Here's the Thing
Posted on Sat Sep 24th, 2022 @ 2:03pm by Teague Harrington & Quinlan Barrett Poe & Shepherd Harley & Addy Stone & Juniper Farnsby
The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Xiao Jin, Eavesdown Docks - Dining Area
Timeline: Mission Day 47 at 0915
Poe and Teague came out of his cabin, because, realistically speaking, where else could he hold a private meeting on this ship and headed down to the dining area. Breakfast was long over, not that Poe could claim to any particular appetite these days. He found an intercom panel and flipped the switch, "If everyone could join me in the dining room," he asked. "Got some things to talk over."
Juniper had, in the single day she'd been on the Xiao Jin, found herself plenty to do. None of it, though, had involved a crew meeting. She'd been working her way through the passenger dorms that morning, aiming to make the rooms ready should they need to take on any last-minute passengers before leaving port. She'd a small bucket with warm soapy water that she was using to clean surfaces--more an extra measure than a necessity and she dropped the cloth she was using back into the bucket, leaving it where it was before making her way toward the dining room.
Despite the need to maintain appearances Addy was the first arrival in the dining room. She nodded to Quinn as she entered, hating every inch of distance between them, but somehow pulling off the detached stormy impression of a recently separated girlfriend. It wasn't as hard to pretend the emotion as she'd thought. The longer they went along with the charade, the more the absence of being able to treat him as she would normally hurt and she drew on that as best she could. The other man present she hadn't seen before, though she knew him now by descriptions shared with her in snatches when it seemed there might be a safe moment to talk unobserved. Unsure of the protocol she rounded the table, claiming the seat furthest from Quinn, but the one that also gave her the best view. If she was going to have to keep her distance, she could at least spend this moment looking at him.
Sula walked into the room with her normally cool and flat expression. Why the Captain had called this meeting, she did not know. He rarely explained himself and even when he did, it was far from complete. The moment that she did come in, she Addy's hurt expression. What in the 'verse is going on with those two? Have I been too involved with myself and my issues to notice problems with them? I had given Addy some warning but this is not good. And who are these new people. She greeted each in turn. "Captain, Addy."
While Poe barely nodded toward Sula, the newcomer, Teague Harrington, smiled a greeting though he kept quiet. The first part belonged to Poe, poor sod. The man would rather jump on a live grenade than speak to anyone other than himself in the mirror ... and that, begrudgingly. Vocal cords were wasted on him.
Speaking to a group had never been his strength and it could be said, and rightly so, that speaking to anyone would be a better way of putting it. The words came to him slowly as he faced the group. Aside from Addy, he had never made friends with these people. More like suspicious strangers and that made it all a bit easier. He kept his gaze away from her lest his emotions betray him at the last, coughed to clear his throat and began.
"No easy way to say this, so I'll be plain. I've sold the ship and this here," he gestured toward Teague, "is the new owner. We're going to head out in a moment to file the paperwork and then I'll be going." The pain of it all shone out through his eyes for a second or so before he got it under control again. "Mrs. Stone can stay with the ship if she chooses, Teague's agreed to that already as can the rest of you though you'll have to live by his rules now and whether you want to or not, well, that's up to you."
From where she sat Addy couldn't drag her eyes away. She knew she should, that it was almost certainly making this harder. But still. She couldn't. And so she caught that flash of pain and knew she was the source of it and that sat in her gut as he spoke. She swallowed back the urge to speak out, though, knowing this was neither the time nor the place and, finally, forced her eyes away to look at her hands, clasped tightly together on the tabletop.
Though Juniper knew she should have been listening more closely than she was, she'd already had quite a shock on entering the room. Least she was fairly sure she'd reason for it. It'd been a long while and they'd lost touch, but when the Captain spoke the tall man's name, any uncertainty cleared. There at the front of the table stood Teague Harrington. In the honest to god flesh. As if the gorram 'Verse thought it might have a bit of a joke to play on her whilst she went about running away. It weren't until after that revelation that she realized that the man who'd hired her only the day before was leaving the ship and her running to Teague and that she'd as much right as the rest to stay or go.
Teague's gaze traveled from face to face, without recognition, until he reached Juniper. That was nearly instantaneous because remembering faces and the details of past interactions was a survival skill as far as he was concerned. Nodding his head, he smiled in her direction specifically and then addressed the group. "My friend Poe is eager to get going," he said with the cockney accent that marked everyone born on Dyton, his voice deep and somewhat gravelly, "but I'd like to sort out your concerns now if I can. So, before I go, any questions I can answer before I'm yanked off my chair by Poe here?"
Sula blinked several times, trying to make sense of the chain of ownership. She was not sure she ever fit on this ship with the Captain but Addy had often smoothed things over. And for some reason, she was led here. Certainly there was a reason for all of it. Whatever it was, Sula could not see it. "Why, Poe?" was all that the Shepherd could utter for the moment, her thoughts jumbled.
Unsurprisingly, it was Teague that answered. "It's a matter of love gone wrong," he said with a slight shrug. "I don't know how fast word travels on your little ship, but your mechanic chose to marry someone she knew from back home, Matthias Stone. That marriage changed things for both of her and your captain, I'm sure you understand, and Poe here feels the need to go." He leaned forward slightly. "You may have noticed that he's not a people person at the best of times and this, well, it's far from the best. Being without employment, Poe and I spoke, and things developed from there. I'm Teague Harrington by the way. And you are?"
"I am Shepherd Harley," Sula answered simply. "I was brought on as a medic by Addy and the Captain." The Shepherd looked sympathetically at Addy and then back at Poe. "How should I address you?" she asked looking back at Teague. I need to speak with both Poe and Addy. There must be something that I could do to comfort them or give them guidance.
"Short answer," he said, "Teague. I'm Teague. Unless things have gone wrong between us and you're on the verge of outright mutiny. Then it would be Captain Harrington," he smiled slightly as he winked, "just so I know what to expect and all."
There was a bit of a silence, the reality of the matter settling over everyone, but before Teague or Poe could speak to end the meeting Juniper let the urge to speak up move her along. Her voice must have been startling to some in the mix as she barely knew the Shepherd (A Shepherd? Poe never mentioned the medic was a woman of the cloth) or Mrs. Stone though it was now apparent there was far more going on than she knew. "So long as you're in need of a cook and someone to help mind the cleaning and upkeep I'd like to stay aboard," she said finally getting a chance to return the smile that she felt sure and certain he'd meant just for her.
"As far as I'm concerned, cook is one of those positions that's essential to the wellbeing of any ship," Teague said. "While some might say captain is more important, I would immediately point to the near mutinies I've experienced owing to a run of bad food. You are always welcome."
"I'll stay on too," Addy said quietly, forcing her eyes up from her hands. "So long as that's alright with you, Teague. I'm a good hand with the engine and I've no reason to leave. Only thing needs discussing between you and I is an agreement I have to be back on Sweethome in a bit less than 6 months' time for a short spell. But I'm happy to discuss that part privately."
"Poe tells me that you're a fine mechanic," Teague answered, "so I've no objection to your remaining with the crew and we can talk whenever you've a mind. Just give me the nod and I'm yours."
Sula looked over at Addy, wondering what the agreement was about and why she had to be back. She gave the mechanic a small glance of sympathy before looking back at Teague, trying to figure out how much had happened so fast. The Shepherd had to admit that as of late, she had been meditating too much and had been enjoying her time a bit too much with Clayton. The past had some sweet moments, but there also was pain and now that mystery to solve regarding her deceased love. Why this ship should have the answers, she did not know but God clearly led her here and here she would stay until God let her elsewhere."
As the room quieted, Teague rose to his feet, nodding at the group as he did so. "Then we're off," he said. "I'll be back shortly."