The Stars Are Waiting

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OOC: Thanks, Kim. This was also done in the not-too-long-after-liftoff time frame before the bandages come off.

The evening meal was pretty good. Nika, even with the gauze wrapped around her eyes, joined the crew at the table. And it was... a pretty lighthearted Nika. Afterward she disappeared for a time, but she wanders back into the galley once she hears pretty much everyone gone. She can hear the sound of dishes being moved around. "Can I help?" she asks from the doorway, uncertain who is doing the dishes or how far through the process the person is by the sounds but willing to loan a hand. And she's learned the art of making it look like she knows exactly who she's talking to, too.

Kiera smiled. "You can keep me company. I'm just loading them into the sterilizer." Glancing back, she studied the tall blond, her expression soft. "You in any pain? I know that Arden's been mothering you and I trust his doctoring skills, but I just gotta ask. Standard doctor thing, you know."

The wrinkle of annoyance that crosses her features is clear even with the upper part of her face obscured. Nika leans in the doorway, one shoulder and one hip propping her up, and crosses her arms. "I'm gonna pop him in the mouth if he doesn't quit," she admits in a disgruntled tone. "It's barely been a couple days and he's hoverin' like a gorram vulture over a corpse." It's not the nicest way to phrase it, but she's not exactly in the nicest mood either.

"Aw Nika," came the answer which even through the darkness wore a big grin. "You know he loves you to pieces. Whaddya expect? He wouldn't leave the com waiting for you to call." She put in the last pot, shut the door, and programmed the machine with began to hum in warm-up. "Got that call for the Osiris job and I thought he'd just die there with me tying up the line. He is a man in love and can't nothing be done 'bout it." She laughed, pulling two cups down and filling them both with the ever-present coffee. It was about time to start the brew again, she thought, eying the pot. Hells bells, but they went through the stuff. "Coffee?"

"Love some, thanks," Nika replied. And her tone didn't shift from the disgruntled one. "If he's gonna start walkin' around like a moonstruck calf, I'm putting an end to this here .... whatever the hell it is.... entirely." It hurts her heart to say that, though the only indicator of that is in the way she turns her face slightly sideways. "I ain't got the time or the energy for that kinda cow manure," she says obstinately. Her body language is still pretty defensive, but her tone eases as she says quietly, "I owe you a thanks. I don't know if it'll work, but... I know that whatever her name was, she was already seein' before we split up." It gives her hope.

Kiera bit her lip, frowning as she went to Nika to put the coffee cup in her hands. As the pilot took it, she favored her with a twist of her lips. "A drop in the bucket against what I owed you." She took a long breath. "Nika, I'm sorry I wasn't the person you thought I was or the friend that you all deserved. I wish that I had been. I'm trying to be her. . ." She let the sentence drop. "I hoping that like this ship, I can have a new chance," she finally finished.

She reached out to pet the ship again, sliding a fond hand down the wall before returning to the table. She was wary of helping Nika and the pilot was doing so well anyway. She moved around so gracefully, it was only the bandages that reminded one that she couldn't see. "You wanna sit? I can talk about Arden, if you want. But just be aware that I'm gonna be a bit sympathetic for the big lug."

Nika goes still when the mug is handed to her, but she pushes off the doorframe with it in both hands and navigates back toward the table without a hitch. She doesn't even need to brush the strips on the floors or walls anymore, as if her mental map of at least this level of the ship is so solid she might as well be able to see it. Assuming nothing is out in her path, of course. She stops unerringly near her chair and reaches out her hand to pull it out so she can drop into it. "You wouldn't be here if I wasn't willing to let you make amends, Kiera," the blonde replies simply. "Don't take me wrong. I'm still.... angry. Both at the way you went about your revenge and at the fact that you fooled me. And maybe I am a fool -- that old adage 'fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...'" She trails off. "But I have a hard time givin' up on someone who's had my back more'n a few times and made a mistake in judgment. Be a little like livin' in a glass house and chuckin' boulders, yeah?"

With a faint smile, Nika settled into savor the hot drink in her hands. "And you can be as sympathetic as you want. Hell... I'm sympathetic. He wants somethin' from me I'm not sure I'll ever be able to give him. And in the meantime, he just settles for what he can have." Her lips twist in disgust. "I oughtta put us both out of our misery. But I'm not that strong."

"And I'm forever grateful for the second chance," Kiera responded. "And lucky as hell that you guys are as damn nice as you are." Her mouth quirked again. "It hurt to watch you all take off without me. I haven't felt pain like that in a long time. But it hurt worse to see you and see what had been done to you." She cleared her throat, annoyed that her eyes were suddenly prickling.

“Anyway, there is nothing so charming as someone who is in love with you." Kiera settled both her elbows on the table and put her chin on them, sliding back from the pain. "And you are genuinely just a sweetheart, Nika. I know it'd hurt you to hurt him. But you gotta realize that he is holding on in hopes to just wear you down as well as getting the scraps of love that you give him. Don't know anything about clones, but Arden strikes me as a very patient man. You either gotta break it off or give him a substitute. Until then, he's got you, you are on a ship together, he's got time, and you ain't going nowhere." She blew on the coffee before taking a sip. "I personally think his plan is sound. Just don't know how long it'll be before you tire of running."

Nika smirks ruefully. "I suppose if you make the assumption that one of you knows me better'n I know myself, he'll eventually wear me down." She shrugs and is silent as she ponders. She doesn't talk to people. Doesn't really confide much. And to do so now is... perhaps a far larger gesture than anything else she'll ever do. "I love a man out there. Or at least.... I loved who he used to be. Who we used to be together." Of their own volition, her fingertips brush over her throat, where the chain is ever present -- the one that Rina located and returned to her holding a diamond that she keeps hidden beneath her clothing. "He almost died out there saving all of us... this crew and my old one. And we made some life and death choices for him that didn't turn out as well as I might have hoped. He offered to marry me last time I saw him. And it was everything I thought I might have someday on a silver platter.... trouble was, he wanted me because I'm the only person he can feel anything for." She nibbles her lip, not realizing her face gives away far more than wistful sadness.

"I'd have taken him almost any way I could keep him. Except that one. Because someday he'll work through it, and he'd have resented me for it. I know him well enough to know that. So.... for now, I'm just waiting. Maybe in the meantime, I'll wait forever for something that will never happen. Maybe I'll wake up one day and realize that I'm in love with Arden and I've been stupid all this time. But I've never lied to him. I don't know what's going to happen. And I'm not ready to commit to him the way Rina's ready to commit to someone. If the time comes he can't handle it... I have to trust Arden to be straight that he's not willin' to wait anymore."

Kiera nodded, her own gaze far away. "Sometimes, fate sends you a curve ball. I always thought that I could do without love again. Between my parents and then Allan, I found that it didn't hurt if you didn't care. I ran into someone on New Hall that taught me different; I was hurting and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. He and I are on different paths and I don't see them running parallel. But I try to leave my coordinates ever so often on my Cortex account in case we run into one another again." Her face had taken on that rare stillness where she had no expression, fake or real, just the burning of her eyes as she stared into memory.

"I don't know that I could ever marry and throw away the chance that we might meet again. I'd cheat to have a night again with that man and it wasn't even the loving. It was the conversation. He has a way of making you find yourself again. Made me look into the darkness and yet showed me the light." She leaned back, giggling suddenly. "Made me call out to the Maker too, but Lord knows, that was for another reason." She sobered, looking at Nika. "You had any contact with your man? Do you even know where he is?"

"Nope," Nika says quietly. "I know he's in Blue Sun with a Marine unit. Maybe on Miranda. I know he was fighting Reavers last I heard." She shrugged a little. "I keep up with the women of my old crew here and there." Though she hasn't talked to them in a while either... and if we're heading Coreward it's unlikely to happen soon anyway. "Guess I should send a Wave, really," she admits. "And I don't know that I still love him -- not that way, anyway. We've been apart almost as long as we were together at this point." She shrugs a little. "The fact that he asked makes me think maybe somewhere down the way we'll meet up again and see what's what, but .... I'm not necessarily holdin' my breath for that either, Kiera. I'm just ... living my life. As much as it pains me to say it, I love Arden.... but right now, I don't know as I'm in love with the man. And I won't give him any less than the full package if I give it. So... we're good where we are, so far as we're both concerned. And if we're not, then I guess we'll work that out too."

Sipping her coffee, Nika subsides into silence. It's more words than she's strung together to anyone in months. Hell, she reflects. She might have said more words all at once to this woman who betrayed her than she's said to pretty much anyone in a decade. Though why to Kiera and not to anyone else, she has no idea. Seeking a way to change the subject, she suddenly blurts out in a subdued tone, "Kiera? What color are they?"

The answer comes quickly and firmly. "Smoky blue like the blue of a gathering storm. More deep, less piercing. But eyes to guard your soul with, Nika. They are pretty. But mostly, I want to know if they work. They could be purple with orange centers for all I care as long as they work." She rose to refresh her cup. "You want me to top you off? I'm gonna make a new pot if you wanna hold out."

Nika holds her cup up silently for the top off, her lower lip captured between her teeth. As she brings the refilled cup back to cradle it close beneath her nose, she admits softly, "It's a vanity to worry about what color they are when they might not work at all. I just.... wonder who I'll see when I open them." And uncomfortable with how much of her self she's just given Kiera in the space of a mere five minutes, the pilot shoves herself to her feet. "Thanks. I'll see you in the morning, lady," she bids in a calm voice, escape at the top of her agenda.

Kiera catches her arm, releasing it just as quickly. "I know that I'm dangerous to trust, Nika. But I keep secrets and random thoughts well. I've had to forget a lot." She paused and then said. "All my life. Anything we share, anything I heard is forgotten forever. Just say it and it's gone." She smiled backing away to give Nika space, knowing that the pilot probably felt a bit trapped. "I've got to get the perpetual pot of coffee going. Sleep well." She turned to empty the pot and wash it. Old coffee taste was one of her pet peeves; the pot would be washed and the filter rinsed, period. She made a face, refusing to turn to see Nika leave. She'd bug Arden later about how the eyes were healing.

Her face turns to Kiera, instinctively as though seeking to query with a look. Nika pauses and says quietly, "I will." She offers a faint smile, and says, "I'm looking forward to seeing your ridiculous hair in the morning." She's forgotten that Kiera asked how her eyes were doing, but the fact that the bandages will come off tomorrow should be a good bit of news anyway. "Good night."

The answering laugh was gentler than normal and for once, there wasn't a bit of sneer in it at all. "Night, warrior queen. The stars are waiting for you."

To read more on Nika or Kiera, go to Nika's Crew Page or Kiera's Crew Page
Go back to: Timeline Season Five, Jan 2522 to Aug 2522