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I Have Loved The Stars Too Fondly To Be Fearful Of The Night

Chapter Text

Tyco Station. The Belt.

August.

The clinic was busier than normal today. This meant that August and everyone else working there was spread thinner than normal. Which, under the best of circumstances, i.e. a fully stocked and up to date clinic with a staff that was fully trained, fed and rested, they would have been able to easily handle but this wasn't this best of circumstances, this was Tycho. A station on the belt which as a general rule was never a place where the best of circumstances seemed to occur.

August was going back and forth between three different patients. She was finishing the stitches on a kid named Kai when the com sparked to life. "August, Fred needs you at the docks. We've got injured incoming," came the female voice of Fred Johnson's second in command, Drummer. August clenched her jaw in annoyance and continued her work. She directed one of the nurses to what medicine the kid needed and had moved onto the broken arm of one of the five Black Sky members who were currently in the clinic. The Black Sky and some other OPA faction had gotten into a scuffle. Black Sky had gotten their asses kicked and come limping to the clinic to be patched up. The genius she was currently attending to thought, despite his recent loss, that he was a badass and right before she reset his arm, kept asking her out for a drink. He stopped when she reset his arm.

The com crackled again, with the same voice, sounding slightly more annoyed "August."

"Kinda in the middle of doing my job right now," she responded while putting the cast wrap over the guy's arm.

"Last time I checked, part of your job is listening to your boss..."

"Damnnit, I'll be there as soon as I can." She looked around frantically until she made eye contact with the other medic.

"Go," said the older man, Ted, "I've been around here long enough to know how to hold down the fort."

"Sorry," she grumbled with an apologetic grimace before grabbing her med bag and rushing out into the busy corridors and heading to the docks.

-----

"Alright, I'm here your highness, now what do you want?" she said with a mock bow as she caught up with Johnson and Drummer.

"We've got some guests coming, and I suspect they'll need some medical attention." 

She rolled her eyes. "Oh?"

"Trust me, this will be important."

"That line is getting old," she grunted as she set her bag down on the ground and sat on one of the shipping containers. She and Drummer exchanged a look. She'd rarely seen Johnson this...eager she supposed was the word for it, but also nervous. She racked her brain to think of who this important "guest" could be and all she could figure is it certainly wasn't a Belter. It wasn't that Johnson didn't care about Belter's, he wouldn't be here if he didn't, but sadly Belter's rarely had anything to offer other than maybe some intel or boots on the ground. They didn't have the money that Earth or Mars had that opened doors to something that would make Fred react like this. That being said August didn't have the clearest insight on the inner machinations of the OPA. She was from Earth originally, at least, and eventually found her way out onto the belt for more than a few reasons but largely as a way to escape her old life and the people in it.

A few minutes later the docking clamp locked onto the ship they apparently were waiting for. "Wait for me here," Johnson said before walking onto the bridge. "You know I could be helping people instead of waiting around for you," she called after him in a tone that was somewhat teasing but also carried a note of irritation.

About fifteen minutes later Johnson came back and gestured for her to come aboard. She wasn't sure what she was expecting but an MCRN gunship with James Holden and his crew was not it. But it did explain why Johnson had brought a welcome committee. He was trying to woo them, either to get them to give him information or get them to do something, possible both based on what she knew of Johnson.

There were four people on the ship. Three men, all Inners, and a Belter woman. The ones from the broadcast she'd seen a few weeks ago that had spurred endless amounts of gossip and conspiracy theories. They were all that was left of the Ice ship that had been blown to bits...and then the Mars Flagship that had suffered the same fate. Either they were saboteurs extraordinaire or the most unlucky bastards off all time. Even before they showed up at Tycho's doorstep the station had been abuzz with theories about them: who they were, what they were doing and why. For fairly obvious reasons a lot of people were trying to convince themselves that they were secretly OPA operatives because that would mean that the OPA had a plan. Based on her observations of the OPA the last few years, however limited, she didn't think that was the case.

The crew seemed to view her with suspicion as she entered, Fred Johnson looming next to her. Considering what she knew about them, little as that was, she figured it was fair that they'd be a suspicious lot.

"This is August. She's one of the top medics on the station and more importantly, I trust her to be discreet." She didn't miss the pointed look Johnson gave her then, which she interpreted as a message that she should not be contributing to the station gossip after this was all over. "After what you've been through I want to make sure none of you are going to die on me. If there is anything you need during your stay here please let me know," with that Fred Johnson turned on his heel and strode back through the bridge. Leaving August, much to her annoyance, among the strangers who made it clear from their facial expressions that they didn't want any help. The Belter woman spoke first.

"We've all checked with the med-doc it gave us the all-clear. And no offense but being trusted by Fred Johnson doesn't count for much in my book."

August chuckled, "That's fair but look I'm not here to try to get in your business, just let me do my job and check your vitals, make sure nothing's off and I'll get out of your hair."
The Belter looked like she was going to argue when the man of the hour, James Holden, chimed in, "Can't hurt." The Belter and Holden exchanged loaded looks and then she shrugged and walked back over to a computer.

"Alright well seem like it would make sense to do this in the med bay?..." August said tentatively.

"Follow me" Holden gestured. Once in the med bay August ran her scans on Holden and was surprised when nothing came back. "How the hell did you survive two shipwrecks without a scratch?"

"I got lucky....others weren't so..." while he spoke she noticed the bags under his eyes, they were so dark and hollow he almost looked like a character in a horror movie or a cartoon.

"Are you sleeping okay," she asked while casually re-checking the data from the scans.

"What?" After a beat, he added, "As well as I can."

"You've been through a lot. A lot of trauma. I'm no psychiatrist but physical health isn't the only thing you need to take care of. Without your brain, your body's not much good." She said with a kind smile, which to her surprise he returned.

"I'll keep that in mind," he said before heading out of the med bay and waiving the next person in. The next guy was also definitely an Earther. She flipped through the charts until she found his picture and name. A voice in the back of her head made note of the fact that he was "extremely fucking hot", but she shoved that thought away, she at least wanted to act like a professional even if she didn't always think like one (or act like one off the clock).

"You must be Amos?" she asking while glancing the information up his previous med doc scans.

"Yup," he said in a flat affect as he sat down.

"Says here you broke your leg?" She asked while trying to gauge his reaction. Where the Belter, Naomi, had seemed suspicious, and Holden welcoming, Amos seemed to be totally neutral, unnaturally so.

"Yeah, when we were leaving the Donnager." He said, still emotionless.

"Mind if I check it out?"

"Do what you gotta do," he replied. She knelt and rolled up his pant leg. She took the med wrap off it, it was Mars tech so it was significantly better than what she had used on the OPA kid earlier today, and it had seemed to get the job done, she hadn't noticed him limping at least.

"What happened?" She asked as she scanned the injury.

"Got shot while getting off the Mars ship." His response was like a soldier reporting on something very routine. Which it wasn't. Any of it. What led up to getting shot. Getting shot and blowing out your leg in an escape, and yet he acted like it was nothing. Holden seemed like he'd been through hell, this guy on the other hand...

"Hm...any pain when you walk," she questioned while checking the bone.

"Would you be able to do anything if there was?" His response caught her off guard, she supposed Fred's endorsement had only made her seem less trustworthy.

"I could try. But you didn't answer my question."

"It's fine," he said after staring at her for a moment. She was checking the scan and surprisingly it looked pretty good.

"Would you tell me if it wasn't?" She raised her eyebrow in question.

"Cap says you're okay so, yeah." His face was expressionless which seemed strange to her, she tried not to dwell on it, like she told Holden, the psych end of things wasn't her bag.

"Alright well, I guess the Mars med-tech did the trick. My medical advice: stop getting shot at." She smiled at him but he didn't react, just seemed to assess that she was done,
got up and walked out.

It was certainly a weird interaction but she shrugged it off and continued with her check-ups on the two other crew members of the Rocinante.

Chapter Text

It was a few months later when the crew of the Rocinante showed up again. August was working in the clinic when they arrived. This time Fred Johnson's welcome mat was a little less welcoming, so she was able to stay in the clinic but had to be ready to come if called. The afternoon, or what everyone pretended was the afternoon, came and went and she didn't hear anything from Drummer so she figured that no news was good news.

She finished cleaning up the mess that the day had left in its wake and sent a quick text to a few friends while taking a pod back to her apartment. She took a quick shower, because she was not one of the few that could afford the luxury of anything but a quick shower, and got ready to go out. She grabbed her go-to pair of pants and her favorite shirt (a cute cage top that she had probably paid too much for but it made her happy), and was putting on makeup when three of her friends stormed the apartment, they were eager to go and half-drunk already.

---

It was almost kind of comical the way people at the bar reacted when the crew of the Rosinate entered the bar that August and her friends had ended up at. The reactions were made more interesting by the fact that no one really knew what their motivations were, but overall the view of them was positive. The crew had put Mars on blast and they were a rallying cry for belters, who were dying in the act of trying to get said oppressors resources. August suspected they had something to do with what was going on with Eros but there wasn't any solid information about that.

August felt awkward to have had interacted with Holden and his crew previously and not go say 'hello' but from that brief interaction, she'd gotten the impression they liked their own little unit and didn't much care for the company of strangers. This impression was further solidified after watching a few people who clearly didn't know them try to go engage only to end up walking away within moments. There was also another reason she didn't approach them, she was drunk.

Unfortunately, for August, when she went up to the bar to get another round Fred Johnson suddenly appeared.

"Hey kid," Johnson said with a small cheers of his glass as he approached August.

"Hey old man, isn't it past your bedtime?" she teased with a tilt of her head.

"Hilarious as always. I figured I would come to check on our guests. Make sure that they are having a good time," he nodded to Holden's group which was seated in a dark corner of the bar. It wasn't even worth calling Johnson out on the fact that she knew very well he didn't give a damn about their comfort, he just wanted to keep an eye on his newest investment. "Let's go see how they're doing shall we?"


August looked over to the drinks that she'd purchased for her group that the bartender had just place in front of her. "Put those on my tab," Johnson said looking to the bartender, "and bring them with us," he said as he looked back to her. She considered telling Johnson to either fuck off or at least carry the damn drinks himself but she found the best thing to do when she was drunk and found herself in the middle of political games was to stay quiet rather than look like an idiot. With a sigh she followed after the leader of Tycho station.

"On the house," Johnson gestured magnanimously to the drinks as August placed them down on the table the Rossie's crew was seated around. "Mind if we join you?" Johnson asked, already pulling two chairs up. Holden and Naomi gave tense smiles as Johnson and August sat. The pilot, August was fairly certain his name was Alex, was the only one who didn't seem incredibly tense. Amos, the one who'd broken his leg, didn't look away from the point off in the distance that he was staring into. Amos's quietness unsettled her or maybe intrigued her, she couldn't tell which. She chuckled to herself silently wondering if maybe it was just his giant arms that kept making her want to glance back over to him.

"You all remember August, right?" Johnson asked much to August's absolute desire not to be the center of the conversation at the moment.

"You were the kind lady who made sure we were patched up all right," Alex said with his slight accent that she found endearing, or maybe it was the fact that he seemed relatively easy-going that she found endearing.

"That would be me, glad to see you guys are doing okay," she said looking around, when she looked at Amos she added, "I see you took my advice."

"What?" He turned his attention to her.

"About not getting shot?" She gave him a cheeky grin. Alex chuckled but Amos didn't seem to find it amusing and simply shrugged. August took a large gulp of her drink and looked over to Johnson in hopes that he'd bail her out and blessedly he did when he started chatting with Alex about ship-related things. That was it, she thought to herself wryly, you have a weakness for men who won't give you the time of day. August, anxiously picked at the label on her drink. Her poor flirting skills aside, the crew seems tense, and her alcohol muddled brain didn't know what to do so she didn't contribute much to the conversation. A while after sitting there she felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see one of her friends, Jake.

"We're headed upstairs wanna come?" Eager to escape the awkwardness she looked over to the table.

"Anyone want to join," August asked the table.

"No thanks darling," Alex said with his usual kind smile.

"I think we're going to call it a night pretty soon," Naomi said, clearly speaking for both her and Holden.

"I don't dance." Was Amos's reply, much to her disappointment.

Johnson just smiled and shook his head, "Go have fun." August excused herself and followed Jake up the stairs through the crowd to the dance floor.

Chapter Text

"I want you to come on this mission." This was not what August had been expecting when Johnson had sent for her. Sitting in one of the chairs in his office she took a moment to think. She had heard that he was looking for volunteers for some trip that involved what was happening on Eros but why was he asking her specifically to go? She wasn't an engineer or particularly strong. The best use of her talents was here on Tycho, tending to the seemingly endless ailments of its residents.

"What? Why? I don't even really know that much about this whole mission."
"We need a medic...We're not sure what we're going to encounter out there. And the crew of the Rocinante lost their medic while on the Donnager."
That's when it clicked, she sighed. "You don't want a medic, you want a spy."

Johnson didn't deny it. Instead, he replied, "I need someone I can trust to make sure the people that have come to our doorstep asking for some pretty big favors can be trusted...and they need a medic."

"Why not make up some reason for Drummer to travel with them," she asked before actually thinking about it. She knew that was a stupid question, Drummer was a lot of things but someone who could sit in the background and report back she was not. Also, Johnson probably needed her to be handling the multitude of other tasks she had as his right hand. "Or someone else, you've got to have people you pay to find out this kind of stuff." Even as the words came out of her mouth she knew she was going to end up on the Rocinante. Not because Johnson would force her to go but because if he was asking he had good reason. She trusted him and he knew that. On the bright side, she mused, this must mean that he trusts you as well. Or that you're expendable.

"We leave in two days. Pack enough for at least five days for yourself. This is going to be about a 75 man operation in all with a minimum of 50 men involved in the assault of the base, so prepare accordingly. Drummer will give you a rundown of the plan later today. She'll meet you when your back at the clinic when she has a moment. She would have been here but she said she knew you'd agree and she had a few more pressing things to attend to."

"Yeah yeah," August grumbled with a sarcastic wave of her hand. "Wait, you know what? If I agree to this I want something in return. You need to give the clinic more funds so we can hire another medic or you know maybe an actual doctor."

Johnson smiled at this. "You're the doctor in everything but title last time I checked. But yes, I figured it would only be fair so we'll be adding funds to the clinic's budget. She didn't bother arguing about the doctor comment. In the past, he'd encouraged her to tell people she was a doctor. She'd gone to medical school after all, but she'd left Earth before finishing her degree and doing her residency. Johnson knew that but didn't seem to care. She cared though.

"Does that Holden guy know about this plan," she asked while simultaneously starting to mentally assess what she was going to bring with her.

"He does. But I can't tell you to expect a particularly warm welcome," he said with an apologetic smile.

 

---

 

August thought she had prepared for the crew of the Roci to not be in the best of moods but apparently she had not prepared enough. Alex, their pilot, was unusually reserved and his usually easy-going demeanor had been replaced with that of extreme anxiety. James and Naomi also seemed on edge, but August was also starting to wonder if that was just the default for them. There was no sign of Amos when she boarded but that didn't particularly surprise her. Naomi showed her to her quarters and then how to get to the medical bay and kitchen from there.

"Hey, listen," August paused after the mini-tour or the ship. She ran a hand through her hair. "I know me being here was Johnson's idea. But I'll do my best to stay out of the way and if there's anything I can help with while I'm here, even non-medical stuff, just let me know." This earned her a small smile from Naomi.

 

"Sorry if we haven't been the most welcoming," Naomi sighed. "These past few weeks...months really, since the Cant, have been hell. I promise we're not always this grumpy."


"From what I've heard, if I was in your position I'd be grumpy too so no need to apologize. And really even if you just need to take your mind off things and play a game of cards, I'm around." August didn't like the fact that to her, her own offer felt insincere because of Johnson's assignment for her even when it was something she was likely to offer in normal circumstances. Naomi smiled again and said, "thanks, I might take you up on that," before heading off down the hall of the ship.

 

August looked around the med bay and realized that for the next few days before they reached their destination, she was not going to have anything to do. She couldn't remember the last time she had had this much free time. Pretty much since arriving on Tyco every minute of her day had been filled either working, squeezing in some much needed socializing time, or sleeping. She'd downloaded a book for her trip but hadn't expected to actually read it. Now that she thought about it, she wished she'd packed more books. She wished that even more, about eight hours later after she finished the book. Not sure what else to do she went to her quarters and slept.

The next day she wandered the Roci, while trying to keep out of the way. She reflected on how different this ship was from a station like Tyco. It was so quiet, aside from the dull hum of the engine and occasional mechanical beep. It was also boring, she needed something to do other than sleep and stare at the walls.

Eventually, she stumbled upon Amos who was in what looked like an armory. It doesn't look like an armory, it is one. This is a warship she remembered.


"Oh sorry," she said, for lack of something better to say.

"What are you sorry for?" he asked glancing up from the gun he was taking apart.

"Uh...Just didn't mean to bother you."

"Not bothered," he returned his attention to the weapon. In need of conversation, she took a step into the room.

"Can I ask you a question?" He remained silent but looked up at her expectantly. "Does being up here get boring? Like traveling in the ship I mean." She'd lived on Tycho for about five years but was never truly able to kick the habit of talking like an Earther. Not that she expected Amos, another Earther to care, but her friends and her coworkers would have teased her for her Earther turn of phrase.

"We haven't had a lot of time to get bored up here."

"Oh." In retrospect that should have been obvious, she thought to herself. 

"And even when there's downtime there's usually something to fix...you looking for something to do?"

His question surprised but she was eager for some type of task. "Yeah but I'm not sure that I'm particularly useful with tech stuff, unfortunately." She self consciously picked at the edge of her sleeve. Amos got up and went over to something was covered in engine grease, she had no idea what it was.

"This thing needs to be cleaned, you up for that?" She swore she could hear some skepticism in his voice. August started rolling up her sleeves.

"Where's the uh...soap?" The soap bit was kind of a joke and he seemed to take it that way, smiling just slightly. He tossed her a rag and a bottle of cleaner and she sat down on the bench opposite of where he had been seated and got to work. August felt slightly relieved when she started on it. It was nice to have something to do with her hands and not feel like dead weight. Also, a manual task would help her take her mind off mulling about the assignment of being Johnson's 'eyes and ears'. She was skeptical that she was going to be able to accomplish anything for Johnson, but she could clean this thing, whatever it was.

Chapter Text

Their arrival to the space station was terrifying, to say the least. 

She sat alone, strapped into a seat, in full spacesuit, in the med bay while the Roci had gone to battle with a stealth ship. Several bullets cut through the ship and she wondered exactly how expendable to Fred Johnson she was. When the fighting ceased, a few moments later she could hear Alex over the radio, "you okay down there little lady?" 

August swallowed down the bile that was trying to escape her body. "Yup, how about you all?"

"We're all okay...lost a pod though. Amos got knocked around a bit so if you could make sure he didn't break any ribs once we're all situated. Holden is gonna board the station shortly. And Amos is going to do temp patches on this ship for the trip back so don't take off your helmet just yet." 

"Roger." She fucking hated space suits. Her nose itched. 

--- 

It was a few hours later when the raid of the station was all said and done. Amos had managed to patch up the important part of the ship and he'd already popped into the med bay where she was able to confirm that while he might have some nasty bruises shortly, he hadn't broken anything. As per usual Amos seemed unphased by both his injuries and the strange and stressful circumstances he obtained them under. August wished to herself that she could maintain her composure like that.

August was sitting with Alex in the bridge of the ship a little while later when Holden radioed the Roci and informed them that they were going to be transporting eight prisoners back to Tycho. August was tasked with making sure that they would all survive the trip.  From the sound of it, there had been a decent amount of people on the station but the raiding party had shot first and then asked questions.  August followed Alex down to the hull of the ship where they were boarding the prisoners.
If August had thought Holden was tightly wound before she wasn't sure what to call him after the raid. She half expected the blood vessel on his head to pop when he had stormed back onto the ship. 

Unsure of what exactly had transpired on the station she glanced over to Alex who looked equally perplexed.

"Everything okay, Hoss?" He called after Holden as he strode across the room and aggressively pulled off his spacesuit. 

"No. Miller shot the one guy who seemed to have a clue as to what the hell was going on with this whole thing." Holden slammed his helmet down on a table. "August," he said turning his angry gaze to her, "We have one scientist left, he's the one in white. Seems unharmed, but I'm putting you in charge of him. We need him alive." Some of the anger had faded from his voice, but barely. Holden shifted his gaze to behind her, Amos had silently appeared, apparently. "Amos, I want you with her when she's got any of these guys in the med bay." 

"Got it, boss." Well, she thought to herself, there are worse babysitters to have. She shifted her gaze over to the prisoners who were all cuffed and walking in an orderly line surrounded by belters who were armed to the teeth. None of the prisoners seemed to care that an enemy force had just stormed their base, shot at least half their comrades, chained the survivors up and forced them out of their home by gunpoint. Either this was something that they'd experienced a lot in their careers or something was wrong. August had spent enough time working for Fred Johnson and seeing prisoners to know that sometimes the leader or right hand remained level headed, but not the whole group. Something was wrong with this picture. She bit the inside of her lip as she trailed after the prisoners and their escort. Amos fell into step with her but kept any thoughts he had about it to himself. 

When they reached the brig, the prisoners went into the cell in an orderly fashion. The scientist was last in line. "You," Amos called out with a slight jerk of his chin in the man's direction. "You're going to come with us." The scientist nodded and calmly broke away from the group. Once the rest of the group was safely in the cell Amos entered a code into the pad beside the door which promptly closed and loudly locked.

August glanced at both Amos and the scientist before turning around and headed down the hall. They took the lift up to the second level where the med bay was located. Once they reached their destination the man sighed and looked at her, "I can tell you now that I'm fine and that this is a waste of time." His calm and even tone did nothing to relieve the knot that had begun to grow in her stomach on the silent walk to the med bay. "I need to get back to work. It's important."

"Okay, well I don't know if I can help with that but I have to make sure you aren't injured or sick. If you could -" He cut her off, sounding distressed.

"You don't understand! I need to get back to the protomolocule! We don't have time!" She saw Amos take a small step forward so it would be easier to put himself between the two of them if needed. She held up to the man who had gone from a blank slate to suddenly very animated.

"Slow down. We have to take this one step at a time. I know that can be frustrating but bare with me okay." She offered him a sympathetic smile and he took a deep breath and nodded. “Let’s start with you telling me what your name is. Mine is August. 

"My name is Paolo."

"Alright, Paolo. Look I'm not the one making the calls here but I can go talk to the person that is if you want to speak with him. But first I need you to sit over there and let me make sure you aren't hurt. Sound like a plan?" He nodded again and it seemed like any life that had briefly surfaced in him settled back down. Without any more protest, he went and sat in the first of the medical chairs. August glanced over to Amos, feeling fairly bewildered at this entire scenario. He simply shrugged in response. She followed Paolo over to the table and then looked again to Amos who was behind her like a shadow. "Amos, do you have the key to the cuffs? I don't think they're necessary right now."  Amos's brow furrowed for a moment.

"No funny business," he said fixing Paolo with a look before stepping to the side of August and using a key fob to unlock his cuffs. Amos then took the cuffs and pocketed them and posted up on the nearby wall.

She grabbed the small light she had in her pocket to do a quick check of Paolo's pupils. Nothing abnormal there. She took his pulse and blood pressure. All normal. He sat still and compliant. She was going to want to do some brain scans when they got back to Tycho and had the proper equipment. If it hadn't been for Paolo's fairly passionate outburst a moment ago she would have guessed this man and his comrades had all been lobotomized. That thought made the knot in her stomach turn again. She did a cursory med scan of his body to make sure there wasn't anything internal that was going to be a short term problem. That too was normal. August wondered to herself if there had ever been a time when this many normal results had only magnified her unease.

"Looks like you’re plenty healthy. Amos and I are going to walk you back to the holding cell now okay?"

"Yes," he said sliding off the table and standing, "But don't forget, you need to tell the captain I want to talk to him." 

"I haven't forgotten," she said gently as Amos took the cuffs out of his pocket and put them back on Paolo's wrists. 

The walk back to the brig was as silent as the one from it. 
Paolo walked into the cell, his expression blank. 

"Next," Amos called out. One of the other seven prisoners stepped up, as orderly as if this was just a normal doctor's check-up. 

Another silent walk to the med bay. This man's name was Kent. He didn't ask for anything. Didn't ask any questions. And everything physical checked out normal. She chewed at the inside of her cheek as they went down to return him to the cell and get the next prisoner. A silent trip to the med bay. This man was all normal as well. He asked no questions, put up no resistance. His name was Roger. When they returned Roger to the cell, Amos didn't call out for the next person instead he closed and locked the door. 

"Break time. We should eat." August gave a non-committal nod, deep in thought and worry about what exactly they had stumbled on. She followed Amos to the kitchen. She took a seat at the long table. She couldn't eat. She was pretty sure she wouldn't be able to hold anything down at the moment. The knot in her stomach had grown into an anxiety stomach ache. Maybe some tea would help, she thought to herself before getting up and sticking a little tea pod in the brew machine. After the tea brewed she grabbed a few packets of milk and sugar and sat back down.

A minute or two later Amos sat down next to her and surprised her when he set down a plate of food not only for himself but for her. 

"You need to eat," he said, matter-of-factly. She appreciated the gesture but shook her head.

"I'm not hungry, but thanks."

"You didn't eat before the raid and Cap wants me to keep an eye on you. I'm not doing my job if you get sick."

"I'm not sure that's what he meant, I-" 

Amos cut her off "Eat" for emphasis he nudged a fork into her hand. She let out of soft chuckle and took the fork.

"Didn't take you for the mother hen type," 

"Yeah well, when you're upset you make it fairly obvious." He took a bite of his food.

"Sorry?" She asked, unsure if that was a joke or a jab.

"I don't mean that as an insult. It's just plain as day when you find something upsetting. You'd be shit at poker." He took another bite of his food, glanced over to her and smiled. 

"Correction, I am shit at poker." She felt the anxiety in her stomach ebb just a little when he let out a quiet laugh. 

Chapter Text

The remainder of the captives check-ups were as unremarkable and well as unnerving as the first three. August sat in the bed of her quarters that night (or sleep time, which was probably the more accurate name for it) and spent equal parts of her time staring at the ceiling thinking about reasons for the strange behavior of the people that they have taken prisoner and having extremely restless upsetting dreams when she did manage to doze off.

The knock at the door at the start of the day startled her.
"Hold on," she called out as she rolled out of the bed and made her way over to the door. She hit the keypad next to it and it opened. Amos was standing outside of it.

"Everything okay," she asked. Her brow furrowed.

"Yeah, but you missed breakfast." She glanced down at her watch, 10:06, later than she thought. Usually, the crew all ate breakfast together around 7:00.

"I didn't sleep well." She rubbed her eye and then self consciously ran a hand through her unbrushed hair.

"Well, I could use a hand with repairs so let's get going. We'll stop by the kitchen on the way to hydraulics." He said. August was fairly certain Amos didn't need her help. But if that was the case did that mean he was worried about her? Or was he keeping an eye on her the way she was supposed to be for them? A not so little part of her hoped it was the former when she probably should have been more worried about the latter.

"Amos you don't have to do this, I'm okay." She sighed.

"I know I don't have to. Come on." And without another word he turned and started down the hall. August quickly snatched her jacket off the chair of the room and followed after Amos. He was waiting for her, with his usual unreadable expression by the lift.

The next few hours were spent with Amos repairing things, him asking August for various tools and items and then having to explain what said thing looked like before she fished around for it in the bag he had brought and handed it to him. Eventually, after noticing August watching him closely and occasionally looking confused Amos started explaining what he was doing while he was doing it. She listened attentively, asking the occasional question but holding back most of her questions in an attempt not to be a bother.

At one point she quipped that he "was kinda like a ship doctor," which made him chuckle. When August had first boarded the Roci for the mission she had found being in Amos's presence to be slightly intimidating because he was so stoic but over the last few days little by little that wall of stoicism had come down. He was still odd and deadpan but he wasn't the stonewall she'd originally met. And like with both yesterday and dragging her along with him today she was finding herself frequently caught off guard by the things he said or did. Which was what happened when while floating above her and swapping out a pipe he stated, "You're not like most doctors I've met." Well, there's a lot to unpack there, she thought wryly.

"What does that mean," she inquired.

"Most of 'em get numb from all the crap they see out here. Or they go the other way and become a train wreck themselves. You care but you also keep it together...plus or minus forgetting to eat."

She laughed, "How would you know that I keep it together? I've barely done anything this entire trip."

He shrugged, "You're clearly worried about what happened to those guys. And judging by the way they acted and how serious you got while making sure they weren't dying. There's something off with them, but you kept your head. So take the compliment." He glanced down at her a gave a small smile, which made her heart flutter. Granted that flutter was quickly killed by the reality that she was basically a fraud.

After a beat, she muttered, "Well, I'm not a doctor." Amos looked back down at her but she was studiously staring at the floor.

"Well, whatever you are, you give a shit and from what I've heard you've patched up at least half the population of Tycho, so I think that counts for something." She could feel a blush creeping up on her face from the compliment.

"Thanks," she mumbled.

---

The next day.

The Roci was less than 24 hours away from Tycho and August was in the Med Bay floating around. There was nothing physically wrong with any of the prisoners. Amos had run out of things for her to clean or help with. The rest of the crew members were all less talkative than normal after the raid. August had taken to reorganizing some of the medical supplies as a way to pass the time. It seemed that the crew of the Roci's method for medical care before her arrival was pulling things off the shelves (frequently knocking other things out of their places) and never putting much thought into restocking. She'd managed to stock most of the missing supplies with things she had packed in case their mission had gone disastrously wrong. She doubted Johnson would either notice or care. The things she didn't have she was making a list of on her tablet which she would send to Holden once they were back on Tycho.

Suddenly, the Roci shook with the impact of something. She took her earbuds out and waited for Alex or someone to say something over the coms. Silence. August clicked her mag boots back on and landed somewhat ungracefully on the floor. She heard another noise, like metal screaming and she stopped and listened. She walked over to the com unit and was about to call Alex when she heard footsteps coming towards the door of the Med Bay. Too many footsteps. August took a few steps back from the door and went over to one of the cabinets she had recently reorganized and opened it. She quickly palmed a scalpel and closed the door before the door to the Med Bay hissed open.
She wasn't sure what she was expecting but it was not a very beat-up and handcuffed Amos being led in by gunpoint by masked men. There were four of them, all dressed the same black military-style uniforms that did not indicate who they were or worked for. By the time August had taken her eyes off the bloody Amos and the man holding him up, the second and third intruders already had their guns pointed at her. The fourth man barked some orders, he appeared to be in charge.

"Don't move just do as we say," said man number four. August quickly looked to Amos to try to get an idea of what he was thinking...he had had a plan, right? But Amos's face was its usual impassive mask.

"Tie her up" directed four. The second guy who had walked into the room started to approach her. At that moment a few things struck her as odd, why were these men bothering to tie them up? They weren't valuable hostages. But if this ship got taken over, there was no telling where in the universe she and its crew were going to end up. Dead, slaves or prisoners, take your pick they were all bad options. Amos's hands were bound, but not bound behind his back and he was standing on his own. The masked men didn't seem to think that she was much of a threat. If they were going to make a break for it, now seemed like the time.

Guy number two holstered his gun and walked towards her. God, she hoped this worked. She let the scalpel slide into her palm and with all her strength stabbed it into the guy's jugular. As he was screaming in pain she grabbed him by the left arm and spun him around so his body would be between her and potential gunfire. She hoped to the god that Amos had been able to make the most of her sudden distraction. The dying man was by no means lightweight but she held him up. Which was a good thing she did because she felt his body jerk back with the impact of at least two bullets. She heard a lot more than two bullets though and her pulse was in her ears as she struggled to grab the gun she'd seen the man holster. When she'd finally managed to grab it though, the shooting had stopped. Her eyes darted over to the door and she dropped the dead man as her brain processed that Amos was still standing and the other three men were down.

"I didn't expect that from you," Amos said as he crouched down and went through the pocket of the man that just moments ago had been holding a gun to Amos's head, until pulling out a small silver key which must have been to the cuffs.

"I try to keep it interesting," she exhaled as she made her way over to him. You just killed someone, nagged a thought in the back of her head, but she pushed it down to be dealt with later. She wiped her blood-soaked hands off on her pants as best she could and held her hand out for the key so she could free him. He obliged and as she uncuffed him she noticed the bleeding on his arm.

"They shot you." She vaguely wondered if that happened before of after he got to the med bay.

"It's fine. I need to go find the others." He rolled one of his wrists and then picked up a nearby gun which was on the floor. He then went over and grabbed serval clips of ammo off the nearest dead body.

"Amos, let me look at it," she said approaching him with an outstretched hand.
"We don't have time," was his reply.

"We don't have time for you to bleed out on us. Let me check it." After a beat, he held out his left arm. August quickly and as carefully as possible, rolled his sleeve up to his forearm. "Amos, the bullet is still in your arm..." A shrug was the only response she got. She quickly went over to where the disinfectant and medical wraps were and grabbed what she needed. She quickly wiped down the wound and bandaged it up. Luckily it wasn't bleeding horribly but once this was all over she was going to have to actually take care of the wound rather than this quick fix.

"So much for following doctor's orders," she joked, thinking about back to their first meeting.

"You're not a doctor," he replied in his usual dry tone.

"Fair enough," she chuckled.

When she was finished wrapping the wound Amos grabbed her by the wrist gently, a move that to say the least surprised her. "You should stay here. Lock the door when I leave," he said quietly. It was a tempting offer, but she shook her head.

"You need back up." His gaze searched hers for a moment and then he nodded and let go oh her hand.

"Fine, just stay behind me and don't do anything stupid." August grabbed a rag and wiped off her hands. Amos handed her a gun and she followed after him into the hallway.

"You know if one was untrained enough to let me stab him in the face, I'd be willing to bet that another one would too," she said in a low voice.

He didn't look back when he spoke, "I'd rather rely on my gun than your tricks."

"It's a good trick," she said, somewhat defensive.

"I didn't say it wasn't." She could almost swear she could hear some amusement in his typical monotone voice.

They took the lift up to the first level of the ship where the helm was, and presumably where any other intruders would be located.
Amos stopped about ten feet away from the ladder to the deck. They could hear shouting, none of the voices sounded familiar. Amos held out three fingers and she nodded.
"Why can't I get into the damn ship?" One voice yelled and was emphasized with what sounded like the side of a pistol hitting a body. It sounded like Alex had managed to lockout non-crew members before they had reached him. There was then a pained cough that had to be either Alex or Jim. Amos held up three fingers, presumably his estimate on how many enemies were ahead. He then pointed to a nearby light fixture. August could guess what he was about to do, cut the lights.
Amos went over to a nearby control monitor and plugged some commands. The second the lights went out two things happened. Amos turned off his mag boots and jumped up and a gun went off. August could barely make out Amos's silhouette but she followed suit after him. Amos's had shot one of the men and was beating the shit out of a second, while Jim and Naomi had tackled third. With another gunshot, Amos took care of the guy he was on top of. Naomi and Jim had managed to pin down the third guy's arms and then suddenly he started seizing up in a way that immediately made August think of cyanide poisoning. August rushed over but it was too late.

"What the hell," cried Naomi as the man gargled and died. "Why would he do that?"

"Good question," Jim said between gritted teeth. "But I'd be willing to bet it has something to do with the protomolocule. He said pointing to the embroidered company name on the man's suit that August had missed, on his and all the other masked grunts. Protogen.
She re-engaged her mag boots and went over to Alex who was unconscious on the floor.

----

Amos had gone to check on the prisoners, Naomi was double checking things on the ship so Jim had helped August maneuver Alex safely to the Med Bay.
"Hey," Jim paused before leaving her to do a diagnostics scan on Alex. "Thanks for having our backs," he said with a grateful smile and tired eyes. She nodded and gave what she imagined was an equally exhausted smile.
Luckily for Alex, it was only a mild concussion (and three stitches on his forehead where he'd been pistol-whipped). He came to she was rolling one of the downed men into a body bag. She stopped what she was doing and walked over to him.

"Don't sit up too quickly. You've got a concussion but it's nothing serious. You're just gonna have a headache for a few days."

"Everyone okay," he asked, looking over to the other med chairs to see if any of his friends were injured.

"More or less, you should go rest while I clean up," she said glancing and nodding to the mess behind her. Usually, she'd just have him stay in the med bay but with the four dead bodies and the clean up that was needed she figured he'd have an easier time resting in his bunk.

"Aw darlin', let me help with that." He said sitting up, his face creased with a frown. He stood up and took another step towards him to make sure he was steady.

"I can handle it, you can help by taking care of yourself," she said, giving him a small nudge. He looked like he was about to argue for a moment but then he shrugged and nodded. "Do you need help getting back to your room?"

"I think I can manage," he said, resting his hand on her shoulder and giving it a grateful squeeze before walking out. She went back to cleanup duty. Midway through shoving grunt number two into a bag, she heard Amos's voice.

"Need a hand?" She wasn't surprised that he'd finished taking the bodies off the deck so much faster than she'd managed.

"If you could help me put these wherever we store...uh.. the bodies..." That wasn't a comforting thought.

"Got it," he said without hesitating and picked the first bagged guy up like a sack of potatoes. While he was out she finished bagging the third guy and started working on mopping up the blood. She was fairly certain this wasn't what Fred Johnson had had in mind when he gave her this assignment. It certainly wasn't what she'd thought she was going to end up doing. Killing someone...

Amos came back twice to grab the other bodies and then came back a fourth time.

"See, I knew you kept your shit together," he said as he kneeled next to her with a rag.

"I'm not sure stabbing someone in the neck is typically considering keeping one's shit together." She wasn't sure if he'd expected her to say more, but typical of Amos he didn't say more and they silently continued their clean up.

"Thanks for the help," she said when they'd finished up. For maybe the hundredth time she wished she could figure out what Amos was thinking but she supposed she'd come to accept that she was just never going to be able to read him.

"When Fred Johnson tried to get you on the ship, I told the Cap it was a bad idea. I'm glad I was wrong," he said matter-of-factly. She looked at him in surprise. Not that he'd not wanted her there but that he'd changed his mind and more so that he expressed any of it. She wasn't exactly sure how to respond. "Should I not have said that?" He looked concerned.

"No, just caught me by surprise. I'm glad too." He gave her a nod, studying her for a moment,

"Don't forget about dinner," he said before leaving.

Chapter Text

A few hours later August stumbled out of the hot recycled air of the club into the slightly fresher recycled air of the corridors of Tycho. She took a deep breath and pushed her sweaty hair out of her face. She wasn't the only one taking a breather outside the club. There were several clusters of people ranging from a rowdy group of guys to a man and a woman who were both visibly swaying, whispering to each other and giggling. August took refuge on a nearby wall pressing up against the cool metal.

"What's an Earther girl doing on Tycho?" asked an unfamiliar Belter accent. August immediately tensed and looked up to see a few Belter guys looking her up and down. Her hand twitched, thinking of the knife she had in her boot.

"August," to her surprise for a few reasons, said Amos who had just exited the club and was approaching her.

"Aw, Earther girl has an Earther boyfriend." One of the men mocked. The smarter ones in the group visibly sized up Amos. They snarked and sniped a bit more at the Earther pair but didn't make any move to approach.

"You alright," Amos asked as he joined her, leaning on the wall she was propped up against.

"Just overheated and kinda bored," she said with a chuckle, "what about you? Mr. No Dancing." she teased with a nudge. She couldn't help herself from flirting with him. All she had to do was look at him and she felt warmth pool in her stomach. And so what if he rejected her? It wasn't like she frequently saw him and she could just play it off as having too much to drink. When she wasn't with him she'd catch herself thinking about when she'd next encounter him or strategizing on ways to get him to open up.

"Yeah, dancing's not really my thing," he deadpanned.

"I bet you could bust out some moves if you wanted too," she pushed herself off the wall and playfully shook her hips and her head. He smiled a bit at that, much to her surprise.

"Want to go drink somewhere else, no dancing required. I promise."

"Lead the way," he said standing.

----

"Fuck, I didn't realize how late it was," she grumbled as she looked at the people flooding out of the bar a few blocks down from the one they'd left. She checked her tablet and it read 3:05. Even here on Tycho places got fed up with the drunks and eventually closed for the 'night'. It had always irked her that even way out here in the middle of nowhere fucking space there were still a bunch of dumb rules that killed the fun. Being out of the oppressive heat of the club and with Amos had, if not sobered her up a bit, had made her way more aware of herself and him. When August was near him her brain buzzed and she wasn't able to focus on anyone else. She wanted to touch him. She wanted to make him react to her...make him moan.

"Well, now what?" He said, close behind her. His voice was nonchalant, but she could feel her spine fucking tingle with want, she felt that want in her bones. But she also had a desperate need to not embarrass herself. She turned to him.

"I've got booze at my place if you wanna come over for a drink? It's either that, calling it quits or there are some really dive-y places on the lower levels that are probably still open but I'm not crazy about them."

"Yeah, that works...your place if you want," he said clarifying. She was afraid she was blushing so she turned on her heel and tried to play it off as whimsy.

"Come on then, times a-wasting and there's booze to be drank." She headed down the corridor glancing back to check that he was following. He was close on her heel. As they approached the section her apartment was in she was giving herself a mental lecture about chilling out and not getting her hopes up.

August unlocked the apartment and the lights flipped on.

"Preference on drinks?"

"Free booze is free booze," he said following her in and glancing around the apartment. It wasn't anything spectacular but she was better off than most on Tycho, a low bar to be sure. August grabbed two glasses and the bottle of rum she had and gestured him over to the couch.

"So, there's a problem," she said setting down the glasses and bottle on the table next to her couch "You don't dance and you barely talk. And I'm really bad at staring contests."

"Well, you talk a lot." He said in response. Her raised eyebrow made him frown. "I didn't mean for that to sound mean...I like it when you talk. I don't have to guess what you're thinking."

That made her laugh and she sat down next to him handing him a glass. "Well, I never know what you're thinking."

Amos shrugged and took a sip of his drink. "I'm not that complicated"

"Alright then, keep your secrets," she said and giggled a bit to herself at her own little joke.

"What's that mean?" He asked looking over at her.

"Nothing I'm just teasing you," she said giving his leg a light shove with her hand. Her hand lingered for a moment before she nervously ran her hand through her hair and took a gulp of her drink. Just go for it coward, she chided herself. Another voice in her head reminded her that shitting where she ate had, historically, never gone well for her. Not to mention his seeming total lack of interest. She was no good at seduction. That thought made her sigh. This whole situation made her sigh.

"Except now something seems to be bothering you, did I do something wrong?" There was a softness in his voice when he asked this.

"No..no it's not you, it's me...I'm just drunker than I thought sorry." August could feel her face reddening by the second.

"Maybe you should go to bed?"

"I don't want to kick you out."

"I think I'll survive," he replied with uncharacteristic sarcasm and a smile. Amos stood and she stood as well. They were closer than she'd anticipated, and she felt a rush go to her head. She wasn't sure if the rush was from the booze or him. She laid a hand on his arm to steady herself. August was not prepared for what proximity to his body would do to her. She glanced up at him, she hadn't noticed how blue his eyes were before, or the sadness that lurked behind them. August felt an electric shock through her spine and her limbs felt like jello. She breathed him in, sweat and motor oil. She dug her nails into her palm and forced herself to let go of him. She took a step back but his hands were still on her hips, though she couldn't remember him placing them there.

Then August felt her stomach churn in a decidedly not romantic way. "Gonna vom," she announced wide-eyed before rushing to the bathroom.

"I'll...uh...see myself out then," Amos called out after a moment before leaving the apartment.