A still-abashed Basi had escorted Genique to her new quarters, and, from there, to the supply room to fit herself with clothing. Fingering the denim and nu-cotton jumpsuits that were standard-issue, she knew her assessment had been right; they were either being grossly overcharged, or hugely over-charging their employees.
“It’s better than nudity,” she murmured, trying to settle the jumpsuit comfortably. Some time with a needle and thread would probably fix most of the problems; she wondered how many weeks’ work that would cost her.
“It is,” Basi agreed, “if only barely. On the long voyages, it can get pretty cold in here.” He looked her over, biting his lip. “I thought they’d pay the ransom.”
“I know you did. And I knew they couldn’t.”
“Aren’t you upset?”
“I’ve had thirty-one days, Basimontin. I’ve had time to calm down.” She stacked clothes in her arms, missing already the silk long underwear that had been last year’s Christmas gift from her parents. Basi stared at her, as if waiting for an explosion. It made her want to hug him.
“I’m supposed to take you back to the Mate’s office after you drop your stuff off,” he offered uncertainly, when no tantrum was forthcoming. When she nodded – the Mate had mentioned some paperwork for Genique to look at – he continued, no longer sounding at all comfortable (perhaps because the chain around her neck had come off and he no longer had a leash to yank), “but I’ve got one stop I want to make, first.”
“All right,” she agreed mildly; she didn’t really care how long it took to get started on whatever “the pit” was; after sitting in a box for thirty-one days, everything else seemed wonderful and novel. Especially with clothes on.
Still jittery, Basi led her to another section of the crew quarters. “I’ve only been with the team for four four-weeks,” he babbled, “and I haven’t seen all that many abductions. You were my first capture. You looked so rich, in that red dress. So pretty.”
She felt her cheeks warming up. “Basi… Is this really appropriate?”
For the first time today, the pirate smiled. “Here, on this ship? Anything’s appropriate.” He opened the bulkhead door nearest him. “I’ll be just a second. Please don’t wander off.”
Wandering off was beginning to seem like a very good idea. If the ship wasn’t entirely finite, Genique might have considered it. But, since Basi would find her no matter where she went, she stayed, staring down the unpainted corridor. A minor investment of paint would save them, she figured, probably around 400 Sammury creds a year in repairs and patches, if the damage she’d seen was carried throughout the ship.
He didn’t leave her waiting for much longer than that math problem before he reappeared, holding something folded tightly in his hands. It was red, she noted with some alarm, but far too small to be her dress.
“Sometimes,” he said, not looking at her, “people give us things. Bribes, gifts, either ‘you’re so mysterious’ or ‘please don’t take me’ or both. I don’t know what this lady was thinking – it’s been washed and everything, but I thought, you looked so good in red.” He handed it over, carefully, petting the edges of the fabric as if to smooth them. “And it will help make the jumpsuit more comfortable, and less uniform?”
Genique took the package from him and, carefully, shook it out. As she stared at the silk camisole and tiny matching scarf, she had to giggle. “Thank you, Basi.” She smiled reassuringly at him, like talking to a small animal. “Thank you very much.” She couldn’t help, however, teasing him a little bit, and added, “this is my best Christmas present this year.”
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