#Traveler'sGorge – August 18, 2020

Kirill draws in a deep breath, head tilting back against the mast behind him as he briefly shifts his attention back to the gorge down below. There's a silence that settles in as he sorts through his thoughts, undoubtedly focused on Jessica. The pain in his backside that he can't help but have a soft spot for. But the silence doesn't persist for long before he continues. "I ain't tellin' ya all this to be morbid or to make you feel bad, Yan.

I'm tellin' you because I-... Well, I know about some of the things that Jessie has done to try and get at the man that took her family from her." he says, his gaze leveling out on Yan Sun and his words careful. It's probably no surprise that he's seen the same articles she has. He might not be able to fix a communication network like she can, but he's not stupid. After what he said transpired here at the gorge and Jessica went

running off, it seems only natural that he'd do some digging. But it's not anger, or even disappointment, that's in his tone. Despite the horrible things Jessica has done, his words are still wrapped in sympathy. Concern, even. "Now I don't know if she's talked with you about any of it and-..." he lifts a hand, as if to halt any questions Yan Sun might have before she has the opportunity to put him in an awkward position by asking

them, "...it ain't my place to go tellin' her business or draggin' her name through the mud. That girl has been through enough as it is and, to be quite honest, I-... don't imagine the details would change all that much." His expression softens as he studies Yan Sun. "...At least I sure hope they wouldn't..." he adds, hopeful that the woman at his side cares as much about Jessica as he does and his trust isn't misplaced. She certainly

cared enough to go behind Jessica's back and contact him back in Freedom Falls.

Yan Sun draws in a breath through her nose, sucking in her lips a little and offering the faintest of nods. She picks at the top of her winter boots as images of bodies in the rubble run through her mind, one of them so very small. Memories of Jessica's hat plummeting into the dark water. A little bit of that nauseous feeling worms its way into her stomach again and she swallows against it, reminding herself of the talks with Jessica. Of her

words and the look in her eyes. The feelings that settle inside her are complicated, and certainly not unconflicted, but she's seen too much of Jessica to condemn her. She cares too much, and she knows her too well. Her guilt and her pain. That matters. It does. And people can change. For good or ill. She's always believed that. "We've... talked." she confirms, voice soft and quiet as she meets Kirill's gaze for just a moment before

blinking and looking away again. "I know what she's done. But I know that's not who she is. Not-... not who she wants to be. And it doesn't change how I feel." She looks back towards Kirill with the last few words, willing him to see her sincerity.

Kirill nods to himself as Yan Sun confirms that she knows a thing or two about Jessica's past, unable to hide the sadness that slips into his expression, muddied behind tired eyes. But the nod that follows is a firm one. There's a silent confidence in the gesture that says that he believes in that irritating pain in the backside more than words could convey. Maybe more than she deserves. Especially considering how poorly she's treated him.

But he does. He's seen that other side of her. The side that helped out around the gorge. The side that shared more of her past than was asked around a warm fire while they were out on long trips. "As much as I'd like to believe that she's gonna leave this place and move on with her life, I can't help but worry that she's just-... runnin' again..." he sighs. "But those things that you do? They stay with you. Doesn't matter how fast or

far you run, they'll always be right behind you..."

Yan Sun lets out a sigh, shifting her position a little again and shrugging. She hesitates a little looking down at her boot again. "I-... I don't mean any offense with this... I'd like to think I've gotten to see both the beauty and the ugliness of this world during my time here. It's different from back home, but it's not a bad place. But... I think Jessica needs to get away. I know that's not gonna fix or undo anything. Of course it

isn't." she says, the tiniest hint of frustration seeping into her tone, maybe finding Kirill's words a bit patronizing. And maybe getting a bit defensive over her own choices. "But getting some distance, some breathing room, and-... and finding a fresh perspective? I don't think that's a bad thing." she says, eyes back on Kirill as she finishes, her words spoken firmly.

Kirill falls silent as Yan Sun speaks, his gaze turning towards the steel grating of the platform they're seated upon. It's true, a part of him wishes that they would stay. That Jessica would give the gorge another chance. And they could certainly use someone with Yan Sun's expertise. But what are the chances that she'd ever find the peace she's looking for here? He gave it his best shot. To make her feel welcome. To make her feel loved.

To make the gorge feel like a home. He gives a few slow nods, the wind whistling as it blows through the gorge and the orchestra of windchimes replying. "No-... uhh-... no offense taken." he says softly, flashing her a brief, if sad smile. He'd be lying if he said Aite didn't have its share of ugliness. It's taken so much from so many. This place is proof of that. But this place is proof of that beauty, too. People working together

to help one another. He draws a breath in through his nose, allowing the cold air to fill his lungs. "And I think you might be right." he agrees, shifting in place to sit up a little straighter. "I-..." he lets a breath out through his nose and gives a shake of his head, "...I'm not trying to convince you to stay. I'm just worried is all. After she ran off, not a day went by that I didn't worry that she had went and done

somethin'-..." he stammers, 'stupid' sounding far too harsh even in his head. Besides, Jessica is a lot of things, but 'stupid' isn't one of them. "...somethin' drastic." he settles on, meeting Yan Sun's eyes once again to make sure she catches his meaning. "She wasn't answerin' calls. Wasn't respondin' to anyone's messages. Eventually I had to accept that I might never know what became of this woman that I-..." his voice hitches and

he swallows, an unexpected bout of emotion hitting him that halts his words. He's quick to turn his gaze downward again as he bring his fist to his lips and clears his throat in an attempt at covering it. "...That I had come to think of as family." he finishes, the words quieter than intended. "Didn't know if she was dead. If she was out there scared. Hurt. Alone." He falls quiet once again, poking at the inside of his lower lip as he

considers his words. "...A day is gonna come when she can't run any more and all those things that she ain't ready to deal with catch up to her, Yan. And we both know that she ain't the sort to ask for help. So if that day comes I-..." he swallows, turning his gaze back to the woman at his side, searching for his eyes in an attempt to let her know that no sleight is intended. Just bare concern. "...I just need you to promise me that

you'll be there for her."

Yan Sun swallows hard, her gaze falling away. The hints of frustration that had started to show fade away, expression softening. She closes her eyes as it hits her just how much Kirill cares, and how it must have felt to have no idea if Jessica was okay. 'Something drastic'. She remembers how worried she's been, at times. That pit in her stomach when she's gotten no responses and feared the worst. The suffocating pain in her chest when

Jessica is at her most lost and hopeless. When she speaks like she'd be better off in the ground, with her family. Yan Sun sucks in her lips as her eyes open, and she looks out across the snow-covered Gorge. The view is blurry and she's blinking against the tears in her eyes. "I will. That's-..." her voice cracks, and she falters a little, but she turns to look at Kirill. "That's all I've been trying to do. I've been doing my best,

and I-... I'm gonna continue to. I-" She runs a hand over her eyes in a futile attempt to wipe at the tears that are escaping, but quickly gives up with a loud, messy sniffle. "I-I love Jessica." she blurts out, voice choked, a self-conscious shrug and a helpless smile following the words. "I-I'm-... I'm gonna do everything I can to be there for her, I promise." she says, willing her sincerity to come through. She wouldn't be here if

she didn't mean that. On this trip. On this world. She's still blinking against tears that are rolling freely now, swallowing again as she keeps looking at Kirill.

Kirill listens patiently to Yan Sun, but turns his gaze back to the steel grating her emotions take over and tears flow freely, hoping to alleviate whatever discomfort he can. Her choked admission gets a surprised sound out of him. The good kind of surprised. Something of a breathy snort. His glove-cladded hand shifts back to her shoulder and he gives a gentle, comforting squeeze. "I don't doubt that for one second, Yan." he says, the

sincerity clear in his voice as he meets her eyes once again, a gentle smile crossing his lips. "Just-... know that you guys have always got a place to turn to if things get to be a little too much out there. Both of you." he clarifies, making sure she knows that invitation doesn't stop at Jessica.

Yan Sun nods several times, sniffling again before reaching up to wipe at her eyes with the sleeve of her jacket, an embarrassed sound accompanying her stuttered exhale, feeling a bit self-conscious. Her shoulder is tense, although that tension slowly fades from her, the small gesture surprisingly comforting. She's been more or less on her own since leaving Hong Kong, without anyone to turn to. Especially in person. And Jessica is a minefield

to talk to a lot of the time. Say the wrong thing and you set her off. It's a relief to talk to someone else that knows her. That gets it and cares. "Thank you." she says, voice quiet but sincere as she lowers her hand and meet's Kirill's gaze again. "Really." A tiny smile tugs at the corner of her mouth, cheeks still damp and face still filled with heavy emotions. She sucks in her lips again, tasting the salt. "And-... and I meant

what I said, you know? Just because we're leaving Aite doesn't mean we're gonna just disappear." she points out, aiming a thumb towards the antenna that is, admittedly, still in need of repairs. "We'll keep in touch." she offers again, smile manifesting a bit more before faltering as she tries very hard not to think about her parents, or her friends. She'd only spoken a little to Spek8. Let her friends know that she was okay. Her

parents didn't know a thing. Were they worried? She'd rather not consider that.

Kirill offers a few light pats on Yan Sun's shoulder before bringing his hand back with a small gesture to wave off her thanks. "Nothin' to thank me for." he offers simply. When she continues, he gives a small nod of his head. Given just how aloof Jessica has been, it's hard to take Yan Sun's promise that they'll keep in touch at face value. But Kirill is nothing if not optimistic. The fact that they're here at all is reason to hold out

hope. "Well, then I guess we should get this thing workin' so I can hold you to that, huh?" he asks as that kind smile of his manifests a bit firmer, briefly tilting his head ever-so-slightly to look up at the dish that looms overhead.

Yan Sun looks back towards the antenna and lets out a slightly awkward chuckle. "Right..." she says, scratching her neck and drawing in a deep breath of cold air to purge the lump in her throat and the heavy emotions swimming in her mind. "Back to work." she agrees with a nod, shifting to her knees - curse this uncomfortable metal platform - and taking stock of the parts in front of her. She nods once more to herself and fires up her

cybernetics again to fabricate the final part she'll need.

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