Red Sky at Night Ch. 03


April 10th, 2173 CE

Shepard Family Home, Earth

It was soon to be a big day for Jane. Come midnight she would be 19 years old, and at sunrise that following day, she’d be enlisted in the Alliance military. That’s why Jane Shepard had been home for the last couple of days, on Earth. Although if she had to be honest, to her it wasn’t really home at all. With her parents going from ship to ship and station to station, and her in much the same predicament, the Shepard residence on Earth was used so infrequently it was more like a vacation house than a real home. Every year the three of them had to have spent only a month there at the most, and most of the time that was squandered largely around Christmas and New Years as a big three-week lump, and then perhaps a few days scattered throughout the year now and then. The Shepard family were nomads, and career military, and as such even a transfer to new Alliance cruiser felt more familiar and homey than this place.

But this was a special occasion, and there was a certain special something about the Shepard home. There had been lots of good memories within those walls, a lot of laughs and a lot of times when they could just be a family and forget about military doctrine and rules. Home may not have truly been where the heart was, but it was at least safe and stable, and allowed them all to simply relax. That said, they were here right now largely because of all that military nonsense, with the youngest member of the family finally joining her parents in its ranks. Jane was in a great mood, as was Hannah. The two had spent the day making and icing Jane’s cake, blowing up balloons and generally goofing off, and for a moment Jane felt like a kid again. But there was still one member missing from the party, and late that afternoon Hannah got a call that would come close to ruining a good day.

“You’re joking! God damn it, you’re her father!”

Watching a vid in the living room, Jane heard her mother yelling from the next room. Judging from those words, she had already pretty much figured out what the story was. She waited quietly for her mother to finish and appear in the doorway before she spoke.

“He’s not coming, is he,” Jane said. It wasn’t a question.

“No, honey, he’s not,” Hannah sighed. “Damn it! I should have known this would happen.”

“He’s got a job to do, Mom. He’s out there fighting for Earth.”

“Don’t defend him, honey. Surely he can take just two days off for his daughter’s special day,” Hannah grumbled. “He applied for the leave, it was granted. There’s no excuse. I got the time off and I’m here, and we’re both in the same boat.”

“It’s okay, Mom,” Jane said. “It’s not that big of a deal. I understand.”

“It’s not okay, Jane!” Hannah barked. “And you don’t understand!”

Jane flinched at her mother’s outburst, casting her head downwards. “Okay,” she whispered.

Hannah’s heart broke, and she strode across to her daughter. “Oh, honey… I’m sorry,” Hannah said, scooping Jane up in her arms. “I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just that… he’s… he’s never here, honey. He always promises he will be, but he’s not.”

“I’m sorry too, Mom,” Jane said, returning the hug as much as she could. “I forgot this doesn’t just affect me.”

“It’s okay, honey,” Hannah said. “It’s not your fault.” She pulled away and stroked her daughter’s hair. “Tell you what, how about we just go ahead and have the best damn birthday party for you without him anyway. That way it’s his own damn fault for missing out. We’ll have stories that’ll make him wish he’d been here and never miss another important event like this again.”

“Sounds good, Mom,” Jane beamed back. “We’ll have a real girl’s night, just the two of us.”

“Now you’re talking,” Hannah said. “Now let’s finally cut that cake that’s been taunting us the last couple of hours.”

The Shepard girls did as they had planned, and the rest of the afternoon and evening was a blast for the two of them. Not once did they pause and lament the absence of Jane’s father. Jane thought everything had gone perfectly, until just after she’d gone to bed. Feeling thirsty she went to get a glass of water, but heard a strange noise coming from her mother’s room. Getting closer to investigate, she realized it was her mother sobbing. Jane couldn’t ever remember hearing her mother cry, usually thinking her mother to be so strong. When Hannah Shepard was upset she usually got mad, not sad. Jane felt something stab her heart hearing that sound, so she tapped on her mother’s door quietly. “Mom? Can I come in?”

“Sure,” she heard her mother eventually reply. “It’s not locked.”

The door beeped and whisked aside, and Jane tiptoed in. Her mother was lying on her back in her bed, initially staring at the ceiling, but as Jane approached she turned her head and smiled, trying to sniff and blink away whatever had upset her. Jane was only wearing a loose tank top and her panties, so she rubbed her arms as she stood there. Had her father been home she probably would have put on a dressing gown before leaving her room in the first place, but she knew it was just bursa escort her and her mother, so her lack of covering wasn’t an issue.

“Is something wrong, honey?” Hannah asked. “Couldn’t sleep or something?”

“I was actually going to ask you the same thing,” Jane said straightforwardly. “I heard you crying.”

“Oh, it’s nothing, honey. Don’t worry yourself about it.”

“It’s not nothing, Mom,” Jane said stubbornly. “If it was nothing, you wouldn’t be doing it.”

“Even so, I don’t want to bother you with it, Jane,” Hannah said with a sigh.

“Too late. I’m already bothered. So tell me.”

Jane sat on the edge of her mother’s bed and took one of her mother’s hands in her own. Hannah looked at her daughter, and she couldn’t say no to those eyes. Even if she had, she knew Jane wouldn’t let her. Hannah sighed heavily.

“It’s just… your father, Jane. He’s never here. He’s too married to the Alliance and not enough to me.”

“That’s the career you both chose, Mom,” Jane said straightforwardly. “You had to know it would be like this.”

“I know, but… that’s not quite what I meant,” Hannah said. “I mean, he’s not here for me. He’s not…”

Hannah’s sentence evaporated, and she seemed to struggle with words. Eventually she gave up.

“Damn it! I used to be able to avoid this by telling you that I’ll tell you these things when you’re older, but I can’t do that now. You’ll be eighteen soon. You ARE older.”

Jane looked puzzle for a moment, then her eyes bugged out for a split second, and her brow twisted.

“Are you saying that, him not being here, that… you’re talking about…”

“Yes, honey,” Hannah said, saving her daughter from embarrassment. “I’m saying that I’m lonely. And your father isn’t here to… ease that loneliness.” She sighed. “He’s not even here sleeping beside me in bed, let alone anything else. I’m sick of lying here alone.”

It was deathly quiet for a moment between them, with Hannah just staring up at the ceiling. After a while, without a word, Jane pulled back the covers of her mother’s bed, then crawled in beside her. Hannah just watched silently, her eyebrows raised, until Jane pulled the covers back over both of them and snuggled up to her mother. Jane smiled widely at Hannah. “That better, Mom?” she asked.

“Oh, honey,” Hannah said, kissing Jane’s brow. “Of course it is. Thank you.”

“Any time, Mom,” Jane said, nestling her forehead into the nape of her mother’s neck.

“I don’t know,” Hannah said jokingly. “You’re starting to get a bit old for this now.”

“I’m never to old to love my Mom,” Jane answered.

“Glad to hear,” Hannah sighed.

“Besides, I was getting cold sitting there in my underwear,” Jane added.

Hannah laughed, kissing the top of her daughter’s head. Jane wrapped her arms around her mother’s body, her fingers playing with the silky material of the chemise her mother wore to bed. For what seemed like eons they just lay there in each other’s arms, basking in the moment and each other’s warmth.

“So, do you want to talk about it, Mom?” Jane broke the silence with.

“Are you sure you want to hear it?” Hannah replied with a deep sigh. “I don’t want to warp my poor daughter’s mind.”

“Just be honest about it, Mom,” Jane said. “No need to go into intimate details, just… tell me why you’re frustrated.”

“I’m not sure you’d like to hear the honest truth, honey,” Hannah said. “You might hate me for it.”

“I’d never hate you, Mom,” Jane said. “No matter what you said.”

Hannah stared into her daughter’s honest eyes and then hugged her tighter. “Oh, my poor Jane. I hope you don’t eat those words.”

“You can do it, Mom. Just let it out.”

“Okay,” Hannah said, and she inhaled and exhaled loudly. “Okay, here it is. Simply put, your father doesn’t really satisfy me. He’s never here, and even when he is, he just… isn’t what I’m after.”

“Are you saying you don’t love dad?” Jane asked.

“No, honey. I do love him. But, not in the way you may of thought or hoped. He’s very special to me, but…”

Hannah searched for the next words, but couldn’t think of anything that was right. She looked to Jane who just had wide eyes looking like they’d brim with tears any moment if she didn’t say the right thing, so she sighed and turned over on one shoulder to face her daughter.

“I think the best, most honest way of putting it is that I love your father, but I’m not IN love with him. Do you understand, honey?”

“I… I think so,” Jane said. “Is this something new or… or did you always feel like that.”

“Honestly, I think I always did,” Hannah admitted. “If it wasn’t for you, I probably wouldn’t have married him.”

“Because I was an accident?” Jane said, her eyes downcast.

“Oh no! No, honey!” Hannah said, kissing Jane on the forehead. “You weren’t an accident, you were a miracle. I never, ever regret you coming into our lives.”

Hannah took Jane’s chin, forcing her to look her in the eyes. “Never doubt that, honey. You are the most special thing that’s ever happened to me, and I love you bursa escort bayan more than anything. Never. Doubt. That.”

“Then why?” Jane asked. “Why don’t you truly love Dad?”

“Because he’s…” Hannah started, and again searched for a satisfactory answer for her daughter. “Because he’s…” Still nothing, and she gave up and sighed. “Because he’s a he, Jane. Because your father is a man.”

Jane’s brow twisted and she looked at her mother sideways. Hannah shook her head, then stroked her daughter’s hair lovingly.

“I’m like you, honey. I lied to you when I told you I liked men as well… when I said I was bisexual. I’m not. I just like girls. And your father simply can’t cut it in that department. That’s the honest truth.”

“I’m sorry, Mom,” Jane said. “I didn’t know.”

“You’re apologizing to me?” Hannah said with puzzlement. “I’m the one who should be apologizing!”

“No, you’re not,” Jane said. “You shouldn’t apologize for who you are.”

“I wish the rest of the world was as insightful and accepting as you are, honey,” Hannah said. “Or even just my parents and the Alliance brass would do.”

“So Grandpa and Grandma are part of the reason you married dad?”

“They always wanted me to find a husband,” Hannah said frankly. “I never dared to try and find out if they would have accepted me finding a wife or even simply a girlfriend. They just went on and on far too much about traditional family values and grandchildren and the like, it just never seemed likely, so I kept it from them. Still have.”

“I’m so sorry, Mom,” Jane said, hugging her mother closer. “I wish I could help you.”

“It’s okay, honey,” Hannah said, stroking Jane’s hair. “It’s not your problem to fix. I just have to face the facts: I’m stuck like this. Sacrifices must be made if I’m to be an Alliance soldier, and one of them is being lonely and being married to my career. It’s as simple as that. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as I make it out to be. I’m usually fine, it’s only times like this when I’m off-duty and not busy that it bothers me. I’m only lonely when I’m alone.”

“You might find somebody someday, Mom,” Jane tried to assure. “There has to be somebody out there who you can trust and love, and who will trust and love you back.”

“It’s a nice thought, honey,” Hannah said, turning back over to stare at the ceiling. “But a futile one. The closest person I have to that is you, and that’s as close as I’m going to get.”

“I hope you’re wrong, Mom,” Jane said, nuzzling into the nape of her mother’s neck. “But if it is, I love you, and I’m always here for you.”

A smile came to Hannah’s lips and she laughed, turning back to face her daughter. “Oh, of course you are honey. I know you are. But you’re my daughter, and…”

Hannah’s voice seemed to vanish, her smile along with it. Jane wasn’t sure what the expression was the replaced it. Her mother began to look a little confused, or as if something had just dawned on her. She stroked Jane’s cheek, mouth opening as if about to say something, but it seems she was still finding the words. The smile returned and she stroked some locks of hair away from Jane’s face.

“And you’re so loving and beautiful,” Hannah said, as if ending the sentence she’d abandoned before.

Jane smiled back at her mother, and Hannah’s own smile faltered, replaced by that same look she’d just had before. Her pupils moved around, like she was taking in every inch of her daughter’s face, and Jane’s smile too left her to be substituted with one of curiosity. Hannah’s gentle stroking of her cheek became a single finger tracing Jane’s jaw line before it curved around and rested on her lower lip.

“Honey, I think…” Hannah began, and she abandoned that and cleared her throat. “Honey, remember back when you… Remember that day when we both told each other about how we liked women? When you hurt yourself in the gym?”

“Yes,” Jane responded after a slight delay where she was trying to figure out where this was going. She suddenly noticed how large and wide her mother’s eyes were, and how there seemed to be fear in them for some reason. Jane’s answer made Hannah look down smile for a moment, then her mother took a deep breath and looked back at her with an intensely deep gaze. Hannah’s next question to her seemed to almost be forced out, her voice breaking a little as she spoke.

“Do you… Do you remember what I said to you, when… When you were doubting your ability to draw the interest of a woman?”

“I think so,” Jane said, feeling a weird yet familiar sensation in her stomach. “Something about me being beautiful and attractive, and that I was still feminine?”

“Yes. And what did I say after that?” Hannah said, her gaze seeming deeper than before. In fact, Jane had never been stared at so intensely before.

“Tha… That if you were half your age and not my mother, you’d be…” Jane’s throat felt dry, so she swallowed. “You would be on me in a heartbeat.”

“That’s right, honey,” Hannah said, blinking swiftly. Jane noticed there seemed to be tears in her mother’s eyes, and then Hannah averted them escort bursa down. “I just… I just wanted you to know that, I… I meant it.”

There was a pause and she looked up again, streams glistening down her cheeks and that intense gaze returning. “I still do,” she added.

Jane couldn’t think of how to respond, just lying there looking back at her mother with confusion. The sensation in her stomach seemed to grow, and she recognized it fully now. It was the same feeling she’d had when her mother was leaning down over her during the very moments they were just discussing. Jane felt her mother’s finger upon her bottom lip again as Hannah began to trace an outline around her daughter’s mouth while her eyes seemed to trace her face.

“And do you remember what… you said to me?” Hannah asked, voice wavering and eyes shiny.

“That… That I would… let… you,” Jane said, almost a whisper.

Hannah smiled and nodded softly, a blush coming to her cheeks. She removed her finger from Jane’s lips and shifted slightly in the bed until her face was about an inch closer to Jane’s. As her mother spoke, Jane could feel the warmth of her mother’s breath gently drift against her lips and chin.

“And, did you… mean it?” Hannah queried.

Before Jane could even take in her mother’s question, she felt a sudden warmth on her thigh, causing her to gasp slightly. It was her mother’s fingers, which gently began to rub her in a callback to that very event, right in the same place they had been that fateful day. Jane looked into her mother’s eyes, which were now slightly heavy-lidded and hazy. Hannah’s lips were parted a little, and Jane could feel shorter, sharper breaths blowing against her own. The younger Shepard didn’t respond verbally, instead just nodding her head.

“Good,” Hannah said, sniffing and smiling as a fresh stream of liquid slid down one cheek. “Even now?”

Jane nodded again, her own eyes beginning to tear up. A short laugh sounded from Hannah, who removed her hand from Jane’s thigh to stoke her cheek again.

“You make me so happy, honey,” Hannah said lovingly, looking deeply into Jane’s eyes. “I’m so proud of you, and I love you. I just don’t want to hurt you or betray your trust.”

“You could never do that, Mom,” Jane croaked, reaching up and stroking her mother’s upper arm gently. “I’ll always trust you and love you.”

“I’m relieved to hear that, Honey,” Hannah said. “I want you to trust me. I want you to love me. I want you to…”

Hannah’s voice vanished and she studied her daughter’s face again for a moment, still stroking her cheek. Again the strokes transformed to one index finger tracing down to her daughter’s lips, and her loving gaze became more intense until she seemed to stare straight into Jane’s soul. “God forgive me, Jane… I simply want you,” Hannah finished.

To both of them it seemed like an eternity of just staring at each other after those words, like the whole universe was on pause for a while. Jane was the one to break the silence.

“Mom, I…”

“Hush,” Hannah said, pressing a finger to her daughter’s lips. “Don’t speak. Just…”

Time seemed to stop again for a while, until the finger gradually left Jane’s lips. Hannah began to slowly lean towards her daughter, and Jane closed her eyes and just parted her lips, letting them just go limp for a while. She felt the warmth of another set of lips make contact with her own, and press gently against them. There was just one small peck to start, no different than any other kiss her mother had given her. Two more followed much the same. The next lasted a little longer, and Jane heard and felt her mother shift beside her afterwards, then felt familiar fingers stroke her cheek.

The kiss after this was something special though, as Jane immediately felt a more intense pressure against her lips, and felt another moist tongue slide past them to make contact with her own. Jane felt the need to no longer keep her mouth limp any further, compelled to respond with as much as she was being given. Jane had never been kissed like this before, and the sensation was incredible to her. Her returned efforts were almost an instinct, and they seemed to be working, with no sense that she was being clumsy or doing a bad job of it. Somehow it all seemed natural.

It had to have been almost two minutes before they stopped, and Jane opened her eyes. She stared across at Hannah’s loving face, and only then the nature of the situation seemed to dawn on her. She was French-kissing with her own mother, the woman who brought her into this world. How did this happen? When did she go from lying in bed talking with her mother about her problems, to making-out with a beautiful goddess? As Hannah stroked Jane’s hair, the younger Shepard looked back and realized it was because they were the same person. Her mother was a beautiful goddess, and she was the most attractive woman Jane had ever come across. She was smart, beautiful, witty, caring, sexy and loving. Hannah was everything Jane wanted from a woman, but she was her mother. Jane knew it was wrong to feel this way, and that they should probably stop before things got out of hand. But she wanted it, and she could tell by looking into her mother’s eyes that so did she. For the first time in a long time, the usually strong Jane Shepard began to shake.

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