The sound of a loud cry rouses Johnny from his sleep instantly; he sits up, wincing at the pain he can still feel where Yalena shot him in the shoulder. Not for the first time, he thanks the gods that her hands had shaken too much for her to aim at his chest, and then he gets to his feet, up and off his bed.

"Open," he says, and the doors slide apart for him.

He finds her on her bed, curled up into a ball, and when he looks closer he realises she's still bloody. When she sees him she looks up briefly but then buries her face into her lap again.

"Where are we?" she asks, her voice muffled.

"We just passed over Leith," he replies. "We should arrive in Westerley in a couple days."

"Good," says Yalena. "Then you can get the hells off my ship and I can..." But she trails off, as if not knowing what to say next.

Johnny shrugs, sitting in the nearest chair. "That was our deal, lady."

"Don't call me that."

"My apologies, Yala."

"Don't call me that either," she snaps.

"How's 'your highness'?"

But when she meets his eyes the faint shadow of a smile seems to grace her lips, almost despite herself. It fades quickly, though, and is replaced by an expression of such melancholy that Johnny's momentarily lost for words.

"I'm not royalty anymore," she says. "I… married into it."

"You said this ship was a wedding gift," he says. "You know you're staining your sheets with his blood, right?"

"How do you -?"

"I'm a smart guy," he says. "And you're not exactly subtle… Dutch."

"Dutch?" she repeats.

Johnny nods. "Dutch. That's what I'm gonna call you. Unless you have any objections, in which case I'll go back to 'your highness'."

"You can call me Dutch," she says, considering the name, and she seems to like it, judging by the look on her face - that flicker of a smile that sparkles in her eyes for a fleeting moment before fading away. "And… I don't care about staining the sheets."

"You had a nightmare." It's not a question.

"I did," Dutch says faintly. "More of a flashback, really."

"Do you want to -"

"- talk about it? With you?"

"You could have killed me," he reasons. "But you didn't."

"And you think that means I'm going to open up my heart to you?"

"Hey, I am a really good shoulder to cry on," Johnny says lightly. "Trust me. I'm used to it." Still she just stares resolutely back at him, and he adds after a moment, "At least let me help you clean up."

She looks at her hands, seems to realise they're still covered in dried blood. Some of it is on her face, too.

"Gods, I'm a mess, aren't I?"

"No," Johnny says instantly. "You're just in a bit of trouble."

"Why are you helping me, thief?"

He chuckles. "That's what your ship called me."

But to his surprise she softens a little as she gets to her feet. "I'm sorry. Johnny, you said your name was?"

"Yep. That reminds me, what's your ship called?"

She looks confused. "She isn't called anything. What's in a name, anyway?"

"Everything. She should have a name. Let's call her - Lucy."

And this time Dutch surprises him with an actual smile. "Are you naming her after someone close to you?"

"My, er, childhood sweetheart, actually. See?"


"I told you something about myself. Come on," he reasons. "We're gonna be stuck on this ship for a couple more days. We could at least get to know each other a bit."

"What do you want to know about me?"

"Are you really Yala Yardeen -"

"Dutch," she corrects.

"- Dutch - killer of men?"

"Yes," she says without hesitation. "I've killed a lot of people."

Johnny whistles. "Okay."

"That's it?" says Dutch. "'Okay'?"

Johnny shrugs. "Like you said - I'm a thief. Not exactly my place to judge anyone."

Dutch shakes her head. "Believe me. Stealing is the least of the world's sins."

"That why you're not judging me?"

"That's why I didn't kill you."

"That and you need me to fly your ship."

Dutch nods. "True. That too. Tell me… Johnny… are you scared of me?"

"No," he says resolutely. And as if to prove his point he steps forward, extending his hand to her. She hesitates, at first, but then she ends up taking it, letting him pull her to her feet. Her hands are sticky with sweat and blood, but Johnny doesn't care.

"Come on," he says gently. "Let's get you cleaned up."

He leads the way to the bathroom (they're both new to the ship but he knows his way around places pretty easily) and Dutch follows without objecting, to his surprise.

It's surprisingly spacious, just like the rest of the ship, and as Johnny turns on the taps he doesn't say a word while he works, washing her hands for her, rubbing soap on to get rid of the blood stains.

"Why are you helping me?" she says again, her voice barely audible above the running water.

He's tempted to give another flippant answer, revert to Johnny the joker, the person he always becomes when he gets close to becoming emotional.

But then he hesitates as he turns off the taps and hands her a towel. "I - I'm not going to say I've been where you are. No way. But I know what it's like to - be alone. To have to deal with your crap all on your own. And I know we don't know each other from Adam but I don't want that for you. You - deserve better."

"I wouldn't be so sure."

"No, you do," he insists. "And for what it's worth? I'm sorry about your husband. However he died, whatever happened… I'm sorry."

"So you don't think I had anything to do with it?" Dutch says in disbelief.

Johnny shakes his head. "I know what bad people are like. You're not one of them. You don't have it in you."

"Even after I just told you I killed people?"

"Not your own husband, though," he reasons. "I'm not afraid of you, Dutch. And I may be a stranger to you but you've put your life in my hands for the next couple of days. And I promise - tap my heart - I'll keep you safe. Whatever the cost."

And then this complete stranger and half feral beauty puts her arms around his waist and hugs him, clinging on to him for dear life. And he's not sure exactly why but he hugs her back fiercely, and she feels so warm and right in his arms that he never wants to let her go.