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Whispered Words

Posted on Wed Oct 19th, 2022 @ 1:17pm by Jules Weysmith & Peter Weysmith

Mission: The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Passenger Dorms, Xiao Jin, Eavesdown Docks, Persephone
Timeline: Mission Day 47 at 2330

In the hopes that some semblance of her usual routine would help, Jules Weysmith had helped her younger sister into her favorite pair of pajamas and let her crawl into the double-bed she'd been assigned for the night. Two stories later, and fighting it all the way, Lori Jo had finally fallen asleep which left seventeen-year-old Jules time to herself. She slipped out of the bed and sat cross-legged on the rug at the foot of the bed, brushing her hair with rhythmic strokes while she thought about everything that happened ... and some of the things that hadn't.

Peter had been restless, but Gary had been practically pacing since rushing out of the conversation with Quinlan Poe. Finally, after the fourteen-year-old refused to lie down for the sixth time, Peter had given up any hopes of sleep and directed his brother down the small corridor to the next room over where he now stood before the door.

"If she doesn't answer after a minute we're going back " Peter informed Gary. "Ain't no use waking the both of them just so we can settle on a way forward. And I did tell Poe we would sleep on it."

Gary merely shrugged in the infuriating way that teenaged boys seemed to know so well causing Peter to wonder if he had ever driven Addy this crazy with his put-on nonchalance.

Not bothering with any further exposition Peter raised his hand curling his fingers and twisting his hand so we could rap his knuckles against the door once... twice... and a further double tap.

Still dressed, Juliet opened the sliding door back far enough to admit her brothers and then closed it again as gently as she could after they were inside. "Lori just fell asleep," she said quietly as she moved to the other bed and dropped lightly down on the end. "I'm assuming you can't sleep either?"

Peter shook his head, ascent that neither he nor Gary had found any rest. He found a spot on the floor and settled cross-legged before glaring upward at his younger brother who was fidgeting as if the desire to pace were a living thing in his legs. "Sit down," he told Gary, a touch of frustration in the tone of his whisper making it sound like more a hiss than a command.

Meeting Peter's glare with one of his own, Gary sat, crossing his arms over his knees which he drew up to his chest, the move somehow accentuating the gangliness of his teenage body while simultaneously making him look younger than his 14 years.

Juliet slid to the floor as well, settling herself so that she could lean against the end of the bed she would sleep in and looked at them both. "I'm guessing we're all wondering the same thing," she said. "What happens now that Addy and Poe just upended our lives?"

Peter wrestled back the urge to bristle. He knew where she was coming from. But he'd been a willing participant in the upending himself. "You say that as though you would rather be back on Sweethome," he said softly, though there was an edge to his voice. Scrubbing a hand through red locks, he forced himself back off the razor's edge of tension he'd been feeling. "What happens now we've got options," he restated. "More than we counted on at that."

Her blue eyes went cold as she answered his gaze with one of her own. She was done, beyond done, with being bullied and she was never going to back down again. She kept her own counsel though, letting the thoughts and arguments that bubbled up inside her, settle back down. "Homesteading," she said quietly and there was no joy in the way she said it, more a quiet resignation, nearly funereal.

Peter sighed, recognizing the shift in his sister's gaze, but unable to imagine a way to help it. "If you're pleased to do so," Peter said with a sigh, "then yes." He tilted his head back, staring at the ceiling as if it might offer up some kind of answer. "Or you go your own way as well. You're old enough to make that decision. I'd be loathe for you to go, but I can hardly expect you to take on anything like reviving a homestead and I won't try to force you." It was an offer he had wanted to avoid, but it was one Peter felt honor-bound to make. Gary and Lori Jo might still require a guardian, but Juliet did not.

"For now, I'm with you," she said, "but under two conditions. The first is that we're partners in this. I'm not your little sister and I won't be dictated to by anyone. Not ever again. The second is from now on, my name is Jules. Juliet doesn't exist any longer."

Fixing his sister with a penetrating look, Peter frowned. "You're an adult... Jules..." he said, trying out the feel of her newly chosen moniker on his tongue, "You're not beholden to me or to any of us, but there's going to be times when I know better than you." He held up a staying hand before she could protest. "And there will be times you know better than me. If you can agree to understand these moments for what they are -- working together toward a goal -- and not dictating than I can agree. But if you want me to never question or challenge your assertions, then this won't work."

"I'm not looking to be the next Hank Weysmith, Peter," Jules said quietly. It felt odd to be sitting without anything to do. Back home, she had done the majority of the clothing repairs and she felt the loss of her small sewing basket. "As long as we can talk things out, I think we'll be fine." She dropped her gaze to her empty lap and left it there for a moment as she worked through what she needed to say. Or maybe it would be better said as her waiting for what would emerge from her mouth. "We need a place to stay, to figure things out for ourselves, and you're a farmer at heart. So, I can see how this works for you, but I think its best if we got a look at the place before we decided."

Peter had nodded his agreement at her comment. No one wanted to be the next Hank Weysmith. And in the silence he confirmed his agreement. "That'll work just fine."

They lapsed into silence then, Peter with the feeling that Jules wasn't quite done speaking, but when she did he frowned. "At which one, Jules?" he asked. "And mind I'm not sure that Poe will keep his offer on the table for us in perpetuity. He and Addy..." Peter trailed off shrugging, a knot of guilt worming its way to the forefront. He wasn't Addy's keeper. He knew that. But he still felt some responsibility for what had happened. Like maybe there had been something he hadn't seen that he could have done. Some sense that could have been talked into someone... somewhere... somehow... "Ain't no reason for him to help us 'cept the kindness of his heart now."

"He leans toward the arrangement on Deadwood," Jules said after a while. After the silence had lengthened and settled around her, heavy, like the mantle of responsibility that had settled around her shoulders, shattering her dreams into tiny pieces. "His home and I have the notion that one day Addy might settle there as well. So, if there's choosing to be done, I say, let's try there first. Assess it as a farmer would and I'll look at the stuff you miss. We can talk further after."

Peter listened quietly, considering her words and setting aside her observation about Addy. The eldest Weysmith had made it clear in the dining room that this was for them to decide now, without taking her into account, and Peter intended to honor that. "Gary?" he asked, turning to his younger brother once they had gone silent again. "You've a voice in this too. What do you think?"

Gangly knees pulled tight to his chest, Gary looked as if he were trying to fold in on himself; make himself smaller somehow. He picked his head up from where he had been resting it on top of his knees and looked at them both, eyes cautious. "I think Jules is right," he said and though his voice was soft it was clear and unwavering. "I don't like leaving Addy behind. I don't like us being separated again. But if she's not coming then..." he shrugged, trailing off.

Peter gave him a moment, but when it became clear that Gary wasn't going to continue he pressed his lips together and nodded. "Ok," he said. "I'll talk to Poe tomorrow then."

 

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