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#MSVJackOfDiamonds – January 30, 2018
Nathan seems to have barely moved since his chat with Elena, eyes staring holes in the ceiling as he listens to the music drifting from the speaker by his side. He seems to be in a void of suppressing the encroaching thoughts of the past day and letting them all pour into his mind, threatening to drown him. "Ugh... I need a vacation."
Leah head down, eventually makes her way back to the galley after a 25-or-so minute absense. She seems to have changed back into the clothes she was wearing before her shower but her blonde hair is back in her traditional ponytail, having abandoned the braid now that the time for wearing a helmet had passed. Dried blood and dirt has been washed away, but the bumps, bruises and scuffs remain. The music has continued to cycle
through the same artist's music while Leah was away. Soft female vocals backed primarily by a piano, it's the sort of music one would expect to hear in a cafe. Calm. Relaxing. Leah enters the room just as the song changes, bottle still in-hand, held tightly by the neck. The whiskey bottle has lost some weight since she left, only a precious few drops remaining. Little more than a swig or two. The music causes her to
stop prodding at the split in her lip with her tongue, and a small smile begins to manifest once again. Her head rolls lazily- somewhat drunkenly- from side-to-side in tune with the music, causing her ponytail to bounce sway gently behind her. "Still with me, Nate?" she asks in a low, tired snicker as she looks his way and catches sight of his vacant stare.
Nathan starts at the sudden voice, lost in the song and music. The hand clutching the canteen tightens and his fingers instinctively flex in preparation for drawing his gun. Seeing Leah, he exhales a sigh of relief and instead uncorks his canteen. The smell of bourbon hits his senses and he takes a hearty swig from it. His brow furrows as he realises just how much he has drunk, more than he thought. "Yeah. I think
so," he replies, turning his gaze up to her. "Just a little spaced out. You feel better for a shower?"
Leah sucks in a deep breath, eyes closing as she focuses on the music. She gently sways in place for a moment before finally responding to the question with a small nod of her head. "Much better." she says as her eyes peel open again and she steps over towards the couch. She plants a knee against the couch beside Nathan and leans into the backrest, one boot still on the ground as she faces him. She rests the base of the
bottle against the backrest while she looks over his face. With a small shrug of her shoulders, her smile falls away. "...Sorry about flaking out on you like that." she offers.
Nathan turns his body a little to face her, any trace of a smile that could've manifested gone. His eyes drift to her bottle and how little there is left, causing him to chew his inner cheek in mild annoyance. But he brushes it off as he lifts his own canteen to shake it, listening to the sound of the drink sloshing around in it. "I get it," he replies as he lifts the drink to his lips, tilting his head back to
Leah nods softly, but continues to simply study Nathan in silence. After a moment, she pulls her bottle in and begins unscrewing the cap once again. Eyes closed she tilts it back and slugs the last sip of whiskey, giving the bottle a small shake as if expecting more to fall free. When none does, she pulls the bottle away and inspects it. She gives a deep frown, nose scrunched up. "Crap..." she mutters to herself as she leans
over to set the empty bottle on the floor next to the couch. Drawing in a deep, disappointed sigh, she settles back into her seat, head lulling against the backrest as her tired green eyes focus once more on Nathan. "...There's just too much going on in my life right now, Nate." she says softly, her drunken state apparently not affording context.
Nathan watches her for the moment, a very faint chuckle coming from him as she scrunches her nose up. However, it is short lived as she speaks and his expression is replaced by that of confusion, then understanding. If it's what he thinks she's talking about anyway. He turns his gaze to his canteen and begins the process of lifting it up for another drink, but he stops half-way. He grunts and lowers it, screwing
the cap back on and stowing it on his belt. He turns his eyes to hers and he merely watches her expectantly. "I remember...". He softly shrugs, flicking his gaze down to the sofa. "And I understand."
Leah breaks eye contact as Nathan begins to speak, her gaze moving out over the galley. "I don't want you to understand." she finally says, shrugging her shoulders as she scoots closer, dragging her knee across the sofa. "You shouldn't have to understand..." she corrects. "We just went through hell, Nate. Absolute fucking hell." she continues, her voice still a bit hoarse from the events of the day. "You almost
died out there. We all almost died out there but you-..." she trails off, falling silent for a number of seconds before finally looking back to him. "But when you came in here, all I wanted to do was grab you and kiss you, Nate." she admits with an almost apologetic shrug, the alcohol doing its part in alleviating a bit of the embarassment from her confession. No, wait, there it is. A bit of red creeps into her
cheeks. Delayed, but it catches up soon enough and she flicks her gaze away and lets out a deep breath. "But then I just-... I hadn't showered and I'm all gross with blood and gunk on my face and-..." she begins to ramble, scrunching up her nose once again as she snaps her attention back to him while she explains, "...I was wearing a helmet but I swear it wasn't even just my blood on my face! How does that even
happen?! And I mean I-... I puked all over the place when you got me out of that pod. You probably puked, too!" Her expression turns to one of disgust as she considers it and continues her ramble, "Did you taste that yellow crap? Not exactly the most romantic of settings, you know? Swapping pukey-yellow-alien-fluid spit back and forth? Nasty." Seemingly growing more embarassed by her own ramble, she addresses that
problem by-... yep. You guessed it. Rambling more. "So-... So I couldn't kiss you even if I wanted to." She doesn't allow a chance to respond, her gaze moving to the canteen on Nathan's belt just to have a place for her eyes to focus as she swipes some loose hair behind her ear. "But I figure 'to hell with it'. We might be the only people in the galaxy to survive being taken onto a Collector ship. If now isn't the
time for a pukey-yellow-alien-fluid kiss, then when is? Bring on the pukey-yellow-alien-fluid kiss! But then I-..." she trails off, all momentum coming to a sudden halt as she hesitantly brings her gaze up to meet Nathan's. "...Damien." she says softly. At first it seems like she's going to leave it at that. As if it explains everything. But, never an ally of silence, she finally continues with a shrug of her shoulders.
"...Like I said, Nate, I like you. I do... But-... But I-... Damien is dead because of me." She says it matter-of-factly. It just is. And despite the lack of emotion in her voice, it's enough to open the floodgates, causing the tears to run down her cheeks. "A good man is dead. Because of what I am. How can I just sweep that under the rug and move on?" she asks, the guilt clear as day on her face.
Nathan feels the crimson creeping into his own cheeks, but the conversation causes him to focus his gaze on her, even as she breaks hers a few times throughout. Normally, her ranting would cause him to chuckle and smile, exchange a barb or two with her, she throw some back and they'd carry on their merry way. But this? With what they just been through? And with what she's trying to tell him? He can't even force a
snort. And there is that name. Damien. The plaque on the wall. The reminder in her mind. Her anchor of guilt. No, she's right. He shouldn't have to understand, but he does. He may never have pulled the trigger, but his own inaction cost so many lives. But for Leah, it's different. He lifts his hand up to cup her cheek and use his thumb to brush away a few droplets of tears. "You don't," he says softly. "No
one could ever just forget something like that." He finally lowers his gaze, chewing on his lower lip as he thinks carefully about his words, which is a struggle given the booze in his system. But he tries. "A good man is dead, because of what Cerberus did. I know that words won't fix it, nor will they ease the pain." He sucks in a deep breath and he looks up to her, thumb idly stroking her cheek. "It's like
you said to me. It doesn't matter whose fault it is, how it happened. All that matter is that it could've been different. So you push it down and come to terms with it. And you move one foot in front of the other and you keep doing that." And, in clear repeat of the words she said to him, "No matter how much it hurts." He finds his own eyes welling up, but he blinks them back, condemning them for the moment
Leah's gaze falls low again, remaining so even as she feels Nathan's touch against her cheek. His words might not be anything she probably didn't already know somewhere deep down, but there's no harm in a little comfort. 'Because of what Cerberus did.' It makes it sound so easy to justify. But it was her who had ended Damien's life. Her who had heard the snap of his neck. A man who trusted her. Cared for her. She closes
her eyes tightly as another wave of tears wash down her cheeks. There's a rattle in her chest as she draws in another breath and presses against the palm of Nathan's hand, her own hand coming up and moving over his. 'Push it all down and keep moving forward, no matter how much it hurts.' Her father's words. She nods softly against the touch on her cheek. She remains like this for a short while before tilting her
head slightly to press a kiss against his palm. "...I'm sorry." she says, finally returning her reddened eyes to meet his.
Nathan he shakes his head softly, leaning forward to rest his forehead against hers. His stormy grey eyes remain locked on hers as they sit in silence. He can feel the turmoil in her mind, her own myriad of thoughts that twist and turn, chasing this way and that. "Take your time," he mutters to her. "As much as you need." He turns his hand around to grasp her own, a single firm squeeze to solidify his presence
Leah merely falls silent at first, holding Nathan's gaze before her eyes fall closed again. A few remaining tears free themselves as she sits in silence, holding his hand as their foreheads remain pressed together. When her big green eyes open again, she briefly searches for his before pressing a short, tender peck against his lips. "...Thank you." she says in barely more than a whisper, a small sad smile briefly spreading
across her lips. She follows it up with a second kiss that doesn't fully hit its mark, only catching the side of his mouth. But in her state, she barely seems to notice. As she pulls back, she begins to reorient herself, releasing her current grip on his hand and bringing her head down to rest in his lap as she pulls her legs up onto the sofa. She pulls her right arm across herself, reaching up and sluggishly searching
for his hand again as she gets comfortable, seemingly with little interest for whether or not Nathan is a willing volunteer to be her pillow.
Nathan returns the second kiss a little more accurately than she does, a faint smile of his on his face. "Anytime." He leans back, giving her ample room to make herself comfortable. Even if it means becoming a temporary pillow with little hope of moving himself. His hand stolen, he takes his other to give her shoulder a quick squeeze before his gaze turns towards the rest of the galley, his mind drifting off into
thought. But, with the music caressing his ears and with Leah comfortable, his brainpower slackens until he is on the verge of dozing off.