Freedom?

She sat at the Dunwich Inn finishing her last glass of hooch for the night. Most everyone else had already gone to bed for the night. Even Sliphox had already gone to bed. Jeanie wasn’t tired. She glanced down to the tattoos on her left arm, visible due to her rolling up her sleeves after sitting down in the warm tavern. “No Masters” was written in black ink upon her wrist, just underneath her anchor.

A sign of freedom, vouched for by the Dock Worker’s Union.

She glanced back at her empty glass and then over to Beckett, the Full Dead who was leaning against the counter behind the bar, quietly smoking a pipe and looking around the room. There was a trace of blood on his face. He must have fed recently.

If anyone questions you, just tell them you work for me.

Jeanie nodded in response to the memory of his vouching for her before pulling her papers out of her pocket. Leather wrapped and carefully written, stitched in place, and signed, the Iron reread the notice declaring her freedom from the Van Buren family.

Well, technically, she had never been owned by the Van Buren family, but without a number who would question it?

You don’t have a number. These are fake.

Except Al, the grounds keeper of the Grove.

But now Natasha had seen to it that Beckett was going to vouch for her. Ethan had made a promise to get her legal freedom. Jeanie glanced down at the leather backed page she held. It would be wonderful to hold the actual legal paperwork documenting her freedom. It would be one of the most amazing things ever. Then no one would have to worry about anyone claiming her as a runaway again.

Jeanie slid the paperwork back into her pocket and hopped down off the bar stool. A quick walk into the other room where many people were sleeping, unable to find a bed in another building. A mattress in the center with crates stacked next to it was the bed that Sliphox and Jeanie normally shared whenever she stayed with the Summerwind Caravan.

Sliphox was snoring and sprawled out on the mattress. One arm stretched above his head and the other resting upon his chest. The veins on his neck and face were finally fading away but Jeanie could still see the green where they had been. There was the rough scraping of a chair being pushed in the other room from those who were not sleeping. Jeanie watched as the Ascensorite instantly had eyes open wide. He bolted upright, claws curled into tight fists and eyes darting around the room.

“Sli?”

He twitched, eyes darting over to where Jeanie stood, her glow illuminating the room a bit. “Sli, it’s just a chair. Go back to sleep.”

He listened a moment more, then let out the breath he was holding in and let his body relax again. “You should sleep too, Jeanie.” He took a deep breath in and let it back out before laying back down and closing his eyes once again.

“I know.” The Iron sat down on the mattress, carefully pulling pieces off her belt so that she could sleep without her tools digging into her side. She glanced over at Sliphox, her Ascensorite, as he drifted off to sleep again. He was wearing the necklace she made him, a simple rope she braided with a scrap ring on it… He called it her freedom ring.

Her eyes darted from that back to what remained of green veins around his face.

She had never felt more free than when he was around.

Would she feel free when he was gone? Even if she had her legal paperwork?

Jeanie slipped under the blankets next to the sleeping Ascensorite and stared up at the ceiling.

It was hard to sleep when there was so much to think about.

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