It felt great to be dancing again. The worries of her life always melted away when she let the music and movement consume her. She turned and spun with and without her partner. She glanced at him, as they moved, her curiosity sparking, for the first time, with Alan. Mechanics never interested her, no matter how much Farrah tried to teach her, so the way Alan worked never crossed her mind. She liked him, he was a part of her family, and that was all that mattered. What he was, or how he worked was not important. He was her friend. Tonight, however, he was her dance partner and she had been prepared to do all the work. He took her by surprise, knowing not only how to dance but doing it well. Not once did he step on her, thankfully, and she was quite sure that more attention was on him than her.
She did not mind that, though earlier that day she had enjoyed the catcalls and whistles she had been given. Alan was remarkable and he deserved the attention, the praise, instead of the rude words and stares she had noticed him receive in the past. Why was it so hard for humans to accept those that were different from them? Most of her new family had something different about them, many of them were Strangers.
The crew were the closest to what her parents would have called normal. Farrah, perhaps, her parents would have liked. Yes, they would have loved to have had Farrah as a daughter instead of Avi. Aleid and Farrah were similar, both strong willed, smart, and ready to take on the world. Aleid would one day take over the Elon business, that had always been father’s plan. Father did not look down on women in power, he was proud of Aleid, and he would have been happy with Farrah as his daughter.
Some days Farrah reminded Avi of her sister. They both liked her but at times feared her. She had seen the look of fear in Farrah’s eyes at multiple occasions. Her sister had even denied they were related, the last time they had seen each other. She feared that one day Farrah would do the same.
Alan was not like that. He liked all of them, though he did, on occasion, get upset at something Captain Phillip or Cullen would do. Recently, Avi had noticed, Alan had taken a liking to the ship’s cook, Fabio. She, personally, did not care much for the cook. He had threatened to cook her birds while they ship was on rations.
As the music set came to a close, Avi excitedly returned to Farrah and Phillip. She had enjoyed dancing with Alan, but she had ultimately had the goal to get the Captain to dance with her. He was always teaching her about smuggling but he had never been available to dance until now.
“Will you dance with me, Captain? Please,” she asked in her sweet voice.
Phillip looked at her, taking in her request, then turned to Alan. “Keep a close watch on Miss Farrah, if you would, Alan.”
Alan had no objection to watching over Farrah. He took up a position only feet away from her,, his focus never leaving her. Avi, in the meantime, snatched up Phillip’s hand and dragged him to the dancefloor.
Once again, she found that she did not need to lead, and she happily let him do the leading. He danced well, she perhaps was a bit better at it, but she did not feel that she needed to slow down for him to keep up. One of the songs brought their bodies close, his hand, gently holding onto her own delicate. His touch was surprisingly gentle. Alan, though good at dancing, hand not held her like this. Phillip’s arm was around her waist, through her dress she could feel the placement of his other hand.
She felt her cheeks burning up and found that she could not look her Captain in the eyes. Her gaze bore into his collar bone. He looked nice, tonight, she noted. She had not seen him in much other than his smuggler clothes. Now, that she was thinking about it, he always looked nice. Handsome. That was what women would call him. She was beginning to understand what that meant.
“Are you doing alright, Avi?”
He was speaking to her, his voice soft and his breath hitting her flushed cheeks. She lifted her gaze, one yellow and one blue eye looking up at him. His words had never been harsh with her, he was always kind, and now he was concerned. Perhaps because she was being so quiet. Or perhaps because her face was, no doubt, as red as a tomato.
“Yes, yes, I am quite happy, Phillip,” she responded with a lighter tone than she normally would speak with.
Had she called him Phillip? She had taken to calling him Captain almost every time she addressed him. At least whenever he was teaching her or while they were aboard the Songbird. Why was this so different?
“Do you need to rest?”
His words brought her back to the moment and she realized she had been staring at him. She turned her head slightly away from him to look out at the other dancing couples. He could tell something was wrong.
“No-no, Captain. I would very much like to dance one more with you.”
She wrapped her fingers more firmly around his hand, to hold him there. One more song and then they would not be this close. The next chance to dance could be weeks away. She wanted this to last. She felt the need to hold onto the moment.
As the last song was ending, they noticed a man hurrying away from Farrah and Alan. Avi was quite sure she saw him crying as he moved away. They regrouped with them to discuss the next move and Avi ended up at the buffet table for sometime. The night was beginning to grow late when the same man approached her.
“Would you care to dance, my lady?” he asked her.
Avi glanced around for the others; Alan was dancing with men and women, Phillip was nowhere in sight, and Farrah too was gone.
“Sure,” she agreed, with a half shrug.
They ended up on the dancefloor and she found that, though holding her in a similar way, she did not like dancing with this stranger. Phillip was better at dancing, and this man was holding her to firmly. When they finished the song, she was anxiously hoping to return to Phillip and Farrah. She looked around for them and spotted that they had returned to the room.
“May I ask if you spoken for, My Lady?” he was asking.
Avi did not know what he meant. She looked at him, her expression confused, but she wanted to leave so she did not bother to ask. “I have a Captain,” was her response, figuring it had something to do with being on a ship.
“Ah,” he looked passed her to where Philip was. “Alas, if you ever find yourself a free woman, please think of me.”
She stared at him, blinking, as she remained confused. “Sure,” she was the only way she could think to respond. “I think I need to return to my companions.” She quickly headed back over to the others.
“Farrah, what does it mean to be spoken for?” she asked when she reached them. “That guy said I was not free,” she added and pointed towards the man.
Farrah looked over and in her knowing voice said, “Oh, Him. We’ll talk about that later tonight, Avi.”