Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 4
Sunday, December 3, 2006

In which Dex and Daphne each get a chance to relfect.


"Stop me if I'm wrong, Captain, but Mr. Dexter said we needed to dock here in order to fix something…" When the nobleman paused, Rachel turned from the cabinets lining the common room's kitchen wall. "Y'ain't wrong yet, you can keep talkin'." "And as soon as we docked, said mechanic left the ship without warning or explanation." "Why do I not relish the direction this conversation is heading…" Sir Anderson forced a smile. "I'm simply trying to work out what part of this cunning strategy I'm missing." Rachel turned from the wall a second time, a small food bar clutched in her hand and a tight smile on her face. "There's no need to get snippy." She let the square cabinet swing shut with a click, and began to walk toward the forward corridor as she peeled back the silver wrapping on the bar. "'Sides, you got somewhere pressing you need to be, your lordship?" "I'd just rather get underway, Captain, and I thought you of all people would share that sensibility." Rachel sighed and turned on her heel. "Dex is a very good friend, which you coulda noticed is a mite rare out here." Sir Anderson was about to respond, but she cut him off with a wave of her hand. "I trust him. Implicitly." She turned back toward the bridge, leaving the nobleman shaking his head. The garish cuckoo clock that hung on the wall, a gift to Daphne from a grateful client, had advanced over an hour since Dex and his friend had left. The captain exhaled deeply. She trusted him. To a point. "So what are you doing here? This far out, I mean. I thought you always wanted to go to Greenleaf." Carmen shrugged. "I did, but…things never work out the way you plan, right? There's no work anywhere, these days; had to take the first offer I got." Dex chuckled. "Yeah, you're tellin' me." The mechanic took the ensuing pause to glance up at her again. She looked much the same as she always had, he supposed: except now her honey-colored hair flew freely instead of staying plastered to her forehead with the day's sweat, and the smile that he was used to seeing in her eyes had started to fade. "Jiao xing…" He blinked, and Carmen grinned. "You still with me, Carl?" He cleared his throat and tried to smile. "Yeah, just…thinkin' about home." A stray thought entered Dex's mind, and his gaze shifted around the canteen. "Where's Woof got to?" He abandoned his search when he felt Carmen's hand slide over his on the surface of the table. "Listen, Carl, I…" She met his eyes and a shy smile flashed across her lips. "It's really good to see you again." Dex swallowed a breath. "It's good to see you again. I mean, I didn't…" He had to break his eyes away from hers. "I mean, I never…" "I missed you." His gaze pulled itself back up to hers, and she smiled sadly. "I mean, we were so close, and I didn't always…" Dex shook his head furtively. "Look, why don't we talk to the rest of my crew? We can take you somewhere. We can take you to Greenleaf, you can tear through the underbrush for medicinal plants, or somethin'." Carmen smiled. "I just…I want to see you happy." Her other hand came to rest in the middle of the table, on top of his. "Havin' you here makes me happier than I have any right to be, Carl Dexter." Daphne inhaled slowly as the asymmetrical sponge glided up her arm, then exhaled as her hand guided it back down. She had abandoned most of the Guild's customs—antiquated rituals the lot of them—but the Companion bathing ceremony she had always maintained. They taught at the House that it was supposed to be a spiritual as well as a physical cleansing; to slough off anything that might get in the way of a Companion doing her job. Things like lust, jealously, pride. Maybe that was why she felt more at home on the Rim, she thought with a snort of contempt: because she'd been too proud to make herself less human in order to pander to her clients like the Guild wanted. It wasn't her fault that her feelings were stronger than other peoples', and she certainly wasn't going to apologize for the fact that she enjoyed doing her job. Maybe that was why they'd pressured her to leave. They were just envious of her passion. Or scared. She started to force the sponge harder against her skin. The rest of them could all go to hell. "Oh, oh, dear, forgive me…" Daphne snapped out of her trance and turned her head in time to see Sir Anderson stumble over her divan in an attempt to back out of the shuttle with his eyes closed. "I mean, I never, oh, dear…" "It's all right! Just please…stop being a gentleman or you're going to break something." Sir Anderson stopped moving, but his eyes were still squeezed shut. "I'm terribly sorry, I…the door was wide open…" The Companion nodded mildly. "I don't even worry about it anymore. I prefer it that way." Sir Anderson cleared his throat uncomfortably. She moved the sponge to her shoulder, suddenly conscious of how tightly she had been gripping it before he entered. "You wanted something?" "Oh, I, uh…I was hoping to talk, but I uh…you're, um…indisposed." "I can do both at the same time." The nobleman was still standing in her entryway, eyes squeezed shut. Daphne sighed. "Please, sit. And go hwong tong open your eyes, my back's to you anyway." Sir Anderson settled onto the divan and, slowly, inched his eyes open, letting out a relieved breath. "You're not really the typical Companion, you know." "You're not really the typical fugitive." The nobleman let out a stifled laugh. "Fair enough." "What did you want to speak to me about?" "Well, I…I wanted your advice, actually. About…our captain." Daphne smiled halfheartedly. "I wonder if maybe I'm not the best person to ask about Rachel." "Well, you've been on this ship longer than I have. Anyway, if the truth be known…I can use all the help I can get." Daphne sighed. "Rachel Wu's a good woman. She just…wants to have control. She doesn't like being second-guessed, or manipulated." She stopped the sponge. They were more alike in that respect than the captain guessed; they both wanted control over their own destinies. Perhaps that was why they didn't get along. "You seem to know her fairly well after all." "Maybe I do." Daphne tightened her grip on the sponge. "Now, if you'll excuse me, your lordship, I'd like to get the rest of the cat hair off." Sir Anderson cracked a thin smile and moved toward the shuttle's exit. "Oh, Sir Chen?" He looked back at the Companion expectantly. "Would you close the door?"



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Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 6
In which, for once, everyone gets exactly what they deserve.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 5
In which Rachel surprises Daphne and Sir Anderson surprises everyone.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 4
In which the plan goes off without a hitch—except for the hitch. And the other hitch.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 3
In which the plan gets underway.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 2
In which a plan comes together, however creepifying a process it may be.

Blue Moon Episode 106—Proof, Part 1
In which the crew of Artemis gets a job that looks a little too familiar…

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 6
In which the truth comes out.

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 5
In which Saul, Dex, and Mariah's days all get significantly worse.

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 4
In which Dex and Daphne each get a chance to relfect.

Blue Moon Episode 105—Free at Last, Part 3
In which Dex gets a second chance, Mariah gets a better offer, and Saul gets something else entirely.