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Raise Your Banner

Posted on Mon Nov 30th, 2020 @ 9:29pm by Tristan & Alden Loxley

Mission: Just A Short Hop to Priam
Location: Fortune's Echo
Timeline: Day 17 - Early morning (before landing)

He'd left the kid alone, given him time and space, but they were due to land in an hour so Alden figured Tristan had hidden away for long enough. Priam had its upsides and its down, like any planet, but of all the people currently sharing air on this old Firefly, Tristan was currently the quietest. The Echo's captain understood why - love was a complicated and fickle bitch - but there was a line beyond which a person needed to see daylight.

There was a planet below them now, big and greenish blue. That line was about half an hour away.

"Rise and shine, Di Di!" Alden threw the words at the closed door and followed up with a second barrage of knocking. "C'mon, let me in or I'm coming in anyways."

The door opened, revealing Tristan standing there in just his underwear. “I don’t have any chores today,” he mumbled, walking back into his room.

"You don't," conceded the older man brightly, apparently ignoring the fact that the younger was mostly naked. "But we are due to land soon. So you can stretch your legs, help me out with keeping an eye out while we sort cargo." Alden raised an eyebrow. "But for that you will need to get dressed."

Tristan shrugged as he sat on his bed, "I don't much feel like stretching my legs," he said, leaning against the wall.

"Tough," Alden told the younger man firmly. "You've been sulking for days. Time to get outside and help."

Meeting Alden's firm gaze, Tristan gave him one in return. But after a few minutes, his resolve broke and his shoulders slumped. "I don't want to do this," he said, standing as he pulled on his black jeans and a clean shirt.

"Being part of my crew means not always getting to do exactly what you want," pointed out Alden, not unkindly, but with a certain sense of crushing inevitability. "I think I've been pretty generous so far with your time, but now it's time to do some work." He let the kid have a minute or two of quiet in which to get dressed, then shifted moods.

"Trust me," Alden said, emotion colouring his words. "Your heart doesn't get magically better by wallowing or by working hard. You need a bit of both."

He waited, boot tapping on the metal decking impatiently.

Tristan shrugged as he finished getting ready, pulling on his boots and grabbing his bag. "Will there at least be food? The stuff we have on board is..." The kid shrugged.

"You get your little butt out there, quick-smart," Alden told him with a serious look and a wrinkle of his nose. "And I'll buy you and Daiyu whatever breakfast your little hearts desire." He paused then as Tristan moved, dressed and ready to leave, regarded the boy before him proudly and nodded. "And if you think the food is that bad, you can pitch in with some of the cooking from now on. I'll take suggestions."

Then, with a broad, open-mouthed grin, the Echo's Captain wrapped a long arm about Tristan's shoulders, pulled him briefly in close against his side and gently rubbed the knuckles of his other hand against the kid's skull. "C'mon, little brother," Alden told him. "Let's get you out for some fresh air."

And, he added in the privacy of his own mind, if you feel like talking later, I'll listen.

"I want pancakes," Tristan said with a giggle as he pushed himself away from Alden's grasp.

"Pancakes it is then," answered Alden with a nod. He watched the boy move out of immediate reach and allowed himself a smile. Jacob's exit had been unexpected and jarring, but the Companion had also, in Alden's opinion, crossed a serious moral line. Maybe some day they'd cross paths again, but Jacob needed a chance to process and Alden was more than happy to allow him that time and space.

"Ice cream?" He added. It was amazing what a bit of comfort food could do for the soul.

Tristan shook his head as the two walked out of his room. "I can't eat ice cream," he said. "I'm lactose intolerant. It gives me horrible stomach cramps."

"Coconut ice-cream," Alden said. "Or syrup. I prefer syrup. They have those back home?" He asked, fishing as always for small-fry in the kid's past. "Ironically, considering we grew up on a cattle ranch, my sister is lactose intolerant. My dad used to bring coconuts and almonds back when he went on cargo runs. Couldn't get them on Ezra."

"We had an alternative," Tristan said as the two walked through the storage bay. "It wasn't coconut though."

"Uh-huh," noted Alden out loud. "So, where was home?" He asked outright.

Tristan looked at Alden through squinted eyes as a smile crept on his face. "You've never heard of it," he said, dodging Alden's attempt to grasp him for another one of his knuckle-head rubs. "Maybe someday I'll tell you," he said through a few laughs. "But it's more boring than informative."

Alden chuckled softly and studied the boy's face for a moment. "Fair enough," he said, eventually, despite suspecting he would have heard of most any place Tristan could name. "But for the record, I'm good with boring stories." He shrugged. "Gonna be a lot of time travelling out in the Black, and sometimes I have trouble sleeping." Alden stopped walking, raised both eyebrows and tilted his head to the left, his tone utterly serious as he asked this next question.

"You okay?" Asked the Echo's captain. "I mean, really, Tristan, are you gonna be okay?"

Tristan stopped and turned to face the man. "What do you mean?" he asked with a slightly confused look on his face.

Just to add to his confusion, Alden nodded. "Never mind," he said. "But know this... if you need to talk, I'll listen."

The Firefly shuddered as they approached atmo entry, Alison's voice sounding out the familiar warning, and Alden reached for a strap hanging from the cargo bay's side. "Better buckle up," he told the boy, and indicated the fold down seats against the buckhead. "It'll be a rough ride for a few minutes."

Walking to the side, Tristan pulled down one of the seats and sat down, pulling the oversized belts over his body, buckling himself in. Even with the restraints, he was easily tossed about due to the difference in size. "These don't seem to fit," he said, trying to hold them down.

Alden offered up a fatherly smile, shook his head, and reached down to ratchet up the straps that were currently failing to hold the kid against the bucket seat. He rested one hand flat against Tristan's chest to test the limits, then pulled the web a little tighter again. "There ya go," Alden announced smartly, as he took his own seat. "You're not going anywhere now."

Tristan smiled up at the man.

The two sat there for a few moments in silence before the young man broke it. "Can I ask you something?"

"You can," Alden answered, simply, his expression coloured with mild amusement at the extra polite means this was being requested.

"Do you have like..." Tristan shrugged, "A goal? Like what's the purpose of this ship and our crew? What are we doing?"

"Our purpose?" The Echo's captain wrinkled his nose. "To keep flying." Alden considered the deeper sense of purpose behind his flippant response though, as he the ship rattled and protested atmo entry. "Well, I can't speak for everyone on board," he continued. "But for me, this a job, a vocation and a found family all wrapped into one. We trade, we help where we can, and we look after folk who need it." He shrugged and offered up a sheepish grin. "Well, I do." He recalled an 'orphanage' comment not too long ago, and that wasn't the first time which meant Alison didn't agree on that score.

"Until when, though?" Tristan asked. "Doesn't there need to be a purpose to all this?"

"Huh?" Queried Alden, lightly smiling. "Like some higher meaning?"

Tristan shrugged, "I don't know," he mumbled, looking down. Truth was, he wasn't quite sure what he meant. So far, his life seemed like one chaotic act after another with no real direction or path, and he wasn't quite sure what to make of that.

"If I ever make enough money, we'll both figure it out together," Alden said, his tone and his expression light-hearted on this one. "Until then, how about we focus on getting you some marketable skills and the rest of us enough money to celebrate?"

With a nod, Tristan sat back in his seat. Closing his eyes as he tried to calm his stomach from the ship's atmosphere entry. He hated this part.


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