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Rhea gently assured Tera that she was fine, and that she should just go and use the bathroom, but she insisted on making an ordeal of it. No sooner than the anthro left, she sighed. It was good to stay hydrated, but everything had its limit. She focused on the screens in front of her. Everything looked and sounded good.
The opening of the door caught her by surprise. Rhea thought the pilot must have forgotten something. Looking to her chair, her cup was missing, so at the very least it wasn’t that. Curious, she turned toward the entrance. The figure she saw there was familiar, but not welcome.
Unable to image how the decrepit old woman could have gotten aboard the ship, the Pyrenian couldn’t take her eyes from the tiny creature. Was she hallucinating? Perhaps she had imagined their first meeting as well… However, she doubted that was the case when the iron grip of her peachy skinned hands grabbed her face and brought it close to her own. Rhea could smell a sickly sweet; almost candy like scent on her breath as she mentioned that her advice had been ignored.
Thinking back to their last meeting, so much had happened around that time that it was a bit of a blur. It was difficult to remember all the elderly woman had said. But Rhea didn’t have to struggle for long as she moved on, fleshing out the topic that she had only scratched the surface of the last time.
The red-eyed woman was soon granted her freedom. But her eyes still followed the ancient woman as though she had ahold of them. The pink hued woman listened carefully to each word that was said. Even if she didn’t fully understand what was happening, Rhea felt compelled to hear her out. Despite that being the case, she didn’t care for what she was able to glean from the message. It was fairly evident that Dante had some history, both from how he acted and some of things he’d said. And while she couldn’t be certain about the girls, having multiple young Pyrenians of the same age was generally the result of tragedy.
Not unlike how she first arrived, the strange woman slowly made her exit. There was no hurry in her gait. The whole time Rhea wondered if she should try and stop her, but with everything she had mentioned in the forefront of her mind, the roseate woman did not budge. Before this point Rhea was willing to let sleeping dogs lie, but there was a sense of dread growing in her. It intermingled with her curious nature.
Bright red gaze staying trained on the door she didn’t hear Tera speak. Not until she piped up the second time did Rhea’s attention turn to her. “Huh?” She barely heard her.
“I asked if something’s up?” The pink haired woman repeated herself, a look of concern touching her features.
“Is there…” She started, but cut off. This wasn’t exactly something she could mention offhandedly. “I’m not really feeling well. I think perhaps I should go lie down.” Her voice was uneven, shaken from the event.
“Oh, you should have said something sooner.” She waved her hand, as though it might prompt her shipmate to leave faster.
“Sorry, it came on suddenly, so I hope it might pass as quickly as it came.” Rhea stood as she spoke, slowly making her way toward the exit. She made sure to use the door that the little old lady hadn’t gone through. Even if there was next to no chance she would run into her again, she didn’t want to risk it.
The perpetual hum of the ship buzzed through the hall, but as far as Rhea was concerned it was silent. She had spent so much time aboard the Enduring Odyssey that its typical sounds blended into the background, even when she was as paranoid as she was right now. Although she said she was going to her room, the petit woman took a detour. Her feet stopped in front of Dante’s door. As she brought her hand up to knock, she stopped just short of hitting the metal entry. Biting her lip, she didn’t know what she would say. If she led the conversation with what had happened, she wasn’t sure she would be believed. There were only six people on this ship. She highly doubted they could have hidden away that old woman for as long as she had been here. That only conceivable option left after that was that she was suffering from not only visual and auditory hallucinations, but also tactile ones. It was maddening, Rhea felt as though she was losing her mind.
Beyond that, if she chose to entertain the idea that this bizarre occurrence was real and actually meant something, it would be a terrible idea to rush in and start asking questions. Pulling her hand back, she pressed it tight to her side. She desperately wanted answers, but like the intruder had said, Rhea needed to be smart about it. Anything too direct would cause Dante to recoil back. As for now, she could do nothing. Taking a step back she continued on her way to her quarters, more hurried than normal.
Making it to her room the woman hit one of the buttons to the door’s side, locking the interworking mechanism within. A shallow effort to feel safe within this space. Rhea holed herself up there for the rest of the day. Sleep didn’t come to her, but at some point the twins did. She’d forgotten they had a class today. The older Pyrenian turned them away at the door, reiterating her earlier excuse that she wasn’t well. Neither of the girls looked particularly disappointed with the unexpected free time they’d been handed, and they weren’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. The pair ran off down the hall before their teacher could change her mind.
It wasn’t until the next day that they made it to their destination. There was a different sound to when the vessel wasn’t in motion. She wasn’t entirely sure she could put her finger on it, a slight change in pitch perhaps? All she knew is that it was different. The lull didn’t last long. They just needed to drop off the cargo. As things stood, they were in no shape to linger. Dante was out of commission and they couldn’t chance something of a similar nature happening again. And so they were off as soon as the product was off the ship. Their captain would need to get in touch with Elias to collect payment. Thank goodness that wasn’t a task that had to be complete in the flesh, as that particular port was probably the worst place they could go right now.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat As the doors slide open with a shush into the ships bulk the melody of blips, beeps and boops sound in her ear. A steady hum of machinery forms the base of this mechanical symphony as Tera turns to see her with some relief on her face.
[+red [b "Hey, do me a big favour?!"]] She jumps up from her seat, her usual large cup in hand, empty.[+red [b "I really need to go pee, but I also need to get another drink. I know, I know. I go so often because I drink so much. But I just need you to mind the computers for like, two minutes."]] It wasn't so much a request as informing her what she was to do. She quickly pointed out several of the key monitors, though it was likely Rhea knew this by now. Satisfied she was keyed in, Tera quickly dashed out the right hand door to the deck with an echoing thanks behind her.
When the doors closed over, Rhea was left with her melody of electrical devices to keep her company as she is left to check on things. It was hardly a dozen second before the same doors reopened however with a quiet shush.
[+orange [b "Oo, such'a durty ship. I can't 'magine 'ow long it takes ye tah clean it."]] A four foot tall wrinkled-peach woman shuffled in, familiar knotted wood cane in hand, clicking against the metal floor as she looks around with mild interest.[+orange [b "Ta' think ye 'ave yunguns runnin' round 'ere playin' and whatnot."]] She makes it half way through the room before turning, as if only now seeing Rhea in the room. A soft smile spreads on her face before she moves over to her. Without request she grips the young womans face and hauls it downwards for inspection once more.
[+orange [b "Som'ones bin in a bit of a scrap, ain't she? Right fighter you are little one."]] She turns her head this way and that, inspecting the bruising that she had tried to cover at her neck. Large wise eyes then meet Rhea's own, her main eyes that is. They stare at one another for a little time, the elder seemingly sucking on a toffee or perhaps her gums as her mind trundles along in the background.[+orange [b "Y' din't take me advice from last time did ye? Too busy makin' kissy faces at that there 'andsome devil."]]
Her face is released and the woman potters over to the Captains seat. With a spritely hop she sits down, feet swinging in the air, with energy and athleticism perhaps thought unimaginable given her age.
[+orange [b "Men. Pri'ty boys an' stoic men alike. Ye gotta dig real deep wit' 'em. Get yer 'ands durty an force an answer from 'em 'fore they get their grubby mitts on yer 'art an' it be too late."]] She shuffled about in the seat, trying to mold it to her figure, though it didn't budge - perhaps from years of use by one man it had conformed to his own physique.[+orange [b "But ye gotta know what'a ask and w'en to ask it. Ye can't jus' go in there throwin' out accusations like a petal girl at a weddin'. Gotta be smart. Gotta be sneaky."]] She whispers the end before giggling to herself, a younger soul within having it's moment on the surface as she kicks her feet more.[+orange [b "Tha' wrong question an' 'e'll shut ye out. But 'den again, tha' right one,"]] she hesitates, looking up to meet the rose womans gaze,[+orange [b "tha' right one sometimes leads t' more pain than never knowin' at all."]] She becomes serious now, the smile fading, glorious green eyes softening and their hue waning, as if the joy and life had drifted away and sadness seeps in.
[+orange [b "Am sorry dear. I wish tha' were a way 'round it. But 'e's got no soul, an' a troubled past."]] She hangs her head a little.[+orange [b "An' 'em girls. Such sadness in there little souls, bless 'em. Such a sad 'istory too."]] She trails off, staring at the ground before her. Shuffling off the seat, which barely moves given her light weight, she turns for the left entrance, opposite of where she had come in. She half turns back, gazing across her shoulder.[+orange [b "Be smart swee'ie. Yer a woman born o' logic. Think it through. Look at them there details. Seek out yer answers.. 'fore it's too late."]] Her cane clicks on the ground as the doors open and she steps out.
At the exact moment the opposite right hand doors open, Tera returning with a smile on her face, straw in her mouth as her light cerulean blue drink already sits quarter empty.
[b [+red "Thanks for looking after this for me, just really needed to go. Stretching my legs is good too. But I can't imagine Cap getting up and finding no-one here. He'd smack me.."]] She pauses a moment, a devilish grin on her face before she returns to her seat and places her drink down. Looking at Rhea as she turns a few dials passively she raises an eyebrow. There was something off about her, the way she stared forward almost blankly. Looking in that direction she saw nothing out of the ordinary.[b [+red "Something up?"]]
Rhea’s mind was going a million miles a second as Dante leaned in towards her. His body language gave her hope that at the very least she wouldn’t be flat out rejected. In fact it might be quite the opposite. The closer his face came to hers the more optimism she allowed herself. However, she was in for a fright when his words cut off and he collapsed.
Catching his shoulder and head before he could slide any farther, she looked over the Tiefling quickly. The fear that something had gone wrong caused her to be thorough, but it turned out he had merely fallen asleep. Her mouth slackened, as she wondered just how bad her luck could get. The disbelief dissolved into awkward laughter. It was too much; she almost couldn’t process it. When it passed, she sighed and leaned forward to place Dante back in bed. This is what she got for trying to have important conversations at inopportune times.
Standing from her chair, Rhea took up the thin comforter that was bunched messily atop of the man. She shook it gently, relieving it from the creases and folds. With it nearly flat, she pulled it up over the sleeping Captain. Carefully she tucked it around him to make certain the warmth would not escape. When the task was through, the petite woman took a seat at the edge of his bed. Looking down at him, a strange mix of melancholy and fondness filled her gaze. Noticing his bangs sticking up from where he had hit her shoulder, she brushed them back down. She had to resist the urge to lean down and kiss his forehead. It wasn’t really appropriate at this time, so she forewent the display of affection. Instead she opted to wish him goodnight, even if he wouldn’t hear her.
After having seen his waking condition, Rhea was fairly confident Dante would be fine without constant observation. And so she stood to leave, only glancing back when she made it to the door. Today had been a very strange day.
The ship was quiet. By the time the roseate woman had left Dante’s quarters everyone seemed to be asleep. It was earlier than normal, but she didn’t blame them. After the day they’d all had, she wanted to sleep too. Rhea however wouldn’t be able to slumber for some time, and not for lack of trying. She was cooped up in her room as to not disturb anyone, and stuck with her thoughts. Thoughts that wouldn’t let Dante out of her head. What was he guessing at, and was he going to kiss her? The Pyrenian didn’t have the answer to either and it was frustrating.
Lying in her bed desperately trying to clear her mind, she stared at the smooth metal ceiling. While not reflective enough to cast back her likeness, she could see blobs of color blending together. A fuzzy pink splotch against a black background was all she saw of herself in bed. Probably didn’t help that she had also taken her glasses off. After a great deal of struggling, Rhea finally drifted off. It was only a few hours, but it meant a lot to her.
Upon waking, she noticed how sore she was. The pills must have worn off. That or the second day of being bruised happened to be worse than the first. Her guess was that it was a combination of both. The Pyrenian made a beeline to the kitchen to take a couple more of the tablets she’d been prescribed by Tera. Once that task was out of the way, she had a small list of other things she wanted to do. The first of which was to find Jax like Dante had asked her to. He was easy enough to locate. There were only a small handful of places he spent his time. This time it happened to be his room. Knocking, she alerted him to her presence before entering.
“Hey, Jax.” She smiled, an offering to convince him she was nonthreatening. “Captain Dante told me you went to fetch my notebook. Do you have it?”
The large man fidgeted around, not entirely comfortable. “I got book, just like Cappy said.” He looked as though he was thinking about something before a look of realization flashed across his features. “It in box room.”
“Let’s go get it then.” She motioned for him to lead the way.
It wasn’t long till they made their way to the cargo hold and Rhea was in possession of her book again in no time. “Alright, looks like this squares us up. Thank you Jax.”
The hulking man didn’t hide the relief that washed over him. He smiled, not wasting anymore time here. Jax turned on his heel and headed back to whatever it was he was doing before, nearly skipping as he went along.
She couldn’t help but chuckle at his antics. Rhea was glad that he was back to being himself. With that done, she had one more matter to take care of. Where exactly were they headed? Finding Tera was a little more of a chore, but after some searching the Pyrenian found her. Turns out they were back on course to finish their current job. They had time sensitive cargo aboard the ship. While none of them knew what it was, it was probably for the best that they met their deadline.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her cheek radiated heat more so than the ships engines. As he held the soft red hued skin in his hand he could feel it warm and even without eyes he could see the blush. Despite her almost vice like grip on his other hand it was as if all senses had dulled and only the one brushing along delicate features mattered.
Her words were light, airy, drawing him in so that he had to sit up to hear them correctly. It brought them closer to where soft warm breaths mingled between them and the silence seemed to hang. It was an odd feeling, an eerie one almost. If he had been human, hairs on the back of his neck would have stood on end, stomach would turn with unease, heartbeat would increase exponentially.
As it were, Dante bit his lower lip as his eyes fluttered and then shut, hand holding her cheek steady.
[b "I see."] Voice strained, cracking a touch despite his best intentions. His chest reverberated some and he felt a shiver run up his spine. Leaning forward toward her, shuffling on the bed, the tip of his nose near brushing against hers.[b "Well.. I guess.."] His speech died off in a hush as he leaned forward..
His forehead slid to her shoulder, hand dropping off her cheek and the other still clutched in her own hands slackened. For a moment he was still, but several slow rhythmic breaths offered the answer - he had fallen asleep. Certain medications did come with the side-effect of drowsiness after all.
Knowing fully well that the man sitting in front of her was effectively blind, Rhea found it odd that he still managed to look at her so intensely. His dulled, unseeing eyes seeming to pierce straight into her very being as he spoke to her. She couldn’t help but look back, even if he wouldn’t see her doing so. His words and actions were somewhat contradictory. He claimed to be able to see through lies, but he wanted to know if she spoke the truth. That she hadn’t started to play some different game with him. One that was meant to damage him, but not physically.
Now more anxious than ever, she squeezed his hand all the tighter to stop her own from shaking. As she did so, she felt him reach out to touch her arm. Her core was practically whirling in her chest. It betrayed just how much he affected her. Still, she didn’t look away from his eyes, but she did seem to lose the words she had been gathering. Rhea’s self consciousness peaked when his palm pressed against her cheek. There was no hiding how hot her face was.
The red-eyed woman could hear the desperation in his voice and feel it in his touch. Dante needed an answer. Focusing again, she built up her response from scratch. “I do…” It was simple, but conveyed the brunt of what she needed to confirm to him. However there was more she felt she needed to say. “This isn’t the sort of thing I could lie about, you know that right?” They’d had conversations about love before. The topic was serious then, and it was serious now. But at the time being, there was a lot more feeling in it. She only hoped she had conveyed it well enough for him to believe her.
There was quiet for a moment, it was nerve-wracking. Rhea wanted a response. She was fairly certain that he felt something for her in return, but that didn’t mean she would get a favorable reply. She could think of a hundred reasons he would reject her confession. He was her superior officer, they were living in a constant state of danger, he didn’t desire any sort of romantic relationship, etc. Any and all of these answers would be valid reason for things to stay as they were, she wouldn’t be able to fight him on it.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Indeed she had thrown him with her words and gentle caress of his hand which had ceased moving in her hold. His face returned to that stoic and cold look she had first come across when meeting him. His lips lost the smile that threatened to break, though they parted as if he had wanted to say something immediately.
Following her voice he had a better grasp of where she was sat. Like a bat with echolocation he could see in his minds eye her position within the room, her figure sat alongside his bed, hand encasing his own, those unique glasses covering her eyes.
[b "That.."] He hesitated. The words hung on his tongue as he looked at her - metaphorically of course. Swallowing on his confusion his tongue ran along dry lips.[b "You are telling the truth."] It was barely above a whisper as if they were indulging in a secret like children giddily unraveling the cookie they had skillfully passed by their parents eyes.
[b "I have been in the presence of beings who's lives revolve around lying, deception, trickery of the tongue. I have also spent many years looking after two Pyrenian's who take pride in fooling others, notably Jax and Tera. I know when someone is lying to me Rhea.."] It was if he felt the need to justify his belief. He had to show her he wasn't trying to fool her or counter her attempt to mentally subdue him and slip behind his cool exterior.
[b "I mean,"] his free hand crossed his figure landing atop hers and feeling his way up her arm slowly,[b "be truthful,"] it glides along her shoulder and caresses along her warm neck,[b "do you really mean that?"] It comes to rest on her cheek, hand cupping her smooth jawline and thumb brushing along warm cheek as she had to him moments earlier.
Glancing over to the syringes that Dante mention, she saw the swirling liquid and recognized it. This explained a lot, but not what she had asked. She waited for him to finish with what he was saying, but somehow, quite deliberately she figured, he danced around her question. Even going so far as to toss it back into her court.
He was maddeningly perceptive, even without his eyes. Dante was a force to be reckoned with, but she was going to try and give him a run for his money. “Hmmm, do I care to share?” She said in a teasingly inquisitive tone. “Perhaps this is my true character? It’s coming out now that I’m not so terribly terrified of you. You were quite scary when we first met, after all.” While that was true, in reality she hadn’t let it inhibit her, even then.
Having heard his slight protest to her retracting her hand, she began to rub small circles on the back of his hand with her thumb. It was a far cry from the intimacy of what she’d done before, but it was something. Looking down as her digit moved slowly over his leathery skin, she wondered if the truth would be the easiest way to throw him off kilter the way he did with her. Probably so.
“Or perhaps…” She paused, trying to piece the words together at least somewhat coherent. “I am growing painfully aware of how much I seem to fancy you.” This might put an end to the little game they were playing, but something in her wanted to see his perfect façade crack. Although there was no guarantee this would do the trick. “That might make me act differently, strangely. You’d make me nervous, but despite it I’d want to be around you. I’d keep your hand even though my own is dampening embarrassingly, and I’d probably keep a close eye on you because even your sidelong glances fluster me.” Her words were essentially a confession of things that had been obvious for some time.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Listening to her talk is peaceful and lulls him a little toward slumber. Given his injuries and his relaxed demeanour - but also his eyes currently being closed - he wavers toward sleep. She stalls her stroking hand and pulls from his jawline, fingertips tingling like static as they had when she brushed near his eyes earlier, resting atop his own. Dull milk-honey eyes open but they look over her head without focus.
[b "What, is a Captain not allowed to be happy? My crew is s-"] he catches himself, biting his tongue a moment before nodding,[b "relatively safe, considering the circumstances we are in. And whilst we don't have a plethora of credits we have enough to get by."] His thumb curls around her own.[b "Sure, I may be blind, but I can fix that easily if only a little painfully - and pain is just a reminder that one is alive I've found."]
A tremor runs along his arm for a moment, the syringes from earlier creating little side-affects. He could often ignore them or lessen them but at present he was a touch too weak and he felt sparks in his nerves run along his right hand side, opposite her.
[b "But then again I am on multiple inhibitors and several syringes worth of B.M.N.A's."] He nodded to a full syringe, the shape and style of an Epipen though with a familiar black glistening liquid inside, that sat on his bedside table.
[b "And until a moment ago I was having a wonderful massage."] There is humour in his voice when he speaks then and almost a touch mockingly - nothing was simple with Dante.[b "However,"] he raised a curious eyebrow in her general direction,[b "from the slightly higher pitch of your voice, the increased perspiration from your hands and the fact you're staring at me so intently as to notice I am smiling more often, I would wager it is you acting more out of the norm of late. Care to divulge?"] He had avoided her question somewhat, turning it back on her, that devious smile remaining.
While his comment was probably meant to put her at ease, his mindset that things could and had been worse was frightful. It also served to remind her that there was still a lot she had to learn about him. Despite that, she caught the shift in his countenance and followed along. Happily listening to his light hearted comments.
“It’s true, I’m half surprised she hasn’t come trouncing back in.” Honestly it was getting late at this point, so there was a good chance that Tera had gone to relax and passed out. Staying as high strung as she’d been was draining. “But I do always appreciate her concern and care, even if there are times when it goes a tad far…” As far as faults went, that was one of the better ones to have.
Flinching at the use of her title and surname. Rhea went back to the events earlier in the day. It was difficult to push them back down, but not wanting to kill the mood that was building, she managed. Focusing more on the body of his comment helped. Apparently Dante was correct in saying he was better off than he looked, because somehow he still managed to be incredibly suave. It left her struggling, but not failing to find words. “Well, if I would have known it was this easy to keep you content in bed I would have offered sooner.” Even though the words came from her own mouth, her face transitioned to a dark crimson. Still, she allowed her hand to rest on his cheek a while longer before tracing her fingertips back and forth across his jawline.
Topic changing to Jax, she nodded in agreement. “I am certain it did,” That childlike man had a love for those cookies like she would never understand. “I will make sure I speak with him. I don’t want him to continue moping about over this.” For the most part he had done the right thing by trying to protect his captain. But the cyborg could use a lesson in looking before he leaps, so she didn’t disagree with Dante’s choice to withhold his favorite snack.
Her eyes fell on his lips. The humored smirk forming there suited his face. It seemed genuine and Rhea very much liked the expression on him. “You know, you’ve been smiling more recently.” That or she had been noticing it more, which might not be far off base. “What’s going on in that head of yours Mr. Varias?” The Pyrenian was intensely curious, tilting her head as she asked her question.
Her hand stopping on his face, she brought it back to rest comfortably on their entangled fingers. His hand barely engulfed by both of hers. Like this she noticed his skin was warmer than usual. Rhea contemplated if it was because he had just woken up, or because she had ahold of him.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Her fingers curling around his jawline and brushing along his skin calmed him from his panic. His eyes closed over - not much use at that moment - and he leaned into her touch a fraction more. At her question he deliberates a little while before letting out a deep breath.
[b "It's not as bad as it looks. I'm sure it looks bad. But trust me when I say things have been a lot worse than this."] His thumb continued to glide along the back of her fingers, squeezing ever so slightly.
His head turned further to her when she apologised, brows rising and face softening in her touch. He couldn't fathom how any of this had been her fault. He had been the one wandering alone and cornered himself. Dante had wanted to apologise to her but she was already decided on the matter and she tried to lighten the mood with a joke. His lips curled a fraction, as he was prone to do.
[b "She's the mother hen of the ship. Can't fault her for worrying over her chicks."] He smiled a touch more, his warm breath running along her arm.[b "But thank you for the offer, I had to go through the same thing when you were hurt. The looks she gives you, I'm half thankful I couldn't see it."] His own breathy laugh sets his chest into a low spasm, several deep breaths easing the discomfort after a few seconds.
[b "At present, I'm rather content with your current remedy Doctor Eldiran."] His hand shifted in hers, fingers half entwining, the heat of her skin relaxing against his own.[b "By the way, I would seek Jax out later if I were you. He feels terrible for what he did so I told him to go retrieve your notebook as recompense."] He sighed softly, eyebrows raising with a humoured look on his face.[b "I also took away his Mixian cookies for the day. I think that hit him harder than he hit you."] His lips curled a touch more, palm flush to hers now.
After sitting around for a while, Rhea sort of dazed off. There wasn’t a lot too do, and letting her mind rest would do her some good. Being in that state, however, lead to her nearly jumping out of her skin when Dante sat up and grabbed her hand. The initial shock wore off quickly and she let him settle back in some. “Yes?” She gave him the confirmation that it was indeed she. By this time the medication had kicked in and she could speak lightly without breaking into a fit or hurting herself too bad, but it was still soft and hoarse. Pushing herself any further would lead to the damage worsening, and the roseate woman didn’t want to be in this state any longer than absolutely necessary.
He shot off more question rapid fire and made attempt to get up, but Rhea saw to it that he didn’t succeed. As gentle as she could without being ineffective, she pressed her free hand to his closest shoulder. “Dante, you need to stay still… I know it’s frustrating, but you need to heal.” This wasn’t like when he was shot, his injuries were much more serious. It scared her; looking down to their intertwined hands, she squeezed lightly. He was alive and safe now, and that was all that mattered. Although she couldn’t shake the thought that this was, once again, all her fault. Not taking her eyes from that spot, she pressed on to answer his inquiries.
“I’m not sure when you fell asleep, but Tera was in here a few hours before I switched with her. I’ve not been here long.” She was sure he needed more sleep than what he got, but she wasn’t about to start barking orders. “The girls are fine. Ino and Oni were shaken by what happened, but they’ve calmed down now.” Those girls were troopers. They handled everything a million times better than she would have at that age. “As for me, I ache and my voice is nearly shot, but I am managing.”
As for his last question, and probably the most pressing, she wasn’t sure. “Tera moved us.” She had though the pilot had done it under orders, but apparently not. “Staying docked at that planet probably wasn’t a good idea, but I’m not sure where we are headed.”
Taking her hand from his shoulder, she brought it to the man’s marred face. Running her fingertips cautiously over his beautiful blue skin. “So what about you, are you okay?” Just like herself, it was quite obvious that he wasn’t really. In fact he looked like hell. A lot had happened; he’d been kidnapped, battered, and manhandled. She wanted to know how he was holding up on a mental front, not just physical, but there was no guarantee he wanted to talk about any of that. And so after a pause she continued on. “Dante, I’m sorry.”
Letting out a short sigh, she very much doubted he blamed her for this, but she still felt the need to apologize. “Once again you have been caught in the crossfire of my mess.” There was no pity in her voice, but there was a tone of appreciation. “There is little I can do to repay you, so please if you need anything let me know.” She was sure Tera must have already made a similar offer. The woman was always ready to help him, but that didn’t mean Rhea couldn’t do the same. “Whether it’s mundane tasks, or that you want someone to confide in I can be there for you. I’ll even try and fight off Tera if you need some privacy.” She half laughed at the last bit, making an airy sort of nasal sound. Despite the humor in it, she thought that might be his most likely request. Rhea didn’t image he cared to be constantly babysat while he was on the mend.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Carried through to his room like a fair maiden in the strong mans hulking arms, Dante was not a little agitated. They were doing their best but a mans pride, especially Dante's, had taken many hits that day. Once in his room he was gently placed down into the soft fabric. He couldn't hold onto his consciousness for long. Allowed a moment of respite his body succumbed to the fatigue and exhaustion.
His breathing quietens, tense muscles easing. He doesn't wake as Tera comes in to see to his wounds not long after. She does as well as she can. None of them are doctors, more rough-ready paramedics. The cuts are stapled, packed with a thick green gel, several syringes of black glistening liquid, identical to that which had flowed from him, are injected into a precise spot just below his ribs. The first injection wakes him with a start, groaning and grasping the forearm of Tera, her arm shaking through fear she had done it wrong.
She hesitated. He had shown her what to do in these moments. But he nodded every time she raised her hand to inject a freshly filled syringe. Five empty vials were placed to one side before he pushed her hand away, clasping at his stomach as his body convulses, chest fluctuating rapidly. She quickly brought the waste basket up, his head leaning in as his body shook with the expulsion.
Once cleaned and his wounds lightly dressed, they sat talking indiscriminately and discussing what had occurred since he had been away. When Rhea had entered Tera had fallen silent. She had thought the young doctor would have been seeing to her own wounds at that moment, leaving Dante to staring blankly toward the doorway in confusion, eyes still encircled by blackened mosaic cracked skin. He listened to them talk a little longer before the door closed over and he was coaxed to sleep by Tera, hands wrapped around his tightly.
When he awoke, eyes opening to darkness and silence, he sits up with a grimace and gulps down several deep breaths, blinking furiously. The sheets are pushed down, most of his torso covered by a single wrapping tinted a light green from the gel beneath. His hand reached to the side of his bed to grasp anything that would give him a sense of grounding. All he found was a sleeve and he pulled at it until he could clasp the hand that it led to.
[b "Rhea?"] His thumb brushed across smooth skin on the back of her hand, grip loosening a moment. He raised his other hand to his eyes, pressing below and around the broken skin hesitantly before his touch firms against her hand. Laying back in the bed he expels a weary breath, head half turned toward her.
[b "Have I been asleep long? Are the girls okay? And you?"] He hesitates a fraction, head tilting this way and that.[b "The ship is moving.. why is the ship moving-"] Rising up from the bed he has soft hand pressed at his shoulder, easily pushing him back against the bedding firmly, disgruntled but accepting that perhaps now was not a time for him to blindly wander the halls.
The three of them weren’t exactly moving at a brisk pace as they returned. Fear of damaging the captain further, and the slick, water soaked ground saw to that. But when the ship came in sight, Rhea let herself relax a little. If someone was going to track them down, it would have happened by now.
Tera split off from there, leaving her with Dante. She felt him shift at her side, making himself more comfortable. The red-eyed woman wanted to pull him in tight, to hold him properly, but it was obviously an unobtainable wish with his current condition. Shortly after that he inquired after her injuries. Rhea paused, furrowing her brow. She regretted not picking her notebook back up, but she would try to tell him all the same. She had to or else it would only worry him further.
“There was an intruder…” Her voice was low, barely a decibel above a graveled murmur. It was just light enough to avoid irritating her damaged vocal cords, but had the Tiefling been any further away he wouldn’t have heard her. “He posed as you… I noticed and shot him… But it startled Jax…” She figured that was enough for him to get the picture. “… Don’t worry about me.” With that she brought up her other hand to brush lightly at his hair. However, the motion was short lived as Jax joined them.
The big oaf was easy enough to read, his expression telling her just how terrible he felt. Rhea was also panged with guilt. She would need to apologize to both him and the girls later. While what she did needed to be done, she could have chosen a better time. At least one absent of children.
Watching as Jax hauled the cerulean man away, Rhea stayed in place for a moment. When he was out of sight she turned to take in the scene behind her. It seemed hollow. She hadn’t gotten off the ship when they stopped here before, so she was uncertain if it’d always been that way. Perhaps it had, but there was also the chance that this little excursion sucked the life out of it for her. Not wasting any more thought on it, she entered the ship. Roseate hand coming up to hit a button that prompted the doors to slowly slide closed behind her. She was alone with the cargo; the sound of the rain penetrating into the hull.
Dante was both Tera and her own first priority, and so the Pyrenian delayed her own treatment a little longer. Sure, she could have tried to do something on her own, but with her current luck she would probably bungle it and make matters worse. So instead she contented herself cleaning up the mess that spanned from the bridge to the air lock. It was taxing, but infinitely better than standing around doing nothing. By the time she was through, the floor appeared clean. At least it wasn’t stained green with blood, but she felt it would need to be sanitized before the task was fully complete. However between her aching body and feeling dirty from everything that had happened, she was ready to take the longest, hottest shower ever. And so she did. The near scalding water flowed over her body taking with it the sweat and grime of a nerve-wracking day. Part way through her attempt to relax, she felt the ship begin to move. Tera must have been done with Dante for the time being. Still, she didn’t rush. Rhea took her time before carefully exiting to her room to get dressed. Preferably in something comfortable.
Looking in the mirror, the bruising on her body had darkened. Only time would fade them, so for the time being she threw a long cardigan over her outfit to hide what she could of it. Her neck was still exposed, but at least it would lessen the reminder of what had happened.
Content with her clothes, Rhea grabbed a small stack of paper and another pen. It was back to writing things down. Walking through the hall to the bridge, she wrote out what she needed to say to Tera as she went. However when the woman made it to her destination the pilot was not there. Did she already go back to the captain? She wouldn’t be surprised. The woman continued on in hopes that her hunch was right.
The metallic door slid open for the red-eyed woman as she came close. She could see Tera sitting in a chair next to the Tiefling’s bed. They were talking about something, but the conversation cut off as the sliding sound of the door alerted the pair to her presence.
Tera greeted Rhea as she walked across the room to hand her the piece of paper. ‘Could I get some pain relievers?’ The letters were somewhat shaky, as she had written them without the assistance of a solid surface.
“Oh, yeah, just a sec.” Tera began rummaging through the medical kit that was lying at her side. Finally she pulled a bottle out and handed it over to the Pyrenian. “Taking a couple of these when you feel the need. No more than six in twenty-four hours though.” She sounded uncharacteristically professional.
Rhea nodded, taking the plastic container. The pills rattled inside the shifting bottle. Another thought came to her; she jotted it down quickly. ‘Are these safe to take with Tetrador root power?’ She didn’t particularly feel like poisoning herself because she forgot to mention her sleep aid.
Shaking her head, Tera’s pink hair fluttered about the side of her face. “I wouldn’t mix ‘em, ya take that nasty stuff?”
The Pyrenian shrugged. It was one of the few things she found that worked against her insomnia. Anything weaker and she wouldn’t stay asleep, but she understood the other woman’s concern. The powder could make you incredibly groggy if you don’t complete your sleep cycle, but so far she hadn’t had a problem with it.
Looking down at the bottle in her hand, it was apparent she was going to have to make a choice between comfort and sleep. Perhaps she would switch between the two and try and find a happy medium. Sighing, she doubted that would work any better.
Seeing that Rhea wasn’t particularly interested in chatting about it at the moment, Tera dropped it. “Just be careful.”
That was the end of it. And while Rhea wanted to leave and take these pills, albeit she might have to crush them first, she also wanted to stay put here. To sit at Dante’s side and offer him some sort of comfort. Whether it was just her presence, or a gentle touch to ground him and remind him they were all safe aboard his ship, she wanted to do something. But Tera was already there, and with a more serious and caring air to her than Rhea had ever seen her wear. The white haired woman could tell they were feeling the same way. She felt foolish not noticing it before. Things aboard this ship were complicated. Without any more delay she left.
Rhea returned in a few hours to try and get Tera to take a break. While she fought it something fierce, the scholar managed to quietly convince the other woman to move from the man’s bedside. Dante was asleep anyway. Not to mention she was half certain he wouldn’t want to be constantly doted on. Still, the anthro was insistent that someone be with the captain so it fell to Rhea. A job she didn’t mind in the least.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat Pages flutter, they flap aggressively their battle cry, soaring across the air to strike with all it's force against a being behind Dante. The strain of clothing either side of him dictates that those two are distracted enough not to note the cocking of a weapon, charging of a battery pack, whoosh of clothing that is pushed aside in search of a specific object. Then the inevitable shot. His left arm is released, spattered in a warm fluid as a thump hits the ground beside him.
Next; his right arm loosens and is released leaving him to sway gently on shuddering legs. To his right a being makes audible choking sounds, below him, perhaps waist height, metal ringing as a weapon is dropped to the ground.[i Rhea perhaps?] No. Her footfall had stopped seven strides ahead and one to the right. She had not moved forward yet. With that understanding he swung his left boot in a wide arc, catching the guard at his right in his wounded chest. He cries out in pain as he falls back. Using this wail to the mans detriment, the boot raises and is brought down hard at the neck, bone crunching and groaning silenced in a moment.
He's grasped, pulled against the front of the leader, hands grasping his shirt for stability. He threatens the two before him, cold metal pressing against Dante's forehead.[i 'All of them.'] It would have brought a smile to his lips if not for the pain. Then the metal moves away. There's a gunshot. Things are running fast through his mind as he tries pinpointing specific events and to process all this to reach a conclusion. Yet his answer comes from the large mass of flesh falling forward and against him, drawing a feeble cry as they crash to the ground, the quickly cooling corpse rolling away off the cerulean male.
Hands grasp him, turn him, press smooth and warm fingers against his cheeks. It is simple to decipher who; Tera's hands are lined with soft fur and often cold at the palm. His eyes flutter at his name, though stare blankly up at the sky, shifting little as the fingers brush gently against the mosaic scarring about his eyes, a static like shock running into rose-hue fingers. She pulls away into a coughing fit and the second female steps in, an arm slipped around his back to sit him up with guttural curses and gritted teeth.
Not one to take help so easily he tries to stand alone but she holds him steady, requesting help and between them they begin guiding the blind Captain back toward his ship, weight shifted between them at times, hands still clasped firmly behind his back.
[b "The Twins.."] A whispered query.
[+red "Are safe. Back on the ship with Jax. Now shut up and focus on moving."] It was said with concern but also authority, as if she relished the chance to be in control and to know she was right to say such. He does as told though, carried silently bar a few gasps when they briefly press against his wounds, both visible and not.
With a few breaks to allow them to rest - he was not a lithe figure after all - and several moments of pause to examine the next part of their journey, they make it back to the ship in good time. Only a few curious eyes had looked their way but they were soon forgotten as just another humourous happening at the port. When they neared the ramp, Tera helped ease him down to the ground, leaning him against Rhea as she went to give Jax the correct answers to their questions and ensure the girls were out the way.
With her arm around his back, head against her shoulder, he took several calming breaths.
[b "You're hurt.."] He whispered, blue fingers grasping her arm around him, running down until they met her slick digits.[b "What happened.."] It flows with his breath, soft and gentle as he nestles against her awaiting Tera's return. He listens to how she came to be injured, brow furrowing though if in spasm or otherwise is not overtly obvious. He had wanted to say more, but heavy blundering steps come down the ramp.
[+gold "Cappy! Cappy gonna be alright. Cappy get to his bed now. Give Cappy his juice and make him better."] Like a worrying parent, albeit more simple, hesitated as he leaned down, looking at Rhea in an apologetic manner. With the blue Tiefling alive before him, and linked to Tera's little speech with him earlier, he felt heavy regret for what he had done to her. His arms lever Dante over against him and as delicate as the large man can muster he carries him back up into the ship.
As she slowly closed the space between them, Rhea’s mind raced with a million and one things that could go horrifically, and lethally, wrong. She steadied herself knowing the infiltrators had no reason to keep Dante once she was in their custody. As she crept closer her eyes flickered between the different faces. That is until her gaze fell back to the tiefling. The closer she came the worse off he looked. Battered and torn, a great sense of guilt built inside of her. He didn’t deserve this. It was then that she caught his lips moving. His faint voice straining something out, even in his current condition he was trying to maintain face as their captain. The Pyrenian woman couldn’t tell if Tera could hear or see what he was trying to get across. If she could then at the very least Rhea hoped Tera would pretend that she didn’t. But the thought passed quickly as she watched a man at Dante’s side reel back and strike him atop the head. It was enough force to let out a deep, resounding crack. The senseless violence to a man that would soon be out of their sentry filled her with rage, and to some extent doubt that they would do as they said. Slowing up some, she looked back over her shoulder. The bright haired woman behind her wore a strong look of disgust.
The bulky man who constituted their boss took an irritated tone as he spoke again in his rumbling voice. “We ‘avn’t got all day, sweetheart.”
That being the straw the broke the camel’s back, Rhea shot Tera a look. She hoped the other woman got the point, because no sooner than she saw an iota of recognition on the anthro’s face, the snowy haired woman turned on her heel and threw her notepad as hard as she could. The motion jolted her, pain scorching up her side once again. In hindsight she should have got some sort of pain reliever before they left the ship, but she was too focused on the task at hand. And now it was too late.
The four men’s eyes followed the bundle of paper as it flew through the air. Its pages flittered wildly, making a sharp, repetitive slapping noise, until it firmly struck the leader on the face. With the attention away from her, Rhea slipped her hands beneath her and pulled a pair of guns from her waist. Originally she had wanted to wait until she was alone to do this. Rhea knew they needed to take her alive, which lessened the danger for her. That would not be the case for Dante and Tera, but her temper had gotten the better of her this time. She only prayed that it wouldn’t lead to a disastrous outcome.
Behind her she heard Tera’s gun go off. That was probably the end of the third and final infiltrator. She on the other hand set sights on the one who had hit Dante. Knowing there was limited time before they retaliated. She shot.
His body fell silent on the cement floor with a fleshy thud. As fast as she could manage, she trained her other weapon on a second target and fired. Unfortunately the rush affected her aim greatly and she didn’t even graze the target. But as it turned out, Tera had her eye on the same mark. Her hit was clean, but it merely brought the man screaming to his knees. He gripped his bleeding chest, blinded by pain. Hopefully that meant he would be useless long enough for them to see this through.
By that time the two enemies were on the move, albeit in opposite directions. The last of the coherent lackeys, Xion as she heard him called, was back peddling. Apparently this was more than he bargained for. Rhea was glad for his cowardice, but his superior, not so much.
“Xion, you piece of shit, get over here!” Growling in frustration, the man lurched forward grabbing Dante by the horn. He wretched the captain’s head back and towards him. The expression of ire simmering on his face only grew as his underling continued to break line. Rhea caught sight of him running through the door to the back. It was clear that he would not be returning.
Glare falling to the women, the bulky and plainly dressed man pressed his own pistol to Dante’s temple. “You cunts…” He swore at them under his breath. “You think you can bust in here and fuck up our operation?!” His eyes were darting around, looking for some way to get out of this.
To Rhea it was less a matter of thinking and more that they already had. Although, it wasn’t over yet. She watched closely as he painfully jostled the Tiefling around. He was not leaving any room for them to make a move. That was until he started talking again.
“Drop yer guns!” He was shouting demands once more. “I don’t got a problem shootin’ yer friend like you did mine.”
Nervous, the Pyrenian moved slowly setting both of her firearms to the ground. Tera on the other hand held fast to her weapon, a fact that the large man paid no mind to.
“All of them,” His eyes narrowed on Rhea.
Growling, the woman was mad that he hadn’t stayed naïve. Reaching down she pulled a loaded holster from one of her thighs, and a knife from the other. Holding her arms out she dropped both. They fell, muted by the leather sheaths.
“Since you couldn’t behave, both you and ‘im are comin’ with me.” As he went to continue, he pulled his muzzle from Dante to point at Rhea for emphasis. “Now get over-”
He didn’t have time to finish his sentence. Tera seized the opportunity to strike. She caught him in the middle of his wide forehead. His eyes went dark as he came down just like the others. Dante was still in his grasp, and so the man’s dead weight forced him hard against the ground.
While Rhea wasn’t exactly happy about Tera firing with Dante in frame, and she was at gunpoint, it ended up all right so she couldn’t complain. Instead she rushed to Dante’s side. Kneeling next the Tiefling, she took his face in her hands. She patted his cheek gently, trying to get him to respond in some way. Getting worried she strained out his name. “Dante?” The syllables were course and she felt them come all the way up her vocal cords. It threw her into a coughing fit. She turned from the cerulean skinned man, but not before she caught a glimpse of his eyes opening. At least there was that as she hacked violently into her hand. It shook her entire body, making her explicitly aware of ever ache and break. When the eruption subsided, her palm was splattered red with blood. Using the backside of her hand, she wiped at her mouth. An action that did little but smear the red liquid between her cheek and hand. She cast off the remnants to the cloak that shrouded her.
By this time Tera was with them. All her attention focused on the captain. He seemed to still be conscious. “We need to get cap back to the ship for treatment.” Wrapping her arm beneath Dante’s torso, the anthro did her best to set him upright. From there she cooed at him, trying to get him to muster whatever strength he could to help. “Rhea, I’m going to need ya on the other side of him.”
Jumping in as best she could with her small stature, the red-eyed woman nestled in at Dante’s right. She took extra care not to touch the gash running the length of him. The black leaking from him still glistened. In another context she might have found it pretty, but here it distressed her. Pushing it from her mind, the three of them were able to shakily come to their feet. The extra pressure only intensified the agony at Rhea’s ribs and back, but she bit her lip and endured it. They only had to make it back to the ship.
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