Heat: Introduction Rating: PG
Diana deRiggs

"How are you doing, Jaina?"

"Fine ... and you, Jagged?"

For two beings who had gone to hell and back — often together — and to hell again, one could be excused for thinking they should be less stiff and uncomfortable with one another. After years of living and dying — and living again — these two could have had more warmth toward each other. Whether they be the blazing fuel-soaked hate type of heat, or a more smouldering embert type borne of unfulfilled desire — either would have been more expected.

Instead, they were courteous, as if ... well, as if they had been divorced, and were forced to come together for the sake of a shared offspring. Neither wanted to make a scene, and they seemed to be there for the sake of something else, ready to bolt out at the first opportunity.

But the truth, instead, was a bit more complex. They had been together, then separated. They were with others, seemingly past their old relationship. There was no offspring; there were many shared losses. As those who work together and had embarked into "office relationships," their paths crossed again, inevitably and often.

Both found themselves unable, really, to deal with separation from the other. Selfishly, if Jaina was sleeping with someone else, she didn't think about Jagged or how much it may hurt him. Though if she was alone or in the sliding off / transitioning end of an affair, any rumor she heard about Jagged and anyone else — male or female, human or alien — roiled her stomach and made her want to kill that anyone else. It was completely unjustifiable, completely counterintuitive, totally unfair. It was also real.

Whether this was true for Jagged, one could guess easily enough. After all, were they now fighting entropy and forcing themselves to stand together? They really didn't have to be so physically close to one another, after all.

Perhaps it was pride, and a desire to hurt the other, before getting hurt themselves? This might have prevented either of them from crossing the emotional divide between them. Both soldiers, too, they knew that to love someone meant grieving over their loss — either through death ... or something else.

To their friends and to themselves, they both swore off on each other; which in itself indicated the spark between them still lived deep in their hearts. It was a spark they nurtured like a vital ember, whether consciously or subconsciously. Both prepared to be hurt by the other, but held the hope that the other would (could he? could she?) overcome the other's hard-fought reluctance.

How much heat was needed to melt his icy mien? How much power would be needed to blast away at the shields she'd put all around herself? What amount of energy, what order of magnitude?

A lot of energy indeed. And more importantly, persistence and humility would be required; would either be able to let their defenses down?

They were certainly going to try ... as long as the other one didn't rub up against the others' nerves — which were virtually sticking a couple of centimeters outside the surfaces of their skins!

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