When The Darkness Seeps In

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Her eyes hurt. She could have attributed it to the lack of oxygen, the heat that they had suffered through, the lack of sleep, anything. But she knew it was because her eyes had been narrowed for almost five days, her brow furrowed with worry and from trying to help Arden and the Captain figure out ways of saving not just one, but all of them. Passengers and all.

They're already dead, Kiera-cat. And you will be, rather soon. And you've got a headache too, you moron.

She glanced to her side where Joshua sat quietly, lost in his own thoughts. The Black was soft outside the ship, a velvety background to the gently winking lights on the console before her. Could have been peaceful, serene even.

If we weren't going to die.

Shut up!!! she fiercely told herself. Her foot was twitching, the only other visible spasm of worry other than the narrowing of her eyes, a tic that she couldn't make stop. She looked over the readouts again. It was about time to set the beacon and then induce her and Joshua into a coma. And pray.

Dear Lord, please let them stay alive along enough for this beacon to work. Heck, let Joshua and I live long enough for this beacon to work. Sorry for not being a better person. I'll try to be better in my next life. Thanks!! Amen.

She reached down beside her where she had stored the shots in her medbag, quickly recalculating the formulation and dosage again in her head, and then looked again at Joshua. "Ready to die?" she asked flatly. Damn, but she didn't want to die with her eyes throbbing and a headache to boot. Nor had she thought that this would be the way she'd go.

Least it'd be easy. Needleprick and then oblivion. Gentle, relaxing, like the Black outside swallowing all fears. Cold and merciless, like death swallowing all hope and dreams, she growled to herself. Taking all that was to be and all that had been and freezing them for all time when the batteries on the Lagnaippe failed. Her foot began twitch faster, like a cat's tail.

She'd rather have had the pain and gone out screaming or fighting.

"We're not going to die, Kiera." Joshua was surprisingly serene considering the situation they were in. But despite the seeming hopelessness of where the two of them were...of where the rest of their shipmates were, he remained calm. He wasn't sure he knew the cause of his surety, but he knew that they would come out of it all okay. Supreme arrogance, he thought. Or maybe trust the Verse wouldn't crush him beneath its boot so soon after finally giving Joshua a success to hang onto.

He looked at her with a bit of a smile on his face. "You know that, right? Say it out loud. It will make you feel better." The soft beeping of the Lagniappe's computers provided the only noise as he quietly waited for her to respond.

"I can pray that we won't," she answered, catching his eyes. "Double check that beacon, would ya? Once we're out, ain't no checking it then."

Joshua nodded, turning around to look over the beacon. His eyes scanned the various panels, their digital readouts all confirming the beacon was correctly in place. As he continued his check, without turning around he said, "I notice you didn't actually say it."

Tired of her foot threatening to shake itself free of her body, she rose and then realized that moving so much would use up precious air. Sighing, she sank back into her chair. "We won't die," she muttered. "But they will." Inhaling, she again closed her eyes to check off the mental list of what they were to do, check off the drug mixture, check off what she hadn't yet done with her life. She exhaled hard after a moment, rubbing her temples. "I'm tired of this headache. Wonder how the crew is doing?"

He couldn't blame her for feeling the situation was hopeless. Joshua imagined that an outsider would view the whole mess as pretty bleak. But he just knew it wasn't going to end up with them dying. In near death, it seemed he had found that faith that he had been looking for so hard. Life definitely had a sense of humor.

"Probably bored like we are. Or they've already put themselves under." Suddenly, he was reminded of being in that deep sleep on Miranda and a smile crossed his face. "Judging by past history, Arden probably put them under and then put them in compromising positions before going to sleep himself."

He paused. "And they're not going to die either, Kiera."

She was finally forced to laugh, her mirth breaking the strain of the past days, finally fading to soft and sad giggles. "What a way to be found. He wouldn't do it without me tho'. I'm the bad influence." She wiped tears from her eyes and shook her head. "I'm glad that you seem to be so positive, Joshua. Call me pessimistic, but I'm afraid we've thrown our last card and our last chips in the game. So, while we kill the last few moments awake together, how's your head? Anybody running around in it here? Or do you get to have peace before you go?"

Joshua reached forward and put his hands against her cheeks, which were as cool as the Exeter had been hot. He leaned in a little closer to give her a serious look. "We may have pushed all-in, but we're going to draw out on the river. Have faith, ok?"

Then he let her go and sat back. "And yes, it's pretty quiet in my head. The Lagniappe has always been peaceful for me. I have good memories with this little ship. And I can't feel those poor girls right now. Only person I could feel would be you and I'm keeping my brain to myself."

The sudden warmth of his hands surprised her; she froze as he drew near, his face stern and understanding. She could only give him a bemused look as his words sank into her mind, her lips twisting into a smirk. "Good for you. My brain would only share its headache with you. One last parting gift."

She was silent for a moment, rolling the syringes in her hand. "I--" she began and stopped before rushing through the next words. "I want to say that I'm sorry that I didn't get a chance to prove you right about me." Her hand shot up to stop his answer. "I know, this ain't it, and we'll have a good long time for me to either prove you right or for me to royally screw you over again, but nonetheless, I want to say I'm sorry to you. I never deserved to have friends like you all, or much less deserve to have a friend like you and then have the poor grace to tear you apart as I did." She looked at him hard then, her eyes searching his face. "Just know that it's killed me to leave them and it's gonna kill me to put you under." She smiled gently. "I hate doing it to you, Joshua. I hate that I'm the last person that you might see rather than Rina. Even if I'm not." Kiera shrugged, her eyes soft. "See, I'm being positive."

He couldn't help but chuckle. "Those horrible attempts to be positive are clearly going to kill you well before the lack of air does." Then he grew serious. "She's in here," Joshua said, tapping his chest. "I'll get to see her again. And apology accepted but unneeded, Kiera. You're my friend. I'm glad you're here." And really, he was glad to be here for her. His optimism might be completely irrational but it was something Kiera needed at this moment in time, it looked like.

He motioned to the syringes. "I usually give myself the drugs, but I suppose I can make an exception this time." He grinned and rolled up his sleeve and extended his arm out to her.

The smile that slipped across her lips was gentle, one that he had rarely seen. "And here I go putting you under again," she stated softly. Ripping an antiseptic rub open, she cleaned the area for the shot. "Just a prick and then you will begin to get woozy," she instructed him, slipping into doctor mode. She slid the needle in gently with a sure hand, pushing the plunger. "Breathe slowly and let it take you down." Reaching, she took his hand in hers and squeezed it. "Can't let you go down alone. I'm here."

He took in slow, deep breaths. This was something he had a lot of practice with, although ironically, he was usually going the other direction and coming out of a borrowing. This time he would go deeper.

"Thank you, Kiera. No matter what you think of yourself," he said softly, feeling the blackness beginning to overtake him, "you're good where it matters." And he let himself fall into that deep peace, where hopefully there would be no dreams of any kind, for once - just the quiet dark where he could rest until they were all rescued.

Kiera watched him go, her practiced eye noting the slackness of his face and muscles as his grip loosened in hers. Leaning forward, she started to turn for her own chair but paused to stroke a lock of hair from his forehead. "We're gonna die, you nitwit," she whispered in his ear with a soft snort and then with a sigh, took his face in her hands and kissed him long and firm.

She pulled back after a moment, her eyes sparkling. "Sorry, curiosity got the best of me. Had to know what innocence tasted like before I died. Hope you don't remember this if we make it tho'." She then glanced again at the console and then got into her own chair. With a sigh, she pushed the needle into her own arm.

As the Black outside began to seep into the edges of her vision, Kiera turned her head with effort to check on Joshua. His breathing had deepened and slowed his face slack and expressionless. Sighing, her eyes heavy, she lolled back onto her seat and sank down as she began to lose consciousness. As her eyes refused to focus and her muscles relaxed, her mind cast forth one last prayer as the darkness took her:

Lord, keep us and the crew safe and save us please. Save us from our foolishness and let us keep trying to be the dingbat goody-goodies that we are. The Universe needs nitwits like Joshua, Rina, Nika and Arden. Forgive me the deaths I caused and the kiss I stole. And Lord, please let Ezekiel know somehow that he helped me more than he will ever know and keep him safe. I shouldn't be selfish, but can I please see him one more time? Amen.

Go to Joshua's Crew Page or to Rina's Crew Page
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