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A Universal Understanding

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There are times in a man's life when you realise there is just no understanding women.

I'm not talking about the drama and tantrums, or the need to spend every last throne on a haircut that doesn't look any different to the one before. I mean the way they just know things.

Like they know when you took that sliver of that pie in the fridge, or that you actually spent the morning watching the Pan Galactic Surfing Championships instead of sleeping before your shift. It doesn't matter that you get into bed half an hour before they even come through the door – they just know. They shake their heads, ruffle your hair and won't let you forget it for the rest of the week.

I wonder if they're all born with it. Some cosmic balance that makes human women able to see through your lies like they're window dressing. And what if it's not just human women?

Whatever it is, I'm glad that it exists. Without it I'd be spending my night outside Winnipeg Drift – without a helmet. And it's all thanks to her.

Beccy Bennett. Rebecca “You're Lucky I'm Here To Save Your Ass” Bennett.

She'll never let me forget it. Just like she doesn't hesitate to add “again” to the end of every accusatory sentence she's firing my way, even though she's in the kitchen making me a cup of that bitter coffee she likes so much. Figures the woman would be berating me at the same time she's trying to take care of me. Yet another cosmological imbalance. Whoever created the universe sure had a strange sense of humour.

She hands me the steaming cup and I take a small sip while she glares, hands on her hips and fire in her eyes. I'm so cold and sore and damn grateful to be alive that I don't even have the heart to tell her that I like sugar and cream in my coffee. I just sit there and drink while I listen to her tell me how much of an idiot I am while she moves around the kitchen. Again.

Trouble is, she's right.

The meeting had been a trap, and I'd seen it coming. You don't get last long as a Detective without developing an understanding of the criminal mind you're hunting, and I'd honed that particular skill a long time ago. That's why I was highly sought after, and that's why I’m highly paid. Unfortunately, that's also why there's a bounty on my head the size of a Nightsider's ransom.

But my ego got in the way.

Someone wanted me dead, and they were happy to spend a lot of money to do it. I'm not even talking about Bounty Hunters or tech; I was paid a large sum - in advance - to solve a corporate case. I took the money, and solved the case in less than a week. I felt dirty being paid so much to do so little, but work is work. I may not like it, but I've got a ship that needs parts – and a crew that needs feeding. Being paid well means I can travel, and my second job depends on my ability to move around.

This time, though... they'd gotten close. Too close.

I was lucky Beccy was visiting Winnipeg when she was, or I have no doubt I would have been nothing more than a waste blip on someone's sensor.

--

“... and you damn well knew the office was rigged, Dirk. Why the heck would you even step in there? Don’t answer that, it’ll just make me even madder...”

For a minute I think the steam is coming off of her, but then the sizzling sound of cooking kisses the recycled air. She turned around and waved the spatula at me accusingly.

“Did you even know the hit on you had doubled since last month? What did you do?”

Finally she stops talking. I sipped at the coffee and suppressed the grimace that threatened at the bitterness. Truth was, I don’t know what I did to warrant the increase of the price on my head. Companies are always unhappy with me, but I’ve been pretty proud that my bounty had been flying steady for the last few months - I even went out of my way to avoid the jobs that would have gotten me into more trouble. Attracting attention in my line of work doesn’t keep you alive long.

Beccy realised I wasn’t going to answer and turned back to the stove. She may be annoyed with me, but I know she cares more than she lets on. She’s a tough one, my Beccy. Of course, she’d shoot me six ways to Sunday if she even heard me say “my Beccy” - for someone so ambivalently tough and caring, she didn’t take kindly to anyone referring to her as anyone but her own person.

A plate of scambled eggs was placed in front of me, and I savoured the unique smell of Beccy’s home cooking. Fresh eggs were a rarity in space - real, not the synth kind - and I couldn’t pick up the fork fast enough. But first...

“Thanks for saving my bacon, Becs,” and I gave her that lopsided grin that women can’t say no to. I don’t use it often, and I’m fairly certain she’s the only person in the known worlds that is able to see right through it.

She shook her head, but I could see the grin was about the break through.

“You just.. you just drive me crazy. I can’t be there to rescue you all the time, and -”

“Cook me breakfast?”

“ - cook you.. Damnit, Dirk! This isn’t funny!”

She flung herself into the seat opposite me with the same care she showed the wrung out towel in her hands. There was a flutter of colour and a second later there was a chicken was sitting on her lap.

“Raphael seems to think so,” I said, pointing to the white-feathered nuisance she called a pet.

Beccy ran her hand lightly over the chickens back, and I saw the smile start to show.

“Saved by the hen,” she muttered, shooing the animal onto the floor. “Eat your eggs, Dirk. I need to make plans to leave this gods-forsaken place.”

I watched her go, shooing the chicken into another corridor. Damned if she wasn’t gorgeous when she was angry.