By the time this is over, Christian may very well suffer a nervous breakdown. He's preparing two meals a day for thirteen people. He's making sure everyone has clean linens to sleep on, towels to wash with, and clothes to wear. He's taking a shift with Brian. And he's out scrounging for stuff to put on the new ship, when he isn't helping with the repairs (he can't repair shit but at least he can hold stuff while other people do). Right now, though, he's not cooking or washing or scavaging or watching or repairing. He's sitting on the roof of a building, playing his guitar. It is about three in the morning and he strums softly, so as not to wake others.
Yu-Shin Harrington, "Harry" to those closest to her, steps out onto the rooftop in the wee hours only to realize almost immediately that the space is occupied. The strains of guitar music give it away. Instead of stepping back into the stairwell, though, she closes the door behind her and walks across toward the player of the instrument. She's a tiny woman, barely clearing five feet tall, and she could be anywhere from 30 to 65 with the ageless quality that Asian women seem to have. She smiles for Christian when she gets close enough to identify him. "You play beautifully," she compliments, taking a seat cross-legged with her back up against the low retaining wall at the edge of the roof.
"I'm passable." Christian says as his fingers work the strings of the guitar. The tune's an old classic. The sort of thing they've been playing around camp fires since the ancient times of Earth That Was. "Some members of the Guild are professional caliber musicians."
Harry merely smiles. "Everyone has a talent at which they excel."
"At least one. You're very good at being both beautiful and deadly. Like nightshade. Hello, Yu-Shin." Christian says with a smile. "I'm very pleased to see you."
She acknowledges the compliment with a graceful nod and a faint twinkle in her eyes that is lost to the night. "Can't sleep?" she asks mildly.
Christian stops strumming. He leans over his guitar. "How could I, when you weren't there?" He asks with a roguish smile. "Honestly, I've just been... too full of thoughts. Too much to think about." Too many people to worry about.
The woman slants him a Look -- one of those looks that women from time immemorial have given men when they're being amusing in their attempts to flirt or deflect. "Do not think that you'll get one over on me, Christian. You use that as a way to keep from speaking of yourself." Harry tips her head back and keeps her dark eyes on him. "If you'd like an ear, mine's available."
"Of course it is." Christian says, "You would have made an amazing Companion. You honestly would have." He leans backwards, until he's laying down and looking at the stars. The guitar rests on his belly. "Right now, we're in that place only time heals. The time it will take Brian to heal. The time it will take Nika to reconcile his new role in her mind. The time it will take to finish the ship. The time it will take before we execute Go. The time it will take those poor men from the Browncoat ship to mentally heal."
"Time is a luxury we can ill afford," Harry responds quietly. "But there are few options. Getting a vessel off this planet takes what time it takes, we can only work so quickly." She pauses, studying the stars above from her seat against the wall. "Xiao Mei will work through her situation in her own time," she says with a faint smile. "Brian's place in her life is no different now than it has been for the past decade. I do believe, however, that Shyla perhaps owes me money," she muses aloud in amusement. The execution of Go and the situation of the other men on the ship, however, are topics she doesn't address at this moment. Go is only still alive because Shyla ordered it; his actions deserve the harshest punishment.
Christian can't help but smile. "That's why I said her mind, not her heart. She's realizing now what she always knew. Humans are amazing when it comes to self-deception." He falls silent for a moment, then says. "The funny thing is, I still respect the Alliance. Not the people. Not the ones who did this." He waves his hand in a general direction. "But the basic idea of people working together to make life better for everyone. I just wish everyone believed in that."
Harry chuckles softly. "Brian and Nika have danced the same dance since... well, not too long after she came aboard, anyway. It's about time she figured out what was right in front of her nose." She is quiet for a long while and then finally says, "The Alliance as a whole... is not a bad idea. That's never what the fight was about, Christian. It was about the right of self-determination... and just as on Earth That Was, it came time to make sure that those who were complacent in their governance remembered that just because something worked for the majority didn't make it right for the whole. The things we've learned out here? It's about manipulation of the whole -- they want no dissent and have decided to try to make sure they don't have it."
"I know," Christian says, sadly. "I wish..." He falls silent. "I wish for a lot of things. I am content, however, to take my moments of happiness. Good friends. Good crew."
Harry smiles in the darkness. "Then you are wise beyond your years," she tells the man easily. "Contentment, pleasure, joy... these are the rewards the universe offers for hardship."
Christian slides the guitar to the ground and rolls onto his side so he can look at Harry in the starlight. "I'm a lucky man. I achieved my life's goal when I was young. After that, I was able to enjoy what it brought me. An amazing and fufilling career, a chance to learn about the universe from a new perspective, a new family, time with you."
A brow raises and the woman eyes him thoughtfully. "Our time has been quite enjoyable for the most part," Harry admits easily. "It's the not-enjoyable parts that keep you awake up here, though. Are you fretting over the practicalities, or merely over the sense of responsibility you feel as the moral compass of those you travel with?"
"A little from column A and a little from column B." Christian admits with a laugh. "What about you? What brought you up here tonight?"
Harry tips her head back once more and looks up. "I have spent the last decade and a half on board that ship with a core group of people," she says quietly. "And now... our ship is gone, and half of the core is gone. Brian's injuries will require much time groundside, presuming he //ever// makes it into space again. I have much to consider about my future and where it will take me." She smiles. "My captain and I believe we are still needed.... more than ever, perhaps. Having experienced for ourselves what is happening... in spite of the overall idea of the Alliance being valid, too many are abusing their positions. At the very least... we are not done with Blue Sun yet, I think."
"No." Christian agrees. "No, we aren't. Nor are they done with us. What we found makes no sense. We're missing too much information." He sighs, softly. "Maybe the M.P. will know more. I don't know. You and the Captain are welcome to come with us, of course. Back to Osiris, maybe. Make sure Brian is well taken care of. My parents will look out for him."
"We shall see," is all Harry replies to the offer. "We have time to figure out a plan of action. The first priority is obviously to get the Gift off the ground. Your Arden says that although he'll heal, he won't actually do much recovery until we get him to a specialist, so that has to take precedence over all else." She pauses and looks toward him once more. "Have you worked through your own guilt on the matter?" She wasn't blind to his issues, but he didn't seem to wish to speak of them.
"I think I have." Christian admits, after thinking about it for a moment. "I think, one way or the other, it would have ended messily if that grenade had been thrown, either inside the shuttle or outside. What about you?"
"I am still working through my own sadness... but then my situation was most assuredly //not// the same. My guilt in //this// case is merely that I was not armed... that I didn't see it coming. I am usually not so easy to fool." Harry is actually quite disgusted with herself over that, though her tone is calm.
Christian rolls and sits up, then boot scoots over. "No. You aren't. He was clever, though. Avoiding interaction by using those goggles so he couldn't be read. Trained, I am guessing, in infiltration. During my first year as a Companion, I had a client who I misread. Badly. I never guessed what she wanted, never anticipated what she needed. She laughed, told me that was why she hired me. She was a spy, it turned out, and was so used to dealing with people who spent all their time probing for every tidbit of information that it was nice to be with someone she could fool. The lesson I learned was that no matter how good you are, someone is always better. Beating yourself up won't help. Learning your lesson and making yourself better will."
Harry listens quietly, and she smiles once more. "I don't believe I'm the best at everything, Christian. But it does rankle just a bit that he got one over on us... and it's nearly cost us the life of someone that I value." Her worry is evident. "We were very lucky to survive our descent onto the island. It would be a shame to lose him now."
"And we won't." Christian promises, reaching over to slip his hand onto Harry's. "It will take time but he will heal and then, I suspect, he'll be out there again. If only to drive Nika to distraction."
There's a chuckle, and Harry turns her hand in his and squeezes tightly. "You have a lot of faith. That's good... because I fear the women in that man's life right now are .... wound a bit tight at the moment," Harry chuckles. "Xiao Mei hasn't slept in days, Shyla is starting to have the thousand-yard stare of doom, and your engineer -- who admittedly isn't one of the ones in Brian Connelly's life -- is a powerhouse of scavenging. When I do see her taking any rest time, she's asleep sitting up in the engine room half the time," she grins.
"That's Rina. She has more energy than a dozen ferrets." Christian laughs. "I suspect Nika will sleep, soon. I can't do much about Shyla, unfortunately. A captain and her ship... that's something she has to heal herself. As for you.."
Harry slants a smile at him. "Me... Much like you, my friend, I rarely talk much about my own problems. In fact, I've probably said more today to you than I have to any other person besides my captain in over a decade." She chuckles softly. "Would you believe I'm usually termed 'the quiet one?'" And in point of fact, 'friend' is a label she rarely offers.
Christian knows. "Sometimes, the right person. The right time." He shrugs his shoulders. "Though I've found for that the right person, it is always the right time. I think you know Companions aren't... casual about relationships of any kind."
"I've been around the block a few times," Harry admits with a smile. "I am honored that you would consider what we have as a relationship, Christian."
"I'm honored you didn't laugh, even on the inside." Christian admits. "The truth is, I felt like I've known you for some time. The sense of you, when Nika speaks about you. At times, I think what draws her to me as a friend is our similarities."
Harry's expression is thoughtful. "In the time that I have known you, I have seen that you are protective of your friends, willing to do things that perhaps even go against ingrained opinions if it is what you deem in the best interests of those you consider 'yours.' It does not surprise me that you and Xiao Mei might resonate in harmony with one another much of the time," she admits. "Although I have the sense that it is not always as easy and peaceful as you might hope," she adds with a grin.
"Peace and Nika are not words that go together." Christian notes with a wry smile. "There have been tensions. I'm not used to having to work to maintain relationships. It has been... nice. To be a bit more like regular people."
Harry actually laughs at him. "She is .... unique," she says on a chuckle. "Our Xiao Mei is a wary sort, slow to allow people close. 'High maintenance' does not quite apply here -- once you are hers, you remain hers until you break faith. But it does take time with her to gain that faith." She looks at him and tilts her head. "When we met on Deadwood, I was quite certain that it would not be too many more such visits before she came home to us. I expected that once we finished in Blue Sun, we would encounter your ship again and it would be time. After leaving there, however, I wondered." She considers. "As you entered the bar, the group of you flanked her in patterns that suggested relationships. I wondered then if her return would be as simple as I anticipated. Seeing your group now?" She shrugs slowly. "I believe her choices are far less clear-cut." She looks at him. "And I believe yours are not simple either. I know //we// are not done with Blue Sun... and I think our paths will cross again."
Christian glances down for a moment. "No." He says. "Not simple. I don't know what she'll do. She doesn't, either. I won't be leaving the Gift until I'm ready." He smiles. "Where I'll go then, I don't know." His eyes rise up. "That's alright, though. The journey. Not the destination."
The Asian woman chuckles quietly. "If life were only about the destination, it would be a straight line -- I'm sure you've noticed by now, it almost never is. It's good that you have this philosophy. And in spite of the difficulties it has and may cause, I am grateful that it was into your paths the universe lead her. I think you're good for her, Christian.... and I think, quite frankly, she's good for you."
She pauses, listening to the night. "Your adventurer is new enough to your crew that I think he is not entirely sure of his role. Or perhaps, like your pilot, he merely chooses to keep himself a little apart most of the time. The time we spend groundside now will give him the opportunity to cement himself. I suggest you spend some time with the man, however. He is not as shallow as he may appear on the surface. The rest of you look to be falling into your places quite nicely... though both your engineer and doctor worry about how they fit. It will work out."
Christian tucks his finger under Harry's chin and raises it, so he can look into her eyes. "You really should have been one of us." He murmurs. "Its almost disturbing how much of our training you seem to have by instinct."
The very faint smile Harry offers in return is tinged with amusement. "You are certain I wasn't?" she asks.
He's kissed her before, of course. Now, though, he pays attention as he kisses her again. To her technique. To her breathing. To that indefinable way that Companions learn how to put their entire soul into the movement of tongue and lips.
Her hand comes up to cradle the one that holds her chin, and Harry thoroughly enjoys the kiss and returns it full measure. Her movements, her skill, her breathing.... she has not been a Companion. It really is instinct and observation of human nature on her part. And just perhaps she is a good deal older than she is given credit for, though it's difficult to say.
Christian draws back. "You haven't been." He says. "Not in this lifetime, anyway. Still..." he smiles and lets the words trail off. Then he pushes up to his feet. "My nights are yours for as long as we're here."
Harry laughs quietly and offers her hands for him to help her upright. "Very good. I was not." She doesn't offer more than that. "For as long as you choose to offer your company, in whatever capacity you wish to offer it, Christian. It is my pleasure."