Chapter 13: Caught In The Act

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Alyx paused in the doorway of the Beacon’s bridge, hooking her hand on the doorframe and hanging back. Finn was seated in the captain’s chair, his eyes locked on the console before him which was emitting quiet voices. A news feed, it sounded like. She watched the back of his head for a moment, knowing she just needed to step forward and get this over and done with, but the awkwardness of the ensuing conversation made her want to turn back around and forget the whole thing. The two of them had barely spoken since the incident at the ship demonstration. Why start now?

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Finn spared her the responsibility of taking the leap. He glanced over his shoulder at her and grunted, “Need something?”

Yes, Alyx wanted to growl. Yes, the Beacon needed her captain back, needed money, resources, a plan, anything. Yes, she needed a lot.

But in the interest of not exacerbating their already strained relationship further, she just shrugged casually and said, “Just wanted to see how you were doing,” as she crossed into the room and took up a seat beside him.

“Better. Just a few bruises. Daelen took care of me.” He paused. “Well, I think he did. Hard to remember.”

Alyx cocked a brow. “Did he check for a concussion?”

Finn smirked at her sidelong. “Hard to remember.”

Awkward silence fell as Finn looked back at the screen and Alyx sat there, wracking her brain on how to proceed. Frankly, she didn’t feel like she owed Finn much of an apology. She wasn’t even convinced she’d done anything wrong. Through the grapevine, she knew that he was angry about her not going after ‘Corra’ when his ship had crashed, but to her mind, she didn’t even think Corra had been there. And excuse her, there had been the much more pressing issue of her captain’s well-being to worry about at the time. She regretted nothing.

And yet she knew that nothing would ever change between them unless she sucked it up and apologized anyway. Alyx may have been stubborn, but she was a lightweight compared to Finn and the Beacon needed to move on from their last mishap. Desperately. If that meant she had to take a hit to her pride, so be it.

But as soon as she began, “So, listen– ” Finn also opened his mouth to say, “So have you heard about–”

Alyx clamped her jaw shut. Finn did the same. Then he said, “Sorry, what were you–”

“No, no, it’s fine,” she insisted hurriedly, gesturing for him to continue. His hand was hovering somewhere towards the console which was still playing news from Vescent. “The riots?”

“Yeah,” he said, looking between her and the reporter on screen and back again. “They’re uh–pretty bad, huh?” His mouth twisted and he admitted, “I don’t actually have anything to add about that…What were you gonna say?”

Despite herself, Alyx smiled. So she wasn’t the only one that felt incredibly uncomfortable right now.

“I just–I wanted to say I’m sorry is all. For what went down the other day.” She ran a hand through her hair. “It wasn’t what I intended. At all. And it just sucked. And I’m sorry.”

To her surprise, Finn actually smiled in return. “Hey, it wasn’t your fault. I was the one who let my guard down and crashed that ship.”

“Yeah, we really could have used that,” Alyx said before she could stop herself and fortunately, he took it good-heartedly.

“No kidding. And look, we’re gonna get back on track, I promise,” Finn said and for the first time in a long time, Alyx felt a hint of faith in her captain. That is, until he added, “Just as soon as we find Corra.”

She must have visibly tensed. It took a great deal of willpower to not just snap at him right then and there. ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ she wanted to demand. ‘We need more help than she does at this point! We can’t waste any more time trying to help a woman who doesn’t want our help when our ship is on the edge of falling apart!’

But somehow, perhaps by miracle, she managed to contain herself. “Finn, I care about Corra as much as you, but–”

“Knock knock?” came a cool, polite voice by the door, cutting her off mid-sentence. Both Alyx and Finn turned to find someone Alyx had never seen before. He was a short man, a little stocky, but had a certain refined dignity to his stance that made him appear taller than he was.

For a moment, no one said anything until he coughed uncomfortably and said, “Captain Riley? I was told I might find you up here?”

Alyx blinked before gesturing toward Finn. He stood up, looking suspicious. “I’m Captain Riley. What do you want?”

“Ah, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” said the man, hurrying forward to take Finn’s hand and shake it enthusiastically. Finn looked bemused. “I hope you don’t mind, I did a bit of looking around on the way up here. She’s gorgeous, even more than you described.”

Alyx glanced at Finn, but he looked just as puzzled as she felt.

The man went on, “I’ve got someone drawing up papers in town if we want to move forward today.” He walked across the bridge to look out the window. “I’d like to take a look through the engines and ancillary cores first of course, but I’m definitely liking what I’m seeing.”

Finn’s eyes shifted over the stranger curiously. “Wait, hang on here — ”

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