Back at Last
Posted on Mon Apr 25th, 2022 @ 7:40pm by Quinlan Barrett Poe & Ashe Sparrowhawk & Addy Stone & Shepherd Harley
Edited on on Thu Apr 28th, 2022 @ 9:23pm
The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Xiao Jin, Outside Trowbridge, Ithendra
Timeline: Mission Day 9 at 2230
When the Xiao Jin came into view, unharmed and waiting for him, he wanted to cheer but settled for a half-smile because that was about all the energy he could muster. Out of habit, he checked while he was still in deep shade, but things looked quiet and peaceful like. And that was a good thing because he'd shoot anyone that stood between him and the priorities lining up in his mind. He walked in a straight line toward the ship, lined up with the ramp, and concentrated on just putting one foot in front of the other. Almost there. Almost home.
Addy had found things to do in the hold. It was late and admittedly she did not need to be there, but Quinlan wasn't back yet, and it made her uneasy. So she'd taken to various small jobs so she could keep her eye on the ramp without appearing to simply be waiting around like a lovesick school girl. The sound of steps on the ramp stopped her, though, and she hurried to the top of it, relief flooding her as a familiar form ascended the metal incline.
He came up to her, kissed her in a way that left no doubt of his feelings at seeing her there, and then walked over to the console that stood just inside. "Everything alright," he asked. He extended his arm, the shirt sleeve flapping open where the weasel had cut him on the forearm, and hit the button to close the ramp.
Relief mingled with appreciation as he kissed her leaving her with a goofy grin when he pulled away. "Alright here. Just..." she started to answer before catching a look at a nasty looking cut on his forearm. The ramp began its upward pull, hydraulic systems and requisite moving parts all shifting as one to lift the heavy metal door. A tiny burst of satisfaction hit as she registered the quiet hum of operation, not a screech or unexpected groan to be heard. She didn't have time to appreciate it, though, and hurried over to him, taking his hand and flipping it palm up so she could look at his arm. "Quinn..." she said breathily, eyes wide. "You're hurt."
"It's not deep," he said as he hit the intercom and said, "Ashe, get us in the air."
Ashe nodded, despite being alone in the cockpit. At this point, such was habit. "Prepare for takeoff," Ashe responded over the intercom, immediately turning to her controls. She wondered, vaguely, what was going on down on the cargo ramp. The pilot was glad to hear her Captain's voice, but one thing about sitting in the cockpit is that she felt almost disconnected from the rest of the ship. She couldn't be down there to greet Poe like Addy undoubtedly was. She had to restrain her curiosity as to the goings on of the ship. The liftoff engines roared to life even before the hatch was fully closed, and as soon as the hatch open light turned off the ship shifted as she moved it off the ground.
"Get us on our way back to Persephone," Poe said. He smothered a yawn though it wasn't easy. "How long you figure it'll take us to get there?"
"Not more than about ten days," Ashe responded over the intercom. Of course, the Captain new how long it would take, but this was regular small talk when setting off at a route. Which was good. If he was chatting, it meant he wasn't actively dying and over the comms he sounded tired more than anything else.
Sula felt the ship rising into the air. Having heard "Prepare for takeoff," she braced herself as she started down the stairs to see what was occurring. She had expected that there might be a bit more discussion before leaving. Wobbling as she climbed down the stairs towards Addy and Poe, she noticed blood on the Captain. "What in the Lord's name happened to you, Captain? Do you need some assistance getting to the medbay or is Addy enough?"
"This ain't nothing," Poe said. He turned because his brain was demanding sleep in the worst way and then paused when Sula's appearance, pale and more than a little shaky, registered. "You gonna be alright, Shepherd?"
Addy had watched him continue along as if nothing happened even as all she seemed to see was the cut on his arm. She wanted to check him over; make sure there weren't others and if there were. She had heard Sula's voice, but had been too distracted to register her question until the very end when she spoke her name, a question following quick on its heels. Quinlan was answering before she could even ask her to repeat.
"Don't tell me what is nothing, Captain," Sula responded simply. "I'm more fine than you are and I'm going to have a look at you whether you like it or not to make sure that you stay in one piece." The Shepherd looked at Addy and asked, "I assume that you have no objection to that, right? Care to help me get him to the medbay?"
Sula's insistence brought Addy back to the moment and she pursed her lips, not quite sure how to respond to the question about whether or not she had any objections. She'd plenty of experience nursing Poe from the first time they met, so a part of her wanted to insist that she'd manage him just fine. Where the protective possessiveness in her brain came from was something she'd have to think on later. Now, though, she reminded herself that she had vouched for Sula and part of that vouching had been that she was a medic, so she nodded.
"Don't know as it will take both of us. I'll help him you go on ahead and prep anything you need?" she said, cutting the responsibilities in such a way as to at least slightly appease the desire to see to him herself.
Sula did not hesitate as she ran to her medical bay and started pulling out scalpels, bandages, stitches, and antiseptic, organizing them on a high, short table near the bed where she hoped that Addy would get Poe.
The redheaded pseudo-mechanic watched the other woman go and then turned to Quinlan. "Arm around me if you please," she said with a wink before stepping into him and ducking under his arm so that it rested around her shoulders. She guided him toward Sula's medbay, her touch careful, but firm. "What happened Quinn?"
He thought about shrugging but that was extra effort and really, it was hard enough putting one foot in front of another at this point. "Two guards out at the homestead and one of 'em had a knife," Poe said. "Guns would have drawn too much attention." His gaze strayed in the general direction of their quarters and the thought occurred that the Infirmary put him that much farther away from sleep brought a frown to his face. "Can't we just do this later," he asked.
She gave him a sharp look. "Depends, do you want me doctoring you on our bed or the Shepherd with the medical training doctoring you in the medbay? You're getting a once over either way." The exhaustion he felt was obvious, though, and her gaze softened. "I promise... we'll be quick, ok?"
"I'm gonna hold you to that," Poe said and, with visible effort, gathered the dregs of his strength together and kept walking. An image popped into his head, that of the Shepherd entering their quarters and he found himself shuddering, "'You know, there are some images I don't want in my head. The Shepherd in our room is one of 'em."
Addy's face turned stormy. "Wouldn't be the Shepherd doing the doctoring if it was in our room," she advised darkly.
"Well, in that case," he made a move to turn, hopeful now to spare himself the whole patient in the Infirmary thing.
Addy planted her feet, stopping his motion before he could get turned. "We're almost there as it is. Let Sula do what you hired her to do," she insisted. "I won't go anywhere and if it's my hands you want on you then you'll have 'em."
He nodded, giving in to the logic that the Infirmary being closer meant he could at least stop moving for a bit, and said, "Let's get it over with then."
Sula patiently waited for Poe to get to the medical bed. "Now just sit down there, Captain, and we will get you fixed up right in a bit." The shepherd took a wet cloth and started cleaning the exposed area. She tsked and then said, "This won't do. We need that shirt of yours off." Giving the Captain a withering look, she warned him, "Don't think of doing this yourself. I can do this and if need be, Addy will help."
Addy looked from Sula to Quinn and back again, expression a bit like the edges of a far off storm--not yet threatening, but clearly building. "Really?" she muttered under her breath before mentally chiding herself. She was the one who had just suggested Poe let the Shepherd do what he'd hired her for. She couldn't just as well go back on that now no matter how much she felt the removal of clothing unnecessary.
"Unless you would prefer that I cut it off," Sula managed to reply to nobody in particular. Before Quinn or Addy could protest, she removed Poe's shirt. She took no notice of his general physique as she continued to examine Poe's forearm. Further cleaning it, she muttered, "Fairly clean cut, non-serrated blade. Not too deep. We will just clean this out, stitch him up, and give him some medicine to ward off infection or tetanus," she explained out loud.
While Sula might be awkward or quiet socially, in here, she was efficient and professional. Thread and needle worked through Poe's skin as she leaned down towards the open wound. Ten stitches later, the procedure was finished. She snipped off the loose ends of the thread and put down her instruments. "You'll have a small scar," she told Poe. "I'm certain that Addy won't mind, though." She continued, "I could give you something to reduce the inflammation but I suspect if you have ice and Addy that would be sufficient so we could save those medicines for something more serious, should it occur.
The awkwardness returned, "I assume that is what you would prefer, is it not?"
In some respects, his life was written in the marks on his body from the latticework of old scars on his back to the bullet wound hidden beneath the tattoo over his heart. For all that, he wasn't body shy; another scar added to the mix wouldn't matter all that much. He didn't think they had ice on the ship but then, the ways of the kitchen beyond cleaning up were beyond him for the most part. More interesting to him was the shift in her demeanor though he shoved that onto a pile of things to think about ... later. For the moment, all he wanted was sleep. "Sleep," he said softly or thought he said anyways. "Just want ... sleep."
Sula nodded. "Your body knows what is best. Sleep is the way we heal." She looked over at Addy and then back at Poe. "Can you get there on your own or do you need help, Captain?"
"I'll get him there," Addy said quietly. She, too, had noticed the change in demeanor for the Shepherd and couldn't help a tiny bit of shame at her initial gut reaction. She came around the far side of the table and shrugged back up under Poe's shoulder, staggering only the tiniest bit as he got to his feet before she found her footing.
"Let's get you to bed," she said, starting them moving before turning to look back over her free shoulder.
"Thank you Shepherd."
Sula silently nodded her assent, as she turned her back and started to clean the bed and room from the blood that had been spilled in the room. She reminded herself that she might have to clean more than just this area as he was bleeding when he arrived. She gave a soft sigh and got to work.
He winced when she got too close to the large bruise spreading across his torso and that bit of pain was enough to get him moving again. Hadn't they all spent the majority of the war sleep-deprived and in pain from one hurt or another. Never stopped a person from getting the job done and so, he started moving again. Straightest path possible to his bedroom and his bed.
They didn't speak for the walk to their room except for the occasional murmured word of encouragement from Addy. And when they got to the door she climbed down first, not fully trusting his exhaustion with a ladder. With gentle care she helped him out of his boots and then the dusty pants he was wearing before leaving him to settle on the bed.
"When you're awake again," she said, perching next to him, "I want to talk about you not doing the next one on your own."
He grunted as he laid back and sighed with relief as his back hit the mattress.
Unlacing her own boots she used her toes to pull them free and then climbed up next to him, curling into him so she could breath him in and feel him next to her. Three days had been long. They'd been too long after so many years apart. She nuzzled into his neck, pressing a quick kiss to his shoulder, but his breathing had already slowed and if he was still awake enough to notice he didn't react.
She sighed, tugging the grass green blanket they had purchased over them both and shut her eyes as well.