Justin looked down at her, dressed in her sheer draped gown that left nearly nothing to the imagination. She stood there in front of the bar, defeat settling into her shoulders, as they began to droop.
"Look, I'm sorry; I imagine that's not the answer you want to hear."
"'Not the answer'...? That's hardly an understatement. I'm intergalactic music sensation Nathena; no sentient ever says 'no' to me. Ever."
"Look," he said, resting his hands reassuringly on her shoulders, "your secret's safe with me. Honest."
Bewildered, Nathena pulled free of Justin and drifted over to the lounging chairs under the window looking out across the planet in orbit. "Wha... what about everything we just went through? The hitmen? That murderous tour agent of mine? All that danger?"
"The job, Nathena... the job. I got you through the end of your tour like I was supposed to." He looked her up and down. "I mean, don't get me wrong; I appreciate you're... gratitude."
She turned to look at him. He could see what looked like tears welling in the corner of her eyes. He felt his face betray his immediate regret at his clumsy statement. "Nathena, I-"
"No, don't," she said, throwing up her hands. "I get it; I'm just some flashy core system idiot, right? All got her heart wrapped up in the romance of the frontier..."
"That's not it at all. It's just that, well, you're nice and all, and it's been a fun adventure, but I just don't see you like that. I'm... I'm sorry."
"So am I, I suppose." She wiped tears from her cheeks. "Tell me, captain; when can I expect to dock?"
Justin smirked uncomfortably. "Our landing window is in two hours. I can see if it can be expedited."
"That would be very nice if you could see to that, captain. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go pack my things. I'll be in my cabin until then. Thank you, again, for your service; which was far above the call and scope of our agreement."
Justin opened his mouth to say words he didn't have, but Nathena pushed past him and out the lounge door and down the hall of the ship. Sighing, he brushed his hair back and shook his head. After making a couple calls to port control, The No.7 touched down thirty five minutes later, as adoring fans clambered the landing platform, eager to catch sight of their beloved singer and musician. As the docking plank lowered they stood apart from each other. Justin made sure he was behind her, so she could be seen by everyone.
As she reached the last step, her foot hesitated. Without looking back, Nathena strengthened her resolve, straightened her posture, and stepped off the ship and moved toward the crowd and her staff. At the top of the ramp Justin watched blankly. With Nathena off ship, he worked the ramp controls, then touched the comm pad.
"She gone," Jig asked, from the other end.
"Yeah..." He paused a moment. "Get prelaunch started and get us a liftoff window. I'll be in the office looking for our next gig."
"Fine. Yeah, I'm fine. Let me know when we're ready to go."
The ramp locked back into position, and Justin made his way to the office.