Richie didn't really need to haggle a lot. The guy knew that without him he'd have ended up looking for more help in Oberon and lot a lot of cargo on the way. So when he twisted around Kae to put the pay into her backpack he leaned down to kiss her neck. "Lets go find a place to sleep and clean up."
Richie kept up his pace to keep them safe. Steering them toward Polis and around the creatures/ They would eventually make it to the gates of Polis and the Caravan leader took the lead again.
A few of the people looking to Richie as if trying to figure out how he was so good on the surface. Not all guards went out on the surface. In fact, most didn't. Some already assumed he was an undercover guard from another faction.
The antibiotics had helped Richie get clear of the forest, so to speak, but it had still taken another week for him to recover. Even then he wasn't quite back in top form, though of course he never complained. Kae could see it in the subtle signs.
He was well on his way to making a full come back, though. Even as she could see his stamina lacking, she could see it was also improving. So she'd agreed to let him start taking small jobs again, on the condition she do the same.
That had led to a small spat between them. One Kae ultimately won, with a small concession to keep his mind at ease. She would stay inside the station as much as possible, and only take external jobs to the next station on the line when she could travel with a guarded group. With both of them working again, they slowly replaced the clip of MGR that Kae had used to help pay for the medicine. All the while they were looking for an opportunity to travel to Polis.
Finally, fortune took a turn for the better. Kae was scouting jobs in the market one evening when she came across a trade party advertising for an extra gun to replace a guard that had quit, leaving them in a bad spot. She hung around briefly to ask a few questions before excusing herself to track down Richie.
"Sergei!" she called out when she finally spotted him in the crowd, giving a wave to draw his gaze to her.
Richie didn't even know that Kae had left let alone come back and started to force feed him antibiotics for the scratch he had gotten from the large rodent of unusual size. His fever would break soon after she had gotten him on antibiotics. He still felt cold himself even though he was running a temperature though it was dropping.
When he opened his eyes he smiled up to his girlfriend and took her hand. "God you're beautiful."
Post Begrudged Friendship & Pre Where is Liam
After Kae had parted ways from Sergei that night, several weeks passed before they saw one another again. It wasn't intentional on Kae's part. Delivering the package had been far tougher than she'd expected. What was supposed to be a day trip ended up taking four. She was forced to shelter in place at the station for a few days before it was safe enough for the guards to begin letting travelers through again. After that is was one thing after another, it seemed.
When they'd finally crossed paths again, Kae had expected to fall into their normal... whatever the hell it was. So she was surprised with the cool greeting she initially received. It was a strange encounter. He'd seemed relieved at the very start of it, like he'd been worried about her, but that had quickly shifted.
They smoothed it out in their awkward way. Since then they saw one another fairly regularly.
On this day, Kae was sitting on the bed sewing a patch over the knee of her pants while Sergei sat in front of the nightstand cleaning his gun.
"So where were you from originally?" she asked conversationally. She'd been trying to learn more about him, but he was tight lipped.
Despite some rocky moments between them along the way, Kae and Sergei had begun to spend more and more time together. She wasn't entirely sure what she would have called it at this point, but when he was staying in Hanza's trade hub, looking for work, Kae spent the night with him more often than not.
This was another of those mornings as Kae reluctantly peeled away from his warmth to dress and leave for the day. Sergei was still sleeping, so she was quiet as she dressed and slipped out, heading off in search of some kind of work.
Richie had chosen to stay in the station, in case Kaella did come back. He figured he'd give her a few days before he'd find another job. He still didn't like, or trust her but he felt obligated to help her. He figured if Tonka was out on her own he'd want someone to look after her like he was considering doing for Kaella.
So he took on a regular schedule, bought himself some more paper and took his time in an attempt to "relax".
It was a futile effort but he managed. It was the day that he was feeling that she found friends and wasn't coming back that he was packing up that the girl would show back up in his life.
Richie had his second thoughts before he got to the Red Line entrance that he had to buy himself into. He considered going back even as he sat in a circle with other men around a fire in the tunnels. He missed his sister and brother, especially around men he didn't know or trust not to slit his throat and rob him in the middle of the night.
They all seemed amicable enough that didn't mean that Richie slept any heavier than normal.
It was the shift of rocks and a grunt as a man that had walked a few feet into the shadows that a man returned with a bruising grip on a face that Richie knew. He furrowed his brow in confusion. "Found her snooping. Probably thinking about stealing some of the supplies we're moving," he said as he wrapped an arm around her waist and drug her in bringing his face closer to hers, his foul smelling breath was sickeningly sweet. "I think I'm gonna teach her a lesson.
Richie didn't make a move and watched to see how it would unfold for a moment.
"Fuck, it's cold out here right now," Kaella huffed as they moved quietly down the tunnel, "feels like the air is moving more than usual," she observed while adjusting the worn, fingerless gloves over her hands. They were treading quietly down the track line, making their way to the next major station - and looking for an opportunity to lift a few bullets in the process. There were usually merchants and travelers moving about on the ring line. She and Vanja had developed a knack for targeting such sorts over the years. One posted a distraction, the other lifted. Kae had learned a lot from her mentor over the years, even if Van wasn't that much older.
This time was Kaella's turn to distract, if anything came available. But for now it was just a quiet walk in the cold, listening to the ominous echoes of the tunnels. They were each on the alert, just in case a stray nosalis came bolting through - or some other such danger - but so far things were quiet, "And I'm starving," Kae tacked on for no particular reason other than to hear something more than the unsettling background noise of the tunnels.
In the middle of the night after the breakfast with their family Alice woke up feeling sick to her stomach. The open wound on the surface combined with the fact that Alice hadn't been on the surface for years had gotten her sick. She pulled almost violently away from Seth as they slept retching onto the floor re-opening the wound on her face from opening her mouth too wide in the process.
It smelled immediately of blood and vomit as she rolled to the floor and retched again. She was burning up, her face was throbbing and she felt like the room was spinning, like she had just had far too much vodka and tried to stand up too quickly.
It took Tonka a day before Richie convinced her it was fine and that she could go out that she'd be fine. He was trying to encourage her to become more independent. She knew how to protect herself and the station so far seemed safe enough. He even went so far as to follow her around for a while to prove to her that everything was fine.
When she finally said she was fine and he could go get some sleep he gave her a kiss on the temple before yawning and going to go rest in their temporary quarters. She was further down where people were trading than the man that had accused her the day before and that made her feel better about it.
Then suddenly her ears were ringing, she felt a throbbing in her head and she couldn't see. She didn't even know yet that she had hit the ground it had happened so fast.
What seemed like a few seconds at most was significantly more as she tried to push herself out of the ringing fog and will her body to move. By the time she had her hand to her head and was groaning the person that had done it was already disappeared into the crowd and no one saw exactly what happened, they just saw Tonka on the floor.
As she started to regain her footing she pulled her hand away from her head and it came back covered in blood. She reached to her shirt with her unbloodied hand placed it where she should have felt the necklace but it wasn't there, that's when she felt the stinging from it being ripped from her neck.
She barely held back a sob as she reached into the neck of her shirt to feel for it despite knowing full well in her mind that it was gone. A few people asked if she was alright and what had happened but she ignored them as she half stumbled back through the market intending to head back to quarters but taking the wrong turn in her disorientation and ending up where Red had said she could ask for him. Fighting back another sob she took in a deep breath. "Can you get Red for me? He said I could ask for him," she said instead of choosing to go back to quarters, to Richie and Seth. She wasn't sure they could do anything.
Hell, she wasn't sure Red could do anything either but this was his station so maybe he could.
After Alice had drifted soundly back to sleep, Seth gently peeled himself away from her. He stood and brushed himself off, then pulled on his boots before quietly slipping away.
Neither Tonka or Richie were present when he pushed open their door. He gave a huff and then turned away, heading off in search of Richie so he could take a stab at seeing how his brother was doing.