Back to main page


Authors: Gabbie
Categories: Tony/Maya
Characters: Maya, Tony Verdeschi
Show Year: Y2
Rating: 1
Date: 2004
Moonbase Alpha's Chief of Security, Tony Verdeschi, and their new science officer, Maya, are assigned a routine mission. Alone, together. Problem is - they aren't exactly on friendly terms.
Story does contain cursing - courtesy of both Tony and Maya (Yes, Maya can and does utter some foul language along the way.)
Average Rating: 5.0/5 (based on 4 reviews)

Author's Note:

A very long time ago, and I don't remember why or how, an odd idea came up. What if Maya and Tony didn't exactly hit it off right away? I thought it would be a fun idea to experiment with.

I started to work on it but never finished. It got lost among the shuffle (hum, computer files). Then one day, literally years later, I rediscovered it. So here it is, finished and humbly submitted for your enjoyment, I hope. Warning: The locale is strictly a plot device and is not, in any way, meant to offer a refuge for the Alphans, merely a pit stop along the way.

Many thanks to those of you who've helped this story out along the way and to those who have encouraged me to give writing for '99 another go. Comments and/or suggestions are always welcome.




Moonbase Alpha's Chief Medical officer was trying very hard, extremely hard, not to laugh aloud. She couldn't help herself. The situation amused her, in a warped kind of way. Unfortunately, the young Psychon sorting through items to pack was not sharing in the doctor's amusement.

"It is not funny," Maya protested as she gave Helena a look that was not so pleasant.

"I'm sure he won't bite," Helena managed to offer.

In a tone heavily filled with her unique Psychon accent, Maya grumbled, "No, but I might."

Now Helena found herself dangerously close to losing her battle of maintaining professionalism. She watched as Maya placed the item she had been holding down. The Psychon then turned to her, her face revealing her total dislike for the situation.

"Of all the people on Alpha, why him?" Maya asked as she wrinkled her nose in obvious disgust. Then the Psychon smiled wickedly, "You do have a replacement for him, don't you?"

Helena finally laughed, no longer able to maintain her serious composure. Maya's response was a threatening glare.

"I'm sorry Maya," Helena apologized. "It's just, well, funny."

"I do not find it amusing Helena. The very thought of spending more than five minutes in the same room with him, let alone hours, makes me ill."

"Poor Tony," Helena chuckled.

"Poor Tony?" Maya exclaimed loudly. "Just whose side are you on?"

Helena handed Maya the portable scanner and the Psychon took it from her with a heavy sigh.

"Helena, couldn't you tell the Commander I've come down with something, any excuse?" Maya was desperate now, anything to get out of this assignment. What did the Alphans call it, grasping for something? Well, then yes, she was grasping for it, whatever it was. Maya frowned. Bother anyhow.

Helena spoke. "Maya, in just over five weeks time you've managed to learn operations for a lot of our equipment, you can out-compute our 'primitive junk', you possess remarkable scientific knowledge and that's not even including your wonderful gift of molecular transformation. I can't believe you'd be intimidated by Tony Verdeschi."

"I am not intimidated by him," Maya retorted. "I am simply acknowledging the fact that he does not like me. Need I remind you that he does not hide that fact either."

Helena tried to smile encouragingly at her younger friend. It was an understatement to say that Tony and Maya did not exactly click. From the very first, Alpha's Chief of Security had remained cool, extremely aloof, to the beautiful Psychon. In the weeks that Maya had been with them on Alpha, Verdeschi's initial reaction to Maya had not altered. He didn't trust her, he didn't like her, and he still believed, quite firmly, that she'd turn out just like her father.

Tony even had the opportunity to spend lots of time with Maya, thanks to John asking him to help keep a watchful eye over her. A precautionary measure more for Maya's benefit, but Tony had not appreciated the assignment. No, he had silently fumed and angrily declared to Carter that he was nobody's baby-sitter, especially for the spoiled progeny of a murdering lunatic.

Then, last week, Koenig had made it official. He had offered Maya the open posting as science officer in Command Center. Helena had been privately informed that Tony's reaction to that had included more than a few verbal potshots over drinks with Carter one evening. Verdeschi insisted that she had no business being involved in anything on Alpha more technically advanced than using the bathrooms. And, in the off chance that she didn't become deranged like Mentor, he still believed her to be nothing more than a pampered belle. Moonbase Alpha was certainly no place for a spoiled debutante used to fancy gowns and jewelry, not when there where aliens running amok in the galaxy and lives to be protected. Those had been among Tony's more civilized comments.

"Besides," Helena continued encouragingly to her new friend, "this will give you a chance to use all of your wonderful skills, impress the boss." She gave Maya a bright smile, in an attempt to lighten Maya's mood.

The Psychon only shook her head. "The boss has already been impressed and you know it."

Maya knew she didn't have to do anything to impress the Commander other than be herself. What she did know was that she needed to place as much distance between Alpha's second in command and herself as possible. And, until recently, she'd been able to mostly avoid or ignore the Italian, scattering much of her time throughout Alpha as she learned different aspects of the base.

With her new position though, it meant dealing with the one Alphan who possessed the ability to be the most irritating to her. He constantly watched her every move and tossed out crass remarks when the Commander wasn't around. Now the Commander had gone and assigned them, just the two of them, to go check out this nice little planet, well, glorified asteroid in Maya's book. She left out a resigned sigh.

Maya smiled at Helena, grateful for the friendship that already allowed her to speak her mind openly.

"But it will give me time to plot the perfect murder." Maya's blue eyes lit up with naughty amusement, a trait that was becoming more evident as the girl slowly adjusted to her new life on Alpha.

"You will tell Commander Koenig to start interviewing for a new Chief of Security?"

Helena did her best imitation of a pout face. "Well, there goes the beer."

"From what I've been told, it would be to your advantage," Maya said smartly.

"You do have a point."

Both women smiled.

"It won't be that bad Maya, take a few readings, get a few samples, and you'll be back in no time." Helena offered encouragement.

"Are you sure I can't suddenly become ill?" Maya asked. She rapidly gave Helena a few good ideas to work with. "I could fake a nice fever induced delirium, conveniently break a leg, perhaps develop a blinding migraine?"

Helena shook her head. She knew Maya to be the picture of health, and any problems that the young girl might have were not of the physical nature. Rather, they were the emotional kind that would simply take time to heal as Maya adjusted to the recent upheaval of her once secure and sheltered life.

"Maya, no. Besides this gives you the opportunity to log more flight hours. Alan tells me he believes you're potential pilot material."

Maya frowned as the doctor baited her with temptation, a serious temptation. A few introductory flight lessons from the crack Eagle pilot and Maya had developed a rapidly serious interest in learning to fly the Alphan craft.

"Well, then Alan could take Tony's place," Maya suggested. "He's so much more civilized, and very pleasant." Maya enjoyed spending time with the pilot, as well as most everyone else on the base. Carter reminded her very much of her older brother.

"Yes, but Tony needs to log the flight hours, we can't have him getting rusty."

"Rusty?" Maya's brows arched a little higher as she tried to understand yet another new word in her new home.

"Out of practice," Helena offered. "At any rate, the best way to handle Tony is to show him he can't intimidate you. He doesn't, does he?"

"Oh no," Maya said quickly. "He just makes me nauseous."

Helena laughed as Maya picked up her travel bag and headed out the door. Poor Maya, would she still consider Helena a friend if she suspected any of the doctor's theories regarding Tony Verdeschi's attitude? She followed Maya out the door. With any luck, this mission would bring to an end Tony's silliness, unless, of course, it brought about his early demise.

Tony was already aboard Eagle 5, running systems checks. Alan Carter was with him. Satisfied, Tony put the clipboard back in the holding slot.

"Told you it checked out," Alan said smugly as he watched Tony climb out of the pilot seat. Carter had personally run through the same checks on the craft late last evening.

"Yeah, well when do I assume you know what you're doing? Sometimes I think that title of yours goes to your head, pilot."

Alan grinned, "Like yours doesn't?"

Tony poked Carter in the back as they walked back to the cabin. "Well, at least I don't make a habit of crashing them," he sarcastically commented to the Aussie.

"No, that's because ninety percent of the time, you're flat on your backside in Medical for six months, leaving me all the dangerous flights." Carter retorted.

"So, I'm accident prone, all in the effort to keep your Aussie posterior safe at night."

Tony opened up the door to pull out one of the spacesuits. Despite the fact that he knew everything had been given multiple inspections prior to the flight, he wouldn't fly until he was satisfied. And anything to keep his mind of who was accompanying him was a welcome relief.

"Yeah, I do sleep well," Carter said with a smug smile. "Now remember, I want my girl back in one piece," Alan said as he pointed a warning finger at Verdeschi.

"Leave the piloting to me and it will," Tony replied smugly.

"Hey cobber, don't forget to let the little lady practice."

Tony turned around from the storage closet to face Alan after replacing the suit he'd been inspecting.

"You can't be serious?"

"She shows promise," Alan said.

"Carter, we spent how many months, years in various astronaut training programs? You've had her up, what? A few times? I don't know about you mate, but I wouldn't be so quick to turn the car keys over to the wench. Goodness knows, she's learned far too much in my opinion anyhow."

"I keep telling you, mine's a Jeep, not a car. Besides Tony, she's got possibility. If she doesn't like the science officer position, I'll recommend her for a transfer over to the flight division."

"Happen to have too much beer at breakfast?" Tony asked incredulously. He sure hoped Alan wasn't being serious. The mere thought of that wench learning anymore about Alphan technology didn't sit well with the Security Chief.

Alan shook his head in amusement. "Ton, I just don't know what you've got against her but she seems like a sweet girl. And I must say a very, very pretty one at that." Carter's eyes twinkled with merriment as he looked at his friend. Most of Tony's close chums had been trying for months, unsuccessfully, to set Tony up. The Italian was still on that darned prefer-to-stay-a-bachelor kick.

"Appearances can be deceiving mate." Tony chose to ignore Alan's none too subtle hints. "Verdeschi's rule number one, pretty girls, no matter how pretty, are nothing but trouble. No matter where you are in the galaxy. Rule number two, pretty girls with demented fathers escaped from the galactic loony bin are an even worse threat."

"Ah, so you have noticed?" Alan questioned. "Oh come on, give her a chance Tony. On the way back, run her through some drills. I did promise her more flight lessons."

A very devious smile crossed Verdeschi's handsome face.

"Like the ones I had to do for you when I was first assigned to Alpha?"

Horror spread across Alan's face. "God Tony, that testing was designed for the Meta astronauts, top elite, not a beginner."

"Bloody hell, I wasn't serious. I don't want her getting space sick all over the place."

"Beginner drills. And you know Tony, one of these days you're going to wake up and see Maya for what she really is. A very sweet girl and a great asset to Alpha."

"Yeah right, and you're going to buy property in Africa next week." Verdeschi grumbled. "More like a great pain in my a..." Tony's words tumbled off quickly and the conversation ended as Helena and Maya came onboard the craft.

"About time," Tony said gruffly as he began stomping towards the cockpit. "Liftoff was scheduled for five minutes ago." Verdeschi blatantly ignored the women. "I do not like to be late."

Alan shook his head. In the short time that he'd spent with Maya he had found the Psychon to be not only pretty as a picture but also sweet as sugar. She was always polite, going perhaps just a bit overboard on prim and proper, but Carter suspected that was more from her being the new kid on the block and feeling slightly out of her element. He also got the distinct impression that she was hiding an impish nature underneath everything. Carter would bet money that if she let loose she could easily handle Tony.

"Oh come on honey, don't let Tony scare you. He's all bark and no bite." Alan offered to her.

Helena nodded in agreement. "He'll be fine Maya. I'm sure John gave him orders to be on his best behavior."

Maya gave Alan and Helena an odd look. "I thought I had seen his best. He can be worse?" The Psychon made a disgusted face, shook her head, and turned from them.

Alan and Helena exited the craft, leaving Maya all on her own. Inside the docking tube Alan spoke.

"I feel bad for her, they really don't click, do they?" Alan shook his head. "I guess sometimes we don't know people as well as we think we do," he said. Carter's first, and obviously wrong, instinct had been that Tony would fall fast for Maya's quiet charms.

Helena gave Alan a knowing smile. "Maybe now they don't click but they'll be fine."

"Oh boy, I don't like that look Helena." Carter knew by now when Helena was up to something, and the look on her face indicated some major wheels turning.

Helena grinned, making Alan wonder if her definition of fine included Tony being smacked around by some Psychon monster. Which, if Tony's attitude didn't change, he could well see Maya doing.

"I've always found that opposites attract, don't you think?" Helena ventured aloud.

Alan shook his head in disbelief. Attraction? Good grief, putting Tony and Maya together sounded more like a recipe for galactic disaster, not the creation of a romantic couple. Carter began to wonder if perhaps they should question the sanity of Alpha's CMO.

Ten minutes into the flight and Maya was already contemplating throwing herself out the hatch into space. Instant death would be preferable over spending any time with Mr. Verdeschi. The first five minutes of the flight had been filled with his grumbles about lift-off being late and women being a pain in the posterior.

To be precise, they had only launched late by forty-five point three seconds, not even a full minute. It was a point he had not appreciated her pointing out to him. Now he was sitting up there piloting and singing away, loudly, as if he hadn't a concern in the universe. Maya had to fight to focus her attention on the computer and the readouts it gave her.

After a time, Tony's singing quit and she heard him talking, carrying on a conversation with Alan back in Command Center. She tilted her head and listened to them toss jabs back and forth, insulting one another and then laughing about it. Alan reminded her of her older brother Marcus in so many ways. For just one brief moment, Maya allowed herself to miss her family, her friends, the life she had once had. It all seemed like an eternity ago, as if it had belonged to some other girl. She shook away those thoughts but couldn't help but continue listening.

Some of their comments bordered on raunchy and she wondered why the Commander allowed such behavior. Stress relief was the answer that came to mind. She knew these Alphans had been through many experiences on their journey, most unpleasant, many involving death. That included the recent situation with her father. It was no wonder then that they tossed such conversations about and drank Tony's beer. Reminding herself that it was not polite to listen to someone else's conversation she refocused on the computer and the readouts. Professionalism, Maya, professionalism.

Tony's singing resumed and Maya soon became engrossed in the incoming information, forgetting about her escape plan as the odd earth melodies becoming soothing even to her jumbled nerves.

Once Tony had ended the conversation with Alan, he focused back on the flight. He still had a gripe with Koenig. The nerve of the Commander to team him up with the little Psychon wench. In fact, Verdeschi didn't understand the Commander at all. Why would he even bring her back to Alpha in the first place? He could and should have just left her there on Psychon. Alpha certainly didn't need another mouth to feed and besides, what did any of them really know about her? What was she capable of? She could well prove to be the biggest security risk Moonbase Alpha had ever known. Tony's mind spun those possibilities over. Boy, oh boy, did he ever know what she was capable of. Damn right he did.

The first time he'd witnessed her metamorphic ability, he'd nearly hit the floor in shock. It wasn't right, wasn't natural, to possess that kind of ability. His first impulse had been to lock the little alien up in the brig and chuck the key out the nearest airlock. Sure, she said she was not dangerous. Sure, she said she'd rather not ever use that ability again in her life, but heck, women were really adapt at telling stories, or rather lies. Oh yes, women could bat their pretty blue eyes at you, looking innocent as a baby, and then, wham! No thank you, ma'am. Tony Verdeschi was not about to believe another pretty face, especially Maya's.

Yet, in the brief time Maya had been with them, she hadn't used that ability again. She'd shown Tony once and then that had been it. She'd actually requested Koenig not to make a big deal over it. She said it was part of her past, a past she needed to forget. And yes, she'd also spent an awful lot of time trying to be useful. Almost from the beginning she had practically begged Helena to find her something useful to do.

When the Commander had brought up the idea of placing Maya in Command Center, Tony had scoffed. He voiced his first opinion, that she could be a very major security risk. But both Helena and Koenig seemed quite sure about Maya and her loyalty. For that matter now, so did most of the Command Center senior staff.

Tony had to admit the girl had an uncanny way with computers and she seemed bright, well, brilliant really. So far, she had proved she could handle the position, which sadly, was not altogether a good thing. While it made the Commander and Doc Russell happy, it was not setting too well with some of the members of the science department. Tony was well aware there was hushed scuttlebutt in regards to Maya's posting, quite a few ruffled feathers there were on Alpha. But Tony couldn't help that, the final choice had been John's. John had placed her in Command Center and John alone could remove her, if the choice turned out to be the wrong one.

But each day Maya reported to duty, prompt, prim, and proper. So far, she had tried not to step on anybody's toes, been as polite and lady-like as possible, and put in a solid day's work. Professionally, there could not be any complaints.

On the other hand, the little wench had begun to attract quite a bit of talk from the male populace of Alpha. Seems many a single man found her quite the piece of eye candy. More than once, Tony had caught snippets of conversation in the gym or the recreation rooms from some of the other fellows. Her being an alien didn't hamper the male libidos at all, in fact, quite the opposite. Even Dave Reilly, boaster of three failed marriages, found the Psychon attractive. This had only added to Tony's job description, something he did not need or want. He'd promised the Commander he would look after her, but heck; did he really need to choose whom she socialized with?

No, whom Maya wanted to hang with was not Tony's Verdeschi's department, nor the Commander's, no matter how responsible Koenig felt for her well being. Thankfully, Maya made Tony's task quite easy. She hardly socialized, except with Helena or some of the Command staff. Occasionally Sandra and Annie had managed to coax Maya into joining them for an evening of movies or games. So far the Psychon hadn't attended any of the weekend dances or parties. She certainly had showed no intention of returning the attentions of any of the available men. She usually secluded herself in her quarters; not that Tony paid any serious attention to her daily schedule.

Tony focused his attention on the controls for a bit, reviewing the flight systems. He hadn't been off base for an eternity and the chance to get away, even for a small mission, was a relief. He hated being desk bound for too long. Sitting at the controls of an Eagle was almost as good as getting behind the wheel of his black sports coupe and racing along open highway. Pity he'd never get that opportunity again.

Life was odd, just damned odd. One day you're anticipating several weeks vacation and the next you've been hurled halfway across the galaxy, lost in space as it were. It sucked, having your life planned out and then having it all blasted away. Or cruelly changed by someone you thought you were in love with. Tony shook his head, enough of that nonsense. That had been in the past, and while he couldn't predict the future, he did know that in the present he had a mission to complete.

He realized then that Maya had been extremely quiet. Perhaps he should go back and check on her, and he did need to take a small break. Tony transferred control to the onboard computer and then made his way back. For a moment he paused in the hatchway. Briefly he observed her, unnoticed. Her pretty face was focused on the tiny computer monitor. She seemed on rather friendly terms with computer, deeply immersed in whatever readings that it was presenting.

"Didn't they ever tell you not to sit so close to the TV," he inquired. "You'll go blind."

Inwardly Maya groaned, there went her peace and quiet. She should have known. Feeling a bit daring, since there were no other personnel to deal with, she spoke. "Shouldn't you be up there," she asked, pointing to the front, "piloting this thing? You wouldn't want to get behind schedule."

Tony shrugged. "When you're good, you're good," he offered smugly, his dark eyes gleaming with confidence.

Maya looked back down at her clipboard, mentally reminding herself about professionalism and lady-like behavior. There was also her promise to Helena not to hurt the man. After all, she was not intimidated by the man.

"So, what does your brilliant scientific intellect have to say about this lump of rock we're headed to?" His tone was almost mocking, and irritating.

"I am still collecting data and we will not be arriving there if you do not pay attention to piloting," she responded irritably. There was something about Tony's cockiness that made her want to insult him, and very rudely at that. "I wish to arrive in one piece."

Tony just laughed. "Psychon's have molecular transformation, but they don't have things like auto pilot, remote control options?"

His face revealed a smirk. Maya really, oh mother, please forgive her, did she really want to wipe that smirk right off of his handsome face.

"Psychon pilots did not have such conceited egos that they forgot about those little things you humans call accidents."

"Ooh, touché pussycat, one point," Tony said in an odd accent while lifting his hand to draw an imaginary line in the air with his finger.

"Look Mr. Verdeschi, I have work to do. If you're bored that's your problem, not mine."

Tony leaned up against the wall, looking for all the world as though he might stay there indefinitely and hold it in place. Maybe if she ignored him he would go away. There was always that hope. Then again, he might need an unfriendly reminder.

"One more thing Mr. Verdeschi, I am not a pussycat." Her tone sounded more than a little miffed.

Tony chuckled as his dark eyes took her in, completely, from head to toe. "Not at the moment you're not."

Maya had not missed his little look-see and she spoke, very slowly and deliberately, drawing her Psychon accent out much more than normal. "It could be arranged."

"Temper, temper," Tony mumbled, wisely deciding to return to the pilot section, leaving the pretty red-head alone as she mumbled something in Psychon. He would bet that it wasn't exactly a polite comment.

For the remainder of the trip Tony stayed up front, thankfully. Occasionally he sang and more than once Maya heard him start a song only to stop abruptly and become quiet for a time. Were all males as annoying as Verdeschi, she thought, or was he just different in some odd way? Perhaps he'd been hit on the head once too often, or drank too much of his supposed vile liquid. Brain damaged. Maya suddenly giggled. It was no wonder he was among the single population of Alpha. After all, what sensible girl could possibly want to get him or then keep him.

Many long hours later, Eagle 5 landed with scarcely the hint of a bounce. Tony was soon back into the passenger compartment, sporting a boyish grin.

"Fantastic landing, don't you think?" he asked cockily.

"It was nice," Maya murmured.

"Nice?" He shook his head in disbelief. "I believe it was damned good."

"I suppose, for a pilot who was getting rusty," Maya responded.

Tony's dark eyes widened in surprise. "You know that phrase?"

Maya nodded. "Of course, it was used on Psychon ages ago, long before your people learned to do more than the caveman grunt."

She didn't look up at Tony's face, smiling to herself. He didn't have to know that she really only heard it this morning.

Quickly Tony changed the subject.

"How's the atmosphere check out?"

Maya shrugged, then an idea came to her. "I am afraid I don't fully understand your primitive computer readings. Would you be so kind and go out and test it for me?" After the briefest of pauses, she added, "Without a suit?"

"You'll have to wait for a relief pilot to come get you if I meet an untimely demise."

"Oh, I think I can manage, " Maya responded. "Or, like you, I could rely on auto pilot."

"From what I hear, manual is much better, accident wise." Tony tossed that back at her with a wide grin. Suddenly he was enjoying winding her up.

"Fine," she relented. "You knew the atmosphere was safe."

With a chuckle, Tony opened the doors to check the locale of their assignment. He was not impressed. It was growing dark outside and the twilight mixed with the bland looking location, giving him a fleeting image of open territory from some old western.

"Nice," he murmured sarcastically. "Remind me to tell my real estate agent I'll pass."

While Maya didn't understand his words, she understood his tone. She too was depressed. To be sure, Psychon hadn't been much to look at in the end, with nothing but volcanoes. But this? This little rock was boring. Only the eerie twilight gave it an interesting touch that would fade away quickly enough.

"Well, enough of that," Tony said as he pressed the button to shut the hatch. "What about your reports?"

Maya handed him the clipboard, now filled with papers and notations. He went over it slowly, reading the information.

"Some titanium, hmm." He flipped to the end and handed it back to her. "Very thorough work."

"Thank you," she responded. She knew it had been.

"We can check out the titanium in the daylight, it isn't too far from here." He looked over her for a moment. "That is, if you can keep up."

"Yes, Mr. Verdeschi, I can keep up. What, did you think I did nothing but sit on my backside and play dress-up all day?"

Tony raised his eyebrows as he caught a glint of anger in her blue eyes. She really was getting heated up. "Want dinner?" he asked, deciding to change the subject.

"No, I've lost my appetite."

"Suit yourself, I'm starved."

He did not wait for a reply. Instead, he proceeded to get the food out.

"Picnic for two," Tony offered as he set the items out on the open floor between the seats. "And from the looks of it, you could stand to eat something."

"You're saying I'm too thin?" she asked.

Tony shrugged as he pulled one more small container from the refrigeration unit. Through the plastic container, Maya could see amber liquid and she shook her head. Gracious, he had the nerve to bring that awful concoction of his along.

"No picnic is complete without beer."

Maya grimaced at the container while he smiled.

"Hey," he said, suddenly having an idea. "I think you're the only one on Alpha who hasn't sampled any yet."

"I do not intend to," she replied, thinking of the stories regarding his heinous brew. "Combustible fuels aren't fit for human or Psychon consumption."

"Combustible fuels? You've been spending far too much time with Helena and Alan."

Tony plunked himself down on the floor and began putting items in a bowl. "You have your choice of Alphan salad, Alphan fruit, and Alphan bread."

"Yummy," Maya said as she slowly sat down opposite him.

He was actually generous enough to serve her first, then offered her a drink. His little container only contained enough for a glass each and she refused, out of politeness.

"Let me guess, Psychon's don't drink?" he asked. "That would be a highly improper thing to do, right?"

There was a look on his face that she couldn't describe. She thought she detected a bit of boyish charm in it though. "I suppose I could try it, just a little," she said, suddenly not wanting to agitate him.

He handed her the glass and she cautiously took a sip. Since she didn't have a previous comparison to judge it by, she could only tilt her head in confusion. She found it drinkable, in an odd way. They'd had nothing like it on Psychon.

"Well?" he prompted.

She saw the expectant look in his eyes and suddenly had the urge to laugh.

"I'm not an expert, but I don't believe it qualifies as a combustible fuel. Could I have a sample to run an analysis on?"

Tony grinned as he began to eat. For a long time there was silence between them.

"Alan tells me you're really interested in learning to pilot the eagles?" he suddenly asked.

This brought a smile to Maya's face but she did not answer him, as it would be very rude with food in her mouth. She merely nodded.

Tony continued. "You know he won't hand over the keys unless you're good, damned good."

"I know that. I would not expect anything less from him, according to his file. What I don't understand is why he gives you the keys." Inwardly she grinned; this was actually becoming fun, teasing him.

Tony feigned a hurt look then spoke with a slightly different accent. "The lady would be questioning me abilities?"

"No, I don't need to question your abilities. I've read your file too."

"Oh," Tony said slowly, "I hope I proved to be of interest." He wondered exactly what she had made of his file. Though why it should matter was unclear to him.

"It made for interesting reading, nothing more," she replied.

"Nothing more?" he retorted. "Why I ought to."

"Ought to what?" she interrupted innocently, her blue eyes sparkling with humor.

"Nothing," he said as focused back on his meal.

For a time neither spoke. They finished their meal in silence.

Maya then leaned back, clasping both hands around one raised knee. "What made you pick a career in space, why not something on Earth?" she suddenly asked.

Tony frowned. "Ah, a woeful tale it is. You'll not want to be hearing it."

"Oh, I see," she said, pretending an understanding. "Alpha was the only place that would hire you."

Tony gave her an odd look, taking in the amused light in her blue eyes.

"No, miss smarty-pants, Alpha wasn't my only career option."

Maya suddenly had to fight to stifle a yawn. "I'm sorry," she quickly apologized.

"Up too late partying?" he asked. "I didn't take you for a party animal."

"No, I do not party," she replied quietly. Little did he know the reason for yet another near sleepless night and it was not something she would share with him.

The look on her face warned Tony not to go there, so he didn't give her his next comment.

"It is late," he admitted instead, "Alphan time. We need to be up early anyhow, work in the daylight."

"Right," she said.

Tony proceeded to clean and then set up sleeper units. He placed a blanket and pillow on one, then retrieved one for himself.

"Mind if I keep a light on? I'd like to read for a bit, great mystery novel."

"That's fine," she said. She didn't care what he did, as long as he left her alone.

"Oh, I like to sleep without a shirt," he warned. "Hope that's not a problem either."

Maya rolled her eyes. "Sleep nude for all I care, I would not be impressed."

Tony laughed as she avoided his return stare. If she only knew that's how he preferred it. He couldn't help it, so after a moment he had to ask. "Sure about that?"

Maya looked up and Tony caught the look of surprise in her blue eyes as she met his naked torso. She quickly averted his gaze, but not before he'd noticed the faint blush appearing in her cheeks.

Minutes later, with most of the interior lights onboard dimmed, Maya closed her eyes, trying to will herself to fall asleep in a strange place that was not her home while Tony attempted to immerse himself in his novel. Neither one slept well.

The morning was beginning with a rocky start as Maya listened to the conversation between Tony and the Commander.

"Yeah, if Maya has her coordinates right, I suppose it won't take us long to get to the titanium," he grumbled. "Pity we have to walk, but the ground readings indicate a not too stable situation to land Alan's baby."

"Don't forget Tony, the surface temperature for the day is expected to rise to nearly ninety-eight degrees. Be sure to take along plenty of water."

"Yes mummy," Tony responded to Helena. "Just wish I could land us a bit closer."

"Hey, you listen to Maya!" Alan chimed in. "Remember, it comes back in one piece Verdeschi."

"Grumble, complain," Tony retorted. "You crash 'em, I return them."

Tony closed the connection. It would get hot soon out there, that was true enough. Then he had an idea. Heedless of whether Maya could see him or not, he yanked his tunic off, leaving on just a blue muscle shirt. Picking up his jacket he shrugged it on. That could easily be tied around the waist or shoved into a pack once it got too warm.

He and Maya ventured out into the boring unknown. Maya was quiet, studying her scanning equipment as they walked along. Tony walked behind her, taking the opportunity to observe her. He supposed Alan was right. She was a pretty thing, in an exotic sort of way. Her long auburn hair was done in a French-braid, although a few loose strands were working their way out. He watched as she walked, taking in the slender curves that even an Alphan uniform could not quite disguise. Despite the curves and the beauty, she appeared to be the typical scientific type.

For a moment he imagined her in a white lab coat, hair pulled up into some librarian type bun, and glasses perched on her nose while working in some lab somewhere. She'd be all professional and excessively brainy, spending her day peering into a microscope or studying computer printouts and saying phrases like the late Professor Bergman used to do. His glance went downward, suddenly intrigued by her cute little butt. Nah, ditch the lab coat and add black leather.

Verdeschi mentally shook himself, what was he doing thinking such thoughts. She was, after all, the daughter of a raving lunatic killer. Moreover, Tony knew from past experience that looks were very, very deceiving, even from someone as sweet and innocent looking as Maya. She already reminded him too much of his ex-fiancée and the fact that her father had been a bona fide loon equated to one combination in his book, T-R-O-U-B-L-E, with a very large capital T. Here he was, the Chief of Security, he needed to keep an alert eye on her, but not in that way. She could still prove to be a security risk.

Feeling as though she were being watched, Maya suddenly turned around to look at him. "What?" she asked quietly. He had the oddest expression on his face and she was completely clueless as to what he was thinking. Why couldn't he realize that she wasn't a security risk to any of them. If he dropped the attitude, he might just prove friendly.

"Nothing," he quickly replied. "You want some water?"

"I suppose."

"It's getting hotter."

"Yes," she replied as she took the canister he offered. She took a dainty swallow and replaced the lid.

"Anything interesting in your readings?" he asked. He had to keep his mind focused on the task at hand.

She shook her head. "I doubt you'd comprehend my list. But the terrain is rocky, and yes, there is some titanium. Other than that, I believe you would call it boring."

"Well, if you're done playing scientist, let's get to that titanium today then, shall we?"

Tony began walking, a little bit faster than before. He had the sudden urge to put some major distance between them. At least if he wasn't behind her, he wouldn't focus on her posterior or think about how much fun it would be to undo her hair and run his hands through the silky long tresses.

Lord Verdeschi, get a grip man, he told himself. I prefer blondes, bootylicious, and stacked blondes, as a matter of fact. Tony picked up his pace, suddenly in need of something more to do than just walk.

Maya purposely kept her pace slow, no need to rush. They practically had the remainder of the morning, more than enough time. Verdeschi was walking faster than necessary in the rising heat. A memory of her older brother walking the same way when he realized that his kid sister was tagging along came to mind.

Perhaps she could use this to her advantage, having him in front of her. Maybe she could annoy him the way he did her in Command Center. Really, what did he expect her to do? It was not like she was going to blow up Alpha or anything. She truly meant none of them any harm, she just wished he would realize that. Maybe Tony was just slow, or just an idiot. An idiot with quite an appealing physique, she thought, as she allowed her gaze to study the man as he walked. Good gosh! Where had that thought come from? She hastily tried to banish it towards the back of her mind. Business Maya, professionalism, remain lady-like. She forced herself to repeat these words over and over.

Eventually Tony spoke, the silence between them obviously had lasted too long.

"Are you going to keep up? I'd like to get this done and return to the Eagle by nightfall."

Maya frowned and came to a sudden stop. Frustrated by his tone, she grumbled. "Shouldn't be a problem, Verdeschi, unless you collapse in the heat."

She watched him shake his head and then resume his walking. As soon as he turned his back towards her, Maya took the opportunity to slip out of her tunic. She had dressed this morning in anticipation of the rising heat, putting on a black tank top underneath. She folded and then slipped her tunic into her pack and resumed walking, enjoying the feel of the warm air on her skin. Pathetic little hunk of rock that it was, the natural warm air felt delightful on her skin. It had been a very long time since she'd been out in an atmosphere.

When Tony paused ahead of her, she smiled. If he continued at this rate, he would exhaust and dehydrate himself. Hmm, she thought with amusement, maybe she wouldn't have to indulge in plotting his murder after all.

She watched as he took a sip of water, then proceeded to shrug out of his jacket. He obviously had anticipated the higher temperatures as well and soon Maya was treated to another exposing view of the man who perplexed and irritated her. Unlike the prior evening, this time she allowed her gaze to linger as he tied the jacket sleeves around his waist. The dark blue of his muscle shirt revealed arms that surely spent time in the gym, of that she was certain. He had nicely defined muscles, belonging to a body that could easily kill, if need be. For an instant Maya had an image of those same arms, hovering in a very sexy mental pose that shocked her. Oh really Maya, you must be going daft, she thought. Was the heat really that bad that she was thinking such bizarre thoughts? As she walked, he turned to look at her.

"Having trouble keeping up?" he asked.

"No, just pacing myself." When she was standing right next to him, she brazenly ventured her question. "Could you be a bit more pleasant this morning?"

"Me? I'm pleasant."

"Not so much. I've seen more civilized meteorites. I fail to see why Dr. Russell thinks you to be a nice fellow."

"I don't have to be on constant guard around her." The comment slipped out before Tony realized that he had said it.

"Oh, what's that supposed to mean?" Maya asked. "You still don't think you can trust me, you think I'm like my father, don't you?"

"Yeah, baby, maybe I do." There, he had admitted it.

Maya looked him, anger easily visible in her young face. And then Maya surprised him. She yelled back at him and as she did, her voice raised a little with each word.

"I am not your baby, I am not a pussycat, and I am not, repeat, I am not a bloody threat to your friggin' precious security!"

For good measure, she punched him squarely in the chest with a clenched fist, before continuing her ranting. It suddenly felt very, very good to verbally assault him.

"While we're at it, I do not like you," she continued. "I do not like you one damned bit and I think it's a shame you weren't on Psychon because then Mr. Verdeschi, then, I would not have tried to save your pathetic ass."

Tony stood there in shock, looking at the girl. He noticed two things. One, her blue eyes were filled with a fury befitting her fiery locks. Second, God, but she was absolutely beautiful when she was pissed off.

"You would have let your father suck my brains out?" he ventured.

"That would be hard to do, considering you do not have any!"

"Hey, you can't talk to me that way, I'm the Chief of Security!"

Even more of the pent-up rage that Maya had been harboring for the past weeks surfaced. "Yes, I know. Chief of Security, second in command of Moonbase Alpha, the bastard who sent an Eagle to blow my planet up!"

"Commander's orders!" Tony bellowed in defense. "And I wouldn't have had to if your damned father weren't a murderer."

Now Tony was angry. Two good men had been lost, not too mention a valuable Eagle and the damage done to the base. And Tony certainly hadn't relished the idea of sending his fellow officers to a hasty death or having command of Alpha thrust upon him.

"Something I shouldn't have had to do, if you'd have quit playing Barbie and paid attention to what your old man was doing."

Maya began to walk ahead of him, in a thoroughly royal huff. Tony couldn't see the tears threatening to stream down her face. He raced to catch up with her, grabbing her by the shoulder. She whirled around, her look one of heated fury directed straight at him.

"I did not know," she hissed back at him. "And if I had, I probably would have killed him myself." Hard as it was to admit, Maya felt that just might have been close to the truth.

Angrily she pushed Tony away, not caring where she went, just knowing she had to get away from him. Very far away.

"Maya!" Tony called out. "Women," he muttered. He dumped his pack down onto the ground and hurried to catch up with her.


She quickly stopped and turned to look at him.

"We have a schedule to keep, remember?" Her tone was angry and her voice just a bit shaky. With a moan of disgust, she began to storm away.

Tony wasn't content to let things be. He moved right with her and just as he opened his mouth to speak again the ground beneath them disappeared, sending them both tumbling down into the darkness. They both crashed with very hard thumps on damp ground, well below the surface.

Alan shook his head. "Not a thing John."

Commander Koenig frowned. It certainly wasn't like Tony not to respond. On the slim chance there was technical difficulty with one comlock, Tony would have used Maya's. Or even Eagle 5.

"Maybe they can not get a signal out?" Sandra asked hopefully.

"Ten more minutes Alan. Let's give them ten more minutes, just in case. And Alan?"

"Yeah John?"

"Have Fraser get an Eagle ready, with a medical crew on standby."


"What the bloody hell?" he moaned. Then he groaned as he fought to sit up. It was an action that hurt his shoulder. Hurt a hell of a lot, actually. He quickly realized that Maya was on the ground beside him, and she was frighteningly still.


He got no reply.

"Maya come on, answer me."

Fortunately, there was enough light coming through the hole that he could see, a little. He touched her neck, relieved to find a pulse. Within seconds he had discovered the gash on the side of her temple. His hand came away sticky, he felt blood.

"Shit." A sick feeling emerged in the pit of his stomach.

He reached for his comlock and encountered nothing.

"What?" he asked aloud.

He frantically searched about until he found it, or what was left of it. He hurled the smashed tangle of wires and plastic onto the ground.


He crawled back over to Maya but could not find hers. A painful search of the small area around them did not reveal it or the pack she had been carrying.

He touched her cheek gently. "Maya, wake up. Come on."

Still no response. Tony left out an exasperated sigh. Great, no comlocks. No communication with Alpha. He didn't even have his laser, stupidly he had shoved it in his pack before leaving the Eagle, believing it wouldn't be needing anytime soon. Add to his stupidity one unconscious Psychon. Could his day possibly get any worse, he wondered.

As the communication channel closed, Helena Russell frowned with worry. Tony was not the type to miss a check-in with Alpha. They shouldn't have run into any problems. It was supposed to be a simple, routine mission. Besides, he had Maya with him.

Oh dear, poor Maya. Helena now felt even worse. She had practically promised Maya that this little outing would pose no problems, other than Tony's current state of stupidity. Russell gathered her standard emergency kits and issued a request for Dr. Mathias to join her. Helena hoped the two younger officers hadn't encountered anything serious. She knew Tony had the capability to handle most anything but still, for Tony not to respond, it had to be something major. A queasy feeling was beginning to form in Helena's stomach. She was all too used to missions going bad. She uttered a silent prayer for things to turn out fine, and then joined Bob as they went to board the awaiting Eagle.

What seemed an eternity later, after another attempt failed to get him any kind of foothold for climbing out, Tony left out a long and fluid stream of Italian curses.

"Well, we won't be exiting the same way we came in," he finally spoke in English.

"Was there ever any doubt?" Maya weakly managed to retort through the waves of pain that surged through her body.

Her sarcastic tone, coupled with his already aching muscles, grated on Verdeschi's nerves, sending the Italian more than a little over the edge.

"Well I don't see you doing anything constructive to help."

Maya uttered her own curses, in Psychon, right back at him.

"I suppose you think it's my fault," she then said quietly.

"I didn't say that."

"You implied it."

Tony shook his head. "You know, I liked it better when you were unconscious."

"Well, I liked it better on Psychon, before I ever met you."


"Oh shut up!" Maya uttered.

She leaned back up against the damp wall and covered her face in her hands. Tony sighed, instantly regretting his angry words. He knew she was hurting. For pity's sake, she'd been unconscious for more than a few minutes, enough for him to seriously worry about her.

"Gee Maya, I'm sorry."

"I don't want your apology!" she yelled. "I don't even want to be with you. I absolutely hate you, Mr. Verdeschi. I hate you."

"Yeah, I know," he said quietly as he slowly eased his body into a seated position, taking care not to jolt his shoulder too much. He definitely felt pain although he hadn't been knocked into oblivion as Maya had been. He couldn't even pretend to know how much she was hurting.

"Are you just going to sit there and do nothing?" she finally asked.

"Yes." What else could he do, he thought. It would appear they were stuck in this hole, for the time being.

A small groan of disgust came from her as she tried to stand up. Her effort was rewarded with another rush of dizziness and waves of pain shooting up her leg from an already swollen ankle.

"Sit down before you fall down!" Verdeschi ordered sharply.

She backed up against the wall in an effort to remain standing, just to spite him. Who did he think he was, ordering her around in this pathetic hole?

"Why me?" he asked aloud. "Maya, sit the hell down."

Her response was to glare at him angrily.

"Please?" he asked politely.

Slowly she sank back down onto the ground.

"Look," he began. "It's obvious we aren't going anywhere anytime soon. We've got no communication, my uncooperative shoulder, you very nearly split your head open and your ankle? Darling, it isn't a positive. After all this I wonder if the Lunar Commission could see fit to give us a pay raise anytime soon."

"I'm sorry!" Maya exclaimed angrily. "If you wouldn't have chosen a path that took us right over a weak spot in the ground."

"Women!" Tony muttered. "You know, you're all alike, no matter what planet you come from. Yeah baby, I admit it, it's my fault. Everything wrong in the entire universe? Yep, me, all my fault. There, how do you like that for a Catholic confession?"

"I'd admit it if it had been mine," she rebutted angrily. Then she added, "And it usually is, the man's fault."

Tony ignored her, deciding this was getting them nowhere. For a few moments neither spoke.

"There isn't any way out," Maya whispered quietly.


"Then we're stranded."

"Not for long Maya. Once Alpha doesn't receive any communication with us, they'll send a team."

"So, an estimated twelve to fourteen hours from now," she whispered after trying to calculate in her head the prep time for a crew and the travel time, which was growing by the minute as the moon journeyed away.

Tony nodded. "Something like that."

She remained quiet for a bit, then spoke quietly. "I could try again," she volunteered.

Tony shook his head vehemently. "No way and that Maya, that, is an order you will obey."

Her attempt at transforming had met with disastrous results minutes earlier. Tony had thought for sure she'd either puke her guts up or pass out on him, or both. Without knowing the extent of her injuries, he could not justify her trying that again, not when so many hours separated them from a doctor.

"No, we wait," he said calmly. "That's really our best option."

"When it gets dark the temperature will drop." Her voice was quiet.

"We'll be fine," Tony said, forcing a cheery tone into his voice. They had one jacket between them, his. Hers was in her pack, presumably somewhere up above them, out of reach. The cute little tank top she had on, which even he had to admit, while looking quite adorable on her in the hot daytime above them, would offer little protection later.

Maya didn't answer him. She had closed her eyes, trying to block out the pounding in her head while Tony leaned back against the damp wall. He looked up at the hole above them and shook his head. Alan and Bill would have a field day with this one, no doubt about it. Of all the rotten luck, Tony thought.

"Anything at all Sahn?"

The initial ten minutes John had given were gone.

She shook her head. "Still nothing Commander. I've doubled checked, there are no malfunctions aboard Eagle 5."

Carter nodded in agreement. "John, something's happened. Tony wouldn't go this long without contact."

Koenig nodded. Too much time had passed since the last transmission and neither Tony nor Maya had answered Alpha's hails. A bleep from his com panel caught Koenig's attention.

"Yes Bill?"

"Eagle 1 is ready sir," Fraser's voice informed him. "Doctor Russell just came aboard. We can launch as soon as Carter arrives."

"Thanks Bill." Koenig closed the channel.

"Well Alan," John said wearily, "go see what mess Tony's gotten himself into this time."

Alan rose from his desk. "No worries, I'm sure she hasn't strangled him, yet."

Koenig didn't believe for a second that Maya had, although he knew Verdeschi probably had given her ample cause to do so. John was perplexed; this should have been a routine, by the book, run. Then again, it seemed there was nothing ordinary on Alpha.

Though she could not see it, she could smell it. The retched sulfur like odor filled the caverns. She had hoped her rapid path would take her away from it and back to safety, where she belonged. Hurried footfalls behind her told they had not stopped and she quickened her pace. She tripped over some smaller rocks, scraping the palms of her hands as she fell. Ignoring the pain and the blood, she forced herself to get back up, hiking up her long white skirt as she ran. She made what she thought was the correct turn but suddenly found herself standing on a ledge, looking down at the river of lava that snaked its way through the cavern. There was nowhere to go; now she had no options.

Angry voices could be heard before they were actually seen, hateful, angry, and vindictive. She turned to find them coming straight for her. There seemed to be thousands of them.

"Please, no," she begged.

Hideous laughter erupted from the one who appeared to be their leader. His uniform was tattered, his face blackened by volcanic soot. His dark hair was in disarray and his eyes stared right past her. His arms were outstretched and he moved towards her, like a zombie.

"Stay away, please."

More laughter came from the mixed myriad of alien races that continued to her. They all had the same intent and fear caught in her throat. Tears ran down her cheeks as a wicked wind swept through the cavern. Her once beautiful white dress swirled about her, now tattered and torn. Her matching white shoes had fared no better. They were soot covered and the heels broken.

"I didn't know," she sobbed. "Please believe me. I would have stopped him."

"Lies," the aliens hissed at her. "You're lying. You're lying."

"No," she sobbed. "Please, I could try to help you."

"You're lying, you knew," the voices chanted at her. They were now closing in around her. "Daughter of evil, daughter of the very devil himself."

"I didn't know," she cried aloud. She tried to transform but was greeted with extreme pain instead of a way out. Waves of nausea brought her to her knees. She looked down at the river of lava, now filled with alien bodies. Those who had lost their minds to her father floated by. Faces looked up at her in tormented agony as one by one, they were being submerged into the hot lava river. One by one, they were closing in behind her as well, their angry voices rising.

Then she felt them push her from the ledge, sending her plummeting downward as they laughed. In the last instant, she saw the bubbling pool of lava beckoning her, alien arms arising from the molten liquid, intent on dragging her to her death. She began screaming.

"Maya!" he called her name again and gently shook her by the shoulders. "Wake up."

"No!" she cried out, totally oblivious to his presence, and pushing him away.

Tony Verdeschi pulled her close to him, feeling her tremors of fear and her heart racing.

"Maya, wake up," he pleaded again. "Maya!"

Her blue eyes suddenly snapped to attention and she collapsed against his chest, sobbing hysterically.

For a long time, Tony did nothing but rock her in his arms and whisper soft words to her.

"Nobody's going to hurt you Maya, hush."

The violence of her nightmare and the intensity of her crying scared him. He'd never witnessed anything so intense, couldn't even begin to imagine what hellish terror she'd been dreaming of.

"I didn't know," she whimpered as she held onto him tightly, as though she held onto life itself.

Tony continued to whisper soft words to her, words in a language she did not understand.

"I didn't know, how could I have not known." She buried her face against his chest, her slender shoulders shaking as her tears dampened his shirt. Tony stroked her back, gently hugging her. He wasn't sure he had any words that would offer her the amount of comfort she seemed to desperately need.

"Maya," he said her name softly.

She lifted her face to look up at him, tears spilling down her pretty face like a rainfall. "Please say you believe me," she whimpered. "Please," she begged.

Tony had witnessed her nightmare. He had heard her cries and her screams. What kind of an idiot was he? Maya had been just another victim of her father's twisted dream.

"You poor girl," he whispered.

Relief seemed to fill her as she snuggled back against him. "I only wanted you to believe me," she sobbed. "I'm not like," her words trailed off into another intense round of sobs.

"I know that Maya."

"How could he do that, he lied to me? It's sick, demented."

Maya shook violently in his arms, her voice revealed her agony.

"Maya, stop, you're going to make yourself sick. Please honey, don't cry." Tony knew he had to calm her down. She was nearly hysterical, something they didn't need right now in such a small hole. He held her tighter.

"My head hurts," she whimpered. The thundering waves of pain pounded her, with no sign of stopping anytime soon. She felt nauseous again.

"I know." He gently pushed strands of her long auburn hair from her pretty face. "We've just got to wait for them to come get us."

"It's getting cold."

He wrapped his jacket around her shoulders. "Maya, you need to stay warm."

"But you?"

He smiled at her concern. "I'll be fine."

For awhile they sat there, Tony's strong arms holding her against him. Maya had calmed down somewhat from her nightmare but she was still shivering.

"We've got to stay warm." Tony was beginning to seriously worry about her.

She nodded her agreement. "Yes." Her voice seemed distant.

She lifted her tear-stained face from his chest to look up at him and he smiled. For the first time, Maya saw a glimmer of something warm and inviting in his dark eyes.

"Tony," she whispered his name softly.

Verdeschi looked down at her and something tugged at him. The type of emotional tug that he hadn't felt in far too long. He'd scarcely been aware of any female since Kelli, his anger had been too intense. Suddenly that anger was gone, replaced by something very different from anything he'd ever felt.

"Maya," he began. Then he pulled her close to him, lowering his head slowly towards her.

The moment his lips touched hers, she felt shivers of intense heat race through her body. Her senses were suddenly disrupted and time seemed to stand still.

When he finally and slowly pulled away, she was disappointed. She shook her head, only partly in disbelief at what had just happened. Alpha's Chief of Security, the annoying Mr. Verdeschi had just kissed her, hadn't he? Had he made a mistake, were they both becoming delusional?

Oh no, mistake or not, she wanted him to kiss her again. Or at least she thought she did, didn't she? Would he want to? Please let him want to.

When she opened her eyes to look at him, she was surprised to find him smiling.

"You've never been kissed before, have you?" he asked incredulously.

"Not properly," she whispered as she shook her head slightly. "Not like this." She lowered her head to avoid his stare.

Tony looked her, confused. Then he tilted her chin upward with his hand, his touch very gentle.

"Maya?" he questioned.

"Long story," she finally said.

"Do tell," he prompted gently. "I'm not going anywhere."

There was something in his voice that made her feel secure. She snuggled up against his chest, letting his strong arms enfold her into his warmth. In that moment Maya realized she could and wanted to share her life with him, all of it. She could reveal the very secrets of her soul and trust him completely with her life. It was a very powerful feeling, one that very nearly overwhelmed her.

"Once," she began quietly. "There was this young man, before everyone left Psychon. His parents, my parents, they had always hinted." She stopped as the old memory surfaced, suddenly very clear to her. An unwanted memory.

Tony chuckled softly. "An arranged marriage then?" Somehow he could not imagine anybody trying to arrange Maya's life for her and receiving her complete agreement.

Maya continued. "Everybody was fleeing Psychon. His family wanted to take me with them. Daddy wasn't leaving. It was so confusing then, but I knew I couldn't leave him alone on Psychon. They all tried to make me go, friends and relatives. One afternoon, there was a council meeting. I was alone and," her voice trailed off as she recalled more of that time. It had been such a long time ago.

"Let me guess," Tony interrupted, "this fellow figured if he put the moves on you, you'd leave with him."

Maya nodded. "I was only seventeen, he was twenty-three. Too much had happened, I was upset. I didn't want to discuss it, he pushed too hard. I didn't like it, he made me angry, and I put him on the floor, literally."

Tony laughed. "What creature did you use to accomplish that?"

Maya looked up at him, a bemused expression on her face. "None."

"Little spitfire, you are."

"I guess."

For a few moments they sat there holding onto one another.

"You're not going to put me on the floor Maya, are you?" Tony suddenly asked.

Maya was quiet for a moment. "No," she said softly.

Tony's fingers caressed her cheek. "No? Positive?"

She shook her head, her eyes straining against the on-setting darkness to see him. Her soft hand reached up to touch his face and Tony leaned down to kiss her again, pausing as if awaiting her permission. Their faces were so close, noses almost touching. All she had to do was say yes. She knew if she did, her life was going to change, forever. Maya wanted it to. She'd never wanted anything more than she wanted him at that moment.

"Yes," she replied to him softly, her voice a mix of the myriad of emotions that suddenly filled her. Then his lips touched hers. He was warm and safe and he filled her with emotions that she had long ago given up hope of ever experiencing. The idea of putting Tony Verdeschi on the floor suddenly held a lot of appeal, in a very sensual way.

Pain and injuries were forgotten, hurtful jabs put aside, even the cold dissipated as something happened between them that neither could explain. Tony only knew that he needed to taste her sweetness. Repeatedly, kiss after gentle kiss. She was adorable, beautiful, and he knew he would never have enough of her.

Tony also realized he'd been an idiot. How could he have been so blind all these weeks? He caressed her gently, kissed her softly, and whispered soft words until she fell back asleep in his arms, and even then, he still didn't let her go.

Tony Verdeschi sat in the dark silence, feeling as though somebody had kicked him squarely in the chest. As he held her in his arms, his mind drifted over the last few years of his life. He'd always believed things happened for a reason, even the bad things. Tony was a believer in fate.

Had it been fate then, him receiving a posting to Alpha ahead of Guido? What about his grandmother predicting his engagement to Kelli would not lead to marriage? He hadn't received the much wanted posting to the Meta mission team, instead missing even the backup list by two placements. His eagle developing a malfunction that caused him to land back on Alpha, instead of being over the waste dumps when they blew. He'd been injured during the blast out and had spent forever recuperating instead of being assigned to potentially life-ending missions.

Perhaps everything had happened for a reason, for Maya? To Tony it seemed almost inconceivable to be thrust light-years across the galaxy for one thing, one woman. He didn't think his wildest dreams could have ever conjured up a girl like Maya. And yet, she seemed, right then, absolutely what he'd always wanted and needed. And he'd treated her like crap, for some pretty stupid reasons. Maya couldn't help who her father had been, just like she couldn't help who she reminded Tony of.

Time unfolded slowly around them, leaving Tony to his thoughts. The cold was making his body ache. Tired and exhausted, he began wondering when that damn team from Alpha would arrive. It would be a bloody stupid idea to succumb to hypothermia now. He held Maya gently in his arms, snuggled up against him. Occasionally she whimpered in her sleep and his last thoughts before he fell asleep were not to let her go. He had to protect her until someone from Alpha came and pulled them up from this wretched hole in the ground.

Tony Verdeschi walked through the door leading into Medical Center. A shower, shave, and a hot cup of coffee had made him feel like a human being again.

Helena looked up at him from her desk, a puzzled look on her face. "Back to complain about your shoulder already?"

Tony smiled as he looked down at his arm in a sling. It would heal, he'd suffered worse. It just wasn't a big priority right now. In fact, it was very inconsequential at this moment.

"No, I wanted to check on Maya. How is she?"

Helena smiled as she glanced back the ward where the Psychon was sleeping. "A slight concussion, twisted ankle, and bruising. I gave her something for the pain, she should sleep for hours. The laceration won't even leave a scar, we'll see to that. Like you, she'll recover." Russell stood. Intuitively she knew what Tony's real reason for coming back to Medical was. She pretended to need a break.

Tony nodded and then remained where he was, motionless and lost deep in thought. Helena couldn't help but notice the expression on the younger man's face.

"Tony, would you like my permission to go sit with her for awhile?"

Tony's reaction was priceless, the look on his face as he tried to cover amused Helena.

"Well, nah, no," he stammered. "I wasn't asking."

Helena began to walk out of the ward, then turned back to him, a smile on her face.

"I know you weren't, but yes Tony, you may."

With that she left and the decision belonged to him. Of course he wanted to be with her. Tony slowly walked back to where Maya was. Despite the bruises on the side of her face, she was still a lovely vision. Her auburn hair was tousled about, as she lay there propped on pillows. A gauze bandage covered the gash to her temple but took away nothing from her exotic beauty.

Gently he sat down on the bed, loathe to wake her but desperate to just be near her. She opened her blue eyes to look up at him.

"Hi," she said with a dreamy smile.

"Hi yourself," Tony couldn't help but smile. The darkened pupils of her eyes told him she was higher than a kite. "How do you feel?"

"Funny, I don't feel a thing," she said with a giggle.

"I bet," he said knowingly. Tony knew from past experience that Doctor Russell had some pretty good potions.

"What about you?" she asked, her voice soft and beautifully accented.

Tony shrugged. "Doc says I'll live, the shoulder might heal."

Maya giggled again. "You're silly."

"No, I am very sorry." He took her smaller hand gently in his, his fingers closing about hers.

"For what?" she asked.

"For everything. Look Maya, for reasons you don't know, I was an insensitive cad. I can't begin to tell you how sorry I am."

"Apology accepted," she said simply. She asked for no further explanation but left him no doubt that it was, indeed, accepted. She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them again.

"Tony, about what happened down there," she began quietly.

"Ssh," he said as he pressed a tender finger to her lips. "We'll talk later. You need to rest." Here and now was not the place. Later, when she was better, and they could talk in assured privacy. Then they would talk.

She gave him a sweet smile, a nod, and then closed her eyes again. It would do her no good to struggle against the medicine in her system. Sleep overtook her.

For a time Tony sat there, simply holding her hand until she did fall back asleep. God, she was beautiful. And young, and, he now knew, inexperienced. The type of thoughts she had put into his head would probably have shocked her. Then again, he thought with a smile, Maya also had proved unpredictable. Desirable, adorable, and enticing. She was quite a combination.

Assured that she was soundly asleep, he leaned over and brushed her lips with his. She stirred slightly but did not awake.

"Sleep little princess," he murmured. "Sweet dreams," he said before leaving Medical Center. He meant that too. He hoped she didn't have anymore violent nightmares. He knew nobody deserved to endure that kind of torture, especially Maya. He also knew he didn't want anybody else on the receiving end of Maya's kisses. Did he stand a chance with the beauty from Psychon? He had no idea. What he did know was she intrigued him like no other woman had ever done.

Hmm, an Italian and a Psychon? Might just be a galactic first, he thought with an amused grin. Might prove to be damned interesting too. Yeah, later he and Maya were definitely going to have that discussion.

Copyright (c) 2004. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

Database last modified in 2018.

If this page does not display correctly, switch to the Plain Text layout