Uncertain Twilight



Disclaimers: These are characters out of my own fevered imagination. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead may or may not be coincidental.

Sex: Yes, please. Oh wait, in the story. This story has a lesbian relationship in it. There is nothing graphic (if you are looking for some good PWP, contact me and I’ll send you some of my favorites) but if this offends you or is illegal in your area, the little button at the top of the screen with the arrow pointing to your left (no, the other left!) will take you back to safer territory.

Special Thanks To: Windstar and Angel, who took this brief outline of a totally weird dream and encouraged me to write it out. And to Kaia, who went through and painstakingly added punctuation and grammar to this story. Any errors that you find are hers alone and I’ll give you her email address so you can flame her for bad English.

Special Note: For those of you who read my Skeeter story, this is not a comedy. I was in a bad place when I wrote this, so if you are looking for a comedy, this ain’t it. However, there is no hurt/comfort warnings needed for the tender of heart, just a lot of angst.



It’s cold and dark. They said it would be like going to sleep. That I wouldn’t remember a thing. That I would go to sleep and wake up someplace happy. Once again, they were wrong. What I am is trapped in a state where I can’t open my eyes or move my body, but I can think. I hope this doesn’t take too long. I wish they played music or something. Do they play music in Purgatory?


My name is Jenna Wesley. Nothing spectacular. I was born in San Francisco to my parents, Melissa and John Wesley. We were all on a train one day, coming back from a trip to the museum when I was 5 when the earthquake hit. It was the biggest one to hit the Bay Area since 1906. All I remember is one minute I’m talking and laughing with my parents, the next I’m bouncing around all over the train and it’s rolling around. When it stopped, I was pinned down under a seat. I wasn’t really inured, I just couldn’t move. I saw my mom’s hand between the seat and floor. I reached out and grabbed it. I swear I felt my mom squeeze my hand back. I lay there, trapped until the rescue workers found me hours later and released me. I refused to let go of my mom’s hand, even though it had grown cold. The rescue workers had to pry my fingers out of hers to evacuate me out of what was left of the train. So then I was an orphan.


The state of California waited for someone to come forward and claim me. No one did. In the chaos that ensued after that devastating earthquake I guess I can understand. My parents were young, and never really thought that I would lose both of them at once, I guess. Or the friend they asked to look after me if something happened either died, or was in such bad shape after the quake, they couldn’t help. Whatever the reason, I entered the California Child Welfare system when I was 5 years old.

The first family I was put with was nice enough. They fed me, gave me my own room, took me to my doctor’s visits. I carry a reminder of that train ride in the shape of a crescent scar next to my right eye. It starts at the corner and curves down, ending just below the middle of my eye on my cheekbone. The family, the Martinezs, took me to all my appointments faithfully, even contacted a plastic surgeon about reducing the scar. I was just starting to open up after losing my family when the fire happened. I was staying overnight in the hospital after surgery to reduce the scar next to my eye. One of the other foster kids set the house on fire and burned himself and the rest of the house down.

The next place I went to, I was the only foster kid. I had two dads; Richard; tall, dark, funny and strong, and Jeffery, slightly shorter, blonde and smart. Richard was a contractor. He built houses and was incredibly busy after the earthquake. I think he said it was almost an 8.7 on the Richter scale. All I know is that is wrecked the Bay Area and it took years for area to recover. Jeffery was an engineer for one of the Semiconductor companies in the area. He got to work on all type of new technology. He would get so excited about his job sometimes he would come home and tell me and Richard all about it. We would get all excited and happy for him too, even though whatever he was talking about went over both our heads, his excitement was catching. I lived with them for seven years. We were a happy family. We took trips as often as Jeffery could get away from his job. Richard was a master at barbeque. He was from Kansas City and claimed at his weekly summer barbeques with our friends that he had barbeque sauce for blood and that is where his secret sauce would come from. I would wrinkle up my nose and go, "Ew, Dad, that’s gross," and he and Jeffery would laugh. They officially adopted me when I was 10 and I was never happier.

We were back in Kansas City visiting Richard’s family one summer when I was 12. I guess the man saw us out shopping and heard me call Richard Dad, and Jeffery Pops. It was never cleared up. What he did do was wait for us in the parking lot of the mall where we were shopping and follow us to the car. As we were where getting into the vehicle, the man came up to us brandishing a gun and yelling about abominations and corrupting a child. He then shot my dads and grabbed me and took off. He took me to his house, a dump in the country, and then proceeded to try and ‘save me’. He did this by reading me bible verses and telling me my wonderful dads were evil and beating me when I cursed at him for taking my dads away from me. When the police showed up and captured him, I was suffering from broken ribs, a concussion and a fractured wrist. None of this stopped me from kicking him repeatedly in the head after the police had him down and handcuffed. As they pulled me off of him, I passed out from the pain of my broken ribs being squeezed by the officers.

I re-entered the California Child welfare system and was placed into a ‘group home’. I guess it wasn’t PC to call them orphanages. I got the label Jonas, and was not placed in any more foster homes. This was okay with me, since I didn’t want to be placed anymore. Losing 3 families in 12 years, that’s hard on a kid. So I sucked it up and did my time. That’s what it was like almost; a cross between prison and boot camp. All of the kids there were kids that couldn’t stay in foster care for one reason or another. Most of them were hardened criminals that just weren’t old enough for the jail system yet. I was a straight A honor student in school when I was living with my dads. Since the school in house was just to make sure the inmates/orphans could read, I was shipped out to a regular school for classes. I still had to come back after school though. It was rough but I adapted. I was lucky enough to be really tall, and Richard and Jeffery had encouraged my after school sports and kickboxing. This made me strong and allowed me to defend myself from most of the toughs wandering around the beds after lights out. After a few were sent to the infirmary, I earned a reputation not to be messed with. That was just fine with me. I was quiet and kept to myself.

This one kid, Henrico Martinez, kept following me around. He was my constant shadow, constantly begging me to teach him to fight. I refused, not wanting to get involved in anyone’s life. I guess he thought if he hung around long enough, maybe I would protect him. Turns out he was right. I came back from school one day and went to put my books into the monitor’s office. On my way back, I ran into Rico getting the crap kicked out of him by 4 big guys. For some reason, my sense of fair play took over my common sense and I jumped in to defend him. We all wound up in the infirmary that night and had all kinds of punishment waiting for us after we got out. Rico turned out to be the closest thing I had to a friend in that place.

When I turned 18, the state told me I was now responsible for myself. That was okay with me, since I hated the group home I was in. I joined the Marines as soon as I could. Boot camp was a breeze once I got used to the rules. It was pretty simple. Keep your uniform and area neat, do whatever the drill instructor told you, and try your hardest. It astounded me how many people didn’t seem to get those simple ideas through their heads. Teamwork was also preached in there, but I was not converted. I was waiting to see if I would become a believer after I got away from the people who couldn’t figure out which end of the rifle to hold.

I did well enough in boot camp and MCP that I was accepted into a special program. The Navy was the major patrolling force in the space lanes. They were who you called if you had a problem in space. I wanted to go into space after they announced the first city being built on Mars when I was 10. I begged my dads to relocate into space, but they laughed and Richard said if he couldn’t have his grass and trees, he’d go nuts. But I was always interested in a career in space. The Marines needed boarders. It seems they had fallen into wet water navy thinking. See, the Navy was in charge of ships and shipping, but when they needed armed people, they always called on Marines. Apparently, anything less than a gun that would vaporize something wasn’t worth a sailor’s time. So for the little puny, hand to hand fighting, that’s what Marine’s were for. Or so I was told.

Since there was an influx of piracy and smuggling going on, the Marine’s wanted to get back into having specialist that would board ships. Since I scored so high in all my tests, I got to choose what program I wanted. That’s what I picked.

The training lasted over a year. That was fine, I didn’t have any special timeline. I just wanted to be the best at whatever it was that I did. I received extra training on how to pilot the shuttles the Marines would be launching from the bigger Navy ships.

The first mission I went on, I was so glad for the facilities in the suits, because I did wet myself. It was a routine stop, which turned into a huge clusterfuck once we got on board. After all was said and done, there were 4 survivors of the ships crew, and 2 survivors of my squad. After that, my reputation was made and I found a career.


After years of boarding parties, raids and patrols through out the system, one close call too many ended my career. I really don’t know what happened. One minute, my squad and I were clearing out the passageways leading to the bridge and the next thing I know I’m waking up in the medical bay. Apparently there was a furious firefight on the bridge with a suicidal captain taking out himself, the bridge, and most of the Marines on the bridge with me. I escaped with my life, but lost my left eye, and now had another facial scar. This one started in my hairline, and went straight down my face to my chin. Where the scar started on my scalp, my hair was now growing out white instead of my normal dark brown. Since I was on a medical ship, the replacement eye color selection was limited to 2 colors, blue and brown. I figured the blue would go better with my remaining green eye. What did I care what I looked like? I did my job and was good at it. That’s all I cared about. The military decided that it was time I retired and medically discharged me from the service. During my time in, the Navy was experimenting with different kinds of augmentations, and at the time of my discharge, I had over 1 million dollars worth of augmentation in my body that made me faster, stronger, and more lethal than anything else walking around.

I got a job running supply ships from Earth to the different colonies and space stations around the system. It was set up through a friend of my old CO. He was looking for dependable pilots who didn’t mind spending time alone. The job was perfect for me because I preferred to spend time alone. I guess the pay was okay, it was better than what I got in the Marines. But the best part was it got me away from people. The only time I had to talk to people now was getting docking and undocking instructions from the shuttle traffic controllers. I loved it. I started doing independent study college courses to pass the time in transit. I had finished my first BS degree in the Marines that way. Now I was racking up all kinds of alphabet soup behind my name.

I was scanning the nets one day when I noticed a blurb in the news. It seems that one of the Marines that had been mustered out had gone nuts and taken out a bunch of people. Normally that wouldn’t catch my attention, but what did was the fact that he was augmented and now there was a movement pushing to have all military personnel have their augmentations shut down on release from the military. It was just a matter of time before they came after the ones that have been out for a while. I really liked my extra augmentations. So much so that I really didn’t want to have them turned off. I have had my augments for so long, it would have been like going back to being blind and deaf after seeing and hearing. Scanning through my email, I noticed an advertisement that caught my eye. It was for one of those colony ships. You know, the ones where they fill up the ship with sleepers, launch it towards the planet that had been scanned by drones and determined to be habitable, and 50 to 100 years later, the colonist arrived. It seemed kind of a big gamble to me and I had never really thought too hard about joining one. What did spark my interest was they were actively recruiting ex-Military. One of the incentives was the fact any augmented person would get to keep their augmentations.

After researching many different colony expeditions, I found one that seemed to have people with less than fanatical ideology. It also had pretty smart planners. Ones that wanted to use the long sleep cycle to their advantage. What they were going to do was use the money left over after outfitting the voyage with the necessary equipment and personal and invest it in several long-term funds and brokerage accounts. That way, after 50 years, the colony would have money to use to help offset the cost of setting up their new home. For different prices, you could be deeded different amounts of land. The richer colonist could set himself or herself up as ‘Barons’ and the more economical minded colonist could be ‘yeoman’. I decided that I wanted a small stake and signed up. My entrance fee was astronomical, but not really having anything to spend it on, I paid it. Now I just had 18 more months to wait before the ship was ready for launch. I decided to take a page from the charter members and work my ass off and save my own nest egg to put away for a rainy day 50 years in the future. After all, I hadn’t stepped foot on Earth in 5 years and I really didn’t have anyone to say good-bye too. I planned to work until the last minute.

And then Rico called.

I had lost touch with him, but he always popped up at odd times. He made it a habit to keep tabs on me. He had followed me into the Marines and eventually into space. He had left the Marines earlier than I did and had taken up a post with the Space Marshals. Like their Wild West counterparts, they had almost unlimited powers and a huge territory to cover. At times, they were the only form of government for hundreds of klicks.

I had just pulled into Mars Station and was checking my mail while my cargo was unloaded and a new cargo loaded for my trip out to the outer rings. A chime on my door was a bit of a surprise, but customs agents like to pull surprise inspections looking for anything that shuttle pilots were known to smuggle. Imagine my surprise to see my old shadow standing at my hatch proudly wearing a Marshal’s star.


"Is this an official visit?" I asked Rico.

"What? No hello for your old friend? I’m hurt," he grinned.

"Hello," I walked back to my console knowing he would show himself in. "Now what do you want?" I seated myself and continued with my paperwork.

He looked around my spartan quarters. "Jesus, don’t you feel the urge for companionship? At least get a fucking cat."

"I prefer my solitude and I hate cats." I continued my paperwork without looking up at him.

"Ok, I’m not here to comment on your hermitude," he grinned at his own humor. "I need a favor."

I wrinkled my brow. "Is that even a word?" I ignored the rest of his statement. It was a given that whenever he looked me up he needed something.

"I’ve stumbled onto something that’s big."

I finished my paperwork dealing with my inventory lists and got up from the consol. I walked over to what served as my quarters and opened up the closest.

"Aren’t you the least bit curious about what I’ve found?"

I glanced over at him, while I pulled my jacket on over my jumpsuit.

"God, just as talkative as ever," he shook his head. "I need to stash a witness out of sight for a couple of months until a trial. I don’t know who is on the take so I can’t go through regular channels on this. Can you help me?"

"What do you want me to do?" I was puzzled. I didn’t know the first thing about witness protection.

"Could you take on a passenger for the rest of this run? I checked your schedule; you are due to show up at Earth Station in time for the trial. It would be perfect. You sneak her out of here, do your regular run, and drop her off to me at Earth Station. No one is the wiser."

I looked at him like he had grown a second head. "You want to stick another person, one I don’t know, on my ship with me, for 6 months?"

"Yeah?" I think he started to realize the enormity of what he was asking me.

"No." I pulled my hat out of my jacket pocket, put it on and walked out the door.

"Wait! You have to help! I wouldn’t ask you if I wasn’t desperate!" He was following me down the corridor to the main airlock.

I whirled around. "What gives you the right to ask me to give up the only peace that I’ve found in almost 22 years?"

"Because you are the only person I trust."

I sighed, "Damn you."

Rico brightened. "Does this mean you’ll do it?"

"Yes, but there are conditions."

"Name them. Anything I can do."

"It’s going to cost you. Plus I reserve the right to place her in cold sleep if she gets on my nerves."

"Deal!" His happy expression turned sour. "Wait, are you serious about the cold sleep thing?"

I turned my back on him and started towards the main hatch.

"Jenna? Come on now, you aren’t serious are you? Does this thing even have a cold sleep chamber? Jenna!"


I’m told that hindsight is 20/20. I should have told him to kiss my ass and kept walking. Rico was the closest thing I had to a friend and he did hardly ask me for anything. So I’m a sucker, so what?

I walked into the mom and pop diner I favor on Mars Station and sat down at my usual table. Mrs. Rosetti noticed me sitting there and walked over with my usual drink order, a tall glass of milk. The part I love best about coming in here is the staff knows exactly what I want and I don’t have to talk to anyone. I sit down in my usual spot, they bring me my milk, and when it’s finished, they bring me my tomato soup and grilled cheese. Now this might not sound like a luxury to anyone else, but this soup was homemade. I mean the Rosetti’s have a tomato plant stashed somewhere and grow and cook fresh tomatoes.

I was sitting there, minding my own business, enjoying one of my life’s little pleasures when she walked in. Now this woman wasn’t much to look at. You would never guess she was Loki’s spawn. She was about 5 foot nothing, blonde hair, and bright blue eyes. She had a dimple on her right cheek and a smile that could light up a room. It was a clever disguise for the fact she was pure evil.


I barely looked up when she came in, only enough to register the fact that someone had come in and didn’t look like the type to cause trouble. I went back to the palm computer that I had brought in to read. I felt someone hovering over me and looked up.

"Hi!" she said brightly.

I just looked at her.

"I’m Devon. Devon Carmichael?"

I continued to look blankly at her.

She seemed to get nervous. "You do know a man named Rico Martinez?"

I nodded slowly.

"Didn’t you agree to help him?"

I nodded slowly again. This seemed to infuriate the small woman.

"Don’t you talk?" Ms. Carmichael seemed rather upset. This could be fun.

I nodded slowly again. A small twitch to the left side of my mouth was quickly squashed before someone noticed I had a sense of humor.

"Look, I was supposed to meet you here so you could… do whatever it is you are supposed to do to make me safe. Rico wasn’t really clear on that subject." Ms. Carmichael seemed rather agitated by this point.

I reached over to the table next to me and grabbed a menu and plopped it down in front of her.

"You want me to order something? How is this supposed to help?"

I just looked at her and went back to my food and palm.

A strangled sound came from across the table, then a sigh, followed by a "fine" from my new dinner companion.

Mrs. Rosetti hurried over to take Ms. Carmichael’s order. I think she was surprised that I let the woman stay. My normal habit was to unceremoniously toss everyone else that tried to make themselves at home at my table out the door. The staff was usually pretty good at running interference with the other customers and myself and I usually made sure to leave nice tips in gratitude.

I continued to enjoy my meal quietly while my guest fidgeted in her seat.

Finally, she could take no more. "Will you say something?" she exclaimed.

I raised my head and looked her straight in the eyes. "When I finish my meal, I am going to get up and leave. You will sit here, finish your meal, and then make your way immediately to my ship. We will then take off and soon become best buds while I finish my cargo haul." By the end of my little speech, she was squirming in her seat. "What?" I asked, exasperated.

"Why don’t your eyes match?" she blurted out.

I was puzzled. "What does that have to do with anything?"

"Your eyes, they’re weird. One bright green, the other faded blue. Were you born like that? I mean you have this wicked scar…"

"Enough!" I stood up and pulled my credit chip out. "I’ll see you at my ship."

I walked over the register and Mrs. Rosetti took my chip and rang up my meal. As I was writing in the tip she hesitantly commented. "In all the years you’ve been coming here, that’s the most I’ve ever heard you speak."

I looked up at her, surprised. "I thought you would long for a quiet, satisfied customer?"

Mrs. Rosetti gave a half-hearted smile. "It would be nice to hear it spoken sometimes, you know, the fact you like our food."

I don’t understand people. I mean, I come here every time I’m docked. I order the same thing, never cause any problems, and always leave a generous tip. I thought that showed I was a happy customer. I guess my confusion showed on my face, because Mrs. Rosetti patted my arm and said, "Never mind, dear, I know you love our cooking."

I left the diner wondering if Mars was in retrograde because everyone was acting weird, including myself.

If I only knew.


I hung around and waited for the evil one to leave the diner. For some reason, I was feeling protective of her. I disabled the two shadows she had picked up somewhere and then took a shortcut to beat her back to my ship.

I made up a hammock for her and cleaned out a closet for her to use. I should have just undocked and left. Fuck Rico and his case.


When I opened the door to the hatch in response to her knock, I knew there was going to be a problem. She had brought two wheelie suitcases, two duffels strapped to the suitcases, a backpack and her purse. She had packed more stuff than I owned.

I stepped to the side to let her in. She glanced at me, then her luggage. I just stared at her. If she wanted the bags on the ship, then she could carry them on herself. What did I look like, a bellboy?

With an aggravated sigh, she picked up her bags and stepped over the entryway into the ship. Ms. Carmichael then proceeded to walk over to my bed and throw her stuff on it. "Where are you sleeping, tough stuff?"

"In the bed. Let me show you your sleeping arrangements." I made my way back to what used to be my work out area and showed her the hammock I rigged up for her and the closet I cleaned out for her. I had relocated my workout equipment to various parts of the ship, and cleaned out the closet by placing everything in it into the waste receptacle. It was all stuff I had collected throughout my years in the Marines, stuff I never needed or used anymore, but it was still a sacrificed I made for this woman I didn’t even know. The look on her face said it all. As she took in a breath to start what I could tell, to be a long tirade, I interrupted her. "If you don’t like it, I could stick you in the cold sleep chamber or you can just leave. It doesn’t matter to me which you choose." And I turned around and walked out.

I could hear muttered cursing as I walked over to my pilot’s chair and contacted the docking control. "Ranger 5113 ready to disembark, over."

"Ranger 5113 this is Traffic control. We have put you in the queue. Standby for instructions."

"Roger that, Ranger 5113 out."

I could feel my guest standing behind my chair as I started the pre-flight checklist. Once I got into the queue to leave, it usually took about an hour before I could undock and thruster out to where I could engage my main engines. I could feel my guest’s irritation of her lot in life because it just rolled off her.

"You’re rude!"

I just continued on with my checklist. Ms. Carmichael flopped down in the seat next to me. "Do you plan on ignoring me the whole trip?"

"I’m not ignoring you, I’m just busy." I wish I could ignore her. Hey, what a great idea. Should have thought of that myself.

"Do you talk like a normal person, or are you just being a bitch to me because of what I am?"

"Ms. Carmichael, I have said more in the last 2 hours than I normally say in one year. So no, I really don’t talk like a normal person. As for my judgment against you, I don’t know what you are other than a witness, so I don’t hold that against you."

"Oh." She seemed surprised. "So Rico didn’t tell you anything? Why are you helping me then?"

"Because he asked, and for some strange reason, I said yes." I got up to go over to the engineering station to finish that part of the checklist. "Believe me, I wondering why right now."

Her lip started to tremble, I swear to God! I could see it in the reflection in the monitors by my head. Now I’ve been accused of being a cold-hearted bitch, and that’s true, but I don’t go out of my way to make another human being miserable. I figure the universe is out to get us anyway; I’m not going to help it.

"You don’t like me?"

"Ms. Carmichael, I don’t like anyone. That is why I have the job I have. To minimize contact with other humans."


"Excuse me?"

"My name is Devon. I would like it if you would call me that."

I sighed and thought longingly of the cold sleep chamber. "Alright, Devon. Would you please let me finish the checklist in silence? I’m more comfortable without the sound of a human voice."


Finally, peace and quiet. I continued down my checklist.


I sighed, well, 10 minutes was good for her I guess. "Yes, Devon?"

"You aren’t really going to make me sleep in the hammock are you?" She batted those eyes at me.


"But I’m a guest."

"If anyone asks, you’re a stowaway as far as I’m concerned. You keep the hammock."

The girl was good. I could feel her pouting across the cockpit and with my back to her. I started wondering about her profession. If she could pout like that, she was an actress or a high class prostitute.

This was going to be an interesting trip.


After finally getting permission to launch, I showed the evil one ways to entertain itself without bothering me. I.E., in her own little cubby. I usually turned on the movies that had downloaded at each stop and listened to them while I worked out. My day usually consisted of me getting up, morning routine, looking over my maintenance checklist for the day, working out, lunch, my maintenance duties, supper, my studies, reading in bed, sleep. A very simple life. I miss my simple life.


It took the evil one a week before she ran out of movies to watch and came to me out of sheer boredom.

I was listening to the news on the overhead speakers while doing my sit-ups when Devon wandered in.

"I’m bored."

"There…are…plenty…of movies…to watch…in the….database."

She watched me bob up and down for a few minutes, then said, "I watched them all."

I stopped what I was doing. "You watched them all? I have several hundred movies in that database. You can’t have watched them all, you’ve only been in your room for a week!"

"I don’t like watching movies twice, and you have a lot of movies that I’ve seen before. What do you do to stay occupied? After all, this is your life." Devon looked smug like she was insinuating that I was a boring person. It didn’t bother me, I wanted to be a boring person.

"I work out, work on the ship, study, and read. Do you want something to read?"

"No, I don’t like to read." Something about her body language made me suspect that statement.

"Well, you have working out or studying as your other 2 options. What do you want to do?"

"You look really good. Can you make me look like you?"

I looked down at myself. I was wearing an A-shirt and my regular workout shorts. I didn’t see anything spectacular, but then I had been surrounded by an elite Marine force for years. We all worked out like maniacs so I guess that my perceptions might be a little biased.

"I don’t know. How hard are you willing to work? I’ve been doing this for most of my life."

"How about you tell me how you got that scar on your face?"

I froze. "I don’t remember." Which was the truth. I only know what I was told.

"Come on, something as life altering as that, and you don’t remember? Bullshit."

I whirled around. "Are you calling me a liar?" Something in my face must have scared her because she went white and started backing up.

"N-no. If you can’t remember, you can’t remember. Wait, there was a movie that I forgot that I haven’t seen. I think I’ll go see it now." And she ran back into her room and secured the hatch. I sighed and rubbed my eyes. I don’t know why I was so mean to Devon, it’s not like I should care what she thinks about my scar. I didn’t, but then I didn’t have to see it unless I looked in a mirror. Most days I forgot it was there. Maybe it was the questioning. The constant ‘why, why, why?’

A few hours later, I was sitting on my bed relaxing, reading a book on the palm computer when I heard the hatch open. I pretended to keep reading to see if Devon would go into the kitchen area or brave the dragon’s lair. She braved the dragon’s lair.

I looked up at her as she edged her way carefully to the end of my bed and sat down. "Hi," she said.

"Hello." I was making every effort to act like a civilized being since scaring her earlier. I had almost worked my way up to apologizing.

"I… I… wanted to apologize. For my behavior lately." She was twisting her hands in her lap. "Sometimes I just get carried away before I realize that most people don’t want to share their whole life stories."

I was surprised. I was the one that acted badly and she was apologizing. "I’m the one who should be sorry. Would you really like to know?"

Her eyes brightened when she looked up at me. "Sure. I wouldn’t have asked you if I wasn’t curious."

"It happened when I was in the Marines. We were taking control of a pirate ship and the captain of said ship took exception. I really don’t remember what happened. There was some brain damage along with the loss of the eye and the scarring that you see. It’s why I got mustered out. I guess they thought I was going to forget something important, like who the bad guys were."

"Is that why your eyes don’t match?"

I nodded.

"Why didn’t you get one that matched when you got back to a larger base? I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t give you a green one."

I shrugged. "Why? This one works fine, and it’s already installed."

"Because then your eyes would match."


"What do you mean so? Aren’t people weirded out when they look at you? What did your boyfriend think?"

"I’ve never had a boyfriend to ask."

"Oh," a little smile, "What about your girlfriend."

"Never had one of those either."

Devon looked shocked. "What do you do for sex?"

"Never felt the need for it."

"YOU’VE NEVER HAD SEX?" Devon seemed about to faint.

"No, why should I? I don’t like people remember? Not liking people definitely extends to not liking people to touch me. Since that and procreation is the whole idea behind sex, I’ve never really felt the urge."

Devon seemed shell shocked. At least she was quiet. I went back to my book. A few minutes later, the questioning barrage began again.

"Were you molested or raped or something?"

I took offense to that. "No! I just don’t like people. Especially people who keep questioning me in confined spaces." I glared at Devon. She seemed to catch that the line of questioning she was pursuing was now closed. I went back to reading. My peace was interrupted once more.

"What are you reading?"

"A book about how to survive in the wild."

Devon started laughing. "There are no wild places left anymore."

"You’re right, there are no wild places left on Earth," I agreed.

Devon thought that over for a minutes. "You joined one of those crazy colony expeditions?" She seemed incredulous.

"Yes, though I think I joined one of the saner ones. It’s not based on any theology, just a group of people who want to go someplace else to expand. Someplace with no domes or terra-forming."


"Why what?"

"If you are so happy with your life the way it is right now, why are you joining a colony ship?"

I turned off the palm reader. It looked like I wasn’t going to get any reading done in the near future. "I have augments, and I’d like to keep them. I also have no ties to anyone or anything in the universe, and… they need me."

Devon’s eyes grew large. "You have augments? What kind? They don’t make you crazy do they?"

"Yes, after a certain number of questions asked, and its a random number placed in the software, the person with augments snaps and kills everyone in sight."

Devon squeaked and ran into her room and slammed the hatch. I allowed myself a small grin and picked up my reader and turned it back on.

10 minutes later, Devon came storming back into my line of sight. "I thought you didn’t have a sense of humor? You just made a joke."

"No I didn’t, you must not have hit the random number yet. Want to keep going?"

"I’m not stupid you know."

"Was that a question?"


I put down my reader and sighed, rubbing my hands over my face. "Fine, what did you see that has Rico risking my wrath by hiding you on my ship?"

"I saw someone get killed."

I just looked at her.

"Ok, I saw my boyfriend kill someone."


"All right already! I saw Misha Kafelnikov kill a Marshal."

I could feel the surprised look on my face. "No wonder Rico is determined to get this guy."

"He was on the take."

"Who, Rico?"

"No, the Marshal that got killed. He was on the take. He and Misha were arguing about a recent payoff when Misha got pissed and threw a knife at the guy. It hit him in the throat, and Misha laughed at the sounds the Marshal made as he died."

"Is this the same Misha Kafelnikov that is wanted by the Navy, the Marines, the Marshals and God only knows who else?"


I just looked at her. "Has anyone ever told you, you have crappy taste in men?"

Devon got up and stomped over to the pilot’s chair. "It’s not like I had a choice. My mom sold me to him when I was 16."

And I thought I had a crappy childhood. "I’m sorry." It was all I could think of to say.

Devon sniffled and I saw her wipe her face with her hand. "It’s okay. For the longest time, I thought that’s just how it was done. Mom got into debt; she sold off the oldest kid when the person holding the papers came after her. I just happened to be the oldest when Misha came to collect."

I looked at her in horror. "Where was this taking place? Surely not on Earth?"

She laughed bitterly. "No, I’ve never been to Earth. It was in the mining belts. There’s not much of a law enforcement presence there. And what there is, is usually bought and paid for. When Rico came after me, I was scared. Then I realized I was talking to an honest cop. I had heard of them before, but I’d never met one. He grabbed me and smuggled me into Mars Station. I guess that I got pretty lucky that Misha’s people hadn’t found me before I hooked up with you."

"They had."


"They had found you. I left early and doubled back to wait until you left the diner. I took out two people that were following you before you collected your baggage from the lockers."

"Wow, I didn’t notice."

"You weren’t supposed to. That’s why they are professionals."

"Then how did you notice them?"

"I’m a better trained professional."

"Wait, was that almost a joke?"


"I think it was."



I shrugged.

"What are you going to do after the trial? You won’t be safe going back into space."

Devon looked weary. "I don’t know." She walked back over and sat at the end of my bed.

"How much schooling do you have?"

She looked away. "The usual."

"How much is the usual in the belts?" I was going to get this information out of her.

"None." It was so quiet, that I don’t think I would have heard it if not for my augmentations.

"What would you like to do more than anything else?"

She looked at me. "What do you mean?"

I cracked a small smile. The muscles felt atrophied from being so long in disuse. "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Devon looked shocked, then thoughtful. "No one ever asked me that before. Let me think about it."

"Would you like me to tutor you in the basics so you can get your competency tests completed?" With all the different cultures and schools and home schooling going on, the accepted standard to get into university, trade school, or the military was a series of tests that measured your competency in various areas of study. If you scored well on them, it was generally accepted that you could move on to whatever type of secondary or tech school you wanted.

"Um, well, I need to learn how to read."

"What language are you the most familiar with? You don’t have to take the test in English."

"I don’t know how to read in any language."

I blinked. "Oh."

Devon looked away, her face red. "I tried to learn a couple of times, but I never really had anyone take the time to show me how to read."

"Well, you seem reasonably bright to me, I can probably teach you in about a week. But you are going to have to work at it. I’m not the most pleasant person to have as an instructor."

Devon smiled at me. A radiant smile that lit the whole room. I felt my heart skip a beat. Oh my God, what just happened?


I have since figured out the reason for the smile. It’s like the smelly stuff on the inside of a Venus flytrap. It lures you in so you don’t notice the teeth on the outside of the leaf. I didn’t notice the trap I just fell into. And the sob story, please. Rico probably let it drop that we met in an orphanage. All she had to do was find a story that was more awful than mine probably was and set the hook. The fact I was a virgin was probably easier on her. That way, I couldn’t see her coming. It was like hunting for deer at night armed with a flashlight. A sure thing.


After working with Devon for a couple of weeks, I found my initial perception was off just a little. Devon was incredibly smart and took to reading like a duck to water. She would read anything I put in front of her. I often found her curled up in the pilot’s chair, still reading the same book she was when I went to sleep. It worked out pretty well for me in the end. The time actually teaching Devon the alphabet and how to sound out words, that really sucked. It pushed my patience past the breaking point, and I found myself setting up my speed bag again. But in the end it was worth it. Devon would sit quietly, absorbed in whatever book I put in front of her face until she was finished with it. Of course, then she would explode with questions about the book, and it made me realize what I missed from the discussion periods when I actually went to school with other students.

I finally managed to wean her away from the storybooks, and into some textbooks. She excelled at the social sciences and literature, but math and the hard sciences were a bit harder for her to grasp. I guess part of it was because hard science requires practical, hands on applications, so you can experiment with what you just learned in lecture so you know why this works like it does. I did what I could with the physics part. My favorite was the pendulum theory. I suspended a weight from the bulkhead and had Devon stand a few feet away from where it was hanging. I then brought the weight up just under her nose and let go. Devon screamed and ran away from the weight when it came back. I started laughing. She started hitting me with her fists saying, "That’s not funny!" I couldn’t help myself, I just kept laughing. She finally dared me to do the same thing, with her letting go of the weight. I stood my ground and watched her carefully to make sure she just let go of the weight and didn’t add any extra effort. When I saw the weight swing back my way, it took all of my years in the Marines not to close my eyes when it approached. I didn’t look away or move as the weight stopped just short of my nose, then swing away. Devon just glared at me. I smiled.

The days passed like that; Devon working her way deeper and deeper into the hole I managed to bury my heart in. I started to feel again for the first time since my Dads died and I didn’t seem to care.

I don’t remember how it started. Devon had managed to find a way to make me laugh again. A past time she seemed particularly interested in. I was sitting on the bed, holding my sides laughing and didn’t notice her sit down next to me.


"I…can’t…breath. Go…away!"

"Jenna honey, look at me."

So I did. And she kissed me.

How do I describe that first kiss? It was like nothing I’ve ever felt. It set me on fire, made me feel things I had only scoffed at upon hearing from my fellow Marines. I could now understand the whole ‘the earth moved, angels wept’ sensations. Devon easily pushed me onto my back and crawled on top of me. She licked my lips and applied a little pressure with her tongue until I opened my mouth. Once I did, her tongue stormed into my mouth like water through a floodgate. I was so distracted by the things she was doing with her tongue that I missed the fact that she had unzipped my jumpsuit and pushed my A-shirt out of the way. I did notice when she pinched my nipple. My eyes flew open and I pushed her off of me slightly.

"What are we doing?"

"If you have to ask, you weren’t paying attention to what was going on in some of those books you gave me to read."

"No. I mean what are we... mph."

If I had known kissing was the effective way of shutting Devon up, I would have tried it myself. Of course, if I knew sex with Devon was this much fun I would have tried it much, much sooner.


Much later, we lay sprawled across my bed. At least, I lay sprawled across my bed; Devon was sprawled across my back. I felt her kissing my shoulder blade. I groaned, "Oh God, no more. I can’t move." I felt her laughing.

"Is my big, bad Marine all worn out?"


She leaned over and looked into my eye. "You don’t mind admitting that?"

"No, it’s the truth. Time for a power nap." I closed my eyes and snuggled down into the sheets.

I felt something poking me in my side. I opened one eye. I see a set of blue eyes really close to mine. "Are you sleeping?"

I closed my eye. "Yes."

I felt more poking. "How do you feel?"

"Tired. Need sleep."

I felt another laugh. "Ok, honey, you can sleep. For now." I felt a gentle kiss on my temple.


Ok, I have to admit, the sex was great. It was probably more than great, but I had nothing to reference against it. It only took a month for me to get seduced. Of course, if I had been smarter, it would have taken a lot less time. 5 months of pretty much uninterrupted bedroom antics. But I keep telling you that Devon is the evil one. So I bet you’re wondering what happened to interrupt our hedonistic bliss.


We were approaching Earth Station after a completely uneventful run. Okay, not completely uneventful. I finally understood what all the fuss was about when it came to sex. And Devon took her competency tests and passed. I was still trying to broach the subject of asking Devon to come on the colony ship with me. There had been no mention of what was going to happen after the trial. I think Devon was trying very hard not to discuss a future.


I looked up from plotting our next course change.

"How much longer until we rendezvous with Rico?"

I did the mental calculations in my head. "About a week. Given any thought about what you are going to do after the trial?"

Devon looked away. "No. I want to see that I live through the trial before I make any plans."

I haven’t felt this nervous since my first boarding party. "Um, well, if you want, how about you join me with the colonist? We can work to get you a technical degree in whatever you want to do."

I felt Devon come up behind me and wrap her arms around my neck. "How about we wait to see what happens after the trial? I don’t want to promise you anything that I can’t deliver. Besides, how can I come up with the entrance fee?"

I turned around and kissed her. "I have some money saved. That’s not a problem."

I felt her smile against my lips. "It isn’t huh? You’ve been squirreling away for a rainy day?" She deepened the kiss.

I was quickly becoming distracted. "Um, yes. I was planning to um, invest it so I’d, um, have a nest egg." Her kisses were gaining in intensity.

"How about we talk about this later?" Her fingers were busy opening up my jumpsuit.

"Okay." At this point, I wasn’t inclined to argue if she wanted to shove me out the airlock, as long as she didn’t stop what she was doing with her hands.


Okay, does everyone else see what is going on here, or am I not the only oblivious one in the audience? Anxious to get to Earth, disinclined to talk about a future with me, distracting me with sex? By now, I was a happy little fly that didn’t even noticed the trap had shut on me.


"Ranger 5113 calling Earth Station. Request docking clearance."

"Ranger 5113, this is Earth Station. You have been placed in the queue. Please stand by."

Devon looked over from her seat at the engineering console. "How long until we dock?"

"Depends on how busy they are. Anywhere from an hour to a day. Why? You have something you want to do before we dock?" I wiggled my eyebrows at her in what I hoped was a sexy manner.

Devon laughed and smiled that smile that lights up the room. I could feel my heart rate pick up. "No, honey, I’m just nervous about the whole trial thing."

"I know how to take you mind off it…" I wasn’t above begging. Who knew when the next time I would see her?

Devon smiled and got up and started walking towards the bed, unbuttoning her shirt as she went. I was sitting there, speechless. She looked back over her shoulder and said, "Coming?" and quirked an eyebrow.

I jumped up and stumbled towards the bed, trying to get my clothes off as fast as humanly possible. "Oh god I hope so."

Much, much later, we were docking with the Earth Station. Devon was all packed and waiting at the hatch for it to open. If anything, she seemed more nervous. I guess the fact that she would soon be facing one of the most notorious crime bosses in the system and her one time owner would be enough to make anyone nervous. I finished guiding the ship into the dock and waited for the clamps to attach. With an audible clang, they did, and almost immediately Devon was out the hatch.

"Devon, wait!" I ran after and caught up with her before she exited the hatch to the rest of the station.

"Where are you going? You have to stay here until Rico picks you up. I can’t protect you out there, and I can’t leave my ship yet."

Devon looked really agitated. "Jenna, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think it would be better if I find Rico that way it’s not traced back to you and no one comes after you. What would happen if they come after you between stations? You don’t have any weapons or anyway to out run them. It would kill me to find out something happened to you because you helped me."

"And it would kill me if something happened to you because you didn’t stay here until Rico picked you up. Please, Devon, I’m begging you. Wait for Rico." I pleaded with my eyes for her to stay.

She looked at the deck, thinking. About what I wasn’t sure. Her shoulders slumped, and she walked towards me. She gave me a weak smile and a hug, and walked past me to the ship. I wondered what that was all about.

We waited silently for Rico to come get Devon. Every attempted that I made at starting a conversation died an ugly death. It was a reversal of roles. No wonder she was ready to kill me 6 months ago.

The chime at the hatch was a relief. I was so happy that Rico was here to break the awkward silence I didn’t noticed Devon’s reaction.

"Hey, Rico!"

He jumped back in surprise. "Who are you and where’s Jenna?"

"Hey it’s me, I’m just glad to see you."

He looked at me suspiciously. "You didn’t space her or put her into the cold sleep chamber like you threatened to did you?"

"No, she’s right here." I stepped back so he could enter the ship. Devon was sitting miserably at the engineering console where I left her.

"Hey sweetie. Jenna didn’t scare you too badly did she?" Rico walked over to Devon and swept her up into his arms and gave her a passionate kiss.

I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. After what felt like several minutes of sucking face on the part of my best friend and what I thought was the love of my life, the two lovers came up for air. By then, I had regained my composure and presented a blank face when they turned around.

"Nope, I carried her here without so much as a scratch on her perfect skin." Behind Rico, Devon stared right at me. "Now let’s talk money. You owe me."

"I owe you everything. Not only did you get my witness to safety, you got the love of my life back to Earth. Thank you." Rico beamed.

"Great, I’ll send you a bill. Now get off my ship."

Rico laughed. "Just as sociable as ever. I know that having Devon on your ship for 6 months pushed the limits of your civility, so we’re out of here." The man had the gall to give me a hug. He knows I hate to be touched. "Thank you."

And with that, the evil one and my one time friend left.

Now I remembered why I hated people. All they did was hurt you. I crumpled to the deck, sobbing.


Okay, now you see why she was the evil one. I was set up. What really sucked is that I still followed the trial on the news. I would catch bits and pieces in between stops. It seemed the government had a very good case against Misha, and Devon was the final nail in his coffin. With proof that he had killed a Marshal in cold blood, there was no place he could hide, and the Marshals brought him in pretty quickly. It was about halfway through the trial when Devon was called to the witness stand. When they were transporting her from the safe house to the courthouse, there was an ambush. Unfortunately for me, they missed Devon. Rico, however, was not as lucky. Seems he was with her until the end.

I did one more long haul before it was time to board the ship. I took all the money I had saved up, and the money Rico got me from the government for protecting Devon, and invested it into different portfolios with different brokers. This way, even if one totally ripped me off, I wouldn’t lose everything. I did some last minute shopping, stocking up on some supplies that I thought of after reading all my ‘survive in the wilderness’ books. I wound up with exactly my weight limit, which surprised me since I didn’t think I would ever have that much stuff. The day I boarded for my turn to be placed into cold sleep, they announced the verdict for Misha Kafelnikov. He was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death. Devon Carmichael had already disappeared into whatever cesspool she decided to relocate to. I was more than ready to leave.


"Colonel Wesley. Wake up. It’s time to wake up Colonel Wesley." It felt like the voices were coming from underwater. Oh wait, I’m the one that’s underwater. My eyelids feel too heavy to open. I groan with the effort it takes to open an eye. "That’s good, Colonel. You can go back to sleep now." I grunt in response and lose consciousness.


"Rise and shine, Colonel. Welcome to your new home!"

I pried open one eyelid and glared at the speaker. I remembered why I hate happy people. They are too damn perky first thing in the morning.

"Colonel, we need you to wake up and go check everything. You are the highest ranking military person that is with us." The speaker was bouncing around in his excitement.

I slowly sat up and swung my legs over the edge of the bed. "How long have I been out?" I asked as I rolled my neck around and listened to it pop.

"53 years, 7 months, 3 weeks and 2 days," my personal rooster announced happily.

"So basically everyone I know back on Earth is dead or really, really old?"

The man nodded rapidly.

"Good." I hopped off the edge of the bed and immediately crumpled to the floor. Guess there is some problems with waking up from that long in cold sleep. The cheerful attendant helped me to my feet and back to a sitting position on the bed.

"How about you just sit there until you get your land legs back, ok?" I could tell he was never in the Navy. He would have been killed within his first month. "So, Colonel, do you want me to go wake up the troops now?"

I looked up at him sharply. "You haven’t woken them up yet?"

"No. The ship woke up the cryo staff first, and then we in turn woke you up. You’re supposed to tell us who to wake up next." The man looked uneasy. "Didn’t you read the procedures before going to sleep?"

I searched my memory. It sounded right, but I just couldn’t shake the cobwebs out of my head very fast. "Is there any coffee or anything? My head feels full of cotton or something."

The attendant looked relieved. "I’ll be right back with a stim."

The man left to get me my stim and I was left alone to look around the med center where I woke up. I noticed a window on the far side of the bay. I carefully stood and with support from various pieces of furniture, made my way over to the window. That’s where the attendant found me when he returned with my shot.

"Beautiful isn’t it?"

"Yes, I can’t believe that it’s my new home. It’s wonderful." And it was. The blue of the seas covered more of the planet than on Earth, and the landmasses had unfamiliar shapes, but besides that, it looked like the beautiful jewel the Earth resembled 150 years ago when the first pictures where taken in space by fast moving satellites.

"Any news from Earth?" I asked my attendant as he injected something into my arm.

"Yes, it’s all in your briefing folder."

"Good. Start waking up my support staff while I go freshen up and read my reports. Is that going to give you any problems, waking them all up like that?"

"No, Colonel. We’ll be fine. Go get ready."

I looked at him as he was practically pushing me out the door of the med bay. "What’s your hurry?"

He gave me a cheeky grin. "The sooner you clear us for landing, the sooner I can go pick out my homestead, silly!"

I quirked a grin as he ran off to go wake up all the other ex-military who decided to join us.


I took a break from chopping wood to catch my breath. I sat down on my chopping block and gazed at my domain. I had cleared about 3 acres of land, and put my house down on one side. It had taken me a little over a year to get my stead to this point, but I was happy. I had my house, my barn, and a small garden that I was raising fresh food in. I had a workshop where I was trying my hand at carpentry and metalworking. All in all, I was content with the life I was living.

I was about 20 miles from the closest settlement with one of the airflyers. Each of the major cities had airflyers to transport people in a hurry from settlement to settlement. As the highest-ranking military member on planet, I still got called in from time to time to settle arguments and disputes about this and that on the governing council or for one of the planet’s constable. For the most part, I was left alone. I wandered into town every couple of months to trade for foodstuffs or something else I needed and to check my mail. All three of my brokers had made me quite a bit of money while I was in cold sleep, but I really had no use for it. Everything on planet was bartered, but I was prepared for when we moved away from that. The fledgling government wanted me to take a more active part, but I declined. I wanted to be left alone to enjoy my retirement.

I noticed someone coming up the path towards my house. I used my mechanical eye to zoom in to identify who it was. I dropped my ax in shock. I thought the evil one was dead. What the fuck was she doing here?

I ran inside and grabbed my rifle. It was one of the old style, chemical explosive ones. I kept some around since I could easily make replacement ammo. I stepped out onto the porch and loaded the shell into the chamber.

"That’s close enough. What do you want?"

"Jenna? Will you let me talk to you?" she kept coming.

I placed a warning shot near her foot. She stopped immediately.

"I said that’s close enough."

"Jenna, please, let me explain."

"What I want to know is how the fuck you got on this colony, and how the hell I didn’t see your name on the passengers list? I would have made sure you never woke up if I had." I was furious. I left her on Earth. She was supposed to stay there. The evil one would not leave me alone.

"Jenna, please, I love you. That’s why I followed you out here."

"You mean that Rico died, you couldn’t go back to the belts or you’d be killed, so you followed the only person you were sure would play sugar momma for you. Fuck off. It was real, it was fun, but it wasn’t real fun."

"No, I fell in love with you, not Rico. I was just using Rico to get away from Misha. I didn’t want him to love me, I was paying him in the only coin I knew; my body."

"Uh huh, and what was I? A pity fuck? Or were you so fucking bored why not do the emotional cripple?" I stepped down off the porch.

"No! I fell in love with you. You taught me to read. You believed in me and never judged me for what I had become. No one has ever done anything for me for free. You were the first. How could I not love you?" I could see tears streaming down her face.

"If you loved me, why didn’t you tell me about Rico? Hell, why didn’t you tell Rico about us? Because there never was an ‘us’. I was just a convenience." I was shouting by now. I let off another warning shot. "Get the fuck off my property, because the next one is going right between your eyes!"

Devon did a wonderful job of acting like her heart was broke as she turned and walked back the way she had come. I followed her in my rifle sights until she was around the bend in the path. When I was sure she was out of sight, I slumped down on the steps of my porch in a daze.

It was getting towards dusk when I got myself under control. I went over to the rain barrel and washed my face before going inside to fix my dinner. I had put some stew on earlier and I could smell it simmering as soon as I stepped through the door. I walked through the front room into the kitchen where I immediately poured myself a tall glass of milk from my neighbor’s cow. Thirst quenched, I went over to the cabinet and checked under the cloth to see if my biscuits were done rising so I could put them in the oven. They were and I slid them into the oven to cook to go with my vegetable stew.

I leaned back against the counter and tried to ignore the pain in my chest cause by seeing Devon again. Denial was a potent defense against the pain caused by a broken heart, but seeing her again ripped all the scabbed over wounds open again.

I sat down to eat my dinner once the biscuits had finished. I was feeling low enough, that after I finished my dinner, I wandered into the front room and dug out my neighbor’s attempt at whiskey. It was a huge bottle, and the first time I opened it, I thought it would do wonders cleaning greasy engine parts, and told my neighbor so. He scowled at me and told me to put it on the shelf for a while, then come back and talk to him. I did but since I was more interested in the numbing effects than the taste, I opened the bottle and took a big swig.

"Jesus Christ on a sidecar!" I hacked out. The stuff was still a little raw. But it was alcohol, and that was all that mattered.

I was about halfway through the bottle when I heard the front door open. I rolled my head to the general direction of the door and saw Devon let herself in. I don’t think she saw me sitting in the shadows. I could tell she had been crying, or at least put some kind of irritant in her eyes to make them appear puffy. She looked around the room and made her way into the kitchen. I couldn’t see what she was looking for. I had put my rifle back in the cabinet on the other side of the room. In the state I was in, I don’t think I could have stood, much less walked across the room, opened the cabinet, loaded the gun, and defended myself before Devon heard me.

"It’s in here," I slurred.

I heard Devon start in the kitchen. "Jenna?’

"The gun cabinet, it’s in here." I wondered if she could understand me, I was slurring so bad. One thing about my neighbor’s whiskey, it was potent.

"Jenna, why are you sitting in the dark?"

"Why did you come back?" I set the bottle down next to my chair. My movement or my voice led her to my chair. She kneeled between my legs.

"Oh, honey." She reached up and brushed some tears off my cheeks. I hadn’t realized I was crying. I tried to shake her hand off my face.

"Go away."

"Jenna, no I will not. I love you and I’m not leaving. Everyone else left you, but I won’t," she stated emphatically. I stared at her in shock. "Rico told me a little about your childhood. I looked up the rest. You lost everyone you ever loved. No wonder your don’t trust me."

"Evil!" I slurred.

"Yes, I guess from your point of view I’m evil. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I tried to get away from the ship so you wouldn’t see Rico greet me." She rubbed my knee in a consoling manor. "I wanted to tell him that I was in love with you some place private. I didn’t want a scene between the two of you. I knew you two were friends."

"Right," I sneered. I didn’t have the motor control for anything else.

Devon smacked my leg. "I took all this time and trouble to find you, you are going to listen to me. I love you and you are going to have to kill me to get me to leave. I know you’re hurting, and I know I caused it but you are going to shut up and let me explain."

She stood up and started pacing. "I started the affair with Rico as a way to get out from under Misha’s thumb. I thought a Marshal would be able to protect me. When I saw Hicks get murdered, that was my chance to get away from both Misha, and through the witness protection program and Rico. I’ve always preferred women to men in the sex department, so Rico was just another way out for me, no real romance there. I never counted on meeting you. I thought Rico would smuggle me out himself, turn me over to the Justice system and I’d lose track of him through the trial and the witness protection program. I never knew that I’d meet someone like you, much less fall in love. I wanted to tell Rico that it was over between us in private. I didn’t want a love triangle going on between the three of us. I certainly never meant for you to see that display between Rico and myself. I told him after he took me to the safe house. I told him that I had fallen in love with you and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you. He didn’t take it well at first. He thought it was because you treated me bad, because you treat everyone bad. Rico thought I was caught in that ‘cycle of violence’ thing. I told him that you were the first person who had never treated me like a commodity; that you treated me like a human being. Even Rico, who swore up and down that he loved me, cared more about getting me safely to trial than getting me safely out of Misha’s grasp. I was having the affair with Rico for months before the Marshal got killed, and it wasn’t until I could testify against Misha in a capitol murder case the Rico even broached the subject of me leaving Misha. He didn’t love me; he loved what I could do for him."

"You were the first person who gave me anything. You gave me dignity, you gave me freedom, and you gave me the ability to educate myself. And do you know what you asked me in return for all this was? Nothing. Nothing! I’ve heard all my life that you can’t get something for nothing, and yet you gave me everything. I thought I’d give you what I could, which was sex. I was used for sex and I used sex to get me what I wanted. I thought I could pay you back with sex. I never fucked you, Jenna, I always made love."

At this point she was crying so hard it was difficult to understand what she said. I tried to stand up to give her a hug and passed out.

I awoke the next morning in my own bed with a killer headache. My mouth felt like something furry had crawled in it and died. I groaned and rolled over, trying to untangle myself from the bed sheets so I could get up and go to the bathroom, then maybe shoot myself. The smell of something cooking stopped me in my tracks. I had brushed off the discussion with the evil one from last night as a side effect from homemade moonshine. Apparently, I was not hallucinating.

I stumbled into the kitchen to see Devon puttering around, making breakfast. She turned to find me in the doorway, mouth hanging open in shock."Good morning! How’s your head?" she inquired with forced cheerfulness.

I stood there, too stunned to even speak.

"I made you breakfast." She turned away to grab the coffee pot off the stove, but not before I saw the look of pain flash across her face. "I visited your hen house. You have very industrious chickens. I don’t think I’ve seen so many eggs since I’ve woke up from cold sleep. I hope you don’t mind that I made us some omelets. I also raided your garden. You’ve been really busy." Devon babbled all of this while bustling about the kitchen, setting the table, and serving up plates for the two of us.

I slowly sank into a chair at the table while she put a glass of fresh milk in front of me. "I milked your cow this morning since you were dead to the world and she was quite insistent this morning. Do you normally sleep this late?"

"No," I said, my voice sounding whispery like I hadn’t spoken in years. "How do you know how to milk a cow?" I finally asked. "Or where to find eggs outside of a store?"

Devon looked down at her plate. "I learned." She fiddled with her silverware. "I knew I wanted to follow you to this colony; I even refused to testify unless they bought me a spot on this ship. Rico was not happy. While I was in protective custody, I read everything I could get my hands on about starting out on a colony. If you hadn’t asked me that day, I would have followed you anyway. I read your survival books when you weren’t looking. I wanted to surprise you."

I sat there and looked at her, trying to wrap my hung-over mind around what she was saying. She looked up at me and noticed that I wasn’t eating anything.

"I’m not trying to poison you, " she said, exasperated. "Here," she leaned over and took some of my eggs with her fork and ate them. She then grabbed my milk and took a sip. "Satisfied?" she snarled as she thumped my glass down on the table, making a bit slosh over the rim and splash onto my hand. The cold milk hitting my hand broke my paralysis.

"I never thought you were trying to poison me. I was just trying to incorporate your explanation of events into my world view… with a hang over," I explained. "This was the first time I’ve experimented with my neighbor’s moonshine and it really messed me up. I thought you were a drunken hallucination until a few minutes ago."

She seemed to relax. "I’ve missed you. I never thought I’d be saying that about anyone. You made me feel like I can be a better person."

I stared at her in shock. "I make you feel like being a better person? I’m a bitchy, scarred, solitary ex-marine. Why would you want to be around me?" I was confused. Maybe Rico was right, maybe Devon only wanted to be around people who treated her badly.

Devon smiled through her tears. "I want to be around you because you make me feel like a person and not a piece of property. I want to be around you because you believe in me. And most of all, I want to be around you because I love you, even though at times you annoy the hell out of me!"

I smiled, "And you annoy the hell out of me too."

She laughed and crawled into my lap. "Does this mean I’m forgiven?"

"I didn’t say that," I protested while my traitorous body welcomed her presence by wrapping my arms around her waist.

Devon grinned and nibbled my ear. "Too bad, I was so looking forward to make up sex."

"Okay, maybe we can work on the forgiving part later. How about ‘I’m sorry, I’ll be your love slave’ sex?" I was squirming in my seat at what she was doing to my ear, but I wanted to hold out for a bit; can’t be seen to be too much of a push over.

I could feel Devon smile against my ear. "I think we can work something out," she purred.

At that point, I didn’t care if it was the truth or an academy award winning speech. She cared enough to chase me across the galaxy, and then across a planet for almost 18 months. I felt loved either way. If it was an act, she was a damned fine actress and she was stuck with me. If she truly loved me, who was I to deny what I felt for her?

"Help me to bed and I’ll think about it. Good job, Devon. Let’s go to sleep. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning." She grinned, remembering the line out of an old movie that I loved.

"As you wish," she replied.

"Just don’t call me Buttercup," I groused.


The End

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