?It?s a?it?s a..,? Ansel cleared his throat as he walked up behind Lirssa.
With a final twist to the bolt, Lirssa wiped her arm across her brow and looked up. ?You?ve got a word or two stuck in your throat. Spit it out. The word is wreck.? She stood from where she crouched by the derelict ship.
?Yes! Worse than that. It?s garbage. It barely has a solid outer hull.?
?Hey now,? Lirssa caressed the underbelly of the small vessel, feeling the cold metal warming to her touch. ?She?s sensitive, and she isn?t garbage.?
Ansel tugged at his scraggle of a beard as he walked around the ship. ?You called it a wreck.?
?A wreck can be fixed. She?ll fly again. Not done paying for her yet, but she?ll fly.?
With a sigh, scrubbing his palms down the legs of his coveralls that were not much neater than Lirssa?s at the moment. ?You want to get away from me this badly??
With a roll of her eyes, Lirssa lifted the wrench and then lowered it again after she thought better of throwing the metal at her current business partner. Her aim was fairly good, after all. ?That isn?t it. You know the goal of our bargain, and no-? she cut him off, ?-I won?t start a shipping corporation with you. That?s your dream. Mine is just..,? she looked back up to the ship, smiling at the feeling that began to warm in the center of her. It was a tickle in her belly and a flood up her spine.
?Freedom.? Ansel finished her sentence much as she had finished his. In the weeks they had worked together, the rivalry had cushioned with proximity and mutual purpose. His quirks no longer made her grit her teeth, and he no longer threatened to jettison her when she tossed sarcasm his way. They worked in harmony, often syncopated but effective.
Lirssa followed Ansel on his tour, looking at each bit of rust and dent he inspected. The age and use were clear. The ship was wretched in its state, weeds growing up through concrete and lacing through landing struts. It had stood still for so long. ?She was just about worth more for her parts.? Like Moxie had been. Not whole. Not value. A donor for healthier ships.
It was a worry-laced chuckle. Ansel squeezed her shoulder, his fingers wiry but warm and strong. ?You and your rescue operations. Give yourself more time, could get a ship. You know -- a whole ship.?
That was worthy of a punch to his arm. Just a small one. Little less than angry, little more than a joking tap. Ansel rubbed there anyway as though she had tried to put her knuckles through his bone. Lirssa defied his ploy for sympathy, looking back to her ship. ?But she?s mine now, and I?ll learn her even better having worked on her. And no threat of having put work into her and sold from underneath me. I?ve got the deed right now, in my name.?
?Doing work you barely know how to do, and some here I can see you have no idea how to repair. On top of that, paying port fees for a ship you can?t move.?
?Could move it,? Lirssa said. A glance to Ansel saw him already backing away.
He turned on heel, flinging his hands up, ?No way, Lulu. I?m not burning my fuel to move that anchor.?
?Aww, come on, Ansel,? Lirssa pouted and chased after him. The chasing after him alone would start getting him on her side. Ansel liked to be needed, just as she did. She?d get what she wanted. It just took the right words, the right look, and time.