If there was any relationship I liked more than Rhys & Jack, it was Rhys & Vaughn. And what better way to explore that than a fic? I like to think there was a little more dead time between finding out who The Stranger was & going to the Vault. So this takes place then. Ultimately I just wanted to explore the parallels between Vaughn & Yvette's betrayals in a round about way.
Plus, Vaughn's so happy when he tells Rhys that he found Yvette, that I'm 100% positive she didn't mention working with Vasquez to him. That or Vaughn forgave her really easily, but I'd like to think it'd be harder for Vaughn to forgive than Rhys because you know, it was Rhys' life on the line and I like protective Vaughn. (And for the record I adore Yvette.) Moving on! Here's a lovely one-shot exploring that topic. ;D
No More Secrets
"You know, if you'd told me a year ago that Pandora would look this good on Vaughn, I would have laughed," Rhys said, collapsing in a chair in the side of the main room. The day was over, and he was so ready to turn in and relax. It was still early though, so conversation with Yvette was certainly not a bad way to spend the time. "But man, this planet sure did the trick. All that confidence has practically made him a new person."
"Ain't that the truth," Yvette said. She leaned on the table next to him with her arms crossed and a smile tugging on the edge of her lips. "I barely recognized him when he showed up at my escape pod, and he's changed even more since then. But you're right, this place has been good for him."
"Makes sense when you think about it," Rhys said, leaning back. Vaughn, during this conversation was helping some of his Children of Helios sort out some things while LB went through plans with Fiona. His buddy was completely unaware that he was the center of attention from his two ex-Hyperion coworkers. Rhys lowered his voice. "Helios was never really a good fit for Vaughn. Sure, he got his hands dirty when we needed him to, but I always feel like he regretted it more than you and I ever did."
"Maybe," Yvette said. She glanced at Rhys and sucked in a breath. She looked like she wanted to say something, but then took it back at the last minute. Yvette settled on a neutral. "I'm glad things worked out."
"Same," Rhys said. Speaking of getting hands dirty and the Hyperion "Look Out For Yourself" motto, there was one thing leftover with Yvette Rhys never had a chance to talk about. Though, working at Atlas for six months certainly gave him time to have a clear head, but still. Somethings should be said, right? He leaned back in his chair, and decided it was now or never. Might as well get this conversation out of the way before too much time passed. He'd put it off for six months too long already. "Yvette, about Helios and what happened up there."
Yvette didn't so much as flinch, and Rhys couldn't tell if that was a good sign or a bad one. Was it so much to ask she regretted her actions even a tiny bit? But then again, if Helios didn't suit Vaughn, it had always suited Yvette. She was a real survivor, and there was a part of Rhys that admired it. She gave her full attention, turning on her hip. "Don't take this the wrong way Rhys, but do we really want to go digging all that up when it's water under the bridge right now?"
Rhys laughed, loud and nervous. Man, he could really be an idiot, couldn't he? What on earth was he thinking bringing this up now? Rhys rubbed his face, and shook his head and grinned. "To be honest? No, no I don't want to bring it up."
"But there's something you still want to ask." She smiled and flicked Rhys in the head. Yvette relaxed against the table and nudged him. Her eyes had that same playfulness she had when she was begging Rhys for lunch. It was more comforting than he'd like to admit. Yvette huffed. "Go on, get it out of your system."
Rhys had a hundred questions he wanted to ask. Why? If Yvette wanted to save her own skin, she could have done it without selling Rhys and Vaughn out. Did she regret it? Did she not? Rhys covered his mouth and decided that maybe, just maybe, he didn't want the answer to those questions. Not when they were all here and safe in the ruins of Helios.
He'd been wrong before. Some things didn't need to be said. Changing his mind, and deciding that old wounds were best left to scab over and heal, he he settled on information gathering to help from stumbling over himself and saying the wrong thing in the future. Rhys whispered, "Did you tell Vaughn?"
This time, Yvette flinched. Rhys watched her carefully as she licked the edge of her lips and kept her eyes locked on the floor near her feet. She spoke quietly, and shook her head. "No, no I didn't tell him. All I told him was that you were a gentlemen who let me take the escape pod."
"Good," Rhys breathed out. He sucked in a breath and shook his head to clear it. "That's for the best. Vaughn probably doesn't need to know what happened up there between us."
"And why is that?"
Rhys and Yvette both turned at the same time, sinking into themselves when they laid eyes on Vaughn. He had his arms crossed and a concerned look drawing his brows together.
"How long have you been there?" Rhys asked, his hand squeezing the chair. Yvette was content to let Rhys trip over himself and stayed silent. "I mean, I thought you were helping folks sort out a room dispute."
"I was," Vaughn said, glancing between his two friends. "Until I heard you laughing. Was curious about the joke, but I'm going to guess that's not the case and Yvette didn't just tell you something hilarious."
"No," Rhys said. "No jokes."
"So what was it? What do you not want me to know?" Vaughn said, something sad in his voice. All the same though, it still carried an authority that Rhys wasn't used to hearing from Vaughn. The kind of confidence he'd been complimenting him for not ten minutes ago. Confidence that held that established authority when Vaughn continued. "Because the last time you kept secrets like this, you had Handsome Jack in your head and frankly that didn't turn out well for anyone."
Rhys slumped in his chair, rubbing the back of his neck. Why'd he even bring it all up in the first place? Why was he such an idiot? He rubbed his face, which gave Vaughn an opening to continue.
"Look, whatever it is, it's got you both looking way too serious and I'm worried." Vaughn paused and put a hand on Rhys' shoulder, squeezing. "You know you can trust me, buddy. What's wrong?"
"We shouldn't talk about this here," Yvette said. The woman put on her professional face, and Rhys nearly sighed in relief that she was taking the lead. She pushed off the desk and brushed off her skirt. "Let's go somewhere private."
"Okay," Vaughn said, his eyes narrowing. Rhys felt his stomach twist in guilt and cursed ever bringing this up in the first place. "My office then."
Rhys followed Yvette and Vaughn to the closed off area of the station, not looking forward to this in the slightest.
It took Yvette about ten minutes to tell Vaughn everything that had happened on her end from when Vaughn and Rhys left Helios to when she escaped. Rhys had spoken up only long enough to confirm the points that he was there for, or make a snarky comment about Yvette wondering "What the hell happened to Rhys! You were supposed to get his head!" which he found morbidly funny in hindsight, but otherwise let her handle it. Vaughn listened and didn't say a word the entire time, though Rhys noticed how his hands had slowly worked their way into fists as the story kept going.
It was another two minutes after Yvette finished before Vaughn finally spoke up. The anger in his voice chilled Rhys, and for a few moments he was genuinely concerned for Yvette's well being.
"Would you mind leaving us alone for a while, Yvette?" Vaughn asked, though there was no actual question in his voice. It was all command.
"Of course," Yvette said. She hopped up from her seat and left the room in a hurry. "You boys have a good talk."
The silence that followed after the door shut, almost left Rhys wanting to chase after her. Wherever she was going was better than being stuck in a room with an angry Vaughn, and that in and of itself was another new feeling he wasn't getting used to any time soon.
Rhys swallowed and looked at Vaughn. "Hey buddy, uh, stupid question, I know, but are you okay?"
"She didn't care you were dead," Vaughn said, breathing out slowly. He folded his fingers together, glaring hard at the floor. "At all, did she?"
Rhys opened his mouth to say something, but Vaughn cut him off.
"We were 'dead as soon as we stepped down on the planet'?" Vaughn stood up, a growl in his voice that he had to have learned from local bandits. Rhys took a step away from him as the man walked to the side of his desk and slammed a fist into it. The desk lamp rattled hard enough that it fell over, but Vaughn didn't move to grab it. He just snarled into the table top. "Really? That's what she thought of you? Of me? She'd written us off the second we came up with the plan to get the vault key and didn't think to tell us that's what she really felt? We were trusting her for support! If that was the game, she should have just said she was out!"
"I wouldn't have said anything either," Rhys spoke up, wincing even as he said it. He rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. Vaughn knew what Rhys was like back then. He really didn't have as much room to condemn Yvette as he'd like to admit. Sure, he got his act together when it mattered and didn't sell Vaughn out to Vasquez when it was offered, but they were on Pandora and Vaughn was his only ally. Different situation. Maybe. Rhys shook his head and continued explaining when he caught the gaping, disbelieving stare from Vaughn. "I mean, why would she write us off to our faces if there was even a tiny chance we'd succeed? We were talking about a Vault Key! She was playing both angles, Vaughn. That's…pretty smart from one perspective."
"A selfish perspective," Vaughn muttered. He ran his hand through his hair, his fingers stopping at the bun on the back of his head. He sucked in a shuttered breath and paced the room, looking like a wild skag. "The plan was to get to the top together, Rhys. There wasn't room in it for that."
"Well, she's definitely in it together with us now," Rhys said. He stayed in his seat, rubbing his metal hand with the fingers of his other one. "She probably doesn't regret it, because it's Yvette, but I'm pretty sure that she's still our friend."
"Did you tell her to take the escape pod, or did she steal it from you?" Vaughn asked, his voice cold.
"Huh?" Rhys looked up, wondering where the hell that question came from. It seemed so out of the blue, Rhys found himself off guard. "That seems like a change in topic, buddy."
"And that sounds like she stole it from you," Vaughn said. He grabbed his hands into fists and snarled. "Which means on top of keeping her deal with Vasquez a secret, she lied to me, too! All that time I thought you were dead, and was so grateful I at least had Yvette back, and now I find out that not only did she feel nothing when you 'died' but that she almost killed you a second time, too? I'm going to kill her."
Vaughn headed toward the door, fury etched on every corner of his face. He looked every bit the Bandit King he'd been named.
Rhys scrambled out of his seat and tackled Vaughn's arm. He dug his heels into the ground to stop his buff buddy, squeezing tightly to the man's arm to stop him. "Woah! Hold up! That was my bad! I should have just answered! Yvette didn't steal the escape pod! I swear! There was only one left and I told her to take it before Jack shot both of us. I promise on my life, Vaughn, she didn't double cross me again after I let her out of the jail cell!"
Vaughn's breathing was heavy in Rhys' ears, the anger still there. But his body stilled and was no longer making its hell bent path toward the door. Vaughn gripped his hand in and out of a fist a few times, a steady rhythm.
Rhys didn't let go of his arm, just in case Vaughn was waiting to sprint the second he let his guard down.
But instead of hitting Rhys, or throwing him off to keep moving, Vaughn turned and hugged Rhys. He lifted the taller man off the floor in a grip so tight it forced the air out of Rhys' lungs. Vaughn clung to him, shoving his face into Rhys' shirt and taking deep breaths to calm down. His entire body trembled. Whether it was anger, fear or raw nerves, Rhys didn't know.
"Hey," Rhys said, wiggling his fingers. His arms were locked to his side under Vaughn's vice-like hold and he couldn't move an inch. "Can't breathe, buddy."
Vaughn loosened his hold enough for Rhys to land back on the ground, but not enough for him to escape. The man kept his forehead buried in Rhys' chest. "Did you forgive her?"
"Yeah. Finding out she had sold us out to Vasquez was worse than getting stabbed, but all the same, I did," Rhys said, leaning on Vaughn. He laughed, amused at his own next thought. "It's really hard to stay angry with you and Yvette, no matter what you get up to."
"I know what you mean," Vaughn said. He watched the floor intently for a few moments, before looking up, his eyes clearer and much more in control. It was still weird being able to see them so clearly without the tinted glasses he used to hide behind. Stepping back, and smacking Rhys in the arm, Vaughn laughed. "No matter what stupid shit you pull, I can't stay mad at you either. So I guess I can see where you're coming from."
Rhys noticed Yvette's name hadn't made that list, but he decided not to comment. He'd had six months to get over it, Vaughn was just starting. "Hey, now. Where's all this mocking coming from? Maybe I should take it back. Pandora's been absolutely the worst for you! Vaughn with a backbone isn't good for my health."
"Come on, you love it, bro," Vaughn said, smiling.
Rhys shook his head and held up his hand, pinching his fingers together. "Just a little bit, Mr. Bandit King."
Vaughn put his hands on his hips and tipped his head back. He sucked in a breath and clapped his hands together. "Guess we better go tell Yvette the good news."
"We should do that," Rhys said. He put a hand on Vaughn's shoulder and squeezed. "You were pretty scary earlier."
"I try," Vaughn said. He rubbed his shoulder and looked at Rhys with open eyes. "And buddy? I know you just wanted to protect my feelings, but in the future, I'd rather you were honest. No matter how much it might hurt me."
"No more secrets," Rhys said, sucking in a breath. He held his hand for a fist bump, and shrugged his shoulders in silent apologies.
Vaughn fist pumped him back. "No more secrets."
"I don't see a firing squad, so that's a good sign," Yvette said. She smiled at Rhys and Vaughn as they approached, but it didn't go quite all the way.
Not that Rhys could blame her for being nervous.
"Only laser pointers in your future, Yvette," Rhys said, taking a seat. He saw a bowl of fruit and pulled one over. Food was a wonderful distraction, though hopefully things turned out okay. He looked at Vaughn and smiled in what he hoped was a "please play nice" puppy dog face. "I think things worked out better than we could have expected."
"But not all clear, I take it?" She asked, looking at Vaughn who had her fixed with a steady look.
"Not yet, or at least not from me," Vaughn admitted. He stood in front of Rhys, like a miniature guard-skag and crossed his arms. Vaughn narrowed his eyes and stared closely at Yvette. "But I'm sure you'll get there."
Then Vaughn cracked the best smile Rhys had seen in ages and winked. "Might have to buy me a few lunches to make up for it."
Rhys laughed, and Yvette snorted. She poked Vaughn in the shoulder and started a wonderful session of banter that reminded Rhys of the good old days, back when the three of them were first planning the great "Move Up" in Hyperion, only this time, the banter was about better things than back stabbing people.
Maybe Pandora had been good for all of them. Rhys settled back into his chair with his piece of fresh fruit as Vaughn started to tell him some of the more embarrassing stories about Yvette adapting to Pandora he'd left out when Rhys first got there.
"Since we're being honest about everything," Vaughn had said, winking even as Yvette tried to get him to shut up about a particularly amusing story where Yvette and some guy from accounting had fought over a desk lamp. "Never pick a fight with requisitions! I'm telling you what, Rhys."
Rhys took a bite of his fruit and smiled at his two friends. The future was looking shaky between LB and Fiona and Gortys, but for right now he was pretty sure things were going to be just fine.