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10.24.2012 , 09:20 AM |
Best Day Ever
Smugglers Aurai and Markus Kinbridge. No spoilers.
“You're a natural at this. I don't think you even need me anymore.” He smirked roguishly at her over the controls.
She let the corner of her mouth quirk in response. “I couldn't have asked for a better teacher. Thank you, Markus. This would have never happened without you.” She meant every word, though differently than he wanted her to. It was unfortunate.
“Well. You know. Anything for you.” His cheeks colored and she knew it wasn't real. Markus played women the way a cantina dancer played a crowd. It was just second nature. She didn't begrudge him that.
Aurai gave him a smile that had him vacating the co pilot chair. She let him pull her to her feet and take her back to the bedroom. It would be the last time. She would miss him but not in the way she missed Tsarrin. It was time to end the deal before Markus became too attached.
Afterward she lay on her side, her back cozied up to him. She curled her fist beneath her head and tried not think about how Tsarren would have spooned his body against hers, stroked her flat belly as though in anticipation for what they could create. Markus wasn't Tsarren, that comfort was gone forever. Markus instead was smoothing his palm lazily over her back and hip. She shifted her legs so they came untangled of his and decided it was time. She would plunge off this cliff because its black waters were just too cold to ease into. “When do you have your run to Ord Mantell?”
His hand stopped its stroking movements and he sighed. She didn't turn to look at him. She closed him off little by little. “The window is closing. I'm going to have to leave in the next couple of days.”
“You've done so much for me. I hope you can do one more thing.”
He reached for her again, sliding his arm around her waist and nuzzling his mouth against her shoulder. “Anything for you.”
She tried not to sigh when he said it. “I need you to set me up with a job. If you'll let me ride your reputation for just a little while so I can build my own, I'll be forever grateful to you.” And indebted but she would have to figure a way around that at a later time.
Markus propped himself up on his elbow and pushed her shoulder back so she would look at him. “Come with me,” he said, cupping her cheek. “On the Ord Mantell run. And all the runs after that. We'll split profits 50/50 and it will just be the two of us.”
Aurai gave him a sad smile. She was toeing that line. If she let this go any further she'd never shake Markus off. But if she cut off the relationship completely then breaking into the smuggling routes would be that much harder. She needed this. But she did not need him.
“I... I didn't say anything before because... I didn't want you thinking differently of Tsarren.” The mention of her dead husband's name had Markus backing off a little. Must be hard to be reminded you were bedding your dead best friend's widow. She breathed easier in the space. “He left me debt. A lot of it. I need to do my own jobs to pay them off or... They've started coming after me already. I need to be hard to find and I need to be making credits.”
Markus growled in frustration, putting a hand over his eyes and falling back on the bed. “I can't believe it. I always knew that man was living too high for his means. But he always told me... Damn it.”
Aurai rolled to her side and stretched her body along his, putting her fingers to his lips before he could offer to help her pay her debts. It was going to be the next thing out of his mouth, she could see it in his eyes. “I need to do this on my own. If I'm ever going to truly move on from Tsarren's death, I need to bury what's left of him in my life.” That wasn't completely true, and unfortunately it would give Markus hope. But it worked. He nodded up at her.
“I have a side job lined up for after the Ord Mantell run. Little shipment of ordnance to a dealer on Nar Shaddaa. Exchange the arms for the money and be done. I'll contact them and tell them you're coming early.”
She smiled and kissed him. “You're going to turn my life around, Markus. Thank you.”
She had never felt so free in her entire life. She raced the Carnivale along the hyperspace lanes, pushing for speed because there was no one around to tell her not to. Well, C2-N7 was sitting in the co pilot's chair warning her of imminent hull breech and loss of oxidation to the entire ship in the event of said hull breech but she shut out the droid's babble and stroked the controls. There was no feeling like watching the stars streak by. No lover's touch, no shared smiled could compete with the exhilaration of being completely alone in a sky filled with nothing but pin points of light. This was what her life was meant to be. Everything that came before had just been stepping stones on that path. The heartache, the lonely nights all a set up for this. She knew now why Tsarren could never truly leave this behind and she had been a fool to believe he would have for her. If she could have gone back, she would have told him to never give it up.
She had parted ways with Markus Kinbridge six days ago. He still tried to convince her to go with him but she resisted every attempt. Now, all she had was her ship, her droid, and a heavy load of something Markus warned her would explode brilliantly if allowed to shift too much. The danger was intoxicating she'd been riding the high for four days.
Her controls warned her the moon of Nar Shaddaa was coming and she eased out of hyperspace and angled her trajectory to catch the upper atmosphere. Now came the best part of the deal, according to Markus. Receiving permission to land was easy but her cargo would be searched before she was allowed to remain. She had the front cargo all set up. The kolto, rations, and medical supplies were a part of the deal and the only part of the sell that Customs would see.
This was Nar Shaddaa though. Markus assured her no one was going to take more than a cursory glance.
It was a bit of a bumpy landing. She was still working out all the kinks. She giggled as they jostled and N7 failed ineffectually. She released the loading ramp and jogged to the opening, data pad in her hand and big smile on her face.
An Evocaii foreman trudged up the ramp toward her, his eyes dead and far away. Wordlessly he held his hand out for the data pad and she handed it over. He put his thumb to the pad and gave it back, turning to leave.
“That's it?” she called after him. He waved listlessly.
“You're done. Welcome to Nar Shaddaa.”
Aurai looked after him for a moment. “Thanks!” she called then went back into her ship. She pulled out her portable holo and dialed into her contact. “I'm here. Customs signed off.”
The Twi'lek on the other end nodded. “Good. Good. Our representative will meet with you shortly.”
“As long has he has my payment.”
“Of course. Always a pleasure to do smooth business with Captain Kinbridge's people,” he hissed with a toothy smile.
She closed the connection then went to check the outer hull of the ship while she waited. She had pushed the hyperlanes rather hard.
The representative kept her waiting and she should have been angry but she was just so excited she couldn't find it in her. He found her half in and half out of the ship's shielding hatch. She heard him clear his throat and wiggled her way back out. She was a little blackened and greasy but as she shook her hair out of her eyes she saw him regarding her appreciatively.
“You're my contact?” he asked with some surprise.
She smiled up at the giant Nikto, pleased he was speaking in Basic. She was going to need to brush up on her galactic languages before long. “That's me. You got my money, I got your stuff.”
“Kinbridge usually keeps all the beautiful women to himself,” the Nikto said.
“Markus can try,” she said brightly. “Credits?”
He held up a cred stick then flourished it so it turned into three. Aurai looked at the money in his hand and felt a thrill go through her but she kept what she hoped was a good pazaak face as she turned her gaze up to meet his. “Looks like it's all there. N7?” she spoke into a communicator.
“Yes, master?” came N7's reply.
“Bring out the cargo. It's time to get paid.”
“At once, master.”
The Nikto came to stand with her at the bottom of her loading ramp. He was joined by five other Nikto who looked over the cargo as N7 unloaded it. One nodded to the Nikto who had her money and after a moment he handed her all three sticks. She put each one in her data pad to check the totals. It was all there, every credit.
“Don't suppose you're looking for another job,” he said casually as she pocketed her pay.
“I just might be.”
“You and your droid come talk with my boss. Nothing funny. Some of this has to get to a contact on Hutta. Seeing as you're already here...”
“I'll talk to your boss,” she said, checking her blaster. “But I talk to him here.” She held up her holo.
The Nikto hesitated. “Sure,” he said with a short nod.
She set up her second job and bid the Nikto a farewell. She shook off his offer of dinner with practiced ease and a flirtatious smile. Tsarren would have been proud of her. She was proud of herself. Back on her ship she inserted two of the credit sticks into the computer and transferred the money to an account. It was time to start paying off the debts.
It was time to start living again.
Be to her Virtues
Be to her Faults
a little Blind.