Chapter 1: The Wolf - SIAMÉS
Music to go with the chapter!
Zane Flynt was no stranger to you. You’ve had your run ins before, and you’ve had your fair share of ‘bounty says..’ while he shoots in your direction. Though he never seems to hit, and that thought made you nervous. A skilled assassin, one of the very best, missing shots on a measly little vault hunter like you. Part of you thought- no- part of you knew it was on purpose.
But why ? Why was he purposefully playing cat and mouse with you? Did he enjoy it? Did he get a thrill watching you scramble for cover as he fired blindly at you? Was it just apart of the game?
Trudging through town, you hastily tore your wanted poster down. Hyperion had been on your ass since Helios fell. Maybe you helped. Maybe you didn’t. Point is: you didn’t want to die. Not yet. Too much unfinished business. “Stupid fuckin’ companies..” You murmured, tossing the crumpled and slightly soggy poster into the trash bin. You wondered, briefly, what the galaxy would be like if it wasn’t run by psycho CEOs.
Even Rhys began showing paranoia, and while his was justified due to the war Katagawa declared, it still unnerved you. Everyone was different now and it felt like you were the only one who was dead-set on staying true to yourself.
Or maybe you were just stubborn.
The path you’d chosen to take home was a quicker one, but led you through more populated areas. More of a chance of being caught, but the way your knees were screaming, you didn’t care at this point.
Avoid suspicion. Look lackadaisy. You own this town, you were revered by the other hunters and-
Of course. You froze, hands in the air. You didn’t have to turn to know who it was.
“Well well well. Good to see you again lass.”
“Flynt.” The name was harsh escaping your throat. Cold with a hint of agitation. Part of you hoped this time he’d grow tired of the game. You eyed the chain link fence at the end of the alley. Sprinting away would be easy, but that fence would slow you down enough for him.
“No need to sound so unhappy! I thought we were friends.” It was evident, the smile on his face. You could hear it in his voice. “Let’s get this over with dolly. I’ve let you run too many times. You can come quietly, or I can shoot you.”
It’s not that he wanted to. Zane was merely doing his job! Or that’s what he told himself. There was a small glimmer of mirth when he saw you, whether it be adrenaline for a fight or genuine happiness, he wasn’t sure. But he did find himself wondering what you’d look like relaxed, well rested. Hell, even happy to see him.
Stop those thoughts right there, boyo.
That’s stupid, and he knew it. He never grew attached to any other bounty, so why you? What about you intrigued him so much? The beads in your hair, the tattoos? Were they tattoos, or were you born with them? The answer didn’t matter. What did peak his interest was the fact you didn’t take off yet. You were still as a ratch, not even a tremble from you as he sat here contemplating and hesitating. No pleas, no bargaining.
“I take it you’ve decided you’re done running?” He asked, not so much a question as an observation. It disappointed him. The fun really was over.
“You’re going to find me no matter what I do Flynt. What’s the point of playing an unfair game when you know you’ll lose?” Your voice was softer this time, tired. “So I’ll go.”
Zane didn’t like that resolve in your voice, the defeated way your shoulders slumped. Maybe he’d make a decision after he got a few questions answered. “Why’s a bounty on your head?”
“Hyperion thinks I had something to do with Helios. I’m associated with the perpetrators. The ones who actually took it down. You know how laws work.” You scoffed. “Wrong place, wrong time, automatic charge against you. The others just got their bounties written off because Rhys made it big time by taking the Atlas deed.” Even Vaughn had some immunity to it, even though he had a harsher life than the others right now.
“Turn around.” He ordered. “You lyin’ to me?” He wanted to see your expressions, to see if you were telling him the truth. Faking it is easy. And he just wanted an excuse to see your face. This was the easiest way!
You did as asked, taking a deep breath. He wasn’t as close as you originally thought, maybe for his own safety. “I’m not lying to you. You’d know if I was.” You’re sure he knows everything about you by now.
Zane pondered his next question carefully. “What would you be doing if you weren’t on the run?” An out-of-the-blue question, but he was genuinely curious. Would you be working in a little office somewhere? Living off the land? Maybe you’d settle with someone.
“I-“ You took pause. Not a question you expected. “I don’t know.. I guess I’d be trying to find a way off Pandora. Get a new start somewhere far away from this hellhole.” A genuine answer. You just wanted to live comfortably somewhere.
It was your turn to watch him, his gaze casted away from you. His brow furrowed in thought. Zane knew for a fact that he could give you the opportunity. Lillith doesn’t care who comes with them as long as they’re all on the same side. “How about we strike a deal.”
He nodded, expression unreadable to you as he holstered his gun. “You come with me and a few of my buddies, work off your bounty, and I’ll work on getting you off this rock. Deal?” He held his hand out to you, but was he serious? Could you really trust a man that wanted to take your bounty an hour ago?
Come on darlin’. This is a good deal.. all you have to do is trust me.
Your feet were planted for a moment, not wanting to make the wrong move. A few minutes ago, you were the deer. Now the wolf’s saying nevermind? It seemed so suspicious, so wrong, but your feet moved on their own accord. A shaky sigh escaped your chest once your hand met his. “Better not be playing me..” You spoke quietly.
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
Chapter 2: Space Oddity - David Bowie
Music to go along with the chapter!
You were still wary, but his entire demeanor changed from hardened asshole to teasing friend. It almost gave you whiplash. Here he was, the man that was ready to throw you to the wolves for money, nudging you and laughing every time he thought something you said was funny. Was there a way to acclimate to his quick change? Maybe not..
But the way he laughed sure was cute.
You still kept your distance, shoulders and hips eternally tense, ready to take off whenever he showed even the tiniest inclination of being threatening again.
But it never came. Zane acted as if the incident had never happened, as if he didn’t know the bounty on your head existed. Were you relieved? It was hard to tell. “Flynt.. why are you- why did you change your mind?” Did he change his mind?
“First of all, no more of that Flynt shite. Flynt was my brother. It’s Zane.” He made sure you were aware of the difference while simultaneously mocking the pitch of your voice. “Secondly, why would I deny someone a second chance when they could’ve lied to my face? You stood your ground, told me the truth, and when I holstered my gun, you made no move to do any harm. Earned points in my book.” He ended his reasonings with a nonchalant shrug.
Wait, he’s not done. “Plus you’re fun.” Now he’s done.
Fun? You cocked a brow, wondering at what point in your short-ish time of knowing each other made him believe you were fun. ”Er.. thanks?”
Maybe you couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment, but he remembered it fondly. Your gun jammed and instead of using your probable siren abilities- those tattoos weren’t artificial- you decided to chuck rocks at him. Not even big ones. Just wee little pebbles.
You watched a faint smile turn the corners of his lips, but chose not to question it. Perhaps he was just someone you’d have to get used to. After all, he’s saving your hide. Lost in thought, you didn’t notice him stop in front of a large garage until you ran into his back. No.. Not a garage. A hangar. A ship hangar! Your eyes widened, lighting up at the massive spacecraft resting atop the structure.
“Welcome to Sanctuary III.” Zane said with a soft smile. “This beauty is going to be your way off Pandora. Though you’re going to have to help out a bit.” His gaze eventually landed on you, and a small feeling grew in his stomach at the sight of your awe.
‘Don’t even feckin’ think about it’ his gut told him. It’s best he listen to it.. for now.
“What will I be expected to do?” You asked him, finally returning to your senses. “I- I mean I can go on missions if I have to. I’m alright at cleaning and cooking.. I don’t necessarily like doing laundry but I can.”
Zane mentally begged you to stop naming off domestic traits. Just because he’s a bounty hunter doesn’t mean he wouldn’t settle for an easier life. He forced his brain to make static until your list finally trailed into silence. “I’m sure everyone can come up with something later. For now we’ll just get you settled in, get introductions in order.”
He’s too old for you anyway.
He started ascending the stairs, and you followed on his heels. Excitement flooded your veins. A real ship. A real, working ship that will finally get you off this cursed, bastard planet. Anxiety chased the excitement. “What if- What if no one likes me? Or what if I can’t come with you guys?” Are you getting your hopes up for no reason?
Zane paused his stride once he reached the top of the stairs. “Don’t worry about any of that, eh? I’ll handle it if anything like that comes to light.” Though he doubted it would. The folks on board were relatively relaxed and easy to get along with. Well. Except Amara, but that was just her personality.
The inside of the vessel was reminiscent of the original Sanctuary. Mechanical, earth tones with neon lights. Someone who happened to be an amazing artist had drawn on the walls and floors. The thought of someone decorating with such cute pictures made you smile, and put you at ease. “This is.. nice. Home-y.” He led you through the main hall, and you stopped in the bridge.
“Sit tight lass. I’ll call for the others and we’ll run through everything with them.” He explained. “Don’t be intimidated by any of ‘em. They’re all clowns like the rest of us.”
His use of the word we reassured you. Maybe he’d vouch for you if need be. While waiting, you took the time to inspect the area around you. A three dimensional navigation map took its place in the center of the room, giant bay windows just beyond it.
What would the stars look like from those windows?
”Alright.” Zane’s voice broke your thoughts. “Game face on. Be respectful. Do no harm but take no shite. They’ll try to push your buttons to test you. To see how well you do under pressure. Don’t feel like you have to answer every question at once. Take your time. Think things out. And just stay honest. That goes a long way here.”
You gave him a quick, single nod. Your heart fluttered with nerves. Stay calm and honest, just like in the alley.. Flynt- er- Zane wouldn’t lie to you about this, right? After all, he kept his word about bringing you along. “W-What questions are they going to ask?”
He paused momentarily, fingers grabbing his chin in thought. “Lillith’s questions will be the hardest. Where do your loyalties lie, what abilities you have? Where you came from and what connections you have. She wants to ensure you won’t be a threat to anyone on board. Ellie will probably ask you similar questions, but will be more interested in what you can do to help around the ship. And Tannis..?” He trailed off. “Eh.. Tannis is going to ask you some really off the wall shite. Most of her questions are easy: yes and no. She may try to look at your teeth though. Just press your lips together, you’ll be fine.”
That last bit did nothing for your nerves. As if on cue, the ladies of the hour filed in. You couldn’t help but be a bit bashful, each was beautiful.
Great. First it was your nerves and now, your self esteem.
Chapter 3: Anxiety (Get Nervous) - Pat Benatar
Music to go along with the chapter!
“So this is your little stray pup?” Lillith asked, a smile on her face and a hand on her hip. She always figured Zane had a soft spot, but it brought amusement to know her theory was right. Her golden eyes locked onto your markings. “Another siren. That could be useful. What can you do killer?”
You briefly remembered Zane’s words about honesty. “Accelerated healing.. not just myself. I can absorb explosions and sometimes invisibility? I haven’t really gotten the hang of that one yet..” You rubbed your arm bashfully.
“Accelerated healing..” The tinier woman spoke. She seemed very formal. Reserved, even. You guessed this was Tannis. “That could be useful.. especially with what’s happening on Prometheus..”
Lillith nodded in agreement. The faster they end the war between Atlas and Maliwan, the faster Rhys will hand over a piece of the vault key.. “How good are you with the healing thing?”
“That one is practically perfected.. it takes seconds to minutes depending on how bad the wound is. I can mend broken bones too, but those take a bit longer than the others.”
“How good are ya with machines? Fixin’ and tinkerin’?” Ellie butted in before Lillith could continue. “It’s important to keep this baby up and runnin’.”
Now that you were unsure of. You never really had to fix things besides the occasional technical. “Well.. not too good on my own. But I’m good at following instructions, and I’m willing to help regardless of my lack of knowledge.” Good answer. Ellie seemed satisfied. She looked to Lillith and shrugged. “It’s a yes from me.”
But the red head wasn’t convinced yet. “Just a sec. Zane told us about the bounty over your head. I wanna know why. Why do you wanna join us when we don’t know if we can trust you yet?”
You looked to Zane, and he seemed a bit sheepish. “I..” You sighed heavily, eyes closed momentarily to steel your nerves. “I helped Rhys and Vaughn take down Helios. I knew how to get past Hyperion’s defenses.”
“How?” She asked, a knowing look on her face.
But that made you feel even worse. You hadn’t lied to Zane, but you didn’t exactly tell him the entire truth either. “I was a Hyperion worker. A desk jockey.. human services actually, if you can believe that..” Cue the surprised looks on everyone’s faces, and the slight look of betrayal on Zane’s.
She thinks you’re stupid, Zane. She played you!
“Interesting.. and where do your loyalties lie now?” Lillith began to pace in thought, but to you it seemed almost akin to a stalker circling its prey.
“Not to Hyperion, if that’s what you’re asking. I guess I’m partial to Atlas because of Rhys, but that doesn’t mean I’m doing this for him.” You swallowed hard, thinking of anything you can say to convince them. “I just want to get these stupid wars over with and get off Pandora.” Honesty is key. Honesty is key. Honesty is key. Hone-
“Fine. Welcome to the Crimson Raiders.” She smiled, holding her hand out. This seemed to please the other two. Lillith has a new soldier. Ellie has a new friend. And Tannis has a new science experiment, how exciting!
You met Lillith’s handshake and a bit of relief washed over you, until you saw Zane had left. Now guilt hit your stomach, a small rock settling in your gut. You should probably apologize.
Ellie showed you a quick tour of the ship: vendors, her mother’s bar, the lower deck and garage, and finally the rooms. “You might end up havin’ to bunk with someone. Not a lot of rooms, and the other ones towards the front are taken. Could always ask the other vault hunters though! They’re pretty easy to get along with. A quiet bunch though.”
“Thanks Ellie. I’ll- I’ll do that.” You waited until she left before approaching what you hoped was Zane’s room. Your courage and resolve seemed to shrink the closer you got to the door, and you almost didn’t knock until the guilt-rock in your stomach grew. A few small taps on his door filled the silence in the hall.
Zane paused, hearing the knocks but never looking up from the drone he was repairing. He needed to do this anyway, definitely wasn’t using it as an outlet. It isn’t like he made a deal with you in good faith, only to have his naivety thrust back at him.
Stupid old bastard. Givin’ in because someone gave you doe eyes.
A few more knocks broke his concentration again, and he stood with a sigh. He jabbed the button beside his door, which hissed before opening. Oh. Oh. You stood before him, nervous and sheepish and guilty. He almost felt bad for you until he remembered you lied. Almost. “What.” His tone was harsh, harsher than he intended.
You couldn’t look at him, and your gaze settled on the floor between the both of you. “Um. I wanted to apologize..”
“For what?” He wanted to hear you say it.
“For.. not being entirely truthful.” That got a scoff out of him. “I- I didn’t lie. I didn’t have anything to do with the explosion.. I just got them inside.”
“Oh yeah because leaving out a big part of the story is perfectly fine. You made me look like a damn fool. I told them you had nothin’ to do with it.” He spat, ego clearly bruised a bit.
“You’re the one who told me to tell the truth! So I did!” You got him there. He did tell you that. “Besides, I was scared. If I had told you I helped, you would’ve turned me in. You wouldn’t have even considered bringing me with the Raiders. I would’ve been turned in for a bounty and then vented into space!”
You were doing a lot of assuming, jumping the gun quite a bit. But, you were also right. Had you told him that part of the story in the alley, he wouldn’t have thought twice. You’d be out of his hair and on your way back to Hyperion’s hub. A heavy sigh left his lungs. Here you were, back with your big doe eyes, suckering him in. “Fine.. fine. Apology accepted, but only because you’re right. From here on out, I don’t want you lying or leaving anything out.”
You nodded quickly, giving a small I promise as sign that you meant it. “I- I guess this would be an awkward time to ask if I could bunk on your floor for a while..? Ellie told me I needed to ask someone.”
Jesus Christ, why him?
“I uh.. Eh..” He glanced into his room, as if to look for a spare bed that he didn’t have. “I- yeah? Sure?” He sounded so uncertain. “I- we can rearrange something..” Maybe there’s a spare cot stashed away somewhere.
Though, the thought of a roommate almost excited him.
Chapter 4: What’s My Age Again? - Blink 182
You know the drill!
Zane had practically begged Lillith to let him steal a cot from the medbay. The room was overflowing with them anyway and everyone's length of stay was about to be shortened thanks to you! He had to admit it to himself, you were kinda neat..
Kinda didn't even get close to describing you. Healing? Invisibility? How fucking cool was that? All he has is a cybernetic eye and a sore back, and he wasn't fond of either of those. He sighed, putting your cot together while you wandered around trying desperately to remember where Moxxi's bar- and the kitchen- was. It was a simple task he gave you: go get take out. Quite possibly the easiest task he had ever given someone, and yet you still weren't back. Zane's eyes flitted to his ECHO, temptation to call you and ask where the hell you were setting in.
No, just be patient.
"What kind of dumb kid gets lost on the way to a food joint? It's got neon lights! It's not even hard to miss!" He grumbled to himself, standing up and moving away from the now-finished cot. You'll just have to settle for borrowing a pillow and a few blankets from his own bed. "Couldn't go ask Amara or Moze, could you? No, you just had to ask the guy who gets off on bein' alone." A pillow hit your cot from across the room, followed by a sheet and flannel blanket. Space is cold. Besides, he was hot natured.
The quiet, empty room only meant his thoughts would grow louder. Zane plopped down on his bed with a soft sigh, wondering when you'd get back. He almost missed having someone arou-
Forgetting he gave you an extra keycard, he nearly jumped out of his skin at someone barging into his room. "Jesus Christ, lass. Do you know how to knock?" He frowned, sitting up to watch you put the take out on the shared table.
"Sorry.. I got turned around and then Marcus asked me to help him move a few boxes. A few boxes ended up being like twenty boxes and then FL4K's spiderant knocked the food over, so I had to go get more." You sat down, metal chilling your thighs.
Well, now he felt bad about bitching.. "Yeah.. Marcus is a bit of a character. I think he means well, but will definitely express how much help he needs." In all actuality, he's just looking for free work, and you were kind enough to say yes.
Or, that's what Zane thought anyway. "At least you helped though. A lot of us just tell him no and go about our day." He tilted his head towards the food. "Well, get what you want. Got a few things to work on before I take a break for the night."
Your gaze followed him, settling on the workbench in the center of the room. Splayed on it was a machine of some sort, about the width of your shoulders. "What is it?" You asked, noting the soft blue and yellow glow coming from its LEDs. A tiny robot of some kind? His voice, much softer than usual, broke your train of thought.
"It's a drone. Usually helps me get a bird's eye view of a larger crowd. Really effective in cities and bandit camps. Originally, I made it solely for that, but then Moze suggested I upgrade it. She pulled through and got me a part that'll let it shock bounties. Non-lethal."
"Wait.. you made that?"
You watched a mischievous, but benevolent, smirk cross his features. It suited him, you thought. He looked much better with a smirk than a scowl. "Interested in learnin', or does it seem familiar to you?"
Son of a bitch. It definitely was familiar. You ran into it plenty of times before and that typically led to a run in with Zane himself. You first encountered it in the desert near Vaughn's camp.
You crossed your arms, huffy with yourself after connected the pieces. Should have taken it down the first time! "What, so you just let your lil' robot friend do all your work?"
He laughed heartily, a sound that made your breath hitch. That's.. new. "Touchy subject, eh? Could always tell me to stop." Zane tossed his jacket in the corner, making sure his sleeves wouldn't get caught in the mechanisms this time. He'd learned his lesson. Rolling his shoulders, he got to work. Slender fingers meticulously worked at the metal, taking apart the shell and disconnecting wires. It was fascinating to watch.
You turned away, hoping to bring your focus somewhere else. Most folks considered it a bit awkward to be watched, and the last thing you wanted to do was make him even more uncomfortable. But despite all your efforts, your attention made its way back to him. He wasn't as thin as you originally thought. A bit muscular. Slender and wiry, much like Zer0, shorter by only a few inches. You couldn't place it, but something about him threw you off, like his personality didn't match his appearance.. Watching his hands, you took a sip of your drink. How many times did he shock himself, or accidentally burn himself working on something like this? Were his hands calloused? Experienced? Warm?
Would they feel good-
You sputtered and choked on your soda, fizz burning your chest as you tried to clear your lungs from the offending liquid. Where the hell did that come from?! How could you play this off? Sorry, haha! Clumsy as always! Natural selection! Zane watched you with an unreadable expression. Concern? Amusement? Maybe both.
"You ok, lass?"
"Fine!" You answered too quickly for your liking. Clearing your throat, you tried again. "I'm fine. Swallowed weird, that's all." Now that you're collected, you did consider him somewhat.. handsome in a way. His hair stood out, and his icy blue eye only complimented that. There was a small crease in between his brow where a near-permanent furrow stayed, and his eyes seemed tired. Like an older arctic wolf.
You weren't being inconspicuous, at all. Though it did flatter him. Zane can't remember the last time someone had taken his appearance in like this. The act almost made him bashful, and definitely brought heat to his cheeks. Not enough for you to notice, but enough for him to feel. He was almost tempted to ask what you were thinking of, what your eyes saw, but he let it go.
Best let it lie for now.
Chapter 5: Sleep - My Chemical Romance
Music to go with ittt.
You were restless, unable to sleep due to the permanent chill that came with space. But you wouldn’t ask for another blanket, stubborn as you were. Sitting up, you decided to look around. Different guns decorated the walls, and a few pieces of equipment you we’re unfamiliar with.
Chills ran through your skin, causing you to sink deeper into your- well, Zane’s- blankets. You took a subtle inhale, not wanting to get caught being weird. You couldn’t help it though, they smelled so good. That’s probably creepy, you decided, before quietly getting up.
Your feet made quiet paddings as you wandered about, looking for something to occupy yourself with. Maybe he had a few books to read..
You debated on waking him, but eventually made the decision to. It would just be brief! Careful not to make too much noise, you tiptoed to his bed, but paused. Something caught your eye, and it was his. His patch was off, and the skin underneath it was scarred over. Just slightly.. but it was familiar. Rhys had similar ones. It must be a cybernetic.
You backed off, feeling a little wrong for watching him and unbeknownst to you, a lock of your beaded hair slipped as you turned away, hitting him on his cheek
Zane startled awake and pinned the intruder to the table, restraining their arms behind their back. Until he noticed it was you. “What- what the hell are you doin’?” His voice was still laced with sleep.
You couldn’t say you didn’t deserve this. Honestly, you weren’t even mad. “I uh- I couldn’t sleep. Was gonna ask if you had a book or something but I didn’t wanna wake you. Guess I did anyway?” You tried to adjust a bit, shoulders aching.
Right. He released you, muttering an apology before you turned to face him. “Er.. can’t sleep?” He kept his left eye closed. Damn, so close.
You shook your head. “Too cold.. Most of Pandora is warm.. Guess I’m just not used to space yet. Sorry I freaked you out. I’ll just-“ You trailed off, visibly cringing at yourself. You had to have sounded stupid. “I’m gonna.. go to bed. Or try.”
Could always shoot your shot, Zane.
”Hey, uh..” He paused, losing his courage a bit. “Slide your cot over, if you have to. Could always share blankets.. I mean.. my bed’s kinda small. Won’t fit two people comfortably.”
Stupid old man. You shouldn’t have said anything. Look at you, standing here like a desperate fool-
“Are you sure? I really do feel like it’d help to be a little warmer.” You admitted, hands clasped together. “I wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable- well. Any more uncomfortable than startling you awake.”
Huh. Not bad. He nodded, dragging your cot over beside his bed. It sat at about the same height, so sharing blankets shouldn’t be an issue. “Right then.. into bed with you.” He nodded to your side. “Big day tomorrow, no need to be exhausted.”
His gaze settled on you as you crawled in and closed your eyes. You did look tired, he noted. Eventually, the rise and fall of your chest slowed, warmth having lulled you into a calm slumber. You seemed almost angelic, face a bit softer without the nervous, tired expression you typically wore. Your hair fell about your pillow, long locks and beaded strands formed a halo, and that seemed to suit you. Well, she does have wings. That led to a different train of thought. What would you look like amidst a tough battle? Would you go all out, use your abilities? Would he get to feel the gut wrenching awe at the site of your might? It would be damn near biblical.
The soft bioluminescence of your markings drew him from his thoughts, the light blue pulse making his eyes heavy. It was comforting, likely sharing the rhythm with your heart. Zane finally laid back, watching the void outside his window. Now he was the sleepless one.
He wished he could read you better, that you weren’t so closed off. Maybe he could have a normal chat with you about something mundane, like food or hobbies.
Of course, he was boring as hell, and didn’t really have any hobbies aside from working on his tech. A light groan shook his chest at the thought. You probably thought little of things like this. You were a siren, for God’s sake. Men and women alike practically threw themselves at you, and he wasn’t any different.
And despite thinking that, his eyes still wandered to the swell of your hips. You looked soft, but were you? Coming from Hyperion, he was sure you were. You wouldn’t have had to fight as much, to get scarred up as often as someone like him. Hell, maybe you even had manicured nails at one point. Zane reached a careful, light hand out to test his theory. A knuckle brushed your cheek, unfelt by you thankfully. You must have been overloaded today.
But he was right. You were soft. His hand retracted, finding its place at his side. He had no doubt in his mind he was attracted to you, but he also couldn’t help feeling so damn guilty about it. You were a decade- maybe even a decade and a half younger than he was. It’s not like forty-two was old. But maybe it was in comparison. Would the age gap weird you out? Maybe.. but he could take care of you. He was experienced, used to raids and bandits and the harsh reality of the galaxy. Or he could teach you how to depend on yourself if need be, if something ever happened..
That seemed more your style to him. You weren’t helpless, and you were too stubborn to be a damsel. A smile crossed his face. He wasn’t into damsels anyway.
He checked his ECHO, dimming the brightness so it wouldn’t disturb you. As of that moment, he’d been awake for a few hours, twenty six before his bout of sleep, and his joints were definitely feeling it. Note to self: learn when to take a break once in a while. He readjusted himself, turning to his side and letting his arm fall just shy of yours. Just one more quick glance of you before he shut his eyes. “G’Night..”
Chapter 6: Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics
Copy and paste it yeaaaah!
Zane was the second to wake, you had already gotten up a few hours prior to take a shower. Pandora was a dusty planet, and often left your skin sticky and grimy. Plus, you had some time to wind down and just exist without worry about anything outside of this shower. It was comforting. To top it off, you slept like a baby.
You’d get an early start today. Get dressed, grab a quick bite to eat, and ask what you can do to help. You feared that if you sat still for too long, the stir-craziness would set in.
A few shuffling noises came from outside the small bathroom, Zane was likely awake now. Better hurry up. “Morning!” You greeted, exiting the steam filled room feeling a lot better than you had the day before. “I’m about to go grab something from the kitchen. Do you want anything?”
Tired eyes watched you a moment, one slightly glowing. It took him a moment to process what you’d asked him. “Uh..” Another scrunched up, confused face and a few seconds later, he answered you. “Yeah.. yeah sure. Thanks.”
It was harder to wake up than it was to fall asleep, for him anyway. The very real-feeling dream didn’t help that. “Before you go, lass, what other planets have you been to?”
An odd question this early in the morning, but you answered regardless. “Well.. I’m from Tantalus.. I’ve been to Elpis too, during my Hyperion days. And then Pandora. Why?”
He chewed his lip, feeling a tad silly. “I had a weird dream is all. Everything on this planet had a glow about it. Like everything was alive. Can’t really explain it.. I wonder if it was a real place.”
You were quiet a moment, watching his intense, pensive look. “Is that why you’re a little off right now..? Not- Not that it’s bad. Just noticeable.”
He nodded, and then apologized. “It’s- I dunno.. it felt so real. I could smell the plants and everything.”
Suddenly, you had a brand new mission for today. “Why don’t we look into it?” You asked with a smile. “We could research some planets, maybe Tannis would know something. She’s got all those scientist friends.”
He returned your smile with a smaller one. At least you didn’t think he was stupid for letting a silly dream affect him. “Thanks.” Even if it turned out to be just a weird dream, and the planet turned out to be super nonexistent, at least you humored him. “You mentioned meeting FL4K already yeah? What about Moze and Amara?”
You shook your head. “Not yet. FL4K said they were likely on a mission yesterday.”
“Well then.” He stood with a stretch. “That’s going to be the first thing we do today. Suppose you should meet ‘em. Lil will probably pair you up with one of us for a while to ensure you get the hang of everything.”
Not a bad idea, you reasoned.. but boy you were wrong. Then entire hour of introduction time was spent on them teasing Zane. While it seemed to be in good spirits, you didn’t enjoy being the topic of said teasing.
“Wait- how come you wouldn’t bunk with any of us!” Moze pointed out, a knowing smirk on her face. “What, you like her better?”
“She isn’t annoying.” He scowled. “Besides when do you care about bunking with anyone?!”
“Leave him be Moze.” Amara cut in, thankfully. “You know how men can be about their crus-“
“Alright we’re done here.” Zane pulled you along by the crook of your elbow, the other two girls waving cutely behind you. They seemed.. nice, and you were sure you’d have no problem getting along with them. But they definitely enjoyed flustering Zane. Perhaps it was because he was the only man of the group?
“It’s like dealing with a bunch of kids. Like herding skags..” he grumbled, steadily dragging you somewhere.
You eyed the grip he had on your elbow. His hands were calloused, like you thought. “It’s probably just because they’re younger, y’know? The serious role falls on you.”
Oh that’s cute. You thought he was the serious one. Now he’s thankful FL4K was the only one that had a video of he and Amara drunk-dancing to Happy Together. “Afraid not, dolly. FL4K is the serious one around here. They’re too busy being a parent to four animals to worry about goofin’ off.”
“Wait they have even more animals?” Where did they hide them all? You needed to pet all the babies..
“You’ve met the spiderant, Broodless. She’s probably the sassiest. Meat-thief is a jabber. Mr. Chew is the skag, also the most tolerable. And then they have a set of rakks in their pocket.. I just count both of them as one animal.” He shrugged.
“Amazing.. I want a pet.” You frowned, remembering the time you tried to tame a skag, but it vomited on you and called its pack to attack. You’d be a lot less lonely with someone to cuddle!
“Maybe you’ll find a friendly one sooner or later. Not every animal in the galaxy wants to eat you. Except the tyrants. They most definitely want to eat you.” He shivered, remembering the first time he spotted one on Eden-6. Scary bastards..
Zane finally slowed to a leisurely pace, face still a bit sullen from the prior teasing. Usually it doesn’t bother him, maybe he was just trying to show you off? Which is stupid of him. You weren’t even his to show off.. But they didn’t have to low-blow him like that! Besides, crush was such a dumb term! They could’ve used anything-
“Hey.. thanks for everything.” You smiled lightly, hoping to cheer him up a bit. “You’ve been the most accommodating person so far, and it helps a lot to know I can at least count on someone.”
Too sappy? Too sappy. But, if it made him smile, then it was alright with you.
Zane seemed a bit surprised, brain working overtime to process and think of a witty comeback. It failed. “I- Eh- it’s whatever. You can come to me for anything.” He shrugged, pretending to brush off your praise.
Hell, maybe it WAS a crush.
Chapter 7: These Dreams - Heart
Introductions- if you could call them that- were over, and thankfully you’d settled at Moxxi’s. It was way less crowded in the early hours, and it gave you both some time to talk more.
“So.. this dream you mentioned.” You began, pulling out your ECHO and a small stylus. “Do you think you could describe it a bit more? Be as detailed as possible. I wanna take notes for Tannis.”
Oh right. He’d almost forgotten. “Eh.. well. The skies were a bit dark. Something like a rainy dawn.. Purple and blue, but still sort of gray. I could see a few mountains and rock formations in the distance.” His eyes went to your now-moving hands. You were sketching. “The plants were much larger than anything on Pandora. More like the flora on the Eden planets, except they had a glow to them. Kinda similar to siren markings? Same color, kind of a pulse. Blue and pink spores everywhere, at least that’s what I think they were..” Zane paused, wracking his brain for something he was forgetting. “Ccccubes. Floating cubes. Big ones. Ah, and strange writing.”
That’s.. weird. Floating cubes..? You sketched those anyway, despite it seeming a little out there. “Any purpose for the cubes?”
“Not that I could tell. Maybe the locals would know, but I didn’t see any of ‘em.”
So. Floating cubes, weird rock formations, glowing plant life, a permanent dawn, and writing he couldn’t understand. “Well.. it definitely sounds like a dreamscape. We should take it to Tannis anyway, to rule out any misconceptions or other possibilities. I don’t suppose you remember any specific characters or symbols from the writing?”
He hummed, a low noise that rumbled just a bit. “Not.. not really.. Wasn’t basic English, that’s for sure.” Gesturing for your pen, he tried to scribble one that he could sort of remember. “Something similar to this.. I’m sure I butchered it though.”
It wasn’t familiar to you either but- wait.. Yes it was.. You studied it a bit before looking down at your left arm and tracing a small patch just above the inside of your elbow. Your touch was replaced by his, likely thinking the same as you. It was almost identical to one of the markings. Could it have been his brain just remembering your markings differently, a mere coincidence? “Huh..” The noise came from you, and it made him pull away. “Let’s finish up and get to Tannis.. You’ve definitely piqued my interest, Flynt.”
You still held your ECHO, notepad currently up with your sketches. “Tannis?” You called, looking about, but not seeing her. “Maybe shes.. not here-“
A loud bang and a quiet curse filled the air before the aforementioned woman popped up. She’d been fiddling with something under her computer. “Greetings! I’m quite alright, just a little bump is all. How can I help you?”
“Got a few things for you to look into, if you don’t mind. You’re sort of an expert on things no one else understands.” Zane started. “And that’s definitely what we’ve got on our hands here.”
“Ooh. You know I love a challenge! What is it? A strange substance? A growth? Perhaps a rash?”
“Nothing like that, I’m afraid. Mind showing her your sketches?” He turned to you, gesturing to the ECHO still clutched in your hands.
“Oh! Yes. Uh.. they aren’t the best..” You said, handing her the small device. “Regardless, I hope you can decipher them.”
A small hum met her plump lips as she flipped through the sketches. “I can’t say I’ve ever seen a planet like this but.. this character looks a bit familiar. Almost like an Eridian letter.”
“There’s a similar one in (y/n)’s markings..” Zane pointed out.
“Well, of course there is. The sirens are linked directly to the Eridians, we just aren’t sure how yet. Or why. It’s likely your markings could be a full paragraph of writing. Maybe even more.” Tannis explained.
“So like a scripture of sorts?” Zane pondered. “Anyway to translate it?”
“Unfortunately not. None of us know what any of our markings mean. I’m working on a translator, but there’s no telling how long it would actually take to complete. My question is: why were you dreaming of Eridian writings? You think it’d be one of the four sirens on board.”
Honestly, that sort of stumped him too. There should’ve been no reason he dreamed of a place that was inhabited by Eridians. Unless it had something to do with him touching your arm in his sleep. That was right before he woke up from his dream.. But he’d save that theory for a much later date, or maybe he’d never bring it up at all. Zane glanced down at his arm, as if he was expecting to find smeared blue ink on his skin. None. Tannis’s light voice broke his distracted thoughts.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to forward your sketches to my own ECHO. It’d be convenient to have them on hand if I happen to have a breakthrough with my research. You two would be the first to be updated, of course.”
“Yeah, sure. I don’t mind.” You smiled. “If there’s any other way I can help you out, let me know.”
Well. Your small investigation was at a stand still for now, and Zane had been uncharacteristically quiet. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out eventually. Maybe even in the near future!” You tried your best to stay upbeat.
“Im not really all that worried. So far, it’s just a one time thing. If it becomes more frequent, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.” He assured you. “There’s something else on my mind that I should fill you in on. Lillith wants us to go to Promethea’s surface in a few hours. You, me and the other three. I know you’ve got your abilities, but I think it’d be best if you stuck close to one of us just in case.” Zane hoped he hadn’t just offended you, but you did throw rocks at him when your gun jammed. He just wanted to be cautious.
“Well..” A small sigh blew past your lips. “I guess you’re right.. I’m not too used to any of this yet. Besides. Promethea is a battle ground right now.”
At least you were smart, he mused. “Not doing it to bring you down lov- lass.” Quick save, maybe even unnoticeable. “The others and I just want to make sure you stay unharmed as much as possible. And besides, you’re our ticket into Atlas HQ. Your ol’ pal Rhysie is a stubborn ass when it comes to vault hunters he doesn’t know.”
And for good measure, you thought. He’d been through enough with the previous vault you’d all opened, and the ongoing war surely didn’t help that. “I’ll try my best to convince him to trust you all. No promises though. Just don’t be mad if he isn’t swayed easily.”
He briefly wondered just how close you and the CEO were.. Had you been close friends on Helios? Maybe just acquaintances? An ex? Not that that matters or anything..
Chapter 8: Silver Lining - First Aid Kit
This one was a given.
Your mission briefing was small, quick and to the point. Maliwan had struck a deal with these two god wannabes, and both parties were attacking Promethea. Or.. that’s what you understood at least. All you knew is your friend was in trouble and if you didn’t help out in some way, Vaughn would never forgive you. Well.. he would, but he’d definitely be distraught.
Promethea was a breath of fresh air compared to Pandora. It was modernized, advanced technology clearly visible from your drop point. No wonder Rhys chose this place. A nudge to your arm broke you from your thoughts.
“Remember. Stick close. No runnin’ off until we get to Rhys and his pals.”
Even if you did run off, it’s not like you’d be able to go off the radar. Zane tracked you for weeks. He’s like a protective guard dog! Though you didn’t complain when he fell back with you, the other three up front. After all, he’s the reason you’re here.
“Nice here, yeah?” He looked down at you, watching you take in your surroundings. “Way different than Pandora. Too busy for me though.”
“Not a fan of cities?” You asked with a smile.
“More of a nature guy. I like the quiet.”
You have a small snort. “Somehow, that fits you perfectly.” The walk wasn’t supposed to be too long. Your party would meet up with Lorelei and Zer0, go to the main Atlas building, they’d hold you up to Rhys’s hologram Lion King style, and he’d let you all in! ...You only hoped Zane was kidding about the Lion King thing.
In the distance stood two individuals, a familiar one and an unfamiliar one. Zer0 was always easy to spot, however the shorter woman with him was new to you. Oh she’s absolutely adorable. And the way Zer0 carries himself around her, you’re sure he thought so too.
“Well well. Took you lot long enough!” Lorelei greeted, a grin spread across her face. “Who’s the newcomer?”
“She is a good friend.” Zer0 spoke quietly. “To Rhys, and myself as well. We have history.” History meaning saving Rhys’s ass over and over. A smiley emoticon blipped on his helmet, and he gave you a brief hug. “It’s good to see you. You must have grown quite weary, down on Pandora.”
Still speaking in haiku, you noticed. “Definitely. Needed to spread my wings a bit.”
Lorelei cleared her throat. “I hate to interrupt, but we need to pick up the pace. No tellin’ when those CoV bastards will show up. Not to mention Maliwan has gotten more aggressive.. We may run into them in the city limits..”
“Not a problem.” Amara smirked, fist hitting her hand. “I’ve been itching for a fight. And what’s better way to let off some steam than to pummel corporate bastards?”
You were excited to see that.
Or so you thought. The city was in shambles, broken storefronts and cars littered the roads. Upon entering, you heard gunfire. “What’s the plan..?” You asked your group, hoping at least one of them had an idea.
“I can run ahead, and tell Rhys you are all here. So he can prepare.” Zero spoke up.
“Sound plan. Tell him to keep the side way in open. Front would be too dangerous to use.” Lorelei nodded, peaking out over your small hiding place.
“Don’t let him know (y/n) is here.” Moze spoke up. “She might be our only way to speak to him in person. We can’t risk blowing it.”
Zer0 nodded one last time before cloaking himself and heading off. You had no doubt he would be fine, but you sent out a small wish anyway. As for the rest of you, you’d have to traverse the city as carefully as possible.
The CoV weren’t the ones that bothered you. They were bunch of mindless idiots who were too wrapped up in their own illness, like every other bandit on Pandora. But the military trained Maliwan troops were definitely handing your ass to you. You couldn’t even lift your head to fire, whenever you did you’d have to duck almost immediately. But you had an idea. Closing your eyes to concentrate, you silently hoped you’d stay invisible long enough to take a few of the snipers out.
“What are you doin’ doll?” Zane’s nervous voice asked through your earpiece. He must’ve seen you fade.
“I have a plan. Don’t worry about it.” You said quietly, slipping past the beefier foot-soldiers. The snipers were still trained on your friends, and you calculated just how many you could take out before getting hit yourself. One could be taken out point blank, then the one to your right immediately after if you acted fast enough. Your gun felt heavy in your hand, and you aimed it at the main in front of you.
“Sit tight, guys. I can take a few of em out!” Moze called, her mechsuit forming.
Perfect. The loudness of her mech could drown out your pistol, you just had to time.. this.. right.. Now! You pulled the trigger, adrenaline coursing through your veins upon seeing the gore in front of you. Hurry! Take the other one down!
The second shot wasn’t muffled this time. You ducked behind the wall, jumping whenever bullets strayed to close to you. They knew you were here now..
Moze fired into the fray, hitting as much as she could before deploying the grenades. Those were a last resort, especially if her teammates were nearby. She couldn’t afford to injure anyone.
“Are you absolutely feckin’ crazy!” Zane spat through your ECHO, the reloading of his gun heard just a tad quieter. “Are you trying to get yourself killed!”
“I’m trying to help!”
“If you two could stop arguing and focus on the people trying to kill us, that would be fantastic. You can yell at each other after!” Amara scolded, releasing an electric field to short out additional tech the troops may have had on them.
There were only a few left.. you’d deal with your other problems later..
You sat in the floor of Atlas HQ, petting and doting on Mr. Chew. Zane was right. He was the most tolerable. You all looked exhausted, blood that may not have been your own speckled your clothes, and none of you came out perfect. A few wires were loose from FL4K, Amara suffered a few burns, Moze had a few cuts from sharpnel, and Zane walked away with a few grazes. Over all, it could have been much worse
FL4K pressed the call button once everyone caught their breaths. “Fair warning, he’s probably going to yell.” They told you.
“I’m used to it. Nothing I haven’t seen before.”
The lights dimmed a bit, and a blue glow took their place. Rhys; but he looked way more tired than you were used to. Bags were evident under his eyes, and a crease sat between his brows. “Oh c’mon. You guys again? Look- I already told you-“
“Told them what?” You stood, stepping closer to the hologram. “Oh no, Rhys. Is that.. a mustache?”
“Oh my god.. (y/n), you’re okay.” His tone changed immediately, expression softening. “I- hang on.. I’ll come down.”
Chapter 9: Out of My League - Fitz and the Tantrums
Copy and paste that thannnng.
Rhys exited the circular elevator, his expression unreadable. Maybe disbelief? Sadness? Relief? “It’s really you..”
“It’s me.” You smiled softly. It’d been a while since you’d seen Rhys, and you didn’t know how much you’d missed him until now. Being away from your friends for years only made your bond grow stronger.
He closed the gap between you, picking you up in an embrace and spinning you. His usual greeting for you and Vaughn both, except your greeting didn’t include the kiss.
Zane tried to stop his scowl from forming, a jealous knot forming in his gut. Why did that bother him so much? It’s just a hug.
Because you aren’t hers, you jealous old git.
He averted his gaze, feeling a bit guilty for yelling at you. It wasn’t his place to order you around like that, he just wanted you to be more careful. He’ll apologize later..
“Rhys. We really need your help.” You started. “We’re willing to help Atlas as much as we can in the meantime.”
He gave you a nod, sheepish smile present on his face. “Right.. uh.. I suppose I should get that vault key for you guys then..”
Moze had an incredulous look on her face. “That’s all it took?! For you too see yo-?!” A hand slapped over her mouth, muffling the probable insults about to spill from her mouth.
“She’s a little tired.” Amara smiled. “Do you mind if we rest here a bit? We’ll behave.”
“No, please. By all means. There’s a lounge on the next floor. A few couches and seats. We need to go up anyways.” Rhys said, pointing a finger up for emphasis.
He led you all to the elevator, but not before stopping to pet Mr. Chew. Maybe he’d surprise Vaughn with a pup for his birthday..
Amara was thankful for the posh leather seats. These were heavenly compared to the cold metal benches on Sanctuary III. Moze was already asleep on her shoulder.
“Is she drooling yet?” FL4K asked.
They were cute, you thought, and you silently hoped they were together. Your fingers traced under Mr. Chew’s eyes, watching the skag’s chest rise and fall. He must have been tired too.
“Don’t be too upset about Zane’s temper.” FL4K spoke up, looking at you and their pet. “He means well, he just can’t express that he cares like a normal person.”
The phrasing made you giggle. “Are any of us normal?”
Amara and FL4K considered your thought before looking at Moze. “No.” They said simultaneously.
Rhys was finishing a few things on his ECHO, making arrangements for safer transportation.. and looking at skag breeds. What! It was a good idea!
“So..” Zane started, looking about the office. “You and (y/n) seem close.”
Oh ho ho. Now this was interesting. Rhys paused his searches and turned to his guest. “I mean.. yeah. We are. We did almost die together- me, her, and Vaughn- and that typically makes people closer.”
“Didn’t know you were that close..” he muttered, rolling his eyes.
“What do you mean?” He had Rhys’s full attention now. Oh he’d seen this look before. He knew what this was. “Are you bothered that I hugged her?”
“Why would that bother me?” Too quick of a retort.
Rhys snorted before outright chuckling, and that seemed to piss his guest off more. “Let me enlighten you, friend. I really, really care for (y/n). I love all my friends, but..” He turned the picture frame on his desk around so it was facing Zane. “She’s not the one for me. I’m spoken for.”
“O-oh.” Was all the fell from the older man’s mouth. He hadn’t even bothered to looked at the photo of Rhys and Vaughn. But now that was able to take it in, the blatant kiss the two were sharing in the photo really made him seem like a jackass. “I- I wasn’t- Uh-“
“It’s fine.” Rhys smiled. “It didn’t bother me at all. But I do have one question..”
“About you and her..”
Oh fuck, oh no.
“Does she know?”
“No. And I’d like to keep it that way.”
Rhys subtly readjusted his ECHO, turning the record function off. “Sure thing.”
Oh he was going to tell you immediately.
Zane left the office a blushing, embarrassed mess. What an ass he made of himself.. Here everyone else was, trying their best to keep their word and help the man out, while he jumped the gun and accused the man of something that shouldn’t have even been brought up. There’s no time for things like that, especially during a damned war. He cringed at himself, knowing he’ll think about this one all night.
You were busy mending small wounds on the others; Amara told you it would be best if you did it while Moze was sleeping since she was stubborn. So you might as well fix the others up while you’re at it. “Oh. Hey. Been wondering where you ran off to.” You greeted, finishing the last burn Amara had.
“Just.. meandering. You got a moment? I wanna talk.” He admitted.
“Yeah.. sure.” You shrugged, finishing up and missing the look Amara gave Zane.
What is it with everyone and that look?
You followed him into the elevator, leaning against the curved wall. “What’s up?”
He pressed the ground floor, and crossed his arms before speaking. “I’m sorry I was an ass to you. I shouldn’t have yelled at you, and I’m sure it was embarrassing and demeaning.”
“Yeah. It was.” You watched him give a hard swallow before continuing.
“I didn’t mean it like that, and I won’t do it again. I just.. want to make sure nothing happens to you.”
A small sigh filled the quiet elevator, just before it alerted you that you’d reached the ground floor. “Take a seat. Lemme patch you up.”
“Wh- no. It’s fine.”
“Oh please. I know you got hit. I saw the blood.”
“It’s just a wee graze. Nothin’ to worry about.” But the look you were giving him made him aware this was a losing battle. “Ugh, fine..”
Zane took a seat, pout evident on his face as he threw his coat to the side. “Dunno why you’re wasting energy on something that’ll heal in a few days anyway.”
You didn’t know either, but it was comforting to know you could keep them wound free for a while. “Because I wanna make sure nothing happened to you. Now. Stop whining.”
A careful hand lifted his shirt, gentle fingers tracing the graze before your palm settled over it. He couldn’t help but to look away when your markings lit up, warmth spreading over his side. “Thanks..”
“Don’t mention it.”
Chapter 10: Under the Milky Way - Seven Nations
Music to go with the chapter!
With everything settled, a plan had formed between Atlas and the vault hunters. Tomorrow you were all going to really kick this Katagawa guy in the ass. Well. Not him specifically, but definitely his forces! Lorelei has updated your ECHO maps, allowing you see every bit of the city, including the underground passages the ATLAS troops used. Zer0 would act as your guide and strategist. Most and Amara would stick close together, FL4K and Mr. Chew would flank lone enemies. You could create a distraction for the snipers like last time, and Zane would be doing.. wait. What would Zane be doing? You knew he had the drone, but he seemed to enjoy being in the fray. Unless he just had an idea on his own. Maybe you’d ask tomorrow.
You all returned to the Sanctuary III when night hit, not wanting to impose on Rhys despite him offering to house you all for the length of time you’ll be on the planet for.
You were settled in your cot already, facing the room. How was Zane gonna pull this off without waking you up? He carefully shuffled over you, plopping down only when he was absolutely sure he wouldn’t disturb your sleep. What a day..
His back faced your sleeping form, hand resting on the side where your touch had previously been. It was still warm, still healing, he presumed. Exhaustion hit him hard, even before he laid down. He’s just good at hiding it.
The last thing he remembers doing before drifting off, was pulling the window’s shutters down. Sleep must’ve hit fast..
The only light in his room was the soft glow of your markings, pulsing and fluttering as you tried to keep your heart from pounding. His left hand rested on your hip, his right was occupied tilting your chin up to look at him. You swallowed hard, like you were too embarrassed to actually meet his gaze.
Something felt off to him, like maybe his body was moving half a second slower than his brain was telling it to. Not to mention his room was a bit different, things missing from the walls. You hid your face again, and he took the moment to look outside, keeping you close which you seemed okay with. It wasn’t space, like when they’d fallen asleep. It was the view from his home. Or.. what used to be his home.
Wait.. this is a dream.. A pretty lucid one.
“Darlin’..” He started, voice just above a whisper. “After this CoV thing is over.. where are you going to go?”
“I don’t know..” You told him. “I already got my wish. I don’t have to go back to Pandora. I suppose I could go anywhere.”
“Would you come with me then..?” He held his breath, even though he didn’t have to.
Part of him was devastated that this wasn’t real, that this was just some stupid dream he’d wake up from.
“Yeah. Yeah, we could stick together.” You smiled lightly, finally looking up to him. The circles under your eyes were gone, and you didn’t seem stressed like you were in the waking world.
He preferred the real you, but at least it felt good to hear you say that regardless. “You’re important to me, yknow. I don’t know what I’d do without you here. I don’t even know if I’d stick around for too much longer.” Hell, he missed you when you were wandering about. Even when he was after your bounty, he found himself thinking fondly of you. Of course, he’d never tell you that. In all honesty, he never thought he’d have time for something like this. Too many years being on the run and laying low..
But why were his emotions about the ordeal so strong? It goes against everything ingrained in him.
Perhaps it was the comfort you instilled in him, a feeling of clarity about you, like you knew things no one else did. It’s like the stardust that made the both of you up came from the very same star. A sense of belonging and familiarity washed over him.
You leaned into his touch more, eyes fluttering closed. “Are you okay, Zane? You seem.. kinda sad.”
He gave a harsh laugh, jaw tightening. A shake of his head told dream-you his answer. “Been thinkin’ too much lately.. Everything feels off, like something bad is going to happen, and none of us can do anything to stop it.”
“Sometimes bad things just happen. No use in dwelling on something that may not even come to fruition..” You said gently.
That almost made him feel worse, because at this point, he felt liked he’d never truly get to express how much you mean to him. Your hand snaked up his chest, settling on the side of his face. “Look at me Zane.. everything will be okay. I promise.. Even if at first, it isn’t. It’ll work out like it’s supposed to.” A soft kiss met his lips, and his eyes squeezed shut.
God he wished this was you, the real you.
You’d woken up a while ago, dream surprising you enough to pull you from sleep. And that’s when you noticed. You snatched your glowing hand away from his arm, as if you’d been burned. The visions stopped as soon as you did. This ability was.. new. Your eyes darted back to the sleeping man, shaky hand hovering over his arm in temptation. You wanted to know more- to see more. Was this.. just a weird dream he’s having, or was it something else? You swallowed hard, backing away from him. No. You shouldn’t snoop like that..
But you could tell Tannis of your new ability.. Dream sharing was something entirely new to you; you didn’t even know it was possible.. But.. It would be best if you waited until morning. Everyone needed to rest up as much as possible, and you waking someone up just because of someone else’s dream seemed selfish..
Your new dilemma..? Figuring out how to bring it up, or if you even should.
You turned you ECHO on, switching to its music player. You’d be up for a while..
Chapter 11: The Lion’s Roar - First Aid Kit
Hit that mf thing
You were still awake when Zane woke up, surprise evident on his sleepy face. “Eh.. doll? What’re ye doin’ up..?” His accent was heavier when he was tired. “We- ye realize we have tae go through with th’ plan tomorrow.. er.. t’day.”
“I know..” Your ECHO was quietly playing The Lion’s Roar, a song by First Aid Kit, a Tantalus band.. “I can’t sleep.. I just- I have a lot of things bothering me right now.” You felt him shift into a sitting position beside you, shoulder barely brushing your own.
“Like what? Talk t’me.” Zane’s accent was slowly melding into what he deemed more acceptable.
Your fingers were preoccupied with picking at themselves, a bad nervous habit you couldn’t shake. “I’m just worried something bad will happen.. What if we can’t help Rhys? What if Maliwan takes ATLAS and someone gets hurt..?” Maybe he rubbed off on you.
The man at your side was quiet for a moment, a pregnant pause filling the short space between you as you waited for his words. “It’s silly.. I know. But I can’t shake this feeling of dread.”
“Y’know. Someone told me once that you shouldn’t worry about things that may not even come to fruition.” He said, nudging you lightly with his shoulder. “Maybe you should let it go for now, and cross that bridge when you get to it..”
Your heart thumped upon hearing your words come from him. Well.. they weren’t yours, but they were dream-yours. “Thanks Zane.. you- you should get back to sleep.. there’s still a few hours before we have to get going.”
The familiar brow quirk rested on his face, eyes lightly narrowed like he was scrutinizing you. “You’ve been awake the whole night, haven’t you?”
You couldn’t hide anything from him.
You caved with a sigh and a nod. “When I woke up, I had gotten two hours.. And I tried laying back down but it didn’t work.”
“How can I help then? Tell me something that can help you get some rest.” He offered, and he meant it. Anything you wanted, even if it meant sneaking food out of Moxxi’s.
“I dunno if anything can help.. it’s just something I need to get over.” You’d always had anxious spells, and this one felt justified to you.
The cot probably didn’t help either, Zane concluded. Those things weren’t mean for permanent rest. A small snort-sigh combination escaped his lungs as he scooted as close as he could to his window before patting the space beside him.
You were a bit confused, not by the gesture but by the meaning behind it. Would it really be okay for you to-
“Hurry it up then. You got three hours left to get the last little dregs of sleep you can. We both know you’re not going to fall asleep in that cot.” He said, eyes never meeting your form.
Well.. okay.. You carefully crawled in beside him, a bit squished in the full bed. But it was.. nice. Really nice. You laid on your side, facing the room. Your mouth opened to speak, and for a split second you debated on going through with it.
“Are you okay, Zane? You seem.. kinda sad.” Your entire body stiffened, knowing you may have outed yourself. No.. there’s no way he’d know. “Maybe you’re tired and I’m reading it wrong.. sorry.”
“Well.. I think we’re both bothered by some things.” He said, laying back down. “But I’m not too worried about them.”
Now, neither were you..
Waking up was the hard part. Amara had shorted his door controls to wake you both up, like Zane had asked. He usually slept through his alarms, but he also never anticipated you sharing his actual bed with him. And neither did she.
She snorted quietly, trying not to wake you. Zane was used to her torment. You weren’t. “Shut it!” He whispered, giving her a cut it out motion. “Stop taking pictures. You’re just as bad as Moze!”
“I’m not as bad as Moze. I only tease you. She full on makes fun of you.”
“You guys whisper really loud..” You murmured into Zane’s pillow, effectively stopping their small spat. “Is it time to get up?”
After your quick shower, you scarfed down your breakfast. FL4K made a joke about you being kin to Mr. Chew, and the flatness of their voice made you unsure if you were supposed to take it to heart. You didn’t. “What? I can’t sit here and savor my breakfast. We have to meet Lorelei and Zero in like an hour.”
“You’re gonna give yourself indigestion, which I’ve heard is painful for humans.”
“It- it isn’t that bad. I’ll be fine.”
The group trudged back to ATLAS, meeting on the second floor where Lorelei, Zer0, and Rhys had been waiting.
“You guys made it okay? No CoV?” Rhys asked.
“Not that we could see.. we never got ambushed. Not even by Maliwan. They must be making plans of their own.” Moze said, military tactics shining. “It’d be best if we formulated a back up plan in case they get the jump on us.”
“Good idea. And we have just the plan.” Rhys said. “Zer0 is going to go with you on the run to Maliwan’s warehouse. There’s an upgrade for his sword that’ll come in handy. Supposedly, it can cut through shields.”
“How long will that take?” You asked, crossing your arms. “We’ll need to watch our backs while he goes through with the upgrading.”
“Well, someone told me you’re good with tech.” Rhys pointed a finger at Zane. “If the two of you work on that, while you four defend the warehouse, we’ll be golden.”
The feeling of dread is back, but you swallowed it down when everyone agreed on that being the best possible course of action.
“I’ll take a team of troops to distract them of course. At least long enough for you all to get what you need to and get out.” Lorelei assured. “These guys are pros. We can get the job done.”
Formation broke, and you trailed behind your group. “(Y/n)? Can we talk? Just for a second?” Rhys asked, stopping you in your tracks.
What could this be about?
Chapter 12: What’s Up Danger - Blackway and Black Caviar
“Is everything okay..?” You asked as he pulled you into his office. He seemed worried.
“Just.. be careful okay? These guys are basically Hyperion. High tech, relentless, and I don’t actually know if they have the ability to feel pain.” He rambled on. “Just- watch yourself. Okay? Don’t do anything dangerous.. Keep your friends close. Zane- he-“ Guilt washed over him. He shouldn’t. He really shouldn’t.
“Zane, what?” You pressed, wondering what exactly he had to do with this. “Jesus, he didn’t tell you to say any of this did he?”
“No! No he- He doesn’t know what I’m telling you. Just.. watch out for each other. He really cares about you.”
“I- sure. Okay.” You shrugged before being pulled into a reassuring (but kind of sad) hug. “We’ll come back safe and sound. I promise.”
The group was quiet, keeping an eye out and listening for any kind of offending noise. It was too quiet. Except for when you broke it to quietly speak to Zer0. “Can you tell us a bit about Katagawa..? Anything we specifically need to know?”
“That guy is a douche. And he’s way obsessed with Rhys. It’s kind of creepy.” He admitted. “I’m afraid that’s it. He’s sort of just.. annoying. Keep away from him.”
Well that didn’t give you any insight on how to handle him. “Right..”
“I’m sure he’s like every other bastard CEO.” Zane scoffed. “Not- not including Rhys of course.. I meant every other bastard CEO. Y’know. Like eh- what was his name..”
Pick a company and name it. But the CEO one that came to your mind was- no. Don’t think about that. Not now, not ever.
“You’re getting close.” Lorelei’s voice broke through your ECHOs. “Once night falls, you’ll be hidden a little better and can take a few more units out. But right now, your current mission still stands.”
You couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the city. Flashing, twinkling lights were scattered throughout the maze-like streets. “This is so different than Pandora..”
“Suits you more..” Zane’s voice was quiet beside you, hoping only you could hear him.
You did, and you were flattered. “It’s familiar.. what I’m used to. Hyperion was high tech too. A bit more than this, but ATLAS sort of had to restart from the ground up. Jack ruined it.” You ended it there. Jack was dead, and both you and Rhys needed to accept that and move on. It’s not like you hadn’t tried. It’s just that you were dreading yet another return. If anyone could do it, it’d be him.
“Guys.. I think we have company..” Moze said, eyes trailing the large drop ship. And it wasn’t a single one. There were three. “Amara! Try to bring one down!”
She smiled. Her pleasure. She charged her powers, electricity running down her arms. “Gimme a second!”
Right, if she needs time, buy her some time. You drew your pistol, shooting at the troops already jumping from the carrier. If you could incapacitate them, they wouldn’t be of use on the ground. A drone zipped past you, and aided Amara in her charging. Interesting.. you wanted to almost test that theory with the grenades Moze utilizes.. almost.
“Oh- godda- come on! You can do better than that!” Katagawa yelled through the network. “Use your guns for God’s sake!”
You weren’t too fond of his voice. Too charismatic, too fake. A sociopath maybe. You were snapped from your thoughts when Zane pulled you against him to duck behind a wall.
Amara unleashed a mighty roar, electricity zapping not one- but two ships. They sank slowly, crashing onto the pavement. It was powerful enough you could feel the static in your hair.
“Didn’t want you to get fried..” Zane breathed, face close to yours. “Prolly would’ve killed you.. so.. not a fan of you dyin’.”
You nodded after a moment, quick bobs. “Ye-yeah. Thanks. I owe you.”
The moment was a bit awkward, and you were the first to pull away to rejoin the fray. Your knees were weak, shaky almost. That was so close. Hell, you slept in his bed and it was nothing like that. No.. something about that was more intimate somehow.
Mr. Chew zoomed past you, latching onto onto a trooper’s neck. Vicious.. you didn’t expect that. “Good boy!” You called, firing more shots into the downed man. Maybe that was merciful.. Being eaten alive seems terrible.. Wait.. no. Stop thinking..
The gunfire grew louder, Moze’s mech being the loudest. A light buzzing filled your body, vision blurring, blood boiling. No no no.. you were frozen!
Someone grabbed you from behind, arm bent harshly around your neck to prevent your escape. “No one move or I’ll fucking shoot! Drop your weapons!”
Thankfully, all your friends including Mr. Chew did just that. They froze on the spot, no one dared to move an inch. You gave Zane a desperate look, expression asking him to help somehow.
His steely expression never changed, but he made eye contact with you. You’ll be fine. Don’t you worry.. His wrist twitched, unnoticeable to the panicked man behind you.
“Now.. I’m gonna back away, you’re gonna stay there until I’m outta sight.” The soldier began to back up, and your feet shuffled after him as best as you could. You didn’t want to find out what would happen if you resisted.
A soft blue glow reflected off the military issued armor around your neck. “What the fuck- augh!”
You didn’t see what happened, but you felt the aftershocks. Warmth splashed over your hair and face, and by the smell, you could tell it was blood.
Your teammates sighed with relief, the last trooper finally and thankfully was dead. But you were still disturbed.. Slowly turning; your wide eyes met a surprising sight: a blue digistructed clone of.. Zane?
“Eh.. sorry bout that. I’m guessing this is the first time you’ve seen it.” He said, sauntering over time your side. “Pretty neat. It can attack, just as well as one of us.”
“I-I-It’s solid..?” Was all you managed to ask.
Zane and his garishly-blue glowing twin smirked at each other before the clone pulled the strap of your tanktop back into place.
Chapter 13: Centuries - Fall Out Boy
Your adrenaline rush eventually ceased, and the exhaustion set in. But you couldn’t stop now, you wanted to prove to everyone that you weren’t some useless dead weight. You won’t stop ‘til the whole world knows your name. When you all stop at the warehouse, you’ll ask Amara if she could help you hone your abilities more.
Watching all your friends in battle was something else.. Their tenacity was awe-inspiring, and you wanting to be on that level. You wanted to be able to take care of everyone, not just be there to mend their wounds. You wanted to prevent that.
“You did good, y’know. Buying Amara some time really helped.” Zane said quietly, noticing your demeanor seemed a bit off. You were being hard on yourself, but why.. “You were the first one to act, and sometimes that’s better than planning everything out.”
You gave him a short smile, and while his praise pleased you, you still felt a little useless. None of them would’ve gotten grabbed up like that. Maybe they were just used to the harsher lifestyle..? Vaughn acclimated too, but you and Rhys still seemed so set on thinking that a cushioned lifestyle is the norm.
You kept your eyes on Zer0, who only paused for a moment while assessing the quickest routes. “I just.. feel like I’m not cut out for this.. This is something I want to do but.. I feel like all I’ll ever be good at is being at a desk.”
“That’s not true.” He countered you almost immediately. “If it were true, I would’ve caught you in less time than I did.”
“Bullshit. You let me get away. Several times.”
“That I did. But that two week period we didn’t run into each other was because you knew how I worked. You knew how to evade me and you learned how to strategize against me, a trained assassin. You’re just being too hard on yourself because some bozo snatched you up when all our backs were turned.” His argument was fervent, as if he himself were offended. Maybe he was being a bit too obvious.. but to say you weren’t cut out for it sparked a fire in him. His shoulders slumped when you looked away in a pout. Do something to cheer her up, not make her feel worse.
He swallowed his pride and threw an arm around you. “Look. How about we start sparring in between missions then? You can learn more, and we can go from there.”
You looked at him, a bit surprised, but grateful. “You mean that..?”
“Wouldn’t offer if I didn’t intend to go along with it.” The look on your face was worth it.
“This is it?” FL4K asked the man in front. It was a bit smaller than everyone thought, but extremely inconspicuous. Had Zer0 not been there, it’s likely you would’ve missed it.
The assassin nodded. “We’ll find what we need. Unless this whole things a trap. Which is possible.”
Not comforting. Geez, Rhys picked a lot of cynical people to be around. “Would it be easier for some of us to keep watch? Just in case Maliwan tries to ambush us?”
“Good idea.” Moze spoke up. “I can sit out with Iron Bear.”
“I’ll join then.” Amara said. “Zane and FL4K know more about technology than I do. They could help Zer0 more.”
Zer0 looked to you. “You should come inside. The man is full of himself. He will make a call.” If anyone knew how to deal with stupid bastards in charge of companies, it was an HR worker for the most influential one.
You nodded, slightly understanding his reasoning. If anything, you’d get to piss the man off at least. “Right..”
The warehouse was eerie. Broken and opened boxes littered the space. Some were looted, some weren’t. “It should be nearby. You may want to check boxes. The unopened ones.” Zer0 said, nudging a few with his foot. Where could this piece be..
You heard Zane curse lightly. “I’m assumin’ it’s that one? Out in the open there.” Right in front of a monitor. You rolled your eyes at the audacity. Of course they’d place it there, right where they knew you could see their obnoxious CEO. You moseyed over, picking up the small upgrade. It was warm, and had a low buzzing to it. “Weird.. here.” Your arm outstretched to hand it off when the monitor turned on.
“Look who it is! Rhys’s lackeys stealing my tech!” Katagawa wasn’t what you expected, but at the same time, he was. Sleek black hair complimented his pale skin. He wasn’t ugly, you decided, but definitely annoying. “Zer0, the offer still stands. You could always come work for me.”
The man stayed silent, but gave an angry emoticon. That’s right Zer0! Don’t give this guy the time of day!
“Well hello.. you definitely look familiar.” His eyes were on you now. Scrutinizing your face. “You’re the one Hyperion wants dead.. a fortune for your pretty little head on a plate.”
“Is that a threat?” Zane interrupted. How dare he speak t-
“With all due respect sir. You’ve seen what Rhys and I did to a major, near-unstoppable company.. imagine what we’d do to a small, pathetic wannabe.” Your voice spoke before your brain could stop it.
And Zane has never been more turned on in his whole life. Finally you stood up for yourself, you didn’t just take it. Sure you may have pissed the guy off even more, but wow! You were like some pissy Heavenly messenger and he wanted every part of that church sermon. Was- was he blushing?!
“We’ll see princess..” Katagawa sneered. “Tell Rhys to look up. I’m about to shoot his favourite theme park out of the sky.” He ended the call with a wink.
So it’s all just petty fighting..? All this bloodshed just because he doesn’t know how to simply be friends with Rhys without forcing a company wide merge? Can he not just ask him to hang out or something?! These stupid fucking companies are ruining people’s lives because their CEOs don’t know how to socialize?!
Zer0’s voice halted your very-imminent rampage. “God, what a douchebag.”
Chapter 14: Take Me To Church - Hozier
You thought this song wouldn’t make an appearance?
The walk back to ATLAS HQ was a tad awkward. Not between you and the others, but between Zane and the group. Something was bothering him, but in a completely different way than his usual anxiety. You didn’t want to press the issue, at least not until you were in private. He’s already opened up to you, maybe you’ll keep up the lucky streak. Or it could backfire.
“We should’ve taken a technical.” Moze complained from Amara’s shoulders. “I have blisters like you wouldn’t believe!”
“A technical would be too obvious.. without a vehicle, we could just be city goers. But if Maliwan sees a Pandoran technical on Promethea, it’s an immediate red flag.” Zane said quietly. “It sucks, but we’re safer on foot.”
You wouldn’t admit it, but your feet were killing you too. Maybe you could ask if he’d mind you taking a bath. You’d let him shower first of course but, you could use a good soak.. Or better yet.. Rhys most definitely had a posh bathroom. “I may stay in HQ tonight.”
“With Rhys? Why?” Zane looked to you, brow furrowed.
“I dunno. I mean.. he offered. We’d all have our own space, the bathrooms are nice. And we’d already be here in the morning instead of having to go all the way back to Sanctuary.”
You had good points, but that didn’t stop Zane from being a little insulted. What, you didn’t like sharing a room with him anymore?
Maybe you never did to begin with..
Maybe he’s jumping the gun a bit. You were probably comfortable with him because he gave you the opportunity in the first place. Of course you’d want your own space after the initial anxiety subsided!
..No he’s still insulted. “Fine by me.” The shrug added emphasis.
“Yeah I’m with (y/n). I want posh for a night.” Moze agreed, eyes closed while her head rested on Amara’s shoulder.
“I’ll call Rhys and ask him if the offer still stands.” FL4K said. “You all may even be able to get better food.” FL4K, of course, didn’t eat.
Food sounded heavenly.
Rhys, thankfully, welcomed you all with open arms. Maybe he’d been a bit lonely. “Anything you guys need, you can take. Food, alcohol, hell even extra blankets. I don’t care. Mi casa es tú casa.” He grinned.
“If I didn’t think Vaughn would steal something from me, I’d kiss you.” Moze said, expressing her gratitude in.. her own way. “You’re saving our joints here buddy.”
You turned to Zane with a small smile, Moze was funny when tired. “So.. do you mind if I used the bath..? I mean you could shower first.. I just didn’t know if the noise or light would wake you up.”
“Thought you wanted your own room. You could do whatever you wanted.” He retorted a little harshly. Don’t be that way Zane. You just misunderstood earlier and-
“Oh.. yeah. Sure, uh.. Have a good night.” The small I guess didn’t go undetected like you thought it would. Well, off to your own room you guessed. Now you wouldn’t have to worry about waking him up.
No no no. You fucked it all up Zane!
He opened his mouth to call out to you, but something stopped him, likely his nerves. Maybe you’d blow up on him, or tell him to piss off. It’s what he’d deserve after that stunt.
The tub was a lot bigger than you anticipated, but that didn’t sway you. You poured an exuberant amount of bubbles in, and sank your foot to test the temperature. Hot, of course, since you barely used any cold water.
Pinning your hair, you sank the rest of the way, chills erupting over your body as a way of thanks. You needed this after all.
But it was so quiet. No muffled cursing, no shuffling, no tinkering sounds. Nothing, except for your sigh. Why had he been so short, so terse with you? He didn’t take offense to the own space thing, did he? Everyone just seems so cramped in Sanctuary, you thought it would be a good idea.
“You sure do have a rough way of showing someone you care about them.” Rhys said, holding a glass of honey coloured liquid. Scotch maybe? “I can safely say she isn’t a fan of bad attitudes.”
Zane rolled his eyes with a scoff. “Come to rub it in have you? Fine. Go ahead.” He rested his head on the palm of his hand, sulking while watching the rain fall. It was weird, after being on Pandora for so long.
“Haven’t come to rub it in. I’m not that callous.” He said, setting the drink down along with a card. “Just thought you’d want your room key. They’re all locked with IDs but, they’ve been empty since the war.”
Zane’s eyes landed on the two objects before he nodded. “Thanks..”
“She’s headstrong. You know? Sometimes a little brash too, and the things she says can come across as insensitive. But I promise you, whatever she said about having your own space wasn’t intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. Especially not yours.” Rhys patted his shoulder twice. “So. Go sleep on it. You’ll feel better after.”
Rhys sauntered off, presumably to his own room and Zane pocketed the card before downing the scotch. It was better than Pandoran liquor. Way better. But something about the card didn’t seem right. The room was wrong. Right..? Zane followed it regardless. Even if it was the wrong room, he didn’t really care at this point. He’d sleep on the floor if he had to.
The door slid open, almost unnervingly quiet as it did. Huh.. even the doors were more advanced. His jacket almost immediately hit the floor, followed by his belt and boots. And it was when he was toeing his boots off that he noticed.
Those were your pants. And your shirt and your underclothes and your bag. That sneaky asshole gave him the card to your room. He didn’t know whether to thank Rhys or strangle him.
But maybe this was good.. he could apologize to you, and talk everything out. He quietly made his way over to the door, carpet aiding in his venture. He could hear water on the other side. Right.. bath.
Two taps broke you from your relaxation, and you sat up just in time to see the bathroom door slide open. “Wha-! Hey! Zane what the hell!”
“Shut it. You’re takin’ too long.” He said, stripping his shirt and trousers. Right in front of you. Like it wasn’t even a big deal.
You covered your eyes as quickly as you could, hoping to hide some of your blush in the process. “What are you doing?!” The water shifted, rising a bit as he sank down in front of you.
“Taking a bath.”
“And I’m apologizing.” He continued, stomach still burning from the scotch. “For being an asshole to you. Truth is, I got stung when you insinuated you wanted a room to yourself. Which is stupid, but.. I guess I got used to the idea that we were sharing. I like the idea. So, of course my first reaction was anger.”
Your eyes were still covered, but you peeked through your fingers a bit. “You- you could’ve just said so.. or asked. I wouldn’t have minded..”
“I know. But I act first, and it ruins things.” He explained. “And I’m trying to work on it. Except that I didn’t, and now I’m in a bubble bath with my roommate.” Oh shite. “I- I still need work. Still workin’ on it.”
You nodded fervently. “Yeah.. could- could probably still use a little work on the impulse control.. but uh. Thanks for apologizing.”
The reality of what he actually just fucking did sank in, along with the humiliation and anxiety. Why stop now Let’s crank this train wreck up to eleven, baby! “Can I do something stupid?”
“It.. it depends on how stupid.” You said cautiously.
“Stupid as in it could ruin things, but I’m willing to pretend it didn’t happen if it goes south.”
“Uh.. sure?” You said, and instantly felt him shift. His hands pulled your wrists away from your face, and his lips met yours in an anxious kiss. He was shaking, maybe from nerves or relief.
He’d been waiting to do that.
Chapter 15: Make You Feel My Love - Adele
You were frozen a moment, brain taking its sweet time trying to process what had just happened. Despite functioning at the lowest percent, you were granted the ability to return the gesture and closed the gap between both of you. You only broke apart so you could shift enough to sit comfortably in his lap.
“I wanted to do that since you threw those rocks at me.” He chuckled quietly, eyes shifting between your eyes and lips. They were pinkened, likely from the kiss.
“That’s quite a while..” You pointed out the obvious.
“Yeah. Just didn’t think it’d go over too well at the time.”
He’s probably right. There would’ve been more rocks hurled his way. “Is this why you.. brought me along?”
“Well.. it had a big part in it. But I didn’t know the entire story either. Being in the dark on things makes me uneasy, and I’d rather find out more intel than go around turning innocent people in.” He smirked lightly. “I mean.. you technically aren’t innocent. To Hyperion at least.” Not to say they didn’t deserve what they got though.
“Hmm you’re talking yourself into a pit.”
“Better shut me up then..” He murmured, lips already brushing against yours.
Just as you were about to give him what he wanted, something shook. A low rumble permeated the atmosphere, following by a quick blinding light.
“Please tell me that was thunder.” He sighed, a little downtrodden that he’d gotten too excited. Zane’s ECHO buzzed, and the line was opened. “Did you guys feel that?!” It was Moze, and she sounded like she’d just woken up.
“Unfortunately.. I take it that wasn’t just the start of a thunderstorm?” You winced.
“No. But if you look out your window, you’ll see a giant fucking laser shooting stations and moons out of the sky!”
“Goddamn it..” Zane grumbled, moving to get out and redress. “That Katagawa guy has the worst timing..”
You filed in to Rhys’s office, both of you with wet hair and flushed cheeks. “Rhys. I’m getting really tired of this Jack wannabe. First it’s the attitude, now it’s the lasers?”
“I know. I know.” He was clearly exasperated, and his hair was a mess. “I have an idea though..”
“Let me guess. The idea involves us going to shut this machine down?” Amara spoke, crossing her arms.
“Y-Yes.. but! I know how to hack it! We can turn it around on him easily. We just have to be careful in doing so. Luckily, I have a fast travel set up.”
“Fine, whatever. As long as I can just go back to sleep soon.” Moze grumbled, retying her pajama pants.
“You’re- you’re going on your pj’s?”
All of you looked to each other before giving him a nod.
“Can you believe this.. I’m on the moon AGAIN. Dealing with a crazed CEO AGAIN. Because he’s trigger happy.” You complained, wishing you had grabbed a jacket or something. “At least this moon doesn’t have kraggons like Elpis does..”
“Kraggons?” FL4K looked back at you.
“Reptiles. They look like dragons. Yknow.” Maybe they knew about Tantalus lore?
“Interesting.. I will have to research them.”
Another rumble shook the rock beneath your feet, and the blast from nearby was almost enough to know you over.
“Think we’re getting close?” Amara asked, rhetorically of course.
You were, since the CoV were here. And somehow they’ve stepped their game up. You were ducked behind a large shipping container clutching your bleeding leg. You could still feel the bullet encased in your soft flesh.
“Lass? Where’d you go?” Zane asked over the ECHOnet. “Lost sight of you.”
“I’m fine. Behind the shipping container..” You took a few heavy breaths before digging into the wound. That bullet had to come out.. “There’s someone hiding. On the roof to your left.. a sniper.” As if on cue, you had to pull your left closer to you to avoid another hit. “Fuck..!”
“Are- you’re hit? Are you hit?! Stay put! I’m coming to you!”
“I’m fine! Just take the sniper out!” You’d be even better if your fingers would stop slipping. Almost.. got it!
The sound of a skag attack could be heard. FL4K must’ve taken care of it.. Someone was at your side in mere moments. “Jesus, did they hit a vein?” It was Zane, hands in front of him like he wanted to help but didn’t quite want to throw you off whatever you were doing.
“No. I don’t think so..” Maybe they did! You didn’t actually know. “Bullets out though.. just gotta heal up a bit.”
“Everything okay?” Amara jogged over. “Can you walk?”
“Please. I’m fine. I’ve been through worse.”
Zane briefly wondered what you’d been through that was classified as worse.. though now that he thought back to it, you did have a scar above your pelvis.. Was it a mere accident from vault hunting, or was it something else? He didn’t want to think about that.
“Let’s just keep going. We’re almost there. If I need to take a break, I will.” You were adamant about pushing on. You weren’t weak, and you were going to prove it. “And then, once we get back to HQ, I’m going to continue shutting you up. Just like you wanted.”
The look on his face was priceless, and the look on Amara’s was too.
Chapter 16: Busy Earnin’ - Jungle
Rhys had been rambling in your ear for the past half hour now about how you should be more careful when dealing with bandits. As if you didn’t already know that. You were tempted to cut your ECHO off, but you knew he’d bother one of the others until they put you on the line. It really isn’t that big of a deal. You’d been through way worse. Hell, he’s been through worse. He pulled his arm off and his eye out for God’s sake. And he’s complaining about you getting shot? “Rhys. I’m fine. For the last time. It’s already healed. I didn’t even lose that much blood, you can ask Zane.”
“That’s not my point! It’s- it’s dangerous out there! Why can’t you just stay on Promethea. Your boyfriend can visit whenever he wants!”
“He’s- he’s not-“ Well.. what was Zane? Was he your boyfriend? That term didn’t seem to fit. “Look- I have to go. We need to be quiet and me having to tell you I’m fine over and over again is gonna get us shot some more.” You ended the line with a huff and blew your bangs out from your face.
“He’s like a brother almost. A really annoying, overbearing brother.” Zane said, chuckling at your exasperation. “Kind of endearing, yknow? Shows he cares.”
And you were grateful that he cared. You truly were, but you were also sick of people treating you like you were a child. “No one bats an eye at Tina..” You grumbled.
“We’re getting close..” FL4K interrupted. A tower could be seen up ahead. “Isn’t that where Rhys said he could hack a few things for us?”
“Yeah.. that must be it.. But.. how is he going to hack when he’s on Promethea?” You asked. Unless his hacking somehow miraculously improved.
“Suppose we’ll find out soon enough.” Zane said, slapping your shoulder before taking lead. You sighed, watching Mr. Chew eat moon rocks. Oh, how wonderful it would be to be that carefree.
“This.. looks like a dump.” Moze said, treading carefully. “If my foot sinks I’m probably going to hurl.”
“I think it is a dump.. these drones look way too decrepit to be in use.” You said, tapping one with your foot. They were rusted and bent beyond repair. But upon examining them, a thought struck you. “If we could find a decent drone.. I bet Rhys could control it from Promethea’s surface..”
“Interesting idea. But the issue is getting them up and running.” Moze said, following your lead and closely inspecting the spherical bots.
“I bet I could help.” Amara grinned. “I could at least give them enough of a charge to stay running long enough for Rhys to follow through.”
Yeah.. yeah! Solid plan coming along! Now you have to find a-
Something beneath you shifted and swept your feet out from under you. A drone, much larger than the ATLAS ones was staring you in your face. Then several others followed suit.
“Jesus is Maliwan just a bunch of copyc- ouch!” Moze yelped upon being shocked. “They’re attacking!”
Would you five ever catch a break? “Are these things even susceptible to bullets?” You said, using the butt of your shotgun to knock it away. “It’s like they aren’t affected at all!”
The only one having any luck was Amara, and that’s because she was the only one that wasn’t being actively injured by them. Stupid electricity powers. Stupid shock resistance. Stup- ow!
“These things are a pain in the ass!” Zane called, kicking one away only to be sucker punched in the back by another.
Moze had resorted to staying in Iron Bear, but even, then she was still taking damage. “We’ll have to just endure it!”
Bullshit. “Rhys! Tell me what to look for and help us take these things down!”
“Yes ma’am. Look for one that seems complete. It can be dented. But you don’t want any panels open. No missing parts or wires sticking out.”
You went chameleon, hoping that they drones couldn’t detect you regardless, and you went to scouting. No. No. Too busted. Torn apart. Missing panels. That wasn’t even a drone, just trash. Oh! There!
“I found one!!” You exclaimed, tossing the trash aside to dig it out. “It’s got little hearts!”
Oh god yes. Look how cute that thing is! “Okay, get Amara to charge it up! I’m setting up a link now!”
“Amara! Need your help!” You bounded over, remaining invisible for now. “Charge this as much but as fast as you can. Rhys can shut these other ones down!”
“Uh- yeah-! Yeah, right!” She placed her hands- all eight of them- on the heart plastered drone. “Kinda weird, since I don’t actually see you. But you may wanna let go. You could get shocked.”
You tossed your hands up, not wanted to risk that again. Rhys’s voice filled your head again. “Close! The link’s almost established!”
Both you and Amara were focused on the drone until a cute tone came from it. The center piece lit up, and the stabilizers were back. “Alright Rhys. You should be airborne now!”
“We’re good to go.” He confirmed. “(Y/n), you follow me. You’ll need to shut down the panel over there. I can drop these fuckers after we find that switchboard.”
“Right. Thanks Amara.” You said before jogging after Rhys-sphere. No.. that’s a mouthful. Rhys-orb? Rhys-ball? You snickered at that one.
“I found the panel!” He said, orb blipping in front of it. “Destroy this to your hearts content while I work on the others.”
Now that, you could do. You reared your arm back, charging a small blast that you managed to absorb from that gunshot, and punched as hard as you could. Maybe it was overkill, but it certainly let out some pent-up feelings.
The clanking of dropping bots were heard behind you, and you deemed it safe enough to return to your visible state. “Well.. that was horrible.”
From what you could tell, Amara and you were the least bruised up, thanks to your powers. Well.. and FL4K, but that goes without saying. “Once we get to a safer spot, I can work on your wounds.” You told Zane and Moze.
Chapter 17: Lone Digger - Caravan Palace
You’ll have to forgive me for the short chapter. It’s about half the usual size, but my support animal died very suddenly last night, and I’ve been awake about 27 hours now. The chapter will be usual size tomorrow. I have a request for anyone who reads this: please go out and hug your fur babies. Their lives are shorter than ours, and you never know when they’ll pass.
Thank you all for sticking around this long. As always, the link below is music for the chapter.
Though you would have to hold off on healing them, because a very pissed got Katagawa had his own stupid spherical drone. Except much bigger and equipped with weapons.
“Aww poor vault hunters can’t catch a break.” He cooed maliciously, voice dripping with mirth at the idea of killing you all. “All you had to do was leave Rhys and I to our own business. Instead, you dug your sniveling little noses into everything.”
Yeah you all tended to do that.
“Oh shut up Katagawa.” Rhys said from the much smaller drone. “Just give it up. We already disarmed your little laser.”
“You think that’s all I had? What a joke.” On cue, Maliwan dropships filled the area, and several troops hit the ground before you.
“Shit..” You cursed quietly, knowing you were all going to go through hell. Those soldiers could get the jump on you easily, you were outnumbered, and there would be no hiding Katagawa. “We’re totally fucked..”
“Seems like it..” Zane murmured. “I suppose you wouldn’t want to use those powers of yours eh?”
“I’ll try my best.”
“If you’re all done with this little charade, I’ll offer you last chance. You can join Maliwan, or you can die.” The faux reluctance in his voice only insulted you.
“Get bent.” Amara was the one to answer. “You think it’s that easy to sway us after you’ve declared an unnecessary war on someone who hasn’t done anything wrong? We’re going to enjoy this.”
She wasn’t wrong, but you were now under the impression he would try even harder to make your deaths worse.
“Open fire.” He ordered, voice now uncharacteristically serious.
You all took cover, except Mr. Chew, who took down a rifleman first. Zane has pulled you behind a generator. “You can absorb explosions yeah..? Now may be the time to do it.”
“You guys could get hurt in the blast-!”
“(Y/n), do what you have to do to take these assholes down, damn the consequences. We’ll be fine.” He assured. “Tell me what I need to do.”
You were hesitant, but the trust he put in you was flattering. “Get to higher ground.. blow the generator.”
Zane grinned, kissed you, and took off towards the stairs. Okay. No worries. You’re just gonna have a generator blow up in your face.
Glancing up to his hiding spot, you gave him a nod. You were ready.
FL4K flinched from the sudden blast, but quickly caught on to what you were doing. “Chew!” They called. “Guard!”
A small bark was his answer and he was at your heels immediately. He’d take down anyone that got close to you.
Amara stuck close to Moze, gunning down anyone who tried to sneak up. “Iron Bear still doing good?”
“Twenty three percent damage. She’s good for a while, at least.” Moze took a wide swing, knocking two soldiers back. “If he calls anymore soldiers, we’re gonna be in a pickle. We have to start focusing on Katagawa..” Or.. the drone he was using at least.
“I’m on it!” You called, markings glowing with energy. “Keep on keeping on!” You needed to get the jump on him.. literally. “Chew, to FL4K.”
You didn’t want the hound to get injured, besides, you didn’t think he’d be able to follow while you were invisible.
Chapter 18: Witness - Mindless Self Indulgence
I’m back, baby.
No worries, you were just climbing on top of the huge building to jump on a flying metal death ball in hopes that you’ll actually make it. Your plan was simple: jump, attach, explode, and then.. you weren’t really sure. But you knew it’d be cool either way.
Zane wouldn’t admit that he was nervous, but seeing you over there on the railing was absolutely tearing his nerves apart. No, he hadn’t enhanced his ECHO eye to see your invisible form or anything. Psh, that would be weird.. Okay maybe he did, but only to soothe his own nerves in battle. He didn’t doubt you, but the thought of you getting hurt is what he hated the most. He reloaded, and shot another trooper headed for Amara. “You need to watch your backs!”
“Why do that when we have you?” Moze called, and he supposed she had a point. But he didn’t like it. Everyone seemed so reckless.. except FL4K of course, but they had their own reckless creature to look after.
You’d gathered your nerves and launched yourself at the bot, smacking into it and sliding a bit. It was reminiscent of an exercise ball of Vaughn’s that you’d play with when visiting his office. “Stupid fucking CEO!” You shouted, finding enough footing to lift your arm high above your head. God, you hoped this wouldn’t kill you.
“Hey! What the hell- get off!” Katagawa demanded.
Everyone stopped when they saw the explosion. Zane and FL4K took the opportunity to finish off the remaining soldiers while they were distracted.
The blast had thrown you into the concrete wall, just as it had done to Katagawa’s Metal puppet. “Ouch..” This was likely it for you, for this battle anyways. Hitting the ground was a feat, and getting up was a bigger one. Radiation was dissipating from your arm, visible in small heatwaves. Were the generators nuclear? You’ll have to look into it when you regain consciousness.
“Stand back!” Came Moze’s voice. “I’m gonna make sure it doesn’t get back up!” A small high pitched whirring could be heard before an onslaught of grenades left Iron Bear. Overkill? Maybe. But just for good measures.
A small warning beep let Moze know her time using Iron Bear was up, and she wiped the sweat from her forehead. “We need to get back to Rhys.. something tells me this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this bastard.”
“I agree. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but Rhys has been uncharacteristically quiet for this match. And that drone of his hasn’t moved an inch.” FL4K pointed out. “There’s a strong possibility this all could have been a distraction for something else Maliwan has up their sleeves.”
“Then we need to get back as fast as possible.” Amara said, your limp form sling over her shoulder. “She may need to sit this out. At least for a while.” She knew that you weren’t as steady with your abilities as she and Lillith were, but overdoing it will only kill you. But she’ll keep that between you and her.
“She’s unconscious?” Zane asked, slipping down from the railing.
“As far as I can tell. She’s out.. Might’ve hit her head on the wall. We can get Lorelei to look at it once we head back. I’m sure she’ll be able to help.”
Zane hesitated to follow, only for a moment. Maybe he could convince you to stay behind on Sanctuary III while the rest of them went to the surface. “Shit..”
She’d hate you for that, Zane.
Lorelei met the five of you outside HQ, her leg bouncing a mile a minute as she leaned on the wall. Anxiety was evident on her face, and she perked a little when she noticed you all. “Thank god you’re here. We’re shut out. The whole building’s on lockdown!” She seemed panicked. “Rhys won’t answer! And- oh shit, what happened?”
“She’s fine. I think. Just needs to rest.” Amara said, and then rerouted the conversation. “Is there a bypass we can use to get in?”
“There is, but I’ve already tried it!”
“Then we break in.” Zane concluded. “Moze. How’s Iron Bear’s power?”
“It’s at thirty five.. I have enough for a few grenade rounds, but if they aren’t strong enough to break the glass, then we’re out of luck..” She’s assuming Rhys had installed bullet proof windows. She’d be right.
“Worth a shot. Our designated explosive device knocked herself out, so we’ll have to rely on another way.” Zane said, standing back a bit. “Lorelei, why don’t you get to somewhere safe for now. We’ll contact you if we need any assistance.”
Lorelei wanted to argue, but stopped herself. She could at least patch you up first. Knowing you, and how stubborn you are from what Rhys said, she’s sure you’ll wake up itching to reunite with the others. “Fine.. but you better call us on if you get into a mess..” She took you from Amara, carrying you on her back, and took off for her safe house. Hopefully the other ATLAS troops were still down there..
Your eyes drearily blinked open, vision still blurry. Even the dim light was too much for your headache. A cheery voice greeted you.
“There she is! Rise and shine cupcake!” Lorelei was holding two water bottles. “How ya’ feelin’? They said you hit your head pretty hard.”
Hit your- oh. Right. The blast. Your hand immediately when to your aching skull. It was tender to the touch. “Where.. where is everyone?”
She winced, as if that would lessen the blow. “They’ve gone off to see if they can get in touch with Rhys.. we lost contact with him.”
“They just.. left me?” Well. You were unconscious. You shouldn’t take it personally. Wait- “Hold on. You lost contact with Rhys?!”
“I- I’m sure he’s fine! He’s forgetful! He probably forgot to charge his ECHO is all!” But she was too nervous for you to believe that.
You stood, swaying a bit once the blood rushed to your head. “Where’d they head off to?”
“Back to HQ.. it was on lockdown. Are- are you really going to go in this state?”
You nodded at her, holding your head briefly before letting your hands drop to your sides. “Are you really gonna sit here while we don’t know what’s going on?” Your answer was a shake of her head. “Then let’s go. We both know Rhys can’t take care of himself. Hell, one time he forgot how to tie a tie.”
The thought made you smile. Before Helios fell, everything seemed so.. contained. You lived in a small bubble where violence like this was only acted out by Jack. You, Rhys, and Vaughn didn’t have to worry about getting shot or wondering when your next full night of sleep would be. No, you only had to worry about doppelgängers who were too nice for their own good and supervisors hitting on receptionists.
No wonder you and Rhys had no idea what you were doing.
Chapter 19: Gosia - Low Roar
Breaking in wasn’t hard, since your friends had already opened the way for you. You’re assuming they took the easy way in, since there was a hole blasted through the front windows of the lobby.
Can’t they ever do anything subtly?
Careful not to crunch any of the glass, you helped Lorelei through. “You think anyone else got through?” You asked, eyes darting around just in case.
“No. There’s no way. When it’s on lock down, no one can get through unless you have clearance. Rhys must have coded you and your friends into the system upon your reunion. If anyone else comes in, the turrets will stop them.” She assured. “The elevator should still work. I have an override key regardless.”
“Let’s go then.. don’t want to keep anyone waiting.” Your ECHO was off, on purpose of course. You didn’t want them to know you were coming, didn’t want to give them time to think of an explanation as to why they didn’t wait on you. What if you had died? Would they have just left you there? That’s something to think about..
“Your head feelin’ okay..?” Lorelei asked quietly, noting your silence and tense demeanor. “I’d definitely get it look at whenever we’re done here.. could turn into a concussion.”
“I’ll get someone to look at it..” You said, even though your stubborn ass probably wouldn’t. “But don’t worry about that. Our main priority is finding Rhys.” Who, you hoped, was okay.
The elevator stopped halfway through the floor, and you nearly rolled your eyes. Of course. “Cmon Lorelei. You first..” You didn’t know how stable it was, and you didn’t want her to be the one falling with it.
If it fell.. which.. it wouldn’t. Right?
“God I hope this thing doesn’t chop me in half..” She wheezed breathlessly as she squeezes through the opening. “R-Rhys!”
“What- do you see him?!” You were on high alert now, following quickly after her through the opening.
“Lorelei.. (Y/n)..? You’re okay!” He said up, wincing a bit. Blood was seeping through his shirt and hand. He’d been hit by something. “I was so worried when you guy didn’t come back with them..”
“Well we’re here now.. where’s Zer0?” Lorelei ushered you over to him, in hopes you’ll get the gist and heal whatever wound he had. You were already on it.
“He’s down there, with the others..” He pointed before helping you unbutton his shirt. “Katagawa- he- he got Zer0’s suit specs somehow.. he snuck in.”
“They’ll take care of it.. right now let’s focus on you.” Examining the slash, you determined it wasn’t too deep, though any deeper might have posed a problem for the man.. He’s lucky. You cupped your hands over his side, apologizing quietly for how could they were at first.
”Wait- no- what about you?” He asked, trying to push your hands away.
”I’d rather use this last little bit of energy I have to heal you. Sit still. Lemme work.” You said, moving your hands back.
“Why the hell didn’t they come back with you..” he asked quietly, eyes on your hands.
“She hit her head.. unconscious for a bit. They asked that I take her somewhere safe.” Lorelei explained for you.
Rhys snorted quietly. “Not surprised that you didn’t stay put..”
Of course he wasn’t, but it brought a grin to your face regardless of the terrible situation.
It took a while, hours for them to come back up. Zer0 got his sword back, the copycat was dead, and everyone came out alive. Well.. yknow. Except.. Katagawa. But he doesn’t count.
You didn’t look at any of them, not at first. It was only until after you checked on Rhys a final time that you acknowledged their greetings.
“Glad you’re okay.. we were worried about taking you along. Too much stress on the body.” Moze was the first one to offer her awkward small-talk.
“Yeah. Good thing I didn’t die right? No one would’ve been able to patch you guys up.” You said cheerily, but underneath, your words were laced with venom and spite.
Zane could tell. Should they have left you without ensuring you were okay? No. stupid mistake on their part to assume you were just fine. But the situation was high-risk, especially since Katagawa directly came after Rhys. He’d rather discuss it with you privately.
“You guys should stay. Just one more night. The trek back to your ship is pretty long, and no one looks like they have enough energy to make that.” Rhys suggested. “We can have breakfast in the morning and say our goodbyes afterwards.”
“Sounds like a plan!” You smiled, giving him a quick but genuine hug. You were truly glad he was okay. “I’m gonna head to bed. Goodnight!” And with your back turned, your frown returned. Behind you, you heard their quiet goodnights.
Zane knew you would be upset, but this time he wouldn’t be the one to yell. No. He promised himself and you that he’d remain calm. He’d try to do better. “(Y/n), you asleep?” He noticed your head shake, and he sat down beside your laying form. “I know you’re upset.. You have every right to be. But we left you with someone we all trusted while we handled business. If we hadn’t have gotten to Rhys when we did, he wouldn’t be here, and you wouldn’t have ever forgiven us for that..”
He was right, and you hated it. It was a damned if they do, damned if they don’t situation. “Did you guys even see if I was alive or not?”
“No.” He said honestly. “But knowing you like I do, I knew you would’ve been to spiteful and stubborn to die that easily. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t kick myself in the ass for it. Felt guilty the whole time, and worried myself. Lately I feel like I’m apologizing a lot, but I’m sorry we hurt your feelings. I’m sorry. But I wasn’t going to let your best friend die at the hands of some ratty asshole either.”
You were quiet, not really knowing what to say to him. You had a giant argument prepared and he completely derailed it by being calm and honest with you. “Thank you.. I’m- I’m not mad. Not anymore..”
A small smile graced his tired face. “Am I sleeping on the floor tonight..? Or did you still want to shut me up.”
“Could you even handle that kind of stress right now?”
“Probably not. Can I at least be little spoon.?”
“You’re so needy.” You said mockingly.
But you relented anyway.
Chapter 20: Stay Gold - First Aid Kit
Everyone seems to have slept hard. None of you woke up before 10:30, and the only reason you did was because your ECHO set an alarm. Being warm all night was nice, but now the sheets were sticking to your sweaty skin. “Ugh..” Maybe you did like the chill of space after all. You looked over at Zane, who was sleeping on his stomach, head buried in his folded arms. A small smile found its way to your face. His hair was ruffled and messy, but somehow it suited him.
You rolled out of bed, grabbing your pants before you headed to Rhys’s room. Curiosity over how his wound healed wouldn’t leave you alone. That, and your growling stomach. You turned the corner and gently knocked. “Rhys? It’s me.” You hoped you weren’t waking him..
“Oh! One sec!” He called, scooping his shirt off the floor. “Surprised you’re up. No one else is.” He looked tired, but at least his spirits were high.
“I wanted to check on your wound. Y’know.. just to make sure it healed up nicely.” You admitted. “Did you sleep well?”
“Healed up perfectly. Slept better than I have in a long time. I guess the stress finally dissipated.” He stepped aside to let you in. His cleaning habits were still the same as they were on Helios. Maybe Rhys hadn’t changed as much as you initially thought.
“I imagine sleep will come easy, now that Katagawa bit the dust.” The thought didn’t sit right with you, but as least everyone wouldn’t have to worry about another power-hungry monopoly. Capitalism, right?
He was quiet a moment, lost in his thoughts. “You guys are heading back today.. right? Off to another planet I presume?”
You nodded at him, beads clicking as you did. “Our next stop is Athenas. Some Maya girl that Zer0 knows is getting overrun with CoV. It’s not just Promethea.” You explained. “I thought these CoV freaks were like ordinary Pandoran psychos. I’m starting to believe I was wrong..”
“Just be careful.” He said. “These guys are starting to get power. I mean real power. A few of them were on fire. Lillith mentioned her powers being stolen, but if the CoV is using them, I can’t help but worry about you.”
He had a point. Two siblings just.. took her powers. Those vloggers. You didn’t know much about them aside from the fact that they’re dangerous. “I’ll be okay. But I’ll keep my distance for your sake.”
Relief visibly washed over him. One worry out of the way. One to go. “Is.. is Vaughn doing okay? I haven’t gotten to speak to him much, and with these Calypso twins running around..” He trailed off, not wanting to finish that thought.
“He’s fine. He’s hidden out somewhere safe. He’s changed a lot, but he’s still got his wits about him. We make sure to check in with him ever so often. He’s taken to wearing a cape though. Well. And his underwear.”
“A cape?” Rhys winced. Out of all the things Vaughn has done, a cape was the last thing he expected.
You chuckled. “It’s kinda cute.. He misses you. A lot, y’know? I know you don’t wanna step foot on Pandora again, but I’m sure he’d be elated if you went to see him.”
“Now that you mention it, I’m actually working on getting him here. A fast travel network. A private one, of course. There’ll be a code for people wanting to do business with us.”
A smart idea, and you’re sure it’ll boost trade. “That’s.. really neat. And convenient.”
“That’s the idea.”
The others slowly started waking up, Zane being the first one while complaining about his back. But he’s not old! He just slept weird! You couldn’t blame him. You were 27 and already had aching joints. A doctor’s visit wouldn’t kill you.
“Why’s it so damn bright on this planet..” He muttered, eyes squinted at the offending sunlight shining through the windows
“Our planet is a teensy bit closer to the star than Pandora. Doesn’t really make sense, considering we actually get rain and Pandora doesn’t, but I’m not a scientist and I don’t particularly care.” Rhys shrugged, pouring his coffee with a smile. “Want some? I made a whole pot.”
“Lillith said the ship was ready when we are.” You mentioned, reading over the text again. “I guess they’re itching to get to Athenas.”
Zane groaned, rolling his eyes at the name being brought up. “Lillith can wait. Always in a rush, never wanting to give people time to rest while she sits up there on the ship.”
Someone woke up grouchy. You didn’t press any further. “Well, we do need the rest. Besides. The others haven’t woken yet. Does FL4K even need sleep?”
No one was sure.
“Look. All I’m saying is be careful, check your guns, keep ‘em cleaned out. You don’t them jamming on you again. Shoot me a message occasionally okay? Just to let me know how you’re doing. Or you could even visit!” Rhys said, a bit anxious about your departure. “And don’t get close to those vlogging idiots!”
“Rhys.” You placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “We’ll be fine. I’ll message when I can.”
His mouth formed a thin line, brows furrowed in worry before he pulled you into an embrace. “I missed you.. We got to see each other after years and now you’re going off again. Don’t die on me, okay?”
Your stomach dropped in guilt, and you squeezed him tight. “I promise I’ll come back safe and sound. And the next time I visit, I’ll bring Vaughn, deal?
And with that, you were off.
You watched the planet shrink with distance, and an emptiness filled your chest. “You think they’ll be okay now..?” You asked Zane’s reflection.
He took a seat beside you, letting out a small grunt. “I think so.. but what about you?”
“Part of me wanted to stay. It felt normal, familiar. Like old times.. at least somewhat.” You admitted. “But.. there’s a lot of important things at stake. I don’t understand all of it, but I can’t stand around and wait for it to end without trying to help stop it.”
He draped his arm over your bent knees, casting a glance out the bay window at Promethea. It was a small speck now. “You can duck out at any time. No one will blame you for wanting a safer, easier life.”
“Yeah, and leave you behind? Who’s gonna heal your back once you finally break it?” You smirked playfully.
“Oh, lass. You didn’t have to cut me that deep. Makin’ fun of my age? I’m hurt.” He wasn’t really, but he couldn’t help but ham it up.
“Lucky for you, I like older men.”
You’re right. Lucky him.
Chapter 21: Sunflower - Post Malone, Swae Lee
You headed to the bridge, boots shuffling a bit on the metal beneath them. The others were wandering about, discussing things with the new Prometheans who wanted to join the fight. You, however, were going to talk to Lillith. She requested your presence, though for what, you were unsure.
She and Tannis turned when they heard you enter. “There she is! How’d it feel to have successfully completed your first mission?” She looked almost proud, but you couldn’t tell. She was hard to read..
“Emotionally, pretty good. Physically, I feel like shit.” You admitted. “But what matters is we got everything settled.”
“Too true.” She smiled. “Tannis made a breakthrough on Zane’s dream finally. We wanted to discuss it with you before anyone else.”
“About that.. I never got to tell you, since we needed to get to Promethea ASAP. That dream, I don’t think it was Zane’s. A few nights ago, I woke up from his dream. If that makes sense..”
“Interesting.. but that’s does explain things a bit more.” Tannis said, finger on her chin in thought. “I managed to get ahold of some of Typhon DeLeon’s audio logs..” She noticed your confused look. “Ah- he was the very first vault hunter. He disappeared suddenly, and no one could find him since then. But his audio logs are scattered.. back to my point. In his logs, he mentioned a strange, new planet he’s never seen before. Floating structures, glowing plants. It’s just like the dream..”
“So what does that mean? How can I dream about a planet I never knew existed?” You ask, brow furrowed in confusion.
“The only thing I can come up with, is your powers have memories attached to them. I received my powers from someone else, and occasionally I know things I never thought I would. That has to be it..”
“So my powers came from someone else that at least knew of this planet?”
“Precisely. Though, we’re unsure of who. That individual has been long gone by now.”
You didn’t know how to feel about that. Having a dead person’s powers. But it definitely piqued your curiosity. Perhaps you should work on finding the planet..
“You mentioned another dream of Zane’s you’ve seen. Was it anything similar?”
Heat rushed to your cheeks and you quickly grew flustered. “Uh-! No! I- it wasn’t important. Just- just a normal dream. I just woke up touching his arm and- and that’s how I saw it..”
“Wait. Touching his arm? You guys share a bunk?” Lillith smirked, finding a means to eternally tease you.
“No! I- I have to go do something important!” You groaned, quickly escaping the situation. “Thanks Tannis!”
It was quiet a moment, before Tannis spoke up. “Did you really need to fluster her like that?”
“Hey! Dolly! Where’re you headed?” Zane called, jogging to catch up with your pace. “Looks like you’re on a mission.”
You slowed your stride for him, sighing and crossing your arms. “Tannis figured out the dream. Kind of.”
“Oh, did she now? What’s the explanation?”
“It wasn’t your dream. It was mine.” You picked at your nails, nervous. You should bring up the other dream to him too.
“Wait. Okay- that makes more sense. But why was I the one to have it?” He asked, leaning against the hallway wall.
“Well.. that’s the thing. I woke up one night and.. and I guess I rested my hand on you while we were sleeping. And I woke up after seeing a dream of yours. I guess that’s a new ability of mine. Dream sharing.”
“One of my dreams? Eh. Was it the one where my brother was kicking my ass?”
“N-no. But it was one where you asked me to go with you after all this mess is over.” You admitted, watching his face twist into an almost panicked look. It was like you triggered his fight or flight response. “I- I pulled my hand away after a while.”
“So you didn’t see anything after that?”
“..Okay. Okay! No worries then!” He laughed nervously, not wanting to look you in the face.
God how embarrassing would that have been? Oh yeah, sorry about the dream where I was balls deep in ya, do you want coffee? I’m gonna go get some.
You were definitely curious, but if he didn’t want to tell you the rest of it, you certainly wouldn’t push the issue. “Right. Well, how long do we have until we hit Athenas?”
“Not long. We’re trying to prepare first, get some supplies and stash up on more shields. Obviously the ones we have now aren’t worth a shit.” He couldn’t count how many times the damn thing blew.
Oh! That reminded you! You needed to figure out a better way to hone your abilities. You can’t keep wearing yourself out. You didn’t need to be all powerful, but keeping your energy up after healing would be easier on everyone. If you could find an eridium stash, you’d be able to use that to your convenience. Would Lillith know?
“That look means you have an idea.” Zane said, eyes narrowed at your doe-eyed look. “I suppose I’ll quit wastin’ your time and let you go about your way. Meet up with me later, yeah? Got a surprise for you.”
“Right. Of course!” You pulled him into a quick kiss before running back off to the bridge. Sure, you left in a flustered mess but now you have a purpose! Who’d be a better trainer none-other than the firehawk herself!
Zane’s eyes followed your bouncing form, wondering what exactly was so important that you had to actually run off. A snickering to his left broke his train of thought.
“The look on your face is priceless. Can I take a picture to remind you to lighten up once in a while?” Moxxi teased, leaning on her bar. “Maybe I could send it to her whenever you’re in a bad mood.”
“Oi. None of that. Lemme be. Mind your own business.”
She turned away to mix a drink, but her laugh could still be heard.
“Lillith!” You skid to a halt, using to door frame to ensure you didn’t fall. “I know I just left! But I have a really important favor to ask! Teach me how to use eridium!”
She shared a surprised look with Tannis and Ellie. “Wwwwhy do you want to learn eridium utilization?”
“I need more energy! Eridium enhances our powers! I need to be able to keep up with everyone and right now I’m nowhere near where I need to be!” You explained quickly. “So please! I- I want to be better!”
Lillith looked to the shorter woman beside her, who gave a nod. “I’m not sure how good my teachings are gonna be now that my powers are gone, but if I can help in anyway, I will. Follow us. Ellie?”
“You’re in charge. Let’s go killer.”
Chapter 22: Soldier, Poet, King - The Oh Hellos
God, Zane was bored. Bored, bored, bored! You’d been gone for hours now and he stuck to just pacing about. Checked on the bridge, Ellie needed nothing. Checked in with Moxxi, she’s good. Checked in with anyone, they’re all good. He supposed he could make a few more upgrades on the pistol he’d give you, but what if you didn’t even like it?
You’re worrying over nothing.
He sighed, heaving himself up from his seat. Maybe he was just stir crazy. Getting to Athenas would surely make him feel better. Briefly wishing he could draw well to keep himself occupied, he headed downstairs. He could at least watch you spar with Lillith. Wait.. would that be creepy? He didn’t think it would be, but what if everyone else thought it was?
Zane peeked in first, making sure no one else was in. Only Tannis, who he didn’t mind. He actually got on quite well with her.
She was the first to notice him, but kept her voice quiet. No need to draw attention, which he probably preferred. “I was wondering when you’d find your way down here.”
“How’s it going?” He sat beside her.
“So far, so good. We’re starting small so she doesn’t overdo it..”
“Eh, what exactly are you doing?” He didn’t actually know. All he knew was you took off out of nowhere.
“Lillith is teaching her how to absorb eridium. It enhances abilities. And since Pandora is abundant with it, it shouldn’t take long before she gets the hang of it. I have to admit, I’m quite excited to see what she can do at full power.”
That didn’t surprise him at all. “Anymore breakthroughs about her dreams?”
“Not yet. But I do have a request. There are audio logs scattered about on the different planets. If you all could find them, I’m sure I could get even further with the research.”
“Consider it done then.” Zane wasn’t quite sure what logs she was referring to, or who recorded them, but you probably had an idea. “Rhys kept his part of the bargain?”
“Yes, he did. There shouldn’t be too many more pieces. Maya has already confirmed Athenas has one on lockdown. I can only assume that’s why the CoV are there.”
He winced when you took a particularly hard fall. “What even is their goal..?”
“The same as ours. They want to find the vaults. Though I suspect their intentions are malicious while ours are just greed.”
Harsh, but she’s right.
“Speaking of greed.. what are you going to do about her bounty contract?”
“I’m going to back out. Tell them she got away.” That’s the only thing he really could do. He made you a promise after all.
“You’re getting better. Reflexes are getting faster. And you can pick up on patterns easily. But you’re holding back.” Lillith said. “Pretend I’m the enemy. Pretend this is life or death. Give it your all because you won’t hurt me. I promise.” Well, you might. But she’s tough!
“Easier said than done..” You breathed, hands on your knees. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. And I definitely don’t want to damage the ship either.”
“Trust me. Whatever you break, Ellie can fix. I’ve seen her build a car from a screw. She’s like a savant.”
That’s.. pretty impressive. “Okay.. okay. I won’t hold back anymore.”
She smiled, and handed you another piece of eridium. “You remember how to absorb it?”
“Yeah. Yeah I think.”
“Okay. Now do that, but slowly over time. You could use it all at once for a quick finish, or you can use it over time to ensure you have a steady flow on energy.”
Now that wasn’t something you’ve thought of before. “Am I always going to need eridium?” You gazed at the small, glowing mineral.
“Not always. Eventually your body will grow accustomed to using a lot of energy and it’ll just produce more. It’s.. kinda complicated. Tannis knows more about it, and I’m sure it’ll delight her if you sat and listened to her.”
You’ll have to do that on a free day, but keep that in mind.
It took her a moment to notice, but she couldn’t prevent the smirk that grew on her face when she spotted Zane. “We have company. Wanna take a break and say hello?”
Your cheeks grew hot. “Er.. sure. Just a quick one.. I need water anyway.”
Tannis perked when you shuffled over. “Taking a break are we? Eridium is always hard to get used to. You’ll be tired after all of this!”
Hell, you were tired now.
“Doing good though.” Zane gave a soft smile.
“I take it you got bored of waiting around for something to happen?” You chuckled. “No one needed help?”
“God, it’s so damn boring on this ship..” He muttered. “With how perfect it is, I’d hate to see what happens when something goes wrong. Er.. if something goes wrong.”
“Don’t be so pessimistic Zane!” Tannis chirped. “This ship is practically fool proof. The only thing that would hurt it would be a black hole.”
Which happen to litter space, but she’d keep that to herself! So many secrets Tannis!
You weren’t sure if you’d ever get used to Tannis, but you certainly enjoyed her optimistic voice as she spoke about potential ways to die. “I’m sure Tannis is right. Nothing to worry about!”
Well. You hoped. You wanted to warn Lillith and Tannis about something you weren’t quite sure if your dream would come to fruition, but dreaming about their friend dying left you uneasy..
Chapter 23: Miracle - Caravan Palace
A short chapter tonight I hope you’re all enjoying the holidays!
Athenas was beautiful, too bad you were tired enough to not care. But it was so.. exotic. Ethereal almost. Mountains stood tall above the fog filled valleys, pink blossoms falling from the trees. They were beautiful, unlike anything you ever seen. Not even Tantalus was this pretty.
“You like it?” Zane nudged you, eyes trained on your face. “Athenas is one of the more beautiful planets. And the monks are alright. A bit boring though.”
“Monks? It’s a peaceful planet?”
“Well. It was, until the CoV landed. I’m assuming only a few are helping Maya in her endeavors to keep everything safe.”
Well that didn’t seem right.. but it wasn’t your place to step in. “Then we need to find her as soon as possible.”
“That’s the plan. Lucky for us, she’s kept in contact with Lillith. We know exactly where to find her.” Amara said. “She’s probably on her way to us.”
Another siren. How did all six end up in the same galaxy? The universe was big.. Maybe it really was the vault.
The small walk to the meet up spot was honestly refreshing, and you took the time to observe a few flowers. What was interesting to you was the fact that there weren’t any kind of carnivorous plants like Pandora had. Hell, even Tantalus had a few. “This is incredible.. even the plant life is peaceful.”
“Heads up! I think I see her..” Moze was looking into the distance, and it sort of reminded you of a pointing skag. Still as a statue as they drew attention to whatever caught their eye.
“Blue hair?” Amara asked.
“Looks like it. Doesn’t really look like a monk though..”
“Lillith never said Maya was a monk. Just that most of the inhabitants here were monks.” Zane corrected.
She slowed her stride the closer the got, and removed her hood. “You must be the new vault hunters Lillith was telling me about! I’m Maya. I can’t thank you enough for coming.”
Oh good god, she was gorgeous. Were you blushing? You definitely were! You averted your gaze, looking down at your boots as fast as you could. Damn your shyness!
“Couldn’t let a friend of Lillith’s do this all by herself.” FL4K spoke, trying their best to prevent Mr. Chew from eating any of the flora.
“Let’s get to it then. The CoV assholes attacked a defenseless village. These monks.. they don’t have anyway to fight back or defend themselves. And I won’t make them either.” Forcing violence on a peaceful community just seemed wrong. “I’ve already promised the piece of the vault key to Lillith if you guys helped in anyway.. I.. also hope you don’t mind kids. I have an apprentice. Her name’s Ava. She can be a little much, but she’s got a good heart.”
A child? In the middle of this mess? You frowned slightly, wondering if the child was safe at least.. “She’ll be sitting the fights out, right?”
“Well. I tell her to sit the fights out, but that doesn’t mean she’ll listen.” Her stubbornness will get her into a lot of trouble one of these days. “Come with me to the library first. I just wanna check in, and see if she actually stayed put.”
The answer to that was a hard no.
Chapter 24: Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind
I honestly don’t get why everyone hates Ava I really liked her character and the bond she and Maya had.
“Oh yeah! I’m totally at the library. Right where I said I’d be!” Ava’s cute voice could be heard from Maya’s ECHO. “I don’t know why you have so little faith in me!”
”Because I’m standing fifty feet away from you and you’re not in the library.” Maya said, a small smirk on her face. It was hard to stay mad at Ava.
The blue haired girl looked up, surprise and embarrassment evident on her face before it turned to pure excitement. “Woah.. more vault hunters?”
Ah. Yes. The idolization of greedy murderers. You felt a little bad, but being a vault hunter wasn’t something to necessarily be proud of. You gave the girl a small wave, since no one else would.
”Your apprentice.. is like twelve.” Amara was glaring at the girl. “Maya don’t you think you should.. maybe wait until she’s older?”
”No. And I’ll explain why. But now is not the time. We need to head to the center of town.. The vault key is sealed away, but it won’t be for long. Especially if the CoV are still coming in waves. I swear, it’s like the entire planet of Pandora is on their side.”
“So we’ll just hold them off for you until they retreat.” You suggested, crossing your arms. “I mean. These guys only have strength in numbers. They aren’t the brightest crayons in the box..”
“For? No. I’m not gonna make you guys do it yourself. I’ll be helping. Ava. Before you even start, you will go back to the library. Do you understand?”
The girl gave a solemn look, but nodded regardless. She must really want to help, or maybe she wants to prove herself. And for some reason, that made you resonate with her.
Zane watched your expression closely, a faint smile on his face. “I’ve got an idea. Though, it’s negotiable.. Why don’t you sit with Ava?”
“Well. You’re a vault hunter. And you got the cool powers. I’m sure Ava has a lot of questions.” Besides. You’d be out of the line of fire!
What the hell was he doing..? How could you decline now that he has the girls hopes up?!
“As much as I would love for you to sit with her, we’re gonna need your help.” Maya intervened. “Ava, I promise you can ask all the questions you have later once everything is settled. Okay?”
Well.. at least you didn’t have to let her down.
“So.. what’s she an apprentice for?” You asked Maya quietly as you both looted ammunition.
“She’s.. gonna take my place one day. She’s gonna be a siren. And I know that sounds a little silly, considering she’s a child and sort of stubborn but.. she deserves a chance at the life she wants.” Maya said, voice just as soft as yours. “We have a.. weird relationship. Maybe sisterly. She ran away. We found her on a cargo ship.. never really talks about her parents either.”
“That’s.. really sweet of you to take her in.” You admitted.
“I’ve been told. But you. What’s your story? Looks like you and the old man have some history.”
“I- he- it’s complicated.” Kind of. “Anyway- how can we help everyone out and keep them safe if they aren’t willing to defend themselves. Do you have a plan?”
Zane couldn’t help but pout a bit. Old? Complicated? He was neither of those things! He turned away with a huff. He’ll just have to show everyone then!
“Hey guys.. I don’t think the kid is gonna stay put.. I think we should keep an eye out just in case.” Moze said quietly. “I’m not too keen on babysitting.”
“Hey lass?” Zane looked over to the smaller girl, who was poking something with the toe of her boot.
“Yeah you. You wanna come along yeah?”
Ava slowly looked back at Maya, who was still in conversation with the other siren. “I- I mean, I do.”
Zane hummed in thought. “Yknow.. a certain someone can turn things invisible.”
“Zane, no way! That is way too dangerous! What if something happens to her?!” Amara butt in, putting her foot down. “That’s a hard no from me.”
“We already know the CoV fire blindly.. but if she stays behind cover.. she should be fine. But. The thing is, she may not. Maya’s already said she’s stubborn..” FL4K pointed out.
“I can stay hidden! I promise! I- I just wanna see everyone in action!” Ava promise, giving puppy eyes as she did so.
“Oh no. Here it goes.” Moze rolled her own eyes before they settled on Zane.
“The last time someone gave you that look you threw away hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring them on board and play house.”
“It- I am not playing house. I just had a change of heart!” Zane defended himself. “Besides! Killing a siren? An impossible and stupid ass feat! I say we just let her come along and if we get ourselves into trouble, I’ll handle it!”
“Yeah but now you have to ask (y/n) if she’s even willing to waste energy on keeping someone hidden.” Amara said, still not liking the idea.
“All I’m saying if she isn’t going to stay put, we can at least keep her close without her being a target..”
“Do they normally argue like this?” Maya asked.
“Yeah. Surprisingly. My guess is Ava gave Zane doll eyes and now he’s caving.” You explained, eyes on the spider on his jacket. “Ultimately. The decision is yours to make, but we can keep her hidden. I feel like it’d mean a lot to her.. especially if she gets to be with you.” Besides. You’d rather waste your energy on keeping people together, not killing them and tearing them apart.
“If you’re sure she won’t get hurt in any way.. and she won’t bother anyone.. I- I don’t see how her getting a bit of experience could hurt..”
“Alright kiddo, c’mere.” You called. “This is how it’s gonna work.”
You gave Zane a small wink as Ava bounded over.
Chapter 25: Come With Me Now - Kongos
You piggybacked the smaller girl, readjusting her ever so often if you’re arms got tired. She was surprisingly light. You watched Zane glance back a few times to see if you were there, since the ECHO eye implant actually allowed him to. You’d respond with a nod and he’d continue on. Despite the safety in numbers, and the aid of your abilities, you were still tense.
“I was feeding a stray, Hermes, before the CoV came..” Ava whispered to you, hoping not too disturb anyone else. “Do you think he’s okay..?”
“I’m sure he is. We could look for him after everything is settled.”
“You guys would do that for me?”
“I mean.. yeah. Helping is what we do.” You shrugged a bit, wondering what exactly Hermes was.
Maya held a hand up, signaling for everyone to stop. A distant roar of an engine could be heard.
“Maliwan engines..?” Moze looked around for the source of the offending noise. “But- how? We took Katagawa out!”
“Just because you cut the head off of the snake, doesn’t mean it won’t thrash for a while.” You said. “My guess is they’ll be even more aggressive now that they don’t have someone to hold them back..” Just like Hyperion.
“I don’t doubt it. We’ll need to be careful then.. Grouping up might be best. We’ll be able to watch each other’s backs.” Maya suggested.
“Or you could plan a coup. Take cover while they’re unsuspecting and gain the upper hand. A preemptive strike could be detrimental.” You said, looking for a place you and Ava could hide out. Eyes following the small stream, your gaze landed on a small waterfall between the cliffs. There! “Alright Ava. Hang tight..”
Zane felt a bit better knowing your gun wouldn’t jam on you anymore, though he didn’t particularly like being able to keep an eye on you. He supposed you were very similar to Ava in that aspect. You did what you wanted despite the advice others gave you.
“Alright boss. What’s the plan?” Amara asked. “Preemptive attack, or balls to the wall?”
“No.. I’m not gonna hide. I want these jerks to know just who’s protecting this planet..” Maya growled, glaring at the nearby dropship.
“Everyone will be okay, right?” Ava’s quiet voice asked. “I mean that’s a lot of bad guys..”
You snorted quietly. Of course it would seem like a lot to a child. “I’m sure they’ll be fine.. They’ve fought way worse than a few psychos and some company lackeys. This is a piece of cake to them.” You knew for a fact that Maya was alongside Zer0 when they killed Jack. If they did that without dying, you were sure they’d live through this.
“Being a vault hunter seems hard..”
“Honestly, it is. You leave home, get shot at, and sometimes the vaults just have giant monsters instead of riches.”
“That.. sounds horrible. Wait- monsters?”
“I’m guessing they’re just a different race or species, but I’ve never met a friendly one.” You explained. “That’s why vault hunters form teams and families like this. It’s nearly impossible to do it alone..”
And yet.. here Maya was, defending her home planet by herself. Until you all came along. Maybe they’d be able to come with you on the rest of the journey
“Look who it is! The Savior of Athenas!” The man speaking had a horrible faux accent, and an even worse ego. “Look kiddies, I’ll spare you if you just lay down your guns and take us to the vault key. It’s that easy!”
“Can it asshole! You’re not getting the key!” Maya spat.
“Look I’m giving you a chance to walk away with your lives! It’s a good deal!” He sang.
“Ugh let’s get this over with.” FL4K groaned, shooting one of the ships thrusters. “If they won’t make the first move, we will.”
“Fine! You asked for it!”
Several ships landed in the surrounding area, each full of armed troops. These were different than the ones on Promethea. The armor was better, upgraded even.
“Should’ve taken the surprise attack..” Zane muttered, drawing his pistol. “I don’t suppose you can blow things up? Maybe set things on fire?”
“Mm.. nope.” Maya popped the p. “But I can render that armor useless. And turn people into pretzels.”
“Might wanna go ahead and start doin’ that..”
“What is it that Maya can do?” You inquired quietly, watching the woman’s markings glow brighter with each passing moment.
“She called it slag.. whatever that means. All I know is that it hurts pretty bad and it’s gross.”
Slag..? Like eridium run off? You’ll have to look into that one. “Is it.. safe for our friends?”
“I.. I’m not sure.” But the use of the words our friends made Ava a bit giddy. She’s never had friends, aside from Maya.
“When I give the word, I want you all to take cover.” Just in case.. She remembers hitting Axton one time, and it turned out horrible. He recovered, but it took a hell of a long time. “Ready..” A pause, just to let the troops get a bit closer. “Now!”
Zane scaled a small gate, choosing to gain higher ground. He preferred to see everything. FL4K shrouded Chew from the attack, knowing it would affect them nearly as much as the others. Moze and Amara sucked behind a fountain. Moze’s idea. Amara would’ve picked better cover, but it worked out fine regardless.
A flash of blackened purple filled the platoon’s vision, a few individual soldiers shouting and trying to get the substance off. “What the hell is this?!”
“Hurry! Open fire!” Zane called, taking the first shot, and then the second.
“No teeth..” FL4K murmured to Mr. Chew. “Let me handle it.” They didn’t want their baby to get sick after all.
“Woah..” Ava was right. It does seem kinda gross. It was almost like tar. Except the tar is purple and glowing, and likely supernatural. And smelled slightly like lavender. Was that just you, or did it actually smell like lavender?
Either way, it was gross.
Chapter 26: Gooey - Glass Animals
I AM BAD AT THINGS
You had to admit.. babysitting was a little boring. Maybe babysitting was a harsh term, but sitting out and watching everyone fight did nothing for your anxiety. You were restless, itching for this fight to be over so you could get moving again. The only action you got was when someone fell on top of you, and shooting them silenced their confusion and suspicion. At least the eridium helped lengthen your abilities.
Zane was almost envious of you. While you had to watch after a child, you did get a break. Maybe after this entire mess, he’d just quit the business. How nice would that be, Zane? You’d be able to sleep in. Not to mention he’s still a bit tilted over being interrupted on Promethea. He wanted to continue, but didn’t really have the courage to ask.
The mayhem slowed, eventually halting. Well.. until the last little trooper made a run for it. Surely they’d let him g-!
Maya sighed, clenched her hand and watched him fall. “I think that’s all of them.. let’s regroup with (y/n) and Ava. Wherever they are..”
“We’re here.” You said, having made your way over. You stifled a laugh when everyone jumped, you were still invisible.
“Jesus.. do you really have to do that?” Zane breathed, hand over his heart.
“Sorry. Been this way for a while now that I forgot I guess.” You shrugged, letting Ava hop off your shoulders. “So are we good to keep moving? We got pretty bored. Ava found a cool rock though.”
“Hey, at least you got the luxury of being bored!” Moze teased, though it was good natured. “Hey why don’t we all take turns? I wanna be invisible next.”
“No way! You’re what- maybe 25? Let the older people go first! I’ll go. Then Amara.” Zane decided.
“So you’re admitting your old?”
“If being 42 gets me benefits, then I’ll be the first to admit I’m old as feckin’ dirt.”
“If anyone’s going first it’s FL4K. They haven’t made a single greedy remark yet.” You harrumphed.
“Why don’t we all work together and just dismantle FL4K. It’s the only way..” Amara whispered.
Maya watched the scene unfold. A familiar, nostalgic homesickness settled in her chest. She remembered when she and her own team joked around like this. Axton and Salvador were at each throats, while she, Zer0 and Krieg laughed at them.
Krieg.. how was he doing now? Did he miss her at all?
“Hey.. why don’t we all rest for the night? The library has a loft area. The monks like to study, so adding lofts to the library allowed them to rest without hiking back home.” She offered. “I think we’re all tired enough.”
Her sadness didn’t go unnoticed, but you all agreed to resting regardless.
The nights on Athenas were cool and breezy. It seemed as if the entire planet was asleep. It was almost jarring. Tantalus had nocturnal animals. Their cries filled the night air, but here.. it was almost completely silent save for the wind.
“Hey.” You jumped, and Zane felt a little bad. “Sorry.. got you a water..” he tossed it to you before sauntering over. “You look like you’re overthinking. Wanna share?”
“I.. couldn’t help but notice that Maya seemed a little sad earlier. I don’t know her enough to ask why, but I want to help if I can.” You sighed.
“You think Ava would know?” Zane asked. “We could always ask her.”
“Yeah but what if she doesn’t know? Then she’s gonna worry until she figures it out..” You had a point. There’s no need to worry her right now. You sat back a bit, crossing your legs before patting them.
Zane gladly took the invitation without hesitation. He fell back, head resting on your thighs and calves. The ceiling wasn’t very interesting, but why look at that when he could look at you? His eyes closed once your fingers made their way to his hair, gently running through it. “Don’t think about it too much doll.. Self preservation is key when you hunt vaults. Even though you want to, you won’t be able to help everyone. Sometimes they have to do it themselves..”
You knew he was right, but that didn’t help you shake the feeling at all. Leaning down, you gave him a soft, lingering kiss. “Thanks.. for like, everything.”
“Stop thanking me.” He murmured into your touch.
“Y’know.. it’s still early in the evening.” You tried your best to hide your smirk, though you weren’t very good at it. “Think you could be quiet enough for us t-“
Zane was up and facing you instantly. “Absolutely..”
“You didn’t even left me finish, but I guess you already know what I’m talking about.”
“Look. Don’t tell me you weren’t in a tizzy about getting cut off on Promethea.” He breathed, pulling you back in for another kiss.
Well.. he had a point. Promethea was an unfortunate mess.
You shifted, laying down and pulling him along. His hands took to roaming, squeezing your hips to ground himself. Zane briefly wondered if this was another dream, but decided everything felt too right to be one.
Hands trailed up your body, running over your chest and to your wrists above your head.
You didn’t mind him keeping your wrists down. If anything, you appreciated it. Figuring out where to put your hands always made you a bit nervous. His kisses moved to your jaw, hips grinding into yours. And it was at that moment, you realized your clothes were way too tight, thanks to the heat pooling between your hips.
You signaled him with a nudge of your thigh, and you removed your top once he sat up.
“Fuck..” It was quiet, a nearly inaudible whisper, but you were sure he said it. His eyes were heavy lidded, gazing at your bare form. Your tattoos trailed your body, and his touch followed until his fingers reached the hem of your underwear. Even underneath the fabric, he could see the soft glow.
He broke from his thoughts as you shifted onto your knees, sliding the offending fabric with a small wiggle of your hips. He felt himself freezing up, a sense of bashfulness settling over him until your hands met his waist. “So are you keeping these on orrr..” You gave the waistband of his trousers a little tug, and it lightened his mood a bit. A smile grew on his face and he took the opportunity to push you back before tending to them himself. “Now who’s the impatient one?” He teased, a small gasp catching in his throat when his hand brushed his erection. Pushing your knees apart, he returned to his previous position. Everything seemed a little more intense, and now that you were close again, the fact that you could feel his cock resting between you both didn’t help your nerves. He must have sensed your reluctance. “You can always ask me to. At any time. Just bec-“
You rested a finger over his lips, effectively silencing him. “Don’t make me shut you up again..”
A shudder wracked his body at your words. Zane wasn’t sure if they were meant to sound sultry, but that’s how he took them. He claimed your mouth again, arm hooking under your knee to give himself leverage. “Been waitin’ for this..”
So have you. You gasped, sudden and sharp, when he filled you. Had you not slapped your hands over your mouth, you would’ve woken someone up. Your eyes finally peeked open, and met his intense blue ones. “Y’good?” He breathed, and you nodded. You were more than good. Good was an understatement.
Zane set a slow pace, knowing it’d be in both of your best interests to keep quiet if you wanted to actually finish what you’d started. But even that didn’t stop him from spilling soft curses each time his thrusts hit a bit harder. His thumb brushed over your clit, and it filled him with delight to watch your thighs quake and twitch at the extra stimulation.
Your whine was soft and low, but still there. It was all so much. The risk of being caught, his hands, the smack of your hips meeting his. You were so close to teetering over the edge, but you feel like you’d just begun. “Ever t-thought this is where we’d- ah- end up?” You asked between pants.
He gave you a genuine laugh in response. “Not in a million years..” But he was so, so glad. Grabbing your thigh, he hiked you leg up to try and get deeper. Just a little more.. that’s all he needed! And apparently it was all you needed as well. Your eyes shut tight, back arching off the bed as your orgasm crashed over you. Your walls squeezed him, and his own little moment of bliss chased yours. God, seeing you from this angle, like this? A goddamned blessing if he’d ever known one.
What did you ever do to luck out this much?
A different kind of heat had pooled in your belly before he’d pulled out. “Still good..?” He asked you, and you gave a smile and a nod. “I’m good..”
Chapter 27: update!
Hi everyone. just wanted to fill you in on what’s going on I’ve been going to training at my job, and my Crohn’s disease has worsened, thus the lack of updates! I haven’t given up on this, but I’m gonna need a bit of time!