The silence of the truck cabin sets a somber mood. Kirill remains quiet, merely offering Jessica a gentle squeeze on the shoulder. The path that cuts through the canyon offers a wide berth for the lumbering vehicle. Unlike the treacherous canyon Jessica and Yan Sun passed through previously, there's only an occasional outcropping of jagged rock that needs to be avoided that provides any real threat here. That, on top of the fact that Kirill has
#FreedomFalls – January 7, 2022
been navigating the path for years, makes for a relatively easy going ride. It's rocky terrain might not be the most comfortable, but it seems to be mostly safe from danger. Kirill's music is the first thing to break the heavy silence. Similar to what he played around the fire the previous night. Like then, he keeps it low. Just enough to fill the void that the quietness provides.
It's hard to tell what thoughts are haunting Jessica and, as usual, she doesn't seem to want to share them. So she doesn't. She merely leans against Yan Sun a bit as she watches the canyon walls out the windows. Layers of rock formed through countless years of erosion. Both a natural marvel as well as a lifeline to anyone moving goods through the region. "There's a... little place just beyond the mouth of the canyon." Kirill eventually speaks
up once the silence has controlled enough of the trip, nodding distantly to the path before them. It's a small offering of conversation, but seemingly a welcome one, given the way the edge of Jessica's mouth turns upwards ever so slightly when it grasps on to the memory. "The idiot with all of the-... the-..." Jessica chimes in as she tries to recall the right word, her voice lower and raspier than intended, the ball of emotion in her chest
still clinging to her words. Kirill nods a few times as he watches the path in front of him, his own smile surfacing as he passes a glance Jessica's way. "...Yeah." he confirms overtop of her.
And that's enough to dispel the silence. Talks of places they've been takes up the majority of the ride. Places that don't show up on any map. That have no footprint to the rest of the galaxy. Nestled away, on their own. Jessica's time at the Gorge seems riddled with journeys all over the region. A lot of time was spent in this truck, on the road with Kirill and Rafe. Colorful characters. Ridiculous stories. Stories that Kirill presents as if
they're for Yan Sun's amusement. A way of telling her a little bit more about their world that the rest of the galaxy would rather pretend doesn't exist. But it's not hard to see that there's more to it. It's an opportunity for Jessica to relive something that's in such short supply for her. Good memories. Memories that aren't tainted by pain and loss.
It makes a trip that might otherwise drag feel like it's beginning to end far too soon by the time the light from Freedom Falls penetrates the blanket of darkness that has existed beyond the truck's headlights for a while. It causes the pair to quiet again, both knowing their time together is soon coming to an end. Before long, the hulking vehicle is lurching to a stop out front of a building that has become all too familiar to Yan Sun since
Kirill draws in a deep breath as he glances over to the pair seated beside him. "Well. Suppose this is your stop." he offers, cracking a small, if somewhat somber smile.
Yan Sun is happy to listen and laugh as Jessica and Kirill reminisce, remaining a comforting presence by Jessica's side. As they drive into town she too has fallen silent, watching by-now familiar landmarks out the window. Her gaze lingers on the Respite's sign as they come to a stop - it's strange to be back after almost two weeks on the road. The sense of familiarity evoked is unexpected, and makes it feel like she's lived there for more
than a couple of months. Maybe it's because so much has happened in those few months. She soon looks to Jessica, giving her leg a squeeze but remaining silent. She has no intention of rushing her.
Jessica gives a few small nods as she glances out the window beyond Yan Sun and towards the familiar sight. Somehow it seems a little less welcoming now than it would have just a few days ago, but she doesn't allow her mind to linger on the reasons why that might be. The squeeze causes her to look to the woman at her side, briefly studying the side of her face. The fluffy hat has remained on her head throughout the duration of the ride,
helping to fight back whatever chill might make its way into the cabin of the truck, however the sunglasses were stowed away atop the hat long ago once the sun began to hide. "Here..." she hums softly as she looks back to Kirill and begins to remove the ridiculous hat, careful to clasp her finger over the sunglasses so they don't come tumbling off. She doesn't get far before Kirill waves her off.
Kirill shakes his head, lifting one hand to stop her, gentle smile still present behind that untamed beard of his. "Keep 'em." he says before offering a small shrug of his shoulders, "They look better on you anyhow."
Jessica's lips purse into something of a frown as she pauses, seeming to briefly consider turning the offer down before tugging the hat back into place atop her head. "Mmm." she agrees softly, "They do."
Kirill snickers, offering a small shake of his head. He blinks at the glassiness that threatens to shine through in his eyes as he draws in another heavy breath. "Suppose we should-..." he nods towards the back of the cab with a dip of his head, "...start start unloadin' your things, huh?"
Jessica gives a few nods, swallowing at the lump in her throat as she glances Yan Sun's way in a silent instruction for her to lead the way.
Yan Sun snickers softly at the exchange, although the small smile that follows is weighed down by the mood of the cabin. She nods as Jessica glances in her direction, cracking the bulky door open and hopping out. She's a bit overconfident in her exit after their time on the road, and slips as soon as her feet hit the ground. Her eyes go wide but she catches herself on the door before she falls, quickly straightening up and excising the
Jessica snorts loudly, unwilling to let Yan Sun's clumsiness go without calling any attention to it. "You almost find it with your face, kitty cat." she adds, equally casually as she steps out behind Yan Sun with much less precarious results.
The street is mostly silent at this time of night. And the frigid air hits them as soon as the doors are open, reminding them just how cold it is outside of the truck's cab. A far cry from the hoodie weather of the cliffs. Thankfully the pair don't have many things- Jessica's gear crate, their clothing, some stolen Respite bedding and toiletries- so with Kirill climbing into the truckbed and passing items over the side to Jessica and Yan Sun,
Kirill snaps the tarp back into place as he makes his way towards the back of the truckbed, a loud thump sounding out as he crouches down to grip the tailgate and hop out onto the ground, careful in case of any other sneaky ice patches. "Think that was everything." he muses as he closes the tailgate and works on snapping the last few points on the tarp.
Jessica moves to the opposite end of the tailgate to snap the tarp back in place on the opposite side. Kirill's comment causing her to give a quick glance towards their belongings, as if taking stock. "Mmm. I think so." she hums before glancing Yan Sun's way, "We are missing anything?"
Yan Sun shakes her head. "Don't think so." she says after a glance towards the stack of stuff next to her. She reaches up to brush away some hair that the wind has blown into her face, relying on her beanie to keep it in place.