Two Mules Don’t Always GeeHaw
Sometime after 07 Jun 2521
Durance class, Equinox
En route to Regina
Kiera sat thoughtfully, reading over medical reports, waiting for Joshua to finish his shower and come to medbay to be checked out. Beggar had already come and gone, the famous toughness of the Irish breeding true in the little engineer.
“Was it worth it?” she asked as Arden checked out Beggar’s eyes and then put a butterfly bandage over a cut to hold it closed so it would heal.
“Aye Kiera.” Beggar answered cheerfully. Kiera smirked and then pressed on a tender spot on his ribs. He yelped as Arden favored her with a glare.
“A bit bruised on the 7th and 8th ribs.” She raised an eyebrow at the Irishman who only smiled.
“He was hurtin’.” Nodding serenely, he fixed her in his gaze as she made notes on the clipboard for Arden. “Ow, that hurts a bit too.”
Arden nodded absently, his attention focused on the area that Kiera had just noted. She handed him the clipboard so that he could add to her notes. “Nothing punctured,” he announced. “Take it easy for the next day or two.”
“Yes, stop volunteering to be a punching bag,” Kiera added, helping Beggar off the table.
The engineer only smiled. “The Universe is a little better when you help others in pain, Kiera,” he replied in his sweet lilt.
“Blah, blah, blah,” she countered, shaking her head with a grin. “You and Joshua were meant for one another. Two warm and fuzzy punching bags for the scum of the Universe. Get on out of her, Beggar, before I begin to cry.”
The Irishman just grinned and walked out of medbay with a secretive smile.
“You go on too, Arden. I’ll type up your notes. Head on and get some food. I’ll wait for our XO.” Arden nodded. It had been a long day already, made longer by all of them watching their two friends get ravaged in shifts for the past few days. Kiera watched Arden go, admiring the view. He was a nice drink of water. Crazy in love with Nika, tho. Settling onto the chair at the computer screen, she began to transcribe Arden’s copious and detailed notes. Joshua had to get out of the shower some day.
Joshua brushed his hair back with his hands. It was still a little wet from the shower but it felt good as the air conditioning in their room blew across it. As he leaned down to pick up his button down, he winced as he felt the muscles in his side and back ache. Rufus had done a serious number on him. But at least he hadn’t broken anything. At least he didn’t think so, anyway. But that, of course, is why Kiera was probably waiting for him in the medbay. A chance to look at his injuries and say I told you so. And if you asked her which was more important, Joshua wasn’t certain that his injuries would come out the winner.
He made his way out of the room and across the hallway. When he entered, Kiera was typing away at the medcomp. “I’m here for my checkup, Doctor Kiera. Unnecessary as it is. I’m perfectly fine, as I told everyone I would be.” A pre-emptive told-you-so strike on his part. Not that would slow Kiera down. But at least he got some small amount of pleasure out of it.
She turned slowly once she had finished the paragraph that she was working on, leaving him waiting. Rising off the chair, she waved her hand to it. “Well shut my mouth!” she drawled. “You just sit on down here and write yourself up. Hell, whatdidI go to med school for if all I had to do was become a Reader?” Crossing her arms, she just smiled at him.
He smiled right back as he sat down. “Give me ten minutes and I could be a doctor for a while. But I hear doctors make horrible patients and I wouldn’t want to do that to you.” The smile became a smirk.
“Oh, you’re getting better, Joshua. I’m so proud. Get your shirt off.” She took her otoscope and looked into his eyes before prodding the exposed bruises and cuts with gentle fingers. “Well you ain’t gonna die. Damn,” she observed stepping back and jotting notes for Arden. She then put down the clipboard and her emerald eyes twinkled wickedly.
“So you really wanna read me and play doctor? You can practice on me.” She winked and waited to see what his face betrayed. He used to blush, but he had been growing up on her. Growing more mature, less kidlike. And yet he was still taking stupid chances. But she had promised him that she wouldn’t fuss too much about his suicidally heroic tendencies. It didn’t help that Beglan only encouraged him.
Joshua blushed despite his best efforts. Kiera just had that effect on him, he guessed. Rina was too straightforward to be able to imply everything Kiera could imply with a few words and a single glance. And she knew that and used it mercilessly. And so what if she did, he thought. It wouldn’t change how he felt about Rina and if it made Kiera happy, then it was probably worth an occasional blush.
“I’ll have to pass and just take the clean bill of health. Beggar doing ok too, I assume?” He had taken the same beating from Rufus that Joshua had, but he had also managed to avoid the worst of it. Or so it had seemed to Joshua.
“He’s fine. Good Irish stock,” she answered with an alarmingly good brogue. “You’re fine. So how’s your head?” She didn’t look at him as she said the last sentence, instead concentrating on the clipboard.
His eyes narrowed a little. “Fine. Why do you ask?” He really wasn’t sure why the little redheaded doctor was asking and when he didn’t know why she was doing something, it always concerned him.
Innocence. The once thing she so rarely could accomplish and fought to have her face express it now. “Well, you and Beggar seemed so determined to help that kneebreaker. And. . .it seemed that you did. Just wondering if Joshua yourself got something from it. You’ve been on a kick lately.” She shrugged nonchalantly, but pinned him with her eyes. “Just a question.”
“Define ‘kick’.” His tone was not quite the neutral he was hoping for as a little doubt of Kiera’s sincerity crept in. Joshua still wasn’t sure where she was headed with this line of questioning. And he could tell from all her subtle body language that she was serious about whatever it was she was driving at.
“Hero kick.” Damn, but she was regretting that handshake with him. But if I manage that, I don’t want to hear any complaining if I wanted to do some damn fool risky thing to help someone out, he had said. And they had shook on it. “Seem a little suicidal lately,” she ventured lightly, wandering to the computer chair. “Maybe? Who knows? You’re just an adrenaline junkie. I’m cool with that. Me too.” She sat down and turned to face him again, bracing for the storm. “Whatever.” And a pathetic shrug shifted her shoulders.
“No, not suicidal,” he disagreed. “Maybe taking some risks, but always to try and protect this crew.” Her other question intrigued him though. Was he an adrenaline junkie? If he thought about it, yeah, he probably was. Something about the life he hadn’t really had a chance to live made him willing to try and compress as much of his new one into small timeframes as possible. He figured he might live as much life in a few years as most people lived in their lifetime. And that was fine by him. But judging by that shrug, it seemed to bother her, no matter what she said.
“Does it bother you if I’m not as cautious as you’d like? Or as Nika would like?” Or as Rina would like?
“Nah. I can put you back together again. Just. . .” She inhaled long, letting it go slowly. “Just don’t screw yourself up so bad that neither I nor Arden won’t be able to fix ya. I promised I wouldn’t fuss too much at you for doing dumbass things and I won’t. But I don’t like having my hands inside you. Didn’t like it with Rina, ain’t liked with you.” She turned back to the computer. “I might miss you if you died.”
Joshua resisted the urge to throw out another smartass comment. It was clear to Joshua that Kiera was trying really hard with emotions that she didn’t normally express and he didn’t want to make fun of that. “I’d miss you if I died too, so you needn’t worry. I may need surgery every now and again, but I’ll make sure that it won’t be so bad that you can’t put Humpty back together again.”
He walked over and put a hand on Kiera’s shoulder. “I promise to try to be a good boy.” A smirk crept out despite his best efforts. “When possible.”
Kiera snorted, shrugging his hand off with a roll of her shoulder. “Don’t try to be all bad boy on me, buttercup,” she retorted. “You ain’t ever been really bad.” She glanced up at him through hooded eyes, a wicked grin on her face. “I’d pay to see it tho’. Not foolhardy, not brave, not sweet and kind. But bad.” Her voice had lowered and she drew out the last word as she rose to her feet, her green eyes glittering like a cat’s. There was humor in their depths and an amused challenge. “How truly bad can you be, Joshua?”
Now he was a little confused. Not surprising, he guessed. Kiera had that way of turning him upside down. “What do you mean?”
She rolled her eyes so hard that she was certain that they almost fell out of her head. Staring at him a moment, she controlled what welled up inside just long enough to grin before she burst out in laughter so strong that she felt her knees go weak. Helpless, she just let herself fall into him, forcing him to hold her up as she guffawed and tears slid out of her eyes.
When she could finally draw breath, she sniffed and pulled away, shaking her head. “I just did my best come and get it voice and all you did was go “huh?” You are innocence on steroids, my buttercup.” She chucked his chin fondly. “You ain’t dangerous at all. Except to yourself.”
Joshua felt like he had failed some sort of test except it was one that he hadn’t even realized he was taking. Why the hell couldn’t she be easier to deal with? He tried, lord help him, he tried to be nice to her. But she always ended up chewing him up and spitting him back out. Whatever.
He pushed her hand off of his chin and shook in his head, in amazement or in frustration. He wasn’t really sure which. “So, do I get the clean bill of health? Or is my innocent, adorable nature too contagious to allow me to leave? Because I needed to talk to Rina.” At least she was crazy in a way he understood.
Abruptly the humor was gone, replaced with wary irritation. She glanced at her hand, so firmly removed as she let it swing back down. So much for teasing. They just never would have that again, that easy friendship that had begun and been broken what, only a few months before?! Her eyes narrowed. It seemed a lifetime ago.
“Hell, you’re fine, Joshua,” she said after a deep sigh. She fell back into the computer chair to write up the notes that Arden would want. “Sorry to waste your time.” And please screw off! she added to herself. We talk and I feel guilty like I’ve raped and pillaged your village or I feel like I’m being disciplined for failing humanity. Or worse, failed you. Well, bite me.
Joshua sighed. Now he had pissed her off. Like walking in a minefield. Except he wasn’t sure there was a clear path through this one. “Not a waste of my time. Sorry for whatever it is I can’t say right or do right for you, Kiera.” And he wandered out of the medbay in search of Rina before he or Kiera said something that would blow the whole damn thing to smithereens.
She watched him go, exhaling long and slow as she summoned the coolness that came so easily and quieted her most turbulent thoughts. “If I don’t kill you one day,” she muttered to herself, turning back to the notes. He’d probably do it to himself, came the snarky thought. And then, with an inner sigh, And you’ll be there to try to put him back together. Glancing again to the hallway that Joshua disappeared down, she cursed softly and rubbed her temples to try to stop the gathering headache.
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Go back to: Timeline Season Five, Jan 2522 to Aug 2522
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