A Little Courage

Cass discreetly eyed Eve as she approached, wondering just how she was going to explain about Jaxx and worrying whether she might somehow sense that something was amiss.
As it turned out, she needn't have been apprehensive because, to her relief, Eve just assumed that her husband was being an idiot, and somehow managed to tempt him back in the manner of a dog scenting out a mate.
The fact that Jaxx appeared to have reverted to some sort of feral state when he emerged from the undergrowth, wasn't lost on Cass; but happily this proved only temporary and her concern was quickly replaced by a degree of sympathy for the guy, when she witnessed the treatment meted out to him by Eve.
While she stopped short of actually hitting Jaxx, she didn't seem overly concerned about the others witnessing her rather physical chastisement; and there was an awkward moment of nervous laughter around the campfire when she finally let go of his bright red ear and starting demanded gifts.
Thankfully for him, Jaxx had returned with an assortment of fruits and berries, bundled up in his shirt, so he was spared any further humiliation; although Cass noted that Eve was careful to leave the threat of more severe punishment hanging over him if he displeased her again. This very nearly made her say something, but Jade somehow sensed her agitation and had placed a calming hand on her shoulder and asked for help, washing and cleaning Jaxx's haul of fruit.
"That's physical and psychological abuse" Cass hissed, well out of earshot of the others "My fucking father used to do that shit. It starts off small and then gets worse and worse"
"I thought you didn't like Jaxx?"
"Oh, come on..."

They ate not long after that, the fruit and fishes making for an odd, but filling enough meal. Cass felt the conversation was somewhat muted, although whether anyone else picked up on it was open to conjecture as Jamie took it upon himself to regale them with all manner of bushlore as they ate; explaining what each of the things were that they were eating were and how the Ssala prepared them.

Jaxx, for his part, just sat next to Eve as meek and quiet as a kitten, hardly daring to raise his eyes.
A shockwave rumbled through the ground beneath them, just as they were finishing the meal, the tremor preceding the sound of a distant explosion a few seconds later.

“What the hell was that?” Cass demanded above the screeching and whooping animals that had been startled awake in the trees around them “You don’t think that was...” she trailed off, leaving the words unsaid, but everyone could tell what she was thinking.

Evelina instinctively grabbed Jaxx’s hand with a concerned look on her face as she looked to see where the blast came from. Jaxx quickly snapped out of his self-pity to see Evelina’s firm grip. As Jaxx looked at Evelina, Franky thought, “Oceans to Murgatroyd, Jaxx what was that even?” Jaxx looked around and thought, “It totally sounded like a bomb.” Franky chuckled as he thought, “No you silly boy, I was referring to your beloved’s gesture even.” Jaxx looked at Evelina’s firm grip on his hand as he was slightly trembling. Jaxx thought, “Umm is Eve babe scared?” Franky chuckled as he thought, “Well done my dear cute apprentice. Being able to read body language is part of your training and very important in any relationship even.” Jaxx thought, “Well I like guess the bomb scared her and stuff.” Franky sighed and thought, “Oh my, are you really going to lie to me knowing full well I can read you like a book even?” Jaxx winced as he thought, “Sorry Master I guess I am a bit nervous and stuff.” Franky thought, “I know and I feel your pain my dear sweet apprentice, but if you continue to doubt yourself you will miss out on the bigger picture even.” Jaxx looked around and thought, “Huh? What picture?” Franky thought, “Did it bother you that your sweet Evelina treated you so harshly even?” Jaxx thought, “Yeah but I prolly had it coming and stuff.” Franky thought, “Well that was true even. However did you even notice she is putting on such a brave face for you?” Jaxx looked at Evelina’s slightly trembling body and thought, “I like thought she was mad at me again and stuff.” Franky sighed as he replied, “Jaxx honey she is literally terrified of losing you again. She is trying to mother hen you even so the others won’t chastise you even. Since she has the most influence on you even, she shoulders the responsibility of your actions.” Jaxx thought, “Like what’s a mother hen?” Franky thought, “Ahhhhh it’s a term used to be an over protective mother. It’s very common for naturally born life forms even.” Jaxx thought, “I like never had a mother Master, I was made in a tank by some smart dudes.” Franky sighed, “I know my dear sweet apprentice and that is why I have been so understand for your situation as of late even. However if you don’t make any progress you will never be seen differently by the others even.” Jaxx sighed as he thought, “So like Eve babe is doing her best for my sake huh?” Franky thought, “My dear by she has been fighting back her tears this whole time. If you don’t reassure her soon her strength may fail her even.” Jaxx looked at the others and then back at Evelina as he pulled her back to his chest, hugger her and whispered, “Thanks Eve babe, you’re the best.” Evelina held Jaxx’s arms tightly as her trembling stopped. Then she gently kissed the back of his right hand as she pulled it to her cheek.

Jamie clambered to his feet and brushed off his hands “Give me a minute” he grunted and, rolling his shoulders, walked towards one of the larger trees where he pulled himself up into its lower branches to nimbly climb up into the darkness.
"Can you see anything?" Jade called up to him
“The jungle’s burning. It's about four hours northwest of here” he called down a moment later “I’m guessing there might have been an airstrike”
“We need to check that out” Cass said without hesitation

After they saw Jamie get up Jaxx looked at the concerned Cass as she was waiting for a response. Jaxx sighed as he rubbed his head stood up with Evelina as they dusted their backsides off. Franky thought, “Don’t be afraid dear boy even, speak your mind.” Jaxx looked at Cass and replied, “Like wait Ms. Jones.” Cass looked at Jaxx as she replied, “What?? Why?” Jaxx looked at Jade and Jamie and nervously rubbed the back of his head as he smiled and replied, “Well like Jay dude said we like have to use our melons and stuff.” Cass was not amused by Jaxx as she replied, “What are you implying Jaxx?” Jaxx sighed as he replied, “Well like you see some of us ain’t doing so well (looking at Jade) and most of us are like out of our element and stuff.” Cass looked at the worn out Jade and then back at Jaxx as she crossed her arms and replied, “Get to the point Jaxx.” Jaxx looked at everyone as he mustered up his courage and replied, “Well my bag is in the water, Doc’s bag is patching us up, Eve babe is good with directions and your bag is with tech stuff, but like Jamie dude is in his element now so we should ask him first.” Jaxx looked at Evelina who gave him a gentle smile of approval before he looked at Jamie to say, “Like what do you think Jamie dude since like this is your turf and all?”


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