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Alice Bee and Christopher Levy.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:4:3) in the Alderaan system: Delaya (Leiliani: Medcenter).
Grand Moff Claudius Rodney and Commander Sierra Rodney.

"And I feel life for the very first time, love in my arms and the sun in my eyes. I feel safe in the five AM light. You carry my fears as the heavens set fire." Sierra Rodney sang quietly to her husband. Her voice cracking occasionally. Since arriving back at the medcenter, she had been an *absolute* mess. Against doctor's recommendations, Sierra crept into her husband's bed. She laid with him on her side. Her fingers occasionally ran over his hair. Since Farrah had disrupted her nap, she had not slept. She managed to eat enough to keep going. Everything concerning Marcus and Zara had been shelved. For now, Claudius was all that mattered.

"Jump into the heat. Spinning on our feet in a technicolor beat. You and me caught up in a dream in a technicolor beat."

She pressed her head against his arm where she began to sob. Her strength was dwindling. He had now been unconscious for over twenty-four hours. She was starting to hear things like *he may never wake up*. A nurse told her she needed to *prepare* herself. Sierra had not lost her hope. Her head rose. Her hand brushed over the side of his face. "I wrote that one for you, my love. I was so inspired by our thranta ride. Until now, I was too embarrassed to let you hear it." Her fingers danced on his chin. "If you open your eyes, I promise I'll never feel that way again. I'll drown you in gushy love songs." She inched upward. Her lips lingered near his. "I love you. Don't leave me..." Sierra kissed her husband. "Claudius, I need you so bad." She cried while continuing to kiss him.

And as if on cue Claudius' eyes slowly began to open. At first he saw nothing and could not speak. Nothing was distinguishable, and his mouth felt incredibly dry. He attempted to move his hands, but he was barely able to wiggle a finger. His eyes rapidly blinked and eventually Sierra came into view ... it was a wonderful first sight. He tried to speak, but could not find the words, as his mouth was painfully parched. The back of his head still hurt badly, and despite his best efforts he could not move. He had been out for over a day and it would take time for him to recover completely. He could, however, muster a small smile as he looked up at his beautiful, young wife, who at first glance resembled an angel.

Before Sierra, her one wish came true: her husband opened his eyes. Through her tears, she thought her emotions were playing tricks on her. She rubbed away the tears so she couldn't deny it. Claudius had woken. At first, she said nothing. Her lips quivered. She started to cry when he gave her a small smile. Her arms wrapped him up tightly. Her face nuzzled against his. "Claudius..!" She choked. Remembering herself, she scrambled halfway out of the bed to grab a cup of water with a straw sticking out of it. She used buttons on the bed to help him move to an angle easier to drink from. "It's good to see you again, my love. Let me help you." Sierra brought the straw right between his lips carefully. "Don't push yourself. You've been out for over twenty-four hours." Her heart felt all melty. After all he had been through, he still smiled for her.

Claudius dry, chapped lips embraced the straw and he began to sip on the cup of water. Unfortunately, he was so thirsty that he took too much and began to choke. He was unable to say anything, but the look in his eyes as he gazed upon her said more than any words could. When the water cleared his windpipe he finally was able to speak. "Sierra..." was all he could get out at first, as he tried his best to get the words out. Gradually he began to move his arms and legs, but it was such a strain for just a slight bit of motion. Whatever had happened had done a number on him.

She immediately tried to help sit him up further to aid in clearing his windpipe. It was hard to see him like this. If things went the way she wanted, then she would steal his pain away. She didn't set the drink aside until he had taking another sip with a soft prompting. "Drink more, you need it." She could see him working hard to talk and move. Upon setting the drink side, she took his hands with both of hers. Her fingers moved between his. She leaned down to kiss him again now that he was conscious. Her eyes focused on his. She understood the words he didn't speak. "You hit your head and cracked your skull," Sierra explained quietly. Her face crinkled up as she fought the urge to cry. "You don't need to worry about *anything*. I'm going to take care of you." She promised. Through sickness and health...right?

Claudius let out a frustrated sigh, as he tilted his head to the side so that he was not applying direct pressure to the back of his head. "How long?" he asked softly, meaning how long he was unconscious, and how long he would be in this condition. He wanted to know *everything* the doctors were saying, but he was not ready to utter that many words yet. He tried to keep the smile on his face, but the back of his head was hurting so much that it was a difficult task. With all of his might he lifted his hand, which felt like it weighed as much as a Star Destroyer, to caress his wife's hand gently.

Sierra settled where she had been lying previously. On her side, they could look in each other's eyes while they spoke. She couldn't stop touching him. She was terrified that if she let go, he'd be gone that very instant. His hand caused her so much comfort. Goosebumps erupted on the back of her hand. It felt so wonderful. The mess that had happened while he was out remained at the furthest reaches from her mind. Claudius was not in a position to handle all of that. *Sierra* would right the wrongs and figure out a way to save Marcus and his wife. Her hand squeezed his. They would get through all of this. "You've been out for a day and a half." Sierra told him. "The doctors were not overly confident in you ever waking up. You were in surgery for a long time when we first arrived. You lost a lot of blood. You *have* to stay here for a week. No arguing about it or using that cute, pouty face." She offered him a small smile. She could tell he was in pain. Again, Sierra peeled away from him. She collected a small plastic cup with a strong painkiller in it and his water. "Take this. It'll help with the pain..."

The small pill Sierra offered him was quickly downed with the aid of the water, and moments later he felt that unfamiliar wave of euphoria that relieved his pain and made him feel as if he was floating over the bed. While the Grand Moff and Duke lay barely conscious in the bed his underlings were wreaking havoc in his name. Arden Zevrin was using his authorization to arrest and murder countless individuals in the Ringali Shell. Gaius Rodney was deleting all evidence of Farrah and her attempts to murder Claudius. Governor Arundel was tearing apart the Jelena Rodney Center that Sierra had established looking for traitors. As the old man rested the galaxy went on without him ... to his great detriment. But in his drugged state all he could do was feel the warmth of Sierra's presence.

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