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"Do you see that?"
"See what?" Richard Jeffers turned from his console to his partner, Nguyen Li, who was scrutinizing a patch of starfield--the same patch he'd been studying for the past three days, for all Richard could tell. Leaning forward, his head bent alongside Li's darker one to peer at the display panel. "I don't see anything. Maybe it's time to take a break, Win."
"It was there, just for a second. Something moving. Fast." Sitting back, the spectographer rubbed his eyes and stared at the screen again. "I swear it was there, Richie."
Richard shrugged his shoulders and ruffled Li's short-cropped hair. Stellar spectography duty on Confederation Science Outpost CX-2114 ("a place so boring they couldn't even come up with a name for it," Li had complained) wasn't the galaxy's most exciting posting, situated as it was on the outskirts of inhabited space. Of course, that's what allowed them to escape the light and electromagnetic pollution that interfered with astronomical observations in more densely populated sectors. They'd made good progress on the galactic mapping project and captured some especially clear images, and they only had another five weeks to go before their tour was up and they could hand the station off to their relief crew. Richard couldn't wait.
"Okay, I give up," Li sighed finally. "Let's call it a night and we can search the images tomorrow with fresh eyes, for whatever I saw and for whatever else is there. How does that sound?"
"As long as you promise to actually sleep and not come back in here to stare at the screen all night, that sounds great," Richard agreed. "Come on; neither of us is going to do any more good heretonight. We're both so exhausted our eyes are crossing."
Li had to admit that was certainly true for him. Resolutely setting the recorder to auto and the computer to pick up and note any changes so he wouldn't have to look through the entire night's footage in the morning, he pushed away from the console and smiled at his partner. "Your turn."
"My turn for what?" Richard countered with a grin, just starting to rise from his station when a klaxon sounded, the harsh scream so unexpected that he dropped back into his seat in shock. "What the--"
"There!" Li shouted, pointing to the spark of light moving across his monitor. "Proximity alarms. I told you there was something there!"
"The supply ship isn't due for over a month. I can't imagine who else would have business out here in the back end of the galactic arm," Richard countered. Moving to the comm console, his fingers flew over the keys and knobs, trying to lock onto a signal. "Unidentified ship, this is ConSci post 2114. Please identify yourself."
Silence greeted his words. He switched to a wider frequency in the hopes that the silence was an inability to hear them rather than an unwillingness to respond. "Unidentified ship, this is ConSci post 2114. Please identify yourself. Repeat, please identify."
A blast from the unfamiliar ship's weapons was the only reply. The station rocked precariously, knocking Li to the floor and almost sending Richard there as well. "Unidentified ship, this is a science station, not a military vessel. We have no hostile intentions. Desist immediately."
Again, there was no response. Fingers flying, Richard ran a diagnostics check, transferring as much power as he could from the sensor arrays to the station's energy shields. He hoped whoever was firing on them was just trying to get their attention. Their shields were designed to deflect space dust and the random asteroid, not a deliberate attack. And they had no weapons, because who'd want to attack a two-man research station?
Apparently whoever was out there, Richard realized, as another barrage shook them only seconds later. Turning back to the comm, he reconfigured the frequency to a Confederation channel, even though he knew they didn't have the signal strength to reach anyone in real time.
"Richie, we've got to get out of here," Li insisted, pulling himself up off the floor, his lips bloody where the impact had caused his teeth to break skin. "The shields on this piece of junk might keep out the space drek, but they aren't going to do anything against weapons fire."
Richard looked back once more at the ship and snapped a final image, shooting it off via the space waves toward home. If they didn't make it out alive, hopefully the image would get through and give somebody somewhere an idea of who to go looking for. "Let's go."
The narrow corridors that usually felt so cramped seemed endless now as they raced toward the docking bay. Another impact slammed them from one wall to the other, the lights flickering and then going dark, replaced slow seconds later by the dim glow of emergency lighting. "Faster!" Li shouted, reaching for Richard's hand to pull him along behind him.
"Hit my knee," Richard gasped, moving as quickly as he could despite the pain in his leg. Rounding the last bend in the corridor, he skidded to a stop, unconsciously gripping Li's hand more tightly. "Shit," he whispered, the word echoed by the slow hiss of a pinhole leak, their precious air escaping into space. The door to the docking bay was buckled, the paint melting away and dripping in gobbets to the floor. "Shit, Win...."
"Richie.... "The two scientists stared at each other, acceptance darkening their eyes. Richard reached out his other hand toward Li, but before their fingers could meet, a final blast from the unknown ship hit the main power core, the resultant explosion tearing the fragile metal apart.
It took three days for their last message to reach Confederation headquarters. The Admiralty commanders studied the image, but could find no familiar markings on the unusual ship. In the face of an inexplicable, untraceable new threat, they did what they always did.
They blamed the space pirates.
Admiral Peter Keller rubbed his hands together in grim satisfaction. He had just received word that his men had succeeded in capturing the Golden Stallion. In a matter of hours, the despicable pirate would be his. He cracked his knuckles. That space trash was about to pay the price for messing with the Admiralty. He didn't know yet if the Stallion had anything to do with the destruction of the CX station, but even if it hadn't, he agreed completely with the Confederation crackdown on piracy. It would be a pleasure to wipe that scum out of his sector.
On the other side of the solar system, Blaise Risner was not nearly as sanguine. For years, he had successfully eluded the Confederation, his precious ship sleeker and faster than anything they could throw at him, but that hadn't mattered today. They'd caught him with his pants down, and now they had him with enough contraband to convict him for sure.
"I didn't know what was in the containers," he told the soldier holding him prisoner. "I simply loaded them and took off. It's just my job to haul cargo, not to check every package that comes on board for the accuracy of its manifest. Whoever cleared these for shipping off-world should have done that."
"Save it for the Admiral," the soldier growled. "I'm just following orders."
"Are you sure we couldn't work out a deal?" Blaise asked persuasively. "After all, I've got all this good Betelgeusian wine. I'd be glad to turn it over to you personally, Lieutenant...."
"Freeman," the soldier replied.
"Lieutenant Freeman, if you'd look the other way just long enough for me to get back to my ship...."
"Bribing an officer, pirate?" Freeman asked.
"Privateer," Blaise corrected.
"Smuggling and now bribery," Freeman continued, ignoring the other man's words. "The list of charges is growing. Let's go. The Admiral is expecting you."
Blaise cursed silently. Why did he have to be boarded by the one honorable officer in the entire fleet? In for a penny, in for a pound. "Surely there's something I can offer you?"
"You already have," Freeman replied. "Your capture just guaranteed me a promotion. I'll have my own ship in no time."
Resigning himself to his fate, Blaise fought nonetheless, not in any hope of escape but for the principle of the matter. He might have been captured, but he hadn't been cowed. He could always try telling the Admiral that any bruises he had were the result of abuse by his captor. That might scuttle Freeman's promotion, even if it didn't win Blaise a respite.
"Here's the pirate, as promised," Freeman reported with a salute, pushing Blaise into the room in front of him.
"Privateer," Blaise protested. "I just carry the cargo I'm given."
"Save it for...."
"Yes, I know," Blaise interrupted. "Save it for the Admiral. Well, unless I'm mistaken, this is the Admiral, so if you'll just run along like a good boy and leave the men to discuss business, we'll all be a lot happier."
Freeman frowned, but he backed out of the room at the Admiral's gesture of dismissal.
Blaise made a show of looking around the room. "Now that we're alone, Admiral, do you suppose we could dispense with these?" he asked, gesturing to his wrists. "They're a tad uncomfortable."
Keller allowed a chuckle for the other man's audacity. His eyes raked over the pirate's--excuse me, privateer's--body. He was tall, dark, and handsome, the perfect picture of a dashing rake. Fortunately for Peter, he was also a criminal. "They're supposed to be," he replied, not making a move to release his prisoner. "It's one more deterrent."
"One more punishment," Blaise muttered.
"Oh, no, Mr. Risner, the punishment hasn't started yet."
"Don't I even get a chance to defend myself?" Blaise protested.
Peter waved a magnanimous hand at the handsome pirate. "But if you waste my time, it will only add to your penalty."
Blaise opened his mouth to brazen it out, but then thought the better of it. "What am I accused of?" he asked cautiously.
"Piracy, smuggling, general mayhem." Peter ticked each one off on his fingers as he spoke. And maybe more, he added to himself, trying to imagine the man before him firing on a defenseless research station. Maybe it was time to cycle up the intimidation. He'd more than once wrested a confession through the judicious use of some very specific threats. If it meant finding the killer who'd wiped out two innocent research scientists, he'd live with his less-than-pure conscience.
"I didn't know what was in the containers," Blaise insisted automatically, "but I'll accept the smuggling since it was clearly contraband. If I plead guilty to that, can we forget the other charges?"
"Do you know the sentence for smuggling?" Peter asked.
"No idea," Blaise admitted.
"Three to five years' hard labor," the Admiral replied.
Blaise grimaced. "Well, I've never been much good at hard labor, but I don't have much ground to argue it."
Peter ran an appraising eye over Risner's lean physique. Those muscles had come from somewhere. He approached the pirate confidently. The man's wrists were bound, and it would take only a flip of the control in his pocket to send an electric shock through the cuffs, if necessary. "The report said you were alone on your ship," he commented. "It must get lonely, all those weeks with no one for company."
Eyes narrowing, Blaise searched for the trap in the words, but could find none. "Sometimes," he agreed slowly.
"You must miss having congenial companionship," Peter continued as he slowly circled the pirate.
"I can usually find what I need when I go planetside," Blaise replied warily. The Admiral was hinting at something, but Blaise didn't know what.
"Lucky for you," Peter said. "I don't have that luxury. My uniform keeps me from getting what I need planetside."
Blaise was getting a very bad feeling about this, but he had to ask. "What do you need that you can't get?"
Peter backhanded Blaise roughly, knocking him to the floor. "Someone to dominate," he replied, bending over the pirate and grabbing his hair. "I can't get it planetside," he repeated, "but I find I can get it occasionally aboard my ship."
Blaise looked up at the hard smile that contorted the handsome face. He read desire there, but he also saw more than a passing suggestion of cruelty. "What do you want?" he asked, rising to his knees as the Admiral pulled on his hair.
"I want to see what you have to offer me." Peter smirked. "I already know what you were carrying on your ship. Let's see what you're carrying on your person." He let go of Blaise and sat back in his desk chair, fixing the smuggler in his steely glare. "Strip."
Blaise looked down at his bound wrists. "I can't oblige you even if I wanted to," he pointed out reasonably, hiding the frisson of foreboding that went through him at the order. "So you're either going to have to undo these or strip me yourself."
The Admiral's hand strayed to the control for the restraints. "You look almost stupid enough to try something," he mused, fingering the selection of buttons. "I'd enjoy seeing you try to fight me." With a flick of his thumb, he let a jolt of current surge through the bonds; not enough to hurt--much--but enough to remind the pirate who was in charge here. As soon as the tension left the dark-haired man's body, Keller pressed a second button releasing the charge that held the prisoner's wrists together. "Now, I believe I told you to strip," he repeated lazily.
Blaise flinched from the pain that radiated out from the manacles, biting his lip to stifle a cry. He might not be able to do anything about his situation--his options had just gone from few to none--but he wasn't about to let the Admiral wring a sound from him this soon. He'd been manhandled by worse than him before this. Rubbing his wrists painfully, he reached for the toggles on the sleeveless vest he wore, undoing them just slowly enough to convey his resistance.
Propping one leg on his desk, the Admiral made himself comfortable. It was obvious the pirate was going to try and draw this out. Not that Peter minded. He was enjoying the anticipation, even if his prisoner wasn't; and he was finding it increasingly difficult to imagine the rogue in front of him as a vicious killer. "Give me a good show, but don't think you're delaying anything," he cautioned, raising the control in warning. "I can still get your attention if I think you're wasting my time."
Blaise glared at the Admiral silently but did as he was told, slipping the vest from his shoulders in gross mockery of a striptease. He let it slide from his arms and fall to the floor. He paused for a moment, arms outstretched slightly to let the Admiral look his fill before bending to unlace his boots.
Peter hid a smile at the pirate's theatrics, though he had to admit the man was well worth staring at. His chest was broad and well-muscled, his arms corded with just the right amount of brawn. Instead of the pallor that so often marked spacers who spent too much time trapped on their ships, his skin was the warm color of Aldebaran honey. Now that the utilitarian vest was gone, Peter noticed a tattoo inked around the thief's meaty bicep, an abstract design of horses' heads, their manes twisting together in a swirling pattern. And the Admiral could see the glint of a small silver ring, half-hidden by the pelt of dark hair that coated the privateer's defined pecs.
Since it was obvious he was on stage, Blaise turned slightly as he worked the laces loose on his boots, giving Keller the opportunity to ogle his ass beneath his tight pants. Loosening the boots enough that he could toe them off, Blaise stood and turned back to face his captor. He had no problem with the Admiral's gender--he had often taken male lovers--but he did have an issue with being ordered about this way. He didn't know what he could do about it as long as the officer held that control device, but he had to do something. The other option was to accept being raped without even putting up a fight.
"Not bad," the Admiral admitted, not above letting his captive know he appreciated the view, especially when it looked this good from both sides. "Now the pants. I'm curious whether your skin's that color all over."
Blaise's face hardened, but he did as he was told, unfastening the fly of his trousers and pushing them off, letting them join his vest on the deck of the ship. He was not embarrassed by his nudity--he looked good and knew it--but he definitely felt the lack of covering in the chilly room. Goose flesh sprang up over his arms and legs, and he could feel his nipples tightening, much to his annoyance.
A flashing screen drew the Admiral's attention from the provocative display. Glancing down discreetly, he smiled at the message from Lieutenant Freeman that the prisoner's ship couldn't have been involved in the destruction of the space station. Its blasters weren't powerful enough, and the energy signature didn't match what they'd been able to glean from the wreckage. Hitting a key to acknowledge the information, he returned his gaze to the prisoner, the message transforming his interest from official to very personal.
Peter could feel himself starting to stir in appreciation of the really exceptional example of male flesh before him. Getting up from the desk, he circled the younger man, running a hand down one firm flank. The pirate glared at him, but Peter could see that his nipples had already hardened in their thicket of curls, and he felt the slight tremble of the skin beneath his fingertips that encouraged him to continue. He'd played this game with a few select prisoners before. This one was no different than the others, he thought. A bit mouthier, maybe, but he'd be begging for it before the end.
Blaise raised his hands as if to push the Admiral away, but he managed to stop himself before acting. "Can we make a deal?" he asked. "I do this willingly. I follow your every command, no matter what it is, without hesitation. And in return, you forget about the piracy and mayhem charges. I know you can make me do what you want. You've proven that already since I'm standing here with no clothes on, but I'm offering to do better than that. Is it a deal?" He held his breath as he waited for Keller's reply. Obviously, he would have no way of enforcing the bargain if the Admiral reneged later, but he had a reputation for being an honorable man. Blaise was banking on it now!
"Think highly of yourself, don't you?" Peter asked, though he'd been about to make a similar offer himself. "A few hours with you, against three to five years' hard labor for smuggling? Not to mention the penalty for general mayhem." He trailed his hand down the pirate's lean buttocks, resting the curve in his palm, as if weighing his options. His other hand went to the fastening of his uniform trousers, which were quickly becoming uncomfortably tight. Releasing the closure with a practiced flick of his wrist, Peter let his erection jut free of the restrictive material. He threaded his hand in the pirate's dark, spiky hair, yanking his head down abruptly. "Show me what you can do with that mouth of yours besides make smart comments," he growled, forcing the other man to his knees.
Blaise sank to his knees but pulled his head back. "You've got me cold for the smuggling," he replied. "I'm not arguing about that, not questioning the sentence. Just the piracy and mayhem." Without waiting for an answer or a punishment, he took a deep breath and licked his way around the head of the Admiral's thick cock even as he concentrated on giving the best blow job of his life.
Peter's breath caught as the pirate's hot tongue worked its way around his cock. By the Seven Suns, the man knew how to give head! His fist tightening in the dark strands, he pushed deeper into the moist cavern, impressed that the younger man took his considerable length without gagging. "Fuck, that's good," the Admiral gasped as the smuggler's tongue continued to circle him. "I think you've just done away with the general mayhem," he managed to force out, his hips rocking into the increasingly demanding suction.
A part of Blaise's brain informed him that he should be rejoicing at that statement, but that seemed trivial next to the sensations swamping him as Keller fucked his mouth. He consciously relaxed his throat, letting the thick shaft slide in and out of his mouth at the Admiral's pleasure. It had been a while since he'd last had sex, and it seemed his drought was about to end spectacularly. Lifting a hand, he cupped the heavy sac hanging between the Admiral's legs, rolling it in his palm as he swirled his tongue around the steadily leaking cock in his mouth.
Peter didn't usually come from being sucked, preferring to spend his energy buried inside some hot, tight ass--but in this case, he didn't doubt he'd be able to enjoy both pleasures. Giving in to a need he hadn't felt in longer than he could remember, he grasped the prisoner's dark head with both hands and thrust deep into the supremely talented mouth. With a low groan, he threw back his head as his orgasm seized him, pulsing a thick stream of come down the pirate's throat.
Blaise swallowed convulsively, accepting every last drop and milking the other man's balls for more. When the spasms eased, he pulled back, still lapping at the sated flesh to make sure he hadn't missed a drop. Finally, he rocked back on his heels and looked up at his captor. "What now?" he asked, his hand dropping to stroke his own aching cock lightly.
Peter leaned back against his desk, catching his breath, shocked at the intensity of the orgasm the smuggler had wrenched from him. When he trusted his voice enough to speak clearly, he considered the man below him with a sly smile. "You look good on your knees. Maybe I should just keep you there a while." He smirked when he noticed that the pirate was sporting his own impressive hard-on as a result of the blow job. "I see you enjoyed that, too," the Admiral purred. "You must have plenty of time to yourself during your smuggling runs. Show me what you do to pleasure yourself."
Blaise's eyes drifted shut and he leaned back on one hand so that his body was completely open to the Admiral's gaze. His free hand slid away from his cock and up his chest to his pierced nipple, toying with the ring. He pulled on it lightly, then with more force, as his body grew used to the stimulation. He couldn't stop the hiss of pleasure that escaped his lips as he worked the metal back and forth in his sensitive flesh. Peeking out from beneath his long lashes, he tried to judge Keller's engagement in his show. Seeing the man's eyes riveted on him, he looked up coyly. "If you gave me a hand with this, I could show you what else I do to make myself feel good."
Peter couldn't hold back a bark of laughter at his prisoner's boldness. "Oh, I'll give you a hand, all right," he husked, dragging the younger man up by his arm and laying a hard slap across his ass. "I give the orders around here, not you. You'd do well to remember it." He struck the firm cheeks again, then dropped into his chair and pulled the pirate onto his lap so that the hard length of his resurgent cock pressed into the reddened crease. Holding the limber hips down with one hand, his other found the worked silver ring on the spacer's chest and twisted it roughly. "Now, you were showing me how you pleasured yourself," he reminded.
Blaise yelped in surprise when the first blow landed, but his only reaction to the second one was to push his ass back for more. He didn't get more spanking, but the feeling of the Admiral's cock rubbing between his cheeks was more than enough sensation for the privateer. The cry that tore from his lips when Keller twisted the piercing in his nipple was one of pure pleasure. He'd often thought he could come just from having someone play with his ring, but he'd never actually had the patience to try it. Now didn't seem the opportune time to suggest it to the Admiral either, so he tried to focus on what he was supposed to be doing. One hand circled his cock while the other slid between his legs to cup his balls as he had recently cupped the commander's.
The Admiral didn't miss his captive's cry of pleasure at the rough tweak of his nipple ring or the way he pressed his ass back against Peter's thick cock. The signs that his prisoner welcomed his touch pleased the hardened spacer more than the capture itself. He might like a bit of rough play, but he prided himself that he'd never taken anyone against his will. Stirring his hips against the smooth leather of his desk seat, Peter slid the head of his revived cock up the pirate's crease, slickening it with the precome leaking from its tip as his fingers continued to worry the silver ring.
Blaise shifted, trying to change the angle of his hips so the Admiral's cock would bump his entrance instead of sliding teasingly along his cleft. The man's hands, though, kept him from his goal. With a moan of frustration, he lifted the hand that had been palming his balls to his lips, sucking his fingers into his mouth to get them wet. When they were coated with saliva, he reached back down, intending to stretch himself for the fucking he had been dreading but was now anticipating.
When the pirate squirmed against him, trying to force the Admiral's cock into the contact Peter knew he craved, Peter tightened his hand on the captive's hip. He had every intention of fucking Risner long and hard--especially now that he knew the younger man wanted it as much as he did--but it would be when he was ready and not before. So when the pirate sucked his fingers into his mouth and moved them toward his ass, Peter intercepted the wet digits. Lifting the hand to his own mouth, his closed his lips around the work-roughened fingers, stroking them with his tongue as sensuously as the smuggler had tongued his cock. When the digits were dripping with Peter's saliva, he guided them back down to the pirate's shadowed cleft. Leaving his own hand resting on the back of Blaise's, but no longer controlling its motion, he leaned back in the chair, giving the pirate room to move freely. "Now, show me how you prepare yourself," he rasped, his voice hoarse with desire. "Show me how much you want me to fuck you."
Blaise was long past caring about things like captive and captor. All he knew was how empty he felt and how he craved the cock that teased him. He pushed his wet fingers roughly into his body, moaning at the burn of muscles that hadn't been stretched this way in far too long, but he couldn't be bothered to slow down. The sooner he was stretched, the sooner he'd feel that thick, hard shaft inside him, filling him, stretching him wider and deeper than his fingers would ever be able to do. Shunting his fingers in and out a few times, he withdrew his hand. "I'm ready," he husked. "Fuck me."
"Still think you're the one giving the orders?" Peter growled hungrily. Watching Risner fuck himself on his fingers had set a fire burning inside him, a fire he would only be able to quench by burying himself in the pirate's body. Pushing the younger man to his feet, Peter spun him around so they faced each other and dragged him back down onto his lap, pressing the leaking head of his cock into the well-slicked entrance. "Ride me," he demanded, bending his head to capture the cool silver ring in his teeth, tugging at the hardened nipple while the smuggler's tight channel squeezed around him. "Fuck yourself on me. Ah, fuck, that feels good...."
The privateer didn't hesitate, shifting so he could get his knees on the chair to give him the leverage he needed. He posted up and down on the thick shaft splitting him, not giving either of them time to catch their breaths. His back arched against the Admiral's mouth when he felt the other man's lips on his chest, playing with the ring that made his nipple so amazingly sensitive. Feeling incredibly daring, he threaded his fingers into the short blond hair, holding Keller's head against him as he moved. He almost stifled the moans that welled in his throat, but there was no one to hear but the spacer, and the Admiral hadn't given him any indication that he should be quiet.
Peter nipped hungrily at the distended nipple while the smuggler's tight sheath enveloped him, again and again. "Ah, fuck, so good.... "Risner's body moving against his, taking him deeper with each rough push of his hips, was turning the heat inside Peter into a conflagration, hot enough to warm the cold depths of space itself. The Admiral didn't protest when Risner held his head to his chest; he'd give the dark-haired man anything he wanted at that moment to keep those wild moans of pleasure coming from his lips. Peter bit down on the pierced nipple, pulling it into his mouth as he reached for the hard shaft nudging his belly. He wasn't going to be able to hold off much longer, and he was going to take the pirate with him when he crashed.
Blaise's moans morphed into a shout when the hot, hard hand closed over his cock. "More," he begged hoarsely, hips rocking between the fist around him and the erection inside him. He was teetering on the edge of release, and he knew he'd explode like a plasma bomb any second. If he could just get a little more friction ... there!
"Ah, fuck," Peter moaned as Risner undulated around him, pleading for more. When the pirate shouted and clenched around his throbbing cock, the blond went off like a tank full of rocket fuel. Lights brighter than the Antares Nebula danced behind his tightly closed eyelids as he emptied himself into Risner's heat, the aftershocks of the smuggler's release milking every drop of fluid from his softening balls.
Blaise felt his climax surge up and out, splattering his chest and the front of the Admiral's uniform with creamy liquid. He collapsed backward against the edge of the desk, boneless from his orgasm. Several smart comments flitted around the edge of his mind, but he brushed them aside, content for the moment to wallow in the feeling of being filled. Reality would return soon enough.
Peter slumped back in his chair, his hands sliding down to cup Risner's taut buttocks, holding the younger man to him. Most times he'd pull out and fasten up as soon as he was spent, having no further use for his plaything once he'd found his release. But Risner.... Damned if he knew what it was about the cocky, brash, demanding, dark-haired scoundrel that had gotten under his skin so quickly, but he was in no hurry to push the pirate off his lap.
With a resigned sigh, Blaise looked up and met the Admiral's eyes. As incredible as the past hour had been for him, he had no illusions about his fate. The Admiral had the law to uphold, and while Blaise might have bargained his way out of the multiple charges, there was nothing to be done about the smuggling. "Where will I be sent for my hard labor?" he asked dully.
Peter slid reluctantly from Risner's warmth, fastening himself back into his splattered and wrinkled uniform. "You've more than worked off the lesser charges, but not even I can get the smuggling charge dismissed. You were caught red-handed, after all." At the spacer's woebegone expression, a glimmer of slyness lit the Admiral's viridian eyes. "But I can have some say in where you serve your sentence, and I can truthfully say that you have certain ... highly specialized skills that could be put to good use right here on my ship."
Not daring to hope he understood correctly, Blaise searched the Admiral's face. "In what capacity?" he asked slowly. He didn't make a move toward his own clothes yet. If he interpreted the man's implication correctly, the last impression Blaise wanted to give was one of disinterest.
"I can always find a position for someone who's demonstrated the flexibility you have," Peter said smoothly. He nodded to the younger man's clothing. "As much as I hate to obscure the view, you might want to be dressed when the guard escorts you to your quarters."
Still unsure of exactly what the Admiral intended for him, Blaise let his guard down a little more as he dressed. "I wouldn't happen to be serving you in a ... personal capacity?" he worked up the temerity to ask.
"A very personal capacity," the Admiral confirmed, swatting at the pirate's bare cheeks before the spacer covered them with his rather worn flight suit. "And if you give satisfaction, you might even earn time off for good behavior."
Blaise grinned. "If you're to be my punishment, I'm not sure I want time off."
As much as he would privately enjoy his prisoner's unfettered spirit, Peter knew discipline must be maintained, especially in public. Pulling the small control from his pocket, he reluctantly pressed the button that reactivated the bonds around the pirate's wrists. "Don't get too cocky, Risner," the Admiral warned, with a gleam of desire in his eyes. "I still have ways to keep you under control."