It always feels like you never appreciate the rest you're getting until you wake up and have to deal with whatever the world decides to throw at you that day. Whether it be deliberate or something knocking me out, I think most sleep is good sleep. My name's Juno Steel, private-eye turned space pirate, and apparently I passed the fuck out.
When I finally came to, I was laying in the med bay back on the Carte Blanche, the same clothes as before sans my jacket, and a blanket draped over me. I sighed, debating whether or not I should actually sit up and face the music. But of course my decision was already made for me, and I heard a very Vespa-sounding grunt from somewhere to my right.
I cracked open my eye and inclined my head towards her, already glaring at me.
"Hell, can't a lady get some rest around here?"
"No," she cut off. I sighed, more dramatically this time, just for the theatrics of it. "Worth a shot, I guess."
She rolled her eyes at me, putting down the rather concerning looking needle she had been… cleaning, I guess. I don't know enough about medical stuff to discern what she was actually doing.
"You're a little shit, you know that?"
I scoffed. "So I've heard. Many times. From many people."
She raised an eyebrow before continuing in what I assumed was going to be an angry tangent, what without Buddy here to stop her. I wasn't too sure if I had the guts to try and stop her, either. I dunno how Buddy does it, but props to her. She made for a very menacing 5'4".
"The mission was going just fine, and then dead silence, and then when we actually do find you, you're passed out on the fucking ground! What the hell, Steel? All that blood surrounding you made you look like you got mauled by something." I winced at that, remembering the scene very clearly.
We had been doing some classic breaking and entering into some corrupt capitalist's private mansion, which honestly was really confusing to begin with. I mean, having a private mansion specifically probably means there's a public mansion. Who the hell needs two mansions? One would be enough for everything I had ever owned in my entire life, but then again I lived in Hyperion for most of my adult life so that's not much to begin with. We had decided it'd be better to split up - the three of us would cover a lot more ground that way, and there was plenty to cover. Jet took the main floor, I took the second floor, and Nureyev took the top. Rita, as per usual, was working as our resident hacker and communication hub, taking out the security drones and cameras. Buddy busied herself with wooing and subsequently distracting the human security, and Vespa was on standby in the back seat of the Ruby 7 for when things inevitably went wrong. And things did go wrong, but not in the way we were expecting.
See, our plan was to locate and take out Sky Grace, the owner of the mansion, and then break into eir safe which held some important documents with plenty of dirt on other business owners, as well as a small fortune in gems, which Nureyev seemed awfully excited about. But half the work had already been done for us. Sky Grace lay dead on the floor in one of at least seven master bedrooms, and I know a lot of people hated em, but whoever did it had some serious pent up aggression. Only reason I could tell it was Grace was the jewels ey were wearing on what was left of eir neck, wrists, ankles, and what I'm assuming was eir stomach. It was pretty awful. And very gory. And of course I was the one to find em.
As an ex-detective, I should have been looking for clues. Evidence left behind by the perp, escape routes, stuff like that. But as a hemophobe, I went with what my brain decided was the best route, and I fainted.
I huffed out a laugh. "Yeah, it wasn't me who got mauled." This time, I thought, but chose not to say. The look on Vespa's face told me she was thinking the same thing. She crossed her arms, learning back against the desk while I talked. "It's just… there was a whole lot of blood. And I--" "I know," she cut me off.
She raised an eyebrow at me. "Ransom sold you out. And you're lucky for it, too. Saved you from an ass kicking. For now."
I sat there for a second, processing. "What do you mean he told you--" I started, but my words died in my mouth when I saw movement in what peripheral vision I have left, and there he was, a silent approach as always. His arms were crossed and he leaned casually against the doorframe like that was his plan all along, to stand in that exact spot at that exact moment, smiling with a sliver of fox teeth and deep brown eyes. "Rise and shine, detective," he said, an eyebrow raised. I huffed out what barely constituted as a laugh. "Not a detective anymore."
He took that as his cue to fully enter the room, and Vespa sighed before squeezing out the door behind him.
"Well, for a non-detective you've certainly been doing quite a lot of detecting." I rolled my eye at that, but I couldn't help the fondness behind it. It was so easy just falling into this dance we do, going back and forth until one of us gives up or gives in, like nothing happened and nobody's been hurt.
"And on that note, what the hell did you tell Vespa? Had to be something good to get her off my back like that." I turned fully towards him, sitting up fully now with one leg dangling off the bed and the other bent so I could rest my chin on it if I really wanted to.
I knew I caught him off guard with that one, with the fraction his eyes widened, just for a split second. He's always so composed, able to draw in everything he feels at a moments notice. I don't know how he does it, but I do know how to spot it; the minute changes in his posture, a quirk of his lips, his eyebrow or jaw twitching just slightly. All unnoticeable to everyone, everyone but me. I'd be dead in a ditch if I wasn't able to pick up on little things like that. Maybe that's why we were drawn together, Nureyev and I.
Maybe it's what drew us apart.
He hums lightly, and I can practically hear him thinking. "Well, if I recall correctly, a certain not-detective has an aversion to blood. It didn't take much to put two and two together after I saw… well. You know," he paused, coming over and hesitating before sitting on the edge of the bed I was sitting on. There was a gap between us, but I could reach out and touch him if I really wanted to. "So I contacted Jet and waited for him--" he waited with me while I was unconscious "--and when he got there he picked you up and we left. After I emptied Grace's safe, of course. I'm sure ey won't mind a few missing files and jewels here and there. I explained the situation to Jet, and then again to Vespa when we returned to the Ruby 7." He paused for a moment, as if unsure of himself. "I.. hope that's alright. If you'd rather I not have--" "No!" I cut him off, not willing to entertain that line of thought. "No, no, I… I really appreciate. Thanks, Nureyev." Another quirk, the slight hitch in his breath when I said his name. The soft smile that spread like honey after. "Of course, Juno," was all he said in reply, and we sat there in silence, content to just be in each others presence.
Until Nureyev seemed to remember something, suddenly straightening his back and his smile went from soft to mischievous. "Oh, I don't like that look." He chuckled at that, and rested a hand on my back. "Well, you really aren't going to like when Rita gets a hold of you. She already gave Jet and I quite the earful." I groaned, slapping a hand to my face, and he laughed, a genuine laugh. I couldn't help but watch him, the way his eyes crinkled and his smile grew, his thumb absentmindedly rubbing patterns onto my back.
If passing out always got me this, then I don't think I'd mind all the lectures.