"Yes, my dear young thief. Here at the weyr, riders eat well. Lucky for you, I'm not a bad cook. What sort of meal would you care for tonight?"
Elikos was about to open his mouth to suggest that 'anything' would be really okay with him. But his open mouth just stayed open as shocked silence reigned at Locke's next words.
"How about steak? I'm sure some red meat would do you well. That and some steamed veggies and dinner rolls. How does that sound to you?"
Finding his voice, he cleared his throat a little and spoke the best he could. "Uh...okay." Did he actually expect to get steak? Not in a million turns. He wasn't stupid. Steak? He mentally snorted. The Reaper probably thought he was an idiot if he expected Elikos to buy that he'd ever get anything such as that. Before he could decide whether or not to say such things aloud, the subject of 'the others' was discussed. And it was worrisome.
"Yes, my children. Xacke is my oldest. He's ten and my only blood child. Then there are Hope and Faith. They're twins and nine turns old. They come from the Bottoms, as well. Colten is five, he is Hope and Faith's biological young brother. Finch is eight. He hasn't been with me long. I and my husband rescued him from slavers in the Bottoms." Locke explained. "Now there is you."
Those ages seemed pretty young for a gang. Or maybe Locke kept slaves? Maybe the slaves he'd freed? The man did say he'd 'rescued' them from the Bottoms. And then there was him. Elikos. Did Locke think that he was....
"I ain't your child. I don't do gangs." He stated with quiet boldness, as if simply informing the man of something well known like, the sky was made of stone. Then he followed as Locke led the way to the bathing area. It made him nervous. Baths at the orphanage were far and few between and not something you'd want to get. Something told Elikos that this wasn't like it had been then. This would be different.
His throat swallowed and his palms began to sweat as Locke proceeded to reveal some of the places he'd just hidden food. How did the man know?! Every sort of swear coursed through his mind and maybe one or two even slipped out in whispers upon his stubborn lips. Was it time to run?
"You don't have to hide food here, Elikos. I understand the reason you did it, but you don't have to. What you have in your pockets you can keep, if you want, but no more taking food and hiding it."
Elikos blinked. Locke even know what he had in his pockets?! For what seemed like the tenth time that very hour his mouth fell open with speechlessness. Shaking his head to mentally kick himself out of this continued shock he seemed be finding himself in he blurted out boldly his prepared excuse, for it was the only thing he could think of to do. Nothing else about his recent experiences prepared him for this. "Ya told me I could help myself if I wanted more." That's what Locke said alright and he'd remind him of it. "I didn't steal nothin'. "
When they got to the bathing chamber he peeked in.
"I'd suggest using the brush on your hair as well as your body. Get all the filth off of you. If you need anything, I'll start on dinner."
So the brush wasn't for scrubbing the bathroom floor? He sure hoped it was not as hard as the ones he remembered or he's scratch his own skin off just by looking at it. Dinner! That word stood out. He wondered what Locke would make. He still did not believe that 'steak, vegi and the like would be the outcome. Maybe broth? Broth was good. Especially if it was still warm and not gummed up with solidified fat that had once been liquid but when solid when cool. But he'd take even that really. Food was food. He wasn't a picky eater. Still holding the blanket with one hand he bite off some jerky that he held in the other as he entered the moist air of the bathing chamber.
Looking to the large wooden tub and the bag of, Locke said it was soap, and the brushes, the set of clothes that were nicer than anything he'd ever had before, and towels and.... Elikos did his customary circle standing in one place and turned around to see everything he could possibly see. Including any and all exits, possible weapons, hiding places and all that he might see and use if he had to.
Glancing down at his now dried gutter-slimed body he wrinkled his nose in disgust. It had saved his life but even for a street rat like him, it had been pretty gross. Setting the blanket down he pulled out all of the food from his pockets and placed them into the folds of his blanket, yes HIS blanket. He had no intention of giving it back. Stuffing his face one more time, he coughed a bit and as he chewed and swallowed, he stripped out of his soiled, worn out pants. It hurt to use his bruised arm but he managed without complaint.
Standing up from that task he tossed the worn out pants into the tub and leaned over the edge to watch them out. There was no way he was going to toss them in the trash. Forget it! Right away the water turned gross as he dunked the fabric, grabbed it in both hands and scrubbed the fabric between the knuckles of both fists. He knew very young how to do laundry properly. When it was as good as he thought it would be, having tossed in a little too much soap and having trouble rinsing most of it out, he drug it up and started to ring it out to hang on the edge of something. But the effort of just lifting the waterlogged fabric made his arm scream in pain. Halting that idea he just draped it over the side of the tub instead. The puddle forming upon the floor underneath it went unnoticed.
The bubbly suds in the water masked the horrible state it was in. He still thought it a luxury that it was even provided. And warm too! He tentatively stepped in, thinking he'd get yanked out or beaten for it, despite what had been said, and sank down so the water was around his chest in height. As he'd do in barrels he took to scrubbing the skin of his arms and face, then thought to do his legs and feet. His hair. His long matted hair. Locke had told him to use a brush on his skin and his hair?
He looked to one of the nearby brushes, got out of the tub and picked it up, leaving a growing flood upon the floor and then stepped back in, shivering a bit as the air was colder than the water. Scrubbing his body he suddenly yelped out loud as a bruise he didn't know he had acquired was hit. He bit back the tears his pain threatened and kept going, more carefully this time.
Looking at the water, he wondered how best to wash his hair. He had no intention of submerging his head. That would never happen. What if he slipped and couldn't get up again or got lost in the suds or.... Rolling his eyes at himself, he realized he was being rather stupid and went ahead and dunked. He did not like the sensation of having his face in the water though so was very quick to scrub his hair as best he could while he still had the courage to keep his head under. When he raised his head and gasped in the breath of air, he called it good and fairly jumped out of the tub. Thus inciting a wave to follow him, threatening the top of the tub in a tidalwave. Thankfully it stopped just in time but his own body covered in wet made its own soaking contribution to the already growing puddle-flood on the floor.
He looked at the clothes and then checked to see that the food in his blanket hadn't been taken when his head was submerged. Dressing in the incredibly soft fabric that actually fit like nothing had before, he stuffed those pockets with the food and held the blanket to his chest as he exited the room. He'd forgotten to dry off with the towel before he'd dressed. Leaving wet barefoot marks in his wake.
His nose immediately started scenting something that caused his mouth to water. Wow, that broth smelled good.