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Accidental Synchronicity

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The first time she visited, Thane never heard her enter the Life Support Plant, other than to hear the door cycle open and closed. She was a shadow against the wall, her feet sure but silent. He smelled her first. Sweat, anger, fear that she desperately tried to hide, ozone and gun oil. He stayed in his seat overlooking the engine core and waited. Waited to see what she was made of.

“I heard about you, ya know? Back in places. Omega, shithole dives where the drugs were cheap and the intel wasn't. Places where assassin was a fancy word.” Jack postured in front of the display cases where he'd stored his weapons, backlit. He turned his head enough to see her in his periphery. Her lips were so dark that he could see the sneer even with her face in shadow. He didn't reply, still waiting to see what she was going to do. He'd heard plenty from the others about her. Dangerous, angry, unhinged. Broken.

She stepped further into the light, closer to his personal space while leaving herself carefully positioned to either defend herself or run. He knew the stance well, had seen it in many of his victims over the years. From what he could tell in this mere moment of observation, she didn't strike him as the kind who ran.

“I hear Jacob doesn't like you much,” she went on. “'Assassin is just a precise mercenary', right?” She scoffed, a rough sound from such a delicate mouth. “Like he knows shit about the way the world works or something. Like he isn't just a hired thug himself.”

She took another step closer, her hands fisted at her sides. The lights of the Life Support Plant gleamed off the buckles of the strategically placed straps she wore in lieu of a shirt, flashing like another set of eyes. “You don't mingle much. Like me.”

He turned then, faced her squarely. She was good, he'd admit it. He couldn't tell what she was thinking with her expression so tightly buttoned down like that. She didn't seem unhinged to him. But broken...ah yes, that she was. Pain radiated off her like the ozone scent of her biotics.

“We are not here to make friends, are we?” he said softly.

“Got that damn right,” she agreed vehemently. He supposed it was an opportune time to interject that she was nevertheless here, in his space. He smiled instead. She sneered in return. She did it often, he could tell from the ease with which her facial muscles formed the expression. “The lone gunman works for you then?”

“It is the shape in which I was formed.”

“Philosophical bullshit or do you really buy that?”

He tilted his head. There was an undercurrent to her question. Did one's experiences mold them into a static form, or was there room for change? “Drell minds are literal. I am what you see today because that is the tool the hanar required me to be.”

“Seems like slavery to me, signing over your soul to the jellies just because they rescued you from certain death.” The sneer seemed to be glued in place.

“To many, yes, it would seem that way. But they are not careless with their tools, and I have not been in their service for many years.”

“So you get off on the killing, is that it?”

He stood then, a test to see how she'd react. Thane wasn't very tall – in fact, he stood barely higher than the Commander – but he was taller than Jack. He didn't loom over her in any way, but her head tilted back to stay focused on his eyes. “No, Jack. I am just a tool made for killing. It is not who I am or what I prefer.”

“And what would you prefer?” she taunted, switching from contempt to carnal in a heartbeat. The lines of her body turned fluid and her breathing changed. But it seemed too practiced to be genuine. Odd, then, that his heart seemed to skip and his breath caught in the back of his throat. The first tendril of arousal pulsed in his facial ridges. Other races didn't attract him. Why did she?

“I prefer quiet,” he said after a moment's thought. He stepped away from her, went back to his seat. As he suspected she would, she didn't leave. He went back to his meditation, aware always that she had slid to the floor beneath his display cases, watching him.

Eventually, with a sound of disgust aimed either at him or herself, she left.