#Traveler'sGorge – July 7, 2021

Jessica presses a hand against the table to keep her upright as Yan Sun peers past her. The musing gets a quiet, whispered, "...Yeah." from Jessica that nearly gets caught in her throat. It takes a moment for the guilt to catch up to her, but when it does, she's quick to hop off of the table, scooping her jacket up in the process. "Come on, slut!" she hums, bumping Yan Sun with her hip before she slings the jacket on and starts towards

the door. On the move before her emotions can dig their icy claws into her. But, unlike the last time she was here, she's not running away from them. Little steps.

Yan Sun staggers a little as she's pulled out of studying the view from the window by the hip-bump, letting out a laugh and pulling her beanie before following after Jessica towards the door, grabbing her jacket and starting to slip it on as she goes. While she was jolted awake pretty effectively, her movements are still a bit sluggish from the nap - refreshing as it (and the preceding shower) was, there's still the blur of fresh sleep

combined with the feeling of not being fully rested yet.

As Jessica opens the door and leads the way out of the tent, her attention is immediately pulled to their right. Much like the front gate, a number of tents in the makeshift tent town have Christmas lights strung along their canopies. Some of the prefab structures beyond do, as well. Colorful, occasionally-blinking, lights line a few of the windows or doors. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which prefabs or tents are

decorated. Despite Christmas being a human holiday, the lights don't seem to be focused on only humans' dwellings. A turian and an asari sit on a pair of folding chairs outside of their tent having a spirited conversation that's lost in the wind beneath a canopy of flickering lights of blues, reds, greens, and whites. Maybe the origin of the holiday is a little less important to the people out here. Sometimes you just need a reason to

celebrate. Now that the sun has gone down and the outpost is lit by little more than lamps, headlights, and Christmas lights, the warm glow of fires can be spotted throughout the Gorge. Some amongst the tents. Some beside the prefabs down the road. Tired people warming their hands and enjoying a peaceful night after a day of hard work. Muffled conversations and laughter spill out from the tent town, but not enough to be disruptive. It all just

blends together with the windchimes and twists into background noise.

Jessica furrows her brow, a loud snicker slipping out of her as she twists back towards Yan Sun, reaching out to grab her by the hands and tug her through the doorway. The big, dumb grin on her face seems to imply that the nap hasn't tarnished her good mood. "Look at this!" she urges, blinking a bit of the lingering sleep from her eyes.

Yan Sun lets out a surprised noise as she's tugged out of the tent. As her gaze settles on the holiday-decorated settlement dotted by lights and fires she smiles. Her left hand remains in Jessica's and gives it a squeeze as her attention shifts from their surroundings to the grinning woman next to her, studying her out of the corner of her eye.

Jessica watches the tent town for a few moments, right hand continuing to grasp Yan Sun's left. This time of year doesn't exactly have the best memories associated with it, but there's no sign of those painful memories in her expression. Not right now. Her hand is warm, contrasting the cold chill in the air, and she interlocks her fingers with Yan Sun's before giving her hand a squeeze in response. With a quick snort, she gives a small

glance Yan Sun's way, only holding her gaze for but a brief second before giving her hand a tug as she puts her back to the tent town and starts to lead Yan Sun down the road.

Yan Sun 's smile just widens as she watches Jessica's face until she's noticed. She doesn't say anything as she's dragged along down the road, content to walk in silence. She sticks close to Jessica, almost leaning a little against her as they make their way away from the center of the makeshift settlement.

Even with the sun down, the Gorge is still aglow with life. It's a slow, purposeful life, but it's alive all the same. A group of people are all gathered just inside the greenhouse, one seated atop a long table, crowded with supplies, their attire all stained from another long day of dirty work. But they all seem to be smiling. But as some of their work days are ending, others are just beginning. The dimmed headlights of an idle truck bathes

the dirt road behind them as a crew does some last-minute preparations before embarking on a trip. Up ahead, a number of people sit around the fire pit. Even from here, Kirill's profile is visible. His big, bushy beard making for an unmistakable silhouette. He's seated in one of many folding chairs situated around the fire. The sort of canvas chairs usually brought on camping trips. Soft music can be heard, kept just low enough to not be

disturbing to anyone hoping to get some shuteye. No words, just the soft twang of a guitar.

Jessica casts a glance at Yan Sun as she leans against her, giving her hand another quick squeeze. But when the soft music meets her ears her smile widens. Not exactly her kind of music, but it is familiar. One of the many songs that would regularly stream from Kirill's omni-tool as they wasted the night away around that fire pit. She gives Yan Sun a playful little nudge with her shoulder, lifting her hand up in an attempt at giving

her a little twirl to the music.

Yan Sun 's gaze wanders their surroundings as they slowly make their way in the direction of the fire pit. She seems a little fascinated by the small-scale but constant activity around the settlement. A tiny point of civilization in the wilderness, and still a world entirely unlike the one she's used to. As faint music can be heard her attention is drawn over to the fire, although soon she finds herself doing her best attempt at a twirl as

she picks up on what Jessica is going for. It has none of the grace she's displayed while clubbing, but she's laughing as she comes to a stop with a silly flourish, her arm slipping around Jessica's lower back to pull her in for a quick kiss. "You're in a good mood." she comments through a smile that makes it obvious it's rubbing off on her.

Jessica lets out a bout of laughter, brows furrowed at Yan Sun's less-than-graceful attempt. Not that it's exactly the sort of music one would dance to. The additional flourish causes her to cap her laughter off with a snort, her right arm slipping across Yan Sun's shoulder as she's pulled in. Rather than acknowledge just how unexpected it was to be welcomed back with anything less than pitchforks and torches, she merely hums a

dismissive, "Mmm." to Yan Sun's comment. There's a lot of memories here. A lot of good memories. That's more than can be said about a lot of this planet. "And you-..." she continues, using the arm across Yan Sun's shoulder to pull her back in close as they continue down the dirt road, "...are a fool."

The fire pit is situated just outside of a large tent. The lit canopy of the large tent shelters a long table. As they get closer to the fire pit, more figures come into view. For Jessica, it's mostly the usual suspects (Outside of a certain young woman), a fact that's reflected in the subtle widening of her smile. Perhaps she hadn't expected so many of them to turn up. There's quite a few familiar faces for Yan Sun, too. Thomas, the gate guard

that greeted them upon their arrival, is sitting with a bowl in his lap, poking at the contents with a spoon. Paige is seated around the fire, forearms against her knees to lean close to the fire and absorb as much of that heat as she can. Glen, the chef that Yan Sun met earlier, is stood at the edge of the sheltered table, a pot and a stack of bowls are in front of him and he carefully ladles some dark brown mystery stew into one of the bowls.

Kirill, of course. And Rafe is seated at Kirill's side, hand rested around the neck of a beer. He's the first to notice the approaching pair's laughter, but when his attention shifts their way, Kirill's soon follows.

Rafe allows a small smile to cross his features. "There they are." he says, raising his voice to be heard by the pair. "Jessica. Yan." he greets, eyes scanning between the two in turn, offering each a dip of his head.

Rafe's words draw the attention of the others towards Jessica and Yan Sun. Amongst the familiar faces are a few fresh ones. A dark-skinned woman in her early 20s is sharing the sheltered table with Glen. Bright, colorful bangles decorate the braids along the left side of her otherwise poofy dark hair. As well as a large, pale grey turian that's seated at the edge of a log bench near the fire. His dark blue facial markings start on his mandibles

and draw a sharp line up towards his browline, accompanied by three thick stripes up his nose, ending on his forehead.

Amy is sitting between Paige and Kirill, opting to stick near the people she's interacted with the most since her arrival. She was quick to offer Caelus a more than a little awkward apology for their last interaction - this is the first time she's had a chance to speak to him since getting a translator. It seems, unsurprisingly, he's the first turian she's talked to. She's in the winterwear she arrived in, light brown hair worn down today,

under a beanie. She seems a little tense, like she's not quite sure how she should be sitting. Her attention turns to the new arrivals with the others, a curious look on her face.

Yan Sun snickers quietly. "I can live with that." she hums, planting another kiss on Jessica's cheek as they start walking again, her arm lingering around her waist. As Rafe notices them she flashes a small, only slightly awkward smile of her own, raising a hand in a wave to the group as her gaze sweeps across the other faces around the fire.

Paige allows a soft, somewhat tired smile to cross her lips. It's far warmer of a greeting than when the pair first arrived. It seems that whatever she and Jessica talked about earlier, it at least cleared the air a bit. "Hey." she offers with a small, simple wave of her fingertips. She's dressed in a pair of worn, black jeans that are tucked into tightly laced winter boots that reach nearly to her knees. She quickly runs a hand through her

short dark hair, as if to make sure the tuque that's stuffed into the cup holder of her canvas chair hasn't messed it up. The fire does a good enough job staving off the cold that her thick winter jacket is left unzipped, revealing a cream colored sweater beneath it.

Kirill offers a dip of his head. "Welcome." he greets fondly. As usual, he's sporting a pair of thick cargo pants and a black winter jacket that's lined with white fur along the hood and collar. The source of the music seems to be the omni-tool sitting on the armrest of his chair. Just a slow, melodic guitar tune.

Glen offers a bright smile as he looks from the woman he met earlier to the one he hasn't seen in months. If there's any animosity over what transpired, he's certainly not showing it. It's rare for him to show up for one of Paige's fire pit gatherings. But special occasions and all.

Gaz watches the pair with a big smile of her own, but doesn't speak up at first, not wanting to interrupt the others. She seems content to just toil away in her case of doodads as she always does during these get togethers. Stones and odds and ends and all manners of wire and string. As Amy may have noticed, she's not always the most talkative. Not when there's so many others around. She's content to simply fade into the background until

things have winded down a bit.

Jessica's grip around Yan Sun tightens ever so slightly as they're noticed and she stops in place for a moment. "Hey." she responds in turn to Paige, her gaze lingering on her for a few moments, as if silently trying to gauge the situation. Perhaps, deep down, still expecting to be turned away. But all she's met with is warm smiles. After a moment's hesitation, she gives Yan Sun another nudge, leading her over to the log bench to take a

seat.

Amy returns Yan Sun's wave, remaining silent as the new arrivals get seated.

Yan Sun runs her hand up and down Jessica's back as she picks up on her tension. She's not quite sure whether she should introduce herself, and settles for a "Hi everyone." for now, her smile widening a little before she heads for the log with Jessica, offering Caelus a small wave - the kind that's little more than a lift of her hand - as they take a seat.

Yan Sun gets a quick cacophony of greetings in response and Caelus returns the gesture. Introductions are short and sweet, with Paige opting to take it upon herself to handle both sides of it, starting by introducing Yan Sun to everyone. A fact that's nearly comical given that she's never actually met Yan Sun but seems to imply that she's heard a bit about her. But her need for control draws a snort and a stage-whispered, "Nice to meet you,

Yan." out of Rafe. She rattles off names for Yan Sun's sake, and the others seem to know better than to interrupt her by taking it upon themselves or, in the case of Glen, by letting Paige know that they've already been formally introduced. They merely offer their own greetings in turn.

Jessica studies the unfamiliar face in silence as Paige lists off the others, her hand resting on Yan Sun's thigh. She, unlike the others, seems to have no issue with interrupting Paige. "Who you are? Mmm?" she asks Amy just as it looks as if Paige was about to get to her. There's no animosity in her voice but, as usual, it lacks a certain tact. Far more direct than might be befitting the first exchange between two strangers.

Paige opens her mouth to introduce Amy when Jessica addresses the woman at her side directly, causing her to turn her nose up in distaste at Jessica before looking Amy's way now that her rhythm has been thrown off.

Amy blinks, looking pretty caught off-guard. "W-... Um-..." she brings a closed hand to her mouth as she clears her throat as quietly as she can. "Uh... Amy. I'm... I'm Amy." she replies with a nod to herself once she manages to get the name out. Obviously embarrassed by her fumbled introduction, she manages a quiet, half-hearted "Uhm... nice to meet you." as she sinks a bit in her chair.

Yan Sun looks a little surprised as Paige quickly takes charge of the introductions, nodding and looking around at the others as she's introduced. Rafe's comment gets a smile and a quiet snort out of her, but she pays attention as everyone else is introduced, adding the new names to her HUD just to make sure she doesn't forget any of them. The act makes her eye glow bright, a pinpoint of blue in the dim orange the fire casts on her.

Jessica's interruption - and Amy's reaction - makes her wince a little. "You too." she offers, alongside a small smile, in the hopes of smoothing over Jessica putting her on the spot. She gives the culprit at her side a slight nudge with her shoulder, maybe to say 'Don't spook the (apparently) unfamiliar face'.

Jessica gives Amy the once over, as if sizing her up. The nudge does little to deter her from being... well... her.

Kirill clears his throat, sitting up in his seat a bit. "Amy here came to us-... oh, just over a week now." he starts. "She's been helpin' out over at the greenhouse. To be honest, she's-..." he snickers, giving a small shake of his head as he looks from Jessica to Amy, offering the latter a small, encouraging smile, "...well, she seems to be a natural."

Paige follows suit in backing up Amy, shooting a smile of her own her way. "She's already helped more in a week than Tommy has all year." she chimes in.

Thomas lifts his gaze from his bowl- which seems to be filled with the same brown mystery stew that Glen is slopping into bowls by Gaz- that he seemed to be entranced by in an equal mix of interest, confusion, and disgust, and shoots a scowl Paige's way. "Hey! I do-..." he starts and stops before deciding his defense would just fall on deaf ears if directed towards her and, instead, looks to Jessica and Yan Sun. "I do my damn job!" he

assures. The outburst gets a barely-restrained smile out of Paige, forcing her to suck her lips in to conceal it.

Kirill does as he always does and ignores Paige and Tommy's bickering. "She really has been indispensable in getting everything going smoothly." he adds, sounding more directed at Amy than Jessica.

Rafe takes a quick slug of his drink, nodding along at Kirill's last addition. "Mmhmm." he agrees, "And with her staying in your old room, this is the perfect opportunity for for a proper hand off. Make it official." he jokes, though the sudden discomfort on Kirill and Paige's faces causes him to instantly regret his words, gaze quickly settling on Jessica.

Jessica looks back and forth as the others talk, smile briefly re-emerging as Paige gets some cheap shots in at Thomas' expense. But as Rafe lets the cat out of the bag that Amy is staying in her old room, whatever tension had dissipated in her shoulders comes back in full force, her thumb digging into Yan Sun's thigh ever-so-slightly. Not enough to be painful, just a small, short-lived, reflexive movement. There's a small part of her

that wants to be hurt by the reveal. That wants to be angry. But the loudest part of her reminds her that it was her who abandoned them. Not the other way around. She swallows at whatever emotion is lingering in the back of her throat, gaze dipping down slightly before lifting back to Amy with a small nod. "Jessica." she introduces herself, doing her best to mask the deflation in her tone.

Yan Sun smiles a little at the back-and-forth, remaining silent for now, but Rafe's words, and the completely expected tension that follows from Jessica once again makes her run her hand across her back in an idle, soothing gesture, glancing her way for the briefest of moments before turning her attention to Amy.

Amy just shrinks further under Jessica's gaze, but the exchange that follows brings out a (still-embarrassed) smile, blushing a little from the praise heaped on her. Rafe's words make her look his way in surprise, eyes widening a little and darting over to Jessica. She nods a little when she offers her name, but doesn't say anything.

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