~*~Not Quite Easy~*~

When she was taken to her unphaseable-metal detention cell, he was the one who escorted her there. He grinned that mocking grin of his and said, "Sweet dreams, Princess."

"Go to --" she retorted.

"Already there, sweetheart," he rejoined.

Her cerulean eyes spit out enough sparks to ignite the planet. "I hate you," she hissed.

"Same old song," he returned, and left.

~*~

To her surprise, he came back the next morning – with breakfast. "Not hungry," she growled.

He gave her a skeptical look. "You're gonna be hungry later."

"I don't care."

"Fine, suit yourself."

"What are you doing here anyway, Darkmatter?" she scowled. "Come to gloat?"

He set the food tray on the floor and leaned against the bars of her cell door, cybernetic and organic arms crossed over his massive chest. "Sure. Why not?"

She rolled her eyes. "Why me? Zurg's had opportunities to kidnap any one of us, so why me?"

He shrugged. "If the four of you are together, you're pretty much unstoppable. If just one of you is missing, the rest of the team is weakened. Kind of a divide-and-conquer thing."

She crossed her arms then and looked away. "Go away," she said softly.

"Whatever you say, Your Princessness."

~*~

"Back again so soon?"

"Lunch."

"Ah."

"Not interested, I take it?"

"Nope."

He shrugged again. "Your loss."

~*~

Dinnertime…

"You know, at least I can handle Zurg's egotistical gloating," she told him. "You – you're just a pain."

"Thanks a heap. So are you gonna eat now or what?"

"I'm on a diet."

"Funny."

"I aim to tease."

~*~

Come the next morning, she was a bit more receptive. "Thanks."

He staggered back in mock shock. "Did you say… thanks?"

She glared hard at him. "Shut up, or I won't do it again."

He rolled his navy-blue eyes. "Enjoy."

She looked down at the less-than-appetizing mush in her bowl. "Will do," she grimaced.

~*~

"Back so soon?" she asked, surprised. He had delivered dinner only three hours ago – what was up?

"Yeah," was his noncommittal response. He leaned against the corridor wall opposite hers and just stood there, looking towards her. His distant gaze was unnerving, and after five minutes of awkward silence, she spoke again.

"Don't you have something better to do? Other prisoners to torment, evil plots to execute?"

He shook himself out of his self-induced daze. "Huh? What'd you say?"

"Oh, forget it."

He nodded slowly, as if still dazed. After another minute, he said, very slowly, "See ya."

He turned and left a very puzzled Princess in her cell.

~*~

She got used to his spontaneous, silent visits as they grew more and more frequent.

"You know," she said almost offhandedly, one day, "I still hate you."

"Sure you do," he said, matching her tone.

"I mean it."

He turned to leave once again. "I know."

~*~

It had been two weeks now.

"Why do you keep coming back?" When he didn't answer after a couple of minutes, she wondered if he'd heard. "Warp…"

"I… I don't know," he whispered, to himself.

She still heard him.

~*~

"You're bad for me, you know," she said casually.

"Funny, I was gonna say the same for you."

"Ha-ha," she said humorlessly.

"It's true," he shrugged.

"I'm sure it is."

"Y'know, your food's gonna get cold."

She made a face, and he couldn't help laughing. Not a cruel, mocking laugh, but a warm, friendly chuckle.

She found herself laughing with him.

~*~

"Hi ya, doll-face," he greeted casually.

"Ooo, somebody's chipper this morning," she said sarcastically.

"And it sounds like somebody else isn't."

"Don't you have other women to harass?!" she shouted.

"What's your problem?" he frowned, taken aback by her sudden hostility.

"Aside from the fact that I'm still being held prisoner by an egotistical megalomaniac and his moronic turncoat henchman –"

"Hey!"

She gave him a disgusted look. "Why should you care, anyway?"

Then it dawned on him. "Are you – I mean, is it your – you know…" His voice trailed away in embarrassment.

She looked down at the floor. "Um… yeah."

Pause. Then finally…

"Oh. I'm sorry. I – I'll go." He turned to leave.

"No, wait. Warp…" He turned back to her. "Stay. Please?"

His hard features softened. "Sure thing, Princess. Whatever you say." Pause. "You wanna talk?"

"No. Just… just be with me."

"Sure thing… Mira."

~*~

"Feelin' better this morning?"

"Yeah. Thanks."

"Breakfast."

"Thanks." Not enthusiastic.

"Hey, it's healthy," he pointed out.

"Suuure," she said skeptically.

"Most important meal of the day."

"Right."

"And y'know –"

"Warp, just shut up."

"Yes, Your Highness."

She rolled her cerulean eyes, indicating that she wasn't too fed-up. He was glad, and he didn't think too much about it. Thinking might lead him to conclusions he didn't want to reach, places he didn't want to go.

For now, just this was enough.

~*~

"What's going on out there?"

He feigned ignorance. "Out where?"

"Don't play dumb with me, Darkmatter," she warned through clenched teeth. "What's happening out there?"

He looked away. "Lightyear's still managing to beat Zurg."

She breathed a sigh of relief.

"But it's getting harder for him to do it."

"Because I'm not there," she said softly, to herself.

"Yeah."

She was silent after that.

"Hey, Princess… you okay?"

She snapped out whatever reverie she had locked herself into. "Huh? Uh, yeah. Sure."

That didn't convince either of them.

~*~

"Going to a party, Darkmatter?" The voice was bitter, resentful.

He gulped, nervously slicking back his already-slicked hair and staring down at the suit that matched the color of his hair. "Uh… yeah…"

"Rubbing it in?"

"No!" Why he kept hanging around this woman was beyond him. Yeah, she was pretty, but – sweet mother of Venus – talk about one tough cookie! He could have his pick of just about any girl he wanted, and he kept hanging around her instead.

"So then why are you here?"

"I guess – I just…" he faltered. How could he tell her that he came because he'd feel guilty if he didn't drop by for just a quick visit? He was a villain, for star's sakes! How could he tell her? More than that, how could he make her understand?

"You don't need my permission to go," she mocked.

That made his temper flare. "Just who do you think you are??"

"Just go!"

"My pleasure!"

For the first time, he literally stormed out of the detention level.

~*~

"I'm sorry for the way I acted last night," she said softly.

"Yeah, well, I…" he sighed heavily, "I guess I'm sorry, too."

She managed to quirk a small grin. "You guess?"

"Don't push it, Princess."

Still grinning, she said, "Wouldn't dream of it."

"Think you're pretty funny, dontcha?"

The grin grew even wider. "I know I am."

"You're as bad as Lightyear," he muttered.

"Hey, I resent that!" she exclaimed, half-playfully.

"Oh yeah? Make me take it back."

"Pain."

"Yep, that's me."

She smothered a choked laugh. "Oh, shut up already, Darkmatter."

"Shutting up," he grinned back.

~*~

They were standing in their usual, comfortable silence when she finally asked the one thing that had been nagging at her lately. "Why?"

"Huh?" he said, jerking his head up. "Why what?"

"Why'd you join Zurg? Why'd you betray Star Command?" Not accusing – more like… curious. Wanting to know. Wanting to understand.

He opened his mouth, shut it, opened it again. "You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

"No."

She growled in frustration. "Warp, I do not understand you!!"

"No one said you had to!"

"But I want to!!"

"What for? You think you can help me?? You don't even know what I've been through!!"

"I would if you'd just tell me!!"

"Forget it!!"

"Why do you have to be so difficult??"

He didn't reply to that. He just stormed away, as angry with himself as he was with her.

~*~

A grub delivered her dinner. "Where's Warp?" she frowned.

"Agent Z is offplanet right now," the grub replied.

Her frown deepened. "On a mission?"

"I don't think so."

Once the grub had left, she sat on her bunk and dropped her face into her hands. She had been too eager, too insensitive.

And now she had chased away the one friend she had left.

~*~

He returned at 0200 hours, when he knew she'd be asleep. The dim lighting in her cell was just bright enough to reveal the tear tracks down her cheeks – she had cried herself to sleep, and not that long ago.

Visiting her, getting to know her, befriending her… it had awaken in him things that he thought he'd buried. She made him remember. Remember what life was like in that Before, when his life hadn't yet been split into a Before and After. When he had been just a normal boy living with his parents. His dad, who'd been an engineer. His mom, who'd been a work-at-home computer repairwoman.

It hurt, remembering. Hurt like ****.

She hurt him. She reopened the old wounds every time he came here. But never had it hurt so much till today.

She reminded him of who he was. Who he could have been. He knew he could have had a very successful career at Star Command. He could have even had his own team by now.

He could have been a hero.

He growled in frustration at his rebellious thoughts.

That was all stupidity! Back in that world, he had to work his tail off for people who never appreciated him as they should have because he would always second fiddle to his wonder-boy partner. Back in that world, he hadn't gotten the money, the "toys," the adoration, the power he had here.

This was where he belonged!

Then… why did he feel like he was running on empty?

She stirred in her sleep, and he knew it was time to go.

By the time she woke fully a minute later, he was gone.

~*~

She was curled up on her cot, her arms hugging her knees to her chin. She had never been so lonely in her life. "Warp, I'm sorry," she whispered.

Snatches of a song she had heard once came to her, and the words felt oddly appropriate.

I thought that I was over you

But it's true, so true
I love you even more

Than I did before

But Darling, what can I do?

For you don't love me
And I'll always be…

~*~

He strolled past her hall when he heard singing. She was singing.

Crying over you,

Crying over you


Yes, now you're gone


And from this moment on,

I'll be crying,

Crying, crying, crying


I'm crying,

Crying over you

He sighed heavily. He'd come back later, once he had figured out what to say.

~*~

"It's complicated."

Her eyes lit up as she heard his voice. "Warp!" Then she smiled uncertainly. "What's complicated?"

"The whole deal with Zurg and Star Command."

She leaned against the bars and folded her arms. "I've got plenty of time."

He closed his eyes and sighed. I don't have to do this… No, he didn't. But he wanted to. "When I was a kid, life was pretty good until I was fifteen. My parents died in a stupid speeder crash…"

~*~

The moment he had decided to tell her his story, he had known that it would come to this. Zurg would have his head if he ever showed his face again, so he prayed he had enough luck left to do this right.

He keyed the command into the computer to open the door, and stepped in. She was asleep, so he had to shake her awake. "Mira? Hey, Mira!" he whispered hoarsely.

"Wha?" she said sleepily. "Wha's going on… Warp! What're you doing in here??"

"Jailbreak – what does it look like?" he retorted. "Now come on!"

"Why are you doing this?"

"Why do you think, Princess? Come on!"

It wasn't long before they were discovered, but somehow, his luck proved good this time. They were soon in his ship and into space, bulleting toward a certain space station.

~*~

She folded her arms behind her back and leaned against the wall, grinning up at the ceiling. The door opened, and he strode in. "Honey, I'm home and I'm starving!"

"Hilarious," she muttered, rolling her eyes.

"Feeling better?" he asked, kissing her. "The team was worried when you had to call in sick."

"I'm okay," she assured him. "At least, for now."

"Uh-oh. What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Warp – really," she insisted, smiling widely.

"Well, something's going on!"

"Like… maybe the fact that we're gonna have a baby?"

His jaw dropped in shock, and she laughed. Then he whooped, lifted her into the air, and spun her around the room. When he set her down, she slapped him across the face, then kissed him.

No, their relationship had never been easy and probably never would be.

They were Space Rangers. They thrived on difficult.

~*~FINIS~*~

Author's Note:

This will likely be my only Wine fic. Avid Beer fanatic though I am, I do like Wine, because I think that Warp/Mira works just about as well as Buzz/Mira. I wanted to try my hand at Wine just once. (If you want to hear the story that Warp tells Mira, just check out the fic "Retrospect at 3 o'clock" in my anthology Inrospection from the 31st Century.) ;D I've said this before, and I'll say it again, Warp/Mira reminds me of Han and Leia from Star Wars. Just seems to be a very similar dynamic: Scoundrel/Princess. This was a little dark for me as far as romance goes, but it was still fun doing something different.

Quite possibly, one of these days I'll do a Marred fic. Sound good?

Oh yeah, and the song that Mira sings is called "Crying" - I don't know anything else about it. Sorry.

Please review!