In which Jaesa invades a dream and Quinn finally sleeps...
Corellia was a confusing tangle of battlegrounds and city streets. He had everything mapped out, naturally, but the nature of war was chaos. His plan of attack was largely ignored, which was why he found himself on his back with a hole in his stomach. It was just as well. He had known they would ignore his plan and, instead, do the exact opposite. He had planned on it. Counted on it. Hoped on it. They could handle the assassins on their own, he was sure of that.
Vette let out a victory shout as she shot down another Republic fighter.
“Hah, that’s thirteen, Syla! How many you up to?” she hooted happily, firing twin shots at a war droid.
“We countin’ droids?” Syla yelled as she flipped into the air and slashed a nearby droid.
“If it doesn’t breathe, it doesn’t count!” Jaesa yelled as she finished off a Republic military droid.
“Forgot about your weird killing thing,” Syla shouted.
“It’s not weird!”
“So weird!” Vette teased.
“Oi! I’m glad you ladies are bonding over bloodshed. Hot, by the way,” Pierce bellowed. “But we’ve got a medic down over here!”
Jaesa looked over her shoulder to where Pierce’s yelling had come from. Quinn was lying on the ground, and, oh dear, there was a lot of blood.
“Pierce, switch!” she shouted to him.
Vette huffed in annoyance, but laid down suppressive fire while Pierce took up Jaesa’s area for targeting. Jaesa ran to Quinn’s side quickly and knelt next to him. He still had his helmet on; his normally white gloves were stained red with blood as he tried to hold in his internal organs. He had been in this position before, on his back, trying to hold his insides, well, in. It still amazed him how little death actually hurt when one was at the cusp. He vaguely felt Jaesa shaking his shoulder in an attempt to rouse him.
“Captain?” she asked the blank screen covering his face.
He groaned metallically. Gently, she slipped her fingers under the helmet and tugged it over his head. She set the gray helmet to the side and examined his face. His eyes were closed, his face pale and covered in a thin sheen of sweat, a small bit of blood rested on his lower lip.
“Captain?” she asked again.
“Don’t worry about me, Miss Jaesa,” he said softly.
“You’re bleeding pretty badly.”
“Shrapnel,” he stated.
“How do I work your healing probes?”
Jaesa stared at him in confusion. He opened his eyes just a tad to look at her. She had seen that look before. That resigned-to-his-fate-I’m-dying look.
“You’re just going to give up then?” she asked harshly.
“Yes,” he said matter-of-factly. “I have no illusions about my status amongst the crew. Even you, Miss Jaesa, rebuffed me as I tried to apologize for my actions.”
She hung her head. It wasn’t like her to be so harsh, but the rest of the crew was adamant that she avoid any and all contact with the man for whatever reason. Pierce had been the first one to break that rule, but he broke all the rules and girls should stick together. At least, that’s what Vette said. Quinn closed his eyes and she feared the worst until he started talking again.
“I don’t have anything here,” he said, straining with barely suppressed agony. “I’m not worth saving. Complete the mission. Defeat Baras. Get Syla officially recognized as Emperor’s Wrath.”
He broke off into a hiss, clutching at his stomach. It was starting to hurt again. Jaesa shook her head at the man on the ground and raised her hands above his wounds. She hadn’t had much training with Force healing, but she had enough to do something, anything. He grabbed her hand to stop her, instead he found himself clutching at her desperately. He didn’t want to die. Not like this.
“How do I work your medical probes?” she asked one last time.
He exhaled raggedly. “Right wrist. Display will pop up. T-target self. Green… green…”
His grip suddenly went lax. She caught his hand before it fell. It felt cold even through the glove.
“Captain?” she asked meekly, tugging on his arm. He didn’t respond. She squeezed his hand as hard as her natural strength would allow. Still no response. She channeled a bit of the Force through her hand to his. Nothing. Focusing, she sought his Force signature. It was smaller than usual, but it was there, flickering unsteadily in the dark. She nodded her head in determination. Right wrist, pop-up display, something about targeting and a green… something. She let out a frustrated breath, puffing her bangs from her face.
“What’s taking so long over there?” Vette shouted impatiently.
“He’s dying!” Jaesa shouted back.
Syla paused her attack at that, giving an opening to the droid in front of her. It swung its vibrosword at her head. She Force pushed it halfway down the street then trekked to where Jaesa was hunched over Quinn.
“These droids are relentless!” Vette yelled in exasperation.
“Quit b*tching and keep shooting,” Pierce shouted from his spot in cover.
“Hate you, Pierce!”
“Hate you, too, babe!”
Syla knelt on the other side of Quinn. Jaesa eyed her wearily.
“Let him die,” she hissed at Quinn’s pale face.
“But, master-!“ Jaesa started.
Jaesa jolted herself awake. She could hear Vette snoring across the room in her bunk. When sheer force of will didn’t send her back to dreamland, she decided to head to the storage space to make sure Broonmark was resting and not murdering Captain Quinn. Captain Quinn. She felt guilty about ignoring him. That had to be why he had taken the place of their replacement medic during their battles on Corellia. She sighed softly and turned the corner into the cargo bay.
Quinn was awake and organizing everything in sight. For the twelfth time. The other crew had long since gone to bed and Broonmark was nowhere in sight. All of them stayed out of his way. He had yet to figure out exactly how (not that it bothered him… much).
“Hey,” Jaesa said softly.
“Miss Jaesa,” he acknowledged. He continued his inventory of crafting materials, largely ignoring Jaesa’s presence. She softly padded into the room, wrapping her sleep robe around herself a bit tighter. She studied Quinn’s back quietly. His movements were imprecise and jerky. He seemed restless. She moved to a nearby crate to get a better look and sat down.
“Can’t sleep?” she asked softly.
He stared at her sidelong. “I don’t sleep most nights, Miss Jaesa. If I do sleep, I wake up screaming and alone. It’s not productive. I’m better off awake.”
“I had a bad dream myself,” she said as she fidgeted with her hands.
Quinn laughed harshly. Jaesa stared at him in surprise. She had never heard him laugh before. It sounded… angry, bitter. Hollow.
“You sound like you could use a hug,” she said gently.
“What I need is to be left alone,” he said lowly.
“It helps to have someone to talk to.”
He laughed again, setting down the demicot silk he was folding. He turned to face her, crossed his arms, and leaned his hip against the crate of silk.
“I have no one,” he said bitterly. “You’re only here to assuage your guilt from your cold brush off earlier today. Or yesterday.” He tilted his head to the side to calculate the time. He shook his head when nothing added up in a coherent manner.
She stared at him uneasily. His stance was strange and oddly… unprofessional. This wasn’t the Captain she was used to.
“I have no illusions about my status amongst the crew,” he continued. “To believe I am a treasured member is folly.”
“I’m sorry,” Jaesa said sincerely.
“Quiet,” he spat angrily, turning back to his organizing.
“I mean it Captain,” she said softly.
Quiet descended quickly. The only sounds echoing through the bay were the sounds of fabric being vigorously folded, shaken out, refolded, repeat. It dulled his senses to focus on one thing, one object at a time. No need to think. Fold, shake out, fold again. Fold, shake out, fold again. Fold, shake out, fold again.
“I had a dream you were on Corellia with us,” she said suddenly.
He paused his folding briefly. “And?”
“You died,” she said morosely. “I tried to figure out your probes, but you wouldn’t tell me how to work them.”
“Green button,” he said quietly.
“Yes, that’s what… Did you have a similar dream?”
He calculated his next move. “I know you were there, Jaesa. Don’t do it again.”
“I didn’t mean-“ she started.
“Of course you did!” he yelled, turning on her. He reached her in three short steps. “Do not do it again.”
He held her in place with a cold stare. She shivered and averted her eyes from his. He was frightening when he was worked up like this. She had seen him get angry before, when he offed the Moff, but to have it turned on her personally… her blood ran cold.
“Now leave me, I need to concentrate,” he said lowly. He didn’t bother to look at her as she scurried from the room. Let her run. Let her run from his reality. At least one of them could get away. Secure in the knowledge that she was finally out of his hair, he continued his obsessive folding and unfolding. The only thing he focused on was the shifting fabric. Nothing else. No dreams. No memories. No guilt over being a bit rude to Jaesa. He should apologize. He tossed the fabric down with a resigned sigh. He had much to apologize for.
He left the cargo bay for the one room Jaesa would go when she was in a snit: the medical bay. She had locked the door with her private access code, but, as Captain, he could easily override it. He approached the door, raising his hand to knock politely when he felt it. She was pulling in the light side of the Force as she meditated. He released a shaky breath. It felt good. It was warm and comforting, something he hadn’t felt in so long. He pressed his forehead to the door and inhaled deeply. His thoughts were cleared, his stomach warm. He placed his hand against the door and exhaled. The more contact he had with the door, the calmer he felt.
Jaesa was aware of his presence at the door. She felt his small Force signature reach out to her own. She tugged it gently to the warmth of the light. It relented, if only a little, to her persistence. She smiled and he felt
it. He felt her smile tingle against his skin.
“Jaesa,” he whispered to the door. “I’m sorry…”
“I know,” her voice echoed gently in his ears.
He left shortly thereafter to sleep. And he slept. Peacefully. Right through his shift. When he finally woke up, his datapad beeped with a message.
Heard you were finally sleeping. Don’t worry, covered your shift.
He arched an eyebrow at that. Strange.