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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:23) in the Essesia system: Esseles (New Calamar: Claudius Rodney's estate and Sierra Rodney's campsite).
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney and Major Sierra Rodney.

Needless to say, life had *not* been easy lately. Sierra had an inevitable five concerts to endure along with her other responsibilities. Claudius has his hands full between his duties as a Grand Moff, husband, and father of his growing family. Despite having a terrible day at work, she decided that it was all going to turn around. Upon arriving home, Sierra bribbed Drusilla to watch the girls with some Max Rebo autographed memorabilia. While she cooked dinner for the girls, she persuaded her husband to go upstairs and change. They were going *out*. She didn't tell him where they were going, simply that he needed to dress casually. Sierra liked surprising him...especially when she knew the surprise was good. As soon as she had, somehow, gotten Callista and Ewwiekewwieikkie to sit down and eat, Sierra escaped up to their bedroom. "Are you just about ready?" She said, shimmying out of her trousers. Her tunic followed. "We're probably going to be late for work tomorrow." She warned him. Sierra was trying to tease him to get him curious about his surprise.

"I was born ready," Claudius obnoxiously declared, like a cheap HoloVid star, as he placed his glareshades upon his face to complete his ensemble. "Where are we going?" he asked, as he allowed her to be the lead after his past dates such as the thrata ride, the speeder bike adventure, and the lake getaway. Hopefully he came back with his pants this time! "Hopefully someone no one can find us," he suggested, as he wondered what she was up to. His curiosity was unbearable. He could not stand not knowing, and he thought Sierra enjoyed playfully holding that over him. He was like a child demanding to know what his presents were before his birthday. Wherever and whatever it was he was sure he would enjoy it because Sierra would be there.

Oh yes, she *loved* keeping him on the edge of his seat. While Claudius was a master at selecting their dates, she was pretty sure he was about to meet his competition. Sierra stood in the closet, laughing at her husband's declaration. "Okay, but I wasn't. I need to put on clothes first." She playfully wiggled her rear at him before selecting one of her favorite dresses to wear. She quickly dressed, pausing in front of him to kiss him. "I'm going to enjoy watching you squirm while you try to figure out where we're going." She giggled. Her hand grabbed his as she lead him off to show him a whole new world... Or not really, as he'd been living on Esseles much longer than she had!

Instead of taking the speeder bike, Sierra ducked into the driver's side of their speeder. She had already gotten in ready in anticipation of their date. "Any guesses?" She asked him with a bright smile on her face. Once they were both ready, she began driving in the opposite direction of the city. Her eyes darted down to the chronometer on the dash. "I hope we're not late..."

Claudius was practically ready to burst from the sensation of not knowing where they were going. He *had* to know, and needed to learn patience before he just started begging like Drusilla. As he moved into the passenger's seat of the speeder his imagination intensified. It seemed like they were staying on Esseles, or they'd have taken the shuttle, unless she was driving to a spaceport just to confuse him. "Auntie Maeland?" he asked, as the children had been pestering him. That fiendish ice cream baroness had parlayed his brother and sister-in-law's popularity to build an incredible culinary empire. He felt the whole thing ridiculous, especially when the Sierra's About to Pop Pudding Pops hit the market.

"That's a good guess... But not right! Besides, if I took you to Auntie Maeland alone, I wouldn't be welcome in our house anymore." She joked. The girls had seen a commercial for it on the HoloNet. Since then, all Sierra was hearing about was the one hundred reasons why they *needed* a family vacation. She didn't imagine that Auntie Mae would eventually find out that the elder Rodney's wife also had a craving food.

The road around them was dark. The streetlights came less and less. They were now driving through a mountainous region outside of the city. Sierra took an exit that looked more than a little shady. She didn't drive for much longer than that. Three winds and a turn later, her and Claudius were in the middle of nowhere. "You *did* say you wanted to be somewhere where no one could find us." She reminded him as she opened her door and got out. She rounded the speeder to the trunk where she pulled out a small box containing a tent for two. It wasn't technology advanced or anything. A cooler beside it said that she intended to stay awhile. "Come on!" She verbally prodded him, offering him the little cooler as she started off into the wooded area. It was so dark. Above them, a vast collection of stars shone. Without the lights of the city, they could see them crystal clear.

Claudius suddenly felt *very* confused. He looked about, trying to determine where they were, but they were nowhere. "I did say that, but I just did not think it possible," he said, as he looked up at the stars. He could see them much clearer than near the city where the light pollution drowned them out. "I wouldn't even need a telescope here," he said, as he momentarily got lost in the sea of beautiful stars. In his youth he had traveled to the desolate Castle Lands where he would gaze up at the stars and first dream of going into space, which ultimately culminated in his career with the Republic Navy. Before he could gaze any longer she was off, having seemingly brought everything needed for camping. It reminded him of their time hiding out in the Sea Islands, camping on the beach. "Okay. Okay," he said, as he took the little cooler and moved towards her, further into the woods.

They traveled through the wooded area together. The silence, the complete lack of city life, came as a wonderful relief. It seemed like they were as alone as they could be. No Stormtroopers. No HoloNet droids to record all their intimate moments. *Nothing*. She marched through the terrain until the treeline broke, giving them a place where they could stare at the sky with no obstructions. It was there that Sierra came to a stop. "Here we are. The perfect camping spot." She deemed it, resting the box holding the tent on the ground. She kept looking up at the sky like she was expecting something...

Which she was. Turning her attention on her husband, she took the little cooler and set it on the ground. "It's really pretty." She said, smiling as she looked skyward. Her hands rested on his shoulders. Her fingers ran over the back of his neck. After an immensely long life, it felt good to get together and relax. Her eyes met with his. "I love how no matter what happens, we can always be like this." She leaned in. Her nose nuzzled against his slowly.

The evening air felt cool against his skin, which caused the heated temperature of his body that had existed since the developments with Arden Zevrin to finally subside. He was beginning to feel relaxed, which was a rare occurrence these days. "It's wonderful. How did you find this?" he asked, as he knelt down next to the box that contained the tent. As he looked over the instructions he felt like it was simple enough, but as he began to get the pieces out of the box he realized he was in for a long night. "Perhaps ... perhaps we should have brought some staff," he suggested, as he began to get the tent posts situated. "I love you, Sierra," he said, as he began anchoring the posts. "I don't think I've ever done this before," he warned her, as one of the poles fell back down.

Sierra lowered herself to the ground. Ever the woman, the first thing she did was pick up a crumpled piece of paper with instructions on how to put up the tent from within the box. Camping in the Sea Islands was the closest thing she had done to this, and even that had been in a luxury tent. This was old school next to that experience. "I read that this area was really great for seeing the stars. I looked it up and found this place. It seemed secluded...which is always a perk." She picked up a piece of the tent while beginning to laugh. "Okay, next time I'll ask Lieutenant Meham'ohorovi'cloc to accompany us." She teased, watching a pole fall down. "I love you, my Claudius. We'll get it put together." She said confidently, relying heavily on the instructions to begin forming the tent. They had nearly finished the task when Sierra stopped him from working anymore with a hand on his. She looked up to the sky. A meteor shower had begun. Streaks of color moved through the starry night sky rapidly. "Surprise!" Sierra exclaimed.

"No, no. Anyone but her," Claudiu pleaded, as he begged to be spare her briefings for even a few solitary hours. "I see, and we are out of luxury tents?" he asked, as he began to place the canvas over the poles. Before too long they had something that looked like a tent. As he looked up at the streaking meteors lighting up the night sky, he brought his arm behind Sierra and drew her near. "And how did you arrange that? I hope you didn't have to blow up a small moon," he jokes, as he basked in the glow of the starry night. "Do we have to go back?" he asked her, kidding of course, but there was a part of his mind that at least thought about it.

"The luxury tents were on the top shelf. I believe that's your fault, Mister Height." Aw, it was tent-like! Smiling, Sierra settled in at his side. She stared up at the sky, in awe of how beautiful the meteor shower was. It was simply a strike of good luck that it was taking place tonight. She tried to maintain a serious expression, looking at him. "Oh, come on. It was *just* a small moon. No one was using it." Sierra broke out into laughter. She felt happier and happier by the second. All the Arden mess had been cleared from her mind for the time being. After all, it was important *not* to take work home. To his question, Sierra seriously thought about it. "No." She said, resting her head against his shoulder. "We'll live out here and fashion clothing from leaves. There's a lake down the way, so that takes care of some of our water and food problems." She knew full well that no matter where they were, Sierra would be happy. "But... what about pudding?" She asked, looking towards him with a silly smile. "Claudius, everything is going to get better." She declared irrationally.

Claudius laughed at her joke, before turning his head towards her. He held her there as the meteors streaked across the sky, occasionally bathing them in light. He angled his face down, connecting his lips with hers in a loving, passionate kiss. Being out among nature and the wild animals had stirred something in him. He felt young. He felt alive. As he drew his face away he smiled lovingly down at her. "At my age I think I need more than leaves to cover me," he said, with a soft laugh as he began to lead her in the direction of the tent. "Pudding ... well, now that there's two people here we should expect an Auntie Mae's franchise any day," he teased her, as the HoloNet jingle played in his mind. It was so catchy that even he found himself singing it in the shower. "Everything is better," he reassured her, as he led her inside of the tent. As he sat there in the tent, he brought his hand up to caress the side of her face. He pushed forward, laying her back down, and slowly climbing on top of her. And that's when the tent collapsed, falling down on them awkwardly. The first time had not done the job.

That wonderful feeling of completeness filled Sierra. Though she had taken him on this date with the intent of making him feel infinitely better, it was she who also benefited from it. Her husband's sweet love was so amazing. Kissing him, Sierra felt nothing but joy. He'd taken her breath away by the time his lips moved from hers. She snickered. "I might have to agree. If you ran around in leaves all day, little would get accomplished." Rising to her feet, she followed him back to the sad makeshift tent. "Well, that settles it. As soon as Auntie Mae's opens here, we can move right on in." He wasn't the only one suffering from Auntie Mae's jingle. She found herself humming it as she went through day-to-day activities. That woman was the queen of frozen dessert.

She sat down within their tent, proud that it was staying upright. He *did* reassure her. She knew it too. Despite what had happened on the Retributor, they still had this wonderful life. She was happy that she didn't have to face the days without him. She was still so elated to be his wife and would feel that way forever. Her head tilted into his hand. Sierra laid back on the ground. She allowed lust to begin filling her mind. Between the romps on the Sea Islands, in the lake on Esseles, and now, she realized that there was something thrilling about having him in nature. Her rans rolled up his arms. No sooner had he settled on her did the tent fall down. Sierra was laughing. Instead of letting the tent's destruction stop them, she simply thrust the pieces to the side until they were exposed to the night again. "I suppose we'll sleep under the stars tonight." Her hands urged him to lay over her.

Sierra worked to catch her breath after a passionate romp in the woods. She had her arms around Claudius, still clinging to him for dear life. Her heart was pounding so quickly. Her head tilted towards his ear where she nipped at his lobe. "I love you," she whispered. She felt strong again...and in her strength, she realized that enough had gone on with Arden Zevrin. She was ready to knock the woman off of her high horse in order to improve her family's lives. She would not be forced to endure five more death concerts.

The meteor shower was not the only fireworks on display that evening. The romp the two had enjoyed left him satisfied and completely spent. "I love you too, Sierra. I'm sorry I failed to assemble the tent properly," he told her, as he leaned over to drape his arm around her. She had found the perfect retreat for them, breaking from the horrors that plagued them aboard the Retriubtor. This was precisely what they needed to keep from breaking under the diverse obstacles that plagued their daily lives. He held her close to him, his eyes slowly closing, as he drifted off to imagine a world where every day would be like this.

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