Tea for Two


John Medkeff


Rebecca Miller

Darien watched the droids load supplies and luggage on the Pied Piper. Six techs were making final checks of the ship itself.

Taras’ yacht was something to see up close. He doubted it was missing any of the options. It had enough extra weapons in concealed mounts to eat most pirates before they realized they were facing a small warship. He suspected the presence of high performance engines and a cloaking device. And it was kept in mint condition. Darien figured it must have cost ten times what most ships its size did. But the Steeles could afford it.

The interior was furnished to match. With all the comforts and luxuries Darien could imagine.

Mikala came slowly out of the house a droid and a medic following in her wake. The droid was pushing an antigrav chair, which Mikala was very studiously ignoring as she walked slowly.

Darien turned as he felt her approach. "I see Sandy's letting you do your own walking."

She gave him a small smile. "I'm supposed to take it slow and she's sending him," she jerked her thumb back over her shoulder, "to make sure I do."

"I see." He changed the subject. "Your father has quite a little yacht there. Not the most discreet I've ever seen but full of surprises."

She turned an appreciative eye to the craft. "Very nice. Looks like it has a few more goodies than the Ire has."

"When I came out they were checking the guns. The extras are retracted now. They all looked custom made, probably paid extra to have them small." He looked at her. "But then they own several companies that make such things and don't need to worry about permits."

She smiled. "Permits are only required if you get caught."

True, but your family can legally issue their own." He answered. "Shall we go aboard?"

"Maybe I can get them to get me a couple while I'm here. My ship has a few 'unique' modifications." She took a deep breath and sighed. "Sure."

He waved his hand toward the ramp.

Mikala grimaced and started up the ramp slowly. They found themselves in a large common room.

"This is nice," Mikala said looking around at the richly appointed interior.

"I'm told the Martlet, Sandy’s yacht, is even more luxurious. And the Enchanted Evening, which is bigger even has a ballroom."

Mikala shook her head. "This makes the Lady's Ire look like a poor cousin and I paid a Hutt's random for her."

"Do you own the shipyard?" Darien asked.

She shook her head.

"Your father is on the board of Kalore Shipbuilding."

She blew out a breath. "Force, do they own everything?"

"Koross, Baric, Reanna and Aulin have had decades to build their position here. But no, they don't own everything. But they own enough to control the economy of this sector."

He pushed a chair over. "Would you like a seat."

She nodded, moving to the chair. "I can't believe how little it takes to tire me."

"It seems like your lasting longer today." He sat down on the couch, opposite her.

The medic and the droid disappeared.

She gave him a small smile and then sighed as the others left. "The Force is a wonderful thing."

"Did you send them away?" He asked.

She smiled a little. "I suggested that maybe the droid should be packed for take-off. I'm getting better at doing that." She flushed a little. "I didn't do very well my first try."

"What happened?"

"I suggested that one of the nurses take a flying leap and next thing I knew she was in the pool."

"At least she landed in the pool. No one hurt?" He asked.

She shook her head. "We were sitting out by the pool any ways so she didn't jump far."

"Poor thing." He laughed. “I don't suppose you got away with that one."

She shook her head. "Tiri and Jan thought it was hysterical."

"What did you intend her to do?"

"I just wanted to her to stop pestering me. I didn't word it very well though."

"I'll bet it got worse."

She sighed deeply and shrugged. "Mental suggestion hasn't ever been my strong suite."

"It calls for subtlety.” He pointed out. “It must always sound reasonable.

"Subtlety is one of my weak areas. I like things straight forward and in the open."

"So I've noticed."

She grimaced.

"Are you all right?" He stood up.

She nodded. "I'm fine."

"You're sure?" He sounded dubious.

She nodded. "I'm just a little tired."

He sat back down.

"So I'm a little too forward, huh?"

"What?" He asked.

She shook her head. "Never mind."

"Would you like to lie down for a while?” He asked.

She shook her head. "I'm tired of lying around all the time." She looked over at him with a small smile. "I would like some tea though."

Darien stood up and walked over to the bar. "Right away." He started the water. Then he returned.

She smiled. "Thank you for coming with me to meet Master Alidar."

"You need some one who can translate between light and dark." He laughed. "And it gives me the pleasure of your company.

She smiled shyly. "I enjoy spending time with you too." She chuckled. "Kieren will start getting jealous of me hogging his teacher all the time."

"I don't think Kieren knows how to be jealous, but perhaps he should." Darien laughed.

The teakettle started to sing and Mikala slowly got to her feet. "I'll get it. I might not be able to carry it, but I can make it."

Darien started to stand.

She smiled over her shoulder. "You can help if you want."

He followed her over to the bar.

"What kind do you want?" she asked, pulling out a small basket with several different kinds of tea in it. "There's some kind of juri berry stuff, Correlian black tea, Yavin spice, and something I have no idea what it is but it smells like black pepper," she said making a face.

“Correlian black, please.”

She nodded and put it on to steep. She shifted and knocked several napkins off the counter. She groaned and started to move to get them.

He reached down to help. "Are you all right?'

She turned her head and they found their faces just centimeters apart. Her eyes locked with his. "Fine," she said softly.

Without thinking he leaned forward and kissed her.

Mikala closed her eyes leaned into the kiss. Something seemed to stir between them almost like electricity.

He reached out a hand and steadied her then he sat down, pulling her to him.

She flinched a little but then relaxed into his arms.

As he did so he felt the Force gathering around them.

The cock pit door opened, Polly looked in for a moment and then closed the door.

Mikala's left hand slid up to run through his hair and then she pulled back a bit, smiling. "That was nice."

"Yes it was." He whispered.

She leaned against him a moment. "I felt… what was that?"

"What was what? The kiss or the Force, or both?" He paused. “Or was it more? Yes, I think it was."

She pulled back a bit. He could feel a twinge of fear shoot through her.

"I think I'm falling in love with you." He continued.

She looked away and then back at him. Her dark eyes full of emotion. "I feel something," she said in a near whisper. "I'm not sure what it is. I thought I loved Xanatos. This is different." She pulled away from him, pulling in on herself as she did.

"Then lets find out what it is. You said he could never hear your thoughts. Let’s see if we can meld ours."

"How?" she asked quietly.

"I've never done this either but I've your Father and Sandy do it a couple of times." He leaned toward her. "Think about pulling my mind into yours." Then he kissed her again.

Mikala responded eagerly to his kiss, tentatively opening her mind to his.

*Go with the flow he projected to her. Read emotions, not words. Emotions cannot lie.*

He could feel her starting to relax and began reaching back to him. Fear, desire, longing, and trust swirled chaotic around her and through her.

She felt desire, confusion, pleasure and trust in him. Trust in her and that if this was wrong the Force would tell them, which it wasn't. Then she felt him surrender to the moment. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her.

He could feel her fear growing as their connection deepened.

He backed off. *Are you all right?*

She melted into his arms. *How can you love me? You don't know what I've done. I've hurt people, Darien. I've killed.*

"I love you, and your future, not your past. And I've killed to, though perhaps not as much as you have." He answered.

"I'm not that person any more, Darien. Things have changed. I've changed."

"I know. You've changed a lot since you arrived on Zoron. I suspect you'd already begun changing before you arrived. I will help you face your past if you need that help."

She leaned her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. "Thank you." She paused and then looked up at him. "I love you too," she said softly and gave him a tiny smile. "I think," she said, her cheeks flushing.

"We can take this slowly, if you like. There is no need to rush."

She nodded. "I think that would be best," she said and then a smile touched her eyes. "That doesn't mean we have to stop kissing."

"No it doesn't. Would you back feel better on the couch, or should we stay here?" He suggested.

She let him start to feel her discomfort. "I think the couch would be better."

"Can you walk over or should I carry you?"

"Help me up and I think I can walk."

He stood up, and offered her his hand.

She took it and let him help her to her feet. She got there and leaned heavily against him. "As nice as that was, I don’t think my back liked that."

"Probably not. I'm sure we'll hear about that from Sandy.” He led her over to the couch.

"I think our tea has over steeped." He added.

She chuckled. "Oops."

He poured a bit into his cup and tasted it. "It's a bit strong, but drinkable."

She smiled. "Strong is good."

Darien filled both cups. "You take sugar, don't you?"

She nodded. "Please, just a little."

He added the sugar and brought the cups over to the couch.

She reached her hands up and took it from her. "Thank you," she said, cradling the cup in her hands.

He sat down next to her. "You’re welcome."

She snuggled in against him and smiled.

He put an arm around her shoulders. "How’s that?"

She leaned over to rest her head against his shoulder. "Nice." Her smile turned thoughtful. "I'm not going to get you trouble with Father and Sandy, am I?"

"About what? Your father is the least of our worries. He'll be happy to see you getting over Xanatos. Sandy will be mad if you hurt your back again, but not otherwise."

She nodded slowly and then stopped. "Are you going to get in trouble with the Jedi for this?"

"I'm not sure about that one. And I have less idea what the other Sith may think." He frowned.

"You'll be safe on Zoron, though," she said quickly.

"Yes, I'm safe there. We'll just have to play the hand that the Force has dealt us."

He could feel her fear building, a touch of anger with it this time. "I just found you, I don't want to lose you."

"Let’s not go borrowing trouble." He reassured her.

She sighed deeply and rested her head against his shoulder again. "Why couldn't I have met you before I met Xanatos?" she asked quietly and then stopped. She shook her head. "I would have thought you weak and my Darkness would have turned you away," she said softly and looked up at him. "I always thought of light and emotion as things that made a person weak."

"I once thought the opposite. But I've learned that either can be weak or strong." He sipped his tea. "Your father believes we need some kind of overall balance. I'm not sure what he means by that."

She looked down at the cup of tea in her hands. "I want to change, Darien, but I'll never be a Lightsider. Too many things have happened to me. My heritage, I come from Darksiders and Lightsiders on both sides. Maybe that's what he's talking about."

"Up to a point. But I think he was specking globally. About what the galaxy needs, not individuals." He paused. "I suspect your Father knows something about the Force I don't. Something obscure that he doesn't quite believe."

She nodded slowly. "He's very powerful."

"I talking about knowledge here, not power." He smiled. You father cares more about knowledge."

She nodded and started to finally relax against him.

"One of those basement levels is full of ancient documents, scrolls books. Holocons and what have you. All carefully stored. Most in languages I can't read. But he can."

"He's let you down there?"

"Once. I think its all some private project of his own, not the Empire's."

She nodded. "He and Sandy seem to pretty much do what they want."

"They seem to."

She sighed and closed her eyes, snuggling in against him. "Must be nice."

"How's your back feeling?"

"Better," she said, starting to sound sleepy.

"Good, maybe Sandy won't find out." He shifted to allow her a better resting-place.

She smiled. "I won't tell her if you don't."

"It’s her scanner I'm worried about."

"My back isn't that bad," she said. "It just gets stiff a lot. I haven't had one of those tingly spells with my legs since I hurt my back in the garden."

"The symptoms are falling away. That's progress."

She nodded. "Slow but sure."

He moved his head so his face touched her hair, then he kissed her ear.

Mikala smiled and laughed softly, leaning her head back against his shoulder. She shifted her cup of tea to pull his arm tighter around her. "This feels...it feels nice. It's almost as if I can feel you--" she shook her head. "That sounds silly."

"I know what it is." He kissed her cheek. "I think we've been forming a bond. Now that we've stopped hiding from it, we can see it clearly."

She looked up at him, her dark eyes warm. "I like it. It feels...right."

"Yes, it feels right, very right."

Mikala leaned her head back down against his shoulder and closed her eyes, snuggling in again. He could feel her exhaustion as she let herself relax.

The cup began to tip as she drifted toward sleep. Darien reached out with his mind, gently took it from her hand and set it on the table. Then he settled back to enjoy her presence.

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