Chapter VII

The bruise on my chest turns all colors of the rainbow but fades eventually. Damn good thing I bought that armor. It's worth every piece. The money we earned from Seneca Crane will be more than enough to get us enough fuel cells to last a long time as well as a few bits for much needed repairs, as well as some decent food supplements. It was a good haul. But that don't mean we can skimp on lookin' for work. Course we still need more repairs, this ol' boat is far from fixed up…but she's good and still flyin' so I'm not complaining.

"Cap'n," Annie speaks up, "We should be comin' up on Saphir within the next few hours." "Alright little Annie. You let me know when we're closer. I'll go tell the rest of the crew." She laughs, a hearty sound, "I'm older than you Cap'n…just sayin'. I ain't so little." She turns on the autopilot and takes a few spins in the pilot seat, still wearing that crazy cap.

I turn and wander towards the dining hall, it's lunch time so everyone should be gathered. Sure enough voices and laughter float towards me, gettin' louder the closer I come.

"No I'm not fibbin' ya!" Finnick laughs after the end of what I'm sure was a tale from our war days. Along with all the bad was some good times, hilarious even. "Hey there Cap'n!" Finnick calls out as I enter the room. "I was just tellin' the time that ol' Caesar Flickerman tried dyin' his hair in camouflage."

"Which time Finnick? I recall that happenin' more than once."

"The time when it turned all blue." He laughs and this time I join in. It sure was a funny time. Ol' Caesar was trying for green to blend in with the forest landscape. Instead it turned all blue and he had to make himself a hat from leaves to cover up the sky blue color it did turn. Gave us all a good laugh.

"Well I just came 'round lettin' you know we've crossed into District One at last. We should be planet side of Saphir within hours. We'll be here a while but I don't want anyone gettin' into trouble so don't wander to far. And you two," I motion to Rue and Thresh, " I don't want to see you off this ship…you'd be recognized faster than a cock in a hen house. I don't want to have to deal with bedaurelich circumstances. Jo you go get them parts you need. Buy a few new ones alright? They'll last longer. But only buy new the ones we really need, the rest you can find in the dump. Doctor if you wouldn't mind pickin' up some medical supplies for our infirmary…I know it's lackin'. Finn, you and Annie go buyin' more food. Gale and I will get the fuel cells. Ja?" Everyone nods and moves back to their food and chat.

I meander into the kitchen and fix myself a plate before joining them at the table. "Finnick, bring you're wife some grub." He does.

Lots of chatting and laughing takes place before Annie's voice comes over the intercom. "Umm Cap'n…we're comin' up on Saphir…but there might be a teeny problem." I exchange a worried glance with Finnick and Gale before standing up real quick and headin' to the bridge. I can hear many sets of feet following us.

"What's the problem little Annie?" An alarm sounds from the console. "We're closing in Cap'n." She says, with a slightly white knuckled grip on the steering. "Planet's coming up a bit fast there Ann." Finnick states. She chuckles, "Well see that's cause I'm going down to quick. I'll likely crash and kill us all." She's makin' a bit of a joke. If we were in real danger she'd be a lot more serious. I know she's just lettin' me know something's wrong. "Well, that happens you let me know." I turn and walk back to the dining room. "Captian." The doctor's voice is urgent behind me. "Shouldn't you be taking this much more seriously?" His voice is worried.

A laugh barks from my throat before I can stop it. "Don't you worry you're pretty little head there Doc. If there was any real danger Annie wouldn't have been jokin' about up there. She's just riling you up. I'm the Cap'n so it's my job to know any trouble going on in regards to my ship. Basically Annie's just sayin' there's a problem that needs fixin' when we land. Don't be so serious there Doc. Lighten up, take that stick out of yer ass." I chuckle and continue back to the engine room. I can hear Jo's combat boots stomping behind me.

"What problems are we seeing here Jo?" I ask as Johanna surveys the room. Her face is pinched in concentration.

"We'll the thruster is shot. So is the grav thrust. Without those it sure will be difficult for Annie to get a smooth landing. But she's talented. She'll figure it out."

She does.

…:::…

A few hours later, sure enough, we are safe on Saphir. Everyone has moved out to do their set tasks and I am left to wander, looking for work. Clove accepted an invivation to some hoity toity party and will be busy till tomorrow morning, hopefully we'll have work by then.

Cato should be somewhere on this rock, he always is. Living his fancy, respectable life, meanwhile running his less than respectable life of obtaining illegal goods from off planet, hiring petty crooks like me. But I'm not complaining. He's hired us often and word will have gotten to him that we've arrived.

Sure enough a few hours later I'm being led down into the seedy under belly of the city to a warehouse location Cato uses so as not to connect himself to his business.

"Well if it isn't the lovely Captain Everdeen." His silver tongue evident in his conniving tone. "What a pleasure indeed. When I heard you were here I was eager to have the pleasure of your company again Captain. Of course the kind of company I was hoping for involves a much more private situation and far more casual attire." He winks my way, his tone is disturbing rather than seductive like I'm sure he was goin' for. "But it seems I am the only one wishing for such things. Was für eine schande, for I would very much like to capture such a sought for woman." Alright enough is enough.

"Save it Cato. I'm sure there are more willin' ladies waitin' to hear your sentiments. I'm not one of 'em so let's just get down to business shall we? What kind of a job do you got for me?" He sighs at my blunt tone, but I'm not in the mood for his games today, not that I ever am.

"A pick-up on Trist, in District 10. Another contact of mine buried a case of morphling from District 6. I need you to retrieve it. I'll pay you quite handsomely."

"We'll take it." I agree. He gives me a quarter of the pay up front as well as the directions to the hidden goods.

"As always it was wonderful doing business with you Captain Everdeen." He leans forward with a smile, reaches for my hand and places a kiss on my knuckles. I roll my eyes and pull my hand free as soon as possible.

"I'll be looking forward to your return." He says as we part ways.

…:::…

"So do we got ourselves a job there Cap'n?" Finnick asks when I step foot onto the cargo bay.

"Sure do. Cato set us up with a real nice payin' gig." Finnick cringes slightly and Gale grunts.

"I really don't like that you went and saw Cato alone Cap'n." Gale slams down a crate of food that he was holding. "Me neither." Finnick adds.

"What's wrong with this Cato fellow?" The doctor asks curiously as he carefully sets down a crate of medical supplies. He faces shows both worry and curiosity.

Gale turns to him and speaks, "Trust me Doc. You'd understand if you got a look at him. Or saw they way he looks at the Cap'n. The guy is a total scumbag. Treats ladies like objects and uses them as such. He's a highly eligible bachelor and ladies don't mind, they're just hoping they can keep his attention. But he's always had his eyes on the Cap'n. I suspect because she hasn't fallen at his feet, nor does she even tolerate his advances."

"Alright enough." I interrupt. "First of all, yes Cato's got a bit of a nasty reputation when it comes to women. But he's harmless, he's got no interest in me. He treats me the same as everyone else. Ours is a strictly business relationship. No interest on either side."

…:::…

After the Captain said her piece she took of towards the bridge to inform Annie of our next location. The rest of us stayed to sort and store supplies.

"Don't let her fool ya." Finnick spoke up as soon as she was out of earshot. "Cato most certainly is interested. He'd love nothin' more than to get the Cap'n onto his list of conquests. The Cap'n can't see, she never can, all kinds of men want her real bad. Sad thing is the Cap'n just don't see herself clearly." Finnick leans in really close, "But I know you do." He gives me a wink before returning to the cargo.

…:::…

"Annie are we all set to go?" I call up to the bridge.

"Sure thing Cap'n." She calls back as I cross into the bridge.

"Alright." I grab the intercom. "Folks we are ready for take off. Clear everythin' out of the way so we can close up the cargo bay. Time to get this job done." I let go of the intercom. "Annie closer 'er up and get us off this rock." She nods and pushes the button closing the doors, then grabs the steering and starts the engine. A quiet beep indicates the doors are all closed up. "Let's fly Cap'n!"

"All good down here Cap'n." Gale's voice comes over the intercom. With that Annie pulls us into the air.

"Should be on Trist by early next week Cap'n." She informs. "Good to know."

With that I leave the bridge and head over to the dining hall. Hushed shouting draws my attention before I even get through the door. "Was zur hölle Gale! Stop bein' such a stubborn ass!" Johanna yells quietly and harshly. "The crates of protein supplements need to be in that cupboard! This cupboard is for the dairies because it's the only one that's cooled! Seriously Gale!" "Jojo why don't you just back off and let a man do his work. I'll put the crates where I damn well please." Oh shit…Johanna hates that nickname…Gale's in for it now. "Hell no Hawthorne! You don't get to call me that and you sure as hell don't get to talk to me like that! If I were you I'd smarten right up du hurensohn!"

"Make me…Jojo." Gale's voice is challenging. "Küss mein arsch Gale." Johanna's voice is cold as steel. "Oh I intend to Johanna." Gale's voice has switched into a husky growl. "You miststück." Johanna's voice has changed into pleasant sort of harsh whisper. They've been building up to this for weeks. Last time they were this ticked off with each other I nearly walked in on them in the engine room. They both hate how much they care for each other. I can tell it scares the hell outta Gale, which in turn annoys the piss out of Johanna. She wants to be with him, but he's afraid of gettin' hurt. But he's already hurtin' just by pushing her away. I'd like to tell them they are being idiots but they don't take to kindly to insults.

I can hear their lips meet in a quiet smack. Soft moans and quick breaths fill the room and before I move to interrupt I hear them break apart. Heavy breathing precedes any words. "Meet in my bunk. Five minutes." Gale instructs. "I'll be there." I hear Jo's heavy boots move in the opposite direction, towards the engine room. Gale's soft footsteps come my way. I plaster a knowing smirk on my face and wait for him to come through the door, since I'm in the hall to his bunk I'm gonna have a bit of fun.

He comes through the door and stumbles to a stop. Surprise passes over his features real quick before it gets replaced with embarrassment. "Cap'n," he nods. "So Gale I hear you and Johanna had another fight…time to make up I see." "Stop lookin' at me like that Catnip. You don't understand." I shake my head. "Don't call me that Gale and don't tell me I don't understand. I understand that you are scared, terrified even. You love her Gale, I know it, you know it, hell everyone knows it. But the only one to yellow-bellied to admit it is you. Stop toyin' with her Gale. One of these times she ain't gonna come back. Jo's tough, but no one can take it forever. You best make it right and stop shittin' around. You chose, be with her or don't, but stop bringin' her in just to run away again." He's quiet for a bit, "I don't know if I can Cap'n." I let out a frustrated grunt. "You better try." With another response he crawls down into his bunk.

I turn and walk into the dining hall, where the doctor has recently come in. Silently we acknowledge one another but don't say anything. Johanna stomps through the room, not lookin' directly at either of us, just tryin' to act like she's just passing through. She's not foolin' me.

"It's about time those two stopped dancing around one another." The doctor says, his tone is happy, clearly he don't understand the real situation.

"You heard 'em?" His cheeks blush and he clears his throat. "I did. I'm glad they finally realized how much they want each other." His tone sounds almost dreamy, like this is the comin' together of a great romance.

"Don't let what you heard fool ya into thinkin' nothin'." He turns his gaze on me, curiosity fills his face. "This ain't the first time this has happened, sadly I think it ain't gonna be the last neither. Gale and Jo go through a cycle. They'll fight till they turn blue and then disappear somewhere for a few hours. After that they come back happy as a clam. Then Gale gets all distant again and Jo gets right pissed off. So they start fightin' again. It's a cycle you see." He nods, his face falls with understanding.

"What a shame. They seem so good together. Or at least they seem like they could be."

"That's what fear does to a heart. Gale's afraid of what might happen; afraid to lose her if he lets himself have her. I don't think he realizes he's gonna lose her if he don't get his head on straight and love her right."

"Seems to be a popular opinion." He states. I look at him curiously. He continues, "I've heard a similar speech about you Captain." My eyes widen in surprise.

"I don't see how I'm applicable here. I ain't dodgin' away from nobody." He interrupts me, stepping closer to me, "No you aren't. But it's been said that you are afraid to love. Afraid to let yourself be open to the possibility. Are you Cap'n?"

I stutter and mumble unintelligibly before answering, "You best look at your head there Doc because you're talkin' crazy. I ain't afraid, just cautious. Don't categorize me with the likes of them. You don't know me, you don't know my life." He steps closer and closer to me as I step back in time. My back hits the wall but he still walks forward. "You best be watchin' yer step there doctor. I ain't afraid to punch your pretty mug." He stops, holds up his hands in surrender.

"I'm just saying Captain. If anyone comes along that meets your fancy I hope you won't be afraid to act on it." He turns around and struts off. My head is a jumble of confusion. I push it aside and get back to work.

Author's Note: Hey Everybody! I hope you're still enjoying the story! Read and Review, let me know what you think! I really appreciate your comments, they make my day!