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Polite Tea

Posted on Fri May 6th, 2022 @ 11:31am by Quinlan Barrett Poe & Ashe Sparrowhawk

Mission: The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Xiao Jin
Timeline: Mission Day 10 at 1230

The first morning after a late-night departure always had a strange feel to the air. The day-night cycle didn't mean much in space, not when one could just turn on or off the ship's lights at will, but Ashe thought, perhaps, that feeling was built in to humanity. People weren't originally meant to travel for days on end. They adapted, and they adapted well, but some primal part of her still wondered if she could go find a place to pitch a tent and rest when morning came. But she had something better to do than to sit around and idly wonder about tents:

She had to speak to Poe.

Ashe had spent the time, so far, flying the ship. She could gather from the intercoms that Poe was injured. But they had a medic, and no doubt Addy would be there by his side so Ashe would, if anything, have just gotten in the way. Her place was behind the controls of a ship. That didn't mean that she didn't care. Which is why she wanted to find Poe. Make sure that he was okay, now that everything had died down.

So Ashe made her way into the common areas of the ship, looking around for her captain.

Nearly fourteen hours of sleep had taken the edge off his exhaustion. And with Addy out and about, Poe dressed in a loose fitting pale gray Henley over dark gray cargo pants and went looking for a cup of tea. Not that he expected anything to be already made; no for that to happen, they'd need a full-time cook and if he had that kind of coin, the Xiao Jin's things-to-fix-when-there's-coin list would be considerably shorter than it was. And they still wouldn't have a cook. He set water on the stove to boil and went about gathering the tea things.

"Good morning," Ashe approached the captain. She grabbed a glass of water and sat down. She was never much one for tea or coffee, but catching Poe while it was brewing meant this might be a good time to talk. "How are you feeling? What happened?" She asked, taking a sip of the water.

"They had guards posted out at the original homestead," Poe said as he rinsed the pot with hot water, added a tea ball packed with his favorite, and poured water over it. "And one of them had a knife." He shrugged lightly as he waited for the tea to steep. "Other than that, it went well. From what I hear, Marion's been released from jail and already started divorce proceedings." He turned to look at her, head cocked slightly to one side, as the ghost of a memory flitted through his mind. Just an image of her sitting in the dining area, asking about things. He shook it off and said, "Would you like a cup of tea?"

"No, I'm good. I have water." Ashe gave a slight grin, glad to hear that whatever happened to Poe hadn't been too serious... or at least, if it had, he took it well. "I think I drank enough caffeine when I was younger to last me the rest of my life. Haven't had tea or coffee in years." She took another sip from her cup, as if talking about it reminded her to drink. "Where's Addy?" She asked, slightly surprised to not see the woman clinging to Poe's side like a magnet after what had happened. Maybe the girl had finally got a chance to rest. No doubt in Ashe's mind she stayed up worrying about him; Ashe didn't think that Addy was quite so hardened yet to all the dangers Poe might get into.

"Don't know," Poe answered as he poured himself a cup of tea and settled into a seat with a tired sigh. "She was gone by the time I woke up." He muffled a yawn. "Cannot imagine going without tea. Giving up coffee was hard enough but then, I guess, hardship helps. If we couldn't afford tea, I'd have to find another substitute but water? Not sure I could go quite that far."

"Water ain't my favorite, either." For a moment, her rim world accent slipped through. Hiding such an accent had become habit, and her middling, half-accented voice had become to sound as natural, no, even more natural to her than her childhood accent. "I vote we pick up some powdered lemonade or something for the ship's kitchen." She smiled, only half joking. "I never really enjoyed tea. But coffee? I didn't give that up willingly. Years ago, I ended up dating somebody to had to give up coffee due to health reasons, so I stopped drinking it too, in support. I know if I pick it up again, I'll become addicted so I just, well," Ashe shrugged. "I haven't."

"Add it to the shopping list," Poe said. He took a sip of tea, remembering as he did so the lean years when this had been the only luxury, and sighed with the pleasure of it. He'd spent the last three days drinking water when he could which made this taste all the better. "I'm not opposed to folks getting something they enjoy that isn't alcoholic. So how are you doing? Settling in alright?"

"I'm settling in fine." Ashe shrugged. "But I'm used to this kind of life." She was silently looking forward to lemonade. It brought back memories of back home, back on the ranch, where her family would have lemon trees along the front of the house. She had taught her daughter to make lemonade out of those same lemon trees. "Is the job of captain still treating you well? Even after getting stabbed?" She gave a slight joke.

It was kind of her way, he noticed. Bounce things back as soon as she could. Give only what was necessary. And that was part of captaining his own boat. Understanding the individuals who made up the crew. Finding the mix that worked. Where the problems were, actual or potential, strengths and all. He took a sip of tea and considered the answer and that took a minute or two. "Yes," he said at last. "I've done what needed to be done for as long as I can remember. Its better this way. As for the knife, well," he dropped his gaze to his bandaged forearm, a raised outline under his sleeve, and shrugged. "Didn't cut him but I did keep his knife." His gaze turned wintry for a second and then cleared. "He cussed a bit and I promised that if he came looking, he could have it back." Poe cocked his head slightly to one side. "He got a bit quiet after that. Maybe he didn't care all that much about the knife after all."

Despite what Poe thought, this was Ashe's way of being open. She had started enough jobs that she genuinely did not think of her settling in as interesting. "Well, I'm glad you are alright. Did the Shepherd fix you up?" She asked. She was aware of some of the animosity between Poe and the Shepherd - at least, if that first dinner was any example. Still, Ashe liked the woman well enough.

"Needed some work," Poe said, nodding, as his gray gaze turning automatically to his left forearm and the bandaged cut hidden beneath his shirt. "Stitches should be out before we reach Boros." For all that they fussed when he came in, Poe thought the wound to be a minor one at least when stacked up against all his other injuries over the years. Best, he thought, not to mention that to Addy or the Shepherd. "Minor really but thank you anyways." He cocked his head slightly to one side, mentally tracking back through the conversation. "How did you settle on lemonade? Not the cheapest or easiest thing to find these days, especially out here on the rim."

"It's not the most expensive, either." Ashe shrugged. "The ranch I grew up on had some lemon trees. My siblings and I would make lemonade. We weren't really rich enough to import drinks from off planet, and we were too young for whiskey," she chuckled. "So our choices were lemonade, milk or water. Lemonade is a hell of a lot cheaper than goat milk, at least."

"I didn't have anything but water until I was a teenager then it was tea, cold and sweet in the summer or hot in the winter, and on rare occasions, hot chocolate, usually associated with celebrations. Birthdays, community events, and the like."

Ashe nodded. "Hot chocolate... I do like hot chocolate. Whenever it's winter on my home world I try to send them back some hot chocolate. That wasn't something I got to experience much of as a child, either." And something she hoped her family got to experience more of now, thanks to her job.

"You have family back home," Poe asked. He took a long sip of tea and tried to remember where it was that she said she hailed from. "Tell me about them?"

"It's a big family," she shrugged. "I come from Lazarus. It's a farming planet. We all lived together. My parents, my aunt, a couple cousins, I got four brothers and two sisters who still live on the farm. Plus a pair of sister in laws. And some nephews; just heard about a new niece, but I haven't met her yet." Ashe paused, thinking about whether or not to mention her daughter. She decided against it. This crew seemed friendly enough, but a big reason she didn't mention Bella was because she was afraid for her safety and Poe's recent stabbing didn't give her the impression that the crew was exactly without enemies.

"Good that you have family back home," Poe said as he took another long sip of tea. "Been to Lazarus a time or two. If I hear of a job in that neck of the woods, I'll be sure to take it on. Give you a chance to visit for a bit."

Ashe shrugged. The draw of wanting to seeing her family balanced out with the desire to keep her family away from this ship's danger, leaving her ambivalent about visiting. "It's a nice little planet. Well, moon, technically." Ashe took another drink of her water.

"Well," he said, as he finished his tea and set about cleaning up after himself. He had lived by his instincts a long while and his were nudging him strong. Figuring that retreat was the better option, he tipped an imaginary hat, one of those habits he picked up and used on certain folk, "I have a few things to do of the not very active variety."

"Get some rest." Ashe nodded. She sensed that something was off in the man's last response, but she didn't push. She had come down here to see if he was okay, and he was. That was what mattered. Although Poe did seem friendlier this conversation, Ashe still got the impression that the only person in the crew he actually wanted to talk to was Addy. "I'll be heading back up to the cockpit, I guess."

He nodded and headed back toward his quarters. Strangers as crewmates were a puzzle at times and Ashe was no exception. She gave as little as possible and made her reluctance to engage in any meaningful way clear to anyone who had the wit to look. That kind of guarding meant some sort of trouble in her past though he had no clue what it was. He hoped that it wasn't the sort to bring trouble to the ship and that one day, she would realize that he was neither an enemy nor a thug. Still, that sort of thing was best not forced, and he resolved to keep their interactions polite but distant. Sometimes that was for the best.


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