Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:7:30) in the Essesia system: Esseles (Larius Lacus: Sierra Rodney's lakehouse) and Kwai.
El-Nay Darr, Grand Moff Claudius Rodney, and Major Sierra Rodney.

The trip to New Alderaan had offered Sierra Rodney a lot of information. Jelena had filled in so many voids and answered a handful of questions ... with answers that were not necessarily good. She thought it best to reunite with her husband in the privacy of their lakehouse, where they could show their true emotions without having to worry about their daughters seeing them unhappy. Sierra had cried on her way home. Her eyes were still red and puffy. It had taken too much effort to remove El-Nay's Mandalorian armor. She stood on the porch awaiting Claudius' arrival wearing an environmental suit. She was watching the otter family mingle again, wishing it was just as easy for their family to be together. She didn't know how she was going to tell him everything. She had a realistic expectation. If she was upset by the information, he'd be devastated. Sierra clung to the railing. This day was only going to continue to get longer.

Claudius Rodney sat in the rear compartment of the Kwai holding Bruce in a harness that was strung over his chest. He looked ridiculous, but at least his son would be safe if they experienced any turbulence. "Thank you for doing this," he said into the cockpit, as he felt them begin their descent. He wondered what had happened on New Alderaan, but for now he was simply glad that Sierra had made it back to Esseles unharmed. "We'll be back with mommy soon," he said to his son, as he looked down at the boy's brown eyes, smiling, and speaking like anything but a Grand Moff. They would be at the lakehouse soon, far from the war, far from the Squibs coming dangerously close to invoking the ire of a Esselian animal rights group for their endless pursuit of the ducks.

"It's no problem, your Governship," El-Nay Darr said from the cockpit of the Kwai. "I needed to get my armor and ship back anyway," she said, unwilling to let another 'arutii', or outsider, handle her beskar'gam and starfighter. In the distance she could see the lake, nestled in a mountain valley that seemed picturesque. "Wow. Must take a lot of credits to live here," she said, as she looked down to the coordinates she had been given for the lakehouse. "Hang on to that baby. We're coming in," she warned the Governor, as she slowly guided the shuttle down into the landing platform close to the lakehouse. When they were settled down, she rose from the cockpit and moved to the ramp of the ship. She was wearing civilian clothes, like a Corellian pilot, which is what her father wanted to be. Unable to have her helmet and the psychological comfort it provided, she instead had to make do with a pair of simple glareshades. She looked cool, but she felt anything both.

Claudius hung on to Bruce for dear life as the shuttle gently landed on the shores of Larius Lacus, but fortunately it was El-Nay at the controls and not Randi Trainor, which resulted in a remarkably soft landing. He rose from his seat, supporting the back of Bruce's head, and beginning to walk down the ramp. "We're here to be alone. Please collect your armor, and your ship, and then return to the estate," he said to the Mandalorian, as the two moved down the path towards the lakehouse. "Sierra?!" he called out, half anxious and half excited, as he stepped into the simple, but elegant house on the shore of the lake. "I should have known," he said, as he moved forward and found his wife otter watching. "There's mommy!" he said to Bruce, as he moved towards Sierra. He leaned forward to give her a kiss, but was careful not to squish their child between them. "*We* missed you," he told her, with a smile, trying not to immediately ask her what happened.

Lucky for everyone, Bruce was in an incredibly good mood. The boy was beginning to get used to traveling in the Kwai, and thus, he handled takeoff and landings much easier than he had when he was born. He stared at his father with a growing smile on his face and a look of awe in his big, brown eyes. With each passing day, Bruce grew to resemble both of his parents. His blonde hair had come in thick over the month and a half since his birth. The landing didn't phase him as he fed off of his father's feelings. He didn't know that they were about to reunite with his mother until he was taken through the home. The boy let out a happy squeal when he saw his mother. He flayed his arms and legs excitedly. Truly, both men seemed happy to see her.

The storm of emotions inside of Sierra briefly cleared when she heard Claudius call for her. She turned around, spotting both her son and her husband. The sadness on her face rapidly changed to happiness simply because she was so glad to see them. She approached them, kissing her husband lovingly. Bruce's excitement warmed her heart on a day when she was not feeling at her happiest. She bent down, placing a kiss on his forehead. "I missed you both too.. I *hate* being away from you." She gently embraced Claudius and Bruce, careful not to hurt the small boy.

She could hear El-Nay beginning to collect the pieces of her armor from inside the house. She called to mind other tidbits of information that Jelena had given her on New Aldera. Sierra couldn't stop herself. "Hold on," she commented to Claudius. She knew he was dying to hear what she had to say, but there was something Sierra *needed* to know. She marched into her home, spotting El-Nay dressed in civilian clothing instead of her armor. "El-Nay!" She called out. "Jelena said you attacked her some time ago on Esseles." She paused in front of the Mandalorian. "Why?!" Sierra snapped. Her sadness was mixed in anger, which she now directed towards the woman who had saved her family on multiple occasions. She wanted to know the truth, *all* of it.

"Gaah!" El-Nay squirmed, as she heard Sierra scream at her in a way she had never before experienced. She cringed, pulled back, and began to squirm. "Y-y-y-es, M-milady?" she asked, stammering, barely able to get a word in edgewise. Weakly, she pointed at Claudius, as she looked towards Sierra with a terrified look beneath her glareshades. "H-h-he hired me to find her. After ... after Jelena shot Kerrie and fled," she said, swallowing, as her breathing began to become labored. "Jelena ... Jelena shot Ma-Ma-Marcus, and I subdued her," she said, before dropping to her knees in obedience to beg forgiveness. "I'm sorry it got it out of hand, but at that point I wasn't sure if Kerrie was even going to live. Oh, Milady," she said, as she began to cry, and reached out to clutch her hand for forgiveness, placing her tear stained face upon Sierra's hand, kissing it.

El-Nay had, unintentionally, become Sierra's scapegoat. She would feel bad for it later, but right now, she wanted more answers. Her head shot behind her shoulder, looking at Claudius. He had never told her that he had hired El-Nay, though she was sure that he hadn't instructed the Mandalorian to harm his daughter. Her head snapped back towards El-Nay. "Jelena shot *Marcus*?! Why did she shoot Marcus?" Marcus was a bounty hunter in his free time. Sierra had accidentally learned that some time ago. Now there was this... She looked down at El-Nay as she dropped to her knees. Her heart was beginning to ache in so many ways. Sierra noticed that she was feeling especially raw and damaging El-Nay immaturely. There seemed to be logic to everything. Kerrie had been hurt. El-Nay reacted. And did he fall in line with the timeline? Sierra could feel her eyes growing hot. It was like she'd been standing in a very dark room, and all of a sudden there was blinding light. She brought her hand to her face to attempt to stop the tears from coming. "I...I forgive you, I forgive you." Sierra said as she began to deflate.

"Marcus was in charge of the hunt for Jelena," El-Nay admitted, blurting out too much information in a desperate attempt to win back Sierra's favor. "If it makes you feel better, Marcus really tore into me for it, and he got rid of me before he took Jelena to Delaya," she continued, too ignorant to understand the implications of what she was telling her. Her cheeks were stained with her tears, and although they could not be seen, her eyes behind the glareshades were red. "You forgive me? Oh thank you, milady. Thank you," she said, groveling, as she worked her way back onto her feet. "I'll ... I'll take my armor and go so you two ... uh, three ... can be alone," she said, as she moved towards where her beloved suit of beskar'gam was being stored. She had dodged a real slug there. She would not forget Sierra's forgiveness.

Claudius listened as El-Nay provided information on Jelena's defection, which somehow tied into the information that Sierra had gone to obtain. "Marcus ... Marcus is a bounty hunter?" he asked Sierra, as he moved to take a seat, Bruce still strapped into the safety harness on his chest. "Marcus ... took her to Delaya instead of bringing her back to me?" he asked, as the room began to spin. Suddenly he felt very dizzy and lightheaded. "Can you ... can you take Bruce?" he asked her, weakly, as he brought his hand up to the side of his head. "Then what happened?" he asked her, feeling overwhelmed, as if he might pass out. "Is my whole family part of this Rebellion?" he asked Sierra, as he looked up at her with weary eyes and sadness.

"Marcus was the one who took Jelena to Delaya!?" Sierra had wondered that when she spoke with her stepdaughter. However, the conversation had been sensitive enough without bringing her uncle into it. It seemed the whole family had conspired to keep Jelena away from her father. She closed her eyes for a moment to process the new information. She gave El-Nay the opening to leave them *alone*. Sierra turned around towards Claudius. She removed her young son from the safety harness and cradled him against her chest. At least there was one child who wasn't betraying the family.

"Marcus is a bounty hunter." Sierra confirmed. "He goes by the name 'Nerf Herder'. I learned of this when he came to assist in rescuing me when Zara's sister kidnapped me. I did what research I could, but I had no idea he had any part in this." She looked down at her husband with a deep frown on her face. El-Nay had delivered the first blow, now Sierra would have to deal out many more. Slowly, she came to sit on his knee with their son. Her arm wrapped around his neck to help support him. He was going to need it. "I spoke with Jelena. She told me everything... And that's why we're here, not at home.." She pressed her lips to his forehead. She felt horrible for her husband. She didn't understand why the family had gone out of their way to work against him. "Are you... Are you *sure* you're ready to hear what I have to say?"

Claudius had, of course, heard of the Nerf Herder, but never in a million years would he have assumed that his brother was that bounty hunter. To him, his brother was a clumsy playboy, not a reputed bounty hunter. His heart rate was elevating, and his breathing was turning into slow, short pants. Without her support he likely would have fallen over, unable to support himself given what he had already heard. "Please ... I *need* to know. Tell me everything," he told her, but his eyes looked glassy, and his voice sounded distant. It seemed he was about to learn a difficult truth. It seemed, for the first time since he encountered her, Arden Zevrin had told the truth.

Her eyes fell away from his. They were full of sadness. It was difficult being the messenger in this situation. She would not be able to protect him from the truth, for it was the truth that he had wanted her to retrieve. It may have been an intelligent idea to have Doctor Tohan on standby should this information hurt her husband more than she could imagine. Finally, she looked back at him. "After Jelena left the Warspite, she was hiding out in the slums on Esseles. That is when El-Nay *and* Marcus found her. Marcus took Jelena back to Delaya, where she met with that Rebel, General Rieekan. It was he who convinced Jelena to go back to the Ringali Shell to aid the Rebels." She paused. Her eyes moved to Bruce, who had become serious despite not understanding the situation in the slightest. Sierra could feel the tears rushing back. "I assumed that was when her association with the Rebellion began...but it wasn't. It was Princess Leia, whom we had gone to school with, who swayed her to join their efforts."

Claudius listened in complete silence as Sierra informed him what had happened to his beloved daughter following her defection. "My brother, my father ... my mother," he said, as he lowered his head, and began to pitifully cry. "They *all* knew. They *all* kept it from me," he said, as he felt his energy drain as if he had just bit hit by an ion cannon. "Why didn't they give her back to me? Why did they try and hide her from me? I could have helped her. I could have prevented all this..." he said, before stopping. Suddenly he felt like he was going to be sick. His nausea was getting the better of him, and he had to close his mouth, regurgitate, and concentrate to keep from throwing up right then and there.

Her mouth was dry by the time she finished talking. The words were so hard to say that she said them quickly just to make them stop. The family had betrayed her husband so much. It didn't make sense. Sierra left him for only as long as it took to secure Bruce in his bouncer near them, then she took her husband into both of her arms and held him tightly. She gave him a safe place to cry, hide, be sick, whatever he needed. Her hands rubbed up and down his back slowly. "I'm sorry, I don't understand either..." She whispered. Marcus, Julius, and Livia had kept the truth from Claudius for so long. If not for the video Arden had revealed, then the truth would have never found them. Sierra wanted to solve things...she wanted to make things better as was her nature. "I... I... I'll go back to Delaya and see Marcus.." She couldn't leave again. Now that her arms were around him, she doubted she would ever let go.

"Don't leave me," Claudius pleaded, when Sierra was talking about another journey soon. "I love you. I can't bare to be separated from you. Especially not now," he said, as he clung to her, fearing that if he let go he would lift off and float away into oblivion. "Why don't they ever come here? Why doesn't anyone ever come to us?" he asked her, as he shook his head bitterly. "We went to them because they had two young children. Well, Bruce is younger. They should return the favor and come here," he said, sounding increasingly jealous. "I cannot go there officially, but nothing is stopping them from coming here," he explained, still sounding like a brother despite his age and position.

Her arms locked tighter around him. The very last thing she wanted to do was leave. The trip to New Aldera had been painful. What she wanted most was to remain close to him and slowly, *slowly* recover. She lifted her head to look at him. His jealousy was infectious. Sierra disliked stepping foot on Governor Arundel's planet without her husband...without protection. They risked her safety every time she went back to Delaya. "We will make them come here this time. I don't want to be away from you. I don't want to be away from the children. Just because Marcus is Duke does *not* mean we must always cater to him." Marcus and Zara had come to visit them on Esseles a single time since their marriage. It was only for the reason of Claudius meeting the twins, not because they actually wanted to spend time with the family. She groaned, burying her head into his shoulder.

"He may be a Duke, but I am a Grand Moff," Claudius replied to her, in a bit of ego. There had been so much dumped upon him over the past few moments. He did not want to discuss it anymore. "Let's go swimming," he said to Sierra, as he made an old man noise and rose from the couch. He moved towards the bedroom where he began to strip off his uniform and then found himself a pair of swimming trunks. "Let's bring Bruce. I don't think the sea cow or the otters will bother him," he said, as he hopped on while leg while changing into the bathing suit. At this point he just wanted to relax and spend some time with his family.

Sierra, too, rose from the couch. She picked up Bruce. The young woman had been obsessing over this new information all the way home. If she didn't get her mind off of it, she was going to burst. She followed Claudius into their bedroom, where she placed Bruce on the bed so she could begin changing out of her environmental suit and into her bathing suit. When she had dressed herself, she leaned over the bed and began dressing Bruce in a diaper made for going into the water. "I think he'll enjoy that." She commented, picking up her little son. She nuzzled him. The short time in New Aldera had made her long for her family. They needed this precious time together. She took Claudius' hand, giving it a squeeze as she led them all out of the house and towards the lake's warm water. "We're going into the water now," she told Bruce, "Don't worry, it's just like taking a bath.. Only mommy and daddy get to come with you." Sierra slowly moved into the lake as to not shock her son.

Claudius never let go of his wife's hand as he waded into the cool, refreshing water of Larius Lacus. "Oh," he said, contently, as the water swept over his feet and ankles, which had developed chronic pain from two decades of wearing the restrictive boots of the Imperial uniform. "This is a wonderful place. Maybe when the war is won and we no longer need such security we can retire here instead of the estate," he said, dreaming of a brighter future. He allowed himself to lay back, floating away slowly. As he closed his eyes and lay weightless in the water everything seems to feel better. As the water entered his ears he could hear his own heartbeat, and if he allowed himself to fall asleep he could. But as he drifted he suddenly impacted something and lurched out of the water. He thought it was a rock, but it was the sea cow. "Oh, hello," he said, as the cow snorted some water at him. "Sierra, look who it is!" he said, with a warm smile as he looked to it. "Bring Bruce to see?" he said, as a question, rather than an instruction.

Sierra kept her hands on Bruce. The boy was processing everything going on around him. For the first five minutes, he was silent. As he grew more comfortable with the new setting, he began to babble. "There you go. See? It's fun!" She kept herself upright. The water did much to relax her, as well as the presence of both of the men in her life. "I'd like that. I love it here ... and I'm not just saying that because of the otters." Sierra commented with a smile. She was showing Bruce how to play with the water when her husband called her over. "Sea Betsy!" She exclaimed. The troublesome sea cow had really found itself in a bind on Delaya when it got stuck in the sand. Thankfully, there had not been a repeat of the sea cow's beaching here on Esseles. She waded through the water with Bruce. She trusted the sea cow. She had seen it play gentle with Ewwiekewwieikkie before. "Bruce, this is a sea cow." She explained to her infant, who began laughing at the sight of Sea Betsy. He reached out his hands towards the sea cow. Sierra's smile grew. Her eyes lifted towards Claudius. "It looks like we have another animal lover in the family."

Claudius watched Sierra like a thranta as she moved towards the sea cow with their precious, infant son. "He's really taken to it," he said, but then suddenly he was struck from behind, knocking him forward, and causing him to fall face first into the water. He had been knocked over by an otter, and as he brought his head up at the water he saw multiple otters moving towards Sierra to investigate Bruce. "Sierra," he said, with a mouthful of lake water. "Be careful!" he said, as he suddenly saw her surrounded by otters.

Sierra's hand guided Bruce's hand over the head of the sea cow slowly. "I think he agrees that we should retire here. Where else do we get to live with sea cows *and* otters?" She wondered if she should heed to Jelena's warning and talk Claudius into leaving his post for good. The dark thoughts slowly leaked into the happy moment. Should the Empire lose, despite how unrealistic that idea was, it would result in Bruce *and* Olivia losing both of their parents. Ewwiekewwiekie, Melickielickie, and Drusilla would be impacted the most after that. She wondered if they should have a plan in case all hell broke out. Her sadness was short lived thanks to the otter that carelessly knocked her husband face first into the water. "What the..?" The whole otter family was coming infinitely closer than ever before. She clutched Bruce close. He wasn't afraid. If anything, the presence of the otters excited him, just like the sea cow. He was making all sorts of happy noises. He batted the water with his hands, creating small splashes. "Wow... They are *really* close." She sounded slightly nervous. One bold otter crept up on her shoulder and began sniffing her face. "If this thing kills me, I couldn't think of a happier way to die..."

It took a moment for Claudius to find his footing in the muddy bottom of the lake. But, once he was on his feet he began to scurry over towards Sierra through the family of otters. "What ... what's going on?" he asked, as he watched all of the lake creatures swarm towards their son. As the creature climbed on top of Sierra he began to panic, unsure of what to do. "Are they dangerous?" he asked, wondering if he should try and swat the creature away. He was not sure if she was terrified or enjoying herself.

She was both terrified and enjoying herself. The otters normally kept their distance. "Um.. I'm not sure. How about you..." She carefully adjusted, offering him Bruce so that he could keep the boy safe while the otters devoured her ... only it didn't work out like that at all. No sooner had she transferred the child over did the otters shift their attention to Claudius. "I swear, it's him. Bruce draws these creatures in. I wonder if it's because he's..." Sierra stopped. 'A force user'. Bruce had protected her on Delaya by summoning the thranta, of that she was certain of. Each time she thought about what he was, she began to feel light headed and sick. *Five years* echoed inside of her head. The time with Bruce was so limited that she felt bad every time she parted from him. Unknown to her, she had begun to cry. Lord Vader would take her baby boy away from her.

Claudius was glad that Sierra offered him Bruce and he began to get him away from the otters when suddenly the creatures began swarming him. "Sierra, what do I do? What I do?" he asked her, as he clutched his baby boy close to his chest. "Is that how the force works? I never call seeing otters following around Lord Vader," he said, as he became swarmed with the otters as Sierra was. "Should we ... should we get out of the water?" he asked her, as one of them suddenly climbed up his back, which caused him to scream. (d)

She rubbed at her eyes to clear the tears. "Um, um, um!" She rushed over to them in attempt to protect both her husband and her son. When he let out a scream, Sierra let out one of her own in reaction, and then Bruce did the same. "Let's get out." She said, swimming behind him to protect his back during the escape. The otters continued to follow Bruce until they were inside the house with the door closed. "I don't think we're going to be able to take Bruce to a zoo any time soon." She said, glancing down at her happy baby. "It didn't phase him at all.." Sierra briefly parted from her family to collect a fresh sleeper for Bruce as well as a new diaper. She rejoined them, leading the way towards the kitchen. "Let's bathe him and get him in bed. We could both use some 'adult' time." She said, not really meaning anything sexual. She was having a hard time settling down after the last week. To make matters worse, it was becoming evident to her aboard the Retributor that people had seen the leaked videos of her abuse. She sighed, standing over the kitchen sink and preparing it for Bruce's bath as he was too small to take one on the bathtub. "Why don't you do it?" She looked back at Claudius with a little smile.

"I'll do it, but you need to supervise," Claudius said, as he stood in the kitchen, still wet from the lake, and trying to process why the creatures of the lake were so taken by Bruce. As he lowered Bruce delicately into the bath water before reaching for the soap. "We need to get you clean, your lordship," he said, as he smiled down at his son and began washing him. Then suddenly there was a crash at the window, which caused him to move to protect Bruce. When he looked up he saw that there was a black and white felinx in the window, looking at them. "Oh no. Sierra. It's happening again," he complained to her, as he sat Bruce up in the sink and began to rub the soap on him. "Shoo. Shoo," he said as he waved his hand at the felinx, which was not moving at all.

"Deal." Sierra arranged a towel on the counter to dry Bruce off with once the bath was finished. She stood beside Claudius, allowing herself to live in the moment for once... and enjoy it. Their son, thus far, was a calm little man. As long as he had his mother or his father, he seemed to handle even the wildest of situations well. "Look at all that hair." She commented while he washed their son. The sudden crash at the window made Sierra jump. "What was that!?" Perched on the window sill was a *very* cute black and white felinx. The felinx remained outside the window, staring in at the baby Bruce. Bruce had become more excited than ever before. He cooed loudly at the felinx. "He's going to turn our home into a zoo." She laughed, gently knocking at the glass to try to make the felinx leave. "It's better a felinx than a rancor." She commented. This only solidified her decision to never take the boy to a zoo.

Claudius moved his hand up to their son's hair, wetting it and washing it, as he smiled at his wife. "He got your hair color," he said, happily, as he managed to get their son clean. "Do you think that's why the ducks came to the estate?" he asked her, as he was beginning to buy into Sierra's theory that Bruce was attracting the animals. "He's certainly going to make Ewwiekewwieikkie and Melickielickie happy that wherever he goes he'll summon animals for them to play with," he said, as he lifted the little boy out of the water and got him over onto the waiting towel. He began gently rubbing him with the towel to get him dry, taking a more active role with him than he did either of the girls. This time he was truly going to be a father.

"Maybe... It could be that, or maybe Ewwiekewwieikkie left out something that the ducks were attracted to." She laughed, calling to mind the conversation she had with the girls about *not* feeding the ducks candy, or any other kind of sweets. "We had so many adventures with nature when I was pregnant with him. I wonder if it was him all along." She appreciate Claudius not thinking she was totally off her rocker for saying something so irrational. Neither one of them really knew how the Force worked. It seemed possible. Sierra giggled, imagining a slightly older Bruce chasing the ducks with the girls. She briefly left Bruce and Claudius to prepare their son's nighttime bottle. When she had finished, she sneaked up behind her husband and embraced him tightly. "I love you," she nuzzled close to him. "I hope Bruce will go to sleep easy tonight. Once he's in bed, I'm going to hold you and *never* let go."

"It's true. She's always dropping food," Claudius said, as he finished drying their son. When she embraced him from behind he was glad that it was *not* another wild creature, although she had her moments in the bedroom. "I love you too," he said, as he removed the towel from their son. "There. All cleaned and dry," he said proudly, before turning his head so he could look at her over his shoulder. "I love you too, Sierra. Thank you for letting me take part in this," he informed her, referring to bath time. He wanted to be active in the care for his son. He needed to be active in the care for his son. "Let's get him to bed so we can start holding on to one another," he said to her, playfully, with a bit of teasing in his voice.

Peeking over his shoulder, Sierra could see that the felinx was *still* there... *watching*! She had a feeling that they'd be seeing it again, especially after Sierra snuck out some blue milk for the felinx to drink. Finally, Sierra began to feel truly better. Watching her husband and their son interact during bath time had done wonders for her. Claudius made for the greatest father in the world. She was happy her children had him, even the unborn one residing in her womb. "You did a good job, my love." She happily commented. Sierra learned forward, nipping at the back of his shoulder. "Okay. Here you go!" She placed the bottle in his hands. "I'll meet you in our room!" It was impossible to miss the teasing tone in her voice. She darted off quickly into their bedroom where she quickly stripped free of her bathing suit and hung it up to dry in the refresher. Her fingers worked through her damp blonde hair in an attempt to make herself look pretty for her husband. She was momentarily distracted as she passed by the mirror on her vanity. She caught sight of the beginnings of her new baby bump. Six weeks had already gone by since she had conceived again. She was pleasantly reminded of the new life growing within her and wanted to show it off. She regretted that the Inquisitor had ended her first pregnancy so abruptly, but this time was sure to be different.

"Wait. What do I do with this?" Claudius asked, as she handed him the bottle and fled ... she was gone before he even started speaking. "If only your sister Ewwiekewwieikkie was here. She knows everything about food," he told her, as he examined the baby bottle. He lifted his son, cradling him in his arms, as he offered the nipple of the bottle to him. Fortunately, Bruce knew more about feeding than his father did, and the process proved much easier than he suspected. "Hah! He's doing it! He's doing it!" he said, but he was talking to himself. Once the bottle was finished he took it away from Bruce, and cast it aside. He then lifted him, placing him against his chest, with his head near his shoulder and began patting him on his back to get any air out. Slowly he moved towards the bedroom to find Sierra, but when he arrived and saw Sierra naked it was worth the small delay.

Bruce let out a loud burp that shook the entirety of his infant body. He was more than content after being bathed, fed, and cuddled. By the time he reached the bedroom, the boy was already falling asleep against the warmth of his father's chest. Sierra turned suddenly. Claudius had been quiet and caught her off guard. She smiled at him lovingly. Even though her womb was occupied, the sight of Claudius and Bruce made her ovaries scream. First, she approached where the bassinet was situated in the seating area in their room, where Bruce would be close enough that they would know if anything was wrong. She pulled back his blanket and repositioned his bantha toy so she could tuck the boy in. "I love you, my little prince." She told her son, who was now on his way to dreamland. She pressed her lips to his forehead. "Sleep tight." Her eyes gazed up at Claudius. Their moment, as a family, was what she needed to fully calm down. She released all the tension she had been holding inside of her.

Claudius watched as mother and son were reunited and as the little prince fell asleep he and Sierra were alone. The bathing suit slipped from his body and found their way down onto the floor beneath his feet. He moved towards her, draped in the moonlight, slowly, savoring each second he had with her. He brought his right hand up to her chin, cradling her head, and angling it up so that he could lower his head and place a loving kiss upon her. "I love you, my Sierra," he said, as he lowered his head, and pressed his forehead to hers. "After today I wonder if you're the only one I can truly trust," he said, as his left hand moved behind her, running up and down her back, before finally coming to a stop just above her buttocks.

Sierra gave one last smile to her sleeping son, then redirected her attention to the man who had aided her in bringing Bruce into this world. Her eyes followed his swim trunks down his body. The attraction she had for him burned inside of her chest. The moonlight cast odd shadows in their room, making it seem all the more intimate. Sierra's slim arms wrapped around Claudius' neck. She shared in that loving, passionate kiss with him. If all things came to an end at that very instant, it would be okay because they had each other. "I love you, my sweet Claudius." Her blue eyes stared into his brown ones, "I don't know about that, but I can reassure you that you can trust me completely. I will never betray you. I will never sneak around like that behind your back. I don't ever want to hurt you." She drew her lips to his for another, shorter, kiss.

"You could never hurt me," Claudius said, as he looked down into her eyes affectionately. With that he moved both of his hands to each of her wrists and then, leading her by both arms directed her towards the bed. He guided her down slowly, before coming to a rest next to her. He moved his face to hers, kissing her upon the lips, and then the neck, and finally down her chest. There was no sense of urgency on his part as he loved his wife and this would not be a night of lust, but of love. His heart was racing, perhaps beating so loud that she, too, could hear it. His breath was hot and heavy, and each time he panted on her his warm breath caressed her.

Happiness began to override all other emotions. As Sierra was led towards the bed, she could think of nothing more than how much she loved him ... and how much she couldn't survive all the trials and tribulations of life without him. She lay on the plush bed on her back. Her eyes followed him. "Claudius.." She whispered, kissing him with every ounce of love in her body. Sierra took it on herself to protect him...and to never allow something like this to happen again. It was her job to make sure Drusilla never followed the path of her sister to the Rebellion. She was breathless when the kiss ended. Her breathing became shallow and labored with each additional kiss he pressed against her body. After the Holovid leak, it had left Sierra exposed to old demons; the old demons he cast out with each kiss now. His hot breath and continuous attention drew moans from her lips. Even though she couldn't hear it, she could feel his heart beating hard in his chest against her body. They were slowly building each other up to their intimate union. As he finished kissing her chest, her hands dipped down into his hair. She massaged his scalp with her finger nails. "Look," she whispered sweetly. "I'm beginning to show again."

Claudius' brown eyes angled downward towards Sierra's stomach, indeed seeing the burgeoning baby bump that indicated another child would soon be with them. While she massaged his scalp he lowered his head, kissing past her bosom and finally coming to a stop on her stomach. He pressed several kisses upon her stomach before allowing his tongue to dart into her belly button, swirling around inside in a corkscrew pattern. "As you grow you'll only become more beautiful," he told her, as he angled his eyes up from her stomach to her eyes. He then reached up with both of his hands, guiding her down onto her back on the bed.

A bright smile broke out on her face. Like before, she was prideful of the changes in her body. She took to them naturally like she was made for motherhood. "Eeee!" She squeaked, wiggling against his tongue as it darted inside of her belly button. At the moment, he made her feel *very* beautiful. All her life, people had been telling her that she wasn't *good enough*...but not Claudius. Claudius never ripped her down. Contrary, he built her up to the point where she actually possessed an ego. "I'm so lucky to have you." She told him as she came to lay down on the bed.

Claudius made base camp on her stomach where he again placed kisses on the flesh barrier separating him from his future child. When he proceeded through the dangerous valley between each of her breasts, sliding his tongue up her sternum slowly. When there was no more to explore he climbed to the mountain top, with his face firmly hovering above hers. He smiled down at her, before placing a kiss upon her lips. His tongue pressed forward, darting between her lips, and rubbing back and forth against her own tongue.

Sexual bliss filled Sierra's mind. Every bad thought shelved itself. Her focus was on nothing other than her loving, handsome husband. Her body felt as hot as if it were a summer's day. His ascension up her body was every bit as exciting as his descension. As he kissed her stomach, she was reminded that it wouldn't be long before Doctor Tohan would be able to make the determination if she was carrying a boy or a girl. She couldn't wait. She couldn't wait to plan out their lives with their future baby. He teased her so much more with his kisses followed by the extra attention he gave each of her breasts. Her hands were right back on him, pressing firmly into his back. Her head moved from side to side. The delighted moans came louder. Her cheeks were red when he finally reached her face. She was panting softly.

Her mouth locked with his. Her lips opened to accept his tongue. Her own tongue, just as hungry for him as the rest of his body, began to nuzzle against his. She could taste herself along with him, which made her moan again into his mouth. Another wave of pleasure erupted in her body. She felt loved. She felt secure. She felt whole again. "I love you so much," she told him, breaking the kiss suddenly. "I just... I just... I *cannot* live without you. You are a part of me, my love."

"Don't worry, Sierra. You don't have to live without me," Claudius promised her, as he repositioned himself above her. "I am nothing with you," he told her, as he pressed his lips back against hers. He bit at her lower lip, before again sliding his tongue between her lips for a second type of penetration.

She was comforted by his words. From the day they wed, she knew this was forever. Sierra moaned. The simple, slow motion was incredibly sensitive for her. Her bare body cuddled against his. His words made her heart ache in all the right ways. She knew the same was true for herself. They *needed* each other. His bite made her gasp but before she could bite him back, his tongue was inside of her mouth, muting her. Sierra's hands relocated to his face to gently cup it between them. Her tongue was the aggressor this time.

"I should mentally prepare myself for the fact you're keeping the felinx, shouldn't I?" Claudius asked her, as he lay atop her, smiling lovingly into her eyes. He felt as if their two bodies were one, and as the sweat began to flow from his body and his skin began to adhere to hers that became a reality as each time he lifted up his skin literally peeled off hers.

Claudius' question was answered with Sierra's happy laughter. "Were you reading my mind again? I was going to put blue milk out on the porch for it... And if it came inside and wanted to stay, who am I to blame it?" It clearly wasn't his first day being married to her. She smiled brightly. Her love for him swelled inside of her chest. Perfect, amazing, and sexier than anyone else in the whole galaxy; that was her Claudius. She timed the movements of her hips to his rhythm. The sex had so much added intimacy to it tonight. Sierra's soft body was covered with a thin layer of sweat that made them cling together. "Mmm..." Her toes curled from how sensitive she felt. Her hands, which were now positioned on his shoulders, had begun to shake softly. Her smile grew. "I was so unhappy today. I don't know how you made me feel so good again. I suppose you're just amazing like that... and it helps that you're on board with keeping that felinx..."

"Well, you said it, not me, and who am I to argue with you?" Claudius said, as he paused momentarily, gazing down upon her with unconditional love. "I am so blessed to have you in my life. If I don't tell you that enough I am sorry," he said, before moving his hand to brush some of her blonde locks out of her face. The sweat was dripping off him now, and even though there was a slower pace, he nevertheless was starting to feel fatigued. Tonight the orgasm was of a secondary concern ... they were making love ... not merely having sex. He could feel the pleasure build in his body, but it was nothing compared to the love he felt in his heart.

Sierra was glad that she would get to keep the cute felinx, but what she was more happy about was Claudius. He made her feel loved in a way that was undeniable. During his brief pause, Sierra made herself closer to him. Her arms wrapped around his neck. Her legs, loosely, hooked around his waist. They were as together as together could be. Her heart beat hard in her chest next to his. "You tell me every day, Claudius. You always show me in your actions. I hope you realize how deeply I appreciate you being in my life. I value you more than anyone else in the galaxy." She nuzzled her cheek against his hand. "I love you so much..."

Claudius' eyes rolled back in his head as he finished, and he quickly came to rest on the bed beside her. "Oh I love you," he told her again, for perhaps the hundredth time that day. He tightened his arms around her, as he held her, glad that they did not wake their son. As he pulled the sheet up over them for the night he looked up at the moon that was shining through the skylight. Despite all that he had learned about his Rebellious family, as long as he was with Sierra all was right in the world.

Making love like this was the perfect way to end one very, very long, trying day. She moaned until he had finished filling her. All at once, she released him from her grasp so he could lay beside her. They did not stay separated for long, for Sierra cuddled right back into him. She, too, was relieved that Bruce hadn't woken up while they were making a ruckus. She was exhausted and ready to fall asleep with him. Her head rested against his chest. As she closed her eyes and began to fall asleep, Sierra Rodney knew he would not let her float away.

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