You don’t really get to claim much for yourself in space, when you’ve lived on the edge of the law your whole life. So, normally, Rahab guards her dignity jealously. She doesn’t give the others any opportunity to make her look the fool. She saves face with vicious comebacks and cruel digs, enough now that the core Shames are gun-shy about mocking her.
In other words, today can go fuck itself up the ass with a branding iron. Everything is the WORST.
Rahab’s spinning at low speed in her turret on top of the Starfarer—around and around and around. She does this whenever Fray has Falcor drifting through space, so she can keep an eye and a gun trained on everything within her view, every four minutes or so. Unfortunately, at the moment, 50-odd seconds of her repetitive journey involve staring Dog’s Gladius in the face.
What’s irritating—well, it’s one minor point of the overall irritation, if she’s honest—is that it really was an impressive feat of balance and piloting finesse to get Will o’ the Wisps to its place and then secure it with the dubiously legal magnets in its feet. What’s really irritating is that it was Kin Rahab had stared at for the twenty long minutes the maneuver took—and not Dog.
Now the Gladius is just sitting there, making a kissy face at her every three minutes, reminding her of every moment she’s wasting not seducing its pilot.
Rahab claps her hands to her cheeks with an audible slap and pushes them in until her lips pucker dramatically. She stares at herself, warped and upside down in the turret glass. As usual, she sees a grubby backwater scavenger, good with a gun when it’s on her hip or mounted overhead. She sees an idiot who doesn’t make good decisions about relationships or careers or self-control. She sees a poorly-groomed woman who looks more like her adopted family than she ought to be rights.
She doesn’t see someone a happily-married human would readily turn away from their life for.
“But I waaaant it,” she croons aloud softly, grateful for the turret’s isolation. No one will hear her pathetic whining. She’s not really sure what she wants, but she knows what it’s like to have a black hole of longing in her center, what it’s like to wish with all your heart that you knew what you wished for.
All she can tell is that the compass of her want seems to have centered stubbornly on Dog. Which just makes her mad at that asshole.
“Who does Dog think they are, waltzing into my life and making a fool outta me on my ship,” she grumbles at her reflection. “What a snag of butt-lint. Go lick some gravel, you pulsating sphincter.”
Rahab grunts as the tension in her midsection reaches levels she can’t ignore any longer. Grimacing, she readjusts in the turret seat, but it’s not a very forgiving chair. She’ll have to tend to business.
Heaving a sigh, she lowers the turret and unfolds herself as her seat twirls down the access shaft. She hangs a right, pausing to make sure no one’s napping. The crew quarters are much quieter than they were mere weeks ago, and Rahab finds her thoughts wandering without permission to Froggy and Devith. Those two had existed in fearful awe of Rahab and were inclined to do as she asked, and would have been useful in dealing with the newcomers.
She misses their stupid cackles. It’s a damn shame they aren’t here.
And that’s as much of a eulogy as she can manage.
She handles her business and washes her hands, luxuriating in the ration of steaming water the sink allows her. Any chance Rahab gets to be clean, she takes it. Maybe it came from growing up on the trashteroid, and never being clean a day in her childhood. She smudges at the shiner under her eyes, cleaning up a smear from when she’d made fish faces in the turret.
“You’re a beaut,” she snarls sarcastically at the spotless mirror hanging over the sink. She tugs her fingers through her curls, trying to tame them, but she gives up after the first few tangles hurt so bad that tears spring to her eyes.
Waving herself away, she climbs over the lip of the wasteroom door and slips back into the hall, trying to be light on her feet. Her sixth sense is tingling. There’s something she wants nearby. Instead of going back to her turret, she takes a sharper left and heads down the lift to the maintenance levels.
Rahab feels her way along Falcor’s walls, taking some of the weight off her heels so she can go around corners quietly. She hears someone else moving in the halls now, softly and deliberately.
Her heart skips and her palms are sweaty.
Inwardly, she’s scolding herself, a cacophony of self-criticism. Really? You’re going to chase after someone cute? You got a crush or something?
She triggers a door and sees Dog strolling away from her on the other side of it. Rahab stifles a satisfied gasp and ducks onto the ramp leading down to the cargo area. Good. Dog’s not with their wife, and seems to be in no hurry, so… Now is the perfect time to accidentally encounter them in a deserted hallway.
After a moment’s hesitation, Rahab squats to unlace her boots and slip them off. The noise will only give her away, and she’ll have to come back this way anyway. She can always—
—come up with a good excuse for why she’s taking her boots off in the middle of the walkway.
She tries to tug a boot back on and lace it up with adrenaline-shaky fingers, all the while stolidly avoiding eye contact with Dog, who’s standing over her. “Had to, uh, forgot to tie my boot,” Rahab mumbles. “After…” She gestures wildly the way she came. “…wasteroom.”
Dog raises their eyebrows and laughs. “I won’t tell. Won’t be recommend you to any spy academies either, though. I heard you a couple of hallways ago.” They say this conspiratorially, including her in the joke. It’s infuriating.
Rahab clenches her hands at her sides. “What, you think you’re quieter than me?” Oooh, snappy comeback there, Grade School.
“Unless you spent ten years in intense training for assassination and infiltration, yes,” Dog says solemnly. They size her up, tipping their chin to the boots. “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love a tour of Falcor.”
“Haven’t you been in a Starfarer before?” Flustered Rahab sits down hard on the floor and pulls the other boot on, lacing it painstakingly. “Besides, you just said you’re trained intelligence. What do you need me for?” She intends to say, “What do you need my tour for?” but that’s not what comes out.
“Because I like you, and because there’s no better way to get the lay of the land than to flatter the natives.” Dog lingers ever so slightly on the word “lay” and leans against the wall, folding their arms across their chest with a flash of white teeth.
Rahab quickly averts her eyes; her laces demand her utmost attention. “Fine. I’ll show you the best spots to hide, in case we get boarded.”
Her inner voice starts to protest, but the domineering portion of her hits “override.” Fuck it. She likes Dog. She does what she pleases, so she’ll spend time with this intriguing human who’s flirting with her until they decide to get rid of her. The way she always does.
She shows Dog into one of the access corridors, where they slump with a sloppy grin into the curved wall, oozing down the wall until they’re sitting. “This is where I’d wait with a weapon,” Rahab says, showing Dog her teeth, “if someone decided to try and fuck with us.”
“Perfect. Ferocious. I’d hate to be the villain on the other side of the wall from you.”
Rahab rushes them past the escape pods. Dog glances over their shoulder as she tugs their wrist, trying to get them to follow her into the next room.
“Not your thing?” they ask mildly.
“I spent a lot of time in one of those,” Rahab says, narrowing her eyes, remembering. She pushes the memory away. “Here, look at this.”
She leads Dog around the gravity generator, which captures their imagination for long enough that her gaze can linger where it wouldn’t if they were paying attention.
Dog’s gaze flicks to her and she quickly looks away. “Do you fix this?” they ask.
“Me? Sometimes. My da never let me use the tools much, said I’d hurt someone, but I made Clack show me a few things before I was fifteen.” Rahab puffed her chest with pride at a particularly sensory memory. “Last month, I repaired the grav-gen in ten minutes flat after a rival pirate hit us and knocked it loose. The ten minutes part is impressive when I tell you I was floating the whole time. No gravity and all.”
“Very impressive,” Dog says, and doesn’t sound like they’re joshing her. The admiration in their eyes is genuine. Rahab tries to suppress her enjoyment of that admiration, and fails.
She quickly points out the lower turret access before her blush gives her away: “This is the punishment turret. It sucks to go upside down. I usually make Kin use it.”
“So you’re in charge, when it comes to the guns, eh?”
Again with that maddeningly suggestive tone. This time lingering on “in charge.” Rahab grinds her teeth together. How exactly did that Dragon chick end up with my dream human? Unfair. All Rahab’s ever wanted in life is a sharp- and foul-tongued best friend to escape with from trouble they cause. She sighs into her shoulder and rushes the tour onward.
When they come back up to the crew quarters, Rahab gestures to the row of beds. “You’ve seen the inside of this one already. No secrets here.” She feels a bitterness welling up in her, knowing—though she was on watch—that Dog and Dragon must have slept in the same bed. The idea of them intertwined makes her sick.
Dog laughs and plops down the foot of the closest bed. Rahab wrinkles her nose; it’s Kin’s bed. She perches beside Dog, folding her hands in her lap awkwardly. Now that she’s not moving and talking, she’s thinking about where she should put her hands, how cold the room is, how close their legs are…
Stop it! You’re fine! You’re strong and wicked and you’re fine!
Oblivious to her inner shouting match, Dog says, “Thanks for the tour. I’d poked around the ship myself, but it’s never as fun alone. Nothing is. Or as hard.”
They look down at their own hands as they say that, and Rahab looks sideways at them. She’s surprised at the depths of the grief swimming in Dog’s eyes, which had twinkled with mischief and flirtation seconds before.
“What happened?” she asks. She’s unsure of what to do in a situation like this, which calls for… What, comfort? Empathy? Social graces? Rahab isn’t chock-full of any of those.
Dog kicks off their soft house slippers—Rahab thinks they look awfully like Fray’s house slippers—and folds their feet under them on the bed, sitting cross-legged. Dog isn’t much bigger than Rahab, she realizes, but they simmer with a dangerous energy she’s drawn to like a protesting magnet.
“A few months ago, Dragon and I were about to welcome our first child,” Dog says softly. “Silver burned down our village and drove us out. Dragon barely survived the wilderness. The baby…”
“Oh,” Rahab said. The sound came out of her in three syllables, a soft huff of acquired rage and pain. In her black hole of longing, the flames of ire rise and dance. It makes her so angry, to think of guns and fire and cold and teeth and the howl of a mother-to-be-no-more. It makes her so angry, to think of two bodies racked with grief, braided together, a shattered yin and yang.
She looks down at her hands, which have balled into fists so tight, her sharp nails dig into her palms and draw blood. She’s staring at the beads of red on her skin when Dog gently presses their thumb against her fingers, easing them away from the fresh wounds.
“Easy now,” Dog says softly. “You don’t need to hurt for me.”
Yes I do, she almost says, lifting her chin to gaze into Dog’s brown eyes. Rahab’s feeling things she can’t name, one after another, sharp in her belly. Her lips begin to tingle.
She leans in by infinitely smaller degrees. She can smell Dog’s musk.
The wanting roars in her chest.
Falcor shudders, the way the old Starfarer does when it’s coming to a stop. Rahab and Dog are thrown together and back, sprawling in a tangle of limbs on Kin’s bed, their noses bumping.
Dog flails, trying to roll over, laughing not unkindly. But the laughter makes Rahab’s face and neck burn with shame. She stands up quickly, brushing at her shirt and pants.
“Guess we’ve stopped,” she says.
The moment is gone. Dog is still smiling at her with an uncanny fondness, but it’s not endearing right this moment. Rahab would rather be in her turret, by herself, stewing in her own unhappy juices. Hyper-focusing on all of the ways she’d fucked up her attempted courtship of Dog. Yeah, much better idea.
But Fray cuts into Rahab’s thoughts over the intercom.
“Shames to the bridge… We have a problem.”
Source image captured in-game (Star Citizen).
CIG-approved disclaimer: Please note that this is a work of fan fiction, set in the Star Citizen universe. The marks and properties, ‘Star Citizen’, ‘Squadron 42’, ‘Cloud Imperium Games’, and ‘Roberts Space Industries’ are property of Cloud Imperium Games Corp. and Roberts Space Industries Corp (“RSI”). All rights in content, including places, characters, concepts, and ships produced and created by RSI relating to said marks and properties belong to RSI.
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