(Sometime after Osiris's request about Elisa's burial preferences, she goes seeking Quinn. This is before arriving at Qilin, but after all the other things that the crew did to poke at her.)
Elisa peeks her head into the cockpit hesitantly. Quinn is alone there, as the others are all of doing...whatever they do when they aren't researching. She is about to clear her throat when Goliath's tail thumps loudly against the door frame. Her presence not so secret, she enters the space fully. Her face is clouded.
"Quinn? All right if I talk to you for a while?"
"Sure thing. Have a seat." Quinn says looking over her shoulder and gesturing to the co-pilot's seat. She swivels so that the chairs are facing. "Somethin' on your mind?" It is apparent she has caught the clouded look on Elisa's face and she keeps a pleasant expression.
Elisa takes the seat, Goliath settling comfortably on her feet.
"You could say that," she says in a low voice. "I suppose...well, I was just looking for someone to talk to, I guess. So much has happened, and with everything we've been looking at, the research and the plans and all, I feel like I'm kinda drowning in it. You know what I mean?"
Elisa sighs a little.
"I don't...look, the truth is that I don't normally open up to people much, but I'm running pretty short on friends right now. And it seems like every time I turn around something is reminding me of that. I think I've sat in on half a dozen conversations that picked at some scar that ain't healed yet, and when I get upset remembering, nobody even knows why. I know I'm not doing my best for everyone, I know I'm pulling away and getting irritable, and because I don't know you, and you don't know me, you all don't even know why."
Elisa lifts her head up a little and looks at Quinn. It's pretty apparent that the distress in her eyes isn't new, but it also isn't something she's used to dealing with alone.
"I don't know why, but of the whole crew, I feel like I can talk to you, maybe trust you. I need to be better than this, need to get some of this weight off, or I'm afraid I won't be ready when everything happens. But I don't...well, you've got enough problems of your own, I'm sure. Not to mention," she nods at the big tummy. "But if you could stand to be a friend for a bit, I sure could use it."
Quinn smiles a little. "Well, I ain't never leart to swim none, but if I got my mule I sure can pull a person out of the river. My problems ain't never big enough to keep me from listenin' to someone else. I know the problem with the others though, my husband can be a bit insensitive without realizin' and my brother is a little bit o' the kind that don't really understand feelins, Birgitta too, but for different reasons. I cain't promise you that I'll know exactly what yer goin' through, but go ahead and shoot. Or ask me questions. Or whatever it is you need right now."
There's a hesitant relief in Elisa's voice and she relaxes slightly.
"Thanks. It seems I've spent my whole life just chasing after someone I could talk to, you know?" Elisa closes her eyes and it's obvious that memories are flooding around her as she talks. She doesn't even really seem to be aware of what she's saying, but she seems to need to say it. "My brother died in the war, you see. And I became an investigator to find him - the Alliance would never tell us when or where he went down, don't know why. It took me years, years I was hoping he'd still be alive, but sometime you've got to face facts and the facts were that he wasn't. But in the meantime I'd built this life of finding people and helping people, and a lot of that came from working with Hector. I guess I picked up his sense of "protect and serve," even if I do it my way. That's also how I met David, my husband. He's the one who got me involved with the dogs," and here she scratches Goliath's ears gently. "But he was taken from me too, just a few years ago, in a routine investigation."
There's a shudder of pain in her face, but it's obviously from the present as her voice begins to break. "Matt was David's nephew. He had a big family, and Matt was the one who would come with us when we set up our gig on Persephone. After David died, I swore I wouldn't let anything happen to Matt, because he was the only family I had left. I did all the investigating on my own, then, keeping him back at the house and training the dogs. For years now he hasn't really been off-site, and it's been me taking whatever cases came to us and going with Goliath to see them through."
Suddenly she tenses, makes a fist, and hits the arm of the chair hard. "I should never have brought him to that meeting with you! I knew it would be dangerous, I knew it from the files. He was just a kid. Sure he's talented and he's got plenty of skills, but still, that was no place for him. I just, I wasn't thinking. Hector's death hit me so hard, I just didn't want to feel alone. And now...what have I done to him?"
There are tears apparent now, and Elisa bites her lip and turns her head away as more than a few roll down her face. Her voice shakes.
"And there you all are, sort of a happy family, asking me as nice as you please how I'd like my remains handled and what family I have and worrying over fathers and husbands and friends out across the Verse who might be hurt or needed if things go sour on us. And I'm glad for you, glad that good people like you are not alone out here and have others waiting in other places, but I hurt too. I realized if I go down in this, there's nobody left to care. And there's nothing really to go back to. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to die. But the more I see of this case, the more I'm not sure I've got enough heart left to make it out whole."
She sniffles a bit, gracelessly rubs her eyes, and sighs.
"I get the feeling I'm just a bit of space dust passing in the black, you know? Maybe I was part of something once, but I've been broken off from it, and now I can't ever get back. I might get caught up in your wake for a while, but I'm not you and yours. I'm just...there."
Elisa finally meets Quinn's eyes again. Hers are wet and deep and suffering.
"I'm sorry. I'm not even sure what I do need right now. I just can't keep this all quiet in my head anymore. But I have to ask you if you think there's any chance we could get Matt back? You've obviously seen a lot - have you ever seen anything like this? My brother Derek is gone, and David and Hector are gone, but Matt...I can't even tell you how my heart broke when he wasn't there in his eyes anymore. In all you've seen and all you've done, is there any hope I might get him back? Or am I really alone now?"
Quinn is quiet, letting Elisa say everything she needs to say, and apparently used to long speeches full of things she doesn't fully understand. In the middle, she quietly holds out a bit of tissue so that Elisa can wipe her eyes.
She doesn't leave Elisa wondering long after she asks her question, taking a breath and letting it out, then saying, "I seen a lot of thing in this verse. A man could be surprised and probly pretty disbelievin. But if a man can git turned into a reaver and coaxed back to bein' a man again, a lovin' one with all his heart; and if the crew of a ship can have their memories taken of a whole month or more and get them back again; if little tiny robots can be put in a body to make it sick, and then other ones put in to make it whole again; a mother cured, a child reunited with its family, a glowin flower, a smile, a kiss and a half-hearted grin, a person saved from gettin shot or stabbed or et... well ain't no one heard of half those things, and aint the others appreciated near enough for bein' the biggest miracles this verse has got in it. And if all them things can be, well then I think some mind-controllin blue gunk ain't got no chance in hell against a woman as whip-crackin smart and tough as you sure seem to be.
"Don't you let Osiris' askin about how ye wants to be burried get to you; The Doc likes to be prepared for the worst. And don't you let Nicholas' rules git to you; the captain likes to expect the worse. And don't you let Birgitta git to you; sometimes she likes to make the worst, but usually not fer the crew.
"I tell ya, in my time flyin this ship, I ain't never seen the worst. I seen a lotta gall-derned weird things and I felt like I weren't gonna come out the other side of it. We always did. As long as you stick with us, you will to. And if you want help gettin Matt back, point sometime and I betcha anythin that the captain will tell us jump. I know him, he likes to help someone as needs it."
Elisa nods. All through Quinn's words she had been listening intently, as if she were holding onto a thread that she didn't dare break by disturbing even the air around her. Now she turns to the stars, releasing a breath of her own.
"I believe you. There's so much you've already told me about that seemed so impossible, I guess saving Matt isn't too far afield for that. As long as I don't give up on him, and you all don't give up on me, then maybe there's a fighting chance. But I know what you mean about the captain. I'm that way too. That's why I'm here. You folk look like you need help, and maybe I'm it. I'll give you my best, and maybe it'll be just enough to tip the balance for you."
Elisa turns back to Quinn and there's something ablaze in her eyes that Quinn hadn't seen since Matt fired his gun at her.
"So I'm going to throw myself into this, help you figure this out, solve Hector's last case. Wherever it takes us. And if I'm still breathing at the end of it, if there's no more loose ends or troubles with you and your crew to be handled, then I'll ask for your help. But not until. Goliath and I, we're used to working to the bone on a case to help someone in need. And I can see how much you can use even just another pair of hands around here, not to mention his particular skills. I'm going to take this one on with all I've got. And when we're done, then I'll go looking for Matt and see if you're willing to help."
Goliath whines suddenly and looks at Elisa with a doggy face that obviously wants for something. Elisa scruffs his head affectionately. As his tail thumps, she looks at Quinn sharply for a moment, then nods to herself.
"Goliath," and her voice is all sharp command. The dog practically snaps to attention as she draws his focus. "Guard." She flicks her hands in a particular signal, then points to Quinn. Goliath steps forward slowly, sniffs Quinn's hand almost solemnly, then turns in a circle and sits down between them.
"I hope you don't mind. I just gave Goliath a command to protect you if you're in trouble. He usually goes into a fight even before I can get my gun out, and if something really bad happens to me he'll forget everything else to get me out alive, but in the chaos of things, he's pretty good for looking after someone in trouble. I'm sure you can handle yourself," and here Elisa smiles even more, "and I know the captain and Osiris will do their best to protect you, but it's my way to look after the innocent, and there's nobody as innocent as the little one you're carrying. So if you get in trouble, call Goliath's name if you can and he'll come running. And even if you can't even call, he might know anyway. He's good at that."
The change in Elisa is subtle, but present. She looks more settled, more at home, and less like a wanderer. Even Goliath seems to sense it, as he makes an odd wuffling sound and comfortably stretches out, filling up a lot of the floorspace in the cockpit. Elisa rubs his belly.
"Thank you, Quinn. I feel better having talked, less alone. So if there's anything I can do to repay the kindness, please let me know. Least I can do for someone who could listen to me talk so much."