Sam doesn't seem to register Emma's question at first. Or, at least, she's not acknowledging it. But as the others go quiet and smiles grow heavy, it soon becomes clear that the drunk woman at least heard it. Her own dry grin all but slips away as she sets the pitcher back down once her drink has been refilled, staring through the yellowish-brown liquid. It was only a matter of time before the question came. They couldn't
#Miner'sRespite – June 24, 2021
dance around it all night. "My sister." she says softly. "Nephew. Sister's husband. A few friends..." she trails off with a shake of her head. Maybe 'friends' was a bit of an overstatement. They were Liz' friends. But they were always welcoming towards her when she visited. Warm. Mostly strangers, but they've occupied her thoughts often over the last couple of months. "Freedom's Progress." she adds, as if to get out
ahead of the follow-up question that would be sure to come, glassy eyes flicking Emma's way only briefly before turning her focus back to her beer to avoid that personal touch that eye contact adds.
Steve gives a small tilt of his head, as if weighing the statement. "Well, on behalf of humanity, you're welcome." he says, gesturing to Renala with his pizza slice before elaborating with a shrug of his shoulders. "You know. For showin' up and makin' the galaxy a whole hell of a lot more attractive. Slim pickins' before we arrived." he teases through a smirk. Lema's exchange with Enila garners a glance, but he otherwise minds
Renala lets out a soft laugh. She follows his glance towards Lema and Enila, but like Steve she stays out of it. "I made do with what I got," she says with a shrug. "It's not just you humans that have poor taste in asari." She reaches for her glass and takes a long sip of it.
Emma 's gaze remains fixed on Sam as she waits for a response. When it comes she lets out a quiet breath, eyes closing as she nods softly, but soon enough she's back to studying her. For a moment she seems unsure what to say, biting on the side of her tongue, but then she speaks, words quiet but clear. "I had a sister. Ida. She was... fourteen when the batarians came. They caught her. Kept her in their camp for a
while. But... they shipped her off-world before the marines reached us." The words are spoken without the emotion that belongs with them. A clipped summary glossing over the horror inherent to it. The words are also an offering, exposing her own wounds in exchange for prodding at Sam's. It only seems fair. An attempt to show that she understands. Perhaps a clumsy one, but it's the best she's got.
Steve offers a shake of his head. "Any port in a storm, eh?" he snickers before taking a bite of his pizza and setting what's left of the slice back down on his napkin.
Shane allows his gaze to linger on Emma as she speaks up, a hint of a frown forming at his lips as she speaks. "...Shit." he offers in a mutter.
Sam allows her gaze to lift from her drink, sluggishly seeking out Emma's eyes. She lingers for a moment before a quiet, "...Sorry." slips from her lips. Her tone lacks the delicate touch that one might expect from such an exchange- the word almost forced out- but it's not insincere. Just... heavy in the face of her own losses. Tired. She draws in a deep breath that helps to soothe the burn that's stuck around at the back
Priya's mood has dipped with the conversation, frown scrawled across her features. "Did-..." she begins before wincing apologetically, as if worried she may be overstepping. But she proceeds anyway. "...Did the Alliance follow-up on it...?" she asks curiously. A question that was clearly in the back of Gage's mind as well, judging by the subtle change in his posture.
Emma nods faintly in response to Priya's question, taking a long sip of her drink. Her gaze shifts down to her fries. "They did, but... nothing came of it. They think the ship sailed to the Hegemony, and you know how hard it is to get intel out of their space." For slaves in the Traverse or the Terminus there was always a chance of liberation, but inside the Hegemony itself? Nothing short of a full-scale invasion
would bring salvation there. There's an odd tone to her words, as if holding back from saying more, but her eyes shift to meet Priya's as her answer comes to an end.
Renala tilts her head at first at the phrase, but it doesn't take her long to understand it. "Exactly," she says with a grin, "and the whatever-you-called-him is in a hurricane." She puts her glass back down on the counter. "Seriously, though, I think the galaxy was ripe for a shake-up when you showed up," she says. "Aeyna's friend's father is human, and he's the one that pushed her talk to Aeyna in the first
Enila sighs, and reaches out to pat her shoulder, but she relents when Lema shrugs her off. "You can tell her yourself," she says.
Enila glances towards the door to the back. "You can wait in the break room if you'd like some space to yourself," she offers. "There's no chance we will be putting it to use anytime soon, anyway."
Enila stands back up. "Alright, just let us know if you need anything," she says, and returns back at the bar without getting a response from the child.
Shane's expression darkens, frown shifting into a full-on scowl. "Fucking slavers..." he utters in disgust.
Priya lets out a heavy sigh, offering a small nod of acknowledgement to Emma's words. She knows all too well of the difficulties in dealing with the Hegemony. Not first-hand, of course. But given the careers they've led- the things they've seen- it's impossible not to have some sort of vested interest in the Hegemony. She shoots a brief look Shane's way, but remains quiet.
Sam idly rotates her glass, fingers leaving streaks through the condensation. It's not until silence has taken hold of the table again that she speaks up. "I keep expecting-... I don't know, something, you know?" she asks. The question isn't meant to be directed at anyone in particular, but the glance she sends Emma's way implies otherwise. "Since the news broke about the Collectors-..." she trails off briefly, eyes fixed
on the way the dim light penetrates her beer. "That they're-... gonna find survivors. All those missing people... Someone had to survive, right...?" she continues quietly, sorting through half-thoughts and shattered hope. "Did Cerberus find anyone...?" She licks at the roof of her dry mouth and shakes her head. "But every day I wake up and-... nothing. No news. So I-... I guess that's it." she shrugs, making no
Steve chuckles and takes a sip of his water. "You tryin' to say I ain't the first human you've warmed up to, Ren?" he asks, a bit of mock offense in his voice. "Well, shit. An' here I thought I was special."
Renala snorts. "It's been what now? Thirty years? Twenty-five?" she says. "That's not a very long time, but I thought you had a higher opinion of your fellow humans than to think it would take me that long to meet one of the not too bad ones."
Emma has gone quiet with the others, but when Sam speaks her blue eyes turn to her. The mention of Cerberus makes her eyebrows furrow slightly and her gaze goes down to the table for a moment before refocusing on her and nodding empathetically. If there's one thing she understands it's that feeling. "Yeah..." she says in a near whisper, looking away and drawing in a breath. "Wish I could say it goes away, but..." a
small shrug, a flash of old hurts surfacing alongside a bit of embarrassment in her expression. "...if I'm honest, part of me is still waiting." she admits apologetically, the lights of the bar reflecting in the fresh sheen coating her eyes as she looks back to Sam.
Steve's smirk slips a bit, but doesn't fall away completely. "I ain't got a high opinion of much, darlin'." he says, covering up the truth behind that statement with a playful wink. "But you're alright." Truth be told, if someone had told him a couple years back that he'd be sharing an apartment with an asari, he would've thought they were out of their mind. But, old prejudices be damned, Renala has come through for him time and
time again. "You know..." he follows up with a shrug of his shoulders, propping his smirk back up, "...For an asari."
Sam settles against the wall once more as she sets her beer back down, Emma's words drawing her gaze back to her drink, a small frown forming at the corners of her mouth. "...Yeah..." she whispers softly, almost to herself. That's the kicker. The lack of finality. It leaves hope alive, even when it shouldn't be. It quiets that loud, distant voice, shouting from the back of her mind, telling her that Liz is gone. It ignores
the words that are unvoiced, on the tip of all of her friends' tongues as they tiptoe around the obvious for her sake. A tear slips free from her glassy, unfocused eyes and she's quick to fight it off with a swipe of her thumb and a harsh breath, blinking away any others before they can escape. "Merry-fucking-Christmas, huh?" she mutters through a snort that replaces the embarrassment she might feel from being so candid
in front of a stranger if she weren't nearly a bottle deep into whatever was filling those shot glasses.
Gage allows a heavy smile to tug at the corner of his mouth at Sam's final words. With a sigh, he reaches out, idly patting at Sam's opposite shoulder to tug her his way into something of a loose side hug so that she's leaning against him rather than a wall, his arm draped across her shoulder. "Been that kinda year, hasn't it?" he asks, a question that gets only muttered responses from Shane and Priya.
Emma averts her gaze when Sam wipes away a tear. Her words garner a faint hum, and Gage's gesture briefly draws her attention to him before her focus shifts to her drink, looking down into the glass and falling silent. Keeping a conversation isn't her speciality on the best of days. And today is certainly not the best of days.
Renala sighs at first. She knows, he's even out-pessimisted her on occasion. The compliment does make her grin, especially when he qualifies it. "You're not bad for a human either," she says, even if she doesn't have to. The fact that she still comes back from her trips off-world should say all that needs to be said there.
Sam begrudgingly flops against Gage's side, shooting a grumpy look up at him. But after a few moments she seems to settle in, head lulling against his shoulder. The mood at the table has definitely dwindled and, soon enough, silence has overtaken the table. Priya is picking at a tray of snacks while Gage glances about as the bar's patrons go about their business. Sam seems content to remain as she is, unfocused gaze pinned
Shane shuffles in his seat a bit as the silence grows uncomfortable before letting out a long sigh. "Alright, look, it's Christmas." he says, glancing around the tables. "So I'm not about to let you miserable assholes spend the whole night drowning your sorrows. Here's what's gonna happen. We're gonna finish our drinks-..." he explains, lifting his own beer as a qualifier, "...And then? We're gonna put this place in the rearview
and head on over to Cobalt to get our groove on, alright?" He doesn't wait for a response before continuing. "And since there's five of us, Pree is just gonna have to sit this one out because she can't dance." he says unapologetically and quite matter-of-factly, seemingly little worry about Emma's leg being a hinderance. That seems to at least perk Priya up a bit.
Priya's mouth widens and she shoots up a bit straighter in her seat. "Hey! I can dance!" she snaps back, looking from Shane to Gage. "I'm a better dancer than he is!" she insists, throwing Gage under the bus.
Gage throws his free hand up in defense. "Hanar." he repeats, not about to get involved. Even if it means not defending his own honor on the dance floor. At the very least, it seems to have lightened his smile a bit.
Shane shakes his head, brows furrowing. "Nah, nah, nah, nah. You're not sitting out shit, Sam." he's quick to interrupt. "Pree doesn't mind taking one for the team. Isn't that right, Pree?" he asks, shooting the woman a smile.
Priya's frown deepens. "I can find someone else to dance with. Someone who appreciates my abilities on the dance floor." she snubs him, turning her nose up in defiance.
Steve gives an indifferent shrug of his shoulders. "Now, that might just be the nicest thing anyone's ever said about me, darlin'." he drawls.
Emma blinks as Shane breaks the silence, gaze lifting to watch him as she listens. The suggestion of dancing - and the suggestion that she should come along, catches her quite off-guard. She remains silent during the banter that follows but when she's addressed directly she looks a little dumbfounded. "Dancing? I'm-... I don't know if... I'm not sure if you've noticed, but limping is about the limit of what I can
manage right now." she points out - she doesn't sound opposed to the idea of tagging along, the company of the others is welcome right now, and the alcohol helps smooth over her discomfort. She's more just concerned that she's in no state to dance. She's not much of a dancer when her leg isn't broken.
Renala takes another bite of her slice of pizza, looking a little bit thoughtful. "I'm sure I've said nicer things, Steve," she says, her tone still light-hearted; "I just... can't think of anything specific right now."
Shane quickly shrugs off Emma's concerns. "I can work with limping." he says, that big friendly grin of his widening.