Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Jando let himself in through the kitchen door to make a pot of coffee. At four-fifteen in the morning, the house was dark and quiet, but Sofia would be downstairs around four-thirty. He noticed over the past few weeks, she slept less and less, getting only about four hours a night. He suspected that soon she'd sleep three hours like most vampires while hybrids could sleep up to six hours.
Some mornings upon waking, she'd go down to the gym and work out. But usually, she'd sit with one of the guys at their posts, mostly whoever was on the roof so that she could do gargoyle duty with them. And the hard-ass team they were, grew to enjoy their time with her in the early mornings. Because at that hour, she didn't pull anything crazy on them. She was more subdued before the sun rose.
The house was silent as he started the coffee; the rest of the household would be up by five-thirty, sometimes earlier. He turned on the stove light even though the darkness did not hamper his eyesight; old habits of treating Sofia like a human were hard to break. Taking two cups out of the cupboard, he moved to the refrigerator to get the unflavored cream Sofia used. Oddly enough, while the woman could eat ten pounds of sugar a day, she didn't like sweeteners or flavored creams in her coffee. Perhaps it was her way of balancing things out.
His head tilted as soft footsteps came down the stairs, he smiled to himself. She was right on time. Turning, he leaned against the counter and waited for her to enter, knowing the smell of coffee would lure her in. Seconds later, she rounded the doorway, wearing spandex workout shorts and a sports bra top. She was no longer affected by the chilly Seattle mornings; she was adapting all around in her transformation to becoming a supernatural being.
Her smile was immediate when she spotted him; walking up to him, she put herself in his arms for a hug. "Have I told you how much I love you for making coffee for me each morning?"
Jando wrapped his arms around her, touching the bare skin around her waist; it was hard not too in her skimpy outfit. Having her blood in his veins, Jando felt a special bond with her now. "Good morning, bela rainha. I think you may have mentioned it before, but hey, I never tire of hearing it." He had taken to calling her bela rainha, beautiful queen in Portuguese, his native tongue. Placing a kiss on the top of her head, Sofia looked up at him.
"I'm glad we have a party size coffee pot now. Will you help me take coffee to all the guys?"
He chuckled. "Really? First, I get demoted to a glorified babysitter now you want me to be a waiter?"
"Hey," she pinched his stomach. "I'm gonna start a jar, like a cuss jar, only this one will be for each time you guys refer to spending time with me as babysitting. When the jar is full, I get to buy myself something."
"And how much will you charge?" He noticed that she had not removed herself from his embrace.
She contemplated. "Five bucks will do. And I'm starting with you and the offense you made a second ago."
"That's not fair. You can't give someone a speeding ticket if the speed limit isn't posted."
"Hey, be glad I don't charge all of you for all your past offenses, I'd be rich by now."
"Okay, thanks for that. I'll help you take coffee to the men, but if they make a smartass remark about me serving them, I'll fucking shoot them."
"Maybe you should let me toss their ass off whatever they are on. I don't want any blood spilled. Besides, I'd probably get blamed for it."
Ten minutes later, Jando and Sofia each carried thermal pots of coffee and a stack of disposable coffee cups outside. The men heard the door open, and all sets of eyes landed on them.
"Good morning, men. We have brought you some coffee. But I made a deal with Jando that if any of you make a smartass remark about him helping me serve you that he gets to shoot you where you stand. So, you'd better behave." She grinned at Jando when he raised his eyebrow at her. She told them his original deal, not hers.
Wren snorted to her left. "What would you know about behaving?"
"And now you get coffee last."
Pedro walked up to her, and she stepped into his arms as she did Jando. "Good morning, guerrero guapo." She called him a handsome warrior and tipped her face up, and he kissed her on the lips. He was the only warrior who ever kissed her lips.
"Learning Spanish, I see." Pedro grinned at her.
"Really, Doc?" Jando said, pretending to be offended that she didn't call him anything sweet in his native language.
"Oh, sweetie, you are a guerrero guapo too."
He rolled his eyes. "Doesn't count. I'm not Mexican. I'm Brazilian. Our words aren't the same."
She gave him an ornery look. "Fine, you are a guerreiro bonito too."
One eyebrow arched. "When do you have time to learn four new languages? I've heard you say things to Jericho in French and Raph in Italian. And now you know some Spanish and Portuguese? I'm impressed."
"You four are with me twenty-four-seven, I figured it would be nice for me to know some of your languages."
"So... do you know what I've been calling you?"
An adorable frown formed between her eyes. "Yes, and I'd rather be called belo guerreiro." Beautiful warrior.
"Bela guerreiro, not belo." He couldn't help but smile at her. Yep, his asshole days were all over because of this woman. "But yes, you are a beautiful warrior."
Jando remembered the days when frowning at her was easy as pie, but now his smile came on its own. Was he an ass to men or when he was out on patrol? Of course, he didn't go out on patrol anymore, Sofia was his assignment until further notice, and frankly, he was okay with it most of the time. But then there were days when he wanted to beat the shit out of something, so he spent hours in the training center.
Sofia poured Pedro a cup of coffee before setting out to serve the other warriors. When they were done, she sat by the pool to drink hers. Jando and Pedro watched her from a distance; they understood when Sofia walked off that she needed time to herself. A lot of shit had been going down lately, and she dealt with it like a true warrior, until she snapped and threw men off roofs and walls. Everyone heard about what Sofia did with Cameron, Davis, Raphael, and Jericho, and they'd never live it down. She had a fit and threw all four men around the backyard after she kicked Jericho and Raphael off their perches.
Jando nodded to Pedro to follow him over to Sofia. She was sitting with her legs crossed next to the pool. He squatted next to her, sitting on the heels of his boots. "Are you plotting something, or are you bored?"
Sofia gave him a sideways glance and grinned. "If I was plotting something, do you really think I'd admit to it?"
"Guess not," he and Pedro chuckled. "Well, then, you look bored. So, get your ass up, we have an exercise for you."
"Nope, not gonna do it. I exercised yesterday. I'm sick of all those stupid things Vader has me doing."
"Not that kind of exercise, Doc, it's more like a game." Pedro smiled when she looked at him.
"If this is a trick, I'll kick your ass into the pool."
Pedro held out his hand to help her up. "Come on, and you can judge for yourself. And if I end up in that pool in full tactical gear, I will kick your ass."
"Oh, fine," grumbling, she took his hand. "So, what stupid thing will I be doing that you guys are all going to laugh at me for?"
Jando pulled out a large piece of chalk; the kind kids use for sidewalk art, he handed one to Pedro and kept one for himself.
"You're going to let me draw around the pool? Cool, that will piss off both Melina and Ari."
"No, no more pissing off the other women on purpose." Jando shook his head at the disappointment on her beautiful face. "You are going to practice blocking hits. We'll hold the chalk in our hands and try to tap you, you block our hits, and if you fail, we basically will be drawing on you. Let me show you." Jando stepped behind Sofia and pulled her back into his body as Pedro stood in front of her. "Now Pedro is going to attack and-"
"A second ago, you said tap. I know I heard the word tap not attack."
"Hush and listen. Pedro is going to try to smack you, yes, smack you, since that's what we want to do most days, and you need to block his hit." Nodding to Pedro to begin, Jando took hold of Sofia's wrists. "Let me move your arms for you, Doc."
Pedro came at them with his left hand, and Jando moved Sofia's hand out to knock Pedro away. Pedro moved his right hand, and Jando moved her to block with her left.
"Understand?" Jando asked, letting go of her hands.
"No, I'm a bit slow. I bet if you draw me a picture on the ground, it will become clear to me, though." Her dry, sarcastic tone had Pedro grinning at her.
"Smartass." Jando stepped out from behind her so he could watch her move.
Pedro gave her a crooked grin, immediately he drew the chalk across her bare stomach, a streak of blue. Then he got her on the side of her face.
"Thought you said you understood this game, Sofia." Jando raised one eyebrow.
"Pretty sure I said, no, I'm a bit slow."
Pedro barked out a laugh. "Shit, how can you start out this sassy so early in the morning?"
"It's something I had to learn to survive Darth. Starting out on the dark side at the crack of dawn does something to my otherwise angelic personality."
Jando and Pedro weren't alone when they laughed at her. All the men listened in; they loved what a character Sofia was at home. She was more reserved at The Alliance when she wasn't training. But at home, she was just Sofia, funny, smartass who was always looking for ways to entertain herself, even if it meant annoying the warriors.
"This time, watch Pedro more closely. You have to anticipate his moves."
Once again, she got marked with the blue chalk, this time on her other cheek. Ten minutes later, Jando traded Pedro places, and he marked Sofia up with purple chalk six more times.
"You're slow as shit, Sofia. If this were a knife, you'd be bleeding to death by now." Jando grumbled at her. "Pedro, you try to help her before she's purple from head to toe."
Pedro walked up behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders, tugging her back into his body. "Focus, don't just use your eyes, use your ears, your instincts. It all comes together as one. Just focus."
"Oh, why didn't I think of that; just focus. You know, some of your advice is as useless as Vader's." That remark earned her a smack on the butt from Pedro.
"Thought you were a Jedi now, Doc?" Jando raised an eyebrow at her with a smirk.
"Oh, shut up. Fine. Let me find my inner Luke." She breathed in through her nose, closing her eyes. "If anyone of you idiots starts talking to me in a Yoda voice, I will freak the hell out. He's scary as shit."
Pedro reached out and tugged her ponytail. "Woman, I'm a half a second away from pushing you into the pool. Now focus."
Callisto stepped to the edge of the roof. "I say go ahead and push her. I'd even pay you to do it." He winked when she turned and raised one eyebrow at him.
"Okay, fine, but I want my own chalk."
"You can't even block worth a damn, so what good will it do to give you chalk?" Jando shook his head when she cocked her hip and held out her hand.
"I need some inspiration. Pink, please." She smiled, sweetly at him with her hand held out.
Reaching into a pocket of his cargo pants, Jando handed her a pink piece of chalk. "What is it with you and pink?"
"What is it with you guys and black?" Sofia eyed his black combat clothing, putting the chalk to her nose she sniffed. "This smells funny. Now for my reward. What do I win if I hit you with my chalk?"
"No sugar, that's for damn sure." Jando narrowed his eyes at her, realizing she already knew what she'd want. He had noticed that when she wanted something, she figured out how to manipulate them or the situation.
"For each time I hit you with chalk, I get to push one of the Terminators in the pool."
Men laughed around the property. Azim yelled. "Fuck, no."
"What are you worried about, Azim? She can't even block; she'll never touch Jando." Zuri teased.
"I wouldn't trust the little terrorist. We all know she doesn't play fair." Connor, aka White Boy, said from the southeast wall.
Derrick laughed. "I say make the deal. We have nothing to fear."
Jando was watching her as she listened to the men banter, her ornery dark eyes danced when she smiled at him, waiting for his answer.
When she noticed him inspecting her, she stepped up to him, inches from him, and poked him in the chest. "You know the names pansy-ass and chicken-shit is up for grabs, which one would you like?"
He grinned, grabbing her finger. "Neither, to my knowledge, those names still belong to Jericho and Raph. Deal, you mark me, and you get to pick a man to take a swim."
"Cool. Better start taking off your weapons and boots men unless you want them all soggy."
The Terminators grunted their responses sure that Jando wouldn't let her touch him.
Sofia and Jando got ready, eyeing one another. He jabbed, and she blocked, the chalk never touched her. He struck again and the same thing, he missed.
"What the hell, man!" Callisto said. "At this rate, she'll hit you in no time flat."
"Tell me, Doc, how is it that you can suddenly block?" Jando narrowed his amber eyes on her. Did she just pull one over on him? He had heard about her playing a game with Raphael, pretending not to be able to find the sucker he had hidden in one of his many pockets. When she was threatened with cotton candy by Jericho, she immediately knew where the sucker was.
Had he fallen for her tricks?
She offered a crooked grin and shrugged. "Maybe Pedro is just a better teacher than you, or I found my inner Luke."
On Jando's next advance, Sofia blocked, ducked, and struck. A bright pink line slashed across Jando's thigh. Sofia did a happy dance. "Ha, take that!"
"Are you fucking kidding, Jando?" Zuri.
"You suck." Connor.
"Well, shit." Azim.
Sofia looked around the yard for her first victim. "So, my first casualty is between Callisto for wanting me tossed in the pool or Derrick for saying you guys had nothing to fear." She tapped her chin with one delicate finger pretending to contemplate her decision. "Come on down, Derrick, and let me tell you what you've won."
"Oh shit." He hissed, then jumped down from the wall and walked over to her.
She motioned to his body. "You want to go in with boots and weapons? I told you guys to remove them, remember?"
Derrick's pale green eyes watched her as he stripped his weapons off then his boots. "Yeah, well, you heard us, we didn't think you'd pull this off. I was being optimistic."
"Okay, stand with your back facing the pool," Sofia waited until he obeyed. Reaching up, she kissed his cheek. "I love you, Derrick." She pushed him, he hit the water and sunk.
Seconds later, Derrick surfaced, grinning at her. "Yeah, love you too, Rambo."
"You may sit on the edge and wait for your fellow warriors to join you." She winked, then turned back to Jando. "Let's go. Bring it on, badass."
Jando gave her an evil grin and struck, hitting her stomach with purple chalk. He winked, then reached out again. She blocked him and hit his chest. Once again, her happy dance began as groans were heard all over the yard.
"Hmm, who's next?" She spun when she heard a light thump behind her. Callisto jumped off the roof.
"I figured I was next. Am I right?" Callisto's midnight eyes held a touch of humor.
"You are. Strip whatever you don't want wet."
Callisto removed his boots, weapons, and his shirt. "I think I'd like a dry shirt."
"Fuck, really? I could have taken off my shirt first?" Derrick complained.
Callisto assumed the position; Sofia walked up to him, reached up, and kissed his cheek. "I love you, Callisto," and she pushed.
From a window on the second floor of the house, Gage watched as Sofia tormented the hell out of his team. His smile grew as she played his men. He should be pissed that they were so easily fooled by her, but he knew they all adored her and most likely would have complied to make her happy.
"What are you doing?" Ambrose's deep voice said as he walked up.
Gage chuckled. "I'm watching Sofia take my men on, and the little shit is winning."
Ambrose stepped up just in time to see a bootless and shirtless Callisto make a big splash in the pool. "What the hell is going on that he let her do that?"
"Jando and Pedro are playing a game with her; they have chalk and try to mark her up unless she can block. She let them hit her over a dozen times."
"What do you mean, let?"
"I'm guessing she did to him what she did to Raph, pretend she couldn't do it. Then she made him a deal, for each time she hits him with her chalk-"
"Let me guess, pink?"
"Yep." Gage grinned. "Her deal was that for each time she marks on Jando, she gets to push one of the Terminators in the pool. And as you can see, she has two lined up."
Ambrose released a laugh. "When are these men going to learn to stop trusting her? Her sweet smile has them all stupid."
"Yes, she does. But you know what, brother? I love the idea that our sixteen badasses are wrapped around her finger. I expect it of Alek and Dane's guys, but ours? They love her craziness and respect the shit out of her. They will do anything for her if she asks and because they know she loves them and respects them just as much."
Ambrose folded his arms across his chest as Jando and Sofia began again. "Those are qualities of being a queen; she loves and respects her warriors, and they are willing to die for her because of it."
Gage watched Sofia's every move, every smile, and every victory dance. "Yeah, brother, I know. I just don't think she still understands."