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Understandings

Posted on Wed Oct 19th, 2022 @ 5:21pm by Teague Harrington & Addy Stone

Mission: The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Xiao Jin, Eavesdown Docks, Persephone
Timeline: Mission Day 47 at 1100

Teague climbed down the ladder into his new quarters and stood there, leaning against the lower rungs, and looking around. The past hour had been an interesting one, watching several members of the Huan family, speaking to each other in rapid-fire Chinese, strip his quarters of personal items, including sheets, blankets, the easy chair and even the gun rack. That had been part of the agreement that he had worked out with Poe. Stripped, cleaned, and readied for his occupancy. For a bit of extra coin, they had replaced the easy chair and footstool with a new one done in charcoal gray. The footstool opened up for storage. When they were finished, bowing politely to him, and he spent a few minutes chatting with them in equally rapid-fire Chinese in the hallway before escorting them off the ship.

His own gear was considerably less and at the moment, was stacked up in front of the door that led down into his new quarters. He started by laying out the new rug and making the bed. First time, he thought as he smoothed out the sheets, that I've ever owned anything I didn't consider immediately disposable. He wasn't sure, even while he was adding the blanket and comforter, whether or not he considered it a good thing. Time will tell but for now, it's a luxury I intend to enjoy.

The feeling of standing outside of Quinn's... no... Teague's... room was disorienting and Addy couldn't help the churn in her gut as she bent next to the small pile of belongings, rapping sharply on the opening with her knuckles. She'd no illusions about entering the space--had not, in fact, been back to the room since removing her things after her marriage. The thought of entering it now ripped at her as she considered the few weeks when this space had been her home too. Now Quinlan Poe was she knew not where and she hardly had a notion of when she'd see him again. As it had over the last several days leading up to his departure, a fear that she would never see him again threatened to worm its way into her brain and she beat it back, refusing to give up hope. She'd promised him that she would trust him and nothing would prevent her from following through.

He heard the rap signaling that someone wanted his attention, gave a last swipe, smoothing out a wrinkle, to the comforter, and climbed up the ladder and out onto the deck. Out of habit more than anything else, his gaze strayed to the pile left to cart down into his new sanctuary though it also gave the woman in front of him time to compose herself. "You wanted something," he asked.

"Quinn told me to trust you," she said, straight to the point, "and I do." Addy found she had to tilt her head slightly to meet the new captain's gaze. The churn in her gut continued, mixing in the grief she felt at Poe's leaving. "But he and I didn't talk much 'fore he left and I don't know how much of my circumstances he's expressed to you." This was at least partly true, but as they were in the corridor and not anyplace private she wasn't sure how much give she should have.

"He told me," Teague said quietly. He leaned against the corridor wall, relaxed and at ease, a posture he'd developed for situations where his height might seem threatening to those that didn't know him. "He felt it important that I understand," he added apologetically.

For a moment she chewed on the inside of her cheek, studying the tall man, expression serious. "Then you've an idea why I am required to return to Persephone in about six months," she said, and though she tried to keep her voice clear and steady some of the embarrassment she felt over the matter crept in. "It's not something the crew really knows and... I'm not sure I want them to. At least that particular detail." A memory of Matthias Stone's room swam to the surface of her mind making her shiver slightly with disgust at its insistence.

"It's your story," Teague said, "which means it's yours to tell or not. They'll not hear it from me if that's what concerns you and that reminds me, how would you prefer I address you?"

"Addy," she answered before thinking. "I mean, between you and I, please call me Addy. Matthias has his claim, but..." her expression darkened as she spoke, "if I'm to make it through this with my sanity intact I wouldn't be sad to have someone refer to me by my first name instead of the constant reminder of who I'm legally bound to." She paused a second before adding, "And how would you prefer to be addressed?"

"Oh, I'm Teague," he said at once. "And Addy it is. Now I know there are those that are more ... malleable shall we say ... when the formalities are observed but if we're talking about individual preference, I'm good on a first name basis." He paused a moment. "I'll make sure that we're back here in ... six months you said?"

"A bit less than that. And it's Sweethome I need to be on, so if you'll be dropping me back here then probably safer to say five months so I can get transport on," Addy sighed, her gut clenching. "Perhaps circumstances will change before then, but I'm aiming to be prepared." The last part was said more quietly, a bit of a haunted expression on her face as she tried to convince herself of it.

"Then we'll go to Sweethome," Teague said. "While you're on the ship and part of the crew, I've a responsibility to see to your safety. Matthias Stone has a bit of a reputation. Enough that I'd heard of him before Poe contacted me."

A complicated set of emotions flashed across Addy's face at Teague's admission. "I see," she said softly. For a moment hope was such a bright painful thing that she was tempted to put her hand to her chest where it had begun to feel tight. If Teague had heard of him maybe Poe would come back to her before she had to face the reality of Matthias's hands on her body again. "Thank you. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. I truly cannot."

Teague nodded as he reached for another box. "Let me know if anyone bothers you." He straightened and paused, looking at her, practically radiating damage, and held back no less than thirteen things he had thought to say because now just wasn't the time. Instead, with the smoothness of someone who had spent his life on the streets, managing difficult situations, he shifted the conversation onto another track entirely. "Between now and then, your responsibility is keeping this ship flying. Not made of money but I don't want to be on the drift either. So, if something goes wrong, or needs replacing, let me know and I'll shake the supply lines. See what falls out."

If Addy was surprised or at all jarred by the change of subject she didn't let on. Instead she followed the shift smoothly, setting aside the well of grief that was threatening her--Quinn's departure to new a wound with no time yet to scar even if it was only meant to be temporary.

"Absolutely," she agreed, tucking her thumbs in the pockets of her coveralls and half shrugging her shoulders. "If I see even a whisper of something to be concerned about you'll be sure to know. For now, though, she's purring like a kitten." There was real pride in the redhead's voice, and a quieter echo of it on her face. The future may have been unclear, but one thing was sure and certain--her hands had not failed her yet. Glancing at the box in Teague's hands she added, "Need any help with those?"

"Thank you but no," Teague said as he opened the hatch. "Was there anything else ... Addy?"

Hair swinging with the motion, Addy shook her head. "No, s... Teague. That was it." She smiled at him, though there was some effort before the expression reached her eyes. "I'll just be off to do a check of things. Make sure we're ready for take off." She turned to go then, pausing only briefly after a few steps to throw back over her shoulder. "Welcome aboard."

 

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