WHO: Logan and Zoe WHEN: July 12 WHERE: Marketplace - Trading day WHAT: Trading and catching up WARNINGS: None. STATUS: Complete
Zoe’s bag was full of rations that required more than just water or a microwave. Her goal- as with most times at trade- was to pick up premade stuff. Thankfully some people sought to trade just that. They made more than they could eat, and traded for items to make more stuff. Of course, she also looked for things to pilfer for parts. Sometimes she was able to trade for fixing broken things (things that weren’t deemed priority by the government to send maintenance for, like personal items). Zoe traded some rice for some premade chili and some spices for potato salad. Thankfully she had come prepared with some ice packs in part of her bag.
Then, Zoe stopped to help someone pick up items that had spilled from a broken bag. She was thanked and as she stood back up she realized her bag was lighter. Quickly she checked it and immediately felt her heart hit her stomach floor. Oh no. Those blue eyes flicked around wildly and caught sight of the small yellow metal waddling away. She hurried after it and as she reached down to grab the foot tall toy looking thing, she found herself colliding with the back of a much larger man. “Shoot.” She winced, lifting the small robot into her arms as she looked up to spot a familiar face. “Sorry.” Oh, Zoe’s cheeks warmed with embarrassment. “Logan… sorry.”
Logan was a terrible cook. Casey had done most of the meal preparation; even when he tried his best to be romantic and whip something up as simple as macaroni and cheese or spaghetti he managed to screw it up. They usually laughed about it and then went out to get food, but as far as fending for himself he was much like Zoe in the fact that premade meals were the way to go. He could fix just about anything that was broken with a bit of tinkering but recipies just seemed beyond his capacity to comprehend and execute. It was a wonder he wasn’t starving.
Like the others who looked forward to trading day he had gathered a few rations that he knew would go to waste at his place and brought them diligently to see if anyone else could use them. He grew up poor, wasting food was not a luxury he could boast about. But now it was just him and he had far too much to eat now than he ever had on the mainland.
He’d been standing on his own trying to decide the best approach: you had two different types of traders - the ones who just went with it and started waving their items around seeking what they wanted, and those who hung back and timidly held onto their packages of whatever waiting to feel less awkward about the whole thing. He fell into the latter part of those people.
About to try his hand at pawning off this chicken salad on a lady who might seem interested Logan felt something collide gently into him. He wasn’t worried about being knocked flat by the impact though it had taken him by surprise. When he turned to see who had bumped into him he peered down at a familiar face. A small smile would be offered, one that was friendly but not much more than that. “Don’t worry about it,” he gave, kindly, spying the little yellow robot tucked in her arms, “You alright?”
“Yea.” Zoe said, with a shrug as she quickly tucked Juane into her bag. Her eyes glanced around a little, not entirely sure how one of the guards would feel if they saw him. She wasn’t even sure why she’d brought him out. He’d been camping in her bag a few outings actually. He sort of made her feel comfortable. Oh god, had her life gotten that pathetic that she’d actually made herself a best friend and needed him with her to feel safe- shit. She had. “I just… dropped something.” Or it had escaped from her bag and ran. She made a note to check his programming for glitches.
“I didn’t meant to-” Bother you, run into you, get in your way, fuck he hadn’t even budged and she’d hit his shin with her shoulder. He’d actually kept her from falling down. And he hadn’t budged. “It’s been a while.” Had it? She was sure she’d seen him around, just not run into him. Or talked to him, or waved. God, she was a horrible person, wasn’t she?
A nod would be offered as a reply. He was glad she was alright and not hurt. The collision had been minor - probably wouldn’t even leave a bruise on either of them. He didn’t mention the little thing in her arms, as bright and colorful as it was, because of the situation some residents had with the guards. Logan wasn’t usually outright harassed, most likely due to his size and physique, but it came when he wasn’t around a lot of witnesses if the guard was feeling brave enough to smart off or comment inappropriately.
“Nah, it’s fine. As long as you aren’t hurt.” The container in his hand was lifted, “Nobody seems interested in my chicken salad. What a shame.” He tried his best to alleviate the tender awkwardness but then again he’d been living with it for a while now. And it had been a little while since they’d spoken though not for any particular reason. He just wasn’t always the most social or approachable person.
“Good to see you around.” He meant that. Some came and went, and some never came back.
“Yea, I’ve been… working a lot. New job came with more hours. Less scenery.” Zoe furrowed her brow. “I mean I’m a lab most of the day- not like out around… in different places like before.” Words weren’t coming out how she was intending. “Sometimes I miss just fixing broken things. Lot less stress than making new things.” Not that she didn’t like making new things. It just came with its own challenges, which normally she liked. But since the resident trashed her work space, she’d not felt the safest. “I like chicken salad.” She said in what felt like a random moment.
“I mean, I’m sure others do too, just not found the right person to trade with. I’d trade but I don’t think I have anything you’d like. I’d trade the chili, but I need the protein.” She chuckled. “Could swap potato salad for chicken, if you’re more a fan of potatoes.” Was she breathing? Did she breath when she was talking? How fast was she talking? Why were her cheeks so warm?
People moved around on the island as far as occupation was concerned; they’d been through a number of islanders who were more adept than others in keeping up with the grueling task of maintaining the island and keeping it functioning. “I can understand, but you’re not missing much.” Fixing toilets and sinks, lawn maintenance, dealing with garbage … he felt that those things were beyond Zoe.
The small carton of chicken salad was offered to her. Logan shook his head, “You don’t have to trade me anything. I’d rather it get eaten than tossed out.”
It was more of a gift than a swap. Zoe was good people, the place needed more smart people like her to thrive.
“Oh,” she tucked some hair behind her head. “Thanks.” Zoe reached out and took the carton, clearly blushing a little. Why was she so juvenile? “I’ll owe you.” She wasn’t used to gifts without someone expecting something in exchange- at least not from strangers. And she hates that unknown feeling of obligation. If she owed someone she owed them- terms were clear. If it was an unspoken assumption, she’d be constantly fretting over if she really did owe or if the other person actually expected something but didn’t say so because they were trying to be polite. She really did hate politeness sometimes. It meant people didn’t say what they meant and she had to try to infer social queues- which she sucked at.
“Your smile is payment enough,” Logan murmured kindly, handing over the plastic sealed container to Zoe. Honestly he was glad to be rid of it. Whoever decided who got what was clearly out of their minds. Fortunately not everyone got the same things and they all seemed eager to trade with each other. It made things easier that way.
Had he been able to read her thoughts just then he would have felt exactly the same - he hated being indebted to someone, especially due to an awkward circumstance or occurrence. It didn’t happen often, and he was glad he couldn’t read anyone’s mind.
Did he just compliment her smile? What did that mean? Why did she have to have grown up sheltered and then stuck on the island when most kids were dating? Why did she have to know more than others her age and not have a normal childhood? Why could she not function right when a cute guy talked to her.
Juane, in her bag, reached up and started to pull down on the side of the bag. The shift in weight caught her attention- and gave her something to do besides awkwardly standing there. “Sorry buddy, but you can’t be doing that.” She reached down into the bag and switched him off. “Sorry.” She whispered with a frown.
Putting the chicken salad in her bag she looked up to Logan again. “Don’t tell anyone.” She said softly, glancing to her bag.
Eyebrows would arch and his gaze fell to the bag at her side which seemed to be moving around. Earlier he recalled the thing she had been chasing, he had no idea people were allowed robots but maybe the guards hadn’t yet discovered the thing. He hoped they never did find out about it.
Gaze lifting, Logan’s eyes met Zoe’s. “I’m good at keeping secrets,” he promised. There was no reason he’d give her up, anyway. She was one of the decent islanders. “And you don’t have to apologize. It’s pretty cool.”
“Oh…” She gasped. “I was apologizing to him.” Zoe admitted. How much of a loser did that make her? “I shouldn’t have brought him out. I know better, but I didn’t want to leave him at home- I know that sounds silly.” Why was she still talking?
With a bit of amusement coupled with understanding Logan simply nodded. He probably should have guessed that she hadn’t been addressing him directly, but then who addressed a contraption like that in a formal sense? Honest mistake.
“Not silly,” Logan replied. “Looking out for something precious isn’t a silly thing at all.”
“Well, when it has no feelings or anything… it kinda is. I mean, it doesn’t understand ‘I’m sorry’.” Zoe chuckled nervously. “But thanks.” For not judging.
She tucked some blond hair behind her ear. “So, is Mr. Park still reporting his sink keeps dripping?” When he just never turned the handle always off. “I really think he just wanted someone to talk to.” Zoe had heard all about his grandkids back on the mainland.
A roll of his shoulders in a casual manner was done in effort to shake away the stiffness threatening to settle in. For the past few years he’d felt its weight and did his best not to think about the silent intruder he carried on his shoulders. Better to think about happier things.
He listened to the explanation. It made plenty enough sense to him. “All the more reason to look out for it. If it ended up hurt or broken I bet you’d feel it.” Even if the little thing didn’t. A small smile was given as a response to her thanks.
Hands would tuck into the pockets of his jeans as he stood there, doing his best not to look as awkward as he felt. Talking to pretty women was not in his forte. “Yeah, actually, I went to his place earlier,” Logan mused. It was funny how things tended to break more on the days he was scheduled to work.
But he had begun to take a liking to certain residents and didn’t mind the occasional stop in. “I think I’d be worried about him if he didn’t have a leaking faucet all the time.”
Zoe nodded. “It was nice. I mean, I’ve never been good with people.” Something she wasn’t afraid to admit- she was quite forward about it. Along with apologizing for perceived slights. “But I like to hear stories and those who didn’t make me talk back.” She laughed a bit nervously. How bad did it sound? Was it appropriate? This was why she didn’t talk. She said too much, did things that weren’t socially appropriate.
“He’s like the grandpa I never had,” Logan admitted. A shrug. “I’m not really good with people either.” She probably knew that already though. He knew he was awkward.
Being silent was alright with him. He basked in companionable quiet. But nobody else had to know that. “Stories can be good.”
She nodded with a slight chuckle. “I’m a homeschooled genius. What’s your excuse?” Zoe asked, not serious expecting an answer. “Probably why I like to hear others stories. Now that I’m here… I get to hear about others lives I nev-“ She sighed.
“I don’t like silence.” She admitted. “Even if I’m not talking my mind is going. In a conversation you’re supposed to pay attention to the other person and when things get quiet… I get distracted. So I tend to talk to much, ramble, like I’m doing now… which is why I don’t tend to talk to people in general.” Shut up, shut up, shut up!
“I dropped out and have life experience,” he teased. Though that was partially true. He’d dropped but had gone back. Casey has believed in him. He still didn’t know why. It was a peek into his life he wasn’t proud of.
“Silence isn’t so bad,” he mused. “It’s not a bad thing to have a mind that gets distracted.” That seemed like a blessing.
“When the distraction takes over? Makes you relive stuff?” She shrugged. “Not always the best.” Zoe sighed. “But that’s probably something I’m singularly subject too.” Her hand went to her head. “And I’m just rambling. You probably have something better to get to than stand around and listen to me ramble.” Her, a child compared to most on the island it felt. She still got carded any time she even thought about getting a drink- which wasn’t often.
“Silence has a way of bringing things up,” he explained. He wouldn’t go into detail, no one wanted to hear that one. He was protective of his past.
He smiled at her. “Hey,” he began, teasing her lightly. “If you’re trying to get rid of me I understand.” He wasn’t much but a scruffy old man anyway.
“No- I mean. I wouldn’t… ‘rid of you’ is a harsh way of putting it.” The ‘tease’ didn’t really hit all the way. “I didn’t mean it like that.” Zoe grimaced and rubbed at her neck. “It was good to see you around.” Scruffy, hot, good with his hands- “again- see you like talk to you again.” She wanted to just die. “I’m going to stop talking now.”
A chuckle. “Hey, it’s cool. I was just kidding around with you. You don’t really seem like the type to blow someone off.” And then he nodded, “Nice talking to you, too. Don’t be a stranger?”
He wasn’t the most social person but finding someone to be comfortable conversing with was a godsend.
“Maybe I’ll break something so you’ll have to come fix it.” She joked with a small nod and wave as she started to move away. “I should go and put my friend away anyhow. You take care.”
A twinkle in his eyes would suggest that he found her comment amusing; he couldn’t tell her how many times that actually happened, that people did break things over and over to get him to come back and fix them. Those repeat clients he knew by name (of course) and offense. “Yeah? Hopefully not the toilet,” he quipped back softly. A nod coupled with the wave of a hand and he let Zoe leave.