#Traveler'sGorge – February 19, 2020

December 16th. Kirill remained at Amy's prefab until it seemed like she had her emotions under control before- with a promise that things would get better- he returned to the greenhouse to finish up a long day of work. The rest of the day passes quietly, Amy left to her own devices as the outpost continues to stir beyond her four walls. It's not until nearly 11PM that a soft thumping begins to sound just outside. The familiar sound of

chimes is carried on the wind for a few moments before another sound joins it. More thumping. Louder. Heavy and right outside Amy's prefab, as if something is banging up against the small building.

Amy took a while to get things back under control once the floodgates had opened. She didn't say a word until she pulled back, wiping the last of her tears on the sleeve of her fleece and offering an embarrassed apology, soon followed by a quiet thanks before Kirill left the prefab. Amy has remained indoors since, away from the eyes of the rest of the Gorge's inhabitants, despite a gnawing hunger that's only gotten worse as the

evening dragged on. As the usual ambient noise is interrupted by the unfamiliar thumping she's brought out from the thoughts that have kept her company for the last hours, sitting up in bed and glancing towards the door, and window. She hesitates for a couple of seconds before sliding out of bed, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear and running a hand under her chin, eliciting a faint grimace, before reluctantly heading

over to the door and opening it up to take a peek outside.

Paige is stood on a bucket just outside. In one hand she's gripping a small mounting bracket that's affixed to the front of Amy's prefab. Similar to those all around the outpost, a windchime is now hanging from the bracket, each small movement causing an assortment of jangles to sound out. Colorful bangles of all shapes and sizes hang from it. Bright blues and deep golds that are only just visible in the lowlight of the outpost. Paige

was in the process of haphazardly hammering on the end of the bracket in an attempt at crimping it closed to keep the windchime from coming loose when the door slides open and catches her offguard, causing her eyes to go wide. Hammer-weilding hand extended horizontally out to her side, she wiggles her arm in small, panicked circles in a desperate attempt at keeping her balance atop the small bucket as a sharp sound of sheer

panic escapes her. Thankfully, she manages to shift her momentum forward, causing the backside of the bucket to lift up momentarily, and ends up leaning against the prefab. A surprised snicker slips out, laced with embarrassment. "Well, there's my daily heart attack out of the way." she mutters, rolling her head against the prefab to look down at Amy, "Thanks for that."

Amy jerks as she's unexpectedly greeted by a panicking Paige upon opening door, eyes wide in surprise. "Gah!" There's a brief moment where her hands shoot up, hovering a little aimlessly as if she's wondering whether she should try to steady her, but as Paige manages to shift her momentum and steady herself against the wall she folds her arms loosely across her chest instead, a slightly flustered snicker of her own joining Paige's.

"Uhm... yeah, me too." she says while regaining her composure, carefully poking her head out to get a look at what she's actually doing. "Sorry... just... was hearing noise, and... yeah..." she offers, flashing a small, awkward smile. "Uhm... what are you...?" she asks, glancing up at the windchime.

Paige's expression softens, her embarrassment slipping away as she realizes just how ridiculous she must have looked. For the moment, however, she remains leaned against the prefab, tuque-covered head pressed against it for balance. Amy's question causes her eyes to shift to the windchime. "Oh!" she exclaims, "Gaz came by the greenhouse earlier and dropped this off for you. Probably should've talked with you first, but I-..." she

trails off, taking a moment on regaining her composure as she presses a gloved hand against the prefab to shakily straighten back up atop the bucket, gaze briefly turning down to make sure her footing is alright. Once secure in her footing, she looks Amy's way with a raise of her brows and a deep breath, "...thought maybe I'd surprise you." Her gaze shifts back to the windchime, then to Amy, then back to the windchime before

she does a little flourish with her hammer-brandishing hand, the movement stiff and stilted due to her shaky position atop the bucket. "Surprise!"

Amy seems a little unsure how to react at first, but Paige's explanation soon draws out a small smile. And if nothing else, her awkward flailing moments ago did a good job of cutting through Amy's discomfort over the day's events. The awkward little flourish that follows Paige's explanation actually draws out a quiet laugh, her smile widening as she studies the windchime for a moment. "Thanks..." she says, smile softening as her gaze

returns to Paige, only to drop away and flick across the small settlement as her brain decides to remind her of what happened in the afternoon, arms tightening a little around herself as she shifts a bit in response to the cold winter air.

It's that quiet part of the night. The soft glow of the lanterns that line the roads and the light that bleeds out from the nearby mess hall and the tents in the distance keeps the gorge from being pitch black. There's still a few people out and about- as there's always something that needs doing- but substantially fewer than one would find during the day.

Paige offers a small smile of her own, merely nodding in response to Amy's appreciation. She continues to study her, the discomfort that begins to settle in not going unnoticed. For a moment she just stares in awkward silence before realizing she doesn't have any more business atop this treacherous bucket and stepping down. She takes a moment to turn the bucket back rightside up and drop the hammer into it before collecting a pair of

small, tupperware containers she had stacked up beside the bucket. "I didn't see you at the mess hall for dinner so I figured you might be in need of a bite to eat." she offers with a small shrug, extending one of the two tupperware containers to Amy.

Amy 's attention is brought back as Paige steps off the bucket, her face lighting up at the sight of the tupperware container that's being presented to her. Her growling stomach answer before she has a chance to say anything, causing a bit of fresh embarrassment to cross her face as she nods and accepts the container. "Uhm... yeah. I-... yes. Definitely." she confirms, flashing a small smile.

Paige snickers softly as she hands off the container. "It's just leftover stew." she qualifies with another shrug, as if to warn that it's nothing worth getting her hopes up for. "It's always stew." she mutters before shrugging and correcting herself. "Well-... It's usually stew."

Amy lets out a quiet snort. "That's fine." she assures before her smile fades. Her gaze falls on the second container, eyebrows furrowing slightly. "Someone else skip out on dinner?" she asks, attention returning to Paige's face.

Paige shoots a glance down to the other tupperware container in her hand, a small snicker slipping out. "No. These arrrrrrrrrre-..." she brings her other hand to the lid, peeling it back slightly to give Amy a look inside as she draws out her words. A few dozen pale purple berries. Greshk. Her smile widens slightly as she snaps the lid back on, "...for you. After the crap day you had I felt like you could probably use a bit of a

pick-me-up." she explains as she extends that container towards Amy as well, making no attempt to tiptoe around the elephant in the room. She hastily jerks the container back however, brow furrowing slightly, "...But!" she warns gravely, "...There's conditions that come with it."

Amy is pretty obviously caught off-guard by this. There's a quiet, ambiguous noise as she lets out a breath, a little overwhelmed by the combined kindness of Kirill and Paige. She seems unsure what to say, but she's just started to reach for the second container when it's pulled back, a surprised snicker slipping out as she looks up at Paige again, eyebrows rising slightly. "Okay..." she says a little cautiously.

Paige cocks an eyebrow as she studies Amy. "Well, for starters, you have to invite me in before we freeze our asses off out here." she begins, practically inviting herself in, her gaze hardening into a brief glare as if silently judging Amy for not having done so up until this point. But it quickly softens. "And second... you're sharing." She gives a slight, challenging tilt of her head as if waiting to see if the terms of her deal

will be accepted.

Amy blinks, embarrassment taking hold as Paige shoots her a pointed glare. An apology is on the tip of her tongue, but it's quieted by the second condition, a smile crossing her lips instead. "Deal." she says, a faint snicker accompanying the word. She steps back, glancing around the small room before looking back towards Paige and gesturing her inside with a wave of the plastic container in her hand. The interior of the prefab looks

more or less the same as it has since Amy arrived. The hunting rifle is resting against one corner, and the packed up tent and bedroll sit along the wall. Thankfully all her equipment was unpacked before the ATV was reclaimed by her family - its unclear how much of what she still has is actually hers, technically. Her bag is there too, most of her things stuffed inside it. Her outerwear and toiletry bag currently rest on top of

it, although she shoves the latter down deeper into the bag as she passes it on her way to the bed, taking a seat on the edge of the mattress. An almost empty bottle of water sits on floor next to the bed.

Paige gives a snicker of her own as Amy accepts her conditions. "Oh!" she exclaims sharply, "And third, you return the containers to the mess hall in the morning!" she tries to slip in as Amy enters the prefab, nearly in a single breath. "And the spoon! We're missing twenty-two spoons. Can you believe that? Twenty-two!" she repeats, clearly unhappy with that number. "And nearly twice as many knives and forks! What in the hell is

everyone doing with-..." she trails off as she closes the door behind her and assesses the room with a quick glance around, her train of thought disrupted. "...Sure is cheerful in here." she offers sarcastically. "Jeeze. You know we've got extra odds and ends over in the storage building by the mess hall, right?" she asks, shooting a glance Amy's way. "The least you could do is get a little table. Maybe a couple of chairs for

when you have company." she explains, gesturing to the corner of the small prefab as she plans it out in her head.

Amy slips an "I will!" in amid Paige's cutlery-rant. The words that follow cause her embarrassment to resurface, gaze sweeping around the barren prefab. "I-... I didn't, actually. I guess it would be nice to have... a table." she admits. "If that's okay." She glances over to spot next to her on the bed, smoothing out the rumpled sheets. "Hope the bed's alright for right now." she says, shooting Paige an apologetic look over her lack

of... any other furniture.

Paige continues to study the room, hand moving to her hip as she begins placing a few items of furniture in her mind. "Hmm?" she hums, glancing back Amy's way. "Yeah. That's fine." she says dismissively as she steps over towards Amy. She takes a seat against the headboard, setting the container of berries between them before getting to work on removing her jacket. She's wearing a simple, off-white long-sleeved shirt underneath. "Don't

worry about it. We're gonna get you all set up." she continues as she rolls her jacket up and sets it to her side, shifting in place to bring one leg up onto the bed to better face Amy, careful to keep her boot off the bed. "Maybe I can swing by tomorrow after work and help you pick up a few things?" she offers as she pops a berry into her mouth.

Amy shifts a little to better face Paige, the plastic container resting in her lap as she pops the lid open. Starved as she is, she wastes no time in bringing the container closer and scooping up a spoonful of leftovers, leaving her mouth full as Paige speaks. Her words cause a surprised look to cross her face, and she awkwardly makes the universal gesture for 'Chewing, hold on!'. Once she's swallowed she flashes a small, appreciative

smile and nods. "That-... that'd be nice."

Paige gives a few small nods, a slight smile making an appearance that quickly dissolves as she picks at the berries. There's a short silence that follows as she lets Amy eat. It's probably no secret why she's here after that shitshow out in front of the greenhouse. This is that awkward, mandatory check-up after a bad experience. Where they're both supposed to dance around what happened while she tries to get a read on how Amy is

doing without making things uncomfortable. Keep it simple and subtle. "So your dad's a real asshole, huh?" Subtlety isn't exactly her strong suit.

Amy seems content to occupy herself with eating as silence descends, both because she hasn't eaten since lunch, and because it makes things less awkward. Paige's sudden comment causes her grip on the spoon to tighten, and she just barely avoids catapulting a spoonful of stew onto the bed. Her gaze locks onto what's left of her food as she lowers the container back into her lap, avoiding looking Paige's way. There's no response, she

just runs her thumb along the plastic edge, discomfort obvious on her face.

Paige shifts her weight to one hand that's pressed against the bed, gaze locked on to Amy until she realizes that she doesn't seem to have any intention of responding. She lets out a small sigh, gaze lowering to the container of berries. Another wave of silence settles in. "...Guessing all of-... of that is why you came here...?" she asks, peering up at Amy through her tuque-clad browline.

Amy doesn't respond immediately, still tracing the edge of the container, but then there's a nod of confirmation. She sucks in her lips, still looking down at the stew, spoon prodding idly at what's left of it, appetite failing her.

Paige gives a few small nods of her own. She once again begins to pick through the berries. The larger berries tend to be sweeter and those seem to be what she's mining for. "So did you-... umm-... did you always know...?" she asks, tilting her gaze back up to Amy. Lack of respect for Amy's privacy aside, there's an honest curiosity to her words.

Amy hasn't touched the berries yet since she still has a bit of stew left. When Paige speaks she can't help but look her way out of surprise, clearly caught off-guard by the question. "Wh-" She's quick to turn her gaze back down to the leftovers in her lap. There's a moment of silence as her mind races and she tries to make herself construct a reply instead of shutting down. "Uhm... I-I-... no. Not... not really." she offers, once

again pushing some food around. She looks on the verge of adding something else, but goes quiet instead.

Paige doesn't shy away from Amy's gaze when she looks her way, that sincere curiosity extending to the look in her eyes as she awaits an answer. She leans a bit heavier against her hand as Amy responds, tentative smile cropping up when Amy doesn't just shut her down. "So how long...?" she continues, seemingly unafraid to ask questions. She only allows a moment to pass before giving a small shake of her head, "...Shit. I mean-... you

don't have to answer. Obviously. I just-... If you don't want to talk about it, just say the word and-..." she brings a hand up to her mouth, pantomiming locking the key to her lips. While her hand is there, she takes the time to grab at one of her gloved fingers with her teeth and tug it free, setting it with her jacket so she can better get at the berries without making a mess.

Amy shifts a little uncomfortably, not looking all that eager to respond, but Paige's sudden addition actually seems to relax her a little, and she shoots another look her way, a faint, awkward smile briefly crossing her lips after studying her for a moment. "It's-... it's okay." she decides with a shrug. "I, uh... we drove into town once when I was fourteen. To trade. There, uhm... the place we stayed at had a public extranet

terminal." she explains, gaze going back to her leftovers yet again as embarrassment takes hold over speaking about this. "I... uhm... I'd never tried it before and I spent a lot of time on it and, uhm... and started searching and..." She hesitates, chewing on her lip as she stares at the spoon in her hand, discomfort only growing, but she doesn't stop, offering another little shrug as she continues. "...and, uhm... I-... I read

some things that-... that made me realize I wasn't the only one that... felt like this." she says, her voice turning very quiet on the last few words, gaze very briefly darting Paige's way again before shooting right back down. She's fidgeting even more now, rolling the spoon over repeatedly. She's immensely uncomfortable, unsure why she kept talking and waiting for some hint of judgement despite having been shown nothing but

kindness even after the events of the day.

Paige's gaze remains fixed on Amy as she listens to her story. There's no judgement to be seen on her face. Just absolute interest. She absently plucks another one of the pale berries from the container and pops it into her mouth without turning her eyes from Amy as she continues to listen. "Fourteen? Shit..." she offers softly. "That must've been-... a lot." Her own voice grows quiet as well as she considers just how difficult that

must've been. Especially considering the show Amy's family put on today. Working through that sort of revelation is one thing, but doing it without support?

Amy goes quiet, and remains so for a few moments before a faint "Yeah..." sounds, almost more of a sigh than a word. She gives up on finishing the last of the stew, despite the ravenous hunger she'd felt when she first dug in, setting the container down on the floor and scooting back a bit into the bed, pulling her legs up so she can cross them. A couple of moments of silence drag on longer and longer as she hesitates, but then she

speaks again, gaze on the floor. "I... when I came here and... and nobody questioned the name I thought that maybe... maybe it'd work." she says with an awkward, sharp breath punctuating the sentence. "It was stupid." she mumbles with a shake of her head and a shrug. "And now everyone knows, and... yeah..." Her voice is quiet, the words sounding a bit choked, and she blinks against the growing glassiness in her eyes. She flashes

Paige a helpless little smile in a half-hearted attempt at maintaing her composure.

Paige, too, falls quiet, the moments passing by in awkward silence without her realizing it, her mind far too occupied. But when Amy speaks up again, her gaze shifts to her, brow furrowing. "...Well, I'd hardly call that group of gawkers everyone..." she offers, forcing a small, if heavy smile, "...But I wouldn't worry about it too much. Most people around here try to stay out of each other's business." Present company not

included, of course. "Tomorrow Thomas will have too much to drink and pass out in the showers again. Or Hamilton will have the whole damn place looking for his lost omni-tool-..." her gaze hardens briefly, seemingly still not completely over that fiasco, "It was under his pillow, by the way!" she explains with an exasperated sigh. "Point is: this time next week? Nobody is even gonna remember what happened out there today,

Amy." She offers a small smile, an attempt at adding whatever comfort she can. "Promise."

Amy looks down at her lap as Paige speaks, hands fidgeting a little as she listens. Her attempt at reassurance actually seems to help a bit - the aside about the omni-tool actually draws out a surprised snort of laughter, one hand reaching up to wipe away the tears that slipped out with it before she looks Paige's way. The unquestioned usage of her name seems to raise her spirits a little, and she responds to the final addition with a

small nod, and a faint but honest smile. Embarrassment resurfaces in the face of Paige's reassurance, which seems to have hit her pretty hard - a couple more tears slip out and she quickly lifts a hand to wipe them away, a quiet, flustered laugh slipping out. "I never thought... you've all been so kind." she says, still sounding choked up as she shifts a little more to face Paige, hands dropping back to her lap, and her gaze

following them. "I feel terrible about causing trouble."

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