2517, The Unification War has been over for a decade and Miranda is still a secret. Into The Black is an Alternate Universe Firefly & Serenity fandom roleplaying game. It centers around independent crews of different ships which travel all over the 'verse created by Joss Whedon.

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Messages - Jean Marceau

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 5
1
Mining Skyplex / Re: Whisky Time
« on: Yesterday at 11:38:19 PM »

So much for that plan.
 
Tavi may as well have been an eel for the deftness she displayed in slipping through his fingers. Jean couldn’t help but curse a little louder than he’d intended, rapidly getting to his feet in an attempt to follow. “Désolé,” he grumbled at Cordell as he hunted through one of his pockets, the temporary animosity he’d been feeling effectively snubbed out in his desperation to catch Tavi. “I need to… contain this.”
 
He left handful of credits and some coins on the bar in front of Cordell before he left, making his way out at a brisk pace to try and intercept her before she disappeared. He'd left little too much. Enough to cover their own drinks as well as Cordell’s with some to spare, but Jean wasn’t exactly going to stay back to count it properly.
 
He caught up to Tavi outside the bar, the sight of her yellow dress bringing a rush of relief. For a moment he’d thought he’d lost her, and trying to find her amongst the cavalcade of people in the monstrosity that was the Skyplex wasn’t an appealing prospect.
 
She seemed upset, bringing a flicker of worry and slight frown before she mentioned… turtles.
 
Turtles?
 
Jean had to resist the urge to sigh. He’d found her, and that was the important bit. “No, not the turtles,” he agreed, trailing a hand down her arm in order to take her hand. He wasn’t quite sure what he was agreeing to, but he felt too tired to argue. “Time to go home, yeah?”

2
The Verse / Re: In the Pipe, 5 by 5
« on: Yesterday at 08:50:39 PM »

"Thank you mon frère. Standby for further."
 
Jean took his thumb off the radio switch, ending communications and going back to idly toying with it while staring at the data as though it might sing to him if he glared at it determinedly enough.
 
How much of it was falsified, exactly?
 
Tavi may have had a point about the cargo, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to agree with her assessment that the Deuteronomy was a lost cause. Mao, at least, seemed to think there might be something worth salvaging, and he was inclined to agree it was worth the attempt.
 
“She is still flying,” Jean pointed out, bringing the read-out of the Deuteronomy’s engine output back onto his screen. “Engineering is still in tact.” Mostly. “If they are running, she is not completely destroyed.” Even if the munitions were gone, she might at lest have some functional scrap. Hopefully the bridge as well. It wasn’t any use to them, but Jean was more than curious about what the logs had to say.
 
Then there was the escape shuttle. If someone had survived long enough to launch one, the entire interior couldn’t be completely reduced to dust. Perhaps the crew or the automated systems had shut the blast-doors if they had them installed. Although, the shuttle could have easily been launched before the explosion.
 
Hmm.
 
He brought up the LIDAR scan again and enlarged it, focusing on the hole that had blasted through one side. If she was carrying nothing but munitions and they’d all detonated at once, he’d have thought the damage would have been more widespread than that.
 
Sabotage. There was that word again.
 
It just felt a little too… deliberate. And if someone had rigged her to blow then taken an escape shuttle before she detonated, then it was starting to look like thieves stealing from thieves stealing from thieves at the moment.
 
“Here,” Jean said, sending a mirror of the escape shuttle records and the damage on the side of the hull to Tavi’s secondary screen. ”What does that tell you?” It wasn’t a test. He was just checking in case she caught another possibility he'd missed.

Jean couldn’t help it. This was starting to niggle at his curiosity. There was still an Alliance Officer in him somewhere that wanted to know quel en l’enfer a ship with a false transponder was doing with weapons-grade munitions, and, more importantly, where it was going. The newly formed Pirate Identity was busy wondering whether any of those munitions may have survived, and, if not, and the ship was empty, it was a chance for some low-risk salvage that might add a touch of cream to their bottom line.
 
In theory.

Getting her off her current path still seemed like a good first step. Perhaps an EVA run for a more thorough assessment. It all had to go according to plan first, and Jean knew damned well how that liked to work out.

3
The Verse / Re: Everything Was Beautiful...
« on: Yesterday at 09:21:36 AM »

The resulting splash quickly put an end to that conversation.
 
Jean only smiled to himself, shaking his head slightly. Maybe she was right. He was worrying too much.
 
The sun was bright overhead, and warm by the standards of Beaumonde, sending shards of light skittering over the surface of the water. This was only a small pool compared to the luxury resorts of New Dunsmuir — all grey tile and stone masonry — but there was something about the cozier, more rustic look that suited it nicely.

Still, Jean didn’t find himself breathing easily until he saw Tavi's head resurface above crystalline water. After the last six months, Jean wasn’t even sure he remembered what it felt like to not be worried about something.
 
“Sure you are not drowning?” he added, latching onto her last comment with a tone of mock skepticism. He was making fun of himself this time. She was right; he definitely worried too much.
 
Jean didn’t jump in after her yet, instead moving to sit at the edge of the pool while taking care not to overextend his left knee. The water was cool on his skin, and Jean realised almost at once how much he’d missed that feeling. It was stupid, really. He could still remember swimming at the harbour in the mornings when he was a teenager. Why hadn't he done it since?
 
Maybe he’d show her the harbour too, if they had the time.

It only took a second to pull his shirt over his head and toss it aside, leaving only the dark-grey cargo shorts he was wearing in lieu of swimming trunks. The odd choice of attire could be traced back to when Tavi asked him to dress to go swimming, and, well… suffice it to say, owning a set of swimming gear implied he ever took time off to swim in the first place. Instead, he’d had to settle for clothes he didn’t mind ruining.
 
Close enough, right?

4
Mining Skyplex / Re: Menagerie Reunion
« on: June 21, 2017, 07:26:52 PM »

Jean was starting to wonder if “a quiet day” ever featured in the Skyplex’s vocabulary.
 
That answer was quickly turning into a resounding “No.”
 
It had taken him the better part of a day to find the right contact. If anything could be said about the criminal underworld, it was that they were protective about their own. On another day, or another world, or another Universe, Jean might have even felt a little proud of his detective work. He could count at least three arrests he could have made offhand. But not today.
 
Instead, well…
 
Here he was. Contributing to this mess.
 
The search had lead him to a back alley electronics stall in the shadier areas of the Skyplex markets. An array of dials, switches, gauges, wires, and electronics were sprawled before them on the market bench. The stall's owner folded his arms over his thin chest, looking up at Jean with scrutinising look that screwed his weasel-like face up unpleasantly.

“One twenty plat,” he insisted, eyes narrowing into beady black dots.
 
Jean’s nose wrinkled. The nearest air duct smelt of oil and ozone. The temptation to answer with ’Twenty, and your nose in one piece’ was rising by the minute, but he opted to hold his tongue, and went with a stern, “Try again.”
 
They’d been haggling over the price of an ID687 Sensor to fit an Altering Broadcast Transmitter for the last fifteen minutes. Of course, those in the know knew there was no such thing as an ID687 Sensor to fit an Altering Broadcast Transmitter. That was the thing about the Skyplex; code and doublespeak may as well be its own language on this oversized boat.
 
Case in point, the man he was talking to went by the pseudonym of “Fox.” Ironic, given his distinctly rodent-like characteristics. The semi-automatic TFI .38 handun he had slung against his hip like an old-fashioned gunslinger didn’t suit him any better than what “Fox” did; as though it were no more than a statement peice.
 
The truth of that assessment was verified a lot quicker than Jean would have liked.
 
He heard the commotion first; the sound of footsteps, a crash, and a yell. Jean turned in time to see a woman barreling through the space between the stalls. She was breathing hard, with cracked teeth visible under her grimace, tattooed to the hilt. There was another shout behind her, and she was tearing down the row of stalls a hurry she didn’t even seem to realise where she was going. Sure enough, her eyes widened the second a metal wall loomed up before her, turning the corridor into a dead end. She nearly tripped herself over in her rush to stop, looking around like a trapped animal.
 
Jean only had enough time to vaguely wonder what the hell was going on before Fox bristled, forgetting all about haggling in order to step in to intercept her, and doing his best to look indignant.
 
“Ren, we’ve talked about this!” he said, angrily pointing back towards the mouth of the alley. “Y’cant come back ‘ere!”
 
Jean was going to go ahead and guess they weren’t friends.
 
That assessment was also verified a lot quicker than Jean would have liked when the woman snarled, practically lurching at the man. Before Fox had time to gasp or to duck, she’d wrapped an arm around his neck, and was pointing Fox’s own gun straight at his temple.
 
Well. Putain.
 
A woman screamed. Others ducked. Even Jean found cover behind the stall, instinct forcing his legs to move. The woman might have shouted something, but Fox’s scream drowned it out.
 
Christ. Pourquoi en l'enfer couldn't things just go easily for once?
 
Jean’s gun was already in his hand, although he didn’t remember drawing it. A quick glance from the other side of the stall showed the woman holding Fox in a makeshift headlock, the gun pointed straight back at the alley where she’d come from. A dark face rapidly disappeared behind cover.
 
That looked like—
 
No.
 
There wasn’t much time to get an assessment of the situation, other than the fact someone was trying to hold his one and only lead at gunpoint.
 
Fuck.

That question of what the hell was happening was promptly answered. The dark face around the corner looked back around, triggering another flicker of recognition from Jean. She exposed no more of her head than necessary, but sure enough, a shot rang off as the woman holding Fox opened fire. The crack of the firearm was painfully magnified in the enclosed metal tube, followed by a distinct ring as the bullet bounced off metal, a ricochet whizzing into the distance.
 
The reaction to the gunshot was immediate. There was a chorus of shouts and screams as people panicked, some hitting the floor, others cowering behind stalls.
 
“Ni ta ma de!” the woman shrieked, hysterical. “Fuck you, A.M.C! Get the fuck away or I’m killin’ everyone in ‘ere!”

AMC. Skyplex Security.

Huh.
 
Directly across the corridor from Jean, a woman wailed, while a child started crying. The piercing sound filled up the empty space as the young boy, barely older than two, began to scream. The woman holding Fox hostage bared her teeth, turning the barrel of the gun onto the child, spitting with every word.

“SHUT. HIM. UP.”
 
She still hadn’t paid Jean any notice.
 
That was her mistake.

The blast from Jean's Newtech handgun may as well have been cannon-fire. The bullet hit two inches from her ear into the back of her skull.  A little away from Fox, just to be certain, but at this distance, the marksmanship wasn’t the tricky part.
 
The corner of the Skyplex exploded into screams just as the body hit the floor, splattering blood and chunks of skull. Some ran, others cowered. Fox hit the floor beside his captor, his face splattered with red, and for the briefest second, Jean was afraid he’d hit him as well until it became plain the man was only gasping in shock.
 
Jean moved quickly, slipping his pistol back in his holster and taking advantage of the momentary chaos. He didn’t want to be standing where the gun had gone off when A.M.C came to investigate, and getting pinned by Skyplex Security — even if he’d just done them a favour —wasn’t on his to-do list.

5
Mining Skyplex / Re: Another Day At The Office
« on: June 19, 2017, 06:22:58 PM »

That was fair. Jean wasn’t serious about leaving yet, but he’d felt the need to put the question to her to see what sort of response he got. He didn’t like to engage in these sorts of deals without getting a sense for his enemy. So far, Zhīzhū Nǚwáng hadn’t been entirely equitable, so he’d been half expecting to receive some sort of threat or extortion attempt.
 
Not that such a thing mightn’t come later, but, it seemed unlikely. The thought had already crossed his mind that this wasn’t the real Zhīzhū Nǚwáng at all, just one of many ‘faces’ under the employ of a Puppeteer. But he knew who this one was. Knew where this Zhīzhū Nǚwáng was located. God knew that information had been hard enough to come by as it was. Surely, risking the loss of a talented operative wasn’t worth it to pursue small-fry like a plain old deserter. The ‘Verse was littered with them.
 
Unless...
 
Jean only gave a short, satisfied nod. He still had a few questions on the back-burner, and with any luck, even if they didn’t come to an arrangement, the trip would still be worth his time.
 
He stood, unfolding his arms and standing up away from the wall. That cigarette itch was still niggling at him, but he put it aside for now, resting a hand on the side of the chair in front of her desk, and, at long last, finally took a seat.
 
It wasn’t much. Just a little, subtle demonstration that he was willing to talk.
 
To his credit, he at least looked more relaxed. He leaned back, left elbow on the arm rest, though his right hand, as ever, never strayed too far from his side arm. The move was purely unconscious; a force of habit ingrained over the course of a decade.
 
“Indulge me,” he asked, with a quick nod at the back of the monitor in front of her, the fingers of his left hand fidgeting a little with the cigarette craving. “What does it say that I 'ave done?”
 
A harmless sounding question, he hoped. Perhaps she’d just think that he was an egotist curious about how impressive his record sounded. That was fine. She could assume what she liked. But the question of whether his record only showed ‘Deceased,’ or whether it also went so far as to say ‘Mutineer,’ was of pertinent interest.

6
The Verse / Re: In the Pipe, 5 by 5
« on: June 19, 2017, 05:30:01 PM »
Well now.

That changed things a little.

Jean held out a hand signal to Tavi to belay the last order. At least, until he had more to go off.

"What are you thinking, false transponder?" he asked back over the radio, pulling up initial data which had been translated from the sensors. It was still showing the same. Deuteronomy. Standard Civilian-Class L.T.V. The floor-plan wasn't showing anything unusual, but then...

Mao was on the right track. Since when did L.T.V's — disguised or otherwise — move that sort of hardware?



7
The Verse / Re: In the Pipe, 5 by 5
« on: June 19, 2017, 09:16:45 AM »

“It is looking like someone has beaten us to it,” Jean said with a scowl, eyeing over the data that was feeding in from the scanners. Internal explosion. Interesting. Jean was no engineer, but he knew enough to know ships rarely decided to detonate on their own without a reason.
 
No. This smelt deliberate.
 
There were a lot of questions here, and not a huge amounts of answers. The sensors still weren’t showing any other ships in the vicinity, and if something was hiding in the heat trail, it was doing a damned good job of it. No distress signal. Still no hail. A quick glance at the log showed one of the escape pods had been jettisoned.
 
It looked easy on paper, but everything just felt…
 
Off.
 
Still. A hunch was all he had to go off, and that was hardly definitive.
 
Even if someone had taken the cargo, the visit could be worth it just for supplies and salvage. Food. Ammo. Parts. Mao would be able to strip any engine components of reasonable value. L.T.V. spare parts were always in high demand, which made the fact the engine was still running at all curious.

If it was sabotage, or a pirate raid, why leave the engines going? Why not strip her themselves? Siphon the fuel, at least? God knew fuel cells weren’t cheap. And if it really was an accident, why wasn't there a distress signal?
 
Unless… someone intended to be back. Or she’d been set to travel somewhere deliberate.
 
… A carrion house, for example.
 
Interesting.
 
If someone was inside after all, Jean didn’t exactly want them broadcasting what was coming next. “Kill her engine and any comms,” he said, glancing over at the long range sensors again. If his guess was right, then steering her far away from the current route felt like a start. “Grapple her; get her off the current flight path in case someone is looking to finish the job.”

At the very least, it might buy them a little more time. Or shake up some nests. A blueprint had successfully come up in their search of the database, so Jean gave it a quick glance over, then paired it with the scanner results and sent a copy down to the data terminal closest to where Mao was waiting.
 
“Five, this is Actual. Data transmitted to terminal three four. Tell us what it is we are looking at. Over.”
 
Which compartments were likely to be breached, or if any fuel or gas lines were likely to be compromised was worth noting. Or at least an indication. Walking into a makeshift gas chamber or straight into a vacuum wasn’t an appealing prospect.

8
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Candyland
« on: June 18, 2017, 08:27:03 PM »

“Tavi?”
 
No answer. Just that sound. That simple terrified noise prising from throat that sent the hair at the back of his neck standing. In a blink, Tavi collapsed, her eyes flickering shut, body falling limp as she fell into him. Jean moved quickly, catching her by sheer instinct as she fell, pulling her into his chest, one hand cradling the back of her head, arm wrapped around her tight.
 
Jean could feel his blood running cold, an icy realisation that ran claws along every nerve he had left.
 
No.
 
No no no!
 
There was a crack in his voice now; the tone a little louder, a little more desperate. “Tavi—”
 
His heart was pounding in his ears. Jean's hand still supporting her head where it rested against his shoulder, the other curling around under her hair to reach for her throat, desperately feeling for a pulse. Her skin felt a thousand degrees beneath his fingers. He didn't feel anything, causing his heart to jump in desperate panic, adjusted his fingers, then—
 
There!
 
Weak. But there.
 
Jean wasn’t breathing yet. He never prayed any more. But this time he did. A desperate pause, before her chest rose and fell, faint against him, a wisp of warm breath ghosting over his neck. It was shallow. Or at least, it felt shallow. But she was breathing. Her heart was still beating. She was definitely still breathing, and—
 
Relief flooded in, just for the barest moment, but it felt like being hit by a freighter. He was only barely aware of how tight he was holding his jaw. Of the strain that must be written along every line of his face.
 
He had to—
 
She—
 
He didn’t know what had happened, but head was already churning in on itself. A thousand and one possibilities, each worse than the last. Stress, maybe. He’d never passed out during an episode before, but if she… If it was a drug interaction. A reaction. If not shock, she might have had a stroke, or—
 
Shit.
 
He didn’t know what she’d taken. Everything was growing distant. Surreal. Like he was no longer part of himself. Even as she may well be dying in his arms. Bleeding out internally from an embolism, or—
 
Jean shouted, his voice only sounding more composed than he felt. “DOCTOR!” he roared, moving to pick her up, one arm supporting her back and shoulder, the other hooked around of her knees. She was light. A paper doll. He didn’t remember her being so light.
 
Déjà vu was flooding in as he rested her on the nearest medical cot. There was no blood on the walls this time. No blood on the bed. But that feeling was the same. That same desperate welling of something frighteningly akin to grief. It felt like his body was about to tear in half. Rip from somewhere in his chest and pull him to pieces, even as the world floated away around him. Seeing her like this. Knowing that she—
 
But there was nothing he could do for her.
 
And that hurt the most.

9
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Go Down, Moses
« on: June 16, 2017, 08:06:45 PM »

That grin spread across her face, wide, and just cheeky enough to get his attention. She looked good up there. Long limbs and mussed hair, tits accidentally pressed together by her arms as her hands took their time, running up the length of his cock. She didn’t budge. She only moved a hand to his knee and laughed. She might have been mocking him. Jean couldn’t bring himself to care.
 
There was something musical in her laughter; something that lit up her face all the same. He liked it when she laughed. He never did seem to be able to help that.
 
Nor was he going to argue. Not when her hand felt that good; slow pull and glide, fingers squeezing, sending sparks of heat. “Guilty,” he acknowledged, managing a smile, as though, for once, it wasn’t a completely foreign expression for him.
 
She didn't seem interested in taking the cigarette, so he helped himself to a long draw before breathing in slow, smoke bringing a heady buzz. He didn’t want to think about the implications that she was right, even if it was true. His head still felt fuzzy. As though the conversation from just moments ago had thrown him out the airlock and he was only just starting to touch ground again.
 
What did he want to do to her, then? The part of him that was still thinking tried to remind him he’d just been admonished for asking her the same question. But then she took her hand away from his knee, both hands now stroking him in rhythm, squeezing him in a way that made the muscles in his stomach clench involuntarily. Made his eyes flicker shut and force in a smoke-filled breath. So then he forgot all about that.
 
Flipping her over was getting tempting. Pin her underneath him, growl in her ear; try to make her scream and forget how to speak. Or push her against the wall, head between her legs, until he was the only thing in the world holding her upright as her thighs caved in around him. Hell, she was even sitting in a good position to test the limits of her throat, if he felt like being entirely selfish. Or her ass. See how pretty she looked with cum all over her—
 
Jean’s breath caught again at the jumble of thoughts, instinct making him thrust into her hand, an appreciative groan rumbling through his throat. Still, he hesitated to say anything. Just in case. The memory of her nails digging in was still vivid. An unspoken threat if he somehow upset her.
 
He just…
 
He didn’t want to ruin this by opening his mouth. It usually seemed to end up the case whenever he did. If he messed it up. If he said it wrong again. If what he said wasn’t what she wanted to hear. If he told her the truth and she threw him a look of utter disgust, or—
 
He wasn’t sure if he could handle that.
 
Not now.
 
He was rescued, in a way, by her next comment. Or at least… not in the way he expected.
 
"You make me happy," Tavi added lightly. As though it were the simplest matter of fact in the world.
 
All the air may as well have rushed out then. Or Jean had forgotten to breathe. It wasn’t something he hadn’t heard a variant of before, but—
 
It was—
 
Jean paused for a second, the words churning through his head. That weight he was so familiar with already closing in around his heart.
 
The rush of emotion hit unexpectedly. A hundred of them flaring up and dying all at once. He couldn’t even explain to himself why. It just… did. He’d spent so long running. Hiding. Avoiding... everything. Everything he might feel. Everything he wanted to feel. And he was tired. So fucking tired of always doing the same thing to himself. Again. And again. Because he had to. Because he’d convinced himself there was no other way.
 
He’d just—
 
And there was Tavi, sitting in front of him, hair artfully disarrayed and beautiful as Hell. Perhaps it was the combination of post-orgasm bliss and the fact she was still working his cock that wasn’t letting him think straight. Couldn’t think. He didn’t know. Perhaps he was just—
 
He didn’t want to think.
 
Not this time.
 
Jean sat up, cigarette pulled from his lips, one hand cupping around the back of her head, fingers climbing through her hair, against her skull. Pulled her into him, just briefly, mouth opening against hers, slow, like something to be savored. Soft lips, the taste of her something heady. Like a drug. Comforting and damning all at once.
 
“You too, all right?” he said, forehead resting against hers, as though to make sure she knew.
 
He meant more than the words themselves. He’d never said them before. Hinted, rarely. But never acknowledged.
 
She made him happy. That was true. Make his heart leap and twist and pull his stomach into excited knots. And she made him terrified as well. Nervous. Ecstatic. Petrified. Sometimes all at once. Spiraling from the highest point or the lowest of the lows. Everything and anything between, and the whole damn spectrum besides.
 
And then, there were times like now. Fragile as it was. As though even a breath of air would shatter it.
 
It was why he clinged to these moments. Brief as they were. Because Hell would always be at his door.
 
Waiting.

10
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Ifs, Whens, and Maybes
« on: June 13, 2017, 10:10:09 PM »
That was… not…
 
The answer completely caught Jean off guard.
 
Surely, she—
 
Jean blinked hard, turning back to the controls as though the simple action would snap him out of the daze her answer seemed to have thrown him into.
 
There wasn’t time for that.
 
Not yet.
 
“Maintain speed,” he replied, his brain attempting to shift gears with a rusty crunch. Sure enough, a green dot representing the offending Patrol Boat was starting to break formation. “Wait to see if they begin to burn. It could be a feint.”
 
It was a gamble, but if they overreacted at the first sign of trouble, it was essentially painting a neon sign that they were up to something illegal. The ship would be flagged and an alert put out to any other patrols in the area. Lynn had used the same bluffing tactic a few times to try and spook a suspicious vessel into giving themselves away whenever he didn’t wholeheartedly want to waste time investigating. Even if it was a legitimate threat, they had enough of a head start to get clear.
 
He hoped. Unless that patrol was packing a surprise or two.
 
More to the point, if Tavi’s fuel calculations were accurate, it meant they didn’t have the fuel to burn just because one of the Patrol Boats was looking at them strangely. They were going to be stretched to arrive to Highgate as it was.
 
Jean pulled up some data on of the monitors, still trying to push away the uncomfortable feeling that Tavi’s answer had left behind. The statement had been so… matter of fact. As though her death and condemnation at her parents’ hands was a certainty. It was just such an alien concept to everything Jean thought he knew about family that—
 
There. The paperwork he was after popped onto the screen. A falsified Bill of Lading, courtesy of French. Supposedly, the Black Echo was hauling grain and an accompaniment of powdered nutrient concentrate out of Muir to Highgate to aid Greenetech’s later stage terraforming. Should the Alliance hail to demand the information, he could only hope the captured ship they were lugging looked enough like a cargo crate on the Alliance radar to allay suspicion.
 
Still. How was she—
 
Jean glanced back at Tavi again. She always did manage to make his head lose track of where it was meant to be going. He wanted to push the topic, but he wasn’t sure what it was going to accomplish. Only that it felt… incomplete. Somehow.
 
That was it, was it?
 
It just… didn’t feel right.
 
She was stuck. Just as he was.
 
Not a heartening thought.

11
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Ifs, Whens, and Maybes
« on: June 13, 2017, 06:14:03 PM »
Funny, how even short silences could seem to stretch into the infinite. For a moment, Jean wasn’t sure whether she’d even heard him. Until…
 
”Yes,” came the slow reply.
 
Just a yes.
 
Jean’s mouth pressed into a line as he tore his eyes away, towards a series of numbers flashing over a monitor that detailed real-time readings from the reactor core. Green, as ever. A simulated vertical gauge on the left side marked their fuel consumption. There was nothing to see there, but it felt more comfortable to pretend to look busy.
 
It was the answer he’d wanted. And the one he’d been dreading to hear.
 
Why? As though hearing otherwise would have made him feel better? Assuage his guilt for getting her into this mess in the first place?
 
”I don't miss my family,” Tavi continued, her voice interrupting his thoughts. It was a peculiar enough statement that Jean couldn’t help but turn to look at her again, brow furrowing with a flicker of concern.
 
The truth was, Jean had never seen Sinon. Or Londinium. It was a ridiculous fact of life that he’d reflected on more than once. All the blood he’d shed and the lives he’d lost; all for worlds that he could now never even set foot upon. And yet, the way she described it, he could almost see it in his mind's eye, clear as a memory. The buildings in his head were tall and white, towering in the sun, while the fragile petals of the cherry trees floated by on the wind.
 
… She didn’t deserve to be here.
 
If he could only—
 
“If we could,” she continued, “I'd want to go back with you."
 
She—
 
A heaviness was creeping over him. As though the weight of the ship and the walls were starting to crush in. Not much. Enough to remind him of its presence — of the weight around him — sending a crawling feeling through his gut.
 
It was a moment until Jean realised he’d been holding his breath. As though the very words had pressed the air from his lungs.
 
He breathed in. Slowly.
 
Did she—
 
No. He couldn’t think about that now.
 
There was only pain behind that door. For both of them.
 
“It is too late for me,” Jean replied heavily, looking back at the gauge, as though it would make it easier to speak. It was the truth, as far as he could see. If they went back, he might last a day. Maybe two. There was no way out after what he’d done. No other option. But Tavi, she—
 
She needed help. Proper help. More than what he could provide. She needed a hospital. And Doctors that weren’t forced to treat her on threat of their lives. Jean was a nobody. Always had been. A man of no importance born on the back end of a Rim planet. Fast tracked from birth for a violent, bloody end. The perfect scapegoat. But not Tavi. Tavi was someone.
 
“But maybe not for you.”
 
If anyone had a chance, it was her.
 
“Your parents. They—” Jean paused, running a hand over his forehead and up through his hair, as though stalling for what to say. “They are Senators, no?” With money. Resources. “If you blamed everything on me. That you had tried to stop me. That I held you captive, and—” He was sure she could be creative. It wasn’t though Jean needed much embellishment to look a monster in the eyes of the Core. “Your parents would help you, yes?”
 
Perhaps he was being hopeful. Perhaps he was being a fool. A senator's daughter. Smart. Beautiful. A tragic hero, in the right light. The sort of story the Alliance would surely drink up to look good for the camera. Surely her parents would pull every string in their arsenal. Get her help.

Her last few words echoed through his mind, twisting at his insides.

It was a risk. But no more risk than staying here. This life would kill them eventually. That was a certainty. But if she went back, she— She had a chance. And a chance was better than none.

It still didn't make suggesting it any less difficult.

12
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Candyland
« on: June 12, 2017, 06:10:56 PM »
It wasn’t getting through.
 
She wasn’t—
 
Tavi had fallen silent, but that broken look on her face wasn’t going anywhere. Confused. Unfocused. Her brown eyes were fixed straight through him and out the other side. Looking at him without seeing. As though he wasn’t even there. He knew that look. Knew that she—
 
“Tavi—”
 
Jean didn’t know whether the silence was a sign of progress, or telling that she was losing herself to the horrors of her own mind; their bent and twisted depths. He could feel that lump in his throat, stubborn and persistent, his heart squeezing painfully as Tavi slowly slumped to the ground, crumpling at his feet, as though she'd lost the will to live.
 
Jean was right behind her, sinking to the ground with her on the cold, frozen floor.
 
“I am here, okay?” he tried, desperately hoping his voice would crack through — give her something to hold on to. The way her voice always brought him back whenever the world started to blur.
 
He had to—
 
He—
 
Jean reached out, broad fingers grabbing her hand, still speckled with the Doctor’s blood.
 
“It is only me.”

13
The Verse / Re: In the Pipe, 5 by 5
« on: June 12, 2017, 08:47:36 AM »
Spoiler: Abbreviations • show

Five - Mao's Designation
L.T.V. - Light Transport Vessel
Holed - Hull Breach
D.A - Damage Assessment

Gee, thanks. Very gracious.
 
Jean didn’t answer either of them immediately. His free hand lingered on the radio, one roughened thumb ghosting over the switch. There was something in the lighting from the displays on the bridge that always made him look a little older; a little more haggard. This morning was no exception.
 
One transport ship, assuming another wasn't hiding in her wake. Debris. Trailing a radiation signature. Atypical axial rotation.
 
Jean’s eyes narrowed, the light of the monitor deepening the wrinkles developing at the corners of his eyes.
 
Typical pattern for Reavers.
 
Okay, yes, it was unlikely, but Jean felt justified in being paranoid.
 
“Cautious.”
 
Cautious was a better word.
 
The Black Echo was currently far enough from their territory that Reavers shouldn't be a concern, but the Deuteronomy was doing a damn good impression of one. If they'd penetrated this far, then...
 
Well, Captain Lynn had made that mistake once too.
 
Jean finished mulling over his options, flexing the fingers of his free hand into a fist and painfully stretching them back out before giving Tavi a short nod.
 
“Offset two zero mark three zero; avoid debris,” he instructed, hoping to curl the Black Echo around to the other side of the vessel as they closed in to get a better view of the damage. “Be looking for a hull breach.” If they were going to be met by a vacuum as soon as they opened a pressure door, he’d rather know sooner rather than later.
 
Jean started to lift the intercom, pausing for a second to add, “If anyone hails, give to them the usual fey wu.” In a pinch, Tavi looked the right amount of pretty and innocent to pull off a lie about being a concerned trading ship, assuming the other crew wasn't looking too closely.
 
That said, the fact they hadn’t been hailed by any survivors at all was telling.
 
“Five," Jean replied over the comm, humoring Mao's impatience. "Distance to contact one zero three zero klicks. L.T.V, possibly holed. Commencing D.A. Standby for readings. Out.”
 
On the face of it, and ignoring the What Ifs and the Maybes, Occam's razor implied the Deuteronomy had been hit. Asteroids weren't unheard of in the area, but even if she was flying blind, every instrument dead, the chances of hitting one by chance was infinitesimally low. An attempted breach or a malfunction seemed more likely, and if they could get a good scan of the damage, Mao might be able to shed some light on whether it was caused by an impact, a defect causing decompression, or a breaching charge.
 
Jean leaned forward, accessing their current database to check for relevant deck-plans. The scanners weren’t identifying the exact model of the Deuteronomy yet, but the mystery should clear up on approach. With luck, they might be able to cross-reference the damage against the plan to see which internal structures may have been compromised, as well as work out the best breaching strategy.
 
‘Deuteronomy.’ A book of three sermons delivered by Moses before entering the Promised Land.
 
Well. Time was about to tell on that.

14
Mining Skyplex / Re: Another Day At The Office
« on: June 06, 2017, 06:03:07 PM »

That sounded a bit like bullshit. How many overheads could she possibly have? Not that Jean was a hacking expert, but he couldn’t imagine pulling up the information for him with a few clicks of a button could possibly cost her that many credits. If he died in pursuit of the cargo, and she didn’t get paid, so be it. Surely she’d have a hundred other saps in here asking the same question who could pay her dividends.
 
Numbers game.
 
Carrying her away from the Skyplex on short notice also sounded a little too easy, at least as far as favours were concerned. Admittedly, yes, Munroe Class Interceptors were amongst the quickest ships in the Alliance Fleet, but—
 
What? Did she know what his ship was already too?
 
Somehow, he wouldn’t be surprised. Christ, he needed that cigarette.
 
“And if it is I choose to leave?” Jean asked probingly. He had no intention of leaving quite yet, but it was worth asking to know if she would actually let him, or use it to try and tighten the proverbial web she was already weaving.

15
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Go Down, Moses
« on: June 06, 2017, 05:47:09 PM »

Why did he get the impression she’d tried that before?
 
More to the point, why did that seem to bother him so much?
 
Jean didn’t get to linger too long on the subject of his not-so-latent jealousy issues. Tavi’s hands continued working him, a moan escaping from his throat before he could stop himself.
 
“Knee,” he lied, voice starting to hitch a little. “Hurts on... some days.” Or, at least, a half truth. She’d heard him complain about it before, and he wasn’t about to be completely honest. Not while she was—
 
Fuck; Jean felt his stomach clench, hip jerking slightly into her grip. The sight of her between his knees, working him with both hands — fingers wrapped around his cock, arms slightly pushing her breasts together — was looking entirely too appealing, making it difficult to linger on one thought for too long.
 
He’d need a little more to get him off a second time, but— “Feels good,” he growled appreciatively, wishing she was close enough to get his hands back on her so he could play with every inch he could reach.

"I thought that it was... your turn," he pointed out. Not that he wanted her to stop, and nor was he exactly keeping score, but it only felt fair somehow.

16
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Candyland
« on: June 06, 2017, 12:06:11 AM »
The doctor slid out of the room as instructed, grabbing some tissues as he went. The door hadn’t even finished closing when Jean hit the switch to activate the frosted glass. It wasn’t much by way of privacy, given they were in a glass room with little in the way of soundproofing, but the frosting was opaque enough that the Doctor wouldn’t be able to see inside.
 
“Tavi—”
 
She didn’t let him finish. There was a resoluteness to her expression; a harshness to her that turned her face to stone, even as she spat his own words back at him.
 
It stung. Jean’s expression didn’t falter, but… it stung.
 
Didn’t she see he was trying to—?  Jean’s stomach dropped, the familiar tightness building back up in his throat.
 
No. Of course she couldn’t.
 
Tavi stumbled back, and Jean stepped forward in alarm, a hand held out as though afraid she was about to fall. The only response he got was Tavi’s voice, shrill and panicked — as she clutched at her head, stumbling back — repeating the one phrase. Over and over.
 
“Get it out.”
 
Fuck.
 
“Tavi— It’s not real,” Jean said quickly, stepping in on sheer instinct, desperately trying to keep his voice calm. He knew what was happening this time, without being told. Or thought he did; the realisation sending a rush of something akin to panic.

“Tavi— Tavi, listen to me," Jean repeated, reaching for her arm to help steady her. A mistake by all accounts, but he knew from experience she had to ground on something. Anyhing. "It is not real," he said again, a hint of determination slinking though this time, even if it didn't reach his soul. “Is it just us.”

17
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Ifs, Whens, and Maybes
« on: June 05, 2017, 07:48:31 PM »
“No,” Jean agreed. He was listening, though perhaps not as attentively as usual. He doubted many of them would have escaped without having sensor equipment at least on par with the Echo. Hell, they’d detected a fair few pirates back in the day simply by watching an otherwise unassuming vessel try and make a rushed U-turn within sight of their sensors.
 
You know. Much like they were doing now.
 
While their current course re-calibration was far more subtle than that, it amounted to the same. Perhaps that was part of the reason this wasn’t sitting well.

…You know, on top of the myriad of other reasons Jean had for not liking any of this.
 
He ran a hand along his chin thoughtfully, giving the sensor monitor a final look. If they were picked up by another Interceptor, and were boarded, then… they’d probably be captured. Maybe. Assuming none of them opted to go down in a blaze of gunfire. The idea was tempting; he’d much rather a clean shot to the head than go through the farce of a military trial, which was just a longer road to the same end.
 
Tavi, however...
 
He looked at her again. Cleaner, somehow. A little more like her old self, which always gave him hope. She didn’t deserve to be here. She didn’t look like she should be here. Brown eyes and wide smiles, whenever she was feeling in a better mood. He liked her smile. The genuine ones. There was an innocence to it. The sort of woman that hurt to look at in ways that defied words.
 
He couldn’t avoid asking the question forever. If there was a chance to save her at all — from this, from everything — then…
 
“Would you go back, if you could?” he asked slowly. “If there was a chance, I am meaning.”

18
The Verse / Re: In the Pipe, 5 by 5
« on: June 05, 2017, 07:08:21 AM »

Sometimes Jean really hated being right.
 
His customary scowl was back in place as he looked up at the jumble of data displaying on the readout. None of it was giving them any clear information, suggesting either interference or a malfunction. It wasn’t like Mao to let an error of this magnitude go undiagnosed, so what was—?
 
Debis over the sensor array? Possibly. That, or the Deuteronomy was equipped with jamming equipment heavy enough to block even their scanners. That sort of tech was hard to find, but not impossible.
 
This was looking less and less like civilians by the minute. The risk was just enough to give Jean pause. The word ‘Trap’ was still on his mind, and if they were being jammed, Jean wasn’t in the mood to be surprised by a series of railguns or risk a hull breach just because the scanner hadn’t gotten a reading.
 
“Another cross angle, s'il te plaît,” Jean requested, reaching for the sensor control panel to log a copy of the data for Mao to check at a later date. In an ideal world it might be just as simple as scattered debris between themselves and the target. A simple alteration in their angle of approach might make the difference.
 
While Tavi made the adjustments, Jean took a moment to modify a few of the scan parameters to correct the beam width to cut radiation loss, and attempted to reduce some of the noise and anomalies on the feed by modifying the frequency and SSL. Jean glanced back up at the sensor screen, updating the coordinates, and attempting to run the LIDAR a second time.
 
“Allons, chérie,” he muttered under his breath. “Parle-moi.”

19
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Go Down, Moses
« on: June 05, 2017, 02:48:57 AM »

Wait.
 
Had—
 
Had this conversation just happened?
 
The idea of bringing a child into… into this... whatever the Hell this life was, was enough to make Jean’s stomach churn.
 
They couldn’t possibly—
 
Mercifully, Tavi seemed to have reached the same conclusion. Jean was temporarily dumbfounded enough to forget how to speak any language, let alone English, not helped by the way her hand was still working him relentlessly. But then her suggestion on how to get around the issue, and—
 
Putain de Dieu.
 
This wasn’t helping his sudden impression that he might have just gone mad. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite convince himself he was dreaming, because Tavi wasn’t giving him any quarter, the twist of her hand sending another jolt that was threatening to tear a sound from his throat. That was definitely real, as incredible and simultaneously maddening as it was. 
 
For a second there he was afraid she’d been asking because she actually was pregnant, and…
 
Fuck.
 
Was she serious about that last part?
 
His brain was suddenly feeling disturbingly numb, a mixture of relief and shock making him heady as he passed her the cigarette, trying not to let himself get sidetracked by the myriad of visuals helping himself to the forefront of his mind. The tangle of his own confusion and the onslaught of sensation began to make his thoughts resemble shredded paper.
 
He still didn’t quite look convinced, even as he did his best to study her expression in case this was some sort of joke at his expense. “Yes, I mean, if that... Is that what you want?” he asked hesitantly, still not quite believing this was happening, and trying not to bank too much hope at the answer. The look on her face seemed to reflect nothing but innocent sincerity, leaving him stuck trying to think up something else to say that wouldn’t make him sound like a complete asshole.
 
Was she even—?
 
Jean suddenly realised he wasn’t even sure.
 
Something else to add the list of things he had to feel guilty for.

20
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Go Down, Moses
« on: June 04, 2017, 09:31:08 PM »

Well, no; she was half right about the fact he hadn’t been taught. “Not in English,” Jean pointed out with a one-sided smile, looking amused rather than offended. While the Alliance had forced him to take mandatory English courses, STANAG 6001 hadn’t exactly included a module on “How to tell a woman exactly how you want to fuck her, but seductively.”
 
He didn’t get another chance to come to his own defence. Tavi’s hand squeezed, running down the the length of him with renewed purpose; stealing the words off his tongue. She was testing his limits here, but there was something endearing about her enthusiasm; enough to make his breath shorten at the touch, a needy throb running through him all the same.
 
She wasn’t going to make it easy, was she?
 
Tavi was grinning as she spoke, and Jean was doing his darndest to listen, even as her hand rose up, fingers stroking over him, making concentration difficult. He was pretty sure her description counted as ‘crude,’ but given English wasn’t his native language, perhaps he’d missed some nuances in the definition. Besides, he was hardly going to pick now to argue.
 
Jean  wrapped one of his arms around her a little tighter, fingertips dancing along the ridge of her hip. The idea of retiring somewhere was a nice a thought, even if he didn’t think she was wholly serious. A little spark of hope he didn’t like to humour.
 
He breathed out, closing his eyes, losing himself in the sensations and letting the smoke drift. He retrieved the cigarette from his mouth after a moment, intending to pass it to her — or kiss her again, or fuck her, he wasn’t sure yet — when the question dropped.
 
Jean paused, cigarette still held in his hand, the words having to pass through his head twice before they formed coherence.
 
She—
 
What?
 
Jean’s frown was back just as quick as he sat up slightly, turning to look at her as though he wasn’t quite believing what he was hearing.
 
She—
 
Shit.
 
“You’re... not…?”

21
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Ifs, Whens, and Maybes
« on: June 01, 2017, 09:21:30 AM »

“It depends on what it is that we find,” Jean pointed out, still doggedly watching the radar. “They are not worrying us yet.”
 
The returns at the edge of the screen were already reflecting the change in bearing; the small numbers below each signal indicating they were slowly slipping back out of range. That was a start. If the Alliance had meant to investigate them, they would have deployed a Patrol Boat or an Interceptor by now and hailed them over the Comm as per S.O.P.
 
Patrol Boats they could outpace, even as awkwardly loaded as they were. The only way the Alliance was going to catch them with this much head start was if they had another Interceptor with them, and if it came to that, then blasting the cargo would be the only option. Risking getting boarded by two or more experienced strike teams with only five hands aboard — only one of whom had ever been assigned to active close quarter combat duty — would be akin to suicide.
 
Well, he was being generous calling it five. That was assuming the Doctor even knew which end of a gun to hold and wouldn’t just throw himself at the Alliance's feet in the hope of rescue.
 
… And assuming French didn’t take the first escape pod he could reach and jettison straight to Blackwood.
 
… Great.
 
Three. Make that three.
 
If they encountered anything else along the new heading — unlikely, but not impossible — they’d have to weigh up their options depending on the circumstances. Dropping the cargo was a last resort, and it was possible some well aimed cannon blasts or licks with the EMP cannon might dissuade any opportunists who wanted to snoop too close.
 
Jean picked up the radio, the familiar call of “Echo, Echo, this is Actual,” ringing through the ship before he advised in as few words as possible what was happening, together with the new estimated ETA. “Mao to Engineering; standby for further. Out.”
 
He paused for a moment, resting the radio against his chin as he gave the radar a final look. Everything about this was wrong; as though the ‘Verse had somehow inverted in on itself. It should be them on that Alliance patrol, sending prospective pirates scurrying, not the other way around.
 
The thought still smarted. Four months hadn’t quite been long enough for Jean to settle into their new role, and his subconscious still liked to rebel every time he thought about it. “That would ‘ave been us, four months ago,” he found himself saying, almost to himself.

Jean exhaled slowly, putting the radio down and turning to look at Tavi. She looked brighter today. A little more put together than usual, although he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Enough to let him forget the uncomfortable truths he was still trying to ignore, and force him to try and forget a few more that were springing to mind.
 
If they did get boarded by the Alliance, then what? He found himself thinking back to the conversation with the Doctor in the cells. It wouldn’t do well to dwell about that now either, but he’d have to ask her the question eventually. He hadn’t yet. Partially because he was afraid of the answer.

22
The Verse / Re: In the Pipe, 5 by 5
« on: May 31, 2017, 10:42:39 PM »

“Bring us in slow,” Jean said cautiously. He was inclined to agree. While the sensors weren’t reading anything obvious, a legitimate transport vessel was an unusual sight this far in empty space. The Echo had yet to resort to baiting tactics, but it was popular enough among pirates that the possibility couldn’t be ruled out.
 
Jean took his seat, keying in the shipboard radio. Mao’s siren had undoubtedly blasted everyone awake by now, and they had better things to do than sit on their thumbs. “Echo, Echo, this is Actual. Unknown contact, bearing six zero mark four zero. Sensors reveal blank. All hands general quarters, prep boarding team. Out.”
 
Given the way the ship was behaving, if this was indeed a legitimate vessel, there was a chance someone might have beaten them to the punch. Jean leaned back a little, frowning at the overhead display that showed the current readings. “Engage scanners when in range.” It would help to have a clue whether the ship had only suffered an untimely malfunction — and if so, what systems they had left — been attacked, or something more sinister.
 
Jean could only hope this was going to be as straightforward as it looked, but he wasn't optimistic. The "simple" ones had a nasty habit of springing the most surprises, and something about this looked a little too easy.


Spoiler: Note • show
Serenity RPG (page 101) seems to distinguish “sensors”/radar from “scanners” as separate. In Ep 8. when Serenity gets hit by pirates Mal indicates they’ve already “scanned” the ship and know that Serenity has no life support. I also don’t know when a roll is appropriate, so tell me if I messed up.

23
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Candyland
« on: May 31, 2017, 08:11:26 AM »

It was Tavi’s voice that seemed to snap him out of it. Jean turned his head, looking at her slowly, as though every bit of willpower it took to turn to face her was a hard won battle. His heart was still pounding, the sound slowly receding from his ears. What he saw when he looked at her was no less than he expected. Tavi — looking somehow weaker; diminished, eyes wide and hurt. Was that fear he saw? Or his own projection?
 
It hit like a punch to the gut all the same. Like being doused in cold water, leaving nothing but angry shame.
 
He shouldn’t have—
 
Why had he—?
 
This wasn’t what he’d wanted. This wasn’t anything like what he’d hoped to accomplish. He hadn’t meant to scare her. He hadn’t meant— Hell, he’d been on combat drops that had torn him up inside less than this. How was he supposed to be expected to hold everything together when he couldn't even keep a grip on himself?
 
And Tavi. This was—
 
This was his fault.
 
The cracks were finally starting to show. There was something strained in Jean’s expression now, even as he looked at her, silently pleading with her to please, listen. To take the offer. To let them help. But she didn’t. And Jean knew he shouldn’t have expected any different. He wanted to go to her. Help her stand up like he had fifty three hours after D-Day. Hug her. Support her. Make everything go away. Anything. But he couldn’t. Not while the Doctor was here, and not while he wasn’t sure he wasn’t currently making things worse.
 
If this had of been anyone else, it would have been easier, but Tavi…
 
If he took her to her room, it wouldn’t be long before she got into her own supply and shot up again. The whole reason he’d kept the Doctor alive in the first place was to get control of this. He understood refusing to give her substitution drugs until she was clean in case of a reaction, but if the man also refused to help her dose safely — and in doing so learn more about what she was taking — then what was left?
 
Jean made an attempt to straighten up, holding his hands behind his back — a little more military; a little more familiar — and keeping his voice as measured and deliberately calm as he could physically muster. “You," he said to the Doctor, inclining his head in his direction, voice practically gentle compared to only moments ago. "Wait outside."

The broken nose would have to wait. He had to talk to her. Attempt to get through. Had to do...

Something.

He knew it wasn’t going to accomplish anything. But he had to try.

24
Mining Skyplex / Re: Whisky Time
« on: May 30, 2017, 06:20:50 PM »

Even Jean quirked an eyebrow in mild surprise, turning his head a few millimeters to give Tavi a sideways look. He was more familiar with her sudden threats than Cordell, so he took it in stride, but the easy way she tended to drop in promises of dismemberment still caught him off guard sometimes.
 
He pulled the cigarette out of his mouth, flicking some ash into a nearby tray. His limbs felt like they belonged him to again, save for some tingling at the end of his fingers. He hadn’t spoken to Tavi about Dizang. Or, more accurately, he hadn’t spoken to anyone about the Unification who hadn’t been part of his Unit. Whether Tavi was familiar with the mission reports or not, he didn’t know. More than likely she was sensing his disquiet and, in her own way, was trying to help.
 
A part of him was quietly grateful, but that warm feeling began to sour almost immediately at Cordell’s laughter. Jean felt his eyes narrow, teeth biting into the end of the cigarette in annoyance as his jaw tightened. It sounded enough like he was laughing at her to have Jean’s proverbial hackles raising. Defensiveness. Irritability. He wasn’t sure, and it didn’t matter.
 
What, did he think she was joking?
 
Jean flicked the ash off the cigarette into a nearby tray and took a final drag — as though the rush of nicotine would help clear his thoughts — and offered the rest of it to Tavi.
 
“We will manage,” he replied sternly.
 
He was starting to dislike the man’s overly familiar tone with her. Not that he’d liked it to start with, but now, knowing what he did about him, every word to her was setting his teeth on edge. The bar was starting to feel like it was covered in fog. Like he couldn’t think; or breathe. A leaden atmosphere making everything heavy.
 
The alcohol had arrived without his notice, but he managed to catch the way Tavi was attempting to sneak around for another drink. Resisting the impulse to curse out of sheer frustration, he turned away from Cordell, trying to intercept her and gently take her other hand before it was too late.
 
“Do you want to go to the market?” He didn’t even know whether she was serious about the hat or not, but it was as welcome an excuse to leave as any. Get her away from the alcohol. Away from this fils de pute and whatever his game was. And maybe fuck her in a dressing room while he was at it.

25
The Verse / Re: Was it Red, Green, Red?
« on: May 26, 2017, 04:03:09 AM »

Huh. He'd expected Mao be more accusatory when it came to Tavi. Jean couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow as he finished the second portion of C4. He might have expected a comment about how it was going to have an adverse effect on discipline and unit integrity. That he was exploiting her. Or abusing his rank. Or that if anything went wrong, it was only going to hamper her recovery.
 
Or maybe that was just his own head projecting back at him.
 
He could only guess that Mao was trying to offer his blessing. He couldn’t understand why — given the man’s previous comments about self restraint and airlocks — but, well, yes, Mao still hadn’t bashed his head in, so maybe he should have been a sign. He’d almost forgotten about that offer, but something about it was a little less comforting now than it had been in the past.
 
The comment about the doctor was more out of left field, the sudden shift in topic catching Jean off guard. The sun was starting to dip a little, making it difficult to tell if Jean was back to his usual scowl or merely squinting against the sunlight.
 
He put down the second snake, checking his watch now that his hands were free.
 
Still ample. No sound of incoming vehicles.
 
He thought he knew the incident that Mao was talking about. The unfortunate business in the Medbay which had resulted in the Doctor’s nose being broken. Jean kept his voice level, getting to work on the last piece that Mao had requested.

“What has he told you?” he asked levelly. While Mao might only be speaking in regards to the very noticeable bruising which had patterned the Doctor’s face for a few weeks, if the Doctor had made any specific allegations, well...

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