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Rose Colored Glasses

Posted on Fri Jun 24th, 2022 @ 11:07pm by Addy Weysmith & Henry Campbell

Mission: The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Dining Room, Xiao Jin
Timeline: Mission Day 26 at 2000

If Addy had to rank which parts of the Xiao Jin she liked best the ranking would go like this: the bunk that she shared with Quinn, the engine room, and the dining room. Seemed she spent most of her time between the three places as it was, but of the three the dining room was the most open for that reason alone she enjoyed sitting up and interacting with people. The crew on this leg of the trip seemed more at ease to her. Or maybe it was just that she was more at ease. It wasn't real clear which was which. Either way they talked more and she made a point to spend a bit of time after dinner in the dining room either participating in a game of cards or chatting. Maybe reading a book if folks were quiet, or going over the day's happenings with Quinn. And, wherever possible, she made sure to spend a few minutes with Henry, soaking up the familiarity of him and the comfort of a bit of Sweethome here on the ship even if only for a moment.

"I think we scarred Peter for life there," she was commenting, half full mug of tea gesturing at Henry as she laughed. "Didn't know what he was walking into."

"Peter was kind of full of himself back in those days," Henry said. He also had a cup of tea in front him because that's what you did in the evening on Sweethome. After the chores, after the meal, when the house was quieting down, you sat over tea and talked. "He had all these," he waived his hands around as he searched for a word, "...ideas ... about how things should be. And you and me? There? That sure wasn't one of them. Remember how he puffed himself up. Thought his buttons were going to pop clear off."

Addy's laughter was like the clear peel of a bell at that. "I thought he was near on ready to try and deck you in all of his 16-year-old glory," she said an image of her brother at that age floating to the top of her memory. "He was all long limbs and ropy farm kid muscles and would have been as liable to trip over his feet as he would have been to actual hit you. I swear he thought you were taking advantage or something. But that look... the utter mortification as my explanation sunk in..." Giggles overtook her again until she paused doing her best approximation of the face Peter had made once he realized that her honor didn't really need defending.

Henry nodded, not laughing exactly but there was merriment kindling in the depths of his peaceful gaze, as he took a sip of his tea. "Told him he would have made a proper spy with the way he could sneak up on a body. Never saw anyone move as quiet as that kid when he thought there was something to sniff out."

Laughter trailing off, Addy nodded. "I remember," she said. "He was so proud of that comment." Teacup coming to her lips she sipped slowly as her mind trended elsewhere. That had been around the same time she'd heard Alice Hanson's name first mentioned and she wondered at it now. "Wonder if he ever did try to make a go of things with Alice Hanson under my Daddy's nose. I'm guessing not from what you said. Seems a shame, though."

"Not from what I heard," Henry said, "but I don't exactly hear everything that's going on either. She seems content enough with her choice to remain alone. Not like she's pining at the window, hoping to see him, or anything like that." He shrugged lightly, patting her free hand lightly with one of his own. "Your Daddy ain't no secret around town, Addy. Everyone knows the price of getting interested in anyone in your family."

That thought darkened her gaze a moment eliminating any merriment entirely from her features. She offered him a weak smile, though, and flipped her hand under his so that she could wrap her fingers around his palm and squeeze once in appreciation for the comfort. It was a quick thing though before she pulled back to run her fingers through her hair in an absent agitated sort of motion. One long breath in and an equally long breath out later, though, and her expression cleared. "Ok," she said, some of the mirth returning to her eyes, "your turn. What memory most tickles your fancy from that time?"

"Well, there was that dress of yours, the one with all the ..." Henry widened his hands, searching for a way to describe that monstrosity, "...ribbons and such," he said. "You had saved up all your money to get it and then the cows got out ..."

"Oh bright heaven above," Addy exclaimed. "That dress!" The laughter returned to her voice. "I do not know what on earth I was thinking. It had to be the single ugliest thing ever made for the female form and yet I was so charmed by it." Despite her description her tone was fond. She had loved the thing despite its evident and multitudinous flaws. "I was so proud that day. Showing off that thing to you and thinking you'd just think I was the prettiest thing this side of Armindale. And you were so... gracious." She snorted a laugh. "Well you look mighty... fancy..." she said, mimicking Henry's voice and mannerisms before giggling. "The cows getting out were a mercy. The thing ripped the minute I had to actually move more than a few feet in it and the bows caught on the barbed wire fencing and..." she trailed off chuckling. "You know Juliet eventually came across a birds nest halfway made up of colorful satin bows?"

"I was never so grateful," Henry said, laughing in much the same way he had that night, with tears forming in his eyes, "for the fact that all I had to do was put on a suit jacket. And I tried to stop you and all. Told you I'd chase down the cows but noooo, there you went, frippery flying after you, screeching at those cows."

"I didn't want to lose any!" She exclaimed in her defense through her laughter. "Cows are gorram expensive creatures. Can't afford to lose a single one. And if they'd gotten into the Stones corn." She let out a sort of relieved whistle. "Woulda cost an awful lot more than the loss of that dress."

"And there's your field, bordering the barn where the social was, and Mr. Stone himself standing in the doorway, helpless with laughter," Henry said, chuckling softly. "We could all hear you, you know, yelling about how they were your responsibility and all. So, Mrs. Stone sent her boys to the edge of their corn with instructions to head the cows off if they came that way but to do it sneaky like so's you wouldn't know."

"Ha." The laugh was short. "Matthias Stone couldn't do that though. Had to make sure I knew it was him and managed to cover me in mud in the process. He never was subtle." The laughter subsided then and she looked over at him. "And you were such a gentleman through the whole thing. Gave me your jacket and walked me home slow like. I seem to recall we spent the rest of that social on my porch swing."

"That was my recollection as well," Henry said. "And your Ma turning on the porch light right when I was inching closer to where you sat." He shook his head lightly. "Near jumped off the swing, I moved back so quickly."

"Skies, I remember that. Your whole face changed color too." She grinned. "You got your kiss by the end of that night though. Walked you to your truck and made some excuse to check on the side furthest from the house. I was covered in dried mud and torn up satin ribbons crouched down next to a perfectly good tire and somehow you didn't mind."

"I didn't mind," he said softly, his expression turning gentle and warm. "You were worth waiting for."

"Well now you're just flattering me," she protested, though it didn't hold the bite of any kind of seriousness. The memories of those months being courted by Henry were some of the most carefree she could remember and recalling them warmed her now. "We did have some fun though, didn't we?"

He smiled his answer, a gentle swell that rolled across his face, bringing with it a tide of memories and a warmth that seemed to light him up from inside. He smiled and remembered.

 

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