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Not Really Breaking and Entering...

Posted on Mon Sep 7th, 2020 @ 7:29am by Daiyu & Alden Loxley & James Thomson

Mission: The Milk Run
Location: Fortune's Echo - Noah's Bunk
Timeline: MD13 - Immediately after 'Chilling'

Noah-Jade's room had been one of the bigger ones on the lower deck, with easy access down to engineering and a very short walk to the rest area outside the infirmary. He hadn't always slept here, occasionally preferring to kip down with the Echo's engine, letting her comforting mechanical breaths lull him to sleep.

He'd died both with Echo's breath and for her too, and as Alden opened the door to Noah's bunk, he caught the remnant of the engineer's scent mixed with oil and such. It made his breath skip, the moment of normality it suggested as if Noah might greet him in person. The room itself was neatly kept, and tidily arranged, but the immediate squawking of the unnamed bird still startled him.

"S'okay, Bird," Alden assured it. But it wasn't, not really. Not even a little bit. He couldn't help thinking that accusatory look was boring through his skull as he led their trio into the room. "We just need to find something that Noah says he stole," he added, as if their avian companion might give them the answer.

James remained fixed by the doorway, his eyes probing Noah's room. It felt wrong, the room looked too normal, too lived in and if James ignored the thoughts affirming their loss he'd almost be convinced Noah would return at any moment - likely confused at the trio's presence. Guilt sat like a pit in his stomach, he knew he wasn't directly to fault, but he couldn't help but consider that his history with Zan had exacerbated things for the crew. With the way things went down the Echo would have been hit even without James' quips, but he still couldn't help but feel like Karen and Alden were right in what they'd shared with him in the infirmary.

"Why am I here?" Daiyu pointedly asked. "I... I shouldn't be in a man's room." She looked around warily. "It might be haunted..."

James felt himself being dragged back down to Ezra, "If this room were to be haunted, I'm not too worried" James replied nonchalantly, the whisper of a smile ghosting his lips, "we've got you to keep an eye out for us, you seem to know what you're talking about", he whispered lest the ghost's heard him. He decided he was kinda' glad for the odd woman's presence.

"You're making fun of me." The look on Daiyu's face was somewhere between a grimace and a scowl. She felt no animosity, just an idle realization that James was a wángbādàn. Maybe he couldn't help it. "I forgive you..."

"If it's haunted," Alden told them both, matter of factly. "Then it's haunted by Noah-Jade, and we know him, right? Friendly ghost." He rifled gently through the drawers under the bed, feeling a little unclean as he did so. "Everyone start looking around, please," he ordered gently. "If this was the last thing Noah said, then it's important to him, and we owe it to him to resolve the situation."

He looked to Daiyu. "Ghosts only linger when they have unresolved issues, right?" He asked, with no sign of sarcasm in his tone or expression.

"Ghosts aren't real, shă zi," Daiyu said. (blockhead) "The energy of this room... it's off. Noah must have been very sad." She ran her fingers over his dresser as if communing with bygone times.

Her cool chastisement of his intended support raised a brief grin from Alden, but that swiftly faded as Daiyu kept talking. He didn't want to think of Noah being unhappy, especially since there was now no way to fix that.

"He loved this ship," Alden said, trying to find consolation in that fact. "He was happy here..." Wasn't he?

"He stole from the ship," Daiyu reminded him. "Is that what love means?" She tore open the dresser drawers and began tossing their contents in the air.

James hobbled about collecting Noah's discarded items behind Diayu, placing them carefully down on the room's desk. "Love's not that simple, I've done far worse than Noah in my time, but I'm still loved" He shrugged from behind Diayu, looking anywhere but the space Alden occupied, "Love's not that simple."

That wasn't what Daiyu meant. She abruptly stopped her low-key ransacking and stared at James for a moment. "Captain Alden, maybe you should check James' bunk too."

"Maybe I should, Mei Mei," Alden agreed, a wry look taking up residence as he shifted position. "But he's right about love not being simple," he added. "Love and trust can be complicated as Hell."

And as Daiyu drew all Alden's attention to James, the younger Ezran heard the mild clunk of something other than clothing hit the desk. A tiny bit of unravelling some of Noah's clothing revealed a gold chain that held an oval shaped locket.

It was dull, though shined up easily enough against his own shirt, a pale rose gold with an inscription on the back that was hard to make out. Letters all fancy and slightly worn offered up no immediately obvious meaning, but showed words that encompassed Q, U and A at least. Inside, James would find a picture - possibly a man, it was hard to tell - the merest blue outline remained in the faded, old image.

He retrieved the locket carefully, turning the trinket around gently before popping the latch and opening it. He’d remained quiet as he drank the object in. It was old and worn, clearly, it had been important enough to receive ample handling over the years, but its significance was lost to James. He’d never been as close to Noah as the others, in truth James had mostly let the Engineer be. He realised her regretted that now, maybe if he’d have gotten to know the man more he’d have understood what he held.

“Alden?” He almost whispered, turning to face his cousin with his hand outstretched, “Is this what we’re looking for?” he asked.

"Unless Noah's got a collection of jewellery," Alden said with a half-smile. "Then I'd say yes." He didn't try to take it from James just yet, but simply asked. "Anything inside it?"

Daiyu resumed her ransacking, completely disinterested in the locker.

"Daiyu," Alden said, realising suddenly that she hadn't stopped. "Daiyu!" And when she kept going regardless, he upped both his volume and his tone. "DAIYU! Stop!"

"Ni āi!" Daiyu screamed. She flung a sheaf of papers in the air that flew free from their weakened, almost nonexistent binding. One of them fluttered through the air against Alden's face. Its main feature was prominently displayed male genitalia.

"Jùdà de yīnjīng!" Daiyu screamed. "Why does Noah have pictures of jùdà de yīnjīng in his dresser drawers?!"

"He... what the.. now?" Alden struggled to verbalise as he tried to pluck said page from across his face and mouth. "Mei mei! Ssssshh! Easy on the screeching!" He managed as he crumpled the paper and regarded her. "Uh, what a guy keeps in his own dresser drawers is that guy's business alone," Alden answered and he looked to James for assistance.

Daiyu threw the pornography on the floor and crossed her arms in stark petulance.

"You can't be mad at him for hiding this stuff in his own room," Alden pointed out. "I seriously doubt Noah expected anyone to be rifling through his stuff." Then his tone softened just a little as he looked down at that scarred and pouting face. "You ok?"

"You yelled at me," Daiyu said demurely. She turned sideways and looked at him with a sidelong glance with one eye.

"I did," admitted Alden openly. He grinned. "Then you threw a dick pic in my face," he added. "So I figure we're even."

"Did not," Daiyu protested. "But you have the stolen locket now. It proves Noah was a thief. Maybe everything else was stolen, too." She eyed the illicit pages strewn all over the floor.

"Not sure who he stole it from exactly," Alden answered her. "Don't seem to recall it ever being here, and it's definitely not mine. Ali didn't seem to know anything about it either..." He crouched down to pick up a few more pages from the whirlwind that had been Daiyu's search pattern. "Help me tidy up your mess," he told her.

"Are you saving it for something?" Daiyu asked. "We should just bag it up."

"Because this is all that's left of him" James shrugged as he leant down to collect more of the items, placing them orderly on the surrounding surfaces, "His family might want some of it"

"Some of it, yeah," Alden noted, looking from his cousin to the young woman and frowning. "Maybe not the porn though, ok James?" It was impossible not to smile at that point though, so he aimed the unwanted grin at the ceiling and pointedly ignored both of them. "And not this locket either, not if Noah thought he stole it from me and Ali."

Daiyu shrugged indifferently. "Are we done here? I need to go flick my bean."

It was a timeless classic, that double-take from Alden Loxley as he regarded Daiyu, twice in quick succession with a look of intrigued horror on his face. "You... that's... you don't need to tell us that..."

"My bush bean is getting big and thick now. How else will I know if my bean is plump and ready unless I flick it?" Daiyu narrowed her dark eyes at Alden with suspicion. "Obviously you don't know the first thing about caring for bush beans."

Alden opened his mouth to speak. Closed it. Opened it again. Left it open and simply regarded Daiyu with confused uncertainly for a good couple of seconds. Eventually, two words managed to form into coherent sounds, shifting from his brain to his vocal chords and making it out into the world. "Bush bean?" He asked, and visibly winced.

"My phaseolus vulgaris." Daiyu began to frown at Alden's behavior. "It's nearly ripe."

"Ohhhh," he said on a relieved exhale. "One of your plants. I thought for a moment..." Yeah, no one needed to know what he thought, and he couldn't even meet James' gaze to finish that sentence. "Yeah, we're done, Daiyu. Thanks for your help."

James barely held back the chuckle that threatened to escape his lips and momentarily busied himself with collecting the rest of the strewn items. Despite the growing pain he'd been experiencing by being so mobile the younger Ezran found himself pleased with Diayu's precense. "Yeah, thanks, hope your beans are okay," he added after Alden.

"Zhū tóu chuī niú," Daiyu muttered as she left. Pig head blowing up cow skin.

"Wow..." Alden leant back against the bulkhead and let the tension rush from his shoulders. "She's a complicated lil stick of dynamite that one. Some day, cuz, we really have to find out what happened there. I have a feeling picking up Daiyu is gonna bite us in the butts someday soon and I'd kinda like to see that coming."

He fumbled with the locket in his hand, just feeling the weight of it, and running his thumb over the outer surface. "C'mon," he sighed, heart heavy at the thought before he spoke it in words. "We're here now. Let's pack up Noah's stuff. Maybe his family will want some of it."


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