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Fly With Me

Posted on Sun Nov 29th, 2020 @ 6:56pm by Kindra Graham & Alden Loxley

Mission: Fortune & Glory
Location: Cicada Transport Ship, en route to Pelorum
Timeline: 2514 - Summer

Kindra had begun her preparations for Cicada's arrival on Pelorum. She was not quite satisfied with the shuttle's readiness to receive clients – she still wanted to acquire a settee and small table for the tea ceremony - and yet the warm red, orange, and yellow hues of the curtains, bedspread, and other decor created the relaxing ambiance she intended. Besides, on Pelorum she'd only be using the shuttle for transportation to the beach resort where her clients were hosting their anniversary celebration. Kindra's beloved harp rested on its stand next to the bed, her fingertips sore from practicing.

Kindra was no stranger to the influence of charming and attractive men, but there was something compelling about the Cicada's pilot that both put her at ease and unbalanced her - in an unfamiliar, though not bad way. Kindra adjusted the harem pants and choli she often wore when not entertaining a client, and made a conscious effort not to move the curtain aside and look out the shuttle door. Alden had promised to give her a few pointers on flying the shuttle after his shift.

Three years ago, he'd lost his wife in the same battle as many had lost far more than that. That deep-down ache in his heart never entirely went away, but Alden usually hid it well. It was a personal pain, not one he shared with others and not one he needed to infuse into friendships, new or old. If someone asked, he didn't lie, but he never volunteered the information either.

Right now, taking two steps at a time to reach the shuttle's hatch within the confines of the Cicada's safe environs, the last thing on the man's mind was Anouk. His head was full of a happiness to be needed, wrapped up in the nagging necessity of his rapidly approaching unemployment. Pelorum was a fancy planet, and picking another working contract there might be tricky, so Alden pushed his main focus of concentration elsewhere. He pushed it hard and with a vengeance towards helping the charming and intelligent musician he'd found in a travelling Companion.

So as he ducked his head to enter, Alden presented himself with a big dumb, open-mouthed grin that coloured his dark blue gaze, and took an unapologetic, lingering look around the interior before him.

"Love what you've done with the place," he said, as if he was a prospective buyer. "Do you still want some help?"

Kindra had discarded her serene companion smile around Alden. After their long talk on the Cicada's bridge, and setting boundaries, she'd become comfortable expressing herself to him without filtering. She returned his grin with an unrestrained grin of her own. "Yes, please. I've been looking forward to it."

She pulled aside the curtain separating the boudoir part the shuttle from the cockpit and gestured to the controls. "I've never flown anything this old before."

He hadn't spent a great deal of time around Companions - they were a little out of his price range - but Alden knew the difference between deferent politeness and genuine rapport. He felt the latter in this shuttle, just as he had on the bridge, and he rolled effortlessly with that theme. She'd been looking forward to it. This was refreshingly welcome, as, though he didn't say the words out loud, so had he.

"She's a beauty," Alden noted warmly, as Kindra revealed the working end of the shuttle, controls higgledy piggedly across its dark grey consoles and a chunky, no-nonsense screen taking pride of place behind the clunky yoke. "Don't worry, Kindra, we'll get y'all acquainted." He stepped into that cockpit space, looked back to the young woman and gestured for her to join him.

"C'mon, come take your seat over here," Alden said, amicably from his position leant against the console itself. "Easier to learn by doing."

"True enough." Learning by doing was how she'd spent her last year at Madrassa. Kindra settled into the pilot's chair, ran her fingers along the yoke, and gave Alden a mischievous smile. "What do I need to know about this old beauty's controls to keep her happy and compliant?"

As Kindra settled on into the big comfy pilot's chair, Alden remained exactly where he was and regarded the way his company touched the control yoke before her. He maintained a serious expression as if she were a new student to a consummate master, and managed to keep his internal smile under wraps.

"Well," Alden stated, in the strict tone of a paid teacher as he placed his big hands over hers atop that yoke, long fingers overstretching Kindra's own. "You have your pitch," he guided her hands along with the controls first forwards, then back towards her chest. "Your roll," Alden's hands moved against hers with a gently firm warm strength, his face close beside hers. This time they shifted the yoke first clockwise, then anticlockwise in turn.

A gentle moan escaped Kindra's lips, before she stifled it. Concentrate she told herself, doing her best to keep her attention on the controls beneath her hands instead of the heat of Alden's touch and the warm of his body in close proximity.

"And," there was a slight smile in his tone now, but not his features as he played earnest tutor a little longer. "Your yaw," Alden continued. "Which is a right or left tilt on this baby." Again he lightly forced Kindra's hands beneath his in each direction as he spoke them out loud.

"You wanna be taking her easy, but firm, showing her you mean it, but letting her know that you're right there with her," he added, deadpan expression only ruined by an impish raising of his eyebrows as he lifted his hands from hers and took a slight step back. "Got it?"

Kindra swallowed and nodded. Though she'd done this part before it was far too tempting to ask him to show her again. "I have handled a few yokes before. None quite like this, and none with your finesse, professor."

She twisted in the pilot's chair to look at Alden straight-on, her eyes dark and her mouth curved in a playful grin. "What about that control, I haven't seen the like in newer models. I suppose I could experiment, but I wouldn't want to overstimulate the old girl with my rough handling."

"Professor?" Alden laughed. He looked down at the adorable figure in the big chair and gently, but firmly committed that image to memory. Then he shrugged with a mock coyness before he continued to speak lightly. "I been flying for a real long time, man and boy," he noted, well aware of the beauty in those deep, dark occular depths and the mischief held in that smile.

She'd set the boundary early on though, and he wasn't about to push that line too hard without clear permission. Well, not intentionally, he promised himself. Not too hard. Maybe. Mostly not.

"Experimentation, usually a good trait in a lady," he said, with a straight face. "But now, there's where this old girl will be mostly unforgiving for ya." He patted the console affectionately, despite his lack of personal connection. "She likes to know where she stands." Alden grinned. "And this here control? That's a trim, for flying in atmo."

He indicated a line of chunky buttons, all marked with faded letters like a much loved keyboard and named them in turn as he let his fingertips glide slowly over them. "And these... ancillary controls, thrusters - right, left, for'ard, aft. External cargo door. Boost. Winch. Lights - landing, flood and port/starboard directional."

Kindra chuckled appreciatively, thoroughly enjoying Alden's relentless repartee of wit and double entendre. But then her eyebrows furrowed in concentration, repeating the button labels after him and committing them to memory. In late-model shuttles, many of those controls were handled via a screen interface and the ship-board computer. She now had a much clearer understanding of how to fly this shuttle.

Alden paused then, and cast his gaze behind Kindra to the blurry shapes he could just about make out behind the curtains. When he refocused back on her again, his smile was full of warmth and undercut with a glint of devilry, both of which coloured his next question.

"So, tell me more about this issue you 'pparently have with rough handling?"

She caught him looking through the curtains to her living area, and when he turned his seductive gaze on her, she could not deny the deep temptation to invite him to her bed. But… what about after? The two of them would be together on the Cicada for months, and she'd be seeing clients. So much potential for complication, and already she cared about Alden too much to risk hurting him.

Fixing a thoughtful and almost serious gaze on Alden, Kindra returned one hand to the yoke. "Rough or not, I expect she knows how she likes to be handled, and enjoys a pilot who listens to her cues and learns what it takes to bring her to her flying peak." She tipped her head to the side, and batted her eyelashes with intentional over-drama.

Those big dark eyes, though? Daaaaaamn. His thoughts wandered happily towards carnal adventures, but Alden internally slapped his own face as he silently chastised himself. Companion. Professional. Expensive. Unobtainable. Besides, they'd only just met. Not that duration had ever prevented him from liking (or not) anyone before.

Kindra's gaze shifted gear, pensive, business-like again now, and Alden forced his thoughts back to why she'd asked him here. She hadn't asked him here as a client, or a cheap roll in those expensive sheets. She'd wanted a flight lesson. Right?

As she used her wiles as weapons sharper than any knife though, Alden laughed lightly.

"Yes ma'am," he said, pouring relaxed Country Boy Charm into his words as he leant against the console. He wasn't entirely sure flying was the only thing on her mind, but she was definitely going to be the one leading this dance. "I believe she knows exactly how she likes to be handled."

Those dark blue eyes, that disarming grin that sent warmth right to her core… Kindra firmly dragged her gaze away from Alden to rest unfocused on the console. The mistakes her mother had made as a young companion, mistakes that led to Kindra's own existence, had always been incomprehensible to her. But now, well maybe she had an inkling. Her mother often said, what's done is done and can't be undone. A mantra said without bitterness, it was simply her way to accept the past and move on. There was no need to rush into anything with Alden, they had time, and Kindra looked forward to getting to know the man beneath all that enticing charm.

"When the Cicada lands on Pelorum, could you go with me on a short test flight?" asked Kindra. "If your responsibilities to the Captain allow."

He waited patiently, and didn't try to secondguess the lady or try to figure out what was going on behind those perfect features.

"Sure thing," Alden answered simply, words nonchalant and content. "But don't be worrying about my responsibilities to the Captain, cos I'm only bound to my contract with him up until we land safely." He smiled, looked to the floor and back up again to meet Kindra's gaze. "After that," he continued, brightly, not wishing to advertise the fact that he was a little concerned about his next job. "I'm a free agent."

"You're leaving the Cicada?" Kindra did not attempt to hide her distress at this revelation. She hopped out of the pilot's chair, threw aside the curtain and began pacing the short distance across her living space. No, no, no. She'd expected to have more time with Alden. She wanted more time.

Well now, that was really sweet, wasn't it? Alden's brain quietly noted while he tried to keep that big shit-eating grin from manifesting on his face. It snuck onto his features briefly while Kindra shifted position from ccockpit chair to wider space. Room to move. And all on his account apparently. A real Companion and everything.

Alden offered up a lazy shrug. "Not so much leaving as getting left," he admitted, begrudgingly. "They're picking up their full-time guy from Pelorum, I was just a stand-in for this trip."

Kindra came to a stop at her harp next to the bed and caressed its harmonic curve, considering a wild idea. Putting aside flirtatious and suggestive metaphor, she spoke plainly. "My clients on Pelorum are hosting their anniversary celebration at one of the beach resorts. The service they've contracted is me playing my harp for their guests during the party. You could go with me, play your guitar and share payment." A sudden uncertainty about his response heated her cheeks, and she looked down at her harp. "That is, if you're interested."

He stepped into the shuttle proper, feeling a little less fancy than the pretty and decorative surroundings that enhanced Kindra's personal space. He wondered for a moment how many folk had fallen in love in this particular zone of influence, across many shuttles and worlds and Alden couldn't help feeling a happy ego buzz. He swiftly hid that overt joy though, as Kindra turned back towards him and portrayed a little too much innocence on his tanned face as he tried to balance the influx of genuine surprise.

"Y'all might be imbuing me with too much grace there, Piow Liang (pretty lady)," Alden noted, with honest humility. "If'n you're serious, yeah, I'd be interested, but I ain't so sure your clients would 'ppreciate me harmonising with your fine harp music?"

That was a yes. Kindra launched into enthusiastic planning mode, eyes bright, thinking aloud. "We'll need to spend as much time as we can rehearsing beforehand. Likely my clients will accept you as my accompanist just on my recommendation, though they may want to hear you play and we'll need to create a set list for them to approve. I imagine there will be some pieces we play as duets, and some solo… oh, and singing duets. We can use shorter breaks as a selling point."

She took a deep, happy breath, then realized his yes had been accompanied by some reservation. "You're not shy about playing your guitar, are you?" Alden didn't seem the type to be shy about anything, but music was close to Kindra's heart, and might be personal to him. With just the smallest twinkle of mischief in her eyes, she asked, "Will this be your first time, getting paid to perform?"

Alden watched as the young woman's demeanor totally shifted, a colourful aura of happiness now wrapped about Kindra's being. She moved lightly and with consummate grace, but that wasn't what drew his attention. What captured that was the up-step in his regard and her apparent need to rescue, recruit or at the very least spend more time in his company. That warmth settled like a spark of fire in his soul and brought forth a broader grin as she questioned his confidence.

"I'm not shy, no," Alden answered, his drawl earnest and ardent as he recalled his entry into 'show business'. "I've mostly only played to family, bars and shindigs though. Nothing as highfalutin as you're speaking about. It's not my ego or pride I'm concerning myself with, it's your fine reputation."

He chuckled at her second question and shook his head. "Not my first time, no, but it's up until now, my guitar's only really paid for my drinks and my dinner," he waggled a palm in the air between them. "Or the occasional cuddle."

"I'm not worried." His sincere concern for her reputation was touching but unwarranted, she was certain. "My mother taught me to play the harp, and my family was my first audience." Duets with her mother were among Kindra's favorite memories. "This is a party, your experience with performing for shindigs is an advantage."

Kindra beamed. In that moment of pleasurable anticipation of sharing music and company with this fascinating man, all was right in the 'Verse and for once Kindra put aside any worries beyond the next few days. Joy fragmented her usual caution, and the motion of Alden's hand and mention of a cuddle pulled her toward him like gravity.

It was only long-ingrained habit that caused her to hesitate and ask, "May I hug you, Alden?"

She wasn't worried. That was enough. Enough for Alden to just let that side of things go and trust this crazy young woman who had decided that she wanted virtually unknown company to play alongside her upon some unknown platform with a collection of important, or at least wealthy, strangers. Something about all that mystery captivated him entirely, just as the unknown always had. Stars, planets, people.

Mostly people.

Alden grinned a broad openmouthed grin and nodded. "Let's do this thing then," he said. "Count me and Bessy in." His expression momentarily shifted to an apologetic scrunching of his whole face, before he added. "Bessy being my guitar."

He took a step back then, as if he might be taking an affront by her final question, or perhaps the need to ask it. The smile had vanished, his gaze seeking meaning in hers and Alden was quiet. For a whole twenty lingering seconds. Then the stupid grin was back and he held his arms out wide to his sides and infused the air between them with a warm enthusiasm.

"No," he said. "But if'n y'all c'mere, we can hug each other."

She took a soft intake of breath when he stepped back, and for several moments she thought Alden might refuse to give her his consent. When he did answer, his sentiment could not have been more perfect.

Kindra rushed into Alden's arms. She slid her hands around his waist and up his back, pulled him close and rested her head against his chest. Pressing the length of her body against his, she inhaled his spicy, masculine scent. This was a rare indulgence, and Kindra drank in the comfort, the warm affection, and even acceptance in Alden's embrace. "Thank you," she murmured.

For his part, Alden said nothing at all as he closed that loop of hug about them both. Long muscular arms wrapped about Kindra's slender form with just the right amount of squeeze to imply that he truly meant it. His eyes closed and a soporific smile caught on his features as he let his right hand slip upwards to cradle the back of Kindra's skull, his fingers combing into those luxurious dark curls. There were no words he needed to say in that moment, it was all about the unexpected, deliciously carnal joy of the impromptu cuddle.


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