Blood Rites

Terreille => Dena Nehele => Topic started by: Akira no Kagen on Apr 23, 19, 06:33:06 PM

Title: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on Apr 23, 19, 06:33:06 PM
Akira's presence in Dena Nehele had been much diminished since his Jewel had been broken last year. He was still struggling to cope with the missing 'piece' of himself, along with the added stresses of his sister kind of losing her head and her First Escort (a woman he'd known since she was a teenager) get brutally murdered in a way that gave him nightmares if he thought about it long enough. So Akira had gone home back to Tacea for a while and coped with drugs, company, and family. Then he decided to do a bit of a musical tour to get at least find an outlet that wasn't completely self-destructive, thanks to the advice of his Aunt.

But at some point all birds come home to roost. He came back to Dena Nehele infrequently but made it a point to find Ji Yoon every time. Oh, they didn't really talk about the real stuff going on in their life. There was a lot of fucking, a lot of cuddling, a lot of avoiding the issues that were laying beneath the surface. They made small talk, they ate food together and drank together and sometimes made each-other laugh. They were an escape from the world in one-another, and in that, at least, they were genuine.

Now, however, they'd have no easy way to get out of the fact they'd need to talk. Ji Yoon had hinted it was something serious by the fact she'd made some 'decisions that would upset the Ariake' which, given their political situations and interconnections, was likely going to be a huge fucking headache. And as much as he wanted to bury his head into the sand and pretend the rest of the world didn't exist, he also felt it was a disservice to a woman he actually loved and wanted to marry.


So he was now settling into a coach in his pristine white suit that was cut very favorably for himself. One good thing about his soul-crushing depression was that drugs and fucking and exercise were good ways to stay fit (if a bit skinnier than normal), so he looked pretty sharp as he sat beside her. He had cleaned up well and had a bit of a fruity perfume on; something he himself found to get his blood going a little because it smelled like spring time and fresh peaches. While the driver got them ready to get going he slid a hand, not so subtly, down to collect hers and interlace his fingers with her own. The feeling of her hand, her skin against his, was soothing in its own right and he leaned back in the seat with an exhalation of breath he hadn't realized he'd held.

"So." He began, seguing into the actual conversation with a slow grin that was more playful than he actually felt. "Should I be expecting, like, a raging mob of Ariake at the Landing Pad, or is this more a subsumed declaration of war kind of thing, or... ?" His tone was full of jest, of course. Akira rarely took anything very seriously, least of all politics.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on Apr 24, 19, 01:05:22 AM
When Akira met her at the landing pad, Ji Yoon looked him over and considered that maybe she wasn’t fashionable enough to marry into the Kagen. He and his sister both tended towards haut couture (which was ridiculous, really, when one was about to spend as long in a coach as one was), whereas she, while hardly unfashionable, had dressed for the journey ahead. There would be plenty of occasions that called for formalwear in the coming days.

He looked thin, she thought, taking him in as he got settled beside her. They hadn’t spoken much about how he was keeping himself occupied these days - Ji Yoon tried often to tell herself it wasn’t any of her business. That kind of thinking would have been appropriate for a much more casual courtship than theirs was. It was her business. But if it was, then that made everything she’d gotten up to lately his.

Which it would be shortly, anyway, seeing as she’d gone ahead and alluded to having upset the Ariake. It seemed wisest to ease Akira into the notion of what she’d done, anyway. Especially when what she’d done had been adopting the most dangerous craft-user in two centuries. (Aleksander wasn’t accompanying them for the enthronement. Ji Yoon would demand any prices he desired.)

As they got underway, Akira took a moment to take her hand in his and Ji Yoon rested her head against his shoulder, breathing in his scent. His perfume was sweet but not cloying - he had good taste in such matters.

“Yes?” she said to his so, and he went on, tone mirthful. After all, what could Ji Yoon have possibly done to upset the Ariake so? She was just one Healer.

“I… I doubt they’ll come to meet us,” she said, pulling his hand into her lap. “I don’t know what I expect them to do, exactly. There’s hardly a precedent for what I’ve done.”

Which was… what, exactly?

“I adopted Yua no Ariake,” she said quickly, getting it out there. Hard as it was for her to keep her face turned towards Akira’s, she was certain that looking away from him in this moment would make everything worse. “She - or, he, rather - is now a young man named Aleksander Moon. I should have consulted you, I know, but it was the right thing to do. The Ariake have no claim to him now.”

He’d agree with her or he wouldn’t, she thought as she watched his face, but either way, they were stuck together in this coach until it touched down in Ito.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on Apr 24, 19, 01:15:04 PM
Akira didn't fight her moving of his hand. Hell, he woulda let her put his hand just about anywhere she wanted. There was trust there that maybe hadn't been fully paid off yet, but he acted like they already had it. It was theirs. They'd worked through the worst of it so far. After their rocky start and the fight they'd had to get to the point where they said 'I love you' and though they hadn't actually said 'I want to marry you', they were already supposed to get married and they both seemed pretty comfortable with that idea, now. So that was basically saying it aloud in the first place, right?

Except that now, that leased-trust was being tested by the words she just spat out all at once. She said it so quickly, like trying to add on some bylines to a sale, and Akira's face fluttered for a moment as he tried to take in all of that information.

"Uh..." He started as he was trying to take in this sudden rush of news. He looked around the cabin for a moment. "Do they serve drinks on this thing?" His stomach got into sudden knots and he felt like he needed to be all at once more hammered than he was in order to deal with this conversation.

His hand withdrew from her lap, he didn't want her to feel the sudden clammyness of his skin, how a chill of cold went through him. "Like... I didn't have it confirmed or anything, and I've been out of the Territory for a while, but I can do basic math still. And Black Jewel Plus Witchstorm Equals You ADOPTED the person who broke my Jewel."

The more he said, the more that got going, a whole plethora of pain and anger and twisted emotions he had tried to run away from for the last few months got up into his throat and strangled his sense. "Like am I wrong, or did you decide to adopt the person who also killed a whole bunch of people in the Territory.

He rolled his hand toward her, shifting his body to face her more so that they were no longer side by side as companions, but now facing off over this choice she had made. "Why did you decide to do that? I feel like I'm missing a lot of VITAL information here."

Had his voice gotten more edged? He hadn't noticed, but anyone in the vicinity of the District would have felt the sudden drop in pleasantness.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on Apr 24, 19, 10:08:43 PM
Given how many times Ji Yoon had played this conversation out in her head, Akira was taking everything remarkably well. He was upset, true. And he’d made all the connections she’d expected him to. But he was giving her a chance to explain herself and that was more than his imagined counterpart often did. “When you put it that way,” she said, cringing, “It does sound… bad.”

Ji Yoon didn’t tend to think of Aleksy as being personally responsible for all that carnage. It had been the side effect of what he’d seen as necessary in pursuit of his freedom. But she knew that some part of him had wanted to make Dena Nehele bleed, and she’d brushed his hair back from his eyes and told him it was okay.

So she was culpable. And she’d probably feel as Akira did if it had been her Blood Opal crushed to powder, if someone close to her had died. From his perspective, she’d brought a monster into her family - a family she was presumably going to share with him someday - and asked him to be comfortable with that. And she’d known it was unfair to him. And she’d done it anyway.

Oh, she thought, hands twisting in her lap. She was all kinds of selfish. It was the same kind of selfish she’d been at nineteen when she ran out on her mother’s house to marry the first boy who made eyes at her, only turned in another direction. And if he was facing her like an adversary, if his voice was rising, she couldn’t say she’d done nothing to deserve it. She’d done plenty.

“You are, like you said, missing a lot,” she said softly, voice restrained because the cab was only large enough for one of them to be yelling and he deserved to be that person. “I’ve known Aleksy since he was a teenager in Yuki’s court. He’s been trying to break free of the Ariake since he left Tacea, maybe even before then. And he was kidnapped and enslaved with L’Voide doing terrible things to him and there’s not much that can break one of those awful collars but what he did at his Offering could. I… I don’t think the Witchstorm was his goal. If he knew it might happen, he was too desperate to break free that he saw it as a trade he had to make. None of it was personal.”

Somehow, she thought, pausing for breath, all that was just preamble. Yes, her decision to adopt Yua had come before Makoto’s arrival, but surely the legal necessity of it was clarified by more recent events. “When Aleksy chose not to go back to Tacea,” Ji Yoon went on, “His family sent his company Makoto to retrieve him, and Makoto brought a Black Widow and a compulsion web and it took weeks to figure out what they’d done and how to break him free and that’s why I needed to break their claim to him, to protect him. The Ariake don’t see a person, they only see the Black—“

She forced herself to break off there, feeling as she did that she’d become difficult to follow.

“I’m sorry, that’s too much to try to say all at once,” she said. “I should have talked to you sooner.”

Only, she thought, he hadn’t wanted to talk. Or hadn’t seemed like it. She hadn’t tried. Every time she’d imagined this conversation, she saw all the ways it could go wrong, and every time she put it off, it got worse and worse.

“There might be something in that cabinet,” she added after a moment. “This coach is pretty plush. But I think I’d prefer if you waited. Not that I’m in any position to be making demands, I know.”
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on Apr 29, 19, 10:09:29 PM
Were this a Court proceeding and Akira a member instructed to debate the matter, he might have listened to all of the points of her argument dispassionately and calmly. Were he a bit more like his sister, or either of his brothers, he may have been able to take himself out of the equation and weigh all sides and all factors of the topic and how it affected him. But this wasn't the case at all. Akira had always been the emotional part of his family, even when his mother and father had been alive to try and curb that exuberance. It had been groomed and fueled by his aunt to enrich his creativity, and as such he tended to be passionate about everything. His music, his family, and his lovelife tended to receive the full weight of his heart.

Until recently, when Ji Yoon had not received all of who and what he was, and what he felt, because he had lost some of himself when his Blood Opal had gotten broken into a tiny thousand pieces.

"You keep saying 'He' and calling him 'Aleksy', but that's not the person who fucking did everything I talked about. It's some like.." His hand swirled at the wrist, trying to illuminate his wording. "Like Yua woke up one day and was like 'You know what, the person I was did all of this awful shit and deal with all this awful shit, so I'm going to become this NEW FUCKING PERSON so that I don't have to deal with what I did.' Well fuck that, Ji Yoon."

The more he talked about the situation and the more he tried to listen to her arguments as to why she had to make the decision the angrier he got. Not just about Yua no Ariake, nor about his Jewel, but about what Ji Yoon was saying itself.

"So rather than go to the Queen that you've been pushing your brother to marry - the Queen that my brother serves, that your brother serves - you decide to drag both our families into some shit that you couldn't just handle the regular way? Like not handling shit the way it's supposed to be handled is how everyone got into this fucking mess.

Yua ran away. Yua couldn't wait for my sister, or us, or Yuki to get her out so she fucking murdered hundreds of people to get away. Yua abandoned her family. Yua abandoned her family, Ji Yoon. And you COVER FOR HER.

You cover for her so much that you didn't even talk to me. You didn't ask me. Did you ask your dad? Did you ask Hanuel? Or did you just do it because fuck everyone but the person who deserves no sympathy at fucking all?"

Akira pointed at her then, unable to keep his hands at his sides as his voice had gone from loud to quiet, seething, filled with a rage that had bubbled out of his lips like an infected boil that had burst open and did nothing but soil everything it touched. "She doesn't need your fucking protection. She has a Black Jewel, and she knows how to use it. Ask all the people that lost their family and their friends for being UNFUCKINGFORTUNATE to be in the same Territory as her when she decided to take her trade."

He kicked open the cabinet then, a sudden show of violence as he felt so full of sick anger that it was making him shake. He turned from her to reach for a glass and a bottle. No. Fuck the glass. Just the bottle. He grabbed something dark and opened it.

"Are you in love with her or something?" He asked without even turning to look at her - it was the only explanation that made sense to him. At least, it was an easier explanation for what she was saying. It was stupid. But people did stupid things for love.

He would know.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on Apr 30, 19, 12:44:55 AM
Ah, Ji Yoon thought with a flinch. There it was. The hurt. The rage. What she’d been afraid of, what had made her put this off so long that it became inevitable, a looming tidal wave conflict. “That’s not—“ she began, but Akira was speaking too quickly for her to get a word in edgewise. He misunderstood, she thought, but his anger was a geyser.

Maybe it was all too much at once. That Yua was Aleksy, that she’d adopted him, that he’d caused the decimation. Ji Yoon could take one of those things off the table and deal with the other two, come back to the name later. Because maybe… Maybe Akira didn’t see the continuity there, but maybe she could make him understand? Aleksy wasn’t trying to hide from what he’d done, he was just trying to move on from it.

She waited him out. It seemed wisest. Get to the end of it and then figure out where to go from there. She knew he was getting close when he went for the bottle - of course he hadn’t heeded her. Why should he have? Ji Yoon deserved everything he was hurling at her. Only once he was finished could she even hope to begin unpacking all the ways he was wrong.

Or, more accurately, how he wasn’t wholly right.

Are you in love with her or something? he asked, and there was her opening.

“Like a mother loves a child,” said Ji Yoon swiftly, lest his thoughts run away with the suggestion of infidelity. “Like one sibling loves another.”

He’d turned away from her, keeping company with whatever it was he’d found to drink. Ji Yoon glanced down to her own lap where her fingers twisted together. Yelling back wouldn’t solve anything - not when he’d finally quieted some. “If I’d involved Yuki,” she said, “there wouldn’t be a Dena Nehele any longer. Her court is powerful. She’s powerful. All those Grays and Ebons together would have...”

She stopped herself before she could say anything that might further trivialize the devastation.

“And Yua didn’t abandon the Ariake,” she added. Akira was speaking like a member of the great clans now, more than she’d ever heard him do so before, but there had to be some way to make him understand. “Imagine if your family wanted to strip away the thoughts and feelings and interests you hold most vital to your being. Imagine if they were willing to use violence and compulsions to do it. If they were willing to rewire your brain and replace you with someone else, someone more acceptable and better behaved. You wouldn’t be so keen to call yourself a Kagen then, would you?”

She snuck a glance at him. At the bottle. At whether he was drinking or had set it aside.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound like I was dismissing the Decimation,” she said, for she certainly realized what it had sounded like. “Yua did a terrible thing, and desperation doesn’t make it any less terrible. And I… I didn’t speak to anyone beforehand.”

Which wasn’t wholly true, considering her father had advised her not to, but that seemed like unproductive information. And she hadn’t exactly spoken to him.

“But I should have. Especially you. Because my decisions affect you now,” she said. If he still wanted to go down that path with her. She hoped he would. But she wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on Apr 30, 19, 02:11:48 PM
Ji Yoon threw in something that made him wince even as he began to just drink the dark liquor straight from the bottle in a long pull. Oh ya, I'm gonna get fucked up and quick, he thought to himself. It was pretty rude and his aunt and sister would slap the shit out of him if they saw it. Hell, his mother would come out of her vegetable state to smack the bottle out of his hand if she saw him, he was pretty sure. But none of them were here and he was stuck with all of this awful in a very small room and he needed to take some of the edge off before he freaked out.

He should have taken something out of his cabinet. An edible. A cigarette. Something harder than just alcohol, but the bottle was there and likely would have been less disruptive. Her gushing way of speaking of this "person" that had broken his Jewel and, more peripherally, killed some random people, bothered him like a splinter beneath the skin that dug deeper and deeper.

"And that would have been justice, wouldn't it? They would have went to the people responsible for having it set up that way. You were there, Ji Yoon. Toyani stood up to them and they threatened her instead. They killed Itsuko." He turned to her, the bottle swishing in his hand as something awful swelled up in his voice and strangled it of its normal deep cadence, replacing it with broken air. "Skinned her, and then wrapped Toyani in it as a fucking message. So what if Yuki laid waste to the Territory Court? Then the guilty would have been punished. These fucking people who make Dena Nehele a cancer on Terreille." He shoved his hand toward the door, pointing with the bottle in his hand that had its contents roil upward like a tidal wave about to crash; sparklets of brown liquid splashed upon his pale skin marring its perfect smoothness. "NOT me. Not the people who had nothing to do with her or Garen fucking L'Voide. NOT hundreds of innocent-fucking-people Ji Yoon!"

Ji Yoon backtracked a little, offering a silent (but weak, in his eyes) apology about speaking about the Decimation like that. Her point about the Ariake and what they wanted to do to Yua bothered him a lot more than he initially let on, armored as he was in his anger, he turned from her and his mouth shut tight, his jaw working back and forth as his molars grounded at what she described. Did Yuki's family do that to her? Were all the Ariake like that?

His jaw moved back and forth, sliding teeth against teeth, and audible sound. "No. That's fucked up." He surrendered, and he didn't want to just because it felt like he was giving her any sort of ground to stand on, when he felt she was entirely in the wrong about all of this. He took another long pull of the bottle without looking at her. "And something should get done about that."

Because my decisions affect you now. She had said and that caused him to snap his eyes right back at her and focus on hers hard.

"Oh DO THEY now? Why? Because it makes you feel better? Because it obviously isn't because you want a fucking PARTNERSHIP." He jutted his finger into her chest, the bottle held in his hand as he got closer to her and his voice seethed.

"You said to me the one thing I wasn't allowed to do was bring another kid into this relationship. I could fuck whoever, I could do whatever, but if it was big it had to be us. That my heart belonged to one person, Ji Yoon." He jabbed his finger into her chest again, like a knife, he pushed it between her breasts over where he knew her heart lay.

"And you brought in someone who cut out a part of me. Who stole something from me, forever. You brought me into what's gonna be a war and if I stand with you, my family stands with you, because that's what love is.

And you want me to call her, him, it, what? My child? My family?"

He pulled back and looked away from her, seething, shaking, falling apart and using that bottle as the glue as he poured more solvent down his throat to keep him together. He drank half the bottle as he closed his eyes and just inhaled it to drown out everything that was rising up and threatening to vomit itself out.

"I won't." He said after he gasped for breath and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "I can't."
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on Apr 30, 19, 04:32:43 PM
Her chest hurt. Ji Yoon had hoped he’d found the bottom of his anger, but clearly he hadn’t, because it just kept coming, this absolute hurricane of shit they should have talked about before now. Because he was right, but he was also wrong, she told herself, trying to cling to the righteousness she’d felt when she sat with Aleksy in the altar. She’d known what she was doing was right then, and nothing Akira could say could change that.

What could she say to him? That if Yuki had come, she wouldn’t have made an exception for the handful of Taceans living in Dena Nehele? That she wouldn’t have paused to pick the good from the bad? Ji Yoon, Akira, Toyani,… Poor, unfortunate Itsuko… They’d have all fallen to her wrath, along with all the friends they’d made on the mainland. Jude and Carson. Toyani’s bonded. Yoana and every bright-eyed student at the conservatory. “You’re right,” she said, and her face felt hot, like she was about to cry. “Not hundreds. Thousands. River to river. Mountains to sea. And you and me and Toyani and everyone you know would be dead with them and Garen L’Voide, too, he’d be just as dead as he already is.”

He rounded on her, voice rising again, and Ji Yoon felt dangerously close to tears because there it was, more of her failure. Her hypocrisy. She had said that, remembered it clearly, and he’d gone and turned her words against her and it was fair. It had been a big ask, though it hadn’t seemed it at the time. And it was tempting to search his words for weapons. To turn them back on him. It was the only way to have this fight.

Partnership, she thought. How could there be partnership with someone who never wanted to talk? Who wanted to walk in and eat and fuck and run off again and let intimacy fill all the holes trauma carved out without ever doing the work?

But it she couldn’t turn that back on him now, not when the alcohol was already working its depressive effect. If she took this from her betrayal to his shortcomings… And they were her shortcomings, too. Only a fool pressed the attack with a sword turned back at herself.  All she could do was try to ground his anger. Survive the storm. See where the tempest tossed them.

When she said nothing, he turned away from her and drank deeply. He seemed to be feeling it now, for all that even light-jeweled Blood could tolerate a surprising amount of alcohol. “I’m not asking you to,” she said, reaching for the bottle, and though he resisted she broke it from his grip.

“I was afraid to ask,” she said, putting the stopper back in. “Because I… I didn’t know how to have the conversation. And we’re having it now in the worst way possible but I didn’t know how to talk to you about your Jewel or what I wanted to do or any of it and I never felt like you wanted to talk about what happened, either. And I wasn’t ready to take no for an answer.”

She set the bottle between them, half hoping he wouldn’t take it up again but giving him the option to. “You don’t have to call him anything,” said Ji Yoon. “And you’re right to be angry with me. I can’t tell you not to be. I wouldn’t take it back completely, but I’d certainly do it differently. Because I do love you. Even if I haven’t acted like it. I was afraid.”

She prayed that didn’t set him off again. But She knew it probably would.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on Apr 30, 19, 06:16:27 PM
I'm not asking you to, Ji Yoon had said before she reached out to take the bottle out of his hand like it was some sort of danger to himself and he hated her for it. He hated her for the fact that she pulled it out of his hands even when he tried to keep it in his own. Physically he might have been able to over-power her, but when push came to shove she had a Darker Jewel - a Jewel that used to be his and she could just make him give it to her.

So he let go of the bottle, but not of the hate and the resentment that was digging into him like a burrowing gnat to settle into his heart. It bloomed into heat and into a black oily rage that infused his veins and his breathing and choked down every impulse to listen to her or give her any sort of credibility.

He was quiet for a long minute. He just sat there with his eyes locked toward the bar and his hands curled into fists in front of his face, locked over his mouth like a ballgag with no strap: Something he had to just bite on to keep in place.

"You don't know that." He growled out at her as she said that Yuki would be as bad, no, worse than Yua no Ariake and the Decimation. "You don't know Yuki if you think she'd do anything like what Yua did. They're not the same." And he said that point with vehemence that he felt in his bone. He felt almost attacked that she'd say that about Hideto's Queen - about his twin's Queen, whom he had loved and admired in his own way. The fact she did made him so very angry because it felt like a cheap smear to make her murder-child seem less villainous.

"You want a conversation about it?" He asked, but it was more an accusation as he rounded to turn on her, finally, and his eyes were rimmed red threatening to spill tears he didn't want to release. His face had reddened so much in his anger and his swallowing of his fury and pain that it looked like he was about to explode. "I am less of a man, Ji Yoon. Before, we were on even footing, y'know? It was fucking perfect. We knew each-other and we got each-other. Both had twins. Both had families with big expectations. Both wanted to do more than just do whatever our parents wanted us to. Both live our own life.

But now I'm less than Me. I can't Protect you. I can't even be helpful to you. I'm not made to be less than who I am. I reach out sometimes and it's just.. gone. Like someone cut off an arm and I'm supposed to still paint with both hands. Like someone ripped out an eye and I'm supposed to still see clearly. Like I got leg cut off and I'm supposed to still be a runner.

But I don't know how, okay!? I DON'T. KNOW. HOW."

He had started yelling and didn't even realize it. He'd started crying and hadn't quite known until the tears were on his cheeks. He felt ashamed that he was crying because men weren't supposed to cry. Tears and emotions belonged to women. Men were only allowed their anger. They weren't strong enough to bear the other emotions.

"And you want to make them your child, your ward, whatever! This person who made me half of what I am, and you act like I can ignore it but I can't, because I WANTED TO MARRY YOU."

The air was stifling, her face was like a fucking dagger in his heart because he was hurting her and he hated her so much it was starting to feel good that he was hurting her and it made him sick to his stomach that he was taking pleasure from it. There was a vicious feedback loop; an ouroboros of emotion that grew stronger the more it fed into itself.

He kicked at the door to the coach. The driver turned back toward them, having tried to ignore the shouting and the emotion, alarm clear on his face. The door flew open. "I need to go." His words came out slurred because of his crying. "I can't.. I can't do this right now."

Then he tried to jump out of the coach. Would he end up getting torn into a thousand tiny pieces? Who knows. He hadn't heard of anything jumping out of a coach on the Winds before. But, he reasoned (as he was in an unreasonable state), it had to be better than dealing with this up here.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on Apr 30, 19, 10:19:31 PM
The door opened. A great, howling sound filled the coach. Ji Yoon’s ears popped painfully from the change in pressure.

I need to go, Akira said.

Nothing she’d been thinking before that moment mattered. How could it? Akira was trying to throw himself out of the fucking coach. “Wait!” Ji Yoon shouted, springing to her feet. She moved faster than she’d thought she was able to, throwing herself after him, scrabbling for a hold—

She caught him around the legs. Both of them slammed to the floor. “Akira, you dramatic asshole,” Ji Yoon grunted, trying to haul him back in - he was about halfway out and fighting her, but he was also drunk and not, she suspected, wholly sincere in his desire to grievously harm himself. She’d been a Healer long enough to know that people did stupid, spur-of-the-moment things under stress.

Finally, she got Akira back into the coach and slammed the door shut with a wave of her Rose. “We’re fine,” she said to the worried driver, who really, sincerely did not seem like he believed her - but turned around anyway, now that no one seemed to be in mortal peril any longer.

Ji Yoon slouched backwards, her back against the seat of the couch. Her heart was pounding in her ears, adrenaline coursing in her veins, and she was sure Akira felt the same from his place on the floor beside her. If they hadn’t just been at each other’s throats, it would have been the setup for some very good sex - and, indeed,  in certain novels it might have been regardless.

She was not in the mood.

“You could have died,” she said after a moment, voice thick. “We all could have died. And I- I don’t want to lose you.”

She inched towards him, reaching a tentative hand for his hair. Oh, she’d thought it was such a stupid affectation when she’d met hm - now she dreaded that he’d flinch away from her touch. “Do you think I judge you for being broken?” Ji Yoon asked softly. “I can’t tell you how to feel about yourself, only how I feel and- I don’t judge. So we were a matched set. It was a coincidence. Our siblings? Trivia. It made for a… a good story. At parties. But it wasn’t why I liked you, and I don’t like you any less now.”

“You can protect me by making sure I don’t overwork myself. You can help me by reminding me not to take myself so seriously. Both those can be done as well with a Rose a with a Blood Opal as without any Jewel at all. I can understand feeling less than you were, like there’s a piece of you missing, but I hope I haven’t given you the impression that it changes how I feel about you.”

Which left… Yua. Ji Yoon tilted her head back, sucking tears down her nose. What was done was done and could not be reversed. Yua no Ariake was gone. Aleksander Moon remained.

Instead, she asked, “Are you hurt?”
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on May 02, 19, 05:58:51 PM
What was the worse that was gonna happen?

Akira still had his Rose. He could have caught onto a Rose wind somewhere along the fall. He'd have gotten some distance, gotten some space from all of this claustrophobic pain and the pain he was inflicting her. He'd get some space to breathe and to think and to not be so angry that he was finding everything getting blurry and full of fire and pain.

She grabbed him before he could eject and he wanted to hit her, kick her, slap her hands off of him. Let me go! He wanted to scream out but it just wouldn't come out. All that came out was a wordless, frustrated shout as he struggled against her hands. It was kind of a weird thing. Those hands had been hands he'd coveted and wanted to hold him and had practically fought to get to be put on him and now, now when he likely needed them most he didn't want them anywhere near him.

One moment he was half out the coach and was about to be free and the next he was back in this prison with Ji Yoon fussing over him looking as pale as a sheet.

He felt awful, inside and out. "I'm fine." He lied as he rolled over onto his back to get some air into him. His eyes were up at the top of the coach as his back burned, his head felt heavy, and his heart and stomach felt too big for his body. "I'm gonna die anyway." He said slowly, deflating like a balloon they'd poked a hole into. "And you'll keep going."

He didn't want to go down that rabbit hole, now that the words had been loosed. They felt like just a swirling dark pit of despair he would just make worse with each thought and word. So rather than keep falling in he forced himself to sit up and shoved himself against the other wall of the coach, his back pressed to the door, his shaking hands wanting a cigarette or a bottle but instead went through his hair as she touched it. Their fingertips met and...

And he didn't pull away. He didn't know if he could.

His eyes looked up slowly at hers. His were a mess of wet and red; like a stop sign ruined by a flood. "I don't get it. I thought... I did get you. I thought.. I understood you.

But I can't see it, Ji Yoon.

I can't see a world where we can all be together. I can't.... I can't forgive her. Him. Whatever."

His eyes lowered and he closed his eyes as his head leaned back against the door. The exhalation of breath felt like the beginning of a death. "Think you know that, too. It's why you didn't talk to me first."
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on May 03, 19, 02:26:50 AM
Akira’s fingers brushed hers, and Ji Yoon momentarily froze, afraid that she might startle him if she moved. Then, he didn’t pull away, and she traced his hand, the gesture careful. Gentle. He would die anyway, she thought, turning his words over in her mind. He would die anyway and she would keep going and she thought they’d been over this but here they were back on the subject. It had never been a question with Sang Hwan, but they’d been closer in age at the start of their relationship. It hadn’t been nearly so obvious.

“That’s not a reason to keep me from spending time with you,” she said, brow furrowing. He said he was fine, but she wasn’t sure she believed him - her hand moved lower, fingers glowing with diagnostic craft.

“I didn’t want to have to choose,” she agreed quietly, only half paying attention to the scan. “I wanted so badly to have it both ways. To help Yua and to keep you.”

She knew what her choice would have been, had he made her pick, and it would not have worked out in Akira’s favor. Maybe it would turn out she’d gone and decided anyway, if he really couldn’t reconcile. Well… better she broke her own heart, she supposed. At least she would have kept her agency.

Something beneath her fingers felt off, and Ji Yoon slowed, focusing in. “You have a cracked rib,” she said. No doubt from where she’d tackled him to the floor of the cab. She set about fixing it, fingers twisting above his abdomen as she brought the bone back together. Her brow furrowed in concentration. “Not bad, everything considered, I guess.”

Slowly, she raised her hand back to his head. It was so tempting to pass a calming spell over him like she might an anxious patient, but that seemed like it might violate what little trust they had left and she didn’t want to make things worse than they already were.

“Yua’s not a child,” she said after brushing her fingers through his hair for a moment. “He keeps his own residence at the conservatory and his own friends. He needs very little in the way of parenting.” Which of course begged the question of why adopt him? “It’s functionally really more of… a friendship with a legal arrangement.”

“I won’t force you. I really won’t. I understand why you feel the way you do. I went behind your back. But maybe this all looks different from how you’re imaging it?”
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on Oct 01, 19, 01:35:34 AM
Akira let out a slight hiss of pain as Ji Yoon's fingers moved across the area above his rib. He felt the Craft working at knitting the bone together and it presented a slight discomfort surrounded by a warm hum through his body. He arched his back a bit to lean into her touch, and then relaxed back after as if deflating from too much air. He exhaled, too, to fit with that sensation and lifted a hand to brush his own hair in a way to soothe himself of this spike of anxiety. He didn't look at her - that was too far of a bridge to cross, right now.

"You brought him into our life to legally protect him. If it was as simple as that, I wouldn't give a shit. I get the political crap, Ji Yoon. I'm not dumb." He said as if she had made it sound like he was, but he knew she hadn't really. He just wanted to get across that he understood the situation, even if he wasn't responding in a logical and calm manner.

Because it involved a lot more than just logic.

"This is really fucked up." He said slowly, another exhalation. Of pain, or discontent, of frustration of the whole situation - all huffed out, but there was so much in him it felt like he couldn't really get rid of it all. "How am I supposed to deal with this shit, Ji Yoon? Like, it feels like you didn't even consider me in this at all. You just gave me this impossible choice - Make this person your family, or lose me. Not negotiable. Because you love this... person.. enough to do all of this. Either because of your big Healer Heart or.. somethin', I don't know. Friendship, yeah, I get, but man.

It's so.. FUCKED. And I think it's even more fucked because I'm supposed to be the immature, reckless, and stupid one. Not you. You should know better."

Akira pursed his lips, finally he looked at her. "How are you and I supposed to work, if you just do stuff this big without even talking to me first? Like...

How am I supposed to trust you, Ji Yoon? And if I can't trust you - well, what are we supposed to be? Like. At this point, we're just like every other political couple. Just bullshit."

He turned away from her and exhaled again, slowly, the words coming out as a hot hiss. "Just more bullshit."
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on Oct 01, 19, 02:49:35 AM
Ji Yoon bit her lip, fighting back the urge to say something reckless. Fine, then, she thought. If it’s such bullshit, let’s end this here and just get through this flight and then we never have to speak again. Couldn’t Akira see that she’d chosen him? That she’d picked him over Maseo, picked him over keeping her own company, picked him over holding a grudge that was written into the very marrow of her bones?

But he was right, she thought, even as she bit back her first instinct, and that was what made this so much worse. She could try to rationalize and she could try to explain and she could beg forgiveness and that didn’t change or erase how badly she’d done wrong by him.

Maybe her father had a point, and she shouldn’t have been allowed to even leave the house until she had at least a century behind her.

But his eyes had left her again, and the healing was done, and she only felt like she was crowding him now. He probably wouldn’t try to jump from the coach again - would he? Ji Yoon backed off, tried to give him some room to breathe and prayed he wouldn’t take it the wrong way.

“We don’t have to make any decisions right now,” she said after a moment, her defensive first instinct wrestled down in full. She leaned back against the seat of the bench, watching him with her golden-eyed gaze. He was beautiful, even like this, and for a moment of time she’d held his heart, or at least something close to it. Was there a path back to that place they’d shared?

“I should know better,” she agreed, and she bit the rest back - I didn’t know how to talk to you. I want to know how to talk to you. I don’t know how to talk to you now.

She pulled her knees up to her chest and hugged her legs. “I want to regain your trust,” said Ji Yoon, “But I can understand why you might not want to let me.”

Her lungs ached. Heartbreak, she thought, frowning slightly. “If it’s not imposing,” she said quietly, trying to think of some concrete gesture of good will, of her desire to be part of his life, “maybe you could show me around Ito some when we arrive? The places you know that a goody two-shoes like me wouldn’t?”

A political couple would never.
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Akira no Kagen on Oct 03, 19, 06:28:03 PM
Akira was pretty much the most emotional member of his family. He tended to be more extroverted than his brothers and his sisters in the way of doing things. He was louder, he was brighter, he smiled wider, and laughed more. He liked to say he lived more, and loved more. In some ways that was true.

He'd known his father, but Shyro was more like his dad than the man that had planted the seed into who he was. Akira's father had died while he was still young, and the older brother had served as an example in a lot of ways and had filled in that role in a way that his father never had. Shyro had given him a model of a man with a wife and children. None of Akira's other siblings were married. Mother Night help the poor fool who married his stick-in-the-mud brother or his lunatic younger sister. Mayu would be fine, though.

A lot of who he ought to be rolled around in his head as he sat there, quiet, as the woman he had heavily considered marrying had just revealed a betrayal that had cut him to his heart. She said they didn't have to make any decisions right now, and Akira - who loved to procrastinate - at first really loved the idea of shelving this for another time. They could ignore it for a while, and he could lose himself in the feel of her fingers in his hair, the smell of her skin in his nose, the warmth and comfort of their bodies finding relief and pleasure in one another. And sure, in a while, maybe, just maybe he...

"No." He said slowly, and lifted his head and turned to her. His mien had shifted then. That avoidance, that exuberant energy had faded away into something more akin to his sister in that he'd gone fairly stonelike in his expression and his mien.

"You do not understand, Ji Yoon."

He brought his hand up to take hers and hold it. "This person you've made your child - your family - has hurt me. They have cut off a piece of me I will never get back. Regardless of everyone else and anyone else, I will never be able to look them in the eye and not hate them. I can barely get through the day right now with this hole that's in me because they ripped something out of me.."

He brought her hand up into his and kissed her fingers, then slowly set her hand down into his lap, where he still held it. "I love you. This doesn't make me love you less. I need you to tell me, to my face:

Do you forgive them for what they did to me?"
Title: Re: Even Doves Have Pride
Post by: Ji Yoon Moon on Oct 03, 19, 10:35:59 PM
Ji Yoon froze, a deer that had just heard a branch snap in the forest, at the tenderness with which Akira took her hand. She shivered at the grace with which he kissed her fingers. And she swallowed down the lump in her throat because she hoped - really hoped - that she was beginning to understand now. She’d thought she grasped before the scale of Akira’s injury, but it was impossible, really, without having experienced it for herself.

It had been immature of her to try to fill that void with chatter and sex and assurances of her continued fondness for him, all the while the cavity continued to grow. Now the wound had burst... But if Ji Yoon had been a better diagnostician, if she hadn’t tried to do so many things at once and be so many things to too many people, who could say if it would have ever reached this state.

She looked to his fingers around hers, the way he’d pulled her close. The tenderness hid a knife’s edge that she now walked, she thought. He professed not to love her any less, but if the answer would have no effect, why ask the question at all?

No doubt she could hurt him further. With her words, she could leap from the knife and turn it back on him. Or she could set it aside.

How, though?

She spent what began to feel like too long considering Akira’s question.

“No,” Ji Yoon said finally, looking up and trying to meet his eyes. “I don’t think I can. It’s not my place. I can’t forgive something that wasn’t done to me. I can rationalize. I can try to excuse or explain or understand - although not very well - but I don’t think I can forgive.”

Only you have the power to even begin to do that, she thought, but he’d been clear enough about where he stood on that matter. Giving voice to the notion struck her as unhelpful. And, in that same unhelpful vein, she didn’t think the person in question wanted or cared for forgiveness. Only vengeance. And he’d gotten that in spades.

Her gaze dropped back to their hands. What would he say to that?