Personal Space 1.0
This purely fictional story is (often) NSFW and (sometimes) awkward as fuck. It’s meant to be the first of more but ended up much more character-focused than I intended.
There’s enough romance in it to give Walt Disney a tooth ache. (occasionally)
You have been warned.
Constructive criticism is appreciated.
On my back on the floor, I felt the vibrations spring back to life. A few hours after embarking on your first flight, you get so used to the low hum of the engines that your mind filters it out… until it stops. In this cramped maintenance shaft, it seemed louder than ever.
I finished mounting the panel and let my arms fall to the side, relaxing into the mechanical massage. Newer ships don’t have this noise anymore, the dampeners are now tuned well enough to pick up the slightest vibration. But I liked it. It told me that things were going to be okay, even with the systems as badly damaged as they were.
Artificial gravity cut out just as I turned over to move. You never realize how heavy your head is until suddenly, you don’t have to support it anymore and bang it against the cover plates, which were luckily thin enough to give a little.
“Sorry, James!” came Lisa’s voice from upstairs, which I could no longer tell from downstairs. I hoped she would hear my grumble, even though I was happy I wouldn’t have to crawl the whole way back out of the tube.
Upon grabbing hold, I noticed my own eyes staring back at me in the distorted reflection of the panel. In the side light, my eyes looked even darker than usual, and I needed a shave. I decided that I liked it. Could be worse.
Upon launching myself gently down the tube, I pulled my bandana over my head, keeping wild hair from drifting into my face. Zero-g is an unsettling feeling at first, but once you get used to it, it makes navigating through the ship a smooth and effortless thing.
It wasn’t much of a ship, but it was mine and I was proud of it. Maybe one day I would join the front line of exploration, but for now I was saving money by hauling things between solar systems. Things like the prototype machine in the cargo hold. I remembered to check the load straps, hopefully the loss of gravity didn’t bang the device around too much. I tried to remember if I had left any tools that might now be floating around the room. While I was there, I could have another look at the package, I had a few guesses as to what it actually did.
I grabbed a handlebar and made a sharp turn towards the cockpit, but as I passed the central hallways, I stopped myself. Lisa had crawled up the ladder -now sideways for me- and had stopped halfway to check the cables for damage. Her feet were towards me and the very sight pulled me right out of my thoughts.
I decided to take a small detour and pushed myself off ever so lightly. Gliding through the tube, I brushed my fingers along the walls to make slight adjustments to the flight path. The implants in my bones made them quite heavy, but when gliding this slowly, the softest touch could change a course.
Her feet passed my field of vision. I briefly wondered why she bothered with socks in those sneakers, poking out between the comfortable seal of her pants. The parts of her clothing were meant to compliment each other, but she threw that right out the window with socks. I couldn’t imagine why she bothered with the expensive one-piece suits in the first place, though I wasn’t complaining.
Lisa was a hard worker and her legs showed it, even when they weren’t supporting her. A feeling of guilt crept into my stomach as I admired my employee’s body drifting by, as if that was what I had hired her for. Her age was honestly the only reason why she worked for me; Competent as she was, if she had been a few years older, I would have been working for her instead. I was happy to have found someone as driven and smart as Lisa, before she had a chance to pilot her own ship and make a career.
My dilemma faded quickly when her rump came into view. Suppressing a sigh, I traced her curves as they passed in front of me. Lisa was intelligent and competent, yes. Her suit was better quality than most things on this ship, yes.
But right now, all I saw was her gorgeous ass and the fabric hugging it tightly. The only thing that could beat my love for her backside, was my admiration for her work.
I let that thought linger as I followed the swell of her hips and curves of her back. She had broad shoulders, I noticed, but at this point my view was cut off by her brown ponytail, drifting in all directions and tickling my face. I had hoped to pass her stealthily, but I was afraid she would back up enough to notice my presence.
“Hi,” I said matter-of-factly in her ear, and launched myself away from her startled flailing with a wide grin. Skillfully, I maneuvered myself towards the cockpit, deaf to the swearing behind me. We would be ready to resume course soon.
Lisa plopped down heavily in the co-pilot chair beside me, nearly spilling her tea. Booting the data screens, she set her cup down on the nearest horizontal surface, hidden right behind the tilt indicator. But I did notice, and reached through the hologram to set the cup down in a safer spot, giving her a stern look. She didn’t seem to catch on.
“Life support is back online,” she said, stating the obvious. She knew I liked that, redundancy makes a dangerous job a whole lot less dangerous.
-“So we may live another day,” I grumbled, flipping through the menus of the starboard screen. “And return the favor to those damn Belgians who upgraded our battery grid.” I literally punched the throttle.
Lisa looked at me with some concern. “There’s no way they could have known, James. If anyone, it was my fault…”
She said more, but I wasn’t listening. Instead, I wondered what it was about Lisa that sailed her right past my guard. When she spoke, I listened. And when she spoke the truth, I hated her for it. I flicked the player and the music abruptly resumed where it had stopped when Lisa’s “intelligent” tea cooker decided it didn’t like the battery modifications and started a resonance feedback loop.
“Two hours,” I shouted after Lisa as she walked away with a wave. This station was known for its shopping floors and though we were in a rush, Lisa’s help saved me plenty of time to give some of it back to her, in the form of shore leave. I had to pick up a few things of my own, which gave me a convenient excuse not to go with her. I treated myself with a few more seconds of ogling before turning on my heels.
I looked around as I strolled through the station, and hopped from one transport beam to the other. Very few people actually lived here, most were tourists who considered shopping at a space station a status symbol.
This was actually a science station once, a robotic guide had told me, repurposed into District S as we know it today. Quite well, I had to admit. The oversized clothing stores weren’t my style but any place like this had its own back alleys, where the interesting little shops were, fixing, modifying and selling electronic and bionic trinkets, tolerated by the law.
It takes a special type to do my line of work. Facing agoraphobia is difficult, and anyone maintaining a ship has to get over it. Space suits have improved a lot over the years but they still feel claustrophobic, while at the same time, the space around you seems to want to suck you in. Without thrusters on your suit, all you had to do was to let go, and before you knew it your ship would be just out of reach, and you would drift off, ever so slowly, into the void.
I stopped to look though a window, at the dozens of hand-held devices. While we are space grunts and proud of it, we are also nerds. All the bravery in the world couldn’t compensate for technical knowledge, when it comes to difficult descents or slingshot maneuvers, where numbers are your friends and equations your tools. This was the part that Lisa excelled in more than anything, though she didn’t mind doing some heavy lifting, either.
I caught myself daydreaming of her doing exactly that, and snapped back to a stubby man looking at me from inside the shop. I entered, but took my time.
What was it about Lisa that was getting under my skin? She looked pretty, but so did my last assistant and long story short, that one taught me not to judge a book by its cover. Not in this line of work. But Lisa…
“What do you want?” To the point, I like that. I looked into his beady eyes and gave a curt nod.
-“An RF scanner, going below 118 megahertz.” He stared a moment longer before mimicking my nod and turning his sweaty self away from me.
I was preparing for launch when Lisa walked in. “What do you think?” I turned my chair around.
She was wearing pretty much the same skin-tight suit as before, but it seemed a thicker material. It hid the curve of her smallish breasts somewhat, while the black and gray pattern accentuated her waist in all the right ways. The color clashed a little with her chestnut hair, which I noticed wasn’t tied back in a pony tail as usual.
She looked like a pixie, if a pixie lifted weights on a daily basis. She struck me as gorgeous and I was about to tell her, but I caught myself and nodded approvingly, as if to compliment her on a choice of clothing that didn’t snag in maintenance tunnels.
It stayed quiet for a moment as I went back to my checklist, and secretly I hoped I hadn’t insulted her.
“Don’t you like it?”
It seemed like I had.
-“It looks good on you,” I admitted, after looking a second time.
-“I should hope so.” She grinned, obviously pleased with my lukewarm reaction. “I went a little over my budget.”
I gestured at her. “I don’t see why…” She looked good in anything, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it. If we wanted to make this work, I had to act professional. Being in a space ship together for weeks tends to have a desert island-effect on people, and by the time the job is finished they’re stuck in a very complicated situation. I had had to repeat that mantra a few times that month.
“It’s hardly different from the other two that you have.”
She frowned. Great.
“You spent a small fortune on those seats. They’re hardly-” I stopped her with a raised hand.
-“I’ll have you know, these are vintage CroTex covers, from earthen-”
-“Horses. Yes, I know.” She didn’t usually cut me off like that. “And if it wasn’t bad enough that the company uses sentient animals in their products, they are also responsible for a small genocide on a developing planet.”
-“They made the best seats in the history of seats, though,” I finished my own story with a mumble. I shrugged and looked to my side, suddenly distracted by the last few items on the checklist.
We flew in silence for a good hour. I didn’t mind, there’s nothing like the passing of planets when exiting a system and I like to enjoy it in peace. Once we escaped the heliosphere however, I activated the autopilot and leaned forward to put on some music.
“What did you name your ship?” Lisa spoke up and my hand froze in mid-air. She spun and stood up, probably to go make herself a cup of tea.
I watched her hips as she moved away, taking my sweet time. “Why do you want to know?” Her routine for making tea was well-practiced by now. She offered, but I refused.
Slowly, she walked up to me. She was being unusually informal with me, nipping her cup as she entered my comfort zone. I made sure my face didn’t reveal how intimidated I was as I squinted up at her.
“Just disappointed that after 10 months working together, you still haven’t introduced me properly.”
I hesitated. “Lisa, meet Theseus. Theseus, Lisa.” Gesturing back and forth, I scanned her face for a reaction, but she hid herself behind her cup.
She knew I wouldn’t give my pride and joy any old name. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that she couldn’t figure it out, though.
-“Theseus’ ship is a paradox. He left with one ship and returned with another, but he claimed it was the same one. Except, he had been repairing and upgrading it so extensively, that no part of it was the same anymore. So then, was it still the same ship?”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, but I caught her smile. “You’re quite handsome for a geek,” she said with a mocking tone.
That surprised me. Was she flirting?
“So why did I become part of the ship?”
When you sit in a tin can together for days on end, without so much as a rotating sun to change the scenery, conversation tends to slow to a crawl. I like that actually, it gives me time to think. So this time, my quick response was painfully obvious.
“I know a good co-pilot when I see one.”
She nodded and after a few more seconds, walked away, leaving me to wonder what that was all about.
I like my day cycles nice and long, up to 20 hours followed by 10 hours of sleep, though I can halve the latter without ill effects other than a serious case of grumpiness in the morning.
I had separated the sleeping quarters ever since my first female co-pilot, who I had hired as a favor to her father. I thought she at least deserved a little place to call her own in this vast emptiness, regardless if she would end up using it much.
It cost me quite some effort to get rid of the built-in bunk bed on my side, and my king-sized bed was now taking up most of the floor. There’s nothing like flopping down spread-eagled at the end of a long day, and fall asleep with your boots on. I always set up enough alarms so that I’m sure to get a rude awakening if so much as a photon hits the hull (figuratively of course), but until then, the universe can go screw itself.
It was nothing like a sensor alarm that woke me up that night, though. It was my name, whispered in the doorway. It startled me nonetheless.
“Lights ten,” I grumbled, and with a smooth 4-second S-curve, the lights faded in and there in the soft glow was Lisa, beautiful as ever. I’m a stomach sleeper, and once I was sure the ship wasn’t on fire, put my head back down and closed my eyes.
“Were you sleeping?” She whispered as if she was afraid to wake her parents.
-“No, I was skydiving.” She didn’t laugh. Alright. She wasn’t leaving, either. “What.”
-“I couldn’t sleep.” No kidding, she only sleeps 6 hours a night, the freak of nature. She usually keeps herself busy in silence, though.
As her words sunk in, they brought a sense of doom. This was going to be difficult. Suddenly, I became aware that I was in my underwear, on top of the sheets. Quite like how I had found her in the maintenance shaft, only without clothes on. I had little time to wonder how long she might have been standing there.
“I could use some company.” Quickly, she added, “I don’t mind if you sleep. It just got lonely in front.”
I recognized the symptoms of agoraphobia. They start with a feeling of dread, and if you don’t fight it, end in panic attacks. The stages in between were not much fun, either. I couldn’t do that to her. Could I?
I grabbed the blanket from the foot end of the bed as she came closer, and just caught her reaching for the zip of that suit she just bought a week ago before I rolled back into the same position as before.
Oh God. She was undressing. She had bothered to put on underwear even though her suit made it obsolete, telling me she had planned for it to go this way.
She crawled in and I tossed the blanket over her. “Much nicer than my bunk,” she noticed, and got a grunt in return.
I didn’t know where to put myself as she snuggled in close. It wasn’t cold in the room at all but she seemed to think that it was, pressing herself against me. I put my arm over her and a small shove later, I was pretty much spooning her, my arm awkwardly over the blanket.
I couldn’t help but enjoy the touch. It had been so long since I had felt skin pressed against mine, and even then, it was usually paid for. I gently pressed my face into her neck, closed my eyes, and tried to sleep, strongly aware of my heartbeat in my throat.
Lured into reality by her presence, I slept in short bursts. As promised, she stayed awake. I caught her looking when I opened an eye. This was not at all the Lisa I was used to seeing. I looked at her for a moment longer, hoping to find some reason why. Instead, she reached forward and brushed my hair from my face. It was the softest touch I had ever felt.
My whole body reacted, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and a shiver ran through me. The sensation served as a wake-up call, literally and figuratively. I was in bed with my co-pilot, doing things I would regret.
“Time to get up,” I whispered, well aware that it wasn’t. She just nodded her head a little, and after another stroke, rolled out of bed. “Lights five,” I sighed, so she could find her clothes.
I threw the scanner aside and yawned again. What was I thinking, an unpowered device wouldn’t emit radio waves. But then why is it interrupting the aft scanner?
The client had specifically asked not to remove the safety brackets, but I was tempted after spending good money on trying to figure out what it was without damaging it. I walked around it again, but still found it to be little more than a life-sized gray metal box with a screen and a blunt protrusion on one side.
I looked up and saw Lisa come in. I was running out of excuses to stay out of the living area anyway, so I didn’t mind her joining me. I had decided to leave last night’s events for what they were, and it seemed that she had done the same.
Lisa picked up the RF scanner and looked at the readings. “Do you mind?” She knew I wouldn’t, changing settings long before I could give her permission.
“It’s dead,” I said, noticing that she was in the wrong menu. I didn’t want to interrupt her though, she was smart enough to figure it out. “I was guessing it would emit some kind of radiation to cause the interference we saw, but there’s nothing on the whole spectrum,” I continued, pointing. “That could be an antenna though. Or a sensor. It’s big enough for…” Lisa was not even facing the right way, as if to scan the empty space in the cargo hold.
-“Mm hm.” She pretended to listen, swaying from side to side strangely, fixated to the screen. “Actually, it isn’t sending out radiation of its own, it’s bending ours…” She took out her multitool and tossed it casually at the machine. It clanged against the protrusion and stayed there. Lisa’s grin revealed her pride. “It’s magnetic. The alloys of the hull are not affected, but electrons are. It’s a small but incredibly powerful field.”
She went over to remove her tool with some difficulty. “If this thing was turned on, your precious karabiner would have ripped your clothes right off you.”
I glanced down confusedly. Lisa never missed an opportunity to mock my karabiner on a retractable leash, hanging from my belt. In case of a hull breach, it was to keep me from being sucked out into space. I had never needed it but you never know.
I thought about what she said, and gave her a little applause. “You never cease to amaze me, partner. Can you also tell me what it’s for?”
We agreed that it was definitely a sensor, probably even a full array. It was far stronger than anything we had ever seen though, suggesting that it was used to monitor phenomena of epic proportions. As to the nature of those, her guess was as good as mine.
After spending an hour or two coming up with crazy ideas, she came to sit next to me on a crate. I glanced over and saw her serious expression, and decided against joking about the scratch her tool left on the device. Instead, I stared in front of me.
“This is my last job for you, James,” came her voice. It seemed to echo into space. “I got a deal on a ship.”
I knew I had grown attached to her, but I had never expected to feel so devastated by the news. I swallowed my words, twice, and paused to let it sink in. “Really. What kind?”
-“It’s an S-class, a new type called the Narwhal.”
She didn’t have to explain further. The Narwhal was a scout, designed for exploration and reconnaissance. I couldn’t think of a better ship for her.
I didn’t want her to go. I wouldn’t know what to do without her. A familiar feeling of panic crept over me, as I envisioned myself alone, adrift in space. I cleared my throat. “Congratulations.”
Nothing was the same after that. Her shiny new ship was waiting for her at our next destination, and although I hated nothing more, I was taking her there. I considered feigning engine trouble but even if she’d fall for it, which she never would, I wasn’t prepared to stoop that low.
She caught me looking a lot. Once or twice she imitated my frown theatrically, but mostly she just ignored it.
“You looked so angry, so serious when I first met you,” she had told me once. “But now that I got to know you, there’s a sense of humor under the mask.”
I didn’t want to admit I was flattered by that, but as the days passed, I felt like that humor had melted away. I was moody and short with her, even when I didn’t mean to. It was only a matter of time before things would escalate.
“Yes, Captain Moody,” Lisa replied as she jerked the stick a little too briskly.
-“I can’t help that there’s asteroids, or that you had to get out of bed. I could have handled it, there’s no reason to take it out on me.”
I gritted my teeth and looked forward, at the passing debris. A million answers flashed through my head as I guided us through. I opened my mouth to reprimand her, but closed it again.
“I bet the AI will change vectors more smoothly when I’m gone, so you can rejoice.” She was out of line but her words stung too much for me to react.
Instead, after yet another awkward silence, I changed the subject.
“I hope you made log entries about your modifications, in case your replacement won’t be as um, clever as you.” I could tell Lisa wanted to leave the room, but the job required her being there.
-“I’ll miss you too,” she grumbled.
-“Look, I…” I am capable of destroying your new ship if it meant you’d stay.
“The ship won’t be the same without you.”
-“No? Then, how will it be?”
A box. A husk. “Just… Different.” I glanced her way, and I could tell she was enjoying this. Trying to focus on dodging space rock, I continued digging my hole. She’d be gone in 2 weeks, anyway.
“I enjoy your work. The ship is in good shape, thanks to you. And um, having you here made it a good place to be at.”
-“You will miss me,” she interjected, sounding surprised. After plotting the next part of the course, she stared at me. Now I was the one to wish I could leave the room. I could feel her eyes on me. She was waiting for a reply, but I was drawing blank. I just shrugged. Never had I been so relieved to hear the proximity alarm.
I blinked and looked again. “Miners? They’re a long way from home.” My screen showed a mining ship facing us, but something was off. Their drill bit was out and ready, something only possible when the vessel was clamped down on an asteroid, unless the safety mechanisms were somehow disabled. But why would…
-“They’re union,” Lisa groaned. My penny dropped: Whatever they were unhappy about, they were about to take it out on us in the name of a better future. For them, anyway, there would be no future for us in their ideal world, where justice was served through terrorism. With a bleep, the hologram showed the ship to be powering up its thrusters.
Lisa’s reaction was immediate, faster than mine, even. Instantly, she was pinned in her harness and enveloped by holographic screens. It baffled me every time, how she could handle so much information at once. Even over her shoulder, there was the fuel indicator.
I liked to keep it simple, with graphical representations of the things around us. I fly on a gut feeling, luckily I was usually right.
“Escape vector.” It sounded like a question, but Lisa was already setting the arch.
-“Negative. They’ll outrun us.” Obediently, she deleted the settings. “With a full cargo, our center of mass is very low. We’ll meet them head on, and twist out of the way last second. Balls to the wall.”
She understood, and followed orders. Our rust bucket picked up speed, and I realized we had just started an oversized game of chicken.
The mining ship extended its drill but its crew didn’t want to damage their own ship, so they approached us at a slow crawl. Our relative speed was already far beyond anything they had planned for.
When they realized we were too fast and close to maneuver out of the way, they fired their reverse thrusters. There is no sound in space but my mind filled in the bang of the jets we saw firing. At the exact same moment, I threw the stick to the side and we turned upside-down relative to them, twisting the bulk of our vessel out of the collision course. With a small adjustment, we managed to graze past them.
My euphoria was short-lived however, when the mining ship’s automatic harpoon fired into our hull. One security measure they forgot to override, the idiots.
A dry pop, like a balloon bursting, told me that we were losing air pressure. Lisa immediately isolated the leak with the doors. I cursed loudly as I imagined my baby’s pain while the line drew taut, and with a sickening crunch, the hook tore Theseus’ belly open.
The harpoon detached on their end, and the jerk brought the backwards accelerating ship off course, into an asteroid. They were crippled, but they would survive. Good, I would hate the moral dilemma of having to save our attackers.
“The hook is causing a short,” Lisa informed me while I dodged asteroids at breakneck speed. “We’re leaking power through gravity and climate control.”
-“Kill gravity, then,” I ordered, and the next moment I felt myself become weightless, held in place by my harness. When I could, I took one hand off the controls to jerk my bandana in place.
A lack of air around the ship means that a ship’s momentum will carry it forward using minimal power, the autopilot (I named him Otto because I’m hilarious) keeping gravitational noise from nearby stars at bay. The process is safe enough for us to leave the bridge and assess the damage.
“They’re fighting for a good cause,” Lisa said in the comms.
-“This is not a war zone. It’s a protest. One that almost cost us our lives.” I was throwing a small fit in my space suit, the sight of the tear in our hull fueling my rage.
Lisa was catching on, and opted to stay silent. So in silence we continued to work, until I made the mistake of gazing into the void.
“I bet you’ll miss this,” I told the nothingness.
Lisa replied, to my relief. “Holding a ship together with spit and a prayer? I won’t know what to do with all my spare time.” I chuckled. But looking over my property, I had to admit, it was nearing the end of its life cycle. This tear could be patched, but hull integrity would never be what it was. I sighed.
“It’s not so bad, James.” I leaned over and looked her in the eye through the hole in my ship to make my point. She laughed, a sound that made the imminent destruction of my space ship a trivial matter.
Again, the silence lingered after she finished. I sunk into concentration, like I would when doing this job by myself. I was able to move heavy metal plates into place with one hand, and welded them in, while Lisa patched the insulation and started on the power conduits. It was near sleeping time when I finished and we got out of our sweaty vac suits, but Lisa knew better than to suggest leaving repairs for tomorrow. Some dinner and a steam bath later, we were at it again.
I never found my concentration again, though. I tried not to stare above me with Lisa hanging there, but working without my mind going places was proving impossible. I felt defeated and ready to admit it.
“I will miss you.”
-“Hmm?” Her tone told me she understood me perfectly.
-“In case you were wondering. I don’t know how many more runs this ship has in him, but… I’m not sure if I care.”
I detached my karabiner and left this part for what it was. I didn’t need this patch job to outlast the rest of the ship. Looking up at my assistant, I realized I’d have to pass her by to get to the living quarters, and smiled to myself. With the lightest of touches, I pushed myself off towards her.
Her socks passed my view, her one leg wrapped under the ladder steps to pin herself in place while working.
And that ass, my god. I braced myself against the walls and stayed there for as long as my conscience allowed. I could kiss her, then and right there. I wanted to test if her outfit could withstand my blunt teeth, if I could hurt her if I tried. I moved on before I lost that fight.
I could imagine how the curve of her sides would fit inside my hand, how I could find her ribcage through- bah, ponytail.
I grasped onto the handles again, and prepared to launch. But just as I opened my mouth, she backed up, slowly, forcing me to plant myself against the tube wall. Still she came in, much further than necessary, until her back touched me and I was pinned in place. “Oh my,” she cooed.
She must have been able to feel my heartbeat. I didn’t know what to say, or where to put my hands. And when she breathed, “Caught you looking, James,” I didn’t know what to think, either.
-“I’m sorry, I’ll-‘
-“Don’t be.” She left the tools against the wall magnet and turned her head. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t hang on to my feeling of guilt as I looked into her eyes. I now knew where her power over me came from: Those pools of green seemed to look right through me.
Reaching back, she combed her fingers though my hair. “Why so moody, my captain? What’s got you so riled up?”
I put my hands on her in an attempt to free myself, my head swimming. Instead, she took hold of my arm and wrapped it further around her. I didn’t fight it. She kept whispering little nothings in my ear as she encouraged my hand to roam over her. The impossible softness of her caused sparks behind my eyes, so I closed them and watched the fireworks, her body taking shape between them as my palms explored further over her thighs, her sides, her breasts.
Her rump gyrated slowly against me as she sighed. “Do it, James. I need it.” She released my hand but I kept going, as ordered. “I need it so bad…” She released the ladder, sending us adrift inside our ship. It seemed to cradle us now, shooting through the emptiness while the warmth of her mixed with my own. “Do it,” She begged again, as I hesitantly brushed over the zipper.
It went all the way down to her belly button, but I didn’t dare go that far. I just needed to feel her skin, her nipple grazing my wrist. I pressed my lips in her neck and she encouraged me, gripping my hair as I gave her my teeth. “Yes,” she murmured idly with every bit that she liked. Still, I was careful with her.
“So gentle,” she mocked me with a smile, biting my hear. She took the liberty of undoing her zipper all the way down and pushing my hand into the gap. “No more games, James. I need you now.” I wanted nothing more.
I didn’t let go as I shuddered all though my descent. I had her here, braced against the wall of the living quarters, and I would never let go. I kissed the side of her head repeatedly, as if to apologize for being so rough, while she stroked my hair and kept me from slipping out of her.
Once again, I didn’t know what to tell her. My free hand continued to caress her, testing her supple skin, the curve of her ass. With my face buried in her neck, I watched our nipples touch. Eventually, after the longest time like this, I said it.
She stopped moving. I felt her sad sigh and in response, pinned her a little more tightly again. She seemed to enjoy that.
“Don’t go,” I repeated, feeling all pretense of authority drain from me. I was a child, afraid, alone, clinging on to some forlorn feeling of belonging. In deep space with nothing to hold on to but her.
She patiently brushed my wafting hair from her face. “James.” She motioned me to look her in the eye. “It’s a desert island. You’ll get over me when I’m gone, and fall in love hopelessly again with your next crew.”
My brain told me she was right, but I shook my head.
-“This is different.” It shocked me how strongly I felt about it. “I m-… I need you.”
She continued to keep my stubborn hair back, seeming occupied with that task. “More than your ship?”
I couldn’t imagine what the Theseus had to do with it. I looked towards the bridge to my left, and the bedroom to my right, where my pillow floated in the doorway. It stung to think how much I was going to miss my ship when it inevitably ended on the scrapyard, but did not at all change how I felt. “Of course… But I don’t see…”
She smiled a little, warming me up. She then looked squarely at me, holding my hair taut in a pony tail.
“The Narwhal needs a crew of 3, James. I’ll need a pilot with good gut feeling.” She reached down between us and took hold of me as I slipped out wetly.
“A good member to join the crew, if you will.”