While the boys trundled off on their separate tasks, Jagati propped herself in the doorway, trying not to let it show how annoyed she was at the way John and Pyotr—or whatever his name really was—separated themselves from the rest of the company.
How dumb do they think we are?
John knows better. Jagati almost jumped at that thought, which sounded suspiciously like Eitan’s voice, but inside her head. Taking a steadying breath, she turned to Eitan, who was sitting very still while Kallik sutured his wound, and saw an echo of her own surprise as there. Yes, both were sensitives, but never before had her empathy and his telepathy merged, she supposed was the term. “Ugh,” she groused aloud, before she thought better.
Kallik shot her a puzzled look while Eitan sighed.
“Would you prefer to wait in the galley?” Kallik asked, their voice not even a little judgmental, despite the obvious assumption Jagati found the sight of someone being sutured gross.
The doc had skills.
“Actually, I could use a cup of tea,” Eitan said.
“Ah, yeah…of course,” Jagati straightened. “I’ll get it set up, meet you in the galley when you are done.” Yeah, I am so smooth, she thought as she rolled her eyes on her way out.
Still, the task gave her something to do, and by being the one making the tea, she got to choose the blend.
Rory was fond of some yellowy flowery tea at night, but it tasted like chewing on sadness to her, so she made her normal Fujian black, brewed strong enough to wake a hibernating bear.
Once it had steeped sufficiently, she poured herself a cup, took a bracing sip, and let her the questions roiling through her mind bubble to the surface.
Questions like who was Pyotr, really?
What kind of history did Pyotr and John share?
Since both of those questions required either John or Pyotr to answer, she deliberately left them in a corner to think about what they’d done and moved on to wondering if she had really heard Eitan’s voice in the sickbay?
Had she truly touched minds with Conn while in the labyrinth?
And the clarity of Conn’s memory—the hot, ripping agony of Eitan’s sword—visceral didn’t even begin to cut it.
And later, when she’d stopped Eitan from breaking into John’s explanation to the cops—she’d said nothing, only thought the word, trust—and Eitan had stopped.
“Or, Eitan just knows John well enough to haha, trust him,” she muttered, warming up her tea then, upon hearing footsteps on the starboard deck, reached for a second mug.
“You’ll need rest,” she heard Kallik say, their own voice weary.
“And I will, but—”
“But adrenaline, and anger, and pride,” Kallik cut in, though Jagati felt there was a smile in their voice. “I’ve worked with a few veterans. Be well, Eitan.”
There was a pause, long enough that Jagati started to put the second mug back in the cupboard, then Eitan murmured something too low to hear, followed by a single set of footsteps on the ladder, and another set of footsteps approaching the galley.
By the time Eitan entered, she was holding out a steaming mug. “Not sure how serious you were about the tea, but here it is.”
“It could not possibly hurt,” he said, laying his coat, scarf, and dagger, still in its leather brace, on the table before taking the offered beverage. “To walking off the field of battle,” he raised the mug in a toast as he voiced the infantry motto.
“To jumping another day,” she returned, jumper to the last.
After another sip, she snuggled the mug to her chest for warmth. “So? Your take on Pyotr… and John?”
Eitan glanced at the doors, which were empty, then sighed and leaned back against the counter at Jagati’s side. “I would say Pyotr not being Pyotr indicates he works for an agency outside Healers Beyond Borders. And,” he added, his voice lower than was strictly necessary, “that he and John have a history.”
She grunted in agreement, and frustration. “I got that the first time we met the doctors, and John almost passed a draco when he caught sight of whateverhisnamereallyis.” And covered it just as quickly, she thought with an uncomfortable lurch. “Don't like it.”
“Which part?” Eitan asked. “That John has secrets, or that you now know it?”
“Both,” she snapped, then smirked at her own ridiculousness. “How dare he keep something from me… and so well that I had not one smogging clue.” Her tone was light, but it didn’t quite counter the pit in her stomach.
At her side, Eitan contemplated his mug. “First, believe me when I say that I, too, am angry—for different reasons, perhaps, but still—”
A complex/complicated scent of burning spices underscored his words, and she idly wondered if he could scent her sense of him.
“But,” he continued, angling his head only just enough to meet her eyes, “I also know that I have secrets I would not enjoy any one here knowing.” He didn’t quite pause, but in that half-a-heartbeat she recalled heat, and blood, and Eitan’s face, twisted in something she thought to be grief. “I believe we all do.”
Which had her wondering, in that flash of awareness, which of her deeply buried wounds he sensed? Then he looked away, leaving Jagati ready to pull her hair out with all the wondering as he added, “Leave your past on the ground, indeed.”
There was a deep grumbling from Jagati’s throat before she relented, “Fair enough.” One deep breath in and out, then… “No,” she said at last. “This isn’t the same. This Pyotr thing tangled up our crew…and the doctors.”
“And Conn,” Eitan murmured. “Somehow.”
“And Conn,” she agreed, slamming her mug down hard. “I say we go wherever they went and—” And, and what, she thought, before saying, “find out why Conn had to die twice.”
At which point Eitan almost dropped his mug, would have, if Jagati hadn’t snapped her hand out to steady his.
“I didn’t think that,” she said, releasing his hand once she saw he’d steadied.
“No,” he agreed, his dark eyes flat as he added, “But I did.”
“Okay, that is” her hands flailed, “whatever, let’s go find them and get some damn answers.”
Eitan hissed, then shrugged. “Why not?” he asked, before taking hefty swallow of his tea and thumping the mug next to hers. “It’s obvious we’ll not be sleeping for some time anyway.” He paused, grabbed his gear from the table as they headed for the port arch. “Do you have to brew it half to death?”
“If your spoon cannot stand up in it, why bother drinking it?”
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