"Our fears," said Kirsten.
Sester's brows lifted in momentary surprise before he touched the hand that held him at bay and lightly drew a line of heat up her arm. "I'd rather do something more interesting."
"I know you would." Her knees felt weak at the artistry of his caress, it was just as well she was sitting down.
"Well then…" His voice was husky with desire and he pressed forward as her hand gave way, "what are we waiting for?"
They were close now, enough for him to nuzzle her neck gently, sending a thrill of desire through her body. "We're waiting for you to stop avoiding the question."
"Is that what I'm trying to do?" A gentle breath of air passing from his lips, lightly tickling her sensitive skin, and was rewarded with a hissed intake of breath and low moan at the back of her throat, bit off before it escaped.
His mouth followed the curve of her neck, barely touching the smooth, silky surface. She sighed with pleasure. He lifted his head, his eyes feverish with desire and his cheeks flushed. For a long moment he looked into her eyes, searching for hidden truths that were supposed to be an open file to someone like him.
With difficulty Kirsten managed to say in a normal voice, "That's what it feels like."
"It feels like I'm trying to do something else." His tongue snaked out and slowly drew a hot moist trail from her neck to the back of her ear. This time she couldn't help herself and let out a throaty moan as her head leaned into his wet caress. Sester smiled.
In a breathless voice, Kirsten said, "You really don't want to talk about this, do you?"
"Can't we do this first?" he mumbled as he gently nibbled her earlobe.
Kirsten let out a reluctant sigh and pushed against his chest until he pulled back. "No."
"Just like that?"
"I think this is more important."
"Are you going to make it a condition?"
The words were casual and light, and said with a touch of a smile, but Kirsten was aware this was deceptive. Her own voice contained raw sincerity, "I would never do that to you."
"So, that means we're not going to be doing anymore of this," he drew his hand lightly up her arm in teasing circles. "...today?"
Her voice took on a harder, sarcastic edge. "Do all psychostrategists lose their ability to be subtle when they're personally stressed, or just you?"
"You stress me in many ways." His tone was still light and the circles were like little traps, capturing her attention.
It was a game. Kirsten shot a barb amidst the circles. "You're afraid."
"I'm afraid of many things. Large snakes…"
"Me?" Her voice rose in challenge.
"You're the scariest of all…" A smile tugged at the corner's of his lips.
"Why would I be afraid of myself?" He studied her intently as her words sought to pierce his guard. She was sharp, persistent and perceptive, and there was an element of danger in what she was doing to him. His pulse beat with excitement and a touch of fear, and his body was responding in primal predictability.
"That seems to be what you don't want to tell me."
"Maybe I don't know."
"That's very good," said this time with outright cynicism.
"And so is this…" Unexpectedly he slid her arm out of the way and pressed up against her, his hands surrounding her waist and pulling her closer to the edge of the table. He bent his head to kiss her but she twisted her head out of the way.
"Not so fast."
"I don't plan to be fast."
She deliberately turned her head to face him and looked him straight in the eyes. "You also don't plan to answer my question."
"Is it that important to you?"
There was a pause, a rift in the fabric of time, when you come to the realization that what you were talking about, had taken on a significance that could change the pattern of the stars. Kirsten knew Sester would tell her if she said yes.
"I don't want you to tell me now."
"Is this an attempt at reverse psychology?" A grin of amusement passed across his face, like the flicker of a shadow.
"I know you'll tell me if I asked. That's why I won't. You're more important to me than any answers I want to know."
Sester bent forward, his lips brushing lightly on hers in a kiss that was unlike the ones he had planned. Tender and warm. He desired this woman more than ever. “I will tell you a little.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I know, but I want you to know me. Just a little.”
"I want you to know me too. Just a little."
With that, they shared with each other the fears the Thaarn had revealed. Sester avoided telling her about Venner's role and a few other details, but he told her everything else.
Argus and Avon were discussing Tingash when Vila approached the flight deck steps. Spotting him from a distance, Argus said loudly, "Avon, what should we do about Vila?"
Avon's head tilted at the sudden increase in volume. "Something must be done."
"Oh, I agree. We can't have that kind of behaviour…oh, Vila, come in, we were just talking about you."
Almost stumbling down the steps but saved by his agility, Vila said nervously, "Nothing bad I hope."
"Not for us," said Avon with a poker face.
"I thought…" Vila's words trailed off as he frantically tried to remember their conversation in the lab. He had thought everything was fine.
"Avon, didn't you say thinking was bad?" asked Argus seriously.
"Only when you do it."
"Oh. And Vila?"
"Sometimes he shows distinct signs of intelligence."
Vila's forehead and nose crinkled in outrage, "Now wait just a minute, all my ideas are good ones."
"That's a matter of opinion," said Avon.
Argus pressed his hand to his head. "That party…my headaches still have headaches."
"You didn't like the party?" Vila asked, a frown clouding his face.
"I would if I could remember it," said Argus wryly as he rubbed his head.
Avon said, "My recollection is unreliable due to your liberal use of hallucinogenics."
"I wanted everyone to have a good time," said Vila, a whining quality entering his voice.
As he became the focus of their attention, Vila's eyes narrowed. "When did the two of you start cooperating so well?"
There was a long moment of silence as Avon and Argus turned to each other. Vila wondered if they had suddenly developed telepathy and hadn't bothered to tell him.
Avon said expressionlessly, "Five seconds before you entered the room."
"I don't often get to put one over on you." Argus chuckled, "I really enjoyed the bachelor party, Vila. I couldn't have imagined a better one. I've been meaning to say, thank you. So thank you."
"You had me going there. Just a bit, mind you. Hard to put one over me. I knew it almost right away."
"It's gratifying to know that your penchant for modesty is unchanged," said Avon flatly.
Vila grinned and there was a slim, uneven grin on Avon's face.