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Posted on Thu Apr 28th, 2022 @ 9:24pm by Addy Stone & Quinlan Barrett Poe

Mission: Ship Life
Location: Cargo Bay, Xiao Jin
Timeline: Mission Day 19 at 0800

Poe was hanging from a bar which was in turn hanging from the underside of the catwalk. There was enough room that he could hook his knees over it and do pullups but for now, he was doing chin-ups. Knees bent, feet crossed at the ankles, he pulled himself smoothly up and then lowered himself again, all while keeping an eye on Addy. "One more," Poe said as he studied her prone form.

They had been at it for an hour, long enough for her to build up a sweat. The floor of the cargo bay was unforgiving, but she had made a rule for herself over the last several days. While they were working, she didn't complain. If he said one more--and he said it often--she could groan inwardly and imagine any number of retorts, but none of them ever crossed her lips. At that moment her booted feet were tucked under a crate, toes held flat to the ground. She grit her teeth and, breathing the way he taught her, tensed her abdomen pulling herself up until she could tuck her elbow across, touching her opposite knee. She held for just a moment before releasing and returning to the deck playing.

He'd learned the value of workouts back when he was a kid and came upon the idea of building muscle with the intention of making sure his Daddy never hit anyone ever again. Somewhere between the purpose and the rage, Poe found a sort of peace in the process. He made a point, during these sessions with her, to never be doing the same thing she was doing. Hard enough in the beginning without all of that. The past nine days had been all about conditioning, preparing her body for the more serious workouts to come and he wondered, as he completed his last set, if she had reached a point where she found peace in it as well.

"Time for pushups," he asked as he dropped lightly to the deck and walked over to her. "Yesterday was ten, I think. So, eleven today."

Pulling her toes free of the crate she rolled then hand walked herself out to full length until she was balancing on her toes and hands, body straight and tight, again the way he had shown her. It had been an interesting thing to discover that while she was in no way weak, wrangling horses and farm equipment didn't allow for it, the type of strength he was after was different. Still, push ups were so far her least favorite. She twisted her head to look at him, holding his gaze with a sort of tired determination before she dropped downward for the first pass. Inwardly she groused that they hadn't done these first. They were easier when you were fresh rather than an hour into things. Still the first few came readily enough even as her biceps and shoulders complained. It wasn't until the 8th that her arms started to shake, giving away more about how tired and sore she felt than she liked. Still, there was only so much you could hide and keeping quiet about it was plenty. No use worrying over what he might think watching her quiver, muscles bunching, as she did the work.

Callouses on her hands from the work she did was what saved her most from the deck plating at times like this. And she focused in on the pressure of the plating against her hands instead of the fatigue of her arms as she dipped into the 9th, 10th, and finally the 11th. The temptation to just collapse where she was, was high, but she bit it back, pushing up to her knees and then slowly getting to her feet until she was standing in front of him, arms crossed.

"What's next?" she asked--the same question she always asked until he told her she was done.

The crossed arms said a lot, he thought, but it didn't matter where the determination came from as long as it was there when it was needed. For himself, he would do a second workout later, a harder version, but for now, he walked over to stand beside her. "Cool down," he said and began moving through a series of stretches. The workouts themselves varied, day to day, so that she could never anticipate what was coming next, but the cool down was always exactly the same.

A breathed sigh was the only acknowledgement that she was relieved to stop. She dropped into position next to him, following him through each stretch. Stretching was something she found she thoroughly enjoyed; not just because it meant the session was nearing completion, but because it felt good. Sore muscles were tugged and massaged and worked. If she could pull it off, and she had only managed to do so twice so far, she'd stand slightly back from him so she could appreciate the view as well. She started from the top of her body, moving through stretches for neck and shoulders, arms and torso before dropping. Her breathing through the whole thing was controlled and counted, settling the racing of her heart.

The last forms were on the floor and she sat gratefully, pulling one foot in to brace on her knee while leaning over to snag her foot, tugging. There was a pull the whole way from the back of her heel all the way up to the base of her spine and she winced slightly as it spasmed--a muscle that would require more than just stretching to calm down.

If he had a church, this was probably it for him. A chance to step away from everything and shift his focus inward. The child of six had prayed; the man meditated. There was no need to concentrate on the moves, his body remembered the perfection of each one, and so, he could let his thoughts escape control. Soap bubbles sliding across the surface of his mind, drifting into and out of range. He tried not to engage, to give any of them attention, emptied for the moment of the worries and concerns and pressures of his life. And somehow, when he reached the last move, lying flat on his back, knees bent, palms against the deck plate, with his eyes closed, focused on just breathing, answers came. Because even when he emptied his conscious mind, his subconscious was hard at work.

Addy was settled next to him on the floor of the cargo bay. She'd finished the stretch long moments ago, but with this last stretch she always waited now until he was ready to move again. His movement, she had determined somewhere along the line, was the signal that she was freed from the session and with that free to relax her demeanor. Besides that, she wanted a shower. For good or ill she didn't love being sweaty. Never had all the years she'd spent doused in sweat from work on the farm. She turned her head to look over at him where he lay, eyes closed, and let herself stare a moment.

The moment didn't last. How could it ever? He got to his feet and set about restoring order to the cargo bay, not that much was left out. Still, it was one of the lessons you learned early living with other folk. Don't make your mess someone else's. And so, he cleaned up while his brain reengaged. Shower. Clothes. Food. The surface list but underneath were larger questions he wasn't quite ready to deal with as yet like Addy with some thug's gun to her head.

There wasn't much to clean up, but she followed Quinlan's lead and made sure things were neat and tidy before she moved over to him, sliding her hand into his. "What's in your head right now Quinn?" she asked. It felt like he'd withdrawn since he came back from the job on Ithendra. He was present, but some days he was more in his head then truly there with her and she found herself wishing she had some way to access that part of him.

He took her hand and pulled her close because this part of them at least still felt right and settled. "Just lining up things that need doing. Shower and food being at the top of my list."

She let herself be pulled in, settling against him for a moment before, with an exaggerated sniff, she said. "Definitely shower. You stink." Her tone was playful as she said it and she ducked out of his arms, grinning at him with mischief. "I know someone who can help with that..."

"Whereas I, being a gentleman and all of that, wasn't going to say a word about certain ... shall we say ... aromas," Poe said as he followed her. Showers were always welcome and still a luxury to his mind, having spent so many years washing in streams and creeks.

"What do you mean?" she asked, faux affront in her voice, "I smell like roses."

She left him at the top of their ladder, dipping down quickly and passing up towels and the like before climbing back up herself and then, grinning at him in a way that should have warned him what she was thinking there and then, she snagged his hand and drug him toward the shared washroom.

Blessedly the space with it's dual shower stalls was empty. With a smooth movement she whirled behind him and flipped the latch before turning back around and tilting her head at him. "So..." she said, drawing the word out like a question.

He'd been pulling off his shirt when she spoke and he stopped, wondering what fresh hell she was going to suggest now, possibly robbing banks together or joining one of those terrorists squads the vids were always going on about. "So," he repeated, his voice rising at the end of the word to turn it into a question.

She looked at him like maybe he'd grown a second head and then rolled her eyes, stepping up to him and helping him out of the shirt he was halfway through pulling off. "So the door is locked and we're alone, and there are other ways to clear a person's mind..." She trailed off again, but this time she stepped back away from him and crossing her arms over themselves pulled her tank top up over her head and tucked it over a towel bar. "You did say anywhere except the dining area."

With comprehension came a slow, seductive smile; he stripped off his clothes and moved in closer. "I did," he said, his deep voice rumbling with anticipated pleasure. "Let me help you ..."


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