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Reflections In a Dirty Glass

Posted on Fri Jun 24th, 2022 @ 11:10pm by Quinlan Barrett Poe

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

Today had been a good day. No ruffled feathers, no snide remarks. Everyone calm and as the day wound down, a sort of peace had settled over the ship. And so, Poe took cleanup upon himself and released the others to their individual pursuits because he needed to ponder a bit. Because menial chores were good for that sort of thing.

Wash dishes.

All but the teacups Henry and Addy were using while they sat at a table, talking about old times, happy times, and smiling a lot. She did that a lot around him. Poe noticed. The smiles, the casual touches, the sudden giggles. It was in his nature, forged by years of training and trauma, to notice everything around him. Didn't mean he commented on every little thing, but he noticed.

Addy smiled and Henry answered her smile with one of his own -- and it was natural somehow. They were natural together and the smiles, he knew, grew out of memories that didn't involve moonshine fumes or the search for someplace safe to sleep. Not a perfect past but with moments you could laugh about.

Had he had any of those? Yes, some. Win and Quinn. Brothers together, they had found ways to have fun. And with his grandparents, more than a few. But to share them? Anyone who had been there was dead at the Alliance's hands. He couldn't imagine leaning his head towards someone else's and giggling, the way she was doing now, and saying 'what about when ...'

Was he jealous of Henry? No. But of having a history you could share with someone? Definitely. He found it hard to imagine a store of peaceable memories without confrontation or the threat of violence or professional payment; and more than that, of there being people in your life who knew you back before the Alliance had taken away the little good there was to be had. Back before they'd made it impossible for him not to fight.

Maybe that had been what was so maddening about having Ashe on board. She spied for the Alliance. Okay. It was war and bad things happened. But to come to his ship? To be a part of his crew and then, to sequester herself in the cockpit. Why had she come? It was a question he might never get an answer to but he had felt her judgement like eyes on the back of his neck. Something not right there and so, to be fair, he had spread the word among his contacts about who she said she was and who she had been back during the war.

Dishes washed; dishes dried.
Time to move on.

He wiped down countertops and left them to their memories. Left Ashe to whatever game she was running. Not his concern and self-pity weren't for him. Never had been. He had survived everything his life threw at him and carved out a place where peace was at least a possibility. And if there were no memories to share over tea at this point in his life, that didn't mean there wouldn't be someday. He could wait.

Countertops wiped down, he moved onto mopping the floor. He was patient by nature, watchful, and that was all the days of his life teaching him how to be. For now, it was enough that he had a place that was his. Something that moved so it would be harder to hit. Maybe someday, he'd revisit the dreams he once had a child. But that day wasn't today.

Floor mopped, kitchen clean.
Time to move on ...

... to the next thing that needed doing, the next problem, the next chore. Because that's what there was. Fixing what he could, living with what he couldn't.

Today wasn't the day for dreams.
And so, Poe turned out the kitchen light and walked out.


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