The X-70 Phantom was cold and sterile, and it made Vector Hyllus's nose hurt as her took in the harsh smell of the cleaning chemicals the protocol droid had used to keep the ship clean after Kaliyo tromped through it in her muddy boots everyday. His enhanced sense picked up the pheromones and original chemicals scents, and it always made him slightly dizzy to think about them each as he did with the minds of the Killiks always curious to know more.
He was walking down the small corridor that lead to the cockpit, his boots echoing along the shining floors and his own entirely black eyes staring back at him, slightly distorted from the shimmering metal of the walls. He reached the end of the hallway and stood soundlessly in that Killik way of his in the doorway, watching her with a gaze more perceptive than any other mans.
He could see the rich colors that danced together in her hair like no human truly could. There were different shades of browns, from dark chocolate to lighter shades and highlights. She had it pulled back in that military way of hers, a tight pony tail. But, letting her rebellious colors shine through, her bangs hung loosely and some small strands had gotten free of her thin leather cord.
Her silvery-blue crystalline eyes, sometimes as cold and sharp as ice, but sometimes...only for him...they were warm and turned to steamy blues. She had full lips and wore little make-up, her face naturally beautiful, even to someone who didn't have his enhanced vision. The only thing that most people thought marred her were the three, long, vertical, jagged slashes that tore down the left side of her face. She wore her scars like badges of honor, and too him, they only perfected what was already flawless.
She had lost a lot of weight in the past few months, and she was thinner than ever before, her trying ordeal in the SIS as an undercover double agent for the Empire having drained her physically and mentally. She was exhausted, and he could only admire her for lasting as long as she had. She had been mind-controlled, the Empire's own technology they had implanted in her skull to control her if she became too powerful and learned too much had been found out by the Republic and turned against them. She had been left a powerless, helpless pawn. And no one had been the wiser. Even he had thought she was just acting strangely, but no. She had been unable to speak to anyone, for they had put in place a block in her mind to keep her from speaking and disobeying. She still hadn't told the full story of how she had awoken from her own mind trap. But, he just was glad she was safe.
Vector himself was a Killik joiner. A human Imperial who had been bound to the Killik Pheromones and had joined their hive mind. Even now, he could hear there whispering about her, her bravery, strength, and power. Always her power.
Ignoring them as best he could and slightly repressing the bond, he cleared his throat gently, causing her to look up from the trance she had been in, starring out at the glowing planet of Nar Shaddaa from the pilot's chair, where the rest of her crew was enjoying the leave she had been given by Keeper to recuperate from her trying ordeal. She rose slowly and in that graceful way she had, like a cat, slinking and sly, as she looked at him, inspecting his black eyes, with no white and no pupil, and his smooth-shaven and firm face.
"Vector." she smiled her rare smile, one he only ever got to see, and crossed her arms over her chest. He was a pleasing sight to her sore eyes, and part of her was glad he had decided not to join Kaliyo, Dr. Lokin, and Ensign Temple on Nar Shaddaa's dangerous surface.
"I'm sorry," she said, her sly smile widening as he stepped closer, within touching distance, and she got a whiff of his strange, and intoxicating scent. It was something she couldn't describe, but it was the most appealing thing in the world, and she inhaled deeply as he returned her smile confidently, bowing with his right hand over his heart in his Killik tradition.
"I'd forgotten you'd wanted to talk to me when the others were gone," she continued hurridly, trying to convey her serious apologies. "I've got time now, if you'd still like to..." she trailed off, nonchalantly leaning back against the back of the pilot's chair, and brushing a strand of hair out of her eyes and trailing her fingers across her scars in the process. Vector laughed that soft laugh of his, it was very charming and very boyish, and she loved the sound of it more than air itself.
"Yes, but we'd like some privacy," he stated, speaking in his usual way, referring to the whole hive rather than himself as an individual. "No crew members, no Killiks, no emergencies...if you could arrange it..." he looked at her uncertainly, not sure of what to say to her, to convey the feelings they had only been able to share in fleeting moments just before something life or death had happened, or just before something terrible occurred in the hive.
She was quite for a long period of time, and he was worried that she hadn't understood him. And that, if she had, she would say no. Or that she would worst of all...hate him for suggesting it. Her large eyes remained focused on him, scanning his face calculatingly, but not in an unkind or cruel way. She had all the love in the world in her gaze, and suddenly, a hope began to rise in him that maybe...just maybe...she would feel the same way.
Finally, she answered, slowly at first, but then a teasing smile broke out onto her face and he had to strain to keep from breathing a sigh of relief.
"I can arrange it," she whispered, still staring up at him in a way anyone but Vector would have found slightly unnerving. Then, her sarcastic side resurfaced and she reached for him, gently touching his shoulder with thin fingers.
"Shall I dim the lights? Pour a drink?" he laughed once more and she felt her heart soaring at the sound, her usual grim demeanor gone. He bowed again, a smile of his own once more teasing at his lips as he, in complete seriousness, responded.
"If you like," he answered slowly. "We'll meet back with you shortly, Agent Blaide." He always referred to her by her formal name. She was an Imperial Intelligent Cipher Agent, Cipher Nine. She had always gone by Blaide since she joined, and he had always called her such, even though he knew her real name, as very very few did. Akara Dantayus. He simply called her Agent, or Blaide or both, respecting her wish to leave her old life entirely behind.
She nodded her head and gave him one last fleeting smile before gently sliding past him and disappearing just a ways down the corridor into the small quarter she maintained.
Wherever they were, Vector hoped Kaliyo and the others were having as good a time as he was speaking with their fearless leader. It was the simplest things that seemed to make him the happiest.
Blaide didn't know what she was expecting Vector to say or do, but it was nothing close to what he actually did that night. She was absentmindedly looking over files on her large desk in her spacious quarters, flipping through mission reports and other documents.
Her quarters were warmly furnished in deep purples and the same silver as the rest of the ship, but thankfully, her quarters still had a small, homey feel to them. Despite her bitter exterior and hardened interior, she still enjoyed these small comforts.
She was still flipping through files when she heard booted footsteps coming back down the corridor, and she looked up from her paperwork briefly.
"Vector?" she called out quietly, her eyes traveling over to the doorway that lead out into the hall.
Suddenly, in a tone she had never, ever, once heard from him, she head his voice, soft and unsure, coming from the hallway. And what he said, oh what he said froze her, holding her in place as if a Sith had stopped her in her tracks. She couldn't be sure he had actually said it.
"I'm here, Blaide." he'd said. I'm. Not we're. I'm.
She was silent. Staring at him for a moment, before he suddenly stepped inside her room, walking in that confident way of his, and he looked at her, unsure of what she was thinking.
"Surprise." He murmured gently, reaching for her with arms that were the same, but now oh so different. She felt a smile creeping to her lips, and she couldn't keep her heart from beating like a drum in her chest, stopping her breath at the sight of him. Nothing had changed, and yet everything had.
"You look...wonderful!" she said softly, her voice barely a whisper as she fought to regain control of her breathing.
"You have nice eyes," she beamed at him, reaching up to touch his face with tentative fingers. There they were. So long hidden behind a layer of pure blackness, she could finally see them for herself. His eyes. Unaffected by Killik pheromones or hive minds. "It's so good to see them," she laughed gently. To Vector's now entirely human ears, it was the sound of an angel itself, no longer did he have to dissect the sound and feed it to the hive mind. It was just them. Just this moment.
Blaide was too busy literally being caught up in his eyes. She drank them in. Every detail, she wanted this to be one thing she would always remember, no matter what. The soft, delicate shape of them, the way his eyelashes left small shadows on his cheekbones. She loved the color, amber and chocolate swirling together in a mix of browns and golds. There were a liquid gold color and had rims of deep brown around the edges. Chocolate colored flecks dotted them and she marveled at the way it made his eyes stand out, his most captivating feature. They were looking down into her brilliant blue ones with a warmth she couldn't ever see in her own, a loving tenderness she couldn't imagine her own face contorting into. She knew they were fire and ice, and yet still, they were as perfect for each other as they could be.
She was still captivated by his eyes when he took her cheek in his hand gently, his fingers caressing her cheekbones and holding her gaze to his.
"You look different without your electrical aura," he observed quietly, trailing his fingers gently over the side of her cheek and she let her head rest gently in his smooth hand. "But just as lovely," he finished softly, letting his hand fall back to his side, keeping the distance between them so as not to seem to forward.
"The Aebea nest taught me to repress the Pheromonic bond entirely." he explained as a smile began to grow on her face as she realized this was the true Vector Hyllus. Not the one who shared his mind with thousands of Killiks, but the real and true man. She asked herself many times who she had fallen in love with. Vector? Or a thousand Killiks. But she knew the answer. She knew whose personality had shone through as he fought to become more human again.
"I can hold it for awhile," he added gently, their gaze still unbroken but by brief blinks that they both rushed so as to keep their gaze locked with their partner. They were finally seeing the true forms of each other, as they really were, raw and with no barriers. This moment was precious, and far, far too short.
He took a deep breath before continuing on, slowly taking her hands in his, tracing delicate patterns onto her thin hands with his thumbs.
"This is a moment for us to be together, one you needn't share with the Oroboro or the colony."
He waited for her response, expecting for her to drop his hand, or be completely spooked by his new appearance. He was still worrying about her response (he had apparently re-discovered that human quality, worrying over everything), he hardly noticed her eyes melting into the light, stormy blue he loved so much. That her gaze was full of nothing but care and admiration.
"You're a smart man," she replied with a slight laugh, her voice low, she was using the same sly tone she used when she was working up to some smart remark. "I don't like sharing." she stated cooly, squeezing his hand and taking a step closer to him. He too felt his heart pounding, and he smiled down at the beautiful woman so close to him. He had often wondered why she had chosen him, and as he admired her beauty once more, he felt the thought cross his mind. But he pushed it away, wanting to focus on the moment.
"I'll remember that," he said, barely having time to finish his statement before they collided, their arms wrapping around each other at the same time, and their lips meeting gently. He held her close, they were entirely about gentleness and care. Kaliyo was all about greed and lust, and Blaide wanted everything but that. The Rattataki girl had gotten herself into so much trouble with her care-free ways, and Blaide could hardly imagine how she could do so. But at the moment, it was made even harder as Vector gently kissed her, his love and care for her, his kindness and nobility, it was all tangible. She could feel it in every place their bodies touched.
They were fire and ice. He was warmth and light-heartedness. He had a constant desire for more: more knowledge, more learning, more culture. He was happy and all about the warmth so evident in his glowing eyes of brown and gold.
She was ice, all hard edges and bitterness. She was cold and calculating, critical, sarcastic, and often cruel. She would do whatever it took to get the job done. She was quick to anger, and she knew she was as hard and unfeeling as ice. Yet it had already been proven her mind was thin as ice as well. It could be cracked, by the Imperials, the Republic, whomever.
They were opposites, she was often angry at him for his gentle heart and kind spirit. She admired his loyalty to the Empire, and was curious at his kindness and generosity rather than the ways most Imperials were brought up with, the ways of their Sith leaders. They should not have been able to feel this way about each other, and yet they did.
She had taught him to regain his humanity, and in turn, he had melted away some the ice that had frozen her since her sister's run-in with the Sith lord and her family's death. He had brought her true happiness, and that was all that mattered.
While their companions spent their time, unaware on the Smuggler's Moon, Fire and Ice finally found their balance, a place where they could exist together, without harming one another. The only thing that mattered now was the love they felt for each other.
Without their knowing, morning slid into place, and Blaide and Vector stood quietly near the doorway of her room, holding each other close for a few last moments alone before the ship was once more alight with the noise of their companions returning from their night on the Smuggler's Moon.
"The others will be back soon," He whispered softly. Their heads were touching as he held her tightly to his chest. Their breathing was in sink, their hearts beating to the same tempo. She stood quietly, listening to the gently tempo as she drank in the sound of his voice. He gently leaned over and pressed his lips to her cheek, leaving a lingering kiss that made her smile against his chest.
"But I am glad we could have this," he added slowly, pulling away from her just enough to he could give her his small bow, his eyes glittering with warmth and love as he once more pulled her close again.
"I do love you, Akara." he whispered, deciding the only way to get his true feelings across was to use her given name. Despite the sound of it, she did not react hostilely. She simply kept smiling against him, her eyes closed as she breathed in the scent of him, as she had done for the past few hours.
"I love you too, Vector." she stated slowly, almost testing the way the words sounded on her lips. She liked it immediately, loving the way the sentence was structured, the way it sounded. It was like no other phrase. So simple, and yet so laden with meaning it almost hurt. Almost.
He sighed softly, stealing one last, gentle kiss as he brushed his lips against hers, trying to send her in that brief moment all that he felt for her. All the love, the care, the pride, the passion, the fear for her life, the adoration. He tried to convey all this in one last, parting kiss, and he hated to draw away. He say her stow her own sadness behind the layer of ice that was her eyes.
"Then it all works out," he murmured, his lips still hovering inches from hers. He pulled away, being very gentle and kind as he brought his hands up in a 'v' so that his fingers pressed against the bridge of his nose.
He closed his eyes and she felt a flutter of panic as she realized what he was doing.
Vector let all his emotions come once more under his control before he let loose the pressure his mind had held on the bond. He would not share these precious moments and feelings with the Killiks. They belonged to him and to Blaide and no one else. He heard almost as suddenly as they had stopped, the voices of the thousands and thousands of Killiks once more chattering away, and for the first time in his life, it didn't feel as comfortable as it had before. Somehow, the way he had been with Blaide these past few hours...that felt more comfortable than he had ever been before.
Blaide had to hide her disappointment and sadness as Vector reopened his eyes and they were once again their usual black. She grit her teeth together and blinked, trying to make sure it was real. She knew he wasn't gone. He could easily become the man he was only moments before at any time, but the idea that he wasn't always that man frustrated and upset her as it never had before. Perhaps now because she knew that other man...
She stopped herself. They were the same man. She had fallen in love with the Killik-minded Vector long ago, and despite her initial hesitation, she loved him with all of her heart. Killiks and all. It was what made him himself, whether she could see his eyes or no. It was part of him, just as her scars were part of her.
"Now..." he said slowly, his mind still re-adjusting to hearing the Killiks once more. "We return to work."
She nodded slowly, smiling. She loved the way he spoke when he was with the hive. It was different than the way he had the night before, but she loved both of them the same. She squeezed his hand once last time as he returned her smile and bowed gently.
"Yes," she replied softly. "Of course."