Tara 's silence lingers for a while longer, looking down at her glass. Her frown just deepens, but it's hard to tell just what is on her mind. There's certainly no shortage of potential candidates.
#RedrockAgency – July 23, 2019
Leah's own frown begins to take hold as Tara's silence persists. For a few moments, she merely remains leaned against the counter taking small, tentative sips of her coffee. Eventually her green eyes turn back to Tara, studying her. "...You're worried about them?" she asks, though it sounds more like a statement than a question.
Tara nods softly, hesitating for a moment before speaking up. "They can... do what they want?" Her blue eyes are on Leah now, filled with worry. Worry that she's lied without realizing. That she was wrong to tell them that. Worry, because Sandbeck's people weren't like Leah had been on Omega. Gentle, maybe, but detatched. Scanning and herding. Too familiar.
Leah's eyes turn down to her coffee once more. She idly turns the spoon that's still sticking out of it, the white cloud at the top swirling about. Her instinct is to comfort Tara. But she can't lie to her. "In time." she offers as she peers up at Tara through her brow. She lifts a hand to swipe the bangs that fall into her face out of the way. "It's-... it's not that simple, Tara." she continues with a slight wince, worried
that the young girl might not undertsand. But she deserves the opportunity to try. "They-... the things that Fasha did to them? Did to you? They need to know that it wasn't okay. That Fasha was-..." she trails off, drawing a breath in as she tries to choose her words. "They need to learn to accept that they're not property anymore. That they never should have been." she says, meeting Tara's eyes when she does. There's
silent guilt in her words as she dwells on her own selfish actions. On how much better off Tara might be if she had just contacted the Alliance after getting Tara out of the slaver's den. "These are things we can't do for them." she adds, a subtle hint of emotion slipping into her voice and the undertone of an apology for her own shortcomings relating to Tara.
Tara 's frown deepens as Leah explains, some of her worry turning to confusion, and uncertainty. "...why not?" There's an unspoken addition of 'What about me?' in her face, her thoughts not far from Leah's. Only her perspective is so very different.
Leah draws in a deep breath, shoulders rolling back as she leans more heavily against the counter. The breath is released in an exasperated sigh. There's no frustration in it. At least not for Tara. Perhaps at her own inability to explain the situation. "Because I am sooo not prepared for that." she says with a sad, tired snicker. Just brutal honesty. She forces a small, gentle smile as she studies Tara, her eyes pointedly
Tara blinks, her gaze falling away as guilt, and a hint of fresh unease enters her face. She doesn't speak right away, silence filling the room for a moment as she hesitates. "...you didn't send me to them." she says, her voice quiet as she states the obvious.
Leah gives a few small nods. "I should have." she says, her cracking voice soft. She pulls a breath in through her nose to steady her emotions. "When I found you, I wanted sooo badly to help you, Tara." To put a little bit of good back into the galaxy after causing so much pain. "You deserved better than what I could offer. It was selfish and-..." she shrugs, realizing that an apology seems a bit hollow considering everything,
but it's delivered with sincerety nonetheless, "...I'm sorry." She presses her tongue against the inside of her bottom lip, gaze lowering as she finds herself drawn into her thoughts. "I just-..." she shakes her head, "...I hope I haven't screwed things up too much."
Tara blinks again, eyebrows furrowing as confusion takes the upper hand. Her gaze is quick to return to Leah, hands fidgeting with the glass in her hands. She seems caught off-guard by Leah's words, and the emotions that accompany them. She draws in a shallow breath, anxiety rising as she studies Leah with a worried, confused look. "Y-You did help... I want to be here... I-... I like it here..." she blurts out, her whisper of a voice
breaking a little, her unease over what went down back at the ruined compound taking a backseat as she's faced with Leah's guilt.
Leah looks to Tara through glassy eyes, brows furrowing as the young woman begins to ramble. It brings a small, sincere- if sad- smile to her lips. "Good." she says softly. "Because I am so-..." she quickly brings her free hand up, using the back of her hand to pat at the wetness forming in the corners of her eyes caused by her own words. She sniffs and blinks a few times to try and prevent the waterworks from starting. "...I am
sooo worried that I'm going to lose you." she says with a small, defeated shrug of her shoulders. It's not hard to see that it's been weighing on her since their return. Try as she might, she hasn't been able to figure out how to build a bridge across that chasm that she's worried she may have caused between them back at the compound. "You're part of our family now, Tara. And-..." she swallows, giving another little
shrug, "...and we love you. And I know that I-... that you didn't want any of-... of that to happen back there with Fasha." she continues, slipping into a ramble as she oh so often does when her nerves get the best of her. "Sweetheart I know. But I-... what else could I do?" she asks. "There was someone out there who wanted to hurt someone close to me. Who wanted to hurt you. My family." She holds Tara's gaze,
giving a few hard blinks in an attempt at blocking out the tears threatening to escape. "I wasn't going to let that happen." Her gaze tilts downward and her shoulders droop slightly as she comes to the end of her rant, as if no longer finding any reason to try and mask the fact that this has been weighing on her. "...I guess I was hoping that maybe if I gave you some space-... some time to yourself-..." she shrugs, "...I
Tara 's gaze remains glued to Leah's face as she speaks, her own emotions rising to the surface as she sees the tears on the verge of escaping. Her glass is feeling heavy and she puts it aside, arms wrapping around herself, a guarded gesture, trying to keep her unease from getting the better of her as Leah's ramble continues. She doesn't know how to feel about any of what happened. She didn't want anyone to get hurt. But she had been
terrified of going back. She had been relieved to be back in what had become her home. A real home, where she felt safe. But then she'd remembered all the people that died, and the ones hurt. A lot of guilt came with that. Guilt and anger. She wasn't worth that. But maybe the others would have a home too now, like she does? Is it worth it then? There's too many emotions and she doesn't have the answers, nothing is simple and
straightforward anymore and tears start to flow as she fails to determine whether she's upset with Leah, Fasha or herself. Or whether she's just relieved to be back home. Relieved that her friends are okay and most of all that Leah is. Pretty soon she's crying hard, looking awfully young, overwhelmed and more than a little lost as she hugs herself.
Leah watches Tara through glassy eyes and, when the tears begin to flow she briefly shuts her eyes, as if Tara's crying cuts right through her. With little information as to why Tara is crying, she simply assumes it's a result of everything that has transpired. Everything she caused. But when Tara's crying picks up, she sets her cup aside, gently reaches out and brings her hand to rest against the back of Tara's head, urging
her closer for a hug. She's slow and careful with her movements, unsure of where Tara's head is currently at. Maybe she just wants to be left alone by Leah. But that doesn't stop her from trying. "Come here, sweetheart." she mumbles through a sniffle.
Tara just needs a little nudge before her arms drop to her sides and she steps into the hug. The floodgates are opened now and her face is buried against Leah's shoulder as her crying continues, loud and uncontrolled, not subdued, restrained. It's fed by everything that's happened, by every bit of conflicting emotion in her head and every bit of tension that's filled her body since the moment they contacted Fasha. It takes a moment
Leah returns the hug, one arm draped across Tara's shoulders and the other around her midsection. Her own tears begin to run down her cheeks, slow and silent, held back by the sheer exhaustion that has settled into her over the past week. The battle with House Bar'adon. All of the life lost, necessary as it may have been. The toll it all took on Tara. Mendez' condition and splitting what little time she's had between taking care
of him and checking up on the freed slaves at Redrock. All of it has worn her down. And it's far from over. She's going to have hell to pay when Jason and Vasquez return. And then there's Cerberus... But right now, none of that matters. Tara needs her. So she puts it all out of her mind for the moment and gently runs her hand back and forth across Tara's shoulder. "Everything is gonna be alright." she assures softly.
Tara 's tears continue to flow freely, the sound of her muffled sobs filling the rec room. It's too much, too complicated, too exhausting and confusing and she just keeps crying, breaths sharp and hitched, body shaking a little in Leah's arms. She keeps holding on tightly to her, the only person that makes her feel safe and like she has a life that's her own as she tries to ride out what's becoming a full-blown panic attack.
Leah shuts her eyes and tilts her head to press a quick peck against Tara's head. "I'm so sorry, Tara..." she continues. "But you're safe now. He can't hurt you anymore and-.." a sniffle breaks up her sentiment, "...I won't let anything happen to you. Okay? It's gonna be-... things are going to be better now." she says, repeating her previous sentiment with another small, comforting squeeze.
Tara offers no replies in her current state. She tries to focus on the sound of Leah's voice and the comforting pressure of her arms. It takes time, but eventually the shaking begins to calm to a slight tremble, and her crying comes to a stuttering stop. Her pale, branded face is a reddened mess as she lifts her head, Leah's shoulder left stained. Her legs feel weak and wobbly, her long-sleeved t-shirt is sticking uncomfortably to her
and she keeps alternating between sniffles and trying to catch her breath. While she's a timid girl, there's usually a resigned hardness under that. Ready to take whatever comes her way and keep going. Right now there's just a raw vulnerability. Everything's a mess and she doesn't know how to deal with it. This is real now. She's not going back. She has a new life. She didn't want it to happen this way and yet there's that spike of
relief and she can't reconcile it with the guilt and there's so many other things, so many fears, so many thoughts, and she's just so tired. There's no more panic. She's too drained for that. She just wobbles a little in place, looking almost in danger of passing out.
Leah falls silent as well, little more than the sound of the occasional sniffle as tears quietly run down her cheeks. But she remains a rock for Tara to hold on to as she lets it all out, merely running her hand back and forth across Tara's upper back and shoulder. When the sobbing begins to quiet and she feels Tara lift her head, she tilts her own to the side to look at her, a small, sad smile crossing her tired features. Her
own bright green eyes are now reddened as well. She doesn't speak at first, merely making sure that Tara doesn't crumble and studying the young girl who she's come to know as family. No less of a sister than if they shared blood. "Why don't we go home?" she eventually asks softly. "I'm pretty sure that Mendez can handle a few hours without me."
Tara loosens her grip, but keeps holding onto Leah as she tries to collect herself a little. The question quickly prompts a series of nods and a sniffle that turns into a relieved little half-laugh. There's a weak, shaky smile on her lips but her breathing is calming. There's no resentment in her eyes, no anger. Just emotional exhaustion, and a quiet appreciation for the only family she's ever had. Going home together sounds more than a
little appealing right now. She feels exhausted and vulnerable and it has been a strange week. Back home, but it wasn't over, because Leah wasn't home and the people that survived were still there. She just wants the new normal that she still hasn't really gotten used to to still be there, because it's the best thing she's ever experienced.
Leah gives a teary snicker of her own when Tara laughs, a wave of relief seeming to wash over her. She shuts her eyes and leans forward, resting her forehead against Tara's for a number of moments before stepping back. She lets go of the hug, but not before clutching Tara's hand in her own. With her free hand she reaches up and wipes at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt, seemingly having decided it doesn't make much
difference given the stains Tara left behind. "...You know, I haven't gotten caught up on 'The Bold & The Burdened' yet..." she says with a sniffle, sounding as if she's dangling it out there like an offer. Truthfully, she had purposely avoided watching the show while at Mendez', holding on to hope that eventually- when everything blew over and emotions calmed down- that there was still a chance of them returning to their
Tara 's shaky smile seems to gain a little bit of strength at Leah's words. "Me neither." she admits, her voice quiet and hoarse from crying. She mirrors Leah's gesture, slipping her hand into the sleeve of her shirt and wiping it across her face. Her mouth is dry and she reaches a little awkwardly for her glass, taking a long sip to finish of the remainder of her soda.
Leah gives another small chuckle, a few quick tears escaping at Tara's benign admission, silently wondering if she had the same idea. Tara reaching for her soda seems to remind Leah of her coffee and she's quick to collect it with her free hand. The agreement to go home together is like a heavy weight has been lifted from her shoulders. And not just because it means she won't need to sleep on Mendez' couch any longer. It's the
sense of relief on Tara's face that accompanies it. The confirmation that, after everything that happened back at that compound, Tara isn't going to look at her the way the rest of humanity always has. Like she's dangerous. A killer. A freak. A weapon. Confirmation that their bond hasn't been thrown away. And, after the week she's had, nothing in the galaxy sounds more appealing than going home, watching a bad soap opera
with her best friend, and eating a whole lot of ice cream. She gives Tara's hand a squeeze and nods towards the door. "Come on. Let's go find Jasper."
Tara 's smile widens slightly and he reaches over to put the glass in the dishwasher before turning to Leah with a nod, ready to go. Leaving dirty dishes on the counter wouldn't do, after all.
Leah starts towards the door, drawing in a long, deep breath that ends with another sniffle and seems to help her walk with her shoulders raised a little higher. "You know, Mendez kept telling me I could just watch it at his place..." she says, nose scrunching up as a realization seems to hit her, "...And he had all of this last week's episodes just ready to go. I-... I think you got him hooked on the show." she decides, a small
Tara can't help the little snicker that slips out, dispelling some of the emotional heaviness that still lingers. She draws in a long breath of her own as they leave the rec room, walking a whole lot lighter.