Corso never knew where she was going with these nonchalant little comments but they invariably led to his blushing madly at her audacity and making him want her even more. She was so different from anything he’d ever known. His stint with the Republic Army had left him feeling urbane and experienced compared to his fellows on Ord Mantell but the smuggler operated on a whole different level.
“All right,” he said with a nervous laugh, “I’ll bite. What are pilot’s pants?”
“Well, let’s say I needed to use the facilities at this very moment,” she answered, looking unconcernedly ahead. Corso wondered whether she was fighting a wicked grin or the temptation to watch his reaction. Probably both. He could already feel the heat rising up his neck. Ladies simply didn’t talk about such things back home. He made a small noise of encouragement, however. He found that he suddenly really did want to know.
“I haven’t got much time and this profusion of belts and holsters I’m wearing, stylish and functional though it may be, makes such a trip rather a time-consuming matter.” She did allow a tiny smile to tug at the corner of her mouth as she gestured at the buckles and clasps that looked far less convenient for a trip to the latrine than his own quick-snap belt and hard-shell armor design for fast removal and replacement.
“All pilots face this problem. When we land, we’re expected to get out of the ship quickly, either to deal with our impatient and hurtfully distrustful customers or to face baseless accusations from frustrated bureaucrats. It makes all of them twitchy and prone to involve blasters if you take too long to get out your airlock.”
“Okay,” Corso shrugged. “So what do these miraculous pants do?” He suddenly had a glimmer and his face heated in earnest. “They don’t…store anything?”
The Captain laughed in that full-throated, Empire-be-damned way that made his knees a little weak even as it brought more blood rushing to his face. Her hands moved competently on the controls, following the routine she almost certainly could have performed in her sleep. Her self-confidence and comfort with herself made Corso feel like a bumbling child, some days. It also made him want to fling her over that seat and do quite grown-up things to her.
“No,” she answered, still chuckling a little, “nothing so…distasteful.” Her mouth, ripe as the rest of her, made a little moue of disgust. “That’s definitely not my style.” Corso laughed in relief. It certainly didn’t fit with her relative fastidiousness. Even her ramshackle ship, finally retrieved and checked over in excruciating detail, was as clean and comfortable—inside and out—as it could be made.
She shook off the idea and returned to her point. “When a pilot has need, the autopilot will do for a short minute while she dashes off to bow to Mother Nature’s demands. It’s generally best to do that on approach, like now. Traffic is generally sparse enough and she’d have time before approach, but not enough to take off four layers of tools and weaponry.”
He really was curious, now. Were those oh-so-snug trousers in some way holographic, leaving her...he gulped at the thought and felt the heat rush up to the roots of his hair, and other places…exposed under that cloak she wore? And on those days she wore shorter jackets? No wonder she rarely sat on anything outside the ship if she could help it.
“So what, then?” His voice came out a little choked.
Kaia glanced at him. His squeezed tone had drawn her attention and she gave another of those joyous laughs at seeing the rather alarming shade of red he’d turned. At least he had his codpiece on to cover the worst of his reaction. He always armored up when they jumped to a new planet. It seemed like a good idea, what with the assassins on their tails.
“I feel quite certain I don’t want to know to what incorrect assumption you’ve leapt, Corso.” She grinned wickedly before turning back to her console. “At least not right now. Now stop interrupting me.”
He started to protest and then stopped himself. It had taken him months to start catching these teasing moments before he made a complete fool of himself. The Captain lied so casually, sometimes in dire situations and sometimes just to play. If she had a tell he’d yet to discover it but at least he’d learned to think for a moment before defending himself from an unfair accusation.
She gave a tiny nod, whether at his catching her at her game or at the fact that he didn’t interrupt her again he couldn’t say for certain. “Pilot’s pants have a secret and critical feature that most of us never share with anyone, including our crews. You have to know someone who knows someone to get a pair, and once you do you’ll never wear anything else.”
The tale grew only more puzzling as she went along. He still couldn’t get the idea of her bare behind on that seat out of his head and all of this talk about her pants made his own distinctly uncomfortable.
Finally she relented. “The secret is the zipper,” she said, tipping him a wink before returning her eyes to the now-rapidly-approaching docking bays of the spaceport. “It runs the whole way,” she said, drawing it out with apparent relish, “from the front allll of the way to the top in the back. One zip and you’re wide open, then another to get back in action faster than an ice cat chasing a taun taun, as they say on Hoth.”
Corso thought he might have actually stripped a gear in his brain, for a moment, as it provided him with a number of shocking new images and ideas. Had he been a droid his head would have been smoking. The Captain didn’t deign to look and continued as though she had no idea the effect this conversation was having on him.
“The reason they’re so valuable is that only a few incredibly talented tailors can make them properly. You could spend an hour looking at my rear and never know there’s a zipper there. It takes a specialized set of skills to do that and, really, no lady wants strangers to know she’s so…easily accessible. Hence the secrecy.”
By this time they’d joined the stream of traffic whizzing in and out of the spaceport’s mass of platforms. “It’s become something of a byword among smugglers,” she said, letting stew in the heat of his imagination, only fueled by her phrasing. “You’ve heard me ask someone if he had his pants on, haven’t you?”
Thankfully his recollections of her doing so, generally when launching a hairy operation with one of her contacts, distracted him from thoughts of zippers and what they concealed. The pressure of his armor eased as they swooped into the bay designated by the traffic control droids. “Yeah,” he finally managed. “I always wondered about that.”
“Now you know why. Of course,” she threw out as she smoothly touched down, “it makes other discreet activities easier, too.” Then she hopped out of her seat and clattered off toward the air lock, floating another laugh behind her. Corso found he had to wait longer than all of those buckles and clasps would have taken in the head before he could show himself without shocking the ground crew.