Finn waited patiently as the others entered the cargo bay. When they asked him about what had just happened, he only shook his head and told them to wait until everyone was there.
As Darsan shuffled into the room, Finn clapped his hands together. "Okay then, let's get this meeting going."
"But what of Kyra?" Xyn asked, glancing at the others. "Is she not a member of this crew?"
"I'm listening." Kyra said over the intercom. "Someone's gotta fix the engine and keep an eye on our new toy."
Nodding, Finn said, "So, with our ship in the lovely and talented Kyra's capable hands, I thought it was a good idea to bring everyone up to speed. First off, I'm sure most of you recognize our newest crew member."
“Kinda hard not to.” Eri said, eyeing her.
Xyn bowed her head. "Despite the circumstances of our original meeting, I am honored to be a part of this crew."
"Concerned; I'm not sure about this, Finn." Darsan said, shuffling his massive feet. From the looks on their faces, Mannon, and Eri shared his concerns.
"Well, don't be." Finn told him. "She saved our bacon back in New Elysia with her … what do you call that anyway, Xyn?"
Finn considered this for a moment before nodding. "Magic, got it. Like a biotic, but better."
"I can mend physical wounds and manipulate the flow of energy into various forms." She gave them a tentative smile, a slight blush in her cheeks. "I understand your trepidation. I cannot express my regret in my recent actions enough."
An unpleasant silence fell across the room. Finally, Mannon nodded briskly and said, "If you think she can help, then fine."
It wasn't exactly an olive branch, but it was good enough for Finn. "Fair enough. Kyra?"
"You have a problem with Xyn joining us?"
"Only if she tries to set us on fire again. Also, Xyn?"
"Yes, Miss Kyra?" Xyn asked hesitantly.
"Finn's off-limits. Period. Got it?"
Xyn blushed and lowered her gaze. "I understand."
"In that case, welcome aboard!" Kyra said, her voice cheery. "We'll swap gossip once I finish up with this mess. So, what's next on the agenda, Cap'n?"
Finn let out a resigned sigh. "If I asked you not to call me Captain, would you listen?"
"Nope, but thanks for asking, sweetie."
Eri let out a small cough that sounded suspiciously like it was masking a chuckle.
Shaking his head but smiling nonetheless, Finn said, "Okay, on to the next subject; our next destination."
"Whoa!" Mannon said, holding up a hand to stop him. "Wait just a minute; what the hell happened back there? How in the hell did we get away?"
"Curious; yeah, I was wondering about that myself."
"Oh, that?" Finn asked, feigning surprise. "Easy. We rigged Billy's invisibility generator up to the ship using the power converter I picked up from Krieger for Mannon before we left J-27. While Kyra was adjusting it to cover the ship, I rigged our transponder to one of Krieger's salvage probes and reprogrammed its thrusters to continuously fire so that when I finally launched it, it would look like we were speeding up. As far as the Blue Suns are concerned, we made a break for it when in fact, we were barely moving."
"That easy, huh?" Mannon said, a dazed expression on her face.
"Impressed; that was quick thinking, Finn. I just wish I could've been some help in our great escape."
Finn patted Darsan on the shoulder. "Oh, but you did. You're the glue that holds us all together, Darsan."
Darsan gave one of his rare smiles. "Happily; Don't I know it?"
"So," Finn said, clapping his hands together, "Once the ship is fixed, we'll be streaming to-"
Finn glanced up at the intercom speaker and said in a purposefully louder voice, "My bad. Of course I meant to say, we'll be flying at perfectly normal FTL speeds and in no way goofing around with the mass effect fields to the nearest relay, at which point we'll head to the Sol system."
"We're going to Earth?" Mannon asked, her eyes brightening like those of a child on Christmas morning.
Finn nodded, dropping the cheery act for a more serious tone. "I thought maybe we could get through this on our own, but this time was just too close. As much as I'd love to get the money and rebuild J-27, all the money in the galaxy won't help if we're not alive to spend it. Objections?"
Everyone took turns glancing at each other for a few moments before finally nodding in agreement.
Turning to Mannon, Finn said, "Once we get to the Sol system, send a message to the Alliance so that they know we're coming. I'd hate for us to get shot down because our transponder is missing."
Glancing around at the rest of the team, he said, "Everyone else, get some rest or do whatever it is you usually do."
"I'll stay on the bridge." Eri told Finn. "Someone needs to keep an eye open in case those thugs double-back."
"Good thinking." Finn admitted. "Okay then. Er, dismissed."
Mannon almost snapped a salute before she caught herself. Blushing, she followed Eri to the bridge. As the rest of the team dispersed, Finn decided to go pay Kyra a visit after making a quick stop.
Finn hadn't been able to really get a look at the engine room earlier. It was on the far end of deck three, past all of the collection rooms. The engine room itself was dominated by a massive eezo core surrounded with all manner of protective fields and mechanisms, extending to the deck above as well. The metal walkways ran around a cluster of controls encircling the base of the core, including the cloaking-field generator.
Kyra was working on (or rather, under) one of the central consoles. As Finn approached, she called out, "Be with you in a minute."
Finn started to respond when a mischievous thought crossed his mind. He leaned over and give her a quick pinch in the backside.
"Dah!" There was a thump as she tried to stand up under the console. Wincing, she backed out of the console and glared balefully at Finn. "Don’t think I won’t deck you just ‘cause you’re my boyfriend."
"Sorry, sweetie. I couldn't resist." He held up a couple of omni-bars and a bottle of water, asking, "Lunch?"
She gave him a reluctant smile as she took a bar and a bottle from him. "Hey, you can't call me that. You're sweetie, not me."
"Oh, well excuse me. What would you like me to call you? Darling? Butterfly? Pumpkin?"
Kyra snorted. She grabbed his hand and yanked him down so that he was sitting beside her. "You could just call me Kyra."
"Damn." He said with mock annoyance. "And here I was thinking you didn't know my middle name was actually 'Sweetie'."
"Well, you are a sweetie." She told him, laughing for a moment before giving him a kiss on the tip of his nose.
Finn took a bite of his omni-bar. It tasted like a hunk of cardboard.
His disgust must've shown on his face. After taking a bite of her own bar, Kyra asked, "Not a fan?"
"Not really. It just tastes like … well, nothing. It's so bland. Fine for a ration, I guess, but it's no replacement for real food." He looked at her curiously. "Do you like them?"
"Not really. That's the problem with omni-foods; they can't really add much in terms of flavoring without making it strictly levo or dextro." She gave him a hopeful look. "I don't suppose you can cook any of that stuff Darsan bought."
"Shall I impress milady with my famous grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of ramen noodles?"
She giggled as he stood and offered her his hand. "Milady, huh? I like that. Makes me sound all fancy."
They headed up to the kitchen, where Kyra took a seat while Finn examined the foodstuffs in the larder. Darsan had been quite thorough in regards to variety, and had even thought to throw in a few stronger drinks into the fridge.
Finn grabbed two hard lemonades and passed one to her, saying, "Here ya go. I don't know about you, but I could use a little relaxation about now."
"I hear that." She took a swallow from the longneck bottle and let out a sigh. "I haven't had a drink since Omega."
It was strange how long ago that seemed now. It had only been, what? Two weeks, if that? Shaking his head, Finn pulled out a loaf of bread, a tub of margarine, and a block of what smelled like cheddar cheese.
As he dug around in the cabinets for a pan, Kyra asked, "So, Xyn, huh?"
"Yeah." Finn told her, frowning. He was sure he had seen a skillet somewhere in the kitchen. "Eri was talking with her when I went looking for him."
"I had a talk with her too."
Kyra waved her hand dismissively. "No, I mean while you were knocked out. I almost didn't; I was afraid seeing me might set her off again."
Finn tried to imagine what Kyra and Xyn might have spoken about and came up with nothing. He found the skillet he was looking for lodged in the back of one of the cabinets and flicked a bit of the margarine into it before setting it down on the stove.
"We had a long talk. She's … well, she's kinda cool, really."
"I always thought so. I never was much of an artist myself."
Kyra seemed genuinely surprised. "Really? No painting? No music?"
"Well," he confessed, "I used to play the guitar on occasion back on New Elysia, but that was ages ago, and I wasn't a great musician by any stretch of the word. I like to write too, but I've never published anything." A moment of sadness passed over him. "And all I did write was on J-27. Boom."
He paused momentarily to butter two slices of bread. The skillet sizzled as Finn tossed them in butter-first. The cheese was next; after slicing off a few pieces with a knife, he put a layer of cheese on both pieces of bread.
"How about you?" He asked casually as he buttered the remaining pieces to go on top of the sandwiches. "You were incredible during that mess with Xyn; are you a dancer or something?"
She let out an embarrassed-sounding laugh. "A little. I like singing better, though; it's kinda liberating to get on stage and sing out your feelings."
Finn shivered at the very thought. "I could never get in front of a crowd like that. I'd just get nervous."
"Everyone says that." She replied. "It's not about the people watching, though; it's about expressing oneself. Sometimes you feel things that just can't be explained with words, y'know?"
"I think I do." Finn flipped the grilled-cheese sandwiches; the smell was tantalizing.
Her arms wrapped themselves around his mid-section. Resting her chin on his shoulder, she said, "Smells good. Almost done?"
"Almost." He smiled at her. "Patience, milady."
"Oh yeah?" Her arms slipped away as she moved to his side.
He turned just in time to see her making a grab for the spatula. He tried to lift it out of reach, but she started climbing over him, her hands grasping.
Finn stumbled under the unexpected weight gain and eventually fell on his back, Kyra landing on top of him, a victorious smile on her face as she gave his chest a gentle whack with the spatula.
"Nice try, sweetie." Her smile faded slightly as her eyes fell on his, a gentle blush on her cheeks.
"Kyra?" He asked, wondering if something was wrong.
Pinning his shoulders to the floor, she kissed him. Finn closed his eyes, savoring the feel of her lips on his. As her hands released their hold on him, he found himself pulling her close. The soft curves of her body against his chest made his mind swim.
He opened his eyes at her touch; she stared at him wordlessly as her hand rubbed his cheek. As she moved to kiss him again, Finn spotted the smoke. She must've noticed the alarm in his eyes, for she paused for a moment and glanced up at the stove to see what he was looking at.
With a yelp, she rolled off of him. Finn quickly stood up and looked around for the spatula.
"Here! Here!" She said between giggles as she handed him the utensil.
He fumbled with the spatula for a moment before managing to scoop the two slightly-burnt sandwiches out of the skillet and onto a plate. By the time he managed to find a potholder and put the skillet into the sink, the plate was gone. His hard lemonade was gone as well.
He glanced at the table in time to see Kyra already starting on the second sandwich, the half-filled bottle of hard lemonade resting nearby. She managed to scarf down the sandwich in a matter of seconds before draining the bottle and slamming it down on the table.
"Aaaah!" She said, sounding very satisfied. "That was just what I needed. I'm gonna get back to work on the engine now."
He stood there dumbly as she pranced over to him, gave him a peck on the cheek and sauntered off.
While his heart felt light as the target of her affections walked away, he couldn't help but sound mournful as he whispered, "My sandwich …"