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A Hero's Welcome

Posted on Sun May 21st, 2017 @ 6:04am by

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: Main Shuttlebay
Timeline: MD 86; 10:50

Laena walked into the shuttlebay, looking around as her hands played idly with each other. She raised up on her tippy toes to try and look over the few shuttles that were scattered about, but of course the extra few centimeters didn't help much with her short stature.

But luckily, her search ended quickly. Crawling out from under one of the shuttles was the man she was looking for, Lieutenant Ryland Dedeker, covered in grease and other unknown fluids. She smiled as she saw him try to wipe something off his face, only to smear more of the black goop along his jaw.

"You're going to need, at least, ten showers," she said as she walked up to him. She wasn't sure if he had seen her approach, but from the way he looked up at her, she assumed he hadn't.

The Mersey was shaping up nicely, though not with any cooperation on her part. Stubborn bird. Ryland could've handed her off to an Engineering team, especially with his latest act of bravery that put him in everyone's good graces. There was a saying among pilots, though, from pre-Starfleet days on Earth--"pack your own parachute."

Ryland missed maintenancing his own starfighter, so these busted up runabouts would have to suffice. Laena's quip was a startling but not entirely unwelcome interruption. She was as easy on the eyes as ever, but their every encounter seemed to end badly.

"That I will, Princess, that I will." He resisted the urge to suggest she join him for one, though the flirty look of his eyes likely said as much anyway. "What can I do you for?"

She shrugged as she walked around him to the shuttle. She ran her hand down the side of the hull as her fingers danced with the damage of the steel plating. "You were very brave," she said, her voice sounding distant, like she was lost in a memory.

Ryland could not help but grin wolfishly. He had to remind himself that she was an oblivious cocktease.

"I had a chance to do the one thing I love more than anything," he said, eyeing her up and down at the last word. "And I do mean 'anything.' If that means I'm a big damn hero now, then so be it." His grin was back, though in a more playful variety than before. "Far be it for me to deny anyone's gratitude."

"No one is using the word 'hero'," she said, still not looking at him. She continued to walk down the side of the craft.

"Au contraire," Ryland said. "A foxy lil' thing from Ops yelled it out three times last night."

A look of pride cemented itself on his face as he cleaned his hands on a shop rag. He tossed it on the ground without getting the spot on his cheek.

"So, Ms Laena, what brings you down this way?"

She shrugged again as her fingers came to the glass of the cockpit. Although he couldn't see, a single tear fell down her cheek. And then another. And suddenly, her shoulders heaved with her sobbing.

"Aw, hell." Ryland looked to and fro, grasping for any lifeline or sign of another person. No one. He heaved a sigh of desperation. "Wonderful."

He carefully walked up behind Laena. The woman was clearly distraught and not in need of the sort of comfort Ryland knew best.

"Look, I'm sorry. I know--I'm vile, I'm disgusting, I'm a terrible human being. Just... please don't cry."

"It's not you," she said through the tears as she finally turned back to look at him. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself, but it was useless.

Ryland stared down at her with mixed emotions. "I don't know if I believe you, Ms Laena."

Another deep breath, and the corner of her mouth turned up slightly. She sighed as she leaned against the side of the shuttle. "Just...this mission. And the last." She looked down, "When I joined, I honestly expected to just stay in the lab. I didn't expect to have to be brave so much. To go through so much."

While she talked, Ryland listened, and while he listened he brushed a finger along the train of her long black hair. "Sounds like you're braver than you give yourself credit for."

When she looked in his eyes, he caught himself. "Dammit. I'm sorry. I know you have a touch thing. I didn't mean nothing by it. Honest."

"It's ok," she said. Though she didn't mean the action to be in retaliation to what he did, she pushed the hair behind her ear to keep it out of her face. It was only after that she realized what he might have thought, but decided that she didn't care right now. "I try to be brave. I try to keep calm and to perform my duties. But, sometimes I just don't know how to process things." She looked up at him, "Does that make sense?"

"It does, Princess. It does indeed." Ryland leaned one hand against the shuttle to shift his weight away from Laena. "One of the first rules of life is that you can't know it all. Stick with what you know and what you love, and leave the scary what-ifs to the higher power of your choice."

A coy smile teased at the corner of his mouth. "But that ain't good enough for you egghead types. What's got you gazin' at the ol' navel today?"

Laena's eyebrows scrunched in confusion. "I don't think I know that expression," she said.

"Right." Ryland threw his head back and gave a sighing chuckle. He cocked his head to one side and let it roll back to face Laena again.

"I can't decide if you are really are the doe-in-the-headlights type or if you just like fuckin' with my brain."

Ryland gave the runabout opposite them -- the Horsa -- a swift kick, which made it drop the loading ramp.

"Have a seat," he said with a gesture before sitting down himself. "Start from the beginning, otherwise we're just gonna' run circles."

"The beginning of what?" she asked as she sat on the edge of the ramp.

"Sweet molasses, lady. The beginning of what you can't process." Rylan shook his head and chuckled again. "What is it?"

Laena rolled her eyes as she stood. "I appreciate the offer, but you're only after one thing. And I don't tend to spill my guts to people who aren't my friends." She began to walk away from the man, "Thanks again for saving us," she said, turning back towards him but not stopping, as she walked backwards.

"I am after only one thing," Ryland called after her, "and I got it because I put my life on the line to take it. Would you do the same?"

"I'd do a lot of things for my friends," Laena said as she shrugged. "But, you don't want to be friends. You want to screw and leave. And that's not ok with me."

"Hey, now." Ryland's hands went to his hips. "You write checks with your swagger that you won't cash, and I already learned not to bother trying." He turned to one side is if examining the runabout, but he kept one eye on Laena.

"Remember, now, you came to me. If you can't spit out why that was, then I won't force you to stick around, but I ain't about to be insulted in my own shuttlebay. No, ma'am."

"I just wanted to thank you," she said as she stopped walking away, but not going back towards him. "And I did that. Now, if you wanted to actually try and be my friend, we could talk about other things, but you don't want to be my friend. So I'm taking my friendly conversation and I'm going to find someone else to talk to."

Ryland pointed an angry finger at Laena. "If that's all you got to say, then you, madam, may go fuck yourself running. That seems about your speed anyhow."

With a shrug, Laena turned around and headed towards the door. "Can't say that I didn't try to be your friend. If you ever feel lonely, you only have yourself to blame."

"You have a funny idea of friends," he called out. "I don't run mine into the dirt every chance I get."

"And I don't try to sleep with mine during every conversation," Laena said back.

"Sleep with you?" Ryland pulled at his hair with both hands. "Sleep with you? Darlin', I would not touch you with a ten foot pole if you dropped your gear and touched your toes. Not if you paid me!"

Laena shook her head and turned back around, walking out of the Shuttlebay.

"Crazy-ass woman." Ryland turned around and kick the runabout hard enough to dislodge its panel.


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