“What do you think you’re doing?” Zee asked, words clipped.
“She had a knife,” Ben said, looking at her feet. “What was I supposed to do, let her stab you?”
Zee raised an eyebrow. “You’re ridiculous. This is Helioset, not some tenement in Rust. She wasn’t going to stab me,” she said.
“You don’t know them,” said Ben, finally meeting her eyes. “Tegan and Firenze are assassins, trained killers. They—”
Zee expelled a frustrated sigh and crossed her arms. “Then yes, if it comes to it, you should let her stab me,” she said. Ben stared at her, and she couldn’t look at the thing that was in his eyes. “Stop it,” she said, spitting the words out. “Just stop.”
“Stop what?” Ben said, lifting his chin and moving closer to her.
Zee narrowed her eyes. “Being nice to me,” she said. “Treating me like I’m something I’m not.”
“Like a person who thinks and feels?” Ben said, his voice low.
Zee inched closer to him, and Ben tensed. “If you want something from me, you can just take it, you know,” she said, the words bitter in her mouth. “You don’t have to go through all this trouble of pretending to be nice.”
“You’re ridiculous,” Zee said. “Either stop, or get it over with.” Ben expelled a breath and looked away from her. Putting his hands in his pockets, he stepped back.
Some of the tension left Zee’s shoulders. She sighed and placed her hand on her forehead, rubbing briefly at the pain there. “When we go back in there, you’ll need to apologize. I just hope they don’t lock you up. I can probably convince Captain Baker to overlook your outburst. It didn’t look like the security officers had severe injuries.” She muttered to herself and turned away from him. Ben’s shoulders sagged as he followed her back into the maintenance hangar.