#Mallory'sHomestead – August 15, 2019

Mallory gives a quiet snicker, leaning a bit heavier against her hand. "Yeah..." she muses a bit wistfully, "...It was a wild time. Exciting. Terrifying." she admits with a quick chuckle. "People all over, just tryin' to find their place in the galaxy." After a moment's consideration she shrugs her shoulders, "Suppose not much has changed in that regard. That's life in a nutshell, right? Just-... goin' about our business and tryin' to find

our place in everything. Where we can carve out that little corner to belong in. Of course for the corporations it was about money- not much has changed in that regard, either-..." she casts a knowing glance Yan Sun's way, as if that much should be obvious. "Always is. But, for the rest of us?" She gives a few fond nods of her head, "It was about gettin' out here and seein' what the galaxy had to offer. Endless possibilities and

adventure. And-..." she gives a coy little shrug, shoulders rising and chin bouncing against the palm of her hand, "...maybe making a few credits along the way."

Jessica continues to fork through her food, gaze fixed to her plate as she listens in silence. Perhaps it's the old woman's candid demeanor. Or maybe the way she speaks with such familiarity. Perhaps it's just the context. Leaving your life behind. Starting over. Whatever it is, it seems to ease her up enough to encourage her to join in. "You were not scared about leaving your home?" she asks, tilting her gaze towards Mallory

inquisitively.

Yan Sun listens silently as Mallory speaks, sipping her coffee just to have something to do with her hands. The talk about the corporations bring out a quiet snort and faint nod, but her rest of her words draw out a growing smile, and inevitably makes her reflect on her own journey. Seeing what the galaxy had to offer. Finding somewhere to belong. She has no more of an idea where her travels are taking her now than she did when she

first set out, but that has never bothered her. Her instincts have served her well so far, even if more than one person has thought her reckless. If there was anything that worried her it was going back home. She doesn't want to get stuck on Earth. Get lost in the past. She wants to focus on the future. Setting out might just be the best choice she's ever made as far as she's concerned. Seeing the Citadel? An uncharted world?

And... meeting Jessica. Coming to Aite. Definitely hadn't planned for that. And it was probably a little crazy. They'd barely known each other when she decided to stick around on Aite. It feels much longer ago than it is. So much has happened since then. It had caught her off-guard, how quickly she came to care so much. And... now she wasn't travelling alone anymore. Somewhere amid her thoughts, her gaze shifts to Jessica,

her smile changing in nature as she studies her. Turning softer, more personal.

Mallory gives a snort. "Of course I was!" she says as if it's the most natural thing in the world so there's no use denying it. "Flyin' half way across the galaxy on a ship full of people I barely knew to a planet I had never heard of with little more than a twinkle in my eye and the clothes on my back? You're damn right I was scared." She has a quick laugh at her own expense before drawing in a breath. "But I had been a drifter for most of

my life. Traveled all over Earth. So-... what is 'home' to someone like me, right? A warm place to lay your head?" she lifts her chin from her hand to give a dismissive little wave, "It wasn't like I couldn't find that out here. Had the people I loved with me and the opportunity for an experience of a lifetime." she shrugs, "What more could you ask for, right? Besides, I already had a lifetime behind me by then. Guess I figured

that maybe it was a chance for my Annie to carve out a corner for herself, too..." Her smile falters, if only for a moment, but she's quick to sweep aside whatever pained thoughts might be knocking at her door.

Jessica gives a few small, distant nods as she takes a few moments to process the older woman's words. "...Maybe home is a 'who', mmm?" she posits, a sentiment she's repeated before, "Not a 'where'?" The thought causes her to shift her focus to Yan Sun. But when she sees Yan Sun looking back her gaze bounces to Mallory, as if worried that eye contact might be enough to expose that flutter in her chest.

Mallory actually looks a bit surprised at the unsolicited wisdom, a fact that's reflected in the way her small smile brightens. "I like that. I might have to steal it." she says, making no comment on the looks being exchanged that don't pass by unnoticed.

Yan Sun grows a little distracted from the conversation as her gaze lingers on Jessica's face, her smile widening a little when it becomes obvious that Mallory's words have softened her guard a bit. The voicing of the by-now familiar sentiment only causes her smile to grow again, the brief glance that follows drawing out a quiet, slightly goofy laugh, barely heard as she exhales. Her hand once again seeks out Jessica's knee under the

table as her attention turns back to Mallory. "It's good." she agrees with slight nod.

Jessica has a hint of a lingering grin when Mallory comments on her 'wisdom'. The hand that rests on her knee causes her lips to pull into a full on smile that she's quick to conceal by sucking in her lips. Her right hand once again drops beneath the table, resting on her thigh for a moment before lifting to brush scarred fingertips along the underside of Yan Sun's arm, tracing down towards her hand. "You do not ever want to go

back...?" she asks as she gives Yan Sun's hand a squeeze.

Mallory merely watches the pair for a few moments, pulling a deep breath in through her nose as she considers Jessica's question. "No..." she decides with a shake of her head, "...No, I don't suppose I do. My days of runnin' around are behind me, I think." she snickers. "Besides, this is where my boys are. It's where my-..." she pulls in another breath as she sits up straighter, as if to take the sting out of her words, "...Annie is buried.

My grandkids. Charles. One day Trace and Mal will put me in the same ground under that big, beautiful orb in the sky." Despite the implications, it only seems to strengthen her smile. "Took the greater part of my life. Whole lot of heartache, too." she admits with a small nod, "But... I think I finally found the right corner to just... settle down and start carvin'." A soft snicker escapes her and she finds herself looking over the

room and all of the love that has went into it. Into her home.

Yan Sun 's gaze falls as Mallory speaks, not quite able to face her while she talks about the dead. She hasn't had to face much loss in her life. She never quite knows how to respond to such things. The final comment causes her to follow Mallory's gaze around the room, a small, slightly tentative smile resurfacing. "It's a nice corner." she says quietly. It's definitely not the kind of place she could imagine living in - she'd go

crazy out here. But the wilderness is beautiful, and it's not hard to tell that a lot of love has gone into the house. And it's where her family is. The smile slips from her lips as she goes quiet, glancing out a window into the dark outside instead.

Mallory tilts her head slightly as she continues to assess her home. "It sure is." she agrees softly. There's pride in her words despite the meager life she seems to live. It's far from a penthouse in Hong Kong, that's for sure. Everything she and those around her owns could probably be purchased by Yan Sun's father's pocket change. But it's built on a foundation far more important than credits.

Jessica's gaze turns low, settling on her food as Mallory mentions those she's lost. It's such a stark contrast to her own situation despite so many glaring similarities. The softness she speaks with, like it's just a chapter of her life that has long since closed. That sort of peace seems so... far away. Maybe it will always be out of reach so long as Cross continues to breathe and those she loved continue to rot in some mass grave

beneath a tacky statue in the middle of nowhere. Just the thought alone causes a bit of anger to bubble up in her chest that she's quick to swallow and temper by adjusting her hold on Yan Sun's hand. She finds herself unable to say much in response. What can she say? Instead, she pokes a forkful of food into her mouth. "Is much better than your shitty noodles, kitty cat." she says, gesturing towards her plate of food with

the fork clutched in her left hand.

Yan Sun 's hand shifts a little, catching a few of Jessica's fingers between her own. The comment tears her away from increasingly distant thoughts, glancing her way with a smirk. "You don't want me to try real cooking, trust me." she says with a quiet snicker. Her gaze darts over to Mallory and she adds "It was really good though. Thanks again." before adjusting the position of the fork a bit on her empty plate.

It's begun to grow late by the time their meal is finished and small talk has started to wind down, so Mallory shows them to the room they'll be staying in. As they walk through the house, it becomes obvious that they've put a lot of work into it. Gone are the cold, impersonal, plastic walls of the prefab, covered by wood paneling and more knick-knacks and wood carvings decorate the rest of the house and photos line the hall that runs through

the center of the building. Mallory confirms that they did all of the work themselves. This house is a good bit larger than the prefab that Jessica & Yan Sun stayed in a few night's ago, more than likely specifically designed to accommodate them back when they first arrived. But, as their family grew, so, too, did the house, hence the front addition. The room they're staying in is near the back of the house. A large bed topped with a pillows and

a thick, flower-print comforter is in the center of the room with a nightstand on each side. A dresser, desk with a chair, and an older-model mounted screen on the wall make up the rest of the room's simple furnishings. The floor is covered by a thick, shaggy beige carpet that matches nicely with the wood motif throughout the house. There's pictures on the nightstand of a man and a woman who look to be in their 30s. The same couple is seen in

many photos throughout the house. Likely Mallory's daughter and her husband.

Mallory remains just inside of the room, giving it a quick once over as she prepares to take her leave. "Bathroom is-..." she gestures over towards the door across the hall, visible through the bedroom's open door, "...just across the way." Her voice is quieter. Almost a whisper, as if by habit given how late it is. "Towels are on the shelf just to the left when you enter if you decide on takin' showers." There's a short pause as she decides

whether to say what's on her mind. She doesn't strike as the sort to pull her punches so, as tends to be the case, she does. "You could use one." she admits, crinkling up her nose as if to imply they're a bit ripe.

Jessica slumps their bags down onto the floor beside the bed, merely nodding to Mallory's instructions. The implication that they stink causes her to give a small, sincere nod towards Yan Sun. "Is her. She smells like shit." she says, instinctively matching Mallory's volume despite the three of them being the only ones in the small house.

Yan Sun seems a little fascinated by the quaint, largely handcrafted house. It's almost as alien to her as the Citadel was. Her hand brushes across the wood paneling as she listens to Mallory speak, studying the carpet and the bed with a small smirk. Her gaze has not yet fallen on the photograph. The final remark, and Jessica's addition, causes a snort of laughter. "Probably a good idea." she agrees as she turns to face their host,

not bothering to acknowledge the insult tossed her way.

Mallory puts on a small smile as she meets Jessica's gaze. "You both smell like shit." she says flatly as she takes a step back through the door. She gives one last glance about, as if trying to make sure there's nothing else worth mentioning before abandoning her guests. "Remote for the screen is-..." she nods towards a small device on the dresser, "...right over there if ya wanna watch some TV. Signal out here ain't great, but it gets

the job done." She pulls in another breath with one last cursory glance before nodding to herself. "Well, suppose I'll leave you to it. Us old bitches gotta get our rest." she says, looking to Jessica when she does before taking her leave with a soft: "G'night."

Jessica furrows her brow at Mallory's comment, nostrils flaring as she tries to stealthily sniff the air to see if she stinks. The final comment gets a small smile out of her and a hummed, "Mmm." in response. She watches the doorway for a few moments after the old woman has disappeared out of sight before lazily thrusting an arm up in the air to try and shove her armpit into Yan Sun's face.

Yan Sun lets out an amused snort at Mallory's final comment to Jessica, calling out a "Goodnight!", smile still on her face as she turns towards Jessica only to get a face-full of stinky armpit. "Pffuckoff!" she exclaims as she shoves shoves her away with a laugh, pretty obviously in good spirits.

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