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RAdml Reynolds & Captain Brunsig - Hardest of Hearts (Part I), Just Give Me A Reason (Part II)

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There is love in your body but you can't get it out
It gets stuck in your head, won't come out of your mouth
Sticks to your tongue and it shows on your face
That the sweetest of words have the bitterest taste

Hardest of Hearts, Florence + The Machine

((Cyrithra Forest, Tyrellia))
Brunsig: You forgot something.
::Lost in her stargazing, Quinn hadn't heard Walter approach, and she startled at the sound of his voice. As she turned toward him, he slapped two small presentation boxes into the palm of her hand, without waiting for acknowledgement or greeting. She knew what they contained without needing to open them; one a Purple Heart, the other a Good Conduct Ribbon. She had earned service ribbons in the Roman Expanse, as well as her crew.::
Reynolds: I didn't forget. I just don't like handing myself awards. 
Brunsig: What the hell are you playing at?
::She stared at him. There had been no preamble or preface to the outburst, and she was entirely caught off guard. Walter's default emotional state was a simmering irritation, but as he stood in front of her, it looked like more than that. He was angry -- angry with *her* --and she hadn't the faintest idea why.::
Reynolds: Pardon me?
Brunsig: Are you deliberately aiming to secure the record for most Purple Hearts awarded to a single officer? Or are you actually *trying* to get yourself killed? 
::Deja vu all over again. How many times had they had this conversation? Maybe he'd had a point when it had come to their investigation into the Orion Syndicate on Tyrellia, or even the mission to Leutra IV, but this time? This time she had played by all the rules. She'd been a good little admiral, staying away from the danger as best she could. There wasn't much she could do when the danger had barged in without so much as knocking.::
Reynolds: Come on. I didn't run off on an away team. I didn't even leave the bridge! What happened was hardly a result of me recklessly throwing myself at danger.
Brunsig: But you were damn quick to try and martyr yourself with that neurogenic field crap, weren't you? If that had been anyone else, you would have had them marched to sickbay and put under guard. But no. Quinn Reynolds has to prove that she's willing to die for her crew.
::It took her a moment to realise that her first instinct wasn't denial, but annoyance that he was right. Was he right? After all, his comment wasn't entirely dissimilar to the observations that had come from her counsellor.::
Reynolds: That's not… 
::Fair? Oh no, it was fair. Frustratingly fair. But as much as she wanted to deny it, she had never lied to Walter, and she had no intention of starting now.:: 
Reynolds: Fine. It was a bad choice. But it was a bad choice in a sea of even worse choices. Our backs were against the wall, Walter. There weren't any other options.
Brunsig: Not a single damn option on a boat of seven hundred "clever and brave" people? You're full of crap, Cupcake.
::Her temper flared, and she snapped out the response before her brain had time to consult with her mouth. Funny, how often that happened around him.::
Reynolds: Watch your tone, *Captain*.
::And there they were, each as furious as the other, captain and admiral locked in an irate glare. His lip curled and he snarled his response.::
Brunsig: Aye aye, *sir*.
::Every time she wielded their rank disparity like a weapon against him, she regretted it. That was as inevitable as the heat death of the universe, and yet she found herself doing it far too often when her hackles were up.
::And if anyone knew how to push her buttons, it was Walter Brunsig. He snorted, then turned on his heel and began to stalk away, back toward the path, his footsteps heavy on the soft earth of the forest floor. But after only a few steps, he whirled around to face her again, and the flush of anger on his cheeks was darkened with a blush of something else.::
Brunsig: For crying out loud, Quinn! Do you think I stole a starship and tear-assed across the galaxy for *Vess*? 
::If his words had been intended to take the wind out of her sails, they were entirely successful. Her anger fell as quickly as it had risen, washed away by her sharp intake of breath.
::Throughout the whole Yarahla Nine affair, he'd maintained that he'd participated because it was the moral and right thing to do. Because Starfleet had dismissed what Sienelis had to say without proper consideration. Because there had been hundreds of lives on the line, and he couldn't in good conscience ignore even the tiniest chance at saving them. And it was true, of that she had no doubt. Walter Brunsig was brusque, and often rude, but he was not a liar. Those had been his reasons. She had believed him.
::Never, ever had he so much as hinted that there was another truth underpinning all of those noble and fair justifications… and that truth was her. She shook her head, lost for words, and then the first, stupid thing that popped into her head was spilling out of her mouth.::
Reynolds: Well, there is a certain frisson between you two…
::She deadpanned it, but even as the words were leaving her lungs, she was cringing inside. It was a poor time for jokes.::
Brunsig: I am in no mood, Cupcake. *No* mood.
::That much was obvious. She held up her hands, palms toward Walter, and took a few steps toward him, trying to placate his outrage. She didn't want to fight.:: 
Reynolds: Look, just… ::She sighed.:: Start again. What do you--
Brunsig: You. I want you.
::His sharp blue eyes widened, then he grimaced and looked away. The dim light in the moonlit forest did little to hide the blush that had firmly taken hold on his cheeks. That was not what he had wanted to say -- or at the very least, it was not how he had intended to say it. For her part, Quinn found herself mute, her freckled skin pale, hazel eyes wide and staring; a moth frozen in amber. And there they stood, her transfixed, him avoiding her gaze, the silence growing longer and more awkward with each passing heartbeat.::
Brunsig: Dammit, say something.
I never stopped
You're still written in the scars on my heart
We're not broken, just bent
And we can learn to love again
Just Give Me A Reason, P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
((Cyrithra Forest, Tyrellia))
Reynolds: Well… ::Again, she was lost for words. All she could think of was every instance where he'd pushed her away -- and there'd been a fair few -- and it was that resentment that formed her next sentence.:: It's just that you've had a funny way of showing it.
::She waited for the sarcastic retort, and the scowl that would accompany it. Instead he heaved a sigh and shook his head, rubbing a hand across his face and then through his short, blond hair. He hesitated, and took a moment to survey their surroundings, and she knew him well enough to know that he was ensuring they had no unwelcome eavesdroppers before he continued.::
Brunsig: I'm… sorry. ::He grimaced, the words of an apology foreign in his mouth.:: Look, Quinn. In my life there have been exactly two women I've been inclined to commit to. One left me at the altar, and the other wouldn't even say yes to my proposal.
::It felt like an elastic band snapping in her mind, and her expression twisted into an echo of his usual scowl.::
Reynolds: Do you think I'm a liar?
::He was taken aback by the question, and it took him a few moments to regain his bearing and form a response. Quinn let herself have just a little satisfaction at being able to catch him off guard, even to the point where he didn't have the wherewithal to even try and cover it.::
Brunsig: What?
Reynolds: I mean, I can't think of any other reason why I'm repeating myself.
Brunsig: Quinn--
Reynolds: No. You *listen* to me. I never saw marriage as a part of my life. Ever. I never saw myself as someone's wife, never imagined I'd have a husband or wife of my own. And you never, ever gave me the slightest hint that marriage was something you wanted, either. We never discussed it, you were openly cynical about the idea when other people did it -- so yes, when you sprung it on me, I was surprised and I needed a little time.
Brunsig: You--
Reynolds: Shut. Up.
::He scowled, but to her mild surprise, he complied with an impatient flick of his wrist, indicating she should continue. And so, onwards she ploughed, a little bit afraid that if she stopped now, she'd never be able to say it again. Anger and frustration were powerful motivators, after all, and without them...::
Reynolds: I was going to say yes. After the mission, I was going to say yes. So please, stop acting like I left you or threw you out. The only reason you didn't get your answer is because… 
::The words tasted too bitter to say, and it was her turn to grimace. "Because I killed you" was an overly-dramatic, but not entirely inaccurate way of describing it. Every commanding officer dreaded the day they had to order someone they cared about to sacrifice themselves, and Quinn had struggled to come to terms with that decision for a very long time.:: 
Brunsig: You thought I was dead. And then you moved on. Spawned with Ross, shacked up with Tam--
Reynolds: I am not going to apologise for--
::It was her turn to be cut off, and as much as it annoyed her, she couldn't deny that he'd weathered her interruptions and let her finish. So she pursed her lips, and listened.::
Brunsig: I'm not asking you to apologise for anything. You don't *owe* me an apology for anything. ::He frowned at her, his gaze intense.:: *Anything*, Quinn, do you hear me? Not for that decision, and not for your boy toys. It was the right call -- hell, it was the *only* call. And what you did in your personal life is your own damn business.
 ::He frowned, stopping there to gather his thoughts. Walter Brunsig was not one to discuss his innermost feelings, not even when there was a metaphorical gun to his head.
Brunsig: You'd moved on. I hadn't. Most of my so-called "relationships" have been physical, rather than emotional. It's easier. You have a good time, and you part ways, no hurt feelings. Watching someone move on without you is…
::It wasn't like him to trail off or leave a sentence hanging, with his preference for speaking plainly  -- a little *too* plainly, at times. But he didn't need to form the words, because she knew what he was describing. She remembered all too well how it had felt when she had realised that her relationship with David had become an afterthought to his career aspirations, watching him move on and up with barely a backward glance in her direction.::
Reynolds: Yeah. I know.
::Was this where she was supposed to admit that she'd never really moved on? That Harry wouldn't have had a chance if she even suspected Walter had still been alive? That she would have never turned to Kael for comfort, if she'd thought for just a second that Walter had been awaiting her return? 
::Problem was, she never quite been able to work out if it was endearing, or just plain pathetic. It had certainly felt like the latter, but maybe...::
Brunsig: I still love you, Quinn. I never stopped. ::He shook his head, heaving another sigh.:: Given the evidence, it doesn't look like I can.
::His words stole her breath, and few moments later she had to remind herself to breathe again as her head grew light. Of all the places she had imagined this conversation going, a confession like that had not been one of them. A small, cautious smile crept onto her lips as she dared to hope.::
Reynolds: That was… actually a little bit romantic.
::He held up a stern finger.::
Brunsig: Don't tell.
Reynolds: Our secret.
::She didn't know what else to say. Her heart sounded obnoxiously loud as it banged away inside her chest; a galloping rhythm that she was quite sure everyone inside the forest would be able to hear. Walter seemed equally ill at ease, his cheeks still coloured with that self-conscious flush of pink. What were they supposed to do now? He was only an arm's length away, but it might as well have been a light year.::
Reynolds: Well, this is awkwa--
::He silenced her with a kiss, his lips warm and soft against her own, his hand light on the back of her neck. The callouses on the tips of his fingers scratched gently against that sensitive skin, shivers rolling down her shoulders and spine. And there, against the edges of her mind, his thoughts brushed against her own -- and to her surprise, they were as soft and warm as his touch. It was familiar and new, all at the same time, and she wanted nothing more than to stay in that moment, with him.::
::And for at least a little while, there under the stars and leafy boughs, Quinn Reynolds got her wish.::
Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds

Commanding Officer
USS Gorkon
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