Day 029: Not A Banner Day
Summary: Britt makes a four-year-old orphan cry.
Date: 2016 Jun 28
Related: The Destruction of Thripoda (Aldria is orphaned); For the 100, Part 1 & Part 2 (Britt gets shot in the face)
Arlin Britt Silver Wren 

Public Garden and Orchard — Tondc, Trikru
The public gardens of Tondc inhabit a long, narrow strip of land between the marketplace and a narrow babble of the divided Potomac. They are divided up by narrow footpaths that have been here since before the bombs, and help create a variety of garden beds to host primarily edible plants. The garden is tended by the citizens of Tondc, which also means it provides for the citizens of Tondc. Those who work the gardens are given permission to harvest from the vegetables and fruits in exchange. Toward the back of the gardens, near the riverside, are many fruit-bearing trees that are heavy with apples and cherries in the summer and autumn months. Toward the midway point is the large building used for the Warrior Barracks — all crafted from stone, metal and wood.
Day 29

It's been a long time since Britt has had a chance to just sit and chill in a garden, but here she is. Sitting and chilling on a bench near the river. One of the paired daggers she normally keeps on her belt is in her hand, being used to cut off slices of an apple. She's looking better than she was - still a little pale, but no longer gaunt and wobbly. The bandage cuts diagonally across her face, covering her left cheek and eye, and it's probably the reason that a mild wince lingers on her face as she chews a bit of apple.

Although he's in better shape than the archer is, Arlin's also had a trying past two weeks. The caravan from Coesbur arrived some time yesterday, and the medic didn't get much in the way of sleep before, during, or since then. This only emphasizes the creases around his eyes, his features falling into a semi-sour look that is a mingling of tiredness and tension. To his credit, his mood could understandably be worse. It was in this city, after all, that he watched his father's excruciating execution some fifteen (15) years ago.

The visibility of that dreadful weight might be lessened by the more physical load he carries atop his broad shoulders: a burnt sienna-skinned girl, with big dark eyes, and espresso colored hair suntreaked toffee in many places. "Let's see what we can find you, sugar glider," he tells her, far more levity in his distinctive voice, for her sake, than is evident on his face, as they stroll the bower not too far from where Britt is chillaxing.

Britt doesn't see them coming, her peripheral vision on the left completely toasted by the bandage. But there's no mistaking Arlin's voice, even if the light words cause her to turn that way with a confused peer. "Babysitting the caravan wasn't enough for you?" she asks. It's not as light as she might have on another day - there's a somber edge to her voice.

It would seem that Arlin doesn't mistake Britt's voice either. (Or maybe he just hears a female who is flirting with him.) ((Hey, people flirt with him a lot. Don't hate.)) Now, were this a different world, one in which the medic had been acquainted with pornographic movies, he'd quip something about playing his part for the pizza man. This is not such a world, though, so he instead cracks, "I'll tote precious cargo over getting shot in the face." And despite that cheeky (pun totally intended) grin he flashes, his eyes assess the injury more seriously from afar. Then closer, seeing how he plots a new course archerwards.

The girl atop his shoulders, tiny hands clasped around his forehead, regards the redhead both curiously and anxiously.

"Yeah I think you got the better end of the deal there," Britt responds dryly, before turning her attention to the little girl. The smile she offers is tiny, because smiling freaking hurts, but hopefully she makes up for it with her voice. It's the kind, soft-spoken lilt reserved for little kids and cute animals. Not baby talk - Britt doesn't do baby talk - but definitely a softening of the warrior's usual hard edges. "And who's this then?" She holds out a slice of apple, "Would you like some?" The bandage does a pretty good job of hiding the injury, making any assessment difficult from afar. Arlin's astute eyes may also notice another white bandage visible beneath a tear in her shirt, on her side just under her ribs.

Of course he notices. That's part and parcel of his job. In fact, Britt might even notice that he notices because the medic isn't particularly discrete about it. He merely turns his head a bit as he arches a quizzical brow in a silent question even though he probably already knows the answer.

Arlin doesn't linger, though. Instead, he bounces once on the balls of his feet when he replies, "This?" The girl giggles a little. "You mean this li'l nutkin right here." He bounces twice more in emphasis causing more giggling. "This is Aldria the sugar glider." Who knows what animal she'll be tomorrow? "Whaddya say, li'l bit? Fancy some apple from Britt?" It would seem so with the way she nods her head. The medic waits, though. And waits. "No?" Seems not even four-year-olds are spared his impish humor. "Okay. I'll take it, then." And the way he mischievously grins reveals that he bloody well knows what's gonna come next.

"Arliiiiiin. Noooooo."
"I know you said no."
"Arliiiiin. She asked me, not you."
"Yeah, and you didn't want it."
"That's not true!"
"Well, then, you need to speak up and say so."
"I'm saying so." And she looks down at him (well, the top of his ball-capped head) with a mixture of gravitas and annoyance, eyes big, before she looks over to Britt. "I would like some apple, please."

And Arlin looks all too pleased with himself.

Britt offers a silent, dismissive shrug to the healer's silent inquiry, clearly not interested in discussing war wounds when there's a cute little kid to distract her. "Aldria. That's a strong name." Because Grounder warriors don't give silly compliments like 'pretty'. "I'm Britt." The exchange between healer and child tugs her smile up a bit, though that causes her face to twitch a bit in pain. "Here you are." She offers the apple to the child, standing a little if necessary for her to reach. Then she slants the girl a conspiratorial look with her one good eye, and says, "What do you think, should we give Arlin some too? Has he earned it?"

For all that he detests horses, Arlin makes an awfully good one, even going so far as to duck down and tilt to enable the gifting, snugly holding onto the girl's thighs so she doesn't topple off as she accepts the apple and offers a, "Thank you." For a moment, Aldria considers the archer's question, her mouth quirking as she ponders. Her universe is too recently upended and her reactive attachment to the man too strong for her to seriously consider possibly-maybe upsetting him. (Just wait until she hits puberty. Then he'll probably be The Worst Ever.) For now, he's the best thing she knows, so she nods quite vigorously.

"You better be nodding," the medic needles.
"I /am/," the girl insists.
"Good. Otherwise I have to throw you off."

Which he jokingly tries with enough enthusiasm that Aldria squeals with delight, one hand slapped over his face and the other clutching the slice of apple.

Britt cuts off another chunk of apple. She starts to offer it to Arlin, but then snatches it back just inches from his hand. She slants a skeptical peer up at Aldria. "Are you sure?" Assuming the girl reaffirms her vigorous nod, she sighs theatrically. "Okay. If you're sure." This time she hands over the slice for real, accompanied by a tiny smirk.

Oh, ho! Well, then. If it's going to be like that, Arlin is gonna flash his sauciest smile at the archer, eyes hooding just so, and his voice taking a smoldering tone as he asks, "What else you want me to beg for?" Punctuated by a most suggestive loft of his brows as he slo-o-o-o-owly puts that piece of apple partially in his mouth and slo-o-o-o-owly sinks his teeth into the tender meat of the fruit, creating more of a shhhhwsh sound than a crunch.

Britt rolls her eyes. Well, eye. The other one is pretty well swollen shut, but it wants to roll. It so does. "Does that actually work on women?" she wonders, making a bemused gesture towards the whole smoldering apple chomp thing going on over there. Then she seems to remember the little girl, and steers the conversation back to something more appropriate. "Has Arlin taken you to see the horses yet?" There's another twitch in her face as she struggles to smother an impish grin.

"More times than not," Arlin admits, with a cocky grin, taking that eye roll as a victory of a non-sexy variety. When he plops the rest of the apple in his mouth, he still savors it, but not in an overwrought way. At least until he nearly chokes on it when Britt throws him under the carriage.

"No," Aldria pouts.

The medic coughs some but manages to not drop the kid or shank the archer. After a moment of clearing his throat, he tells his passenger, "That's because Britt really wants to take you to see 'em, and I promised that she could." Neener-neer, red.

"I suppose there's no accounting for taste," Britt deadpans back. Nevermind that if she were about ten years younger she might have a different perspective on things. As it stands, she just likes to tease him about it. The expression on his face after Aldria's pout causes her to chuckle and then immediately regret it. She winces, her free hand going to the side of her face for a few seconds. "Ow. Shit. Don't say it." Say how she totally deserved that for playing dirty pool. Beating away the grimace in favor of a tiny smile for the girl, she says, "Actually I'd love to show you the horses. Maybe even go for a ride, if your mother doesn't mind."

It was such a lovely day in the lovely orchard. Picturesque, really, with Britt sitting on a bench near the river, and Arlin standing quite nearby, with a certain 4-year-old girl from Thripoda riding atop his broad shoulders. One might mistake them for a happy little family…

…up until Arlin goes wide-eyed and frozen in abject horror for long enough to warrant some canned laughter in a crappy sitcom. And then those hazel eyes roll, and his head turns with it, aforementioned eyes then shutting in a wince as his mouth carries the momentum by quietly exclaiming, "Oh, fuck."

Why? Because, by that time, Aldria's own wide eyes and quivering lip have given away to the crying only a small child being reminded that all her family was exploded twelve (12) days ago.

To his credit, the medic is on it like someone well-practiced and skilled at comforting children. "Okay. Okay," he tries to soothe, once he's dipped, twisted, and maneuvered enough to get the girl off his shoulders an into his arms. He swivels a little and lightly bounces on his heels as Aldria buries her face in his neck. Arlin gently strokes her hair, not pausing in all this impromptu caregiving even when he flicks a glare that's both 'what the hell?' and 'thanks a lot!' at Britt.

Britt has a half-eaten apple in one hand and a dagger in the other (for cutting up the apple, since chewing still sucks.) Her face is still bandaged, covering her left cheek and eye, so it's only half her face that twists into a bewildered expression when the girl goes off. Arlin's glare gets a look back that mixes irritation with a crushing guilt. "Hey, I'm sorry - how the hell was I supposed to know?" She thought it was just some refugee kid from Coesbur. How about a head's up next time buddy? She falls quiet, then, leaving the healer to comfort the little girl.

Editor's note: All of the above was in Trigedasleng.

There was dinner, Wren and Pontus had their talk (whatever that was since it actually hasn't happened yet), and waited for Silver to have her talk with Rinnan. Waiting outside the home where his family is currently staying, he decides to show her around, maybe on the off chance that she won't get too many looks. But the medic won't learn or see anything if she stays cooped up on the inside. "You alright?" he finally says, walking along next to her. "You did fine earlier, by the way. If you're wondering."

"I know how not to get shanked," Silver replies, a dry note in her voice. "Do I look like someone who survived two years of prison by picking fights with the other inmates?" All right, so maybe she's inflating things a little bit. It's not like the guards let the kids beat each other up too much. And she does smile faintly as she looks back up at him. "I'm fine."

Which is roughly when the sound of extremely unhappy child cuts through the air and she arches a brow back at him. "Sounds like somebody's not, though." And then she's off investigating the source of the noise.

'Seriously, Britt? Seriously?' Arlin's expression is a comical medley of incredulous and vexed. "<In Trigedasleng> I told you about her," he gets through gritted teeth, biting back the urge to outright snap, because, really, he's doing his best to console the crying kid, with whom he's now slowly pacing. In all fairness, he did mention Aldria. Or, more accurately, he mentioned that the sole survivor of Thripoda was a single 4-year-old girl. Sure, he never named a name, but how was he to know the archer would somehow conclude he's the kind of guy who would just tote around some random child who, if a refugee from Coesbur, probably would still have a family? It's not worth stressing over now, but he hastily scribbles a mental note in his internal calendar:

Thursday, 3PM: Righteous indignation w/Britt.

How many times did Britt cart around Ibem's kids all over Coesbur on her shoulders? It's all perspective. "<In Trigedasleng>You did NOT!" Britt argues. But then… wait… it dawns on her that he did mention a kid. Though it was in passing in a conversation what feels like forever and a day ago. She starts to verbally backpedal, wincing for more than one reason. "<In Trigedasleng> I didn't know that was the kid." And then she sighs and fumbles for some way out of the hole she dug. That's about when she notices Wren and Silver heading their way. Forgive her if she's not overjoyed to see them - the archer just made a poor little orphan girl burst into tears. She's not having a banner day.

It's not like Wren isn't paying attention. Oh, he's becoming pretty quick on learning people's motives just by looking at their faces. Suddenly he's had to become a professional at it, incase there's a reason he needs to play interference. "Silver…" he starts, going along with her. "This may…not be the best of times." he offers, slightly hesitant when he catches that look on Britt's face. But she's free to ignore him, even if he's eyeballing Arlin's current antics. Then again, he can't protect the medtech. Going to have to take the animosity for what it is. So he keeps walking. Besides, she's already off to investigate as it is.

"I just want to make sure everyone's all right," Silver says over her shoulder to Wren, pausing when she gets close enough to see what's actually going on. Britt: Unknown. Potential hazard. Already unhappy. Small child: Definitely unhappy. Arlin: Familiar face. In a less familiar configuration of panic. Try not to laugh.

There's no way for her to know where the child's come from. She didn't even hear there was a survivor. But she looks between Britt and Arlin, cautious. "<In Trigedasleng> Do you…need help?" she offers. At least, of the group, she's almost certainly the least intimidating looking.

OMFG, Britt. Arlin totes told you. Isn't it obvious by his bugged-out eyes that tick into a glare? The way his jaw clenches? How about how he finally growls out, "<In Trigedasleng> I DID," complete with pissy follow-up look? A look that fades into a wince-frown combo as he realizes losing his temper is not helping. "<In Trigedasleng> Shhh. Shhh. S'gonna be okay, okay? I promise." He continues to stroke the girl's hair, gently buoying her up and down in his arms, and is successful enough in the consoling that one could reasonably infer that he's not new at this.

Silver's voice is unrecognized, and the medic is so preoccupied that he doesn't bother to glance in the direction of the question. To his credit, he doesn't sound overly curt when he replies, "<In Trigedasleng> No. We're fine." Which either is wishful thinking, a soon-to-be reality, or a flat out lie.

Britt wince-frowns right back at him. She's irritated, but she really does feel terrible. She forces her voice into more of a conciliatory tone. "<In Trigedasleng> Aldria, I'm sorry, dear heart. But we'll go see the horses, all right?" Horses make everything better. "<In Trigedasleng> Would you like to go see the horses? Or the hounds?" Cows? Chickens? Ice Cream? OK maybe not ice cream. Britt is not great with small children. She casts a distracted one-eyed glance over to the approaching Silver. "<In Trigedasleng> She can't do any worse than me," she mumbles.

Horses do not make anything better. Unnaturally oversized, noisy things with gigantic teeth and hard feet. Talk about scaring the kid. But when Arlin turns down the offer of help, Silver doesn't protest, offering only a sympathetic look and giving him space. Instead, it's Britt who gets the next, curious look. Bandages. Those are always interesting. Except asking about them is awkward.

Let it be said again: Horses do not make everything better. They make everything worse. FACT.

Arlin refrains from outright singing this gospel despite being an evangelical true believer. This might account for how ridiculously quickly he decides, "<In Trigedasleng> Hounds," as if grasping a life line. And with the presence of Silver and Wren, this crappy sitcom now has a live studio audience. "<In Trigedasleng> A'right, nutkin. Let's go vex Veks." Which, mercifully, seems to be the last piece of the puzzle to usher in some sniffles and the girl's own wiping of her eyes.

"<In Trigedasleng> Yes, yes, you can go and see Smoke." Smoke, at least, she trusts to be reasonably child-friendly under Veks' supervision. The other hunting hounds Britt is somewhat less sure of. Britt for her part, seems disinclined to leave the bench. She's done enough damage for one day. Sorry she mouths silently to Arlin. Her uncovered eye drifts to Silver, then, giving the younger woman's reaction an openly curious look.

Wren just watches on. Not much he can do at the moment. He's okay with kids, had to help raise two twin sisters. Maybe he could do something, or maybe he's just remembering the sweet, fresh hell that Starling and Lark put him through. So yeah, he may be thinking twice than getting involved in that. Thankfully, Arlin is taking the kiddo away.

Silver doesn't actually say anything to Wren - maybe she doesn't trust her Trigedasleng, but she does set a hand lightly to the big Grounder's bicep before she slips away for a moment, jogging the first few steps back toward where his family staying before dropping down to a brisk walk. Maybe she's had some sort of thought.

The medic unquestionably hates horses, but if one were to draw a conclusion from how he is with Aldria, he probably has a serious soft spot for kids. It might account for the surly look he levels at Britt. She's sorry? Hmph. Arlin files away the apology and adds it to the list of action items to his righteous indignation meeting with the archer that he's already mentally penciled in for Thursday at 3PM. In the meanwhile, the redhead gets a grunt of acknowledgement, which is better than some of the alternatives. That issued, the medic turns on his heel and fully turns his attention on the girl as he heads out of the orchard. "<In Trigedasleng> Smoke's a good boy, inn'ee?"

Never mind that Smoke is actually a bitch. Literally.

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