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Code 64

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"Here we are! Home, sweet home!" Athena's face remained in its schooled expression of stoicism and indifference as she followed the loud blonde through the mostly-empty living area, a large box labeled 'misc.' in her arms that she neatly sat in a corner while said blonde carried a box of cookware into the kitchen area of the one-bedroom house. This was one of the nicer places in Hollow Point; the cash Jack paid out for her services in dealing with DAHL general, Zarpedon, as well as the Vault business, Athena had more than enough to help Janey Springs, the mechanic (amongst other things) who had helped her and the other Vault Hunters during their time on Elpis, move down to Pandora and buy this property from the local bar owner (though Athena figured she'd still somehow find a way to get back to Concordia to visit Moxxi). However, it brought her back to square one, the entire reason she had to endure Wilhelm's disturbing obsession with his cybernetics, Claptrap (nothing to add, he was just the most annoying little shit Athena wished she could have killed), Jack's descent into insanity and Nisha's nausea-inducing flirting with him: she was almost out of money again. Between the two of them, she and Janey could make ends meets for a little while, but they had to find decent income sooner rather than later. That was a discussion for another day, however.

Athena's attention snapped towards the kitchen when she heard a loud crash and Janey's subsequent exclamation of "Son of a Skag muffin!!" Without a second thought, Athena withdrew Xiphos from its sheath on her back and summoned Aspis to her left arm from where it had been leaning against the wall before rushing towards the source of the sound. She was on high alert, blue eyes meticulously scanning for the first sign of danger while the blonde woman obliviously rubbed the top of her head and picked up a pot from the dusty floor, grumbling under her breath.

"Springs?" Athena questioned. Janey looked up and saw Athena in the doorway, posed ready to cut down the first threat she saw. Unable to help herself, she laughed. Athena's brows furrowed slightly. "I fail to see what is funny about this situation."

"Nothin'. You're just adorable." Janey remarked, brown eyes twinkling with amusement in the dim light of the lamps they had set up until they could get some power, trying her best to suppress the giggle in her Elpis-accented words.

"How is my assessment for danger adorable?" A blush still rose to Athena's cheeks. Janey stood with a light grunt, putting the fallen pot on the counter by the sink before she moved over to the Vault Hunter. Calloused hands rested on gloved ones to gently push them down so that Xiphos and Aspis were down by Athena's sides.

"I find it sad tha' ya don't know how adorable ya really are." Janey said with a grin. Athena rolled her eyes.

"What happened in here?"

"See? Ya shoulda opened with tha'."

" Springs. "

"Oh relax, would ya?" Janey continued to giggle, waving her off. "I just dropped a pot on my head." Athena blinked in bewilderment.

"...I'm sorry. What?"

"Don't gimme tha' look!" The blonde playfully huffed. "I'm still gettin' used ta gravity! I threw the pot up so that it would float into the cupboard and it landed right on my noggin." The uncharacteristic snort that escaped from Athena was subtle, barely audible, but Janey heard it. Damn did she hear it and her grin reached Cheshire Cat levels. "My dear lady, was tha' a laugh I heard?" The mechanic teased, a finger poking at Athena's nose. Athena remained unmoving.

"No. It was a scoff."

"Mmm…" Janey hummed, her hands now playing with the grey scarf around Athena's neck, the fabric worn and slightly tattered from battle. "I think it was a laugh."

"You're entitled to your opinion." The corner of the Gladiator's mouth twitched up into a smirk. Lifting Xiphos, she slid it back into its sheath. Janey leaned down to peck a kiss against Athena's cheek, who in turn let Janey take Aspis and set it on the floor to lean against the wall.

"Help me unpack?" Athena hummed in affirmation and walked over to one of the boxes on the floor. They worked in relative silence, Janey occasionally humming a tuneless song or mumbling notes to herself whenever she found something that would need to be fixed. The box Athena had been unpacking was mostly dinnerware. There were a few oddities that had been tossed in. A drill, a radio, a handful of old ECHO devices. They had run out of boxes packing up Janey's things between her emporium store in Concordia and her garage along the Celestial Beltway, so a lot of stuff had been stuffed into any box that had space to spare.

Janey had fallen silent again and, while it was comfortable, it just didn't seem natural for the loud, exuberant blonde to work quietly. So, Athena took out the radio, her boots quietly tapping across the hard floor to set the it on the window sill. There was nothing but static when she turned the dial to click on the radio, but a quick adjustment of the antenna remedied that. She left it alone when the first clear station came through, not wanting to press her luck and end up losing it altogether. The music was catchy enough, rather similar to the club music at Moxxi's. Personally, Athena knew she would get sick of it in a couple of days, but seeing Janey wiggle around to the beat of the music as she picked up a handful of silverware out of a small box and sort them in a drawer? Well, Athena would be lying if she said she wasn't enjoying this.

Athena grabbed the stack of dinner plates from her box, walking past Janey to get to a cupboard. She had just barely managed to get the plates safely up on the shelf (regrettably having been required to stand on her tip toes) before she felt Janey behind her. Hands onnthe smaller woman's hips, Janey continued to dance and him happily to the music while turning the Gladiator around so that they were facing each other. Brown eyes met blue and Janey's seemingly never ending grin only widened when Athena offered another smile in return, this one even more relaxed and softer than the previous one. Athena did feel a little awkward with her hands at her sides, but she wasn't sure what else to do with them. Janey helped with that little dilemma though, her hands holding Athena's to guide them up to the mechanic's shoulders before she returned her own to rest on the smaller woman's hips. Neither of them said a word, both of them content to holding one another as Janey dipped her head down to touch her forehead against Athena's while the two of them swayed out of time to the music. This was...nice. Athena couldn't remember the last time she felt so...calm. At peace.

Safe.

As soon as the word popped into her mind, the hairs on the back of Athena's neck rose and she twitched anxiously. Safe was the one thing she never was. She was always on high risk assignments. Always being hunted for the bounty on her head while she was out. But with Janey, there wasn't any of that worry or anxiety… Which, ironically, made Athena uncomfortable. She tried to keep it under wraps because she wasn't quite ready to let go of Janey, but the other woman caught on to her slight unease and turned her head to press her lips over the indigo colored hair that covered Athena's temple before letting go to give her some space.

"Tha' box have anythin' left?" Janey thumbed over her shoulder to the box Athena had been unpacking. Athena saw what she was doing. It was a distraction to try and get her to relax again. She gladly went along with it.

"Yeah, there's a few things left in there." Janey was already moving before Athena could even finish her sentence. It didn't stop her from following the blonde to give a hand.

"Hey!" Janey exclaimed cheerfully as she pulled out the ECHO devices. "I wondered where I put these!" She turned one over to look at the label on the back while Athena reached into the box. They were what both women expected them to be, Janey's rather dark but oddly satisfying children's stories. The mechanic raised a brow at one of the devices. "Huh. I don't remember this one." Athena hadn't seen what Janey was talking about, having bent down to pull out a smaller plate from the stack in the box and began to examine it since these plates seemed a lot newer than everything else they had previously unpacked. Moxxi had given them some supplies before they left. Maybe this had been a part of it. To show she was listening, however, Athena gave a questioning hum. Thankfully, Janey was already becoming fluent in Athena's grunts and had continued on as to answer the ex-assassin. "I mean, I don't remember a story called 'Code 64'—" Janey nearly jumped out of her skin when the plate Athena had been holding shattered onto the floor, surrounding her boots with white dust and ceramic shards.

"'Thena?" Athena stood rigid, her posture painfully straight. Her mouth had set into a firm line, her brows furrowed, her warm blue eyes now ice cold in the absence of the playfulness and rare bliss that had previously filled them and unblinkingly stared ahead at the wall. Janey quickly darted her gaze back to the ECHO she held and took notice of the details she had overlooked. Code 64 was written in red marker, the ink slightly smeared like it had been thrown in the box before it could fully dry. Janey would be the first to admit that her penmanship was far from being the neatest, but this was too messy, too desperate, and yet, too uniform in size to be considered natural.

This was Athena's handwriting. And from the looks of her reaction, she had forgotten all about it.