Addy Get Your Gun
Posted on Tue Apr 26th, 2022 @ 5:48pm by Quinlan Barrett Poe & Addy Stone
Edited on on Thu Apr 28th, 2022 @ 9:23pm
The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Engine Room, Xiao Jin
Timeline: Mission Day 10 at 1400
Having been gone for three days, there seemed to be this irrational need to check on his ship. Not that he expected there to be anything wrong, just wanted to see it all, same as before. And to see Addy, who had been gone when he woke up, for a proper greeting. One that he could remember beyond a few vague impressions. She was easy enough to find if you followed the right sounds which he did; he found her in the Engine Room. Rather than enter at once, he stood there a moment to admire the view. Rest his eyes on a welcome sight.
That welcome sight was only half visible at that moment, head and torso fully obscured underneath the cylindrical outcropping that held all manner of key components to the Xiao Jin's engine. When she'd awoken, Addy had spent no small amount of energy admiring the body laid out next to her and resisting the urge to wake him up and do more than admire. As she watched, though, something about the ambient sounds of the ship sounded off so she'd gotten up and dressed and traced the sound back to the engine room and a particular panel underneath the cylinder that she was now elbow deep in.
"We gonna make it back to Persephone," Poe asked. He stayed where he was, leaning against the framed opening, and the thought returned to the forefront of his mind that there was bound to be all manner of problems needing attention, just waiting to leech away the resources he'd gained from three days of hard work. There were closer stops they could make if emergency repairs were necessary.
There was a thud and a curse from underneath the cylinder before the other half of Addy emerged, a smear of grease across her forehead. "Wondered when you might be up," she commented with a grin. "Almost checked to make sure you were still breathing when I got up."
The redhead sat up, abdomen flexing. She was in coveralls and a deep green tank and had tied her hair into two twin braids that swing slightly as she sat up. "She'll make it to Boros no trouble," she said, placing a hand lovingly on the cylinder like she was patting down a mare rather than an engine. "Just needed a touch of calibrating to get rid of a bit of whine. Back to purring like a kitten again now."
"Still a bit tired," Poe said, "but more like myself than I was when I crawled in yesterday, that's for sure." One corner of his mouth quirked slightly upward in what passed for a smile with him most days. "It was yesterday, right?"
She laughed at that. "It was."
He'd stayed by the door and she'd started where she was, not so much because she wanted to as she wanted to look him over. It was almost instinctive as her eyes moved over him, checking as if she needed to confirm he was all there.
He watched her gaze track up the length of his body and waited, head cocked slightly to one side, until she reached the level of his eyes. "Still in one piece, well, more or less," Poe said softly. "I'll be good as new by the time we're back on Boros looking for the next job."
She nodded once. Confirmation. And then again, taking a step towards him. She chewed the inside of her cheek, steps picking up pace before she had closed the gap between them and wound her arms around his neck, lips finding his for a long moment before she released him and tucked her head against his chest.
"Until the next job " she murmured.
"I play the hand I'm dealt, Addy. You knew that about me," Poe said. He held her close and thought how this was what coming home really was. The feel of her in his arms, her head tucked beneath this chin, the peace of moments like this. "Not every job will be dangerous, but some will be because the Alliance don't make it easy for someone like me." He kissed the top of her head, one hand rising to stroke her back, soothe her somehow.
"I know that." She wanted to melt into him. Hold him in place so she wouldn't spend 3 long days worrying about him again. She sighed nuzzling him and tightening her arms briefly. "I just hated feeling so helpless. Useless back here. If I'd been with you maybe I could've done something to help."
"That's the worry talking," Poe said softly. "How else could it have been?" He ran the logic through his head again, same as before he'd left. Shepherd still thought of him as the enemy. Ashe all but hibernated in the cockpit. Who exactly could he have taken with him, trusted enough to have his back and to be able to shoot if the need arose. The answer then was the same as now. No one. They weren't that kind of crew.
Her expression tightened, lips turning down ever so slightly at the corners and eyes narrowing just the tiniest bit before she pulled slightly away from him. Not so far that he wasn't still touching her, but enough that she could see his face and he could see hers. "I could have had your back," she said softly, but firmly. "Helped keep watch even if that just meant you could sleep for a moment so you weren't returning near dead on your feet. Just because you can do those things doesn't mean you have to. I learn fast and I'm no stranger to hard work. You could teach me..."
His expression softened as he looked into her eyes. So determined and so ... inexperienced. It broke his heart to even think of her being sullied by the kind of work that he did. He struggled then to find a way to get through to her. The idea of someone who hadn't been trained, didn't know what to do, being in harm's way went against everything that he was. "Addy. I fought two men, hand to hand, who were trying their best to kill me. What could you have done? How could you have helped me?"
"Is the fighting really the only thing I could offer of value?" she asked quietly working to quell the frustration she felt; to keep it pulled back from her tone of voice. "I didn't fight in the war Quinn, but I'm not useless in a fight. Would you have had to fight both of 'em if you'd had a wink of sleep before that point?"
"It would have given me different options, that's true enough," Poe said as the tactician's part of his brain kicked in to offer (unhelpful) suggestions as to how best she could have been used. Not that he wanted to share any of that with her but he had promised her honesty. "If you swear to stay clear of the fighting, maybe? No... then we aren't covered here. When Ashe needs someone in the engine room and you're out with me on the job? Who takes your place here?"
"Why would Ashe need someone in the engine room when we're on the ground?" she responded stubbornly. "We need to pick up deck hands anyway. Couldn't we look for one to act as a second to me?"
"You know as well as I do that when we have to get in the air quick, the pilot sometimes needs someone in the engine room," Poe said. "And there ain't enough work, day to day, to keep two mechanics busy. You'd be training your replacement and moving yourself into a job that I'm not sure you are ready to take on. It's one thing to want to have my back and I love you for it, I do, but its another thing entirely to do get involved in the ugly business of having my back."
"I didn't say I was ready to take it on now," she said, eyes flashing. "I said you could teach me. There's days in the air and there's nothing you can help me learn in that time?" She did pull away from him now, walking over to the engine... an excuse to cool her head for a minute before she spoke again. When she did turn around, arms crossed over her chest, she met his gaze with a fierceness that she wasn't sure he would be happy to see. "It's been 10 years Quinlan Barrett Poe. You had to grow and change and survive in that time. Don't you think I had to do the same? That maybe I'm a mite more skilled 26 than I was at 16?"
He stayed where he was, leaning against the framed opening to the engine room, hands tucked into his pockets because his chest hurt too much to be folding his arms across his bruises. His gaze grew chill and distant for a moment, the warrior surfacing for a moment, weighing options, before softening again. What he could see, from their few days together, might not be all that she was. Or maybe it was more correct to say that she wasn't showing him all that she was, that it was somehow buried underneath the shy and insecure girl she often was around him. And when he answered, it wasn't Quinn the boyfriend speaking; it was Poe the warrior who had left his childhood behind when he was six and got his first beating. The man who had gone to war because it was the right thing to do and lost the few that he cared about at the hands of the Alliance.
"Then show me," he said quietly. "You think you have what it takes to have my back in the field? Prove it." He raised one hand to stop the words he could see forming in her mind. "I'm not talking about skills. I can teach you what you need to know. I've done it before. I need to see that you have what it takes."
The fierceness in Addy's gazed tempered to steel, jaw setting. "Give me an opportunity to show you and I will," she said, the steel in her eyes creeping into her tone. "But you want to test whatever you believe I need to have you'd best not stop me from showing it when it's there to show. I'm no less the girl who stood in front of your prone body facing down a man twice her size with a lie now than I was then, but I'm a far cry more capable."
"We'll see," he said. He drew himself up, because you didn't show weakness in this sort of setting and somehow, they'd gone from coming home to something far different. "I'd best leave you to your work."
About as quick as it came the storminess cleared in her and the distance she hadn't entirely picked up on reared up chasm-like.
"Don't do that," she said closing her eyes and putting greasy fingers to the bridge of her nose. Her tone was colored with resignation and frustration as he began to turn.
He turned back, listened and heard in her voice the duality of how she was, and wondered. If she was all that underneath, why did she hide it all away? He felt as though he were on uncertain footing caught between what he wanted and what he'd seen. "Do what," he asked.
"Walk away like this conversation is between you and anyone else but me. It's... not going to be as straightforward for us, Quinn. But please don't ever walk away like I'm just another member of the crew." Her expression was a contradiction of emotion. "I want to figure out how we walk these lines together, not separately."
"What do you want me to do, Addy," Poe asked and as he did so, he threw his hands open wide, a gesture that hurt a bit though he masked that because that's what the warrior did. Don't show weakness. Don't show the hurt. "Not every situation can be resolved in the moment. Sometimes, it takes thought and time."
She chewed the inside of her cheek. "Then tell me if that's what you need," she said quietly moving toward him again. "It's only been a few days Quinn. I'm still learning you and you're still learning me. Just... tell me. Ok?"
"I thought I had," he said, his voice roughened, reflecting the confusion he felt, "but I'll give you this. There are things we can do, between now and when I see what I need to see. We can work out together. Strength training. Hand-to-hand. Weapon maintenance. The basics."
She'd come to a stop within arm's reach of him and for a moment she realized she must be a picture of confusing contradictions. Grease-covered and off balance as she tried to find her way back to where they had been only a few minutes beforehand. She wanted him to wrap her up in his arms again, but all of the sudden that want felt selfish, like by wanting that in their relationship she was somehow failing to prove herself already. So instead she held out her hand, snagging his fingers with hers. "Ok," she said, working to smooth some of disquiet she was still feeling from her face. "When do we start?"
"I'll talk you through cleaning my weapons," he said. "Meet me in the dining area is say ten minutes? I have to go get it all from our cabin."
Her surprise at his answer registered fast on her face, but only for a moment before she nodded, a grin spreading across her features. "All of them?" she asked with a wink.
"Good point," he said. "Bring your pistol too."