#Kalus'Compound – March 18, 2019

Nathan ‘s thumb gently caresses her skin around the amp, merely a soft hum of acknowledgement to her thanks. He wondered how used she was to this kind of contact, wondered if she had been devoid of this for much of her life merely because of what she was. A biotic. He hadn’t met many human biotics before her, beyond seeing vids of them in action from propaganda flicks or blown out of proportion action montages

from cheesy movies. He couldn’t image what it must’ve been like to live with it, to be treated with at best mistrust and at worst revulsion. And if he was being honest with himself, biotics scared him once. Being able to shatter bodies through a mere flick of the wrist and sling people around like they were rag dolls. But since meeting Leah, his views has progressively shifted. Sure, she was a force to be

reckoned with in the field of battle, but outside of that she was warm, caring, jovial... and she bore the weight of so much. The thought alone caused him to tighten his grip on her and shift his other arm to wrap around her waist, despite the horrific protest it gave when the wound was agitated. It was unfair. He tilted his head into her neck to press a soft, brief kiss against her skin, a low exhale escaping

him.

Leah brings her arms around Nathan, chin coming to rest on his shoulder. Her knee pressed against the edge of the couch beside him makes for a bit of an awkward angle, nearly straddling his left leg. As lips press against her neck, her eyes drift close. His curiosity isn't unfounded. The life of a biotic in human space is a lonely one. It didn't matter how friendly she was. How much she smiled. All it usually took was one

glimpse of the port implanted at the base of her skull and most pleasantries were out the window. Friendships outside of her unit existed, sure. But they were few and far between. And a love life was something else altogether. Romance is for people who can take risks. People who can let go and allow themselves to fall. that's a luxury that she just can't afford. She needs to be in control. Present. Regimented. Focused. If

she's not, people get hurt. But the soft kiss against her neck is enough to fill her mind with clouds, if only for a moment, and she tilts her head to try and catch his lips with her own.

Nathan meets her lips with his own and his eyes drift closed. He merely lingers in it for a few moments, appreciating the rare few minutes that they’re afforded alone. Which, he’s starting to realise, tends to be off the back off a dangerous mission of some kind. It’s a momentarily alarming thought but it’s immediately beaten back as he pulls her a little closer, if for but a few brief seconds before he parts

from her. He touches his forehead with hers, eyes cracking open as he gives a small, but warm and genuine smile. “As much as I’d like to stay like this,” he says softly, “We’ve both got holes that need patching up.” He meant that too. He would want nothing more than to sit in each other arms, to bask in the peace and quiet that this life out here in the terminus rarely affords. But he knows, deep

down, that it is a luxury that comes every so often. If they’re not working, they’re caught up in some scheme or event that requires them to hop right back into the action. And if that moment comes, he’d rather face it at his best. Not with a gunshot wound left untended. His fingers drift away from her amp and instead trace her jawline, before falling away to rest besides him. He leans back a modicum,

giving her an apologetic look that is laced with a dose of lingering pain as his wound shifts again.

Leah seems to drift somewhere else for the moment, allowing herself to just remain in Nathan's arms. Her own grasp on him loosens and she moves her hands to rest gently against his sides. She winces slightly as he speaks up, her big green eyes remaining closed. A soft, unenergetic snicker slips out. "Mmhmm." she hums. But it's followed by a sigh. She presses against the hand that runs along her jaw and chases after his touch as

he leans back, forehead once again pressed against his, eyes never opening. A soft whine escapes her that turns into another an embarassed snicker at so obviously not wanting to pull away. "You should get shot less." she suggests softly before pressing a small, brief peck against his lips. There's a part of her that wants to just stay this way. Enjoy the closeness. Enjoy his presence. Ignore her obligations for just a

little longer. But that part of her never wins out. It can't. She plants a second kiss on his lips before pulling back and opening her eyes. She pulls in a long, flustered breath through her nose as she searches his eyes.

Nathan breathes a laugh, giving her a playful roll of his eyes as he motions idly to both her wounds. “Only on the condition you get stabbed less,” He retorts, returning the kiss as it is given. His gaze softens as their eyes meet and behind them she could see that more and more of his old self has snuck in. More mirth, more joy... and warmth that manages to toil within the cloudy grey that is his eyes. Almost

immediately, it’s as if he’s forgotten his own words, his fingers brushing hers and intertwining. Already he wants to pull her close and hold her once more, to forget everything else. But they can’t. Not until this is done for good. “Afterwards... when all this is done we’ll... we’ll take some time. Just you and me. No gunfire, no desperate escapes from fucked up situations. Just you, me, a crappy

movie and some crappy food.” He looks down at their hands, thumb brushing across her knuckles before his eyes flick back to hers. “Sound good?@

))

Leah gives a playful roll of her eyes in turn. "Barely qualifies as a stab. More like... a poke~" she corrects. She rests her weight on her knee, just sorta hovering over him for the moment and her eyes turn to their hands as he speaks. A sheepish smile creeps in as he describes a potential date night and she tries to conceal it by sucking in her lips. "...I think I'd like that." she says softly once he finishes, looking to

his face once more. That urge for closeness continues to pull at her as she idly runs her thumb along his hand. To give in to her desires, everything else be damned. But the eye contact only lasts for a moment before her gaze is pulled back to the wound in his shoulder and the small trail of blood beginning to run from it. "But first..." she sighs, reluctantly releasing her grip on his hand. "I should probably keep

you from bleeding to death." She pulls her knee back and places the palm of her other hand against his chest, nudging him back softly. "Sit back." she instructs as she reaches for the canister of medigel.

Nathan ‘s smile persists, even as he feels the trickling of blood dripping over his skin. He peers down at it, the smile now giving way to an annoyed frown. Damn blood, always ruining the mood! He sighs softly and does as instructed, sitting back as she gently nudges him a little further away. He props himself up with one hand, the other reaching up to stifle a yawn that escapes him. “That would be an idea. I’d

hate- wait, probably?! Where’s the certainty!” He gives her a look of mock offence and an irritated pout, but the mirth in his eyes lingers.

Leah gives a small, annoyed roll of her shoulders, nose scrunching up as she fiddles with her undersuit a to keep it in place. Realizing it's only going to continue giving her trouble, she reaches back with her free hand and tugs the zipper in the back up a bit to secure it and keep it from sliding from her shoulders. With that, she collects another cotton swab and brings her knee back on the couch. Nathan's bickering briefly

halts her in place and is met with a raise of her eyebrow. "You really like to complain, don't you?" she teases. Perhaps emboldened by the moment they shared, she brings her other leg up onto the couch as well, straddling him. Purely to give her better positioning to address his wound, of course. "Don't get any ideas..." she mutters as she turns her focus back to his wound once more.

Nathan blinks as she shifts herself, eyes widening for a moment before he decides to distract himself with the fact she just insulted him. That’s always a safe way to deviate. “Only when it’s you, Leah. Only when it’s you,” he muses back, giving her a wry smile. He looks down to her hands best he can as she begins her ‘operation’ on it, his fingers digging a little in the fabric of the sofa as he

stifles a wince. Did that Batarian coat the bullet in salt or something because it really does bloody sting. “And I... well, uh... back at you,” he adds in a rather poor attempt at retaliation, looking off to the side for a brief second in what is probably sheepish embarrassment.

Leah furrows her brow at the weak retaliation, though it does bring a bit of red back into her cheeks. "Don't flatter yourself." she continues as she gently spreads a thin layer of medigel over the wound. She has to lean to the side to set the medigel cannister back into the first aid kit and retrieve the gauze. When she sets her left knee back down there's a restrained wince as the cut along her calf begins to burn. "Just

about done..." she says, eyes flicking to his as she applies the gauze, trying to gauge how hard she can press by just how much pain is showing through his features.

Nathan bites down hard on his cheek, flicking gaze between the wound and her. After a moment, he sucks in a deep breath before giving her a firm nod. “Do it. Let’s get this part over with so we can move on to fixing you.”

Leah uses the palm of her hand to press the gauze gently against the wound, not yet putting any pressure on it. "Alright, deep breath in..." she instructs. "Three. Two-..." she begins to count down, but one never comes. Instead, she just presses the gauze against the wound before he has time to tense up. With the gauze's adhesive pressed against his skin around the wound, she leans back slightly, wincing apologetically.

Nathan grits his teeth, somewhat expecting the skipping of one. It was a well used tactic in this kind of situation. The burning sensation pulsating through his shoulder causes him to let out a muffled curse in his native tongue, wincing and digging his nails into the fabric. “Gah, barely felt a thing,” he says in the possibly least convincing manner possible and he sits upright, eyeing the first aid job. He

looks to her and gives her a thankful nod. “Great bedside manner,” he adds. With a resting roll of his shoulder, he looks to her other wound. “Alright... your turn.”

Leah finds herself leaning back, left hand resting against Nathan's knee as she winces through his cursing. "Couldn't have you pussing out on me." she explains with a shrug, seemingly unaware of the insulting implication. Or maybe that was the point. Yeah, considering the smirk that surfaces, that was probably the point. His instructions cause her to lift her right leg and slip off of his lap. She ends up on her back on the

couch beside him, left leg across his lap, right boot against the floor. The wound on her left calf starts just below her knee on the outside of her leg and runs nearly to her ankle. It stops and starts again in a couple of places where the ballistic material from the straps of her shin guards blocked the blade, like bloody tanlines. The pantleg of her undersuit has already been rolled up and, unlike the stab wound, it

looks as though she hadn't yet gotten around to removing the sloppy layer of medigel from her suit by the time he arrived. Her long, dark green sock is split along the side, bisecting the face of a familiar red-nosed reindeer that's printed along the side. Dark, dried blood has stuck the material to her leg. She sits up and reaches down to begin peeling the hem of her sock down so he can get to work. A pained wince settles

across her face. "Yeah-... Yeah... This one isn't gonna feel too good." she mutters.

Nathan gives her a withering glare that eventually gives way to sympathy when he gets to fully see the extent of the injury. Jagged, ripped through by the hostile she fought. It makes his wound look like a paper cut in comparison. He leans over her leg to get at the medkit, careful not to irritate her wound as he plucks it up and squeezes it on the sofa besides him. “Noooo it isn’t,” he affirms, deciding to not

beat around the bush. He follows a similar procedure to hers, swabbing away at the medi-gel with a few dabs of a sterilised wipe to hasten the process. He works in relative silence for a minute or two, just trying to remove as much of the gel as he can. Eventually, however, he speaks. And he treads gently once more on a topic they spoke about earlier. “...where is Tara? It’s rare for you two to not be in

the same room together.”

Leah lays back once Nathan gets to work, hands folded across her stomach and head coming to lay against the couch's armrest. It's not the most comfortable of pillows, but that's the least of her concerns. Every time the swabs come in contact with the wound carved into her by cruel batarian design it feels like a red hot fire poker is being dug into her leg. But she barely even acknowledges it outside of the involuntary twitches

in the muscles of her left leg and the way her right boot bounces rhythmically. She merely focuses on a spot in the ceiling. A spot that she can't even see particularly well due to the darkness of the room. As the medigel is wiped away there's nothing more than uneven, coagulated blood keeping the wound closed. In some places blood trickles from the wound when the gel is removed. The break in silence is a welcome

distraction, even despite the less-than-ideal topic. A long, deep breath is Leah's only initial response. "...I don't know." she eventually admits, gaze still fixed to that same spot above her. "She's around. But I get the impression that she'd prefer that I give her some space right now..."

Nathan finishes dabbing at the wound, doing what he can to make it as painless as possible. But there is only so much he can do in that regard. “...ah.” He shifts a little, carefully wiping away at the trickling blood and reaching over for the canister of medi-gel. He goes to apply a thin layer on each segment of the wound, brow knitted in focus. “It’s... well, it’s a delicate situation. It’ll take time,

as you probably well know for all of this to settle in. It’s not exactly... standard.” He sets the canister down and reaches for the gauze, passing a glance her way to give her a silent sign to prepare herself.

Leah remains focused on the ceiling, silently listening, until she catches Nathan looking her way. She meets his gaze, lifting her head off the armrest momentarily and rotating her left leg inward to take a quick look at the application of medigel. With a deep breath, she gives him permission to proceed with a nod and sets her head back down. "We killed a lot of people today, Nate." she responds with a sigh. "And, Fasha may

have been a piece of shit, but he was a piece of shit that she's probably known her entire life." It seems as though she might leave it at that at first before another sigh slips out. "A life of enslavement is the only life she's known. You and I-... we're on the outside looking in. But for her? That was normal... And now everything has changed. And people are dead because of it." She draws in a deep breath before

correcting herself with a small shrug, "Because of me..." There's something in her tone, but it's not guilt behind her words. She has accepted that those people needed to die for Tara to be safe. It's just exhaustion. Not just because of the physical excertion brought on by the day, but exhaustion in a larger sense. A weariness.

Nathan hums in acknowledgement to her words, going straight into the application of the gauze on the first segment of her wound, pressing down hard to ensure it is applied. An apologetic look is offered her way and a mouthed, “Sorry”, before he readies the next gauze. He gives her a moment to recover, mulling over her words. “It’s easier when everything is black and white, isn’t it?” He sighs and rubs his

tired eyes, Leah’s exhaustion seemingly bleeding into him. “For her? It must’ve all been grey. She’ll... adapt. Realise what that life did to her one day.” He sets his hand down, chewing on his lower lip.

Leah's eyes snap shut as she feels the pressure on the wound and the sharp, dagger-like ache that shoots through her left leg. A harsh breath is pulled in through her nose to help her through the pain. "...Is anything ever black and white?" she responds to his first statement when her eyes open back up. She shifts in place ever-so-slightly as she prepares for the next length of gauze and returns her gaze to the ceiling once

more. "Maybe. I hope that you're right. But today? All I care about is that she's safe. And, today, the cost of her safety was Fasha's life." She gives a small shrug. "Maybe she hates me for it. I can accept that." she says. She tries to deliver it straight. Matter-of-factly. But it's not hard to see that the potential outcome bothers her. The possibility that Tara might look at her the way that so many people back home

did. "It was still the right decision."

Nathan hums and, without so much as a warning, applies the second layer of gauze to her staggered wound. He presses down, ensuring that it is firmly set before moving onto the last jagged cut. He readies another layer, but he holds off on it for a moment. “No, you can’t.” He shakes his head, looking across to her. “You wouldn’t be able to accept that, not after everything you two have been through. But we

also know it isn’t true... because you didn’t pull that trigger on Fasha. I did.” His lips set into a grim line and he looks back down to her wound. “She’s rattled. She’s got to adjust. The transition will be hard for her, even though it’s been made... official.”

Leah's words are punctuated by a muffled breath of air being forced between her teeth as the second gauze is applied and her head lifts off the armrest briefly. She passes a glare at Nathan for the less-than-pleasant pain that shoots up her leg, but it slips away as he speaks and her focus turns back towards the ceiling. His first statement doesn't get much of a response. It's just met with silence. Quiet confirmation, maybe.

His comment about Fasha causes her eyes to drop to him once more, studying him in silence as he continues to speak. She saw the look on his face when he put that round through Fasha's head. It weighed on him. Of course it did. He's a good man. And good people don't just execute unarmed people without feeling it deep in their chest. "...He was a monster, Nate." she says softly- apologetically- as if to convince him he did

nothing wrong by pulling that trigger.

Nathan doesn't meet her gaze, instead applying the last layer of gauze as quickly as he can. It's painful, like the other two, but it is the last one. She can take some comfort in that. "She's free now. That's all that matters," he says in response. Yes, it weighed on him. Yes, Fasha was a delusional fiend that needed to be dealt with. And, at least at the time, Nate felt that he should be the one to pull the

trigger. To keep the weight from Leah's shoulders. To try and alleviate the burden of his previous failures, as if executing Fasha would be fair recompense for them all. Instead, he just felt a sickening lump in his stomach from it. "There. That's the last of it. It'll do until Halisi can get a proper look at it."

Leah arches her back off the couch slightly as the last bit of gauze is applied, eyes once more snapping shut. She lets a small puff of air out through her nose to help her ride through the pain. But she doesn't move once it's over. She just watches Nathan from her position on the couch, leg sprawled out across his lap. "It does matter." she agrees, "But it's not all that matters, Nate..."

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