We Almost Weren't


ff_ace_icon.gif ff_des2_icon.gif

Scene Title We Almost Weren't
Synopsis Spades encourages Des to steal a moment and acknowledge her feelings.
Date July 5, 2021

The Ruins of Toledo

"Des," Spades calls after her softly, heading off not his own way but to follow in the wake of hers into one of the darkened stores. He steps over the long-broken glass of the front doorway, footsteps crunching between blades of grass that have skipped their way to just inside in the years, wind, and rain since the world fell to pieces. "Wait," he asks.

He radiates the warmth of the alcohol he's imbibed, even if he's only just now beginning to feel it sink into him properly. His head chases the sight of her silhouette in the dark made darker in here, but finds her all the same.

"Hey," he greets her again in more tender of a tone. He doesn't have anything to sum up what he saw in her or how he wants to defuse it aside from a second acknowledgement of, "Hey." in a softer voice still as he reaches for her in the black.

Des stops where she was about to pull open a door ajar to some backrooms. At first, she braces to have to defend her right to forge ahead on her own; to reassert herself as Captain, even if she no longer has a vessel of her own.

He forestalls it some by the lack of sharpness in his tone, but she still makes ready to mount a defensive. She turns around and watches the dark shape of his own stark against what backlight bleeds from the storefront windows. "Yes?"

She's easy enough to grasp when he reaches, the blonde not shying from his touch. "What is it?" It's more formal than his own demeanor right now, but not prickly or meant to be dissuading.

"You're hurting," is all Spades notes, gentle as he reaches for her. His hand settles on her shoulder, the other on her bicep, thumb brushing arm. He doesn't seek to pull her in, but he presents every opportunity for her to meet him in that way. "I wanted… to get us a minute where you didn't feel like you had to hide that."

Here in the dark, it's not like he'll see the entirety of it anyway. Just offers himself to be a comforting figure while she deals with it.

"Our numbers, our utility, went down frighteningly today," he notes in a murmur. "Lives were lost. People you've known."

Destiny draws in a slow breath, unable to look at him while she processes his concern and tries to avoid acknowledging how right he is. "It's… It's part of the risk we signed on for," she says stoically. She knows how incredibly lucky they'd gotten crossing the ocean. Shouldn't that have been more dangerous?

"I can't…" Break down every time reality comes to call. "M'fine."

All Spades can do is acknowledge, "You're not," before stepping in to encircle her in an embrace. A beat later, like to give her permission, he notes, "None of them out there are, either."

He bows his head down to the top of hers, placing his mouth to her hair. "I had to trust you'd be safe. Keep yourself safe. Even that was frightening, though, given how we were set upon. You didn't have a phaser running into the street trying to draw fire away from the rest of you on your end. Or an invincible man at the wheel."

"It's a miracle we're okay, and it's okay to be upset that we almost weren't."

Destiny doesn't resist the hug exactly, but she doesn’t relax into it even as she wraps her arms around Spades in return. She’s quiet for the space of two breaths after he lays out all the reasons why it’s okay to be affected.

And then she sags, holding tightly to her first mate.

“I’m glad you protected those people,” she says softly. “I’m glad you trusted me to keep myself safe. I… I protected Eddie.” Did she? Well, she aimed to, even if she wound up not needing to. “But Richard kept us safe.” A shudder runs through her frame at the memory of how, and the blood that followed after.

The following of that moment to the one that came after sees her huffing out a quiet breath of laughter. “And then Eddie protected me right back. Would you ever have imagined?” Edward was paralyzed when Spades joined her crew, after all, with Destiny being his carer as well as maintaining her ship and keeping up on the salvaging, making sure she could provide for him, herself, her crew.

If she stopped to really think about it, she might realize that it was A Lot. But Spades knows her. To her, it’s just what she must do and that’s all. It had been some time before he’d seen her showing any sense of longing for something more than that. Longer still before he’d helped her accept that she could take a break and have something for herself.

"It was his turn to protect you back, wasn't it?" Spades notes with a bit of wry, a smile on his voice. "You got him out of the Ark. You looked after him in a world that otherwise wouldn't have gave a damn about him. I'm…" He considers the words, but says them anyway. "I'm glad he didn't abandon you, like you were afraid he would."

Close as they are, she can scent the drink still on his breath, one he tries for a moment to point away from her even as he draws a hand up and down her back comfortingly. "As long as you did what you could to help, that's what matters. No one's asking you to be the one to…" Unsure how to phrase that delicately, he sighs and murmurs, "You know."

"You're okay to leave that to the pirates," him, "mafia," self-explanatory, "and crazy-ass world-hoppers ready to fight god or whatever."

Spades laughs, because he thinks he's using hyperbole, because he thinks it should be a comment to lighten the situation.

His voice softens after that to a fragile thing as he tells her in the dark, his expression unable to be seen, "I don't want you to lose what makes you special, Destiny. If the world succeeds in making you like the rest of us… then we've failed you." Spades lifts one hand to her head, fingers smoothing down her hair and following around the back of it until he's cupping her neck. "I'd have failed you, as your first."

It does lighten the moment, but only because he doesn’t know what she’s intuited about the intentions of the Travelers. There’s a small smile on her face when she turns it toward him again, visible in the faint light. She hears the reverence in his voice. For a moment, she feels like she can feel the fabric of his emotion between her fingers, the way it glides over her heart as he wraps her in it. It’s a fleeting thing.

“If I can’t defend what’s ours,” she starts, eyes trying to search his face and finding little in all that shadow, “because I’m afraid to have blood under my nails,” she noticed, “then what good am I as a leader? I can’t be a coward.” Destiny’s eyes close heavily. “I really thought he would go once he didn’t need to rely on me. I thought you would go when I said I was going to sell the boat and leave with him.”

Shaking her head, her mouth turns downward in a frown. “He was going to leave me behind,” she amends. “But I told him I meant to follow.” Des sighs, shame creeping in, one she can’t be certain of the root of. “I could have just stayed with you.” There’s no way she would have been happy with that choice, though. “Instead, I forced you to follow me.” Not because she ordered him, but because it was the only way to stay with her.

"I signed on to be with a crew at sea in the first place because I didn't give a damn where I ended up," Spades assures her. He doesn't try to write off her concerns any more than that. "I go where I want to be, because I want…" It's hard to put precise words to it, but he makes an attempt.

His hand looses from where it sits at her neck, coming down to settle over the curve of her shoulder again. "Because I don't want you to have to change." His head angles down. "Put the burden on me if you have to. Let me be the one with blood on our hands. All I want, all I'm asking…"

He's slowly leaned down to her during this time, like to make a point. In a sense, he does. His lips brush over hers, making a brief connection. Spades breathes out, "—is for you to let me come back to you after doing it." There's a self-consciousness to that request, a realization he's done this in the wrong order. He shouldn't assume she'd…

But she's so soft, and if she decides to not let him close after this, he wants to steal one last kiss. So he does, seeking her out again with more purpose, savoring that press of him to her. He doesn't want it to be the last one, though, so he asks very faintly, "Please."

She hadn’t realized until this moment that he’d seen in her the thrall of horror that came with knowing he’d not just killed someone — she’s seen enough of that, unfortunately, to not find horror in self-defense — but almost certainly done it with his own hands in the most literal sense. She’s never seen him do it, but her mind is exceptionally good at filling in the blanks between a dead raider and the blood on Spades’ hands.

The first brush brings her to shiver, and he can feel the uncertainty in her through the tension in her muscles. It’s both more and less with the second press, but accepted without resistance and not without reciprocation, even if she doesn’t deepen or chase it.

Her eyes are still closed when she speaks just above a whisper, her own breath warm against him and sweetened slightly by the alcohol. “I knew you were a pirate when I hired you on,” is more to remind herself than to assure him. “I thought you joined me to get away from all of that.” Her brow creases, her mouth presses in a thin line while she tries to order her thoughts. “Did you?”

"Being a part of Sawyer's crew always had the people we were looking out for at its heart, if you paid attention to her. When she said 'no more', those who didn't care to no longer have that reason as a shield abandoned all pretense entirely." Spades runs his hand down Destiny's shoulder, trailing down to her elbow. "Those who still wanted to have something worth fighting for had to find other causes. Some found it in the other crews of the Pelago."

His hand curves around her wrist, fingers slipping between hers as he holds onto her hand. "I found it looking at you, your big hat, your little ship. I wanted to live that life for a while. Protect it with every fiber of my being.

"Because it was something soft in a world hardened by salt and iron," Spades whispers. "Because it was something good." He leans his head toward her, this time only resting his forehead to hers. "I still feel that way."

Des can’t help but laugh softly, a brief and breathy thing. “You really feel that way?” It isn’t really a question. She knows he does, or he wouldn’t have followed. He could have gone anywhere else, stayed on the sea. Heck, he could have simply taken over as captain of her ship. She’d have given him that if he’d asked.

Her fingers weave easily between his, she simply enjoys the closeness of him. “I was terrified for you,” she admits, if he hadn’t surmised it by the way she nearly leapt into his arms earlier. “The gunfire came without warning. I was afraid you might have…” Been caught off-guard, like Walker had been. “I don’t like the idea of you killing,” Des admits with apology in her voice. “But I understand when it’s necessary.”

She remembers blood spattered across her face, hot and tacky on her skin; the way Keira Fionn had dropped to the ground at her feet. She remembers that if Nathalie LeRoux hadn’t intervened, it’s likely it would have been her. Her throat slit, bleeding out.

There’s a sharp inhale that speaks to the fear brought on by a memory of a woman she could have been in another life. A woman she was in another life. The sense of betrayal and confusion as she looked into the eyes of the man she’s following across the continent, unable to understand why he’d killed her.

Destiny shudders, then leans in to press herself against Spades’ larger form, like she can use him as a shield against the things that can only harm her psyche. “Promise me you’ll only kill when you have to,” she pleads. “I’m not like her,” she whispers under her breath for her own benefit, then lifts her voice again when her words are for him. “I can’t…” She needs to be able to see him as a defender, not a killer. “Just promise me.”

Spades doesn't fully understand everything she's murmuring into his chest, but he can work with the bits that are clear. "I promise to keep us safe, to defend us." He has to think about it for a moment, but lifts his other arm around her as proactively as he can before he warns softly, "If someone hurts us, the proverbial us or others on the convoy… I can't promise I won't join others in getting revenge. In making sure they won't harm us or anyone else again."

He's sure to clarify, "I won't go out there just… looking to kill for the sake of it. That's not–"

Spades somehow sounds hurt.

"That's not who I am." He wants to believe that. Desperately, and despite who he becomes in the moment. "I just want to look out for you. For us," Spades promises in a murmur.

Destiny clings tightly, the apology instant. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” For that, her voice is clear, not trying to hide from him or anyone else. “I’m afraid of becoming someone who wants that.” She swallows hard. “For you, for us…” She bites on her lower lip like it can fight back the wave of misery that threatens to swallow her for having hurt his feelings with her unintentional implication.

She needs to make sure he can see her now, as well as he can in this seclusion of theirs. Her eyes are wide, lips parted. “I need you to be my strength. I need you to use your courage when I don’t have it.” The blonde shakes her head quickly, swallowing down guilt. “But not at the cost of your soul ever.

Ace lets out a rumble of a chuckle, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "You'll have all you need of me," he assures her. "I've got plenty I can give you without giving away that." Despite her attempts to be seen, he seems content in the darkness– in using it to focus on the them, the then and now.

He takes her and turns her around, so the non-existent ambient light, or what traces of it remain, remain visible on his outline instead. "Thank you for caring enough to bring me with you. For saying if things don't work out in Anchor, that we can find our own way." Spades' eyes gleam before he blinks hard. "It… I'm not used to that.

"I'm used to being there for people, to being useful, but never…"

The way he wants her manifests again as he dips down to kiss her softly, not quite pulling away even as he breaks it off a moment later.

Her shoes scuff over the floor as she follows his guidance to turn, a small smile playing on her lips finally as she lets some of her anxiety go. It’s still tethered to her, but it’s being allowed to drift all the same. She’s about to say something reassuring when he finds her again. Destiny leans up into the kiss this time, more willing now to not just accept it, but to also allow the feelings that come along as well.

There’s a moment of waiting to see if he’s going to straighten up again before she slides one hand up and around the back of Spades’ shoulders, encouraging him to stay close. “Never?” she asks, barely daring to break the quiet.

A rush of breath leaves him on the edge of a grin, cheeks warmer than before. He's forgotten his lines, having gotten lost in the moment. There's no cool to him whatsoever. Spades just admits, "Never." He lets go of her hand so he can slip his arm around her waist, pulling her in to him from that angle too. "Never ever."

His head tilts, a kiss going first to her cheek, then using that position to move to her jaw, to her neck. "Can you use your trick for two for a moment?" he wonders breathlessly. He has a great sense of timing for this question, surely.

She lets out a huff of nervous laughter at his so very simple response and the charm of it being so unguarded. Destiny fancies that she’s the only one who ever sees him this way, even if that can’t possibly be true. She’s smiling when he kisses her cheek, another fluttery laugh when the next lands on her jaw. It’s as though the intent only suddenly dawns on her when he presses his lips to her neck.

The breath catches in her throat. “My what?” she asks, eyes unfocused in the dark, trying to decide which way she’s supposed to tip her head, or if she’s supposed to at all. Instinct has yet to develop properly. Her now-free hand lifts to rest just below his shoulder. The other slides up into the hair at his nape. She’s decidedly inexpert in these matters, but always receptive to instruction.

"They'll be looking for us," Spades notes after pressing a kiss to her shoulder. The touch at the back of his neck sends goosebumps up his arms, the likes she can feel on his arm below the sleeve as hair stands on end. Heat spreads on him, down into his chest, but he must welcome the feeling for the way he tilts his head into it before he whispers, "We were only supposed to disappear in here for scrap, just for a moment. It's dark already." He exhales out as he notes regretfully, "They'll come looking for us before long."

It's not often that's a thing that either happens for him, nor is usually a problem.

"I know it's asking a lot," he murmurs while dragging the backs of his fingertips along the small of her back. "And out of nowhere." Another kiss gets pressed to her shoulder, this time closer to her neck again. "I just want to forget about all this for a while. Help you not…" Any attempts at chivalry or feigning looking out for her first in this moment are given away as his words get ahead of himself owing to the alcohol. A chuckle leaves him at his own expense before he finds the rest of his words. "Not worry about the before. Or the after."

Spades wonders, "Can we?" arms around her waist and back, head lifting from its steep crane so he can lay it against the top of hers instead.


Blue eyes slide shut and she focuses on the feel of his skin beneath her fingertips, the way he’s able to raise goosebumps with the brush of his own as well. A shiver runs down her spine and she wants it to happen again. If he’d asked her before he started kissing her like that, she might have declined and suggested they find another opportunity elsewhere. But given what’s just happened, sneaking off alone isn’t exactly a safe option.

There’s no awareness that he may be plying her to give the answer he wants. “I… I can try,” she says softly. Her hands lift from him, beginning to subtly feel through the air. “I think that I…”

And then staggers. “Shoot,” Destiny hisses, catching herself quickly. “Just a little lightheaded,” she sighs with a breath of laughter. The sound of life resuming around them is so much louder to her than it otherwise would be after the uninterrupted silence. The breeze that comes in through a broken window, birds on top of old light posts, the indistinct voices from the caravan.

“I’m fine,” Destiny assures quietly. “Thank you.”

Spades presses his hand to Destiny's cheek, then steps back. Listens to her insistence without further argument. He turns and in this dark walks carefully to find some long-abandoned wooden shelf they can break apart, some fading magazines blown around in the back of the shop which could be shredded further by their hand rather than nature and time.

"You're welcome," he tells her over his shoulder, a softness in his voice as it carries. Soon enough, he returns to where light glimmers at the broken entryway in and he's ready with items in either hand.

While he gathers what they came here for, she spends a bit more time putting herself back together. Shimmying her hips to make sure her pants are settled properly, tugging the hem of her shirt until she’s certain it isn’t bunched up awkwardly. Her movements are slower when she makes her way to join him. She looks tired, but doesn’t complain as she gathers her share of materials.

“I’m already waiting for our next moment alone where you can kiss me again.” Even the briefest moments allow for that. She smiles. “Thanks for…” She already thanked him, but saying it again can’t hurt. “For telling me it’s okay to hurt. And for…” She stands in that soft glow of evening light, casting an almost sheepish look up at Spades. “Not questioning my strength for it. Not treating me like a child.”

Spades casts a small, knowing grin back at her as he steps out over the threshold again, kindling and firewood hefted. "You're at your best when you're not weighed down. Putting on a strong face only works when you've got somewhere to go to let it all out. Someone to talk to. Something to do to get you back to your best."

He shifts his bounty in his arms so he can place one hand at the small of her back. He turns one last kiss into the crown of her head. "Thank you for letting me help."

Then he lets his hand fall, turns his head back toward the sound of the conversation happening by the convoy. He nods them both toward the fire pit that's been worked into the ground, and makes ready to resume their use to the others in helping to set up a light for them, too, after the dark day they've all faced.

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