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Posted on Thu Feb 3rd, 2022 @ 4:31pm by Addy Stone & Shepherd Harley
Edited on on Tue Apr 26th, 2022 @ 10:04pm

Mission: The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Infirmary, Xiao Jin
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1130

Sula was amazed at how boring space travel was. Other than during the war, she had not done it. And, during the war, the only thing that she felt was trepidation at what might occur and the concern for those that she might lose. Now that there was no urgency, she could sense little but a sense of malaise. The stars, for the most part, all looked the same. She was not the pilot, so she could not help with that. Even so, she had to wonder exactly how much the pilot had to do. After all, space was so vast, the chance of hitting anything was likely infinitesimal.

Other than assisting with the cooking and cleaning, the only thing she had to do was to organize the medical area. So, that was what she was doing: organizing. In an emergency, it would be important to know where everything was. Whoever was here before did not seem to understand that as supplies were haphazardly strewn about the draws and cabinets. She sighed disconsolately, hoping that the future held the answers she sought.

Addy had been all over the workings of the ship the prior day, familiarizing and learning as much as she could without actually taking anything apart. She's stayed mostly to the working areas though and hadn't ventured into many other parts of the ship. One, in particular, stood out like a sore thumb. The ship might not have needed the infirmary to fly, but her engine was most certainly powering it and so, she had settled on that as the next stop on her tour.

She had nearly turned around when she realized that Sula was in the space working. She didn't mind the Shepherd, but she was having a hard time getting a handle on the woman. Her gut still said she was harmless, perhaps even in need of some help. But Quinlan's reaction to her seemed to fly against her instinct and so she found herself a bit muddled. Instead of turning, though, she lingered in the doorway, watching a moment before clearing her throat.

Lost in her thoughts, Sula had no idea that Addy was behind her. Thankfully, Addy had the courtesy only to clear her throat. Otherwise, she might have jumped a mile. Turning to face Addy, Sula gave Addy a grateful but wan smile. "You're like a cat, did you know that?"

The redheaded woman's eyes widened slightly, expression turning slightly comical. "Don't know as I've ever been compared to a cat before," she said with a small laugh in her voice. "Sorry to disturb you. I've been mapping out the workings of the ship and haven't been down here yet. I can come back later if you'd rather work in peace."

"No, no, no. You're no disturbance." Sula patted the hospital bed twice with a noticeable thud each time. "Come. Sit. I actually was thinking about getting around to talk to you more anyways. Our first conversation was cut short." She gave a small, wistful half-smile. "And, frankly, while a Firefly ship is not supposedly big, I probably could use a map myself. It is very different than what I am used to."

Addy hesitated at the door, uncertain about the bed, but eventually giving in and doing as she was told. Coming around to the side she hoisted herself up, legs dangling over the edge and boots bumping against the bottom. She hunched forward, her hands curling around the edges of the bed. "Finding anything broken in here I should know about? Or missing, I suppose... that needs repairing when we stop. So far best I've done is oil squeaky doors."

"Mostly, what I've found is disorganization," Sula responded with an apologetic shrug. "I'll make sure to let you know if there is anything that could use repair." Sula found a chair in the corner and pulled it up towards the bed with a brump-brump-squeal-brump noise as she dragged it closer to Addy and sitting in it. "Are you alright?" she asked, noticing Addy's hunched posture. "Is something bothering you?"

"Hmmm?" Addy asked, self-consciously, not following the Shepherd's question out of the gate before she realized the woman was looking her over. She straightened quickly, crossing her hands awkwardly over her abdomen, not sure where to go with them. "Oh... no... I'm fine, just... don't often find myself on this side of the doctoring. It's been... a while since I've needed someone with a trained healer's touch to be involved. My Mama's a fair hand with the common things."

A small burst of laughter erupted from Sula. "I'm sorry. I did not mean to make you uncomfortable. I'm not going to check you out today...." She let the words linger before she realized, maybe Addy needed help and rapidly added, "unless you think that you need it...." She put a hand to the side of Addy on the bed. "I just thought you might want to sit for a spell." Hesitating, she added, "So, we could talk, ya know?"

Addy's mouth formed into a small O of understanding, the expression slightly comical on her face. "Oh... umm... no... no, I'm fine on that front thank you. I promise if I'm in need of any doctoring you'll be the first person I look up." She offered the other woman a slightly awkward smile. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate what the woman could do so much as those sorts of things were kept aside for when needed back on Sweethome. If you weren't hurting, bleeding, knocked up, or something worse you didn't generally call on a doctor. You weathered it at home with the ministrations of family and hoped it didn't get worse.

Still finding it hard to know what to do with her hands she finally gave in and returned to her hunched position, eyes shifting sideways to the woman on the chair and then back down to her knees. "Did you have a subject in mind to discuss or just shooting the breeze?"

"A bit of both, if'n you don't mind," Sula responded bashfully. "It seems that you and the Captain share something special..." Sula started before turning away, not certain how to proceed further. She really did not want to talk about whatever might be going on between Poe and Addy but wanted to learn more about the Captain and why he seemed to be bothered by her.

Addy's expression held, a sort of pause as she considered how to respond. Was it really that obvious? Of course it was. Quinlan had picked up as though there was nigh on no time between the moment he'd returned to the war and the moment he'd told her she was still wanted. They'd barely spoken about the matter since, falling into a familiarity that made her ache with the ease of of it as quickly as she found herself afraid that it would disappear.

"We do," she said carefully. "It's..." She didn't know how to explain without giving the whole history. Little of what had happened that week made sense in her head. "I don't rightly know how to describe it really." Her brow creased lightly. "He's very important to me," she finally added.

"I think that I do," Sula replied softly and wistfully. The Shepherd tried hard not to think about Donovan and her loss or the mystery that brought her onto this ship. "Do you want to tell me how it began?"

Addy's expression turned wary. Another person asking after how she knew the Captain. It wasn't that it was a secret, but Quinlan's history was as much his to tell as anything else. Still, couldn't hurt to share a little bit. "Helped doctor him during the war. A lifetime ago," she said carefully. "And in another life might've been more than that, but 'twasn't how things worked during the war. So we never got that chance."

"I see," Sula answered, wondering if they now had that chance. Sula suspected that Addy wanted to take that chance. But, perhaps now was not the time to push that conversation. The war was difficult for everyone and this information confirmed that both Poe and Addy were both Browncoats. So, they were on the same side. That heartened her. So why is the Captain so different with me from others?

"Maybe you could tell me more about the Captain," Sula encouraged, taking her hand back from the bed and folding both of them neatly in her lap. "I'd like to know more about understand him."

"Not sure I am as much help there as you think. I'm figuring him out myself. He keeps his own counsel," she said carefully, "and he's experienced some things. But I don't know more than that. Just that I contributed to some of that wariness... without ever knowing."

"You?" Sula asked, sitting straight back up, her arms flinging to her sides. "How could you do anything to contribute wariness, Addy?" Her eyes were light but her face stern. "You're about as harmless as a ladybug, and as cute as one, too, under all that...." She waved her hands around Addy's body and the dirt, grease, and grime that the woman seemed to pick up from her work.

"That's sweet of you, Shepherd," Addy replied wryly, though her cheeks pinked slightly at the compliment. She was painfully aware of the grease and the coveralls she wore over a fitted grey tank. "'twasn't deliberate harm. And I've my own side of it to contend with as well. Sometimes it's those we think least capable who can cut us most deeply without even realizing the injury has happened."

The Shepherd sighed heavily, her eyes looking downward. "If it was not deliberate, then he should be able to forgive, and you, as well. That forgiveness and acceptance helps us to move forward and ultimately strengthens our bonds." Uncomfortably she chuckled lightly. Sula rose and put her right hand on Addy's left shoulder, as she said, "The known is always a better quality. Just trust me on that."

Sula pulled her hand off again as she gestured out the door. "All of this and your Captain, is new and thus, a mystery to me. I... I'm just going to have to get used to it."

Addy nodded, unsure what to do with the woman's touchiness. It wasn't that she minded it so much as she didn't know how best to react and didn't want to make the other woman any more uncomfortable than she already was. "'sall new to me too," Addy finally replied, taking a chance and reaching out to mirror the Shepherd's action, placing her hand on the other woman's shoulder. "We can sort it together. I think it's hard for Quinlan to trust. 'Twas a hard thing for him when I knew him before but not so much as it seems now. He's a good man, though. I've no doubt of that and neither should you. Give him some time."

"And yet he trusts you," Sula observed. "But patience, I am not Job, but I suppose I have a good deal of it. I just wonder why he took me on, given the way he reacts to me." She shook her head and smiled warmly at Addy. "Perhaps I should be thankin' you for that."

Addy's hand fell back to her lap along with her eyes. She mulled the Shepherd's comment a moment taking time to consider what she'd said before responding. "Long time ago I did something that gave him reason to trust me. And apparently I haven't spent that capital yet, so..." She shrugged, the move a self-conscious sort of thing with a quick pop of the shoulders and eyes still pinned to her lap. "I can't say for certain you're here 'cause of me, but I don't think it hurt you that I was there. And for whatever part I played you're welcome."

Softly, Sula asked, "Why are your eyes down, Addy?" She bent down to Addy's level. "You have a great soul. Let it shine."

The redhead lifted her gaze hesitantly. "Wasn't trying to hide per se, Shepherd. Just... it's easier to think through a complicated thing staring at my lap then it is making conversation. And Quinlan and I are very much a complicated thing." She offered the other woman a small smile. "Thank you, though, for the warm words and the kindness. The world can be a cold place and it's a treat to find warmth in a person."

She turned her head then looking around the room again. "Need help with anything in here?" she asked, curious. "I don't know as much as you, certainly, but I helped my mama nurse more souls than I can count anymore. I know the basics."

"Help?" Sula asked confused that anyone would suggest assisting her. "Um, it is good to know that you can assist. I hope that will never be needed," she confided in Addy. "I learned by necessity and...." She stopped and turned away, her long blonde hair swaying in front of her shoulders as she did so. "Well, let's just say that I hope that I'm not needed. Though, whoever put this place together did not consider where to put anything, such as what might be most needed in an emergency, being the most handy." She dared to look back over her shoulder, hair covering much of her face.

Unlike a moment before Addy's eyes were on the Shepherd, watching the shift in her behavior at the change in subject. This was what gave her pause about the woman. She seemed nice enough and clearly in need of... something... but she couldn't put her finger on the shift from open to closed that seemed to be such a quick change when it happened. "I meant help you organize now," she said carefully, "though should you have need of me if the time comes I'll help." She pressed her lips together a moment, eyebrows furrowing slightly.

"Shepherd, may I ask you something?" she said, tone careful, but still open; an invitation to trust.

"Of course," Sula responded as she turned fully to Addy, as she brushed some hair out of her face with her hand.

Addy worried her bottom lip for a moment, but didn't waver. "Sometimes, when you're talking with a body, you turn closed. You were warm and open and comfortable a second before and then... it's like watching windows shuttered. I don't know what makes you shut down that way, but... I'd be glad for you to trust that I won't cause you no harm on account of your past, whatever it might be. Would you think on that?"

Sula's eyes closed for a moment, trying to block out all the memories of the people she had failed. She opened them again after several moments have passed. "You're a good soul," Sula responded, her eyes opening and her lips forming a sad smile. "You too, could have been a shepherd, I suspect. I would not recommend it, though. I think the machines like you just as well."

Dark eyes watched the other woman's reaction and Addy's expression turned soft. Whatever it was, the Shepherd clearly found it painful to be reminded of. When the other woman finally responded Addy could only offer her a small nod of understanding. "That's not rightly an answer, Shepherd, but I don't expect you to trust me out the gate. I'm serious, though, about my suggestion. Think on it." With a quick half hop Addy left the medical bed where she'd been sitting and headed for the door, looking back over her shoulders before she left. "Still got some bits of the machinery to introduce myself to, but offer still stands for help organizing as well. See you later Shepherd." And with that she disappeared back into the bowels of the ship.

"Thank you, Addy," Sula called after Addy pleasantly. "I will look forward to seeing you soon."


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