tanaquiljall: (Letter T)
[personal profile] tanaquiljall
Title: Never Look Back
Fandom: Killjoys
Rating: General
Word Count: 2125 words
Summary: When Dutch caught Johnny stealing her ship, how did she go from shooting him to offering him a job?
Disclaimer: This story is a transformative work based on the Temple Street Productions/Bell Media/Universal Cable Productions/Space/SyFy series Killjoys. It was written for entertainment only; the author does not profit from it.
Author's Notes:My take on Dutch and Johnny's first meeting, based on the various hints dropped throughout season 1. Strong chance of it becoming non-canon-compliant when we get the next canon snippet about their meeting. Thanks to [personal profile] scribblesinink for the beta.

oOo


She's the prettiest ship Johnny's ever seen. There's no fancy paint job and most people wouldn't give her a second look, but Johnny can't stop looking: at the way her lines flow and at the way every part of her interlocks and serves its purpose—sometimes two purposes. She's not the first ship he's seen twist her wings into landing gear, after all, but the others all lumbered through the air like bricks and had him holding his breath waiting for the bellyflop as they set down.

Not this girl, though. She's built for speed but shimmies through her transformation like a Saltern bird. Someone's spent a lot of money on her.

Which makes it even more of a mystery why she's setting down here, out in the Badlands, by an abandoned mining settlement. The place has been a happy hunting ground for Johnny for the past few weeks: the easy stuff was stripped long ago, but it's still a treasure trove for a scavenger who knows how to dig a little deeper or fix what's busted.

A ship like this is definitely out of place.

And he should stay working his patch: he's barely collected enough so far to cover the cost of gas for the bike he borrowed to get out here. But the ship puts down close enough that whoever's on it is surely heading to the settlement. So it's only smart to take a closer look and find out what's going on.

And she is the prettiest ship he's ever seen....

It takes him twenty minutes to get near enough to get a good view. Now she's on the ground, there's no sign of life: the hatch is closed tight, all the lights are off and there's no movement in the darkened flight deck. He settles down to wait. And wait.

Two hours later, dusk is falling and the ship's still sitting there, lifeless. Johnny reckons whoever was inside must have left before he arrived. And may be back any time soon. The window of opportunity is narrowing.

He worms his way forward, using what cover he can find, until he's crouched under the ship beneath the hatch. Still no alarm. He works quickly and the security system proves surprisingly easy to bypass. That's sending a flag up, but he's not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. A minute later, he's edging up the ramp and through the hatch, cautiously shining a small flashlight around the inside.

A cargo bay, largely empty except for a few stacked crates. The narrow beam from his penlight moves on—and catches a flicker of green and gold: a corner of richly embroidered cloth that whisks out of sight behind a crate as soon as he spots it.

He freezes. Before he can do more than breathe a silent crap, there's a bright light in his face. He throws up a hand, blinking. In the after-image floating against his eyelids, there's a small dark shape alongside the bright square of the lamp that he recognises as the barrel of a gun.

"What the hell are you doing on my ship?" A woman's voice.

His eyes are still struggling to adjust and he's still searching for a suitable reply when the light shining in his face begins to move. The beam slides down his chest until it reaches his crotch—and stays there. Like as not, the gun's followed the light, and his instinct is to cover his privates with his hands, but he manages to stop himself. Wouldn't do any good. Instead, he spreads his hands wide, to show there's nothing in them except his penlight.

"Uh, just thought I'd take a look around. See if anyone was at home and—."

"Did Khlyen send you?" The light on him flickers, matching a hitch in the woman's voice.

"Who?" Johnny's eyes have adjusted, but he still can't make out more than a dark shape behind the flashlight. When there's no reply, he adds, "Look, I'm just a low-level scavenger. Saw your ship set down, thought I'd take a quick look. See—."

The light dips lower, but before he can figure out what that means, the gun goes off. He staggers and drops to his knees, his hand clamped to his leg. His brain finally catches up and supplies confirmation that—mercifully—she lowered her aim a little before taking the shot.

Hearing her move closer on unsteady feet, he scrabbles for his own gun with a hand slick with blood.

"Did Khlyen send you?" she demands again, the light bright in his face now.

He raises a hand to ward it off. "I don't—."

He doesn't get to finish telling her he doesn't know who that is. The light wavers and then there's a heavy thump. The woman's flashlight clatters, rolling across the plating, and comes to rest pointing back at her. In its beam, he sees she's slumped to the floor. Passed out?

Panting hard, adrenaline coursing through his body, Johnny stares—and goes on staring. The embroidered cloth he caught a glimpse of, before she blinded him, is just one layer of the elaborate robes and shawls she's wearing: the kind rich women wear in some parts of the Cluster. The scarf covering her head has slipped back to reveal dark hair and ashen skin. And everything—her clothes and her scarf and even her hair and face—is spattered with rust-red marks.

Gathering his wits, he crawls towards her. A stab of pain from his leg reminds him she shot him, but when he points his penlight at the wound, he sees her bullet only clipped him. It's messy, but not deep, and already beginning to scab over.

He crawls on, snagging the woman's flashlight as he passes it, and pulling her pistol from her limp hand and stashing it at his back. Then, kneeling next to her, he plays the flashlight over her, confirming there's blood everywhere. She's still breathing, though. He pats her down, trying to find where she's hurt, and half rolls her onto her side to check her back, but he can't find a source for the blood—and anyway, it's long dried.

Not hers, then.

He directs the flashlight around the cargo bay, making a more thorough examination, and spots a door to the rear. There must be crew quarters through there: a place to wash up and fix his own wound, and see what he can do for the woman. He can't just leave her here, or throw her out the hatch and fly the ship away. Well, he could, but that's not who Johnny Jaqobis is.

Sitting back on his haunches, he stretches out his leg and wraps the scarf from his neck around it. He's just pulling the makeshift bandage tight when there's a faint sound—and the next moment, he's on his back, his body pinned expertly and a blade to his throat. The woman's eyes glitter down at him like a wild animal's. "Who are you?" she spits. "Who sent you?"

"Uh—." He's trying not to breathe too deeply, aware of the cold tip of the knife against his neck. His own knife from his own belt. "My name's Johnny. No one sent me."

Even before he finishes speaking, the woman's eyes lose focus and she slumps against him, dead weight again.

"Oh...kay," Johnny says slowly. He lies there for a moment, trying to catch his breath, before he carefully rolls her body off him and scoots away from her. He's tempted to cut his losses and run, but heading back out into the Badlands with an untreated open wound would be suicide. And, well, this woman, crazy as she is, needs help—and he doesn't think it would be a good idea to let that help come from whoever put her in this state.

Squatting next to her again, watching her closely for any sign she's about to come round, he lifts her head to pull her tangled scarf free. His fingers discover a swelling: a blow to the head and a concussion? That would explain why she keeps losing consciousness.

He puts the discovery aside for the moment. It's all one with the mystery of why she's covered in someone else's blood and why she's here at all. Working quickly, he ties her hands with the scarf. Not tightly, but enough to give him some warning if she wakes up and decides to attack him for a third time.

Leaving her passed out, he quickly explores the rest of the ship. He can't figure out how to get the power back on—lights would be nice—but he finds sleeping quarters, a washroom and the galley. He takes a longing look at the flight deck, tricked out with the latest hardware, but now's not the time.

Carrying the med kit he's discovered and a flask of water, he heads back down to the cargo bay. The woman's still unconscious, but as he's using the cauteriser to heal and seal the wound on his leg, she lets out a gasp and sits up abruptly.

"If you're planning on a third go-round with the attack-and-pass-out routine, just let me know," he tells her, looking up to see she's staring at him wide-eyed.

She goes on looking at him as if she's thinking about it, and then gives a faint shrug. "Lucy? Lights."

The cargo bay springs into sudden brightness around them. Johnny turns his attention back to his leg, finishing up with the wound. "Lucy's your ship's AI?"

"Yes." She does something with her hands and is out of the knotted scarf faster than he'd expect. Did he tie it that loosely? She raises a hand and gingerly touches the back of her head. "Ow."

"Johnny." He holds out a wipe from the med kit as he introduces himself again, figuring she might not have heard him the first time,. When she looks at him blankly, he adds, "For the blood."

She takes the wipe but doesn't use it, just carries on regarding him warily, as if she's still wondering whether she should kill him.

"What's your name?" When she doesn't answer, he gives her a wry smile. "Doesn't have to be your real name." He takes the wipe back from her and reaches up to clean the blood from her cheek, but she jerks away sharply. He freezes, wondering if she's about to go all martial arts on him again. Wondering why he's still here.

It's the ship, partly. She's amazing and he wants to find out just how amazing. But it's the woman, too. She's so very broken. Though he's better with tech than people, he wants to fix her too. Or at least make sure she's a fit state to escape from whoever turned her into this half-wild, all-terrified creature.

"Yalena," she says finally, with enough reluctance that he knows it's the truth. She puts her hand up and takes his wrist, drawing him closer so he can use the wipe.

"Who's Khlyen?" he asks, gently sponging away the blood on her face. And that's when she tells him: about her training, and whose blood it is on her, and how she took Lucy and ran half the length of the J Cluster until Lucy was almost out of fuel. Not in any kind of order, and some of it doesn't make much sense during that first telling, but he lets her talk. And when she's done, and her face and hands are clean of blood, and he's shared his own pathetic history, they sit in silence for a while.

"We don't have to stay here," he says at last, passing over the flask of water they've been sharing while they talk. "We can just fly away, and never look back."

Head bent, she quirks an eyebrow. "In what? Lucy's out of fuel, remember."

"I could scrounge some up. Enough to get us to the docking station at Old Town to fuel up properly." If she hasn't got Joy, there must be something on this ship she can trade.

She lifts her head and meets his gaze. "Why would you do that?"

"So you'd take me with you?" When she still seems unconvinced, he adds, "I'm a pretty good mechanic and I could soup up Lucy's security for you. Shouldn't be this easy for a low-life like me to break in, right? And if you want to stay here—the Quad—I know my way around a bit. It's not the sort of place where people ask too many questions. Or the sort of place where that Khlyen guy's gonna come looking for a royal widow."

She thinks about it for a long, long minute, and then she holds out a hand with a smile. "Okay, Johnny. You got yourself a job."
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May 2016

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