#RedrockAgency – March 20, 2022

Leah lets out a deep breath of her own and lowers her gaze to Nathan's chest when he calls out her attempt at avoiding discussing the obvious. The offer that follows- to just sweep it under the rug- is a welcome one, but the smile she attempts to prop up doesn't quite manifest and, instead, she just offers a small, quiet nod. A silence permeates the air as thoughts bounce around in her head, unsure of which ones to give a voice

to. As much as she'd like to just write it off... isn't this really why she came here looking for him? For someone to talk to? Someone that's been put through the ringer just as much as she has recently. Someone that understands. Her father wouldn't. He'd try, but how could he? Tara would. Hell, Tara has already been there for her more than most people in her life. But she shouldn't have to. She's been through enough, she

doesn't need Leah's problems. It's Leah's job to be their rock. "My dad saw." she finally says quietly, green eyes lifting to Nathan's once more. The expression that accompanies her words is a pained one. "I don't know how much, but I know he saw some of it..."

Nathan feels a little relieved that she has decided to open up. Even if the topic is bleak. He knows all too well that bottling this kinda thing up just causes it to toil and bubble inside until it erupts and... well, it usually ends up causing more grief. So he looks to her, keeping his expression for the moment fairly neutral. But seeing her own expression causes a twinge in his chest. It's one thing having

friends or colleagues see what they do. It's another thing entirely when close family see it. Christ, he couldn't even being to imagine what would happen if Sofia ever saw even a fraction of what he does. "...I see," he says softly. "I'm sorry. I know we try to keep that kinda... business away from family. Are you worried? That he might think differently of you now?"

Leah sucks in her lips as Nathan speaks, eyes once more tilting downward. His final questions cause a puff of air to escape her. The notion sounds absurd when it's said out loud. Her father, the man who has been in her corner for her entire life, suddenly turning his back on her? No, she knows better. Deep down she has to know better. But that doesn't make the possibility any less heart wrenching. That small bubble of doubt

has a tendancy to feel stronger than any rationality. "No-..." she begins to lie before catching herself, a frustrated sigh slipping out, followed by the quiet honesty of, "...I don't know. Maybe." Then another bout of silence.

Nathan hums a little as she diverts her gaze. He figured as much. Hell, he would likely be thinking the same. No, he would be thinking the same, given how often he goes off on tangents when his brain kicks into overdrive. He couldn't blame her for that. Nathan reaches over to lightly touch her hand, offering her a small, thin smile. "It's normal to think that. But I don't think he will. He'll know you were just

protecting everyone." He pauses. "Maybe talk to him when things have calmed down a little. It'll help." Maybe hearing that aloud would help still the voice of doubt within her or at the very least quieten it down.

Leah gives a small, distant nod, listening as Nathan speaks. "Yeah..." she sighs. More silence. Something she usually doesn't offer much of. "I know it's stupid, Nate." she finally admits with a small, embarrassed shrug, "But when you can't go a week without seeing some sort of-... of-..." she shakes her head, her eyes taking on a slight sheen as she seeks Nathan's out once again, her free hand moving to his side, fingertips

gently rapping against the fabric of his shirt, "...article? Or a segment on the news they're running back on Earth warning people about how dangerous people like you are?" That previous bitterness makes a return, hidden just behind her words. There's a weight to them, one that she's been carrying most of her life. One that she doesn't often let show. Another shrug. "...It's hard not to worry."

Nathan clucks his tongue, letting out a small sigh. "Ah, yes, the media. Paragons of truth and justice, who like to capitalize on the people's fears and worries." He offers a smirk and small nudge of his arm as he now takes a seat besides her on the workbench. "Of course you're worrying though. It's you. You worry because you care. Worried Leah who has saved so many lives because of her abilities. Who has saved

my life, her father's life, Tara's life, pretty much all of the people at Redrock's life... they never cover that part in the articles and segments, do they?" He pauses for a moment before continuing with just a small hint of mirth in his eyes, even as he reaches up to run his thumb just below her eye, aiming to catch a stray tear or two. "Think this is a sign that you watch too much TV, hmm?" Another

pause, another smile.

Leah lets out a humorless snort, agreeing with his assessment with a soft, bitter, "Mmhmm." But as he continues, a small smile threatens to break through and she dismisses his theatrics of her heroics with a roll of her eyes. But the question his point leads to garners a shake of her head. "No... They certainly don't." she agrees with a sigh. Not that praise and renown were why she followed her chosen career path. The Alliance

told her that she could make a difference. That her abilities, her 'gifts'- that was what they had called her biotics when they showed up at her family's door all those years ago- allowed her to do things that others couldn't. She was 'gifted'. A phrase that clashed so very heavily with the media frenzy that polluted every network. The fearmongering. The hatred. According to plenty of news outlets, she was an abomination.

She was dangerous. She was broken and needed to be fixed. To be contained. But the Alliance sold her a different role. That her 'gifts' gave her a responsibility. To help. To protect. To inspire. It was an ideal that was so easy to buy into. One that she wanted to believe. One that she still wants to believe. It's probably the same pitch that the young woman whose life she took this morning was given... She fights back

against the tears that threaten to slip out, blinking them back. She's shed enough over the galaxy's bigotry, they're not getting anymore from her. Not today, at least. She tilts her head, pressing against Nathan's comforting touch a little heavier, his final words drawing a light scoff out of her. "And I think you~" she hums, tilting her head a little further to press a quick peck against his hand, "...should fuck off."

It's a small slice of normality slipping out. Proof that this certainly isn't enough to keep her down. Nothing ever is.

Nathan can't help but allow his smile to grow, unaware of the thoughts that rush through her mind. After all, he truly didn't have a way to relate to what she had to experience. He was on the other side of the fence, the various forms of media trying to sell to him about the dangers of biotics, the strength and power that they wielded. Hell, there was a time where he would've kept them at arms length, he's

ashamed to say. Not anymore though. "Nah, you'd miss me too much," he muses back, leaning forward to press a quick kiss against her forehead. "Who else would you abuse as much as me? Mendez is so used to you, he's become immune."

Leah gives another roll of her eyes at Nathan's initial statement, though the truth of it draws the dimples out of her cheeks, try as she might to keep them at bay. His question causes her to purse her lips to one side, green eyes tilting up, as if seriously considering it. "I guess you're right." she frowns playfully, an exasperated sigh slipping out as her hand gently rests against his side, "I suppose I'll have to keep you

around a bit longer." she offers, a fond look entering her features amidst all the turmoil.

Nathan gives a single, victorious nod at that. The smug satisfaction that now dominates his expression threatens to remain for the immediate future. "Guess you're gonna," he agrees. He lowers his own hand to cover hers, peering at her with a perked, questioning brow. "You'll be alright. Y'know that, right?" Even amidst his playful victory, the vestiges of concern remain lingering behind the mirthful light in his

eyes.

Leah gives a small, tired snicker. Though the words that follow tempers her smile into something a bit more restrained. A bit more genuine. After a moment she offers a small nod in return. "I know..." she admits. In part to assuage the obvious concern that Nathan has for her. But it's an honest response nonetheless. It's just who she is. Sometimes life hurts. But you push through it. You keep moving forward. No matter what.

"Guess I should get going..." she sighs, dipping her head in the direction of the door. "I still have a lonnng day ahead of me. The Talons brought a few hired guns with them. Just-..." she shakes her head, a look of distaste crossing her features, "...kids. Barely older than Tara. I managed to talk a couple of them down, but-..." her frown takes hold, "...one of them took a round. Had to taken to the hospital. So I want

to swing by and check on them before I head home. Maybe drop off some food so they can avoid the hospital chow for as long as possible. Then I need to check on Mendez, make sure he doesn't need anything~" her head lulls from one side to the other as she lists her day's activities, "...Then pick up some food for Tara and my dad because, after the day we had? Nobody is doing any cooking tonight." Uh oh, this is becoming a

ramble. "...And then I need to swing by Gorokhov to see how soon I can get someone to come out and replace our window-..." her brows furrow, green eyes locking on to Nathan, "...did I mention they broke our window?" She doesn't wait for a response before covering her bases. "Well, they broke our window!"

Nathan takes comfort in her response. The genuine smile, the small assuring nod. She's tough. Course she'll be alright. Doesn't hurt to hear it from time to time, though. As she begins to list off her day, Nathan then certainly knows she's doing a little better. This is more Leah. The absolute bombardment that pours from her mouth is more her style. It serves to widen his smile as he listens, even if a small

segment causes him to internally flinch. Of course the Talons dragged kids along. At least the one hurt is getting the care they need. Maybe this experience will be the wake up call that they'll need. There's a moment where he goes to offer Leah and her family some company in the form of he and his sister for the evening, but then thinks better of it. They'll want some time to decompress. So, instead, he

expresses a look of sheer shock and horror at the finale of her ramble. "Not the window! Won't they think of the poor window?!" He smirks. "Sounds like you got a lot on your plate." He slips off the worktop and stands in front of her, sliding a hand into his pocket. "As much as I'd like to distract you from all of that, it's probably best that you get what you can squared away first."

Leah is quick to interject, "Yes, the window!" with a look of faux offense over Nathan's teasing. "You mock, but it's not funny when you're freezing your ass off because there's a big hole in your living room in the dead of winter!" she scoffs, though it seems to be in jest judging by the small smile hidden beneath her words. As he finishes, she follows suit, slipping off of the edge of the workbench. "Yeah..." she agrees with

some weariness in her voice. "The next few days are gonna be busy, getting the house in order and just-..." she shakes her head, not sounding thrilled about the disruption all of this has caused. And not just for her. Halisi is, once again, finding herself pulled into Leah's sphere of world-upending influence. Vasquez is probably running through contingency plans in the off chance that this isn't the end of the Talons. Her

father and Tara are undoubtedly scared shitless. And Crux and RC will be spending the next week in a hospital room. And that's assuming RC pulls through. That's something she tries to pry her thoughts away from for the moment and, despite it all, she reaches out for his free hand, grasping it in her own and giving it a gentle squeeze, "...work and everything. Buuuut~ the Chief did mentioned getting everyone together

for New Years..." she says, smile tugging at the corner of her mouth as she looks up at him, head tilting to one side as she leaves an offer left unspoken.

((did mention*))

Nathan looks sufficiently chastised by the faux offense that is thrown in his direction. He does, though, offer a look of sympathy for her plight. Not for just the window, but the array of other baggage that is no doubt being attached to this entire ordeal. His hand is promptly taken and he cants his head to the side in mimicry of her own. He hums a pleased sound, taking a step forward so that he may reach out

and grasp her other hand now. "Well now that sounds like a plan to me. I'll be sure to dress all nice and everything," he murmurs as he leans in to steal a quick kiss. "I'll even behave myself... mostly." A chuckle accompanies that latter sentence alongside a cheeky wink.

Leah's smile fully manifests when it seems as if Nathan is onboard with the plan, another snicker slipping out at his offer to dress up. She's quick to rise onto her tiptoes to meet him part way when he leans down, eyes briefly closing as her lips press against his. When her heels are back on the ground she remains close, interlocking her fingers with his as she peers up at him, looking unconvinced by his assurance. She still

hasn't quite gotten used to all of... this. The open affection. Things have moved much quicker than she had expected. But maybe that's not such a bad thing? A small reminder that not everything in her life has gone to shit. "It's a date." she agrees quietly.

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