He watched in silence as she slept beside him. Her torso, the naked part of her not covered by the rumpled blanket, moved rhythmically up and down with the beat of her breathing. The sunlight streaming from the porthole cast a glow to her tanned skin. She was beautiful in his eyes, even if neither of them would admit it aloud – her out of modesty and him out of restraint from showing such openness.

She lay on her side, her back facing him. The curves and bumps of her spine reminded him distantly, with mixed emotions, of the red and black mountain peaks of his youth. Lifting a hesitant hand, he placed it lightly on her upturned shoulder and slowly began to run it down the side of her torso. He was taking great liberty with this simple action, a small violation of his character. His reluctance to touch her now seemed very ironic considering just moments before they were both in the throes of wild passion. When his hand neared her stomach, she unconsciously shivered; that made him smirk. He pressed up his body against hers gently and slid his hand over her stomach, letting his arm wrap around her. She instinctively moved into the warmth he provided.

To his slight surprise and amusement, a minute smile curved her bruised lips as he looked down at her face. Roger again wondered how could such as person as Emelia find the capacity to hold affection ("love," she had declared) for a creature like him? He was made up of two halves that she once loathed: a pirate and a Draconian. According to her, neither of them mattered to her anymore. Roger's cynical side told him her change of heart came from the theory of every living being's instinct to survive. She took to him and not to any other man, like Michael, or Cicero even, because she knew Roger was the most powerful and the most likely to keep her safe. In effect, his cynicism was saying that Emelia was just using him.

The scarred corner of Roger's lip twitched in displeasure for that argument as he thought about it. He was jaded metaphorically on the inside as well as physically on the outside, and he had a vast pool of insecurities, but he could feel in his gut that Emelia did have love for who he was, as she liked to say often. His gut told him she stayed with him, had chosen to stay with him and not go back home to Tarym, because she loved him and would do anything to be with him.

Roger was a bit tired, but he still had a ship to run and a crew to give duties to. After regrettably leaving his lover by herself on the bed, he was putting his clothes back on when soft knocks came from behind the door. Roger swiftly walked over to it and opened it to reveal Michael.

"You were taking a while," Michael began, but when his blue eyes looked over his captain's shoulder and caught sight of the sleeping occupant in the bed, his voice died and his mouth hung open in shock.

Roger abruptly brought his arms up, gripping the sides of the doorway with his hands in an effort to cover the sight of Emelia as much as he could with his thin frame.

Michael finally found his voice. It was laced with disbelief. "Did you just-?"

"I checked her wound. She's tired," growled Roger. He forced Michael out of the doorway and firmly shut the door to Emelia's room behind them. "Is everyone accounted for? The rest of the maloongna returned to their ship?"

"Yeah, yeah," said Michael distractedly, looking as if he was trying to regain his thoughts after seeing what he thought he saw. He shook his blond head. "We're just awaiting your next orders," he said with more certainty.

Roger nodded crisply. "Let's go then," he muttered and started down the deck toward the stairs.

Michael took one step forward but paused. He looked over his shoulder at Em's door.


He jumped. "Sorry, captain!" he said with a wince when he caught Roger's glare. He hurried after without another glance back. He was going to have a talk with Em later. He couldn't wait to see her reaction when he teased her about this.