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Prompt: Any - any - all the pieces of my heart

All the pieces of my heart

Aeryn had thought she didn't have a heart.

Oh, she had an organ that pumped blood around her body, but that thing John called "heart"? Based on some superstition from even more primitive humans that the bundle of muscle in their chests was where love and compassion and kindness lived? She didn't think she had one of those.

Not until parts of it had been stripped away. Not until she realized how much she cared for so many things she'd either taken for granted or never expected to care for.

Like her life as a Peacekeeper soldier. For all she could now see how frelled up it was, it had enveloped her, safe and comforting. And though she no longer wanted to collect all those pieces and try to glue them back together—to return to her regiment and her old life—there were still things worth caring about, pieces of her heart worth gathering: honor, strength, loyalty.

Flying her Prowler, too. That had meant more to her than some nebulous feeling for Velorek: a man who, whatever else he was offering her, was also betraying the trust placed in him by others. That alone had been reason enough to inform on him. The chance to get her Prowler back had just made it easier to ignore the other part of her heart.

She wasn't sure she ever wanted to find that piece again; she wasn't sure she had much choice, not with John dragging her, unwilling yet longing, step by step toward it.

And her hard-won friendships, forged here on this ship. She hadn't known how much of her heart they'd taken up, these criminals and renegades, until she saw the loathing on their faces when they learned what she'd done. Loathing she couldn't fault them for, even if they'd committed crimes of equal weight themselves.

Those pieces of her heart she was going to hold tight, though she'd found they could hurt more deeply than any cut from a Qualta Blade.

What she'd said to Pilot was true: when Velorek had stroked Pilot's cheek, she hadn't been able to fathom why he'd do a thing like that, and now she couldn't fathom not doing it. Just like she could no longer imagine what it was like to not have a heart or to not want one, even if hers was broken into fragments and scattered across the universe.