It had been a strange day. After coming across an unfamiliar desert reptile, the brothers had plunged headlong into what Koki half-affectionately, half-exasperatedly called their "creature crazy mode," where practicality and even common sense took a back seat to their burning curiosity and seemingly all-consuming need to solve whatever creature mystery had presented itself. It was generally harmless enough, and there were even times when she found it amusing, but today was not one of those times. The Tortuga was in desperate need of a resupply, and yet there they were, chasing around the Sonoran Desert after some mystery lizard when they should have been on their way hours ago.

To make matters worse, they'd somehow cajoled Aviva into going along with their harebrained scheme, even convincing her to make them a roadrunner power disc to help them in their search.

You'd think she'd be immune to those puppy-dog eyes by now, Koki had fumed when she found out, her frustration mounting at the prospect of yet another delay. Especially when we don't even have enough supplies to make a second power disc!

But then she'd seen that gila monster sink its teeth into Martin's boot, and her own common sense had flown right out the window. Launching into emergency response mode, she'd had him bandaged, immobilized, and back on the Tortuga before he'd even had a chance to protest - or to explain that the thickness of the leather had prevented the lizard's venomous bite from reaching his foot. She'd been so convinced of the danger that when he finally did get a chance to speak, insisting that he hadn't actually been bitten, she had immediately assumed that he was delirious. It was only by showing her his bare foot, with the skin whole and unbroken, that he'd finally been able to make her understand that he truly wasn't hurt.

"Oh," was all she could think of to say as she laid down the antivenom syringe, her mind reeling from the abrupt emotional U-turn. A tentative glance at his face revealed none of the pain that she'd been afraid to find there, even the lingering traces of alarm now being replaced by affectionate, though slightly bewildered, amusement, and she'd felt her own smile broaden in response to his.

Chris and Aviva had come rushing in just then, and Koki, suddenly realizing that she finally had the entire crew on board, had set the incident aside in favor of seizing the opportunity to get them out of the desert and on to the nearest town large enough to carry the supplies they needed. Now, however, as she and Martin unloaded the assortment of tools, equipment, and spare parts they'd bought and stowed them on their shelves in the garage storeroom, she found her eyes following him, her thoughts drifting back to what had happened that afternoon.

You must have been delirious, she scolded herself, wondering how she, who prided herself on her level-headedness, could have overreacted so badly. Sifting through the events in her mind, she tried to consider them in a rational light, but it wasn't easy when the associated emotions - the jolt of fear and the mounting anxiety, followed by something that was almost too strong to be called relief - insisted on tagging along. Koki shook her head to clear it, frowning at the realization that her heart was pounding.


Koki jumped, nearly dropping the box of solar panels she was supposed to be putting away. Martin sprang forward to catch them with a sheepish chuckle. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you." Lifting the box up to its place on the shelf, he cast a satisfied look around the now well-stocked garage, then turned to smile at her. "I think that's everything. You ready to call it a day?"

Realizing for the first time how tired she was, Koki nodded and began making her way toward the door, but a moment later, she stopped and turned back, impulsively throwing her arms around him in a quick, tight hug.

Martin returned the gesture warmly, albeit with a small but sharp intake of breath and a hint of stiffness that puzzled her briefly before she decided to chalk them both up to surprise. In any event, he was smiling when they broke apart, filling the sudden silence with an easygoing laugh. "Heh, thanks. What was that for?"

Koki hesitated. What answer could she give, when she hardly knew herself? She supposed it had something to do with being glad that he hadn't been hurt, but for some reason, she felt shy about saying so. Besides, it was probably silly to be bringing it up all these hours later. She dropped her gaze, now a little embarrassed at having let her emotions get the better of her a second time.

"Nothing," she mumbled at last. "Good night."