Two and a half hours later, Chel was asleep in the bunkroom. Lexx checked on her several times to make sure. Fly was curled up on the bed next to her. He’d been the only one Lexx had allowed in there tonight. The other dice were in the enviro unit sleeping, despite their protests. Lexx didn’t want to risk one of them waking Chel up.

And now, he squatted next to the bunk, arms draped casually over his knees. He was close enough that he could smell her. Slight sweat and the airy odor of flowers. Lexx simply looked at her for a few minutes. By no means did she even compare physically with some of the females that Lexx had seen and had thrown themselves at him so willingly. It didn’t matter. There was something about her that strongly attracted him, from the moment he’d actually ‘looked’ at her.

Then he realized, that he’d been doing this exact same thing and she had been asleep. He lowered his gaze to study his hands, idly flexing his fingers. He wanted to touch her again. Quietly, careful not to disturb Fly, he reached out and caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. He was running a risk. If she woke up, he’d have a lot of explaining to do, but that didn’t fully enter his mind.

Gently he brushed her hair back, then leaned forward, contemplating. She was asleep. She hadn’t felt his hand. She didn’t stir. He smiled and softly kissed her forehead, whispering, “You know what, Chel, I would choose to love you if I had that option.” A silent admission. It felt good to say that, a heavy weight lifting off his chest, especially since he knew she didn’t hear him.

Lexx quietly stood and left the room, neither Fly nor Chel knowing he’d ever been there. A sigh followed Lexx in the form of a small black cat. Stealth slinked after him when he entered the living area, circling his legs as he stopped in front of the window looking out into space. “What is going on, Lexx? You’re hiding something.”

“She doesn’t need to see me fight again, Stealth. I will not subject her to it.” Lexx stared out the window.