Quinn wakes early, too excited to sleep longer, though she had stayed up late the night before doing puzzles and only reluctantly sent Osiris back to his room just in case her brother was watching (not that her brother would be so petty). She had teased him about having a visitor in the middle of the night and about giving her brother nightmares, but hadn't gone over there. However she hoped he prepared for the contingency and will be ready for her coming over, as in, he won't freak out.
For the first time since the fateful accident that had finally led to Osiris sobering up, Quinn opens the door to his bunk and enters without announcing herself and waiting for him to tell her to come in. It isn't without a little worry, but he will have to get used to it if they are going to get married, what if she has to use the bathroom in the middle of the night?
"It's me," she says quietly, hoping not to wake him if he isn't, but wanting to calm him if he is. She shuts the hatch as quietly as possible and pads over to his bed. It's small, but they'd managed to be in it at the same time before.
Trying not to let too much air in, Quinn slips under the covers and squeezes herself in next to Osiris. Her feet are cold. "Are you awake?" she whispers now.
Osiris shifts his arm out from under his pillow, and there is a soft thud as he puts the pistol on the floor. It's unclear whether it was there before the door opened or whether he picked it up reflexively as soon as he heard someone at his bunk door.
"Yeah, I'm awake," he murmurs, slipping a bare arm around Quinn's waist and kissing the back of her head. "What's on your mind, Hon? Or are you just using me as a foot warmer?" There is a teasing warmth in the way he says it.
"mmmm." Quinn practically purrs as she scoots her feet up to press against his shins. "I could get used to a foot warmer." She's quiet for a moment, as she listens to his breathing and then she threads her fingers through his.
"Ain't nothin on my mind. Nothin troublin, I mean. I was just thinkin this mornin that yesterday was the first of May. We had a holiday on the vineyard every year on that day. We didn't have a lot of them so it stuck out that we had it, but Ma said it was tradition. She said it was to give everyone a rest after winter-time and to celebrate a new birth of the world. And it was a party before things picked up at the vinyard. I didn't understand the rebirth part until I got older and found the places where things grow on that world. It always seemed to me when I was growing up that things were able to grow based only on how smart they were about putting themselves in the right place. And nothin' ever seemed to bloom at the same time as anythin' else, it was all dependin on the water. When you get away from all the regulatin' things tend to take their own course. Life is all just tryin to survive and make its way as best it can in the world. Anyway, I just thought it was a good thing that yesterday was May Day. We call it Il Calendimaggio." She pauses.
"It's good luck to get married on that day. Some of it's gotta rub off on gettin' engaged then too." She says more quietly with what may be a bit of embarrassment in her voice.
"Rebirth," Osiris murmurs thoughtfully.
"Did I ever tell you about where Isis got its name? In one mythology of Earth That Was, Isis was the goddess of simplicity - basic pleasures like bread, beer, fields of wild flowers, the music of birds at dawn, and other things like that. Basically, she reveled in all the little things in life that didn't cost much but helped make life worth living. Some legends say the settlers named it that because they were simple folk who just wanted to be able to live in peace. Maybe they came there more because they were leaving something bad behind than because they were looking for something grand and spectacular on that moon."
"All of us on the moon heard the stories of Isis when we're growing up. We always heard that the simple life was best. That's what it meant to live on Isis. We didn't need fancy Core gadgets to be happy. Heck, Isis was one of the last planets in the 'Verse to get access to the Cortex because a lot of the folk there didn't see any good reason why people on Isis should care a lick what was happenin' in the rest of the 'Verse. That was still a long time ago, sure, but that kind of mentality didn't go away when the satellites started orbitin'."
"I wasn't too sold on the simple life, though. See, Isis isn't just about simple things. She's also the goddess of beginnings, and I was always more interested in the goddess of beginnings than in the goddess of simplicity. As I grew up, I decided I was going to leave Isis. She'd been a good mother planet to me, but I needed to experience more of what the 'Verse had to offer."
"Lots of folk I grew up with told me I'd never be able to do that. They told me there was nothing worth seeing out there anyway. I'd educated myself as best I could on a Rim world, but I probably would've proved them right if it hadn't been for the War, which was just gettin' started in those days. The Alliance needed medics for their soldiers, so they often offered even Rimworlders scholarships to Core medical schools in exchange for a few years of service in one of their military hospitals. Of course, I didn't really know that when I applied to all those Core world Med Acads, thinkin' for sure there was no way any of them would accept me - and even if the would, I wasn't ever gonna be able to afford to go."
"I was really surprised when not just one but two of them accepted me and offered me a full scholarship if I'd serve my residency in a military hospital. The first was Osiris, as you know, but the second was Aerial."
Osiris chuckles slightly. "You might wonder why I turned down a Med Acad education on Aerial for one on Osiris. I could say I felt a little intimidated at the thought of being surrounded by smarter and better-educated peers or that I just plain didn't know how famous Aerial's medical program is. But the real reason was Osiris was a much more familiar name to me than Aerial. You see, Osiris was Isis's husband in the myths. As much as I wanted to see the 'Verse and be a great dentist, the idea of leaving Isis behind was terrifying, and a little bit of familiarity made it less frightening, somehow. I'm not much for superstition, but that seemed like Fate, somehow, so I went to Osiris."
"A lot happened between then and the time I came to Black Cat. I've seen so many terrible things and met so many dreadful people that over the years I've come to dread seeing anything or anyone familiar. Life can take some strange twists, I guess. But with you it wasn't like that. You reminded me of my sister, and that made me a little sad, sometimes, but that never lasted long. You never let it last for long."
"In those ancient myths, another god killed Osiris, tore his body into pieces, and scattered them all over the world so he couldn't ever put himself back together. But Isis went out and found all the parts and put them together so Osiris could come back to life. Sure, I picked the name Osiris for myself - partly because it reminded me of school but mostly because it was better than calling myself Azreal. I wasn't really thinking of that part of the story, though. Back when I was drunk and traumatized, it was like I was broken up into all these little pieces that I just couldn't put together on my own no matter how much I wanted to be whole. But you saw the best in me and took the time to find all those little pieces and put them together. You took the pain away, Quinn. Sure there are little hurts and memories I'll never leave behind completely, but I don't suffer through every waking moment the way I used to. You've brought me back to life like Isis in the myth did for her Osiris."
A squeeze. "You can't imagine how much that means to me. You are the May Day of my life. You are my Il Calendimaggio."
Quinn is quiet after Osiris stops talking for long enough that he gets the impression she has drifted to sleep while he talked. The images he created through is little speech and his last statement hang for a moment, unfinished because she hasn't yet acknowledged that she heard him. Just before Osiris might ask if she is sleeping, she takes a deep breath.
"She must have loved Osiris very much," Quinn finally says. She strokes her Osiris' forefinger with her entwined thumb and is quiet again while she apparently mulls that over.
"I think I understand. And I don't know if them myths go on and tell you more like, but it's probably about what adventures and hardships she had while she was goin' to collect the pieces and where she found them all if it's anythin', right?"
"Stories like that, they don't usually tell you that Isis is all tore up too. Not her body, like Osiris, but may as well be. It hurts to see a life you love all tore up and scattered about the verse. And maybe she didn't know it, but all the while she was collectin Osiris' pieces and puttin him back together, she was finding them pieces of herself she had lost too. And in the end she done figured out that with all them scattered pieces layin about it was hard to keep 'em straight. 'Cause now he had a piece of her heart and she had a piece of his. So it weren't as if she weren't whole, it was just surprising to realize that there was a part of her she never knew she was missin." Her thumb stills and she pulls his arm tighter around herself.
"And she's afraid to tell anyone. 'Cause what if they tell her that that can't actually happen, you can't fix up a heart usin someone else's piece. Or what if they try and take it away from her? Or what if they tell her again that it's only the Devil that gets in your heart, so it ain't true and it ain't right? She thinks she would fall all apart again." Quinn's heart isn't racing, but it is beating hard enough that it can be felt in her stomach where Osiris' arm crosses around her.
"I think I told you a while back that I don't believe in love. Romantic love. I said somethin' like that right? That's one of those simple things in life that sometimes you forget to see, like hearin a bird sing or seein the sun rise, if you forget to look it all sounds like you're wearin ear plugs and looks like a grey, cloudy day. I think I don't believe that anymore. I just want you to know that I don't believe that anymore. I mean, I can see sunrises now. But..." she pauses, bites her lip.
"You say the simple things ain't enough for you. I ain't one of them who can get into any university, like you, like Daisy. I ain't nothin' but... well, now that you got yer new beginning are you gonna want somethin' fancy? Cause I ain't nothin but simple, really. I'm rim, it's the plain truth that we're simple folk." Despite the warmth under the covers and the fact that her feet and hands lost their chill a while ago, Quinn shivers a little.
Osiris squeezes Quinn's hand reassuringly. "I thought that when I was a teenager, sure. And it got me plenty of fancy and lots of interesting. You know how a lot of Core folk treat Rimworlders awful, right? You should see what they can get up to when an ignorant Rimworlder one-ups them in an anatomy class!"
A bark of a laugh. "I think maybe the fancy and interesting are out there to make the simple things look good. The older I got and the more fancy and interesting experiences I had, the better those simple things looked. By the time I cleared Med Acad and moved into residency, I'd really come around to my neighbors' way of thinking. But I didn't want to give up and go back to Isis without finishin' what I'd said I'd gone out to do, and anyway the Alliance contract I'd signed wouldn't've let me in any case. As soon as I got my diploma, though, I meant to go back to Isis as a doctor - kind of like I've been doin' here on Black Cat."
"One reason you don't get many doctors on the Rim because there's no money in it. That may make those Core doctors sound like right selfish folk, but it's usually not that simple. Most folk at Med Acad have to spend a lot of money for schoolin' - and that means takin' on a heap of debt so heavy that payin' it back is like bein' blackmailed by a Syndicate family. Only way to keep up with the payments is to make a lot of money, and the only place that can afford to pay doctors lots of money is the Core. They might travel out to the Rim to do some pro bono work every few years, but the best medicines are expensive even on a Core doctor's salary, so there's only so much they can do to help. In some ways, I was lucky. My debt to the Alliance was more complicated, but at least it was the sort of thing I could pay off after a few years of working for them, so once that was done, I was free to practice wherever I wanted. I still am."
"The other big reason is cultural. For you and me, livin' on the Rim is simple, and the Core is the fancy and interestin' part of the 'Verse. We were born on the Rim, so of course it feels like home, and most Rimworlders don't really have any desire to go to the Core. But the folk born on the Core are used to the noise and chaos and politics of the planets. When they look at the Rim, they see not just an interestin' way of livin' but an exotic, dangerous, barbaric, or even an alien one."
"Comin' to the Core from the Rim is intimidatin', but at least you don't have so much fear of Reavers and Tongs and other such dangers. Getting picked on and looked at funny is no picnic, but it won't actually kill you. For someone goin' to the Rim from the Core, though, the trip is terrifyin'. Not only do they have to leave their friends and families and homes behind, but they have to face all the dangers we grew up with."
"You see, for folk from the Core, the Core life is simple the way the Rim is simple for Rimworlders like us. The simple life may not seem fun to some people, but most of those who wander eventually go back home. It's a rare person who don't eventually get tired of all the excitement and decide it's time to return to a simple life. Core-born Core doctors ain't different from other folk. Doctorin' can get interestin' enough even when the rest of your life is simple."
"Romantic love is one of those things that people make seem really complicated, but it's mostly a simple thing, I think. Sure, you've got obstacles and arguments, but mostly it's puttin' together puzzles, raisin' a family, and talkin' to each other when you both should be sleepin'."
Osiris pauses briefly before segueing into another subject.
"You're right about the legend of Isis and Osiris. There's a bit more about her adventures than her feelings on it. In a good myth the external events reflect the internal conflict. See, after Isis put all that work into putting her husband back together, she couldn't find the last piece - and it was one that was kind of important to their relationship, you see." Osiris sounds like he's speaking through a mischievous grin.
"You've gotta love those ancient myths. Half of each one was written by a philosopher, and the other half was written by a fourteen year old boy with a dirty mind. The part Isis couldn't find no matter how hard she looked was Osiris's penis. She wasn't the kind of goddess to give up on a project, though, so instead of spending the rest of eternity looking for the divine cock (which for all anyone knows might have been stolen by a mortal for use as the first naughty toy), she made one out of gold. She installed the cyber-dick and resurrected Osiris, and the two of them wasted no time taking it for a test drive, because Horus was born not long after that. That's right - five thousand years before humans built the first robots, and their ancestors were already writing science fiction that predicted the existence of cyborgs."
I'm sorry to bust into this conversation but this deserves a WHAT
(yes I know the myth but it is hilarious that you are bringing that up now)
Quinn snorts and actually giggles as she gently elbows Osiris in the ribs, then she snuggles back into him a little more and tucks her head underneath his chin.
"Don't that sound cold and too hard? A'course if you were a god I reckon you could use a cucumber and it would work the same- wouldn't be as pretty. Glad I didn't have to do none of that. Like as I could get the outside alright, I'm pretty sure I know how all that goes, but if I had to put any of the inside back together... All your joints would bend the wrong way and you'd be able to turn your head all the way around. I don't know if I could love you if your knees were all bendin the wrong way."
Quinn's stomach rumbles. "I reckon the crew is going to be gettin' up for breakfast soon."
Osiris nuzzles the back of Quinn's neck. "A golden phallus'd be a mite inconvenient for the guy, too, I'd reckon. Can you just imagine havin' to put me together like a wet puzzle? You wouldn't even have any corner pieces to start from, though I guess you could use that copy of Grey's like the outside of the box that shows you what the finished product's supposed to look like."
"I guess we should be up and about for breakfast, soon. Nicholas might look at us a bit weird if he saw us both comin' out of my bunk."
Quinn groans. "Let's hope it never comes to that." She maneuvers around so that she and Osiris are facing each other. "But I think I'm going to have to tell Nico soon- I just ain't quite sure when or how." She looks at him and smiles about his shaved head.
"I just don't see what it is that he don't like about you. You're just right." She kisses him on the cheek below his eye. "When he talked to you... that long time ago when he said what he said about you and me, did he give you any idea as to why he had his britches in a bunch besides the fact that he didn't sleep? I don't want to argue with him. It ain't somethin to argue about or have to defend. I just wish I knew what to expect."
Osiris wrinkles his nose. "Yeah, that does sound kind of icky."
"Well, he was most vocal in objectin' to me on account of how I was a crazy drunk as likely to shoot or stab a friend in a crisis as I was a foe." Osiris smirks. "Can't say he was wrong on either count at the time."
A sigh. "Now, though?" A shrug. "Maybe he's worried I'll relapse - see something that reminds me too much of everything I've spent the last several years tryin' to forget and just flip out and hurt you again. I don't think he understands how unlikely that is. No one in this 'Verse - myself included - has any interest in remindin' me of terrible things dead and buried in my past. I faced Reavers not too long ago on Huron and didn't lose track of friend or foe for an instant, and if *that* nasty bit of work didn't bring it all back to me, I doubt anything really will."
"Maybe he's uptight about me bein' so much older than you. Or maybe he's just bein' a typical protective brother. My sister's boyfriends sure got some ugly looks from me when we were teenagers. Or maybe deep down he's just scared that I'll take you away from him somehow. For all I know, though, it could just be habit. He learned back when I first joined the crew that he couldn't trust me with nothin' important, and now here I am tryin' to convince him to trust me with the most important thing in his life, and there ain't no amount of times savin' the crew's life and freedom that're gonna convince him I'm not the same crazy, drunken Doc that came onto his boat more'an a year ago. Or maybe he just doesn't like me and never will - no matter if I'm drunk or sober, crazy or sane. That happens, sometimes, and it's nobody's fault all the hurt feelings it can cause when it does."
Osiris holds out his hands in a helpless gesture. "I wish I could tell you, but I don't know him nowhere near as well as you do. He don't let me get too close to him. It's always been all business between us - exceptin' a bit of teasin' now and again. Sometimes I'm not all sure if he *is* teasin', in fact, but it'd be much worse if I took everythin' he said to me all serious-like."
Quinn nods. "I guess I'll find out." She frowns as her thoughts turn to the inevitable for a moment and a little crease appears between her eyebrows.
As she refocuses on Osiris, her forehead smooths out. "Just as so you know, I ain't ever worried about you hurtin' me. I think I know when to give you space. There was only one time I made a mistake on that. And I ain't never had no attention on how old you are." The corner of her mouth turns up in a little smile. "Your birthday is next month." The smile spreads and light up her whole face.
Quinn runs a hand across Osiris' stubbly head. "I'll see you at breakfast." She kisses him on the forehead and slips out from under the covers, shivering as the colder air hits her in her tanktop and shorts. When she reaches the ladder she looks back over her shoulder at him. "Goodmornin', My Heart," she says and climbs the ladder, checking before she leaves that no one is in the hall to see her exit.