Tom and Hester iPod Shuffle Drabbles

A/N: Okay, so I know everyone's doing these things now, so it might be kinda old, but I thought it might be fun. Plus, the only ones I've seen are in the Leviathan section of this site. And I noticed that there's still only four stories in the Mortal Engines Quartet section, so I put two and two together and got AWESOME. So I wrote this.

For those of you who don't know the basic rules for these drabble fics, here's a rundown;

Get your iPod (or similar MP3 player) and set it for shuffle (or, again, it's non-iPod equivalent). Listen to the first ten, or fifteen, or whatever songs, and write a drabble relating to each song (can be anything related. Title and lyrics are good bases). It can be canonical, AU (like some of the ones I've written here), crossover...whatever you want. For an added challenge, you can make yourself only write the drabble while the song is playing. It's fun. My advice; try it.

Note: If these seem like they were written by someone who's never done this before and tried to do it while running on nothing but one sausage, several liters of MTN Dew and a couple packets of Wild Berry Skittles, that's because they were.

Song: Take It Off

Artist: Kesha

As Tom walked into the club, he felt in his gut that it had been a bad idea to let Hester go here. Sure, she'd given good reasons why (relaxation, renewing old acquaintances, the possibility of finding good-paying work), but now that he was actually here, he was starting to regret it.

As he walked in, he looked down at his feet. Something sparkly stuck to his boots; glitter, from the looks of it. Great, the place had glitter on the floor.

He shuddered, and looked up just in time to see a large group of obviously inebriated aviators tumble by, knocking over a trash can by the door. He lurched out of the way, screaming a curse. As he stood, something slapped his face; someones shirt. Tom ripped the garment off from his face, looking at it in shock. He knew it all to well. It was Hester's.

He plunged deeper into the crowd. Chanting started to pound in his head, two separate sentences repeated by many voices;

Take it off!

Right now!

Tom started to run, fear pumping in his veins. He scanned the crowd wildly, looking for his girlfriend. He saw her. Standing on a platform, laughing and swaying drunkenly, minus her shirt. Without thinking, Tom jumped up and tackled her back into the crowd. He landed with a grunt, evicting a high-pitched laugh from Hester.

"Whee!" She cried. Tom groaned and hauled her to her feet, slinging her arm across his.

"Come on, let's get back to the Jenny." He said soothingly. "I'll make coffee. How does that sound?"

"Aw..." Hester moaned. "But I wanna...wanna..." She blinked, attempting to formulate her sentence. "I wanna take it off, you know?" She managed to slur out. Tom found himself smiling. Though she could be strange and down-right unsocial at times, he still loved Hester. He kissed the side of her face, tasting a mixture of sweat and alcohol.

"How about we both take it off...once we get back." He said softly. Hester giggled (something he'd never heard from her when she was sober) and pulled him closer.

Together, they walked back to the Jenny Haniver.

Song: Axel F

Artist: Crazy Frog

"Oh great Quirke, where are we!" Tom shouted, looking up at the mass of machinery above him. He and Hester were under the wheels of the city San Vaticano, examining the axles for damage at the behest of the cities Lord Mayor.

"We're under a city. Where else would we be?" Hester snapped. She was a bit temperamental today, maybe because they were, as she had said, under a city.

"I'm serious, Het." Tom said. "Where are we? I don't want to get lost."

"Well, let's see..." Hester glanced up. "I'd say we're under Axel F right now."

"Oh?" Tom glanced up; sure enough, there was a large letter "F" painted on the drive axle just above him. He grunted, then smiled. "Where would I be without you?" He asked.

Hester snorted in response, something impressive considering most of her nose was gone. "Lost, probably." She answered.

Tom just smiled, and went back to work.

Song: Let It Rock

Artist: Kevin Rudolf (featuring Lil Wayne)

Hester stepped out of her sandship into the dingy desert town, eye glancing around quickly. Nothing much moved. The town itself wasn't much to look at. It didn't even really have a name. The people who ran it didn't see the point; they were going to be eaten sooner or later, so why bother with any ornamentation to be lost when they fell prey to another city?

Hester liked that about this place. It was lean, mean, and didn't try to hide it's lack of beauty; just like her.

But she had a sad reason to be here. Now that she was a bounty killer, it was her job to do just what the title said. In this case, she had to kill the heads of this city.

For a moment, she wondered what Tom would think. Then she remembered the events of Cloud 9. Tom's thoughts didn't matter to her any more. Looking back over her shoulder to make sure her Stalker was taking care of the ship, she grabbed her gun and knife and set off for the center of the city.

On her way, she passed a sign urging citizens not to try and fight the "waves of progress", on a "boat of personal identity", but rather to "let it rock". Others warned to "bring the fire" and "make yourself come alive."

Hester smiled at the suggestions. "Sounds like a couple good ideas." She said to herself.

Still smiling, she headed deeper into the town to do just those things.

Song: I Kissed A Girl

Artist: Katy Perry

"So..." Tom asked, sipping his hot chocolate. He leaned back in his chair on the Jenny Haniver's flight deck and looked at Hester. "What's the dumbest thing you've ever done?"

"You mean aside from letting you talk me into this?" Hester arched here remaining eyebrow at him.

"It's not that bad." Tom replied, smiling into his cup. "I told you my stupid moment, now you tell me yours. Come on, I know you have one in there."

Hester sighed and pressed her hand to her face, muttered something possibly obscene into it, and then let it fall.

"Okay, fine. The dumbest thing I've done?"

"Yes..."

"I kissed a girl."

Tom almost choked on his next sip.

"What?" He sputtered, more out of surprise than anything else. "How did that happen?"

"I was on this town, she got drunk, I got drunker, and we kissed. Happy?" Hester looked at him, frowning slightly. Tom took another drink, looking over his cup at the girl.

"Was she a better kisser than I was?" Tom asked slyly. Hester tossed a crumpled piece of paper at him, but her frown lifted and they both laughed.

Song: Faster Kill Pussycat

Artist: Oakenfold (Featuring Brittany Murphy)

Hester sat in a booth alone, nursing a strong drink, and glowering. A couple booths farther down, Tom sat happily with several other aviators, talking animatedly about all things air trade. Hester ignored most of them, but focused on the one sitting directly next to Tom; a girl, by the name of Cat, as she'd introduced herself. Hester took a slug of her drink, feeling it burn down her throat. She squeezed her glass, wishing it was Cat's pretty little neck.

From Tom's booth, laugher floated. Apparently, Tom had just finished a joke. Hester scowled even deeper. As she did, something snapped into place in her mind;

If she didn't stop this now, she could loose Tom. And that was something she didn't want.

She drained her glass, stood up, and marched over to Tom's table.

She had a pussycat to kill.

Song: What I've Done

Artist: Linkin Park

"I'm still love you, Het." Tom whispered. "I'm not leaving you. Not now, not ever."

"Not even after this?" Hester whispered back. "After what I've done? I betrayed your Snow Queen's city to Arkangle! I almost got us all captured by those horrid Huntsmen! I killed all of them when they landed here! I slaughtered Masgard in cold blood, and I may have crippled Pennyroyal! How can you still love me after that?"
"Because I know you did it all for me." Tom smiled, weakly. He was still recovering from the almost-capture of Anchorage, and being shot by Pennyroyal. "No matter what you do, I'll forgive you. You are the most important thing in life to me."

Hester stared at him for a moment, hard. Then, she flung herself on him and kissed him as hard as she'd looked.

They stayed this way, kissing and holding each other, till they both fell asleep.

Song: Bulletproof

Artist: La Roux

Tom slowly admired the vest Hester had given him for his birthday. It wasn't of the highest fashions, he could see that, but between the two of them that didn't matter much.

It wasn't really low fashion either, though. It didn't look like it was much of any fashion. There weren't any pockets, and the only way to put it on seemed to slip it over your head and tighten the straps on the side.

Deciding to give Hester the benefit of the doubt, he slid it over his head. It was surprisingly heavy, he noted. And as he looked down, he noticed it didn't look good on him.

"Okay, I have to ask." He said, turning to Hester. "Why did you buy this for me again?"

"Well, it was cheap." She replied. "Guy selling it didn't know what it really was."

"But I don't either." Tom admitted. "What's so special about it?"

"It's bulletproof."

Tom blinked, and looked down at the vest covering him. He rapped it; the noise that came out sounded like something hard was in there. In that moment, he saw Hester's logic. It wasn't to make him look good, but to keep him safe for her.

"I love it." He decided.

Song: Not Myself Tonight

Artist: Christina Aguilera

When he came back to the Jenny Haniver, Hester noticed there was something off with Tom. He wasn't his normal, chatty self, and he only returned the kiss she gave him at the gangway halfheartedly.

His strange behavior continued as they oversaw the loading of their cargo of seal pelts, headed for Paris.

Hester tried to shake it off, but when he was still the same way when he sat down in the pilots chair, she intervened.

She swung the seat around on it's base so it was facing her, and locked eyes with Tom. He tried to look away, but she held his gaze.

"What's wrong?" She asked softly. Or as softly as she could manage.

"What...oh, uh, sorry." Tom replied, sounding slightly dazed. "I'm just not myself tonight."

"Did something happen out there?"

"No...well, yes. I was walking back from the fur traders booth, and in the crowd..."

"Yes?"
"Well...I thought I saw Kathrine."

Hester didn't reply, but simply wrapped herself around him and let the tears she knew he was holding in spill into her shoulder.

Not himself indeed.

Song: Born to Be Wild

Artist: Steppenwolf

For the umpteenth time, Tom wondered where his wife was now. It had been a couple months since the events of Cloud 9, and still he found himself thinking of her. The loss was like another open wound in his chest, next to the one that Pennyroyal's bullet had caused.

He supposed she was out doing what she did best; being wild. That was what she was, he supposed. Killing things, jumping on towns, hiking across the Out Country by herself...all wild.

Born to be wild. Yes, that was something that described Hester very well.

Tom glanced over at Wren, sitting in the Jenny's co-pilot seat, staring at the clouds. He wondered, for a moment, if she knew that she was sitting just inches from the very place she had been conceived. That had been Hester's doing as well, he remembered.

Maybe, he concluded, that was why they hadn't stayed together. Why this had happened. Hester was a wild girl, but Tom was a calm city boy. Not the most cohesive mix.

With a sigh, Tom turned back to piloting. Thoughts could take a back seat;

Now, they had a cargo to deliver.

Song: Unyielding (Halo 2 Soundtrack, Volume 2)

Artist: Martin O'Donnell

"Ma'am, the forward lines are being overrun! We're almost to their second positions now! Permission to reinforce the front with our reserves?"

"Granted. And keep pushing forward. We need to get to that dig site NOW."

"Yes ma'am!"

Under her combat helmet's mouth cover, Hester smiled, watching her second in command shout orders to the men and women under their orders. This was the life. No more flying around carrying peoples cargo to the ends of the world or doing odd jobs just to keep their airship filled with hydrogen. Now, she had a new job description; goddess.

It had been completely by accident that she found the religion devoted to her, the so-called Cult of Shaw. She'd first run into the cult during her time at Rouges Roost; three of their soldiers had been her next-cell mates, and they had been the ones to inform her of her goddess-hood. A shock for her, to say the least. But not an unwelcome one. After all, those same three cultists were so instrumental in the utter destruction of Arkangel and it's subsequent consumption by Anchorage (they were especially useful in convincing Freya to turn back and eat the remains of the great city. The fat bitch had wanted to keep going for America, but Hester, the three boys, and their four firearms had convinced her otherwise).

And now, sixteen years later, the city was still reaping the benefits of her decision. While the city had gone static as the margravine had intended (something just fine with Hester, with her Anti-Tractionist roots), but the fuel from Arkangel given it enough power to move deep into the American continent, where absolutely no town could touch it.

During that sixteen years, Anchorage slowly made itself into the holy city of the Cult of Shaw. As more and more cultist moved in, Hester's power grew. Soon, she had a respectable military force, and an intelligence network to rival that of the still-growing Green Storm.

It was through this network that Hester had heard of the Storm's sudden interest in the Black Island.

She remembered that island all to well; it had been there that she had almost died by the hands of her Stalker, before Tom saved her (though she hadn't seen it like that at the time). They had buried the Resurrected Man on that island, not far from where he had fallen.

That was what the Storm had to be after.

So, she had gathered her troops, ordered them to load up every man, woman, teen, weapon and vehicle available onto transport airships and flown south. They had attacked at a good time; the Storm had just fought off a massive assault from the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft, and had been in the midst of repairing their defenses when the Cult forces swooped in.

Which was why Hester was now on the ground, clad in her full battle suit of sacred Ancient armor, painted with Shawanese inscriptions and symbols, leading her troops forward to victory.

Her second in command returned, out of breath and nursing a wounded shoulder.

"News...from the front, ma'am." He gasped out. "They've broken the second lines. The enemy is fleeing is disorder."

"Very good, Commander General." Hester smiled again, observing the boy. Even with a gaping wound in his arm, he still managed to stand at attention. He was a fine soldier, to say the least. Perhaps, when they got back to Anchorage, she could introduce him to Wren...

"Ma'am? Any other orders?"

Hester shook her head clear of her personal thoughts. Now wasn't the time for family; now was the time to be icy, and kill things.

"Nothing radical. Just keep pushing forward."

"Yes ma'am."

Hester glanced down at his arm again. Fresh blood was seeping from it down his sleeve, staining the brown cloth a dark red. "And get that arm looked at. I need you at full strength."

"My pleasure." The Commander General's face lit up with relief, and with a salute he hurried in the direction of the medical unit.

Hester watched him go. Yes, she decided, she would introduce Wren to him. He deserved it, for all that he had done for her cause, and he was obviously better than most of the other boys courting her currently.

Smiling again, Hester grabbed her weapons and joined in the unyielding drive towards her oldest friend's grave.