What is one job you’d never do, no matter how much you were paid?
Alaric grinned as he lobbed the little asteroid across the small space. “Worst pickup line you’ve ever used or that was ever used on you.” They were playing a sort of 20 questions, getting-to-know-you game he had picked up in Echelon while Moira was still grooming him to be a leader. Icebreakers were necessary at large social gatherings, but they also useful when making new friends on a multi week voyage through slip space.
“Ok, ok,” Matty giggled, catching the plush ball Al tossed her way. Thankfully, the two teens he now shared a room with were very receptive to his entertainment suggestion. Lee whined that he had a great answer for that question. “All your pickup lines are bad,” Matty countered, “but I’ve got the rock so it’s my turn to answer.” She stuck her tongue out at her shipmate. “We were on Diplo Station in the Aurellian Nebula region of Gamma quadrant getting resupplies and this dude, total babe, like top ten hottest dudes I’ve seen in my life, started chatting me up in the merchant quarter.”
Lee leaned towards Al with a mischievous smirk. “That can’t be saying much, she’s only ever met like 5 guys and two of them are sitting in this room.”
“Shut up!” she laughed, throwing her pillow at him.
He brought an arm up to block it. “Damn, I really thought you’d throw the rock.”
“I’m not stupid you know,” she said, flipping him a rude gesture softened with a smile. “Not like that dude on Diplo,” she added, getting back to her story. “He was gorgeous but stars above he was dim. Thankfully it didn’t take long to figure that out, because he opened his mouth and said ’Your daddy must be a drug dealer, ‘cause you’re dope.’”
“Woooow,” Al said as Lee rolled onto his bed, cackling. “How did you respond to that?” He wasn’t sure how he would have handled such a line, but after knowing Matty for such a brief period of time he had a feeling she’d had a saucy answer.
“The truth,” she grinned, tossing her full head of curls behind her with a flick of her wrist. “That I didn’t have a dad, but my moms were pirates.”
He nearly choked. “You told him that?”
She shrugged. “People will believe a lie before they’ll believe the truth, even if you hand them the truth on a silver platter.”
“You’re lucky he was such a dunce or we might have had to cut that trip short,” Lee scolded her.
“Oh, I don’t wanna hear it from you, Mister “I’m A Badass Pirate Lemme Plunder Your Booty” dumbass.”
“That was one time!”
“You actually said that?” Al asked, his voice somewhere between impressed and incredulous.
Lee rubbed the back of his head, directing his pout at Matty. “More or less. But that’s taken wildly out of context!”
“And it’s not your question to answer, so you don’t get to explain it right now,” Matty snarked. “Next question goes back to James, because you’re annoying me.” She threw the plush asteroid back to Alaric. “What job would you never do, no matter how much it paid?”
The truth was that he would never take over his father’s company if he could help it. They were playing this game to get to know each other, but he still hadn’t opened up about who he really was. Al laughed, tossing the soft toy up and catching it. James might be a fake, but he shared one thing in common with Alaric. “You couldn’t pay me to run the White Corporation, that’s for sure.”
“Really?” Lee gaped for a moment but then closed his mouth to consider it. “I mean, I suppose at that point you’re not even being paid. You’d already have more money than all the gods of all the worlds. But you wouldn’t want that?”
“You know how much work it would be to maintain the greatest galactic conglomerate the worlds have ever known?” Al squeezed the plush firmly in his hand. “That sort of thing isn’t for me,” he said softly.
“I feel that,” Matty said, alleviating some of the awkwardness Al felt at admitting his failings, even if they weren’t aware of how deep they ran. Her next words brought it crashing back down again. “Kinda makes me feel bad for the kid taking over next week. I’m sure Moira has trained him well. She wouldn’t leave the company in the hands of anyone who was less than capable.”
Al tried not to swallow hard as he nodded agreement. “No,” he said, doing his best to keep the coldness from his voice, “she definitely wouldn’t.”
Notes: I couldn’t really think of anything I wouldn’t do for the right price, moral compass notwithstanding. Any and all illegal activities were already off the table as far as I’m concerned, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t come up with some other ideas. I almost went with a list post rattling off a bunch of dumb job descriptions but then I got thinking about a group of friends just sitting around shooting the shit asking each other dumb questions and answering them.
I decided I liked that idea and instead of coming up with a bunch of random characters to suit the prompt, I thought “why not get back into TSFS universe?” Writing these kids is fun and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I really need to finish their story so I can start the process of rewriting and editing. This was a good exercise in just getting them talk to each other in the first couple days Al is on the ship. Seeing how they interact with one another, even at the beginning, helps me to understand them better.
That’s all I’ve got for tonight. It took too long to get this going and I am once again up past my bedtime. (Is it really past my bedtime if I’m never in bed at my alleged bedtime?) No regrets though. I needed this tonight. And for the sleep deprivation, that’s what coffee is for! Also naps. Mmm naps. Gonna go take a long nap now. See you soon!
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