The comfort of a friend
If I told you...
Timeline: After 'Pain in the ar...m'
Quietly she made her way down to the bowels of the ship. Everything was quiet. Everyone was still reeling a bit from the mission, and how it almost all went awry. Ofcourse, the fact that it was ungodly-o'clock in the middle of the night also helped with the everything-being-quiet thing. She walked slowly, her mood dark, the normal almost reptilian elegance motion in her legs and tail subdued now. Wearing a simple pair of shorts and a shirt, her hair still damp from where she had been resting - or, trying to rest - in her basin, the sleepless halfbreed made her way into engineering.
Upon entering the area where the beating, thrumming heart of the ship lived, she paused a moment, considering why she was here. She didn't know, really. Oh she know why she was in engineering instead of anywhere else, to find the one person on this ship that she could, beyond all doubts and hesitation call a Friend, but she wasn't sure why she had come to see him, in particular. So when she finally located the cobalt blue chief engineer she just kinda stood there, quietly, awkwardly, forlorn expression on her features.
The thrum of the reactor was a heartbeat, a force felt more than heard. The soft glow of the blue energizer coils only added to the metallic blue coloration of the engineer, making him look less like a real thing and more... just a part of the scenery.
The one thing that brought the image back to reality, oddly enough, was the presence of his artificial limb. Ancient when the world was still young, and a model that was probably retired when ancient man rose up to embrace tool use. Venerable, though reliable, and holding his signature mug. A large coffee mug, with a cute caricature of his face and two thumbs up, with the phrase "Thux to be you" written around the image.
He was also out of uniform, simply attired in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that had the name of a local Starbase Band written on the front. While he usually removed the left sleeve of each shirt he owned, for shirts like this he simply rolled the sleeve back into the shirt. Every now and then, he'd mutter something to himself and then raise up his mug and take a quick swig, Honey's presence not noticed as he lost himself in the moment.
After a moment Honey stepped forward again and hopped up to land on top of a nearby console housing, tail lashing for balance. There she sat knelt, hands on the housing, looking at Cor with a sad and lost expression on half reptilian features. She flicked her forked tongue in his direction, letting out a soft, questioning "Mew?"
He turned, and gave her a smile. It wasn't forced or fake, but rather honest and quite possibly a smile that her antics or presence brought forth. "Woof?" he responded, like it was a code, but then he gave her a chuckle. "I like to come here to think. To relax. I like the way the reactor hum feels in my bones, and how it makes the connection in my shoulder hum. I dunno, I guess we find happiness where we can. How're you holding up?" he asked her after a moment, "And hey, I'm sorry you had to see me blow up like that at the debrief. Life's a gift, and to see it squandered and then celebrated is just... I dunno... Can I offer you a coffee, or a root beer?" he offered her.
" ... How about a hug?" Honey asked after a moment's conflicted silence. She stepped down from the console, looking at the Thux engineer, same height as her. "I'm not holding up ssso well." she added, as if the way she carried herself wasn't enough to show already. "We almossst died. My firssst time on a planet, and the main insssight I walked away from it with isss one of my own mortality, and how tiny and insssignificant we all are compared to the raw power of nature."
Cordale put his mug down on a nearby console, and offered a wide hug to Honey, "Anytime." The Thux wasn't about to say some chivalristic bullshit about how he'd never let her get hurt, or how she'd live because he'd die to protect her. "I think that's a good lesson, in a sense. Always be on your guard, and how no matter how advanced we think we are, we've got a long way to go before we become gods. Which, I'm actually okay with." he said silently as he held her for as long as she wanted to be.
The hug was tight and with a slight tremble in it. "I believed I wasss ready to face the real world, but all I wanted wasss to curl up in a heated blanket lissstening to sssome music and hide away from the aforementioned world." sounded her muffled voice, face buried in Cor's real shoulder. Probably much to Cor's discomfort, courtesy of the many, sharp horns on Honey's forehead.
"Shhhh, hey it's okay. I was scared near the end there too." a pause, "Don't tell anyone though." he smiled, and just held the half-breed. "We're all tougher than we know, but sometimes we think we're tougher then we are, and the universe has a way of reminding us of that. You didn't run, you didn't hide, and that's what counts." he reminded her.
The horns didn't bother him visibly. She needed the comfort more than he did.
"You did face a real world, and now you know the bottom of the ladder. Every world you see from this point on, every gravity well you feel with your... your... well, whatever you got that Thux don't... you'll compare it to this one, and every world from here out will help redeem giant balls of dirt." he said softly, "Just don't ever forget your first world, the one that made you realize that we're not always ready."
He actually gave a chuckle, "Listen to me, talking about not being ready for dirt."
His chuckle answered by a soft, muffled giggle. "Poissson glandsss." she answered. "That'sss what I have that Thux don't." was added as she relaxed the hug and hopped up to sit on the console housing again, legs swinging a bit. "Don't worry, they're non-functional. Asss far asss we know." she added, now a tired, soft smile on her features. "I don't feel gravity with thossse though."
"Assside from the whole - ... Fear of death and humility before the awesssome power of nature though, being on a planet wasss amazing. The gravity, the water, the ssstorm even - I've love to feel all that again." she smiled softly. "Though without the - ... people dying, ecosssyssstemsss being annihilated and villagesss being wiped from exissstence, I mean."
"Sometimes things suck." Cor said with a soft smile. "Sometimes the greatest moments of our lives are stained by happening just around the same time as some of the worst..." he paused for a moment, "Though, if my therapist were here, they'd say that you're having the proper reaction. Questioning, doubt, concern, maybe a little fear. If you weren't upset by the experience, I'd say there's a problem." he paused, "It gets easier, but... it never gets easy. If that makes sense."
A nod. "It doesss. I'm trying to approach it from my rational ssside, ssseeing the eventsss from the viewpoint of a ssscientissst, but it'sss difficult." Honey mused. "Rationality and emotionsss don't alwaysss play nice with eachother. Sssometimesss I don't know which one to follow."
"I'd say 'go with your gut' but that's me." he offered. "The first time, it's hard because you have no experience on how to handle something like that... and it's not really the sort of thing you WANT experience handling. You do whatever you have to to find comfort, to find a spot where you can sort it out. Me, I come here. Or the bar." he chuckled. "The constant engine noise helps me think. Helps me put things into perspective. That next THOOM is always coming." he paused and motioned to the engine core. Thoom... Thoom... Thoom...
"We meet new faces, we experience new things, and we leave some things behind. That's life. It's shit, but life's a train and it doesn't stop for anyone." another pause as he finished his mug. "I've lost plenty, so I have a lot of experience in this. I hope I don't sound gruff or uncaring." he now offered her a soft smile, "If there's anything you need to help you through this, if it's in my power to offer, just ask. If the constant noise helps, you can stay here and listen to the core..." a pause, then he motioned to the massive reactor. "I meant this one."
"Your company helpsss. Sssomeone to talk to helpsss. Abigail alssso helpsss but isssn't that good of a conversssationalissst." Honey smiled softly. "That ... Engine sssound helpsss you deal? Helpsss you put thingsss into perssspective you sssaid?" She mused, looking at the core. Eventually a hand reached out towards it, though stopping before she touched the casing. "There'sss one thing you could do for me, though. Think I could get sssome of that cinnamon coffee of yoursss?"
"You... might not believe this, but I have what the doctors call 'anger control issues'." he smirked, "I know, me, right? They say that a focus helps calm you, like breathing steady or counting to ten, or just focusing on something rhythmic and repetitive. Like rain, or ... an engine." he turned his attention to the reactor casing as she reached out for it. "There's a containment field about six microns above the reactor itself. It's safe to touch."
"As for the coffee, how would the lady like it?"
"Hot. In a large mug I can warm my handsss on." she quietly answered, reaching out for the core casing again. "That'sss .... Sssomething I've noticed. My body isss warmed up again, heated all the way through, but I ssstill feel cold. I don't know how to explain it. It'sss asss if a part of me that can't be touched, a metaphysical part of me, wasss - ... chilled. By the eventsss on the planet." She sighed, shoulders slumping a bit, hand lowered again. "By jussst being - ... Abandoned. To die. I know that they did the right thing, made the right choice - but ssstill."
"That's your soul." Cor answered softly before he left to get her coffee. Nice and hot, in a duplicate of his large 'Thux to be you' mug. Cordale knew exactly what that pain was like. Being left to die.
Being left to live.
He handed her the mug with a nod, "It's fragile, but it can be the strongest part of you when you need it most. Like anything, though, it needs tempering. It needs to be tested to know how far it can be stretched." a sip of his coffee, "I'm not the right man to talk about faith. I can't save souls. What I can do, is be here if you need someone." and at that, he offered her a smile. "And if you ever need cheering up, ever need a laugh, just give me a call."
"I'm not sssure I believe in sssoulsss." Honey quietly mused, wrapping both hands around the mug and holding it close to her chin, just enjoying the scene for a moment, letting the heat of the mug warm her hands. "There'sss no ssscientific proof for it, and I don't think I've ever ssseen anything to make me believe in one." she explained, taking a small sip of the coffee. "Though asss a catch-all word for esssoteric metaphysssical conceptsss, 'sssoul' worksss, I guesss."
"Soul is a good catch all, though be careful. Super religious folks do a lot of damage in the name of them, so be careful." Cor warned. "And yeah, it's hard to believe in something when there's so much technology to almost say it doesn't exist." he paused to take his final swig of his coffee. "But I found that science doesn't have all the answers. Or was it... sometimes I don't like the answer that Science provided? I dunno, either way." he paused, and then turned to face Honey fully, "You're here, you're home, and you're safe. If it helps, take a moment for those who aren't and remember them, but don't dwell on them. When Victory relocated, the Tesla took up the slack. That's the power of friends right there."
"Or the power of duty." Honey mused, looking up at Cor as she took another sip of the coffee. "Or jussst good old-fassshioned human nature, to try and help thossse in need." She heaved another sigh. "It'sss jussst too bad that not everyone sssharesss that intent, that desssire."
The Thux gave a smirk, "Or that."
"Some people feel they aren't alive unless they're the masters of their own destiny or something. I dunno about them." he took a look into the depths of his empty cup, as though there were answers down there. "I'll always have your back, Honey."
"You're not ssstill hung up on what'sss-hisss-face, are you?" Honey asked, glancing at Cor. "He made hisss choicesss. He reaped what he sssowed. You did your bessst, but he jussst wouldn't lisssten." A sigh then, and another sip of the cinnamon coffee. "I'm more upssset about the effect hisss actionsss had on general morale than about what happened."
"A little, maybe?" he admitted. "Yeah, I lost my temper at that table, and I'm not proud of that." he admitted again. "If he knew what an effect one life could make, maybe he wouldn't have run. But you're right, I shouldn't dwell on it. Buck up, move on." he gave a nod, though it'd be a while still.
"No Mopey'Thux here, honest." he took a breath, held it... then let it out.
"Mopey'Thux." Honey chuckled a bit, slowly seeming to find a better mood again. "At leassst you get a race name. I wasssn't asss lucky."
"Wanna be a Thux too? I can get you the papers, and then you get the membership papers and the decoder ring." he gave her a smile, the mood improving.
"Mrr. I'm not fuzzy enough to be a Thux." She tilted her head a bit, blinking golden eyes slightly out of synch. "Nah I'll just stay what I am. Unique. Myssself." A smile now, an honest one. "Thanksss though. For inviting me to be part of your family."
"Anytime Honey. Part of the ship, part of the crew, part of the family." he said with a smile.