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Crossing Paths at the Crossroads

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1 Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:41 pm

A light snow is falling when I find my way to the familiar Crossroads Inn. I've left my car at the garage a couple blocks over after the engine had begun making an unpleasant squealing noise on the drive here. It's an easy fix, I know, but I've never been much of one for getting my hands dirty - particularly in the biting cold of an early snow. It's bad enough having to stop inside the door of the inn to shake the cold, wet mess out of my jacket, my shoes stomping on the rug to kick the slush from my feet.

"Morning, Martha," I greet the woman behind the bar, the only one working the floor at this early hour - and she doesn't look happy about it. The rest of the inn is quiet, the sun having barely begun its slow rise on the horizon. Martha hardly looks my way at the greeting, my accent likely giving my identity away and telling her I'm not worth the extended effort of a smile. I rarely take company here, and only from a select few girls that I've grown to like over the years.

I'm a little surprised when I notice another person sitting at one of the tables near the back of the room, the corner cast in shadow by the low morning light. Watching her pick at her plate, seemingly lost in her own little world, I feel a little jolt of recognition as I catch a glimpse of her face as her hand brushes the curtain of hair that had fallen from her ear back up under her hood.

Removing my coat and folding it over my arm, I stride over to the table and take a seat across from her before she's even had a chance to really register my sudden presence. When she does look up at me, a startled look of surprise on her scarred face, I can only smile.

"So what's a pretty thing like you doing in a place like this?" I ask, ignoring the little squeeze of sadness at seeing her scars.

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2 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:21 pm

I find myself wide eyed as I stare up at the man sitting across from me, my eyes watering as I recognize the large blue ones looking back at me. 

"Jean?!" I breathe the name, practically flying out of my seat as I round the table to throw my arms around him.

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3 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:29 pm

"In the flesh," I say as I let out a startled laugh as I find myself crushed in her embrace, my arm winding around her to return the hug. Kissing her cheek, I scoot over in the booth and pat the seat next to me for her to sit down.

"What are you doing in the Crossroads?" I ask as I turn in the booth to get a better look at her. "I didn't think you'd ever ventured out of Old North."

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4 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:31 pm

"Came with a friend," I smile, twisting to face him with a broad smile. I haven't seen Jean since just after Maja's death, and he's a pleasant reminder of happier times. "What about you? What are you doing out here?"

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5 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:43 pm

"I was just visiting my mother," I smile as I tuck my coat over the booth and settle in more comfortably. "You remember Charlemagne, don't you? We spent the summer building onto her place and repairing a few things that were damaged in the raids last winter."

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6 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:45 pm

"I do," I nod, reaching over to pull my plate back towards me before I pick off a piece of my bread. "Is she well?"

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7 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 9:49 pm

"Very," I nod before reaching over to steal a piece of food from her plate. "Her and Nik are talking about building a greenhouse next summer. What about you? How have you been?"

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8 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:03 pm

I only smile as I shrug, curling a leg into the booth as I watch him. "I've been good - I have my own little apartment and I sort of work at the Rusty Nail as a musician... Or... I did, before I headed out this way."

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9 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:06 pm

"That's good!" I grin as I reach over to touch her knee briefly. "I'm glad you're finding your niche in the world. Are you moving out this way now?"

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10 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:26 pm

"No, just going through." I respond, picking again at the bread on my plate. "Marnin and I are looking for someone."

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11 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:27 pm

"Oh yeah?" I ask as I pick at the piece of bread I'd stolen from her plate. "Who are you looking for? Maybe I can help. I've been traveling a lot these past few years, met a lot of people."

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12 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:49 pm

"It's sort of a personal thing..?" I frown a bit, reaching up a bit self-consciously to shake my hair over the scarred half of my face. "And a bit silly, really."

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13 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:53 pm

"As silly as climbing out your third story bedroom window to go driving around with your sister's boyfriend at three in the morning because he had your favorite smokes and didn't get off work until two?" I ask with a cocked eyebrow.

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14 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:09 am

I grin a bit as I shrug, looking over at him with a smile. 

"Silly in a different way." I laugh softly, "Let's talk about something else, though."

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15 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:18 am

"Alright," I grin as I bring my leg up partially into the seat, my foot bumping hers as I take another bite of her bread. "What kind of music are you playing these days? Still the same broody, horny stuff you played when you were a teenager?"

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16 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:19 am

"I still have Maja's guitar, so that." I shrug, "I don't have the fiddle anymore... Not since... Ya know."

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17 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:21 am

"Yeah," I frown, a twinge of pain catching me off-guard as I draw my gaze away to stare at the table.

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18 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:30 am

"How have you been, though?" I ask, glancing up at him as I try to force a smile, unwilling to let anything mar the pleasant surprise of seeing him. "You look good."

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19 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:41 am

"Oh, you know," I smile faintly, my shoulders shrugging as I run a hand through my hair. "I've been doing a lot of freelance work, driving folks around, snatching up good trades here and there and turning them for a profit, and occasionally working the inns like this. Nik still throws his money at me every chance he gets. Makes it easy to do whatever I like."

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20 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:49 am

"What do you do at the inns?" I ask, for some reason the prospect of another of my male friends running through brothels catching my attention more than anything else. "This doesn't seem like your sort of... I don't know - Stomping grounds?"

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21 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:54 am

"Ehe," I laugh awkwardly, a faint flush coming to my cheeks as I shrug. "Just whatever needs done, I guess. Sometimes I'll work security, other times I'll work the bar... or, you know... whatever. I don't usually work here because the clients are typically men, but I've found a few opportunities here and there. Mostly I just come here for the cornbread and beans."

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22 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:59 am

"They do have good food," I nod, what he's said not really registering until my eye widens and I look up at him. "No," I exclaim in a whisper.

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23 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:02 am

"Shhh," I whisper back, my eyes darting around the empty inn as I feel my face go hot. "Don't judge. It's only every once in awhile and it's good money! These clothes aren't free, you know."

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24 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:04 am

"Well, god forbids you dress like the rest of us!" I scoff, my own face flushin as I turn back to the table so I can pick at my breakfast.

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25 Re: Crossing Paths at the Crossroads on Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:16 am

"It's hardly my fault the people in this part of the country don't dress better," I retort before clearing my throat as I sit up to wave at Martha for something to eat. "Really, though? It's not so bad. I've only done it a few times, but it helped get me through some pretty tough winters. And it's easy work. I've had a girl pay me just to sit and talk with her over dinner, and another paid me to pretend I was her boyfriend so her parents wouldn't find out about the woman she was living with. It's not always... you know. A lot of the time I'm just company."

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