Stith patched him up the best she could. Maybe not very well - she was a weapons expert, not a doctor, dammit. Her expertise lay in blowing big holes in things, and lovely explosions, not fixing damage caused by those booms. Not damaged ships, not buildings, and certainly not people.

She knew enough to make places that were bleeding stop, make sure nothing inside was broken or bent the wrong way, and then just keep him still, and hope that the shallow rise and fall of his chest didn't stop.

It was much too quiet. She prayed for her eccentric friend to open his huge eyes again and fill the air with the excited chatter she often thought of as comforting background white noise, familiar as the constant thrum of the Valkyrie's engines. But he didn't, and the silence pressed in on her.

Everything was wrong. Gune wasn't supposed to be this quiet, this still, and Stith wasn't supposed to feel like this. Helpless, absolutely nothing she could do, no pro-active approach she could take, to fix this. She was a big girl, used to solving her own problems or shooting at them until they disappeared like bad dreams in the daylight, but this one was something she couldn't fight. She begged for a solid foe to beat into submission, pump full of lead or fry with a particle pistol -


Her eyes kept going back to the burned-out shell of the corridor, the blackened steel, the wreckage that could have so easily been their coffin. They'd trusted him, believed in the cause, thought they'd been a part of something important, something good -

Her jaw hurt. And there was an awful grating noise in her ringing ears...

"...Oh." Stith forced herself to take a breath and stop grinding her teeth. Opened her mouth, stretched her aching jaw so hard the joint popped - and settled a little closer on the floor around Gune. Powerful legs encircling him protectively, like her mother had when Stith was a tiny baby cuddled in their home nest...

A song floated through her mind. A lullaby, her mother hummed to her when she was restless and didn't want to sleep, when she fussed and tried to find something new and exciting to explore... how did it go?

Oh yes.

Her eyes slid shut. It felt good, humming it under her breath, soft and low, remembering the melody she hadn't thought of in years. She needed it now. They'd been betrayed, hurt, abandoned, left for dead, Cale and Akima were probably dead, the Titan was as good as lost - Gune might die right here and now and then Stith really would be alone again,back on her own the way it had always been since -

"That... that is nice..."

Stith stopped. Then opened her eyes - and almost collapsed with relief.

Two buggy, bright ones looked back.

"Your song, it is... pretty, Stith. I did not know you liked pretty..."

She let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding, in a rush of half-choked, desperate laughter. Let her entire body relax - and God, it hurt to relax, she'd been so tense - and head flop forward, hanging down near her friend's face.

"Good - good morning, sleepyhead!" She breathed, while an exhausted smile fought its way across her face.

"Yeeesss..." Gune was suddenly overwhelmed by an enormous yawn, so big it squeezed his eyes shut again. "That was a very, very good nap!" he squeaked. "Gune needed that, yes yes."

"I'm not really surprised," Stith said, still trying to calm her adrenaline-mad heart and exhaustion-twitching muscles. "I don't think I've ever seen you sleep, Gunie. And when you do, you're making something dangerous. Sleep... inventing. God - I'm so glad you're awake..." She was stroking his face without realizing it, running her hand gently over his smooth head, as if to make sure he was real.

Then Gune frowned - an expression he wasn't used to making, and one Stith wasn't used to seeing. "What... happened?" he asked, afraid of the answer.

"Oh..." Stith felt her teeth clench together again in fury, and sighed through them. "You were right, baby, Captain was dirty - he tried to kill both of us, him and - PREED, that murderous, slimy little bastard, I said I'd kill him before but now I really will, and - oh, God, Akima..." She squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head and not trying to stop herself grinding her teeth anymore.

Then Gune reached up and wrapped his small hand around the bigger fingers that had stopped moving over his face.

"It is all right, my Stith-friend," he said quietly, squeezing her finger. "Everyone thinks the boy with the map is the hero, and maybe for humans he is - but when he needs help, who is there to make sure everything does not explode in a violent reaction of - of trouble?" He grinned and gave his little Gune-giggle, wiggling his toes.

"There is Stith and Gune! Everyone has a chance to do some good, and there is still so much we can do, oh yes!"

Stith was smiling now, she couldn't help it. "Okay," she said softly. "Okay, you're right again, Mr. Smarty-Pants. It's not over 'till it's over - and we're not done yet." She gave a decisive nod, face resolute instead of tortured. "We'll kick some double-crossing ass, fry some drej, make some noise. It's what we do best."

"Correct!" Gune reached his arms up toward her, making grabby motions with his small hands. Stith happily obliged, scooping her friend up into a gentle hug, careful not to jostle anywhere he might still hurt.

"But first," he said into her ear, little arms around her neck. "Sing Gune more of that song! It was delightful, yes yes!"