, right?" he asked, earnestly, still feeling overwhelmed by the events of the day. He smiled at her, as he leaned across the table, still holding her hands, until he reached her face, placing a loving kiss upon her, with the candle flicking beneath them, causing light and shadows to dance upon their chest.

She couldn't even imagine the same ordeal for them. Livia, breathing down her neck. Julius, pestering her daily for a male heir. The wedding day would have never been enjoyable. She, too, believed that the ceremony could have killed his father. She couldn't help laughing softly. "On the bright side, if he'd died at our wedding, we'd never be in the heir mess." That was the silver lining of that situation, "...Nor would we get to visit Auntie Mae's so often..." Her eyes fluttered downward like she was getting upset about it. She abandoned her menu to hold something infinitely better; his hands. Her hands clutched his softly. Her eyes stared into his. The day called to mind how much she loved Marcus. It reminded her of the wild ride they'd endured together, and how they continuously took down every obstacle in their path. She couldn't worry too much over the question of if they would take power in Delaya. Duke Marcus or not, she'd still be his wife and they'd be happy together. That was what mattered the most.

His question hit her hard: did she know she loved him? She did. Every day, the man before her made her feel loved. He treated her better than a Queen. He protected her. He always listened to her. She never had to lie to him or hide any portions of who she was, because she had no doubt that he'd accept them. 'Yes." She whispered, leaning towards him to aid him in the kiss. Compared to their wild evening just yesterday, this kiss was sweet and innocent. It showed how much they cared for each other. The needy wife made that kiss last as long as possible. At the time it parted, her nose kissed his with sweet eskimo kisses. "You know I love you, right?" She repeated his question, "And that I couldn't be happier. I'm so grateful that you're in my life. I didn't realize I needed someone to give me reason. I did. I really did. Had I known how much I would love you, I'd have never left your side that very first night."

The kiss broke as the owner returned to their table, who was waiting on them personally this evening. Marcus took the liberty of ordering the left side of the menu for his wife, which he would pick at. It was *a lot* of food, but Zara seemed to be starving, and anything they did not eat would go to the refugees. He made a deliberate point of not drinking wine with the meal after what had happened at the chalet the other night. Although the drunk sex was very good, he did not like the hangover he felt the next day because of it. He was worried that the stress of accepting the title would lead him down the path of being a drunkard like his parents, and wondered if that in their earlier days they were normal, sober people. "I'm glad you left my side that first night, Zara," he said, as he drank some of the imported bottle water that had been brought to their table in lieu of the local tap water. "The chase made it fun, and it brought us together. I feel that I noticed you because you made me chase ... made me work for you..." he said, as he looked towards her lovingly. "You were the greatest challenge of my life, and I feel it has made me a better person because of it," he said, before the platters of seafood began to be placed in front of them, including something that looked as if it could have been the sea monster's nephew.

Her focus didn't break from Marcus for a second. He seemed to understand that his wife was slowly turning into a beast-like creature, and ordered accordingly. She hadn't found a balance yet in the days where she was too sick to eat much, and the days she was irrationally hungry. She didn't suspect they'd eat everything, and today, there was a good reason not to. She dreamed of creating a better life for the refugees in time. If her little environmental restoration project worked, Delaya would find itself in a great place. As for Marcus and his drinking, she'd intervene long before she let him become Julius the Second. It was a real worry that the stress would break him. She still wished that something would happen to take the burden from their shoulders. Zara disregarded all of those thoughts towards the back of her head. Now was about the couple enjoying each other while they reminisced about the beginning of their relationship.

Her smile brightened while she thought about how surprising, and how *exciting*, it had been when Marcus chased her to Etti IV. His willingness to find her had made it impossible for Zara to think that she was ever like the others. His words caused her heart to thump quickly and her face to flush. The man had a way of making her melt while she fell deeper in love with him. The presence of delicious smelling food wasn't enough to diminish her emotional hard on. She sighed, "You're so ridiculously good to me, Marcus. You've improved me too; you know? I was so lost and angry before we met. All I did was sit around and obsess about revenge. I disregarded my future. I didn't care that I wasn't happy. Sometimes I was purposely sloppy in my work just because I wanted to start trouble. Then there was you.. and now Darrus too. It's impossible to be unhappy for long with just you. Now I'm going to have a mini you? What will I do!?" She grinned, happily beginning to eat something that looked like fancy popcorn shrimp. From across the table, she looked so pretty. All of the little perks of pregnancy were taking effect.

Marcus reached for a piece of food, worried that she might stab him with her fork when his hand neared the food. "Well, you were young, Zara. It's hard to think about the future at that age," he said, as he ate a couple of shrimp. "I know I sure didn't," he said, as he watched her eat for two, but secretly wondered if there were more than one in there. "Simple. You'll do what my mother did. Turn Darrus over to the staff and drink," he said with a laugh, but he was in fact truthfully relaying an account of his own childhood. "But seriously ... you're going to be a wonderful mother, and we are going to have a happy family," he said to her, before grabbing some shellfish before there was nothing left for him to eat. "I don't want you to ver be angry again. You'll never be lost as long as I am near," he promised her, before leaning back and finishing his glass of water.

Zara would probably die if there were two in there. It was the exact kind of freak of nature thing to happen to the two of them too, wasn't it?! Rodney and Ta'em bad luck combined to make the worst luck ever. She'd be nervous next time they saw her doctor, waiting for the news of a number two. She was tame. He'd ordered all the food so they could share and so, that's exactly what they did. Zara had always been generally mature for her age. You could expect as much from a woman who'd seen her parents hung at a young age. The future had been a joke to her in those days. She choked on a piece of shrimp. Coughing, she shook her head rapidly. "Nono! The staff can pry Darrus away from my cold, dead hands."

Besides, even before becoming pregnant, she was never much of a drinker. The pregnancy had brought on a good reason to stay away from the stuff entirely. Duchess or not, Zara was going to mother that baby boy as a mother should. Her and Marcus could give their child and infinitely better life than the one he had experienced. She resumed eating, fuming on the inside about how horrible of a mother Livia was up until the point where he suggested that she'd make a *wonderful* mother. It was natural for any to-be parent to feel concerned about how they'd do. Zara smiled to herself, flattered by her husband. "You'll be the greatest father ever, Marcus. I know our boy loves his daddy already." Because his mama certainly did. All the sweetness boiled down to his special promise. She felt all sniffly. "You're going to make me cry, Marcus." She gulped, rubbing her eyes with her hand. "Is there anything else you want to do while there aren't paparazzi chasing us around? This is probably going to be our last taste of freedom in the city for some time."

"Now probably isn't the best time to mention this," Marcus said, as he reached his hand forward to eat some of the Delayan lake squid that had been prepared for them. A giant tentacle entered his mouth, as he chewed slowly, to avoid telling her this bit of news. "I received a message from my mother, actually," he said, as he raised his napkin to dab at his lips softly. "She wishes to arrange a baby shower for you, along with an official portrait to capture you in your ... how did she put it..." he said, pausing as he drank his recently refilled glass of water. "...radiant pregnancy," he said, with a soft smile towards her, uncertain of how she might react. "Of course you don't have to do it," he assured her, leaning forward, and reaching across the table to take hold of the hand she was not using to eat with at the moment. He knew how she felt about his mother, and he, himself, was not sure what her true motives were for the sudden change in attitudes.

Goodbye Sir Tentacle's brother. Zara happily joined in on the feast of lake squid. She'd never eat Sir Tentacles. It was likely that he had shooed away the Alderaan guards from their chalet for good. Right now, her and Sir Tentacles were even. He'd gotten to play with Marcus once, and she'd had her two little problems taken care of. She had to admit, the lake squid did taste exquisite. She stopped chewing. She suspected that her husband was about to level her with some news. The mention of Livia had her whole body stiffening. "You did..?" She took a drink from her water, thankfully not spitting it out when he mentioned the baby shower to her. It hadn't been something she had thought about. She simply assumed that they would purchase what they needed for the baby and move on with their lives. 'W-why..?" Zara asked automatically. "Is she going to kill me?" Half joking, half serious. Livia and Zara weren't exactly the best of friends.

"An *official portrait*? What does that entail? If she makes a banner that says 'Savior of The Family', I will probably lose my mind. Do you have an official portrait?" The fingers of her free hand slipped in between his. "Can you come? I mean, I'll do it, but we're going to have to get her some strong wine to drink. She's acting so weird. Do you think it's just because of Darrus or has the alcohol gone to her brain?" Zara was waiting for the other shoe to fall in this scenario. Her mother-in-law had only recently showed a desired to have a good relationship with her. When the shit storm hit, she needed Marcus to be there.

"No. She's not going to kill you," Marcus assured her, with a slight chuckle at the question, and with the hope that the owner of the restaurant did not hear her. "She may have felt that way in the begining ... *may* ... but I think we've turned the corner with her, but ... yes I do believe it was mostly because of Darrus," he explained to her, as the owner came back to clear the table of the pile of discarded shells that were left behind from their seafood feast. "They'll bring an artist in to paint you, and no ... I was never asked to pose for one officially," he explained to her, with perhaps a hint of jealousy in his voice, as he began to study the dessert menu. "There were some images of me when I was an infant, and as a small child, but once I hit puberty I suppose no one thought I was worth the trouble," he said, before ordering a quadruple portion of the purple sweet potato ice cream. Every restaurant had begun to stock it as fans of Lady Zara had begun making it the most popular food trend in the city.

Zara smiled. If there was one person in Delaya who she was confident she could take, it was Livia. If the old woman wanted her dead, she was going to need to use the woman's weapon; poison. It wasn't hurtful to Zara that the presence of baby boy had earned her mother-in-law's seal of approval. "Well, she's been treating me so nicely. It's great to not have her stressing me out. Not having to yell at her frequently is nice too." She fought for Marcus whenever someone spoke horribly of him. He wasn't some second son piece of shit like his family believed. He was Marcus; the husband of all husbands. She liked the idea of Livia's baby shower a lot less when it came to talk of the portrait, and how Marcus had never received one in his adult life. That wasn't okay. Without him, there would be no Darrus, no male heir, and no future for the Rodney family. Baby making wasn't a one man job.

"I think you're worth the trouble." She winked at him. Pure, seductive words came out of his mouth the very second he ordered a beastly size portion of her new favorite dessert. She wanted to hop into his lap and beg for him to say the words again. "Tell her I agree to the baby shower under two conditions. You'll be present for the entire affair and that we'll share a portrait. I try to be kind to your mom. At the same time, I refuse to give her a plateau for her to spit on you from. You're *amazing*. Someday she'll realize that she missed out." The owner of the restaurant brought a large bowl to their table. It was filled with pretty, purple ice cream. Zara's eyes went big. As soon as the man left, she leaned over the table. "Will you marry me again? *Please*?" She sat back down. With a spoon in hand, and his hand in the other, she began to dig in. She offered him a spoonful after her first bite. "We're going to have to go see Doctor Riaca next week. It's time to see how the little guy's doing again."

Marcus smiled are her affectionately as she went to work on her beloved ice cream dessert, but decided not to sample any of it, so that his blushing bride could enjoy all of it herself. "I'm sure she'll agree to your conditions, Zara. But, if she doesn't, then perhaps the Nerf Herder may have to pay her a visit and *make* her," he said, winking at her, with a teasing smile as he laughed at the thought of terrorizing her. "Marry you again? You mean in a big, lavish ceremony like Gaius just had? Thousands of guests who you don't know? Live simulcast across the HoloNet? A parade?" he went on and on and on and on, recanting the exhausting day's neverending series of events. "Back to the doctor? All right. Hopefully no El-Nay Darr this time," he snickered, before he stuck his finger into the bowl, coating his finger with some of the ice cream, and then licking it off. "Nom," he groaned, before looking over the newly arrived receipt. The price of opening a restaurant was exorbitant, but fortunately his access to the treasury had been destroyed and he easily allocated the necessary credit chits to cover the tab.

Zara was massively enjoying their meal together. The secluded nature of it all was so nice...oh! The company was *pretty* good too. She laughed, thrilled with his idea of the Nerf Herder visiting his mother. "*Oh my*! Can he come visit me after that?" The silver haired girl giggled while the worked on filling her tummy with ice cream. He really did terrorize her with the thought of a large, royal wedding. She shook her head quickly, "Nononononooo! That sounds horrible! I'm taking you back to the beach. No parade for you!" She, too, hoped to avoid a brush with El-Nay. She wanted to focus on all those happy feeling associated with seeing their baby and hearing his heartbeat. "Agreed. There's no trackers on the ship and no reason for Livia to send a peace offering. I think we'll be okay." Zara was stuffed. She sat back, feeling happy as a lark. "Thanks for dinner, honey! It was amazing." She started to stand, offering him her hand. "Let's go home."

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