My name is Cayde. A human. I'm a person. Not a thing. Not a tool. Or a number.
He repeated it a few times, but hasn't needed his morning mantra in weeks. Barring today, of all days, he's finally reached his goal. Except he can't bring himself to step out into the crowd and head those final few yards.
Not like he's afraid or anything. Got no cause to be. Maybe. Not of the person. The situation? Yeah. That sounds about right.
Months he's waited for this. Weeks of travel and work, long stretches out in the black to get to this point. He's counted the days since he left Osiris and safety. Although in the back of his mind he knows “safe” isn't a real thing. Not in this 'verse, or any other. But he believed the illusion long enough to get well, and regain some semblance of self.
And well isn't something he is, either. Healthy in body, but spirit and mind? Not so sure. Although he's able now to go out in a crowd and block all the voices out, be alone in his head again. Which was good. He'd settle for good. God knew he'd had little enough of anything good lately. Except those good memories he'd made over the past few months were few, but they were enough. Had to be.
Back to the present. He stopped, checking his rucksack. Everything he owned was in the bag—a couple of changes of clothes, a book, his two journals, and two of his knives. His other knife was at his belt. The thing was the only possession he'd managed to hold on to all this time. Not like he needed it, either. He'd done enough living by the bullet and the blade. Felt good not having to fight for anyone or anything these past months.
The only fighting he'd done, at the last, was for himself, his friends, and he'd managed to avoid a murder charge. So far. He was still a little hazy on whether or not it was his knife or someone else's bullet had done the ending. Didn't really matter, though. The man got a better death than he deserved.
Here he was, thinking about the past again. He was going to miss his mark, and then where would he be? Stranded.
He stopped, not quite ready to step out into the crowd. Staring into a pane of glass, checking his reflection with a sigh. He was a little on the skinny side, because food was getting scarce along with his coin. Hair was finally grown out long enough to hide those scars. Nothing he could do about the scar slashed across the left side of his face, although he still had the use of the eye. At least all the other scars were covered, along with the tattoos.
Maybe, however, this is a mistake. He could turn around and forget about his goal. Go somewhere else. Start over, but where? He can't go back to Osiris for so many reasons, the main one he's already told good-bye, and she won't be expecting him back. Ever. And she's probably the next best thing he's ever had, except the best thing, and they're long dead.
Sure, he'd be welcome, but he couldn't stay, and she wouldn't leave. So it was a doomed affair from the beginning. No regrets, though. Not anymore.
He's done with the past, and already decided on no future beyond the day he's living. Easier that way. And he'd already lost too much. Not like he had anything else to lose, anyway. Well, his life, and it wasn't worth much anymore, except to the three people who knew he was alive. The only three who cared enough to help save it.
He owed them a debt he could never repay. Guess he owed it to them to keep on living. So he stepped on out into the crowd, heading toward his goal.
The goal is a Firefly-class ship named Serenity, and it's sitting on a pad down at the Eavesdown Docks. He can see it from where he's standing, and almost turns and heads back the other way. Keeps going, because even though it might get messy, he's waited long enough.
With each step, he gets less sure he's doing the right thing. Imagines how he'd feel, not seeing someone in years. Especially after they thought him dead. Yeah. This was gonna go so well.
One last deep breath, turns a corner, and walks up to the ramp of the ship, up to the person he knows is its captain. Who has his back turned, and yelling at someone out of sight, berating them with profanity Cayde can't help but be impressed by.
Except Serenity's captain turns, looking down the ramp at him. Swears. Turns white. And pulls a gun on him.
“It's good to see you, too, Mal,” Cayde said, watching as Mal Reynolds, captain of Serenity, and his brother, hit the ground like a sack of bricks.