What kind of ship's captain bothers herself with the wants of a prisoner?
Timeline: GSD phases 33 / 34
Summary: What kind of ship's captain bothers herself with the wants of a prisoner?
"Is there anything that you need?" she asked him, and Neo left off fussing with the cord tethering his wrists to give her a hard, suspicious look, searching her face for smugness or mockery.
She looked patiently back at him with mild brown eyes, her brows raised slightly in inquiry. She meant it, he realized. What kind of ship's captain bothered herself with the wants of a prisoner?
The temptation to ask for something unreasonable, to find out just how accommodating she was willing to be, proved too great. Neo lifted his bound wrists to display the cord that restrained him, the corner of his mouth lifting in a smirk. "Getting this taken off would be good."
She smiled, with visible regret that baffled him. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm afraid I can't do that for you. You might be dangerous if I let you loose." There was something glimmering in the way she looked at him that made the mocking grin fall away from his face. "Is there something else that you need?"
Her subtle emphasis on the "else" made him think she knew exactly why he'd asked. He tried to decide if she was remarkably perceptive, or foolishly naive.
In any case, she was watching him for an answer again, and there was no sense in wasting an opportunity so generously handed to him. When he stopped to think it over seriously, though, Neo found that - aside from his freedom and a fully powered mobile suit - he couldn't think of much of anything he really needed that hadn't already been provided.
"My mask," he said.
Her brows drew together in confusion. "What?"
"My mask," he repeated impatiently, reaching up to describe its shape in the air with his hands only to have them pulled up short by the tether. "I was wearing it in the Windam."
"...Oh," she said quietly. "I - thought that was a helmet. I'm sorry, but we didn't bring it on board. We were more concerned with..." She hesitated. "...your injuries."
Of course. He'd begun to settle back, looking away from her with a disgusted sigh, before the full significance of her words occurred to him and he sat up straight again, ignoring the protests of abused muscle and bone.
I thought that was a helmet, she'd said; we didn't bring it on board. The captain went down personally to retrieve a wounded enemy from the battlefield?
What kind of a ship is this?
Her voice intruded gently onto his thoughts. "Why do you need a mask?"
The question brought his eyes sharply back to her, but still there was nothing but mild curiosity on her face - curiosity and that baffling trace of concern. Are you blind? he wanted to snap at her; couldn't she see the scars?
Why do you care? he wanted to demand.
But she just looked at him, her eyes meeting his without evasion, without any effort to avoid looking at the scar tissue. He was the one who looked away.
"At least it would keep the people here from calling me by someone else's name and rank," he grumbled.
"...I'll speak to them about that," she said after a moment of hesitation. "But I can't promise that everyone will listen. Mwu was - Commander la Fllaga was--" her voice dropped away to almost nothing "--very well thought of."
"They won't listen to you?" he wondered sardonically. "Aren't you the captain?"
She smiled again, but it only made her look sad. "It's not that kind of ship."
Unexpectedly, Neo felt faintly ashamed for saying anything.
"If you really want a mask," she said, sounding just slightly uncertain, "I'm sure that we can probably arrange for something...?"
"It's fine," he said curtly, looking down at his bound hands.
"In that case, please excuse me. I have to be getting back to work." She didn't wait for him to answer - not that he meant to - but simply inclined her head with almost formal politeness, and strode out of the infirmary a little too briskly.
Left alone again, Neo ducked his head so that he could rub his fingers over the ridges of scarring that cross his face.
What's with this ship?