By Thomas


Vila lay half sleeping, watching dream images float behind his eyelids, undisturbed by the silence all around him. Xenon was a peaceful place. Solid ground underfoot, and overhead. Not like the Liberator. No worries about getting blown up in the middle of the night.

A yawn rippled through him. Homelike, that's what it was, he decided. Not that he could remember ever having much of home to compare it to. If only Avon and the others... but he let that thought slip away, and shifted around, trying for comfort. Then he threw the covers off; all but his feet. Superstitious, maybe, but he could never sleep with his feet uncovered. With a sigh, he settled deeper into the warm bed, further into sleep. Perhaps the dream would come again tonight, as it had so many nights before.

He was never certain if it was a dream; wasn't certain it mattered.

The soft pad of footsteps on the hallway, the snap of the lock, the door whispering open: a glimmer of gold and white in the doorway, then darkness again.

He waited, quietly, peacefully in the darkness for what he knew came next. The sheets rustled and with an ease so smooth he couldn't tell when it began, he was surrounded by soft flesh, encircled by strong arms.

"Soolin?" The question softly spoken, answered only by the press of her mouth on his.

The dream went on as it always did, as her insistence roused him from sleep, her urgency and desire stirring his own until their bodies finally collapsed together in a tangle of sheets and sweat.

Vila lay in silence again, except for the tandem breathing, hers slow, even, his quicker, signalling his alertness lest the dream abandon him yet again.

Sure enough, she sat up, swinging lithe legs off the bed, moving so quickly he nearly missed her. His fingers closed around her arm, an iron grip she obviously had not expected.

"Let me go, Vila!" she whispered, angry or desperate, he couldn't say.

They wrestled briefly, but in the end his determination won out. She sagged back onto the bed.

"Please," she said.

"Please," he said. "Don't go, this time."

"I have to." But her arm curled around his neck.

He reached up, switched on the bedside lamp.

Helplessly, she pulled him closer.

"What is it?" he asked.

"I have to be alone."

Wryly. "Being with me's the same as being alone, that's what Avon always says."

"No. No attachments." Fear lurked in her sapphire eyes, gravelled her silvery voice.

This was curious, he thought: no one was ever afraid of him. He tried to think about that, conscious of something crouched at the back of his mind. Gave up as it eluded his grasp.

"You might be killed, anytime, this life we lead."

"I wasn't planning on it," Vila said, but the ironic tone was lost on her. She fought again to escape his arms, striking at him, but he held fast, patient, waiting. Pressed her to him, feeling her heart thud against his chest.

Continued in Forbidden Star

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