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Darane Svatura

 
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Olivia Diogenes
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:57 pm    Post subject: Darane Svatura Reply with quote

Sunlight. It was sunlight that gave her away as she ran through the vesh. Not the existence of it, but the way it found her and delighted. A flash of honey. A glitter of warmth. The leaves barely rustled and Ruv didn't make a sound as he galloped after her. She flickered through the underbrush-- obtrusive but silent. They played games still. Her and the wild wolf she had raised since a pup.

-----

Her siblings were not surprised when she found the beast, though they were shocked that she saved it. They had thought she had no patience, no care but that spent for herself and her wanderlust. She was all acrobatics through the trees and her adventures in the dark. Thank the goddess that their work involved the body and she had taken up her circus tricks like a fish to water. What would they have done to keep her still if they had been a different sort of people? A different clan. If she only knew! Her brothers said she was half wild-thing. That she was the spirit of Slobuzenja given smentena limbs and a wild mane of lazy, ashen-sunlight for hair. Her eldest brother had eyed her warily when she was born. Those eyes. 'Detlene,' he had said. Something haunting about the cold wilderness in her little face. Their mother had struck him for it. No one should whisper curses over new born babes.

As she got older, she developed a deep love for her family. For her three brothers. Even for her sister who regarded her with more disdain than the rest. But Liv had a roving heart. Love sought her endlessly. She loved climbing, she loved swimming, she loved running, she loved summersaults, fishing, throwing knives, frolicking, and she loved Ruv. Her family felt they came second, and her mother always reminded her that family was everything. Liv knew, but those bonds were different. She felt them. She felt them unfailingly and they were so far out of question, they were such pure Truth, that she could not imagine a world without it. So, she took it for granted. She was never really close to them. Well, except her middle brother. But even that conscious bond had been more about the wolf. He had helped her when she nearly failed, when the little beast shook with fever and her heart nearly gave out for a creature that had been left in this world to fend for itself. No familia. What a horror. Liv would be its family. Its sister tethered only by the vesh in their hearts. A loose touch, but an unbreakable bond.

So when her brothers had to leave, something in the East demanding the attention of her clan, she thought nothing of it. Travel West while the boys go East? Of course. Why not. Fate bound them and they would find each other again. It's just politics or trade or a contract about boarders and territory.

'Emre, I love you, I will see you again. What is this face?'

'Be smart, Liv. Just be yourself.'

'What do you go on about, brother? I am always myself. How could I be anything else?'

He had frowned at her. And she was aware that there was some wisdom of experience beyond the brows that narrowed at her. 'Do not worry about me!' she explained, as certain of that as she was certain of anything.

'I always worry about you, Olivia.'

She made him kiss Ruv goodbye. Emre fluffed the wolf's ears and looked back twice as he departed.

-----

And so here she was again- running wild in the woods. She had worked Ruv up and he was relentless in his wild perseverance. They had met up with the camp that her mother had business with just that day. She had set perhaps one foot inside the boundaries, sniffed the air - the strange spices, the different sweat- and she had left. Leave the old people to their talking and such. She was 13, and none of it concerned her. There was wilderness to explore. These were new woods, with new hiding spots, new climbing trees and new springs to bathe in and fish at.

She had spent the day hunting rabbits and they had caught 3. They were skinned and cleaned carcasses in her sack. Perhaps that's why Ruv ran so heavily, so portentously. Hunger. Between Ruv in the underbrush and Liv's snares and knife skills, they would have caught several more. But she had found a stream. Cool water. The sun that broke through the trees and warmed a large flat rock had been almost too much to bare. She had bathed and sunned herself. Nivasi. There was a sun-kissed tone to her pale, porcelain skin. It had been there, slightly caramel, since she was a child. Without tending, she paled quickly. But today, she fed it with languor that sprawled out with satisfaction and accomplishment. It fed her heart. So as dusk would fall, she would feed her stomach.

As the sky threatened to bring evening into the afternoon, Olivia came into the new camp from a different way than she had left. She was caught by a guard, whom she tossed a smile at and a word or two in their common tongues. She made him laugh. He told her where there was a fire pit she could use for herself. He asked for a rabbit. She gave him one. Ruv watched as she pulled the fresh meat from her pack and the guard commented on what great big teeth her pet had, and how it licked its maw.

'Ruv? Ruv is a good dog,' she shared with him. And though that only vaguely placated his wary heart, he let the two wildlings in. Liv flashed her inviting charm and she followed the line of wagons and carts according to the directions he gave her. She came upon a clearing. The fire was burning so there were people there.

She steeled herself. She would need to make introductions. She was wild but she was not a savage. It was her first day, she would not have her mother's wrath. She stepped out of the boarders and into the common area. She swept her wheat coloured hair from her face, fixing it absently.

Absently.

Lost for a moment.

Lost in a moment.

He stole that first moment from her.

She left something of herself in that place.

Left herself in the way her gaze chiseled him from reality. Like subtractive sculpture, carving him from her child's heart. He left her with her breath caught. Perhaps it never returned. She had seen men before. Men and boys. She had seen them shirtless and working. She had walked in on her brother when he -- she knew. She understood. But the way the barely fading sunlight fell on his skin-- she wanted to run her hands to catch it, like catching fish in a stream. She could feel the texture, something velvet and soft. Masculine, but... Hard but... The lines of his muscles held a captivating quality. His body told a story. Like home and protection and love and family painted itself in the sunlight, straight from her mind. His olive skin spoke of his parents, of his home, of his people. The way the sun must have deepened it spoke of outside, of exposure, of work. His nakedness displayed a friendly but strong nonchalance. There was something proud. But something boyish. He was 16 and she wanted to touch him. She wanted to set her mouth upon him. A soft, sweet musk was on her tongue in the back of her throat. She knew what he smelled like. What he felt like. Her fingers curled and straightened around nothing. Around the air. The moment filled her with a rich, dark warmth that rose and unraveled from her core to her extremities. Her soft mouth parted like she would speak, but breath was necessary for words. She loved him. She loved him like the vesh, like the sun. She wanted to run through him and bask in him. She wanted him to look at her. She wanted him to see how she meant all the promises that spilled slowly through her mind like the honey of her hair.

And he did. He saw her.

And he reacted.

Something about the look that crossed his features.

She wanted to tell him it was all right.

Ruv licked her useless hand and nudged the bag of rabbits at her hip.

Somehow she managed to edge back. To disappear into the line of make-shift shelters.

With her back against the wood, she listened as her heart pounded like she had stayed out too late in the woods. Like she was running hard for home. Like there was a demon in the forest.

And there was.
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Olivia Diogenes
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Written with some insight and assistance from Writ's writer for his parts of their past.]

"What? No. I don't know. Can you leave Ruv alone, he doesn't like that," Liv said to the girl that was petting the wolf awkwardly. They had been in a conversation about... clans, or family, something painfully boring but Liv couldn't take her attention away from how the girl just didn't understand how to pet the wolf. The uncomfortable protectiveness and feral empathy was welling up and eating her from the inside out -- until it burst out as an interruption, and an ending, to the conversation. A conversation she would only realize later was information gathering and false pretenses.

It would be a few days before she saw them standing off to the side. Alone. Him and her. His hand on her narrow waist, her face fore-shortened, turned, her hair hiding a crooked smile. Liv would miss the glare that the girl tossed at her because Liv left them with purpose, even after having run into them by accident.

He had somehow hijacked her internal lodestone. She found herself more often actively avoiding him than trying to find him. Though the former was continually a bittersweet surprise. It was a few days, perhaps a week, of awkward, teenage hell. And moping. There was some moping involved. Liv found herself needing to also eschew the heavy eye of her mother. A woman who, and the mechanism was a complete mystery to Liv, knew when she was around like she was a limb of her very body. Separated by a door, a wall... whatever it was, if Liv was in earshot her mother would say things that she wanted to share with her daughter. Liv vaguely wondered if the woman just talked to herself, or more particularly, to her, when she was alone and these were just the times that she got lucky that her daughter was actually able to hear.

Liv's mother didn't need luck. But that is another tale all together.

Talking to him was as unavoidable as destiny. And fate would have it just so. On her way to one of her favorite spots in this new *vesh*, she heard the boys leaving the clearing. She saw them, knew them to be his friends. She would tell herself that she went to make sure he *wasn't* there. But she knew he was.

She stepped into the light.

The hard thud of his throwing axe didn't make her wince-- it made her inhale.

"Your wrist is too stiff.... just a little but... it'd help."

He didn't turn to her. She didn't have a guess as to why. But he spoke to her, "Throwing an axe isn't like throwing a dagger."

She swallowed thickly. Too much knowledge-- too quickly. She didn't balk, but her wandering closer to him strayed. All of her had this fiendish desire to be less direct. Like she could fake him out. Then she changed her mind. From behind him, she threw. And she dotted his axe like an 'i' with a swift, decisive and slender dagger.

That's when he turned, and something in her withered away. But she wasn't sure if she would ever miss it.

"I--" she swallowed again. The blush started on her chest in a red flush of blood. And it must have crept to her tongue before her brain because she said "So ...You're with that brunette girl you steal touches of when you think no one is looking?" Her directness would stay with her for her entire life. No matter how stealthy she trained her body, her words were as true as her thrown blades-- even if it admitted that *she* was looking.

He looked like he swallowed a bug. She added, "I mean... she *is* pretty. Really pretty." Because her mouth just...

He actually coughed. He choked on that imaginary insect. Dryly he responded, "I don't need to steal."

A rush of something like anger ran through her. Anger with a twist. A sharp, stinging, salted twist. Belladonna. Foxglove. *Poison.* Olivia had never known jealousy before. In fact, she didn't really understand. "Oh," nearly a murmur. "Right. I... of course. I just meant you're sneaky about it." She would fill the silences ad infinitum. "Not sneaky *enough* though, yeah?" And she grinned at him like they were old friends. Like she had a right. Like she could creep under his skin with charm and familiarity that she would steal from and into him first, and return later.

But he could lengthen the silences like a declining sun. Like they were shadows. And shadows like that... well, it would take Liv a few years to hide in shadows like that.

So his regard of her was long. It was complicated... It was not guarded, it didn't feel guarded. But she could not read the thoughts behind his eyes. There was just this extended... pull. Like his gravity deepened. She padded several steps closer. It was enough for Ruv to close their gap in equal measure, his faithful 15 feet away. *Her* long shadow. The wolf stepped out of the woods where he had waited, like a good dog. But no one noticed. "Apparently not enough for *everyone,*" he finally said.

Liv couldn't contain herself. She couldn't put her mouth in check. She smiled like he praised her. She enjoyed being stealthy. It suited her. And praise from him was like her first sip of whiskey. It warmed her from the inside out. And her head got fuzzy.

Then he added, "She isn't mine."

Which crashed into her somewhat nervous explanation "Well, barely enou-- what does *that*.. I mean. None of my business, that. ...I guess." Though she attempted decorum, the wrinkling and scrunch of her sun-kissed nose betrayed her overall impression about the entire matter.

"I-- should go I...." she stepped light and quick, passing him. She wriggled her dagger from the wood and about-faced back towards him. It was almost too quick, like she couldn't have him behind her. But Ruv came up behind *him* and sniffed at his open hand which hung useless against his thigh. "*Ruv!*" she called the animal like a badly behaving sibling.

But he decided to steal the rest of her heart. The youth crouched down slowly, his eyes on the ground. There was a second nature required for touching and meeting animals the way they needed to be. Especially wild ones, or ones with wild hearts. The wolf sniffed at him. More importantly, he let himself be sniffed. And then there was the tiniest of smiles. Liv's heart was in that careful, up and open palm that he extended to her companion. She couldn't hear it, but she felt the cadence of her mother tongue, the sweet lyrics of Romani murmured deep and soft in a greeting meant for creatures. Respect and awe. Openness and peace. The warmth she saw was something she'd only glimpsed of him with his male friends, but more often alone in a quiet pleasure he seemed to have for the world.

"He.... his name... he likes you. I just.. he's Ruv," she had a gentle, awe-filled undertow of commentary. She didn't realize she strayed closer. Like her center of gravity wandered towards him, graceful, but creeping. A sneak-thief. Maybe it was jealousy, she wanted him to know *her* name, too, so she crept up on him to say it softly. "And I'm Liv... Olivia... but.....Liv." Her voice going more and more quiet as she neared and she watched. She adored the fact that they bonded. It was inexplicable. She would wonder what that was for years. No matter how much sorrow it gave her.

Lifting her gaze from Ruv and his peculiar behavior... (Not that he was a dangerous animal, but he was slow to take to anyone other than Liv and her family) she saw that he tensed slightly as she crept closer. Eventually he lifted his eyes to her and answered in a tone that was much less rigid than his body was. "I know," he said. Whether he meant he knew who she was or that Ruv liked him was open to interpretation... But... It was soft. Tender the way he said it as an extension of the warm Romani in his throat.

Her mouth parted to speak, but finally she closed it before regrets spilled out.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2018 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Writ's parts brainstormed with Writ's writer.]

"Olivia," the voice was stinging with urgency.

Olivia pulled herself from a fitful sleep. "Wh- huh...Vai?" As she realized who it was, she pulled her covers close to her and scooted down and across her bed away from the girl. She reached for the bedding, blindly seeking her knife in the folds of her patchwork blanket. A trusty companion as ever-present as--

"Ruv..?"

"Your wolf, he has found something in the woods and he wont leave it be."

"What are you talking about-- Vai he...? What?" Sleep tugged at her senses, trying to wash the soft sand from her pale eyes. Liv rubbed them with the side of her hand. "I...where?"

"Come."

Olivia looked at her once. She ran through all of the motivations and the possibilities. She did not trust this girl. Though she had done little more than throw disgusted looks in her direction, Liv was aware that she was not sincere in her friendship and had, in fact, been aware of the times she was slighted and the reasons for the slighting. But... Ruv. He was not here. She could only assume she was telling the truth. At least half a truth. Nothing would explain why or how the wolf would have left her side while she slept, but that just meant it was more urgent that she find him. She could ask questions later. She knew that Vai had early morning wanderings into the vesh. She gathered and she guarded. Liv slipped on a loose tunic-like sweater and shrugged on pants before bolting out the door.

The two girls ran through the trees. Vai was spry and talented enough in the way she could see the spirit of the vesh. However, she was not fast enough, and Liv fought the urge to pass her when she had the chance because...she felt in her heart that she knew where Ruv was. What direction he was in. She felt like she was pulled in the direction in front of her. She felt a sense of urgency even as behind her, in the direction of the camp, she felt a soft, troubled, dream-turmoil that threatened to disconnect her from what she thought was Ruv. She stumbled once when she had the strange sense that she was falling backwards. Falling upwards. She almost lurched into a tree. Vai heard the mis-step and turned but did not ask after she saw that Liv still ran after catching herself with a powerful slam of her palm into a young tree. Liv ran and ran hard. Her mind was a wild searching, and sensing thing scrambling in every direction. Liv *sought*.

Vai stopped on the edge of the clearing. It was one that Liv had not spent much time in as she had found favorites that she frequented and had never felt the desire to discern the rest of this dark, foreign forest. She saw Ruv. He was laying near the North corner and his body was limp, his limbs scattered like he had been thrown or fell. But...that made no sense unless it was from the jaws of a larger animal. Liv scanned the trees, looking for predators. She saw and heard and smelled nothing so she sprinted to the creature.

She touched the fur where it was darker. Her hand came away red. "Ruv, ruv, ruv!" her heart and her mouth cried.

*She pulsed in the darkness of the subconsciousness of the world. Of him. Of her. Of them. The spectral influences, the landscape of their connection --written in bones and blood and stars and magic-- quivered. She had looked so hard with all of her, that she found both him and Ruv along the same lines of heart-strings. They shivered silver in the morning sun. They frayed as consciousness crashed in and threatened to stir the very nature of all she touched. There was agony, and anguish. Liv pulled.*

In the same moment, Liv realized several things. First, she realized that Ruv was not dead. In fact, the wolf seemed to have been tossed and left unconscious. Secondly, she realized that this was not the work of teeth or claw, but the work of a man-made blade. And thirdly, she realized that someone was behind her.

Liv's crouch, roll, and defensive spring to her feet included an assessment and an attack.

"Why!?" she yelled at Miklo as he reached down to palm his tattered shirt and the blood that sprung there from where she had swiped her blade. "Why would you do this, what *is* this?"

"Don't you *dare*," hissed Vai from behind her. Liv pivoted to allow an easier glance at the girl. Just one-- noting that she had no weapon and she was at least a warning-sign distance away. She would know if Vai did something. If she moved. But Miklo was closer, and stronger. "Don't you dare pretend like you don't have a part in this."

"A part in what, *lóoverni?*" spat Liv. And the quick motion that Vai made towards her made her take two steps back at the apex of the triangle of threats that they created.

"Do not act ignorant, *muladi bavol.* You come in here expecting everything, like you have a right to take," Liv became distracted by the insult. Trying to pick apart what exactly the problem was. Other than Writ.

"I do not plan on staying. Let me take my ruv. You are monsters-- sappéskomátchi ozi. You disgust me, I would not stay here if He asked." She was almost distracted by this claim, uncertain if that were true. Thinking about it for just a moment. One too many. Vai sneered and this appeared to anger Miklo even more than her accusations. He lurched for Liv, he reached for her throat, he tackled her to the ground. But Liv had three brothers. She knew more about the limitations and the advantages of the body than she even understood herself. She received the fingers around her throat, she let him. But she trapped his arm to her chest which was the opposite of what he expected. She hugged that hand and pulled it towards her. Then, using her legs at his sides as leverage to twist her body, she grabbed the inside of his bent and grounded knee and threw her hips so that she threw her leg over his shoulders and the back of his neck to flip him onto his back with little more than her body weight and his confusion, inertia and unpreparedness.

Vai reached for her, but stopped. In her place of dominance, the boy stunned beneath her, Liv yelled at Vai. "Leave! Leave and I'll leave! Just let me take my ruv!"

Liv did not know what to do next. She was unsure as to how to subdue Miklo more than with her self. He grabbed her and pulled. He growled at her in such a way that she could feel his rage. It was hot and firm between her legs and he was grabbing at her center of gravity to throw her. Liv plunged her knife into the thick muscle and fat of the boy's side. She was aware that she would not pierce anything of importance, but it would hurt, and he would not be able to fight much or run. She hobbled him. And she moved to get away but he grabbed her, furious. His anger overcame his desire to protect himself. There was a struggle. Olivia screamed, she was wrathful and set on fire by a wild and indignant rage that was done with pleading for herself or her friend. She was done with *all* of them.

When Miklo got the knife, Vai had grabbed her hair.

But Ruv had woken, and Ruv sunk his teeth into Miklo's hand. The wolf snarled and tore. He yanked and shook his head, maiming Miklo's dominant hand-- maiming it permanently.

Liv was free of the boy, and though she slammed her hand on top of Vai's in her hair, she could not force those fingers free. She twisted to take on the girl at just the moment she saw Ruv lunge. And she knew, with a deep sense of dread that that was too bold. Too much. Too vulnerable. The wolf's thick chest was so exposed as he lunged. Oliva screamed. It was blood curdling. She knew. The rage and heartache and loss fluttered in her throat as she screamed for the life-companion she had spent only a short 4 years loving. She screamed for how alone she felt already. Knowing that she was not allowed to return to or to find her family (even though she had tried 3 times already) and they would not likely take her back. Knowing that she would try and try and try and nights in the woods with Ruv as they escaped and ran were the only solace she would have away from this Kompania. She would run, but she would run alone now. And the desperation that flooded her with was both for Ruv, and selfishly for herself.

She crumpled as a dead weight at the end of Vai's clawing fingers. This was unexpected and set the girl off balance. Liv watched as the weight of the large creature fell on Miklo, but fell without direction and without an expectation of landing. His teeth had encircled the boy's shoulder, but the power behind it was gone. Red. Red everywhere.

Olivia pressed her fingers in the dark, scented earth and she pivoted on a knee and ball of her foot to spring back on Vai--

But she was too late. The girl let out a heavy-pressed gasp as Writ crashed into her. He was a spectral savior, still wrapped in his sleeping robe, bounding from the pre-dawn woods.

Confusion took Liv, but not for long. *Let them have each other* her mind hissed. She got up and made to lurch for Ruv *and Miklo* but there was a deep, stern, "No."

Liv spun on Writ. "No?!"

She heard Miklo stirring, struggling under the dead weight of the wolf.

"He *killed* him. HE KILLED HIM! HE KILLED MY BEST FRIEND WITH MY OWN KNIFE I WILL--" *if I had not brought it. If I was not here. If you weren't here. Oh god.*

"No."

Liv looked at her hands. She was shaking.

Miklo groaned and pushed the body off of him. Something strangled and wet made sounds in the back of her throat. She felt ill as she heard the lifeless sound of Ruv crumpling in the grass.

Behind her, Writ withered Vai into complacency with the weight of his hazel stare. He unarmed her with his presence-- with the command of his self. Writ's heavy silence was--

Miklo started to right himself.

"Leave," growled Writ. "Leave or I will do what Olivia deserves to have done."

Liv watched her fingers. She could not look up. She could not look at the other boy-- the creature that had killed her friend. She swooned and steadied herself with a hand in the ground again. She thought she would fall to the ground in an embarrassing heap. She wondered why she felt so sick, and sicker as her mind frantically tried to recall if that was the first time he had said her name. Or perhaps just her full name or...?

The ground became blurry as she began to see it through her tears. She felt them leave. She felt them run. She saw the knife tumble into the grass and she stared at it, throwing accusations at it, at herself. If she had not brought it... if she had not drawn it...if she had not...

"Oh god. Oh god," she began to murmur and fight the urge to hug herself and rock in the grass.

"Olivia--"

"Go, just go. I don't care. I don't care about any of you," she started sobbing as she half crawled, half slunk to Ruv's fallen form and she threw her arms around the thick, still warm, width of his furry ribs. Liv pressed her brow against the first wound she had found on him and did not care that she painted half her features, and all of her arms, in blood as she sobbed into the dark pelt that smelled of comfort, and safety, and love, and home. Other than that soft clutch, she had no strength in her limbs. She sobbed uncontrollably, hoping that if there was something left of Ruv, even with his heart pierced perfectly beyond the guard of his familiar ribs, that maybe he would understand that she loved him. That he had saved her. That she would never forget the gift he gave her. That she would have done anything-- That he understood that he was the last thing she had in all of the world. Even in a place that appeared to wish to give her that which others coveted. Even unto murder.

"Please. ...I can't..."

"They killed him, they killed him, they-- " she disintegrated, unsure if she accused him or accused their parents or their religion. Her soul spilled out of her eyes, through tears, and her mouth, as spit. She nearly smothered herself in the dark fur. She felt as though her heart poured out and ran empty in the grass of that clearing. It must have been horrible for him to stand there while her heart wept and *needed*.

Perhaps that's why he put up his hands-- frustrated with the world and with the impending demands and leadership that would wait for them back at the camp. In the haze of her profound grief he managed to find the knife. He would wash it and rinse off the blood in the fresh water that ran near by. The intimacy, her sorrow, if he could not assuage it the way anyone would (with his hands, with his arms)... then he would give her privacy. Respect these moments. Writ would sit and hum a soft quiet parting prayer of his people while he waited for her. While he stood guard, and stood vigil.

At length, Liv slept. Her body utterly exhausted and curled around the body of dead Ruv.

And afterwards, they would bury Ruv. But not in that clearing. In the other. In the place where Writ threw his axes, and Olivia played with her companion. Writ wrapped her in the sleeping robe he had run there in. She was so still. So quiet. He had little worry of her moving or accidentally causing them to touch. It was like dressing a doll, propped there, only breathing. Barely doing that. She watched him absently in a hazy stupor as he dug the grave. Her mind was unsure as to what it witnessed, other times it was completely certain, as certain as death. Sometimes she thought about Ruv. Sometimes, the better moments, she thought about him. She helped a little. Later, she would find that hard to remember. For some reason it would matter.

When they walked home he guided her wordlessly into his tent.

She slept and stayed there for several days. She haunted him like a half-remembered ghost.

Writ slept on the floor. But only after she asked, and after he had slept outside with the flap open the first night. The request was just one of the soft, mid-conversations that stumbled out of her mouth as though it were generated by a response to a slow, sleepy narrative she had fallen into in her mind-- somnambulant and distant and broken. She was only vaguely there, silently conversing with herself in a fog of misery. In a way, he anchored her. She murmured mostly to herself in that blurr of days. But to him, as he began to leave the second night she had said, distinctly: "Don't. Stay. Please."

When she was gone his bed gently smelled of her. But it was strange. She was sweat and tears and a heavy sorrow that married something bitter with something earthy. All of it was chaotically stirred with a dollop of the honey-sunlight of her hair. Youth. Youth and grief. And girl.

He never gave back the blade.

How could he have?

How would he have brought it up? But really, there just hadn't been time. The last time she tried to run away was three weeks later. Three weeks in which they spoke more than nearly all the time before. Three weeks where she hid behind the emotional boundaries of her steeled decision to run far, far away, back to her family, and steeled behind her ruthless, obsessive escape planning. A theme for the rest of her life.

She would leave this place. She would find her brothers. They would take her back.

Three weeks where she would wonder if maybe she had started to love him. That maybe she should let herself. But she would only wonder that after it was *he* who was gone.

After it was he who was unable to endure the sight of her slung between two men of his kumpania, carried by her arms and dragged through the dust like a prisoner.

Such a smile on her lips- defeat and contempt. Had it been for *him*? There had been a small cut on her lower lip, the plush shape of it was slightly swollen and topped with the dark red of dried blood. If he looked now, there was still a soft light feather of a scar there.

But when she smiled now it recalled defiance, not defeat.

If he didn't understand that yet, she would tell him.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ismarin, his mother, had been in labor for three excruciatingly painful days.

"Have I ever told you the story about how you came into this life?" Bebi Nisha asked. Writ was six years old and sitting on his Aunt's lap listening for the sound of his newest sibling's first cries from just outside the door. Light brown, with gold and green flecks swiveled up towards the woman's pointed chin. Her dark eyes met his and a warm smile soothed his worry like the hand she passed over his unruly sable hair. This wasn't the first time he had sat perched like a gargoyle in Nisha's arms, waiting anxiously for the arrival of another extension of himself-- another sibling. This would be his fourth, and from the look on his father's worn and drawn face, his last. Even at six years old, he had had a sense of this. A ridiculously inborn skill to observe and understand things a boy of his age simply shouldn't.

The first time he had waited, was for Tielah, who came just eleven months after him, and every day since, had spent an exorbitant amount of time and energy trying to make up the insignificant difference in their age by turning everything into a competition. A trait that would turn ugly more often than not and frequently backfired in the way that where Writ was concerned, his path was so strongly carved that there was very little she could do to affect its trajectory, no matter how hard she tried. More memorably, if not just because he was actually old enough to hold the memory himself but because of the surprise of it, was the birth of his brothers. They were only expecting one. Nisha and his mother being who they are, how they are, were shocked and, quite frankly, terrified when after Diece had come screaming into the world, Ismarin was still in labor. His mother had never felt another-- never saw the second fine gold line of life that marks the connections in people. Nisha had never sensed him either. Writ would also quickly come to find out that Van was his only sibling whose thoughts were silent and his presence only recognizable in his mind by an unnatural emptiness in the space he occupied. Where Diece was light, Van was dark. Not good vs. bad.. just.. a shadow. Like two halves of a single person, put into two bodies. Twins only by birth, image and tone, complete and utterly stark opposites in every other way. Even the midwives had been taken aback. They said it was as if Van didn’t have a heartbeat until Diece had drawn his first lungful of air. Eventfully mysterious as that day, and the three years since, had been, Writ was most eager to meet the latest Petrescu addition. He felt the corded bond wrapping tighter and thicker every month of his mother's pregnancy that had passed and felt in many ways anchored to the coming child. This one, would be special, he could feel it, deep down in his bones.

His little brows tightened in agony as all of those thoughts rushed through him in the blink of an eye.

Nisha felt his mind start to wander and she clicked her tongue at him. "Pay attention now.." she urged, distracting him from his own sense of responsibility and anxiety. "There was a great moon in the sky, little love. Your daia and dat, had not been anticipating your arrival for another month." she grinned at him and pinched his olive toned cheek. "Oh ale.. you were ready! You didn't even give me a chance to perform the unknotting.†Nisha pointedly glanced down at the pile of knotted ribbons in their mutual lap and the resultant smooth strands she'd deftly untangled and placed around their feet like patchwork on the floor- a protective, invisible barrier cast around them to keep his three year old twin brothers from romping through them in their terrible wake of endless activity. "You just.. showed up," she continued, "Quiet as the night! No crying or fussing. Strong. Stubborn. Like your dat. Beautiful. Magical. Like your daia." Her arms tightened around him in a squeeze. "Sensitive. Curious. Like your bebi!" A melodic laugh left her throat as she continued, "I knew you would be my favorite.." she whispered conspiratorially, "Just as you know this one will be yours.. don't tell the others!†Writ smiled crookedly at her and shook his head in promise. Of course not. He had replied without opening his mouth.. and Nisha smiled knowingly.

The permission he gave himself to be sufficiently distracted in that moment by the páttrimíshi was just that, a moment. A brief pause in the tumult of his heart before he resumed his vigil, training his eyes on the door. Nisha hummed a hauntingly deep velvet tune and swayed the both of them back and forth.

It was only a few moments longer, a couple of rounds of his aunt's song, before his sister, Tielah, came running out to them, sent by the midwife with news. In her child voice she shouted "CHAYA!" with arms raised in a V. Clearly excited to have another girl in the fold. An excitement that wouldn't last very long, as it would turn out.

------

"Tag! You're it!" Vai screamed and ran as fast as her feet could carry her away from him.

Diece and Van followed after her amidst a gaggle of other boys from the Kumpania forming a wall between their brother and the dark haired, dark eyed girl made of long lashes and giggles that tickled the skin of whatever poor kid they landed on. Today.. it was all of them.. so they protected her from their supposed leader who prowled like a wolf on the other side of the field.

"Traitors! Doshmani!" Writ shouted theatrically and smirked at them while his form crouched, murky hazel hues plotting a strategic path.. finding the chinks in their childlike armor.

A pin drop. He sprinted.

The form of that 12 year old boy, already a man in so many ways, was graceful and swift dodging the swipes of smaller hands that attempted to bring him to the ground as he got nearer to his quarry. Outstretched fingertips caught the girl by her hand and a taut jerk of his own pulled her chest to chest with him. She blanched, eyes wide, lips parted by panting breaths. Then five shades of red crept into her cheeks and her lashes lowered dreamily. The sight of it bent Writ’s head towards her and she raised her chin expectantly.

"Chikno." A stern voice called from the sidelines. Petre. Writ snapped back from Vai about three feet and turned a guilty gaze towards his father. Tielah was standing next to him, arms folded across her chest with a smug smile. Writ bared gritted teeth at the irritatingly proud expression on his sister's face and stalked towards the waiting reprimand.

"Oooo.. Writ’s in trooooubleee!" His brothers called out in eerie sing song unison.

"No, he's not." Said a small voice suddenly.. impossibly at his side. Where did she even come from? Writ looked down at the sound of Chaya who beamed up at him and took his hand while they marched across the field.

Tielah glared at the pair of them.

Always in cahoots. Always on the same side.

Petre put a hand on his son's shoulder and tapped Chaya in the bottom with his foot to shoo her affectionately. "Go on, goodlo.. I need to speak with your brother."

The playful scene on the field dissolved behind them as they walked in silence, replaced after long by the interior of his father's meeting tent. His mother was there, and Nisha, and Vai's father.. and Miklo's father. Writ's jaw clenched. He could see what this was just by those assembled faces. He flopped onto a pile of pillows and regarded them each with a dark sweep of his eyes.

"So.. you are going to tell me to stay away from my friend because she belongs to Miklo now? I don't get a say? She doesn't get a say? Miklo doesn't need a say.. he most definitely would agree with you lot because what Shav wouldn't?" he spat, impetuously, and threw his arms up in exasperation. "I understand tradition father, but this?" His quick assessment seemed to startle everyone except Bebi Nisha who simply sat there, half hiding a proud smile.

The silence stretched on for an uncomfortable amount of time.
Finally, Petre turned in his seat to the other two men in the room. "I think you can see that my son understands the situation." He said plainly. Without removing their jaws from the floor, the men both nodded succinctly and rather unceremoniously scrambled out of the tent. Leaving Writ's view with one last glower.

"Barearav, Writ. You must." Ismarin pleaded as she rose to her feet and came closer to her son. "You must." She repeated and touched her fingetips to his shoulder.

The scent of wildflowers and honey invaded his senses. A disctinctly vivid image, robbed him of his sight.

A girl. Running down a forest path. Bright, almost white hair floating around her features, ethereally. Her smile. Pure. Unadulterated. Freedom. Happiness. A wolf pup tucked into her jacket.

"Wha—Who?" Writ croaked, the sudden switch back to reality leaving him breathless and panting. He steadied himself with one palm pressed against the floor.

"Olivia Diogenes. Yours. Your intended. That is why you cannot have Vai. You belong to someone else.. and it would be disgraceful. This is your duty, kom. You cannot kor. Even if you try. This will happen." It was his mother's turn to leave, a steady gaze on his father as she departed. Finish this. it said.

"You have four years before she arrives, Writ." Petre said. "I suggest you do your best not to ruin Vai or your reputation in the meantime." His father’s eyes flickered towards Nisha very briefly. If Writ wasn't the strangely observant creature that he was, he would have missed it. "You can not always have what you want, my son."

------

Some things would never be the same after that day. Some got worse. Some better.

The entanglement with Vai had definitely spiraled out of control on a number of occasions as they got older. They were drawn to each other. Always had been. The difference was that while Writ found the arrangements antiquated and all levels of unfair, he respected traditions and did his best to honor them. He was expected to. Vai, on the other hand, took it as a challenge. "They can't tell me who to want." She said into his ear, "Don't you still want me?" she'd ask, groping him viciously into any available somewhat hidden space. He often thought it had much more to do with the thrill of it, the risk of getting caught than it did him specifically.. but he was a prized rebellion and even that was amplified after word got around camp that Writ's intended would be arriving soon.

It wasn't a magical or mystical quality that made secrets impossible to keep for Roma.. it was their big f**king mouths.

He was sixteen now and the tone of him changed in more ways than one. He still had an easy smile for his friends, a playful streak with the youth, his sense of responsibility and a charm that was kept under wraps out of necessity but.. he grew quiet. More secretive in his rebellion. More stalwart. He often retreated into himself, preferring to work in a physically demanding capacity throughout the camp. It shaped his body, long, lean and well defined.. harder.. more man, less boy. Besides being exercise, he also needed the process in order to burn off the strange energy building up inside of him as the days grew closer and blurred together.. waiting.. for her. For the end of his freedom and choices.

When he wasn't laboring in the fields, he was drinking with the men of the Kumpania. With his friends. He indulged on a more regular basis these days much to his Bebi Nisha's chiding- she was the only one that seemed to notice, besides Chaya who watched him like a hawk from inconspicuous gaps in the ether. Strange creature.

Writ was sitting by the fire with Joa and Shane.

Burning logs of wood were crackling loudly. A graveyard of bottles surrounded the pit like little glass corpses of bad decisions made. Joa gesticulated wildly as he spun his tale- his voice sounded warped in Writ’s ears like he'd been underwater; the white of his hazel eyes burned red and his vision was blurred to match his other altered senses. Numb. Blissfully numb. No weight. No responsibility. No feelings. Just.. nothing.

"Writ…" a voice called from somewhere nearby. His slouching frame righted itself for the most part.. upward at least but still slightly tilted. "Writ!" It said again in an aggressive whisper. His eyelids slowly crept open to find a pair of long lashed dark eyes hovering a very close two inches away from his own.

"Vai?" he asked groggily.. the crease in his brow deepening in post-drunk confusion as he peered passed her face at the pit where the fire had gone cold and burnt down to ash. How long had he been there? How long ago had his companions left him? Did they even try to wake him? He was suddenly aware of how cold he was- sitting out in the cool night air with nothing more than a pair of pants and the last drying remnants of his alcohol induced sweat. She was warm.. And so close that he could feel the heat radiating from her skin.

"Who else would it be?" She asked teasingly, dragging her finger along his jawline. The touch pulled a soft groan from his throat. "That's it.." she encouraged and crawled cat-like into his lap. "Remember how nice this feels? Doing what we want. When we want. With who.. we want..?" The cadence in her voice timed to the rhythm of the soft undulating roll of her hips.

Writ let his head fall back and opened his eyes to the stars above. There was a sadness in the slow way he blinked up at them. His body responded to Vai’s manipulations readily enough.. but the rest of him.. sat passively inside of himself, trapped, unmoving. Too numb to object to what his body clearly wanted.

She'd take his physical response as consent.

"F**k me, Writ." She demanded, unzipping his pants while positioning herself for accepting him. She sounded much too comfortable with those words. So much so that it jarred through the haze of his inebriation like a smack across the face-- his mind's last-ditch effort to thwart baser instincts. She saw the flicker of reservation pass over him and leaned in hastily to kiss him before the thought could take too much of a hold. In a calculatedly sweeter tone, she pressed a whisper against his lips.. "Please? I.. I want you to be my first."

He had always had a hard time denying her.. and when she begged him like that.. in the state he was in.. well.. he lost the struggle. Eyes closed and barely conscious, he gave in.

Later, he would come to find out that Vai's claim had been a lie. Nothing more than a manipulation from a girl that refused to take no for an answer. Not that it much mattered. He felt nothing afterward. Just a void- black and hollow.. where any feelings for the girl he spent his childhood circling should have clung.

It would be two days later, standing casually warm and shirtless by the fire, laughing at the banter amongst his friends. before he felt anything at all in regards to that drunken episode.

He felt eyes on him. Cold pin pricks up the back of his neck.

Mid-laugh, he turned towards the sensation.

His smile faded, leaving a look of strained thought across his slack expression as burning hazel met pale blue from across the field. Her ashen hair gave her away- sticking out like an ethereal sore thumb amidst the dark complected, dark haired Roma around her. Even if it hadn't.. the lurch of his heart was all the confirmation he needed.

Olivia. his mind declared reverently.

Those four syllables were apparently strong enough to manifest his first two real emotions in days
.
Guilt, a stifling amount of it, and perhaps it's unfathomable origin..

Love.

Raw and unrecognizable.

He watched her retreat.

The way his mind reached out and begged her to stay, now that she was finally here, surprised him. He didn't know what he had been expecting.. but the wild thing standing there with her wolf at her side, wind still tangled lovingly in her hair no matter how she tried to smooth it away.. wasn't it. And he wanted her. Instantly.

Even more surprising than that revelation was his next thought..

Vai. He needed to find Vai.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I can't stay mad at you.." she cooed from the tree-line.

Several days earlier, immediately after an enthralling pair of eyes lit up his skin and culled his very soul with her presence, he'd gone to find Vai and broached the subject of their encounter. It didn't go well. Not in the least, and definitely not as he'd expected. He had tried to tell her that he did want her.. that he always had. That he cared about her deeply and was honored that she wanted him back and was willing to .. give him that.. but.. it never should have happened. It was stupid and irresponsible. They were promised to other people. The physical affection they had shared in the past couldn't continue. He wouldn't tell her that now he didn't even wish it could. Whether that was cowardice or tact was hard to determine. He even tried to apologize. All she did was stonily tell him that she lied about her virginity, and that he was off the hook for any banishing of her due to marihme. She simply laughed and walked away.

"Oh, was that you being mad?" He asked dryly, wiping the dirt from his hands and refusing to look up at her. "What are you doing here, Vai? What do you want?"

"Aw. Writ, are you still sore about the whole You weren't my first thing?" Vai stalked closer, "I mean you probably would have noticed if you hadn't been so drunk. I only told you that to get you out of your own way, you know?"

Writ clenched his jaw and finally brought his heavy eyes to her.

"What? Don't look at me like that." Vai put a pout into her mouth that normally would have caused all sorts of reactions in him. When it didn't, she changed tactics-- smiled and batted her lashes up at him as she closed the distance.

"It's not about whether I got there first, Vai.. and the fact that you think that is what this is about just further goes to show how very little you actually know about me." He ran a hand through his hair-- her familiarity making him uncomfortable in new ways. Finally, the rest of his body seemed to be catching up with his brain. "You lied to me. Then you laughed about it like it meant nothing. Tell me again why you are mad at me?"

"You know why I'm mad at you." She said, taking his now clean hands and placing them on her waist to illustrate her point.

He had finally told her no. That's all this was. She couldn't stand not having that power over him anymore. No reaction to her charm or beauty. No more craving her touch. She needed it. Needed it from him. He was hers. He could see the possessiveness creep into her dark eyes.

"I just ca--" he paused. A familiar tickle stung at the back of his neck and he saw Vai's eyes go hard over his shoulder. Taking his hands back, he turned and glanced behind him to find no one there.

When he turned back around Vai's chocolate brown hues were brimming with tears and her mouth was set into a scowl.

"Why? Because your dili djolano has arrived? Now you can throw me aside like I'm trash after getting what you wanted?" she spit the words at him like they were venom.

The fury that rose in him tensed his muscles but it was short lived. He had hurt her. He hadn’t meant to.. didn't even think it was possible.. and seeing her react so strongly quickly stamped out any anger he felt towards the insult and the implication she hurled at him. It was replaced with shame and a thick sadness. Had he been callous? Uncaring? His brows furrowed. He wouldn't argue the point.

"I'm sorry." He said, running a thumb over the slick trail of spilt tears at the apple of her cheek. He'd take it. He'd take the blame. He'd take the smear on his name and reputation-- If that's what she needed in order to feel better. A cut for a cut. They'd been friends their whole lives after all was said and done. Suddenly, he hated himself for not being able to give her what she wanted. For no longer wanting what she wanted. He hated his parents. Hated his responsibilities. Even hated Liv for being something he couldn't ignore. No matter how inaccurate of an assessment, he'd accept it.

Vai squeezed her eyes shut when his hand made contact, causing another stream to roll over his skin. She knew he was sincere. She could see what he was doing. "Why do you have to be so good?" she asked weakly before pressing a kiss into his palm, turning away and walking back through the trees.

-----

There was a week or so of quiet gloom where he spent his time isolated in his tent whenever permitted to.

Eventually, he'd emerge more frequently, and when he did, Vai kept her distance but had a smile for him if their eyes met. He had to admit that it was more than a small relief to see the upturn in the corners of her mouth. She spent more time with Miklos now, who was absolutely beaming under her public attention.

Writ felt like he could breathe a little easier, though Vai's absence in his everyday life left him feeling more alone than ever. Sure, there was his family, but even those relationships had suffered a bit from the wallow he'd fallen into.

And.. there was Liv. Her blonde hair catching light like a beacon anywhere she went. He knew exactly when to turn and where so that they'd at least cross paths from time to time, though he couldn't tell if that made him feel better.. or worse.

All at once, he had made a conscious effort to be more social and get ouf of the pit of malaise he was wading in. It.. wasn’t easy.

The guys were hooting and hollering. Clapping each other on the back as their game ended.

Writ exhaled as they departed and he rubbed at his face. How had he done this regularly before? It was exhausting.

After a moment of quiet, motionless, re-centering—a suggestion from Bebi Nisha after he'd sworn off drinking, post fireside incident (of course she knew all about that too but was kind enough to keep it and her thoughts about it to hersel.)

He plucked out an armful of throwing axes from the wooden target and walked the requisite paces away.

Thud. Thud. Thu--.. lightening bugs descended, touching ground along the light, sunbleached hair of his raised arm.

"Your wrist is too stiff.... just a little but... it'd help." Came a voice he somehow already knew. This was the first thing she'd ever said to him.

With his back still to her, more to buy himself enough time to wipe the stupid look off of his face than anything, he responded. "Throwing an axe isn't like throwing a dagger." He had been able to feel the little needle of a thing on her. Felt the muscle memory in her dominant arm and hand. It made him slightly dizzy.

The dagger in question zipped passed his head and sailed to a perfect point just above his last thrown axe. His mouth twitched and the tilt of it turned the rest of his body around to face her.

"I--" she began. Her stutter and stall, her deep swallow and sudden pink hue that crept up her neck to her cheeks brushed his lash against lower lids in a slow blink. It felt like a dream. Like everything was playing out in slow motion.

"So ...You're with that brunette girl you steal touches of when you think no one is looking?" she continued

The words stung in so many ways he couldn't begin to address any of them.

He choked on air.

"I mean... she is pretty. Really pretty."

He coughed. Truth was, he couldn't even see it anymore. Dryly he responded, "I don't need to steal."

A flash of unreadable emotion crossed her features.. elegant and plain. Wild and natural. It was his turn to flush a ruddy shade into his cheeks.

"Oh.. I... of course. I just meant you're sneaky about it." Pause. "Not sneaky enough though, yeah?" She grinned impishly at him.

There was something so familiar in the cadence of her voice. In the way she spoke to him like they’d known eachother for centuries beyond their own scant ages. He watched her quietly for a long time. A rush of panic as she crept closer was kept hidden beneath the surface of his features though he could feel his very soul tremble. The cords that bound them glistening sharply in the sunlight as they pulled taut...

It was the wolf's appearance that would finally nudge him hard enough for words to find their way out through the complicated mess of a maze where he kept his feelings about.. this whole thing. "Apparently not enough for everyone," was his long-delayed retort, an edge of charm and praise in the lilt.

She smiled.. And it almost buckled him at the knees.

"She isn't mine." He added absently, like it just fell out of his mouth. A sneaky fate flag thrown on the ground—like a criminal hoping to be caught.

"Well, barely enou-- what does that.. I mean. None of my business, that. ...I guess." She stuttered.

They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment.

"I-- should go I...." His eyes watched her as she passed him, nose lifting siightly as he inhaled the gust of her scent that assailed him in her hurry.

Just then, Writ felt a cold, wet nose snuffle over his skin.

"Ruv!" Liv shouted.

Writ smiled a freely genuine, untortured smile for the first time that day. He crouched down slowly, palm up and open, arm half-way extended so that he wasn’t too close, but still an invitation in. Showing proper respect for the regal animal, he was careful to keep his warm eyes on the ground. When Ruv accepted his supplication, Writ smiled even wider and allowed the thick velvet language of their mother tongue to warm his throat and murmur affection to the creature. There was a kinship there.. and it was anchored.. in her. It was like Ruv could see it too. They recognized each other.

Important. Good. Hers. the thought bonded them in a mutual understanding.

"He.... his name... he likes you. I just.. he's Ruv.. and I'm Liv... Olivia... but.....Liv."

His skin prickled as she came closer and the muscles in his back and shoulders clenched reflexively. Her nearness was almost overwhelming. He risked a glance at Ruv.. who seemed to be giving him a mental nod of understanding that made him laugh inwardly.

"I know," he said unable to hide the shred of lightness that crept into his voice just as she crept under his skin.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Written with snippets of plot-speak with Writ's player.]

Maybe she wasn't paying enough attention. Maybe she was lost.

She hadn't expected him. It had been a week since she spoke to him in the vesh.

Three since she had come to his kompania. Wouldn't they be done with their business yet?

"One or two more weeks," her mother had said.

Two more weeks! She was unsure as to whether that excited her, or angered her. And again, she was not sure whether this was because she wanted to leave, or because she wanted to stay.

She could never have accidentally collided with him. Not in a million years could she get that close without her soul tingling. But sometimes there we cosmic collisions.

Winding her way through the huts and caravans, she often stayed towards the most open of lanes. He would know that by now.

On this one, he passes her.

He holds her eyes.

He holds out a piece of paper.

She pauses because she expects him to.

He doesn't.

He doesn't stop.

But she does. Thinking he would.

But he smiles when she takes it.

She looks down.

It's Ruv. Ruv drawn in pencil. Ruv drawn down to the weird little way his fur grows the wrong angle on his right ear. Ruv, captured in his wild stance as well as his wild eyes.

She's so taken aback she feels as though the wind was knocked out of her. She looks up.

Nothing. Just a trail of that smile in the air in his wake.

Then it's all back to what he was doing. Watching where he walked. Headed toward something, probably something important.

Much more important than her.

But....

She felt their souls kiss.

A ghost nuzzle of an invitation.

Look for me. Find me.

She would.


Last edited by Olivia Diogenes on Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:08 pm; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liv worried her lip as she tried wedging the phillip's head screwdriver into the seam between the metal cylinder and its lid. She had been trying to pry it open for the last 10 minutes and she had made no progress. She was genuinely frustrated and the tension sat in her entire body. She was coiled like a spring, sitting on the floor, hunched over her project in the center of a sprawl of schematics and tools. She tried putting more elbow grease into it. Her whole body stiffened and her coltish legs flickered with strain before they eased up and recrossed underneath her. The sun was slowly setting and driving the large open area of the loft into an abstract of itself, made of shadows. She should turn on the lights but... This has to come off....in a ...

It was 5 years ago. London.

Emilian's hand on her shoulder made her start and she nearly threw the canister at him.

"What the ***, how the h--?!" She had sprung into a crouch, facing him.

"You need to take a break," the roguish boy said as he ran his fingers through his long hair. The better to see you with, my dear.

"Yeah, sure..I will..I just need to get this open."

"What is it?"

Liv narrowed her eyes at him.

He narrowed his own back.

"Part of my project."

"Yeah, I gathered that," he extended his arm, curling his fingers in an impatient 'gimme.'

"I--" no, you can't. "Fine," she handed it to him, rather begrudgingly.

He had a hint of a smile on his mouth-- the kind that crawls up from a bad thought and tries to bury itself in your skin.

He reached for the screwdriver as well. Liv put it in his palm with a satisfactory slap. He placed the tip of it in the area she had been working, then the area opposite. He felt it grab better purchase but he couldn't get the leverage he needed. He turned away from Liv, which gave her a moment to straighten the soft, short-shorts she had been working in into a semblance of modesty. She re-aligned the oversized, but cropped, sweatshirt she had falling off one shoulder so much it was nearly eye-catching. Olivia was younger, tanner, and more ill-tempered.

"Ian, don't sneak up on me like that. I don't like it."

"Yeah?" he said distractedly as he placed the canister on a work table and sat down awkwardly, putting all of his weight into it. His loose peasant shirt, buttoned only in the lower buttons, opened as he leaned. He didn't see her frown at the sight of him. But she did. "But *I* do." He paused to grin at her-- a snapshot of smug masculinity, even on his pretty face. She could never figure out if she liked the way he looked at her. "Lighten up, babe."

She frowned, and about to speak, she was interrupted by a well earned *pop!* and the sound of scraping, rusted metal. "Ow!" called Ian as he shook his hand, the screwdriver having skimmed off the quickly opened container and digging into his flesh hard enough to draw blood. "F**k."

Liv started to pad silently over to the open kitchen, turning on the water and slipping a stark white towel under the stream. Ian slowly made his way to her, canister in one hand while the thumb of that hand pressed the wounded heel of his opposite thumb and made it weep dark blood. When he got to her she turned towards him and waited expectantly. He offered her the cylinder, and also waited expectantly.

"Not even a --"
"Put that dow --"

That grin again. But he put the canister on the counter.

"Thanks, Liv," he said more quietly, less presumptuous, as she pressed the cold, wet towel into the wound.

"No, thank *you.*" though her heart wasn't in it. It was perfunctory.

"No, I mean... for taking on this gig."

"Oh. Yeah. Whatever."

"No, like, you're really helpful. You're really good at what you do. I know I owe you more than just," his free hand fluttered in the general direction of life and the things in it.

"I understand."

"Yeah. I guess you do," he said softly as she turned back to the sink to wash out the red and re-wet the towel. He came close up behind her as she did, pressing his hips against the back of hers, and pushing her slowly into the counter as he leaned down-- his dark hair mingling with her pale blonde. "But I don't just--"

"Ian, stop."

"Stop *what*, Liv?"

"Stop, I'm not done with your hand."

He placed a hand on her hip, fingering the terricloth a little lower to stroke the pads of his fingers on the sweep of curve to bone. Around the other side, he wrapped his arm and put it in front of her, above the sink-- the wound still bleeding. "Yeah, I'm not stopping you."

"Emilian."

"Olivia."

"Ian... have you found him yet?"

He inhaled slow and heavy, sucking the air from the room and pressing his chest against her. She could feel his heat, skin to skin, through his open shirt and the deep dip of her sweatshirt collar. "Liv... when are you going to--"

"To *what*, Ian?" She pushed her palms into the edge of the sink and pressed back. There was a buck in the motion and it was meant to dislodge him. It didn't. The hand on her hip became a hand around her and low on her bare stomach. Her pelvic bone. He picked her up a little. She pushed his other hand away with the white towel, the water not wrung out made crystal rivulets flood down his wrist and into his loose sleeves. The water was pink with blood. "No. Stop it." She squirmed gently to make him let her go. He pulled her closer. Tighter. She was aware of anatomy and physiometry and physiology, particularly his, in dark detail. "Ian, put me down."

He exhaled at the nape of her neck, "You're going to --"

She elbowed him. Harshly. Right in between the ribs that mattered, and were tender. It winded him. It was enough to let her slide out of his arm and half-skip away. He nearly dropped the towel and so he grabbed it with keen Romani reflexes with his free hand. He shook out his other arm, water already wetting his elbow and seeping into the fabric of his clothes. "Damn," he laughed. "Liv, s**t, calm down."

"You calm down. Don't pick me up like you f**cking own me. That's not the case and--"

"Oh, isn't it?" Emilian lifted a very pretty brow at her.

"Is that what this is?"

"What is?"

"All of this," she waived her hand at the loft. The job. Her things. London.

"I mean--" he began. Then he paused and studied her face. Her angry face. "No. No, of course not."

"Then don't f**king do that. And knock like a god damn person. We aren't children. I could have hurt you. And you don't... You aren't..."

His brow rose higher.

"It's not ok, Ian." He stood there, watching her. Something calculating between both of their gazes. There was an electric, stiff silence. Then she asked again, "Have you found anything about Writ?"

"Writ. Mm. No," he pressed the towel into his hand and after one moment of that tenuous stare, he turned. He turned fast, on his heel. "You may never find what you are looking for, Olivia. It's been years."

"But you said--"

"I said I'd try. We ....we're trying."

"That's all I--"

"No, you got a lot more than that. Whatever. Figure this s**t out. We need you tomorrow."

The door clanged closed. She knew she'd have to go and lock it herself.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liv sat upon a bald spot on the ground.

She had chosen somewhere unconventional. Somewhere she hadn't been seen before. Somewhere she considered as private as she could possibly find. Ruv padded around silently, sniffing and snuffing at odd patterns in the underbrush.

Once everything was all clear he crept up on Liv and bowed his head close to the ground and snuck in under one of her arms. He half rolled onto her side, which didn't really manage any sort of movement or re-positioning, just intensification of their touch. He leaned on her and laid down. She was, though, successfully distracted and she laughed happily at the wolf and pet him intensely. He was, afterall, in a perfect petting position, so she did just that.

"Lookit this, Ruv. He draws pictures of you. ....What does that *mean*?"

Ruv lifted one of his brows as if he had some thoughtful consideration. But Liv was aware that he, more likely, wanted to be scratched under his ear. So she did, and she continued.

"It's pretty good, yeah?" she shook it like a polaroid in his direction. Ruv closed his eyes.

"Bleh," she said and laid back in the grass, which made a golden pillow of her hair. She closed her eyes and let the sun warm half her body and pet her companion idly but lovingly, twining her fingers in his long back ruff of fur around the back of his neck.

"Do you think he knows?" she eventually asked. "I mean, not like there is anything to know but we have been ..." Ruv grumbled, giving his input as he rolled more into her and directed both her hand and the sunlight into a place that wanted both.

"Olivia," came an all too familiar voice.

She started. Something particular about thinking you are quite alone and then... not.

"Da?"

"Olivia, come here. I want to show you something."

Ruv started as Olivia scrambled to her knees and then her feet. She had a feeling he knew all along. She gave him a shameful glance.

Olivia saw her mother on the other side of the clearing, it was hard to tell if she had just arrived or if she had been there for some time. Liv looked down at the ground in case she had been heard, and she toed the dirt before making her way.

"How do you feel, child?"

"Hmm, mother?"

"What do you feel like today?"

"Oh. I don't know. Like honey. And firelight."

"Ah yes, the princess of wands. My little princess of wands," and her mother drew a card from the deck she had been cradling in its velvet bag.

"Though, mm, not for long, yes?"

"Huh?"

Her mother shook her head and showed her upturned palm to Ruv. "You are a good soul-keeper, Ruv," he panted loudly, sniffed her hand and then leaned into the way she shook his soft ear. "You take care of my daughter, for now."

"What card did you draw, mother?"

"The one I had expected."

"Wh--"

"We leave soon."

"I know."

"Mm," Olivia may have had strange, light eyes, but her mother's stare was the one that could wither someone in their tracks. "Such a smart girl... but not as smart as you think, I think."

"That's..."

"*That* is the truth."

"Ok, mama."

"Go wash up for dinner. You are dirty, look at you. You can't look like that tonight. I have something special for you."

"...Why?" she was so suspicious, even that young.

"Because we must eat and be in the company of the--"

"Oh,"

" 'Oh,' she says," her mother gave a little scoff. "Go. Zehra will help you."

"Zehra never helps me, she's --"

"She will tonight. Go."
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He'd spent the last week carefully picking out pathways through camp that would run him parallel with the stardust wakes she left everywhere she went. He could feel it on his skin anytime he passed through a cloud of her. His senses all jumbled and confused- like he could see the sound of her voice.. hear the way she smelled. There was a part of him that loved the unconventional way she affected him.. a large part.. that craved it.. that wanted to follow it.. to roll in it.. like an animal overlaying their own scent atop another. Predominant or not.. there was still the other part of him he had to deal with. The stubborn, willful sliver that needed to understand things- put his hands on 'em and learn the pathways and mechanisms that gave them life. So.. he kept himself at an observant distance.. too skeptical yet to give in completely to all the things she called out of him.

God how she intrigued him, though.

Every waking moment: Pale halos, sky blue rings, and wild honey skin. Her free spirit and the lightness in her walk.. the strange inflections of her voice.. the oddly familiar way she used it to speak to him.. just the once.. Maybe slightly more than all the other ways she climbed under his skin.. The connection between her and her wolf tugged at his sleeve the hardest.

Over his week-long at-a-kumpania's-length distance.. he'd draw them.. again and again. Liv.. and her friend. Playing.. wild.. free. Happy and laughing.. running or.. curled up together for warmth and comfort. Sometimes.. he left the wolf out.. and also sometimes he drew himself in Ruv's place- pencil to paper bleeding late into the night when the thought of her was the most torturous; a time in which his mind wouldn't.. couldn't.. stop turning.. stop analyzing. It was always like that when his hands were idle and he didn't have anything terribly laborious to distract himself with.

The night before he had made the deliberate cut into Liv's path.. Chaya had sat in the middle of his tent, cross-legged and admiring the sheaths of charcoal coated paper scattered all around her. She plucked one up between her slender fingers and held it aloft.. a wrinkle at the bridge of her nose.

"What are you doing in this one?" she asked incredulously- her tone bordering on disgusted curiousity. "Are you.. are you trying to strangle her?.. You're.. you're not gonna murder her, are you?!"

Writ glanced up from the lone portrait of Ruv he'd dug into and blanched at a slightly more.. intimate.. image that had escaped his clean-up process prior to his little sister joining him. "Give me that.." he commanded dryly, snatching it from her and tucking it away.. somewhere.. anywhere..

Chaya's eyebrows rose and fell repeatedly in a waggle, a toothy grin splitting open her adorable face.

She looked ridiculous.

Writ couldn't help the soft bark of laughter that eased his shoulders back into a more relaxed posture. "What do you know about that sort of thing, anyway?" he asked, eyeing her cautiously.. "Please don't tell me I'm going to have to beat the crap out of some 10 year old chav.."

"Pfft." Chaya blew a raspberry in his direction and swatted her hand at the air. "Thirteen.." she teased.

"Not funny." His voice monotone and his half-lidded eyes clearly not amused.

"Girls talk you know? Even at my age.. Oooh! You know what you should do? You should give her one of these." She waved one his drawings at him. "They're.. really good, Writ and.. I mean.. You're gonna have to marry her so you might wanna.. start speaking in full sentences to each other." Chaya folded her arms across her chest stubbornly. "And.. She'd have to talk to you if you gave her one of these. Or she’s a nut and we don’t want her anyway." She nodded firmly, decidedly.. emphatically.

Writ regarded his sister for a moment, then glanced down at the sketch he’d nearly finished. "Oh, we don't, huh?" A soft tilt tugged at his mouth. He couldn't decide if he was more pleased by Chaya's praise, her somewhat grown-up assessment and advice.. or the prospect that it might actually work.. and that he wanted it to.. that he was finally ready to start investigating the inner-workings of their fate.. up close.

"Then... you should ask her to dance. Van says dancing is like having sex with your clothes on." Chaya added matter-of-factly.. though the side-eye she gave him was filled with a get-your-goat anticipatory glee.

"Alright… you ruined it.." Writ stood up and Chaya immediately scrambled backwards with a squeal of laughter, her long skinny legs kicking out at him from her spot on the floor. Her brother grinned down at her and nodded slowly.. "Oh yeah, goodlo.. you're gonna get it.." He took one step towards Chaya's giggling, flailing form and she bolted.. scampering out of his tent at full pelt and full heart.

"Tell Van I want to speak with him while you're at it!" he called after her.. an amused, loving smile aimed like a kiss goodnight at the shadow of her back that disappeared into the warm glow of his parent's home—one of the few stationary structures in camp.
__

He'd done it.

He'd woven his way through the steady streams of people and carts and tents.. like he could see her through them.

He'd put himself directly in her path.

The remnants of his sister's laughter from the night before embedded a serenely lit fire behind the deep moss-flecked bark of his eyes and he braced himself for the impact of the cool blues he knew would sear him to the bone as they met.

He held out the sketch as they passed and blinked once, slowly.. like time had all but stopped in the force that tried to keep him from continuing to move beyond her gravity. Take it. his smile said.. the curve of it deepening when she did.

Just keep moving, Writ.

He didn't dare look back.. keenly aware of the overwhelming sensation that arched like lightening between their almost touching fingers.

His heart was pounding and threatened to beat right out of his chest.

What was that?

As he rounded a corner, safely out of sight, he leaned up against a merchant stall.. pressed the back of his head into the cool surface of it, and panted.. in deep-chested swells to catch his suddenly fleeting breath.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Written from play with Writ.]

Olivia came in... late. And there had been a lot of harsh, stage-level whispers about where she was. Why she wasn't here already. If she was ready. If she had done something wrong. But really, she was partially there, and partially distracted. She had managed to teach Ruv to ninja crawl. He was, after all, a very smart ruv. So Olivia was sneaking in, half under the table, half out... so that really her appearance was more of a slow raise of her pale halo of hair beyond the table cloth at the far end of the table. With her family. Zehra, her older sister, rolled her eyes dramatically and pointed to Liv's knees. Esila, her younger sister, laughed and came over to bat at the dry floor-dirt that had gathered there. There were dark sandy smudges on her pale linen dress.

Esila made a little puff-cloud of dust that made both her and Liv laugh and sputter. Liv took the opportunity to make the cluster of sisters into a chaotic churning of family members and when they were finally all seated, she was farthest from her mother. Particularly her mother's strong, unimpressed stare. Under that gaze, Liv smoothed her hair. Tonight, uncharacteristically, her hair had a handful of braids in it and wildflowers that she added because well... if they were going to go through all that trouble she may as well be extra pretty. Or at least what she considered pretty.

Some of the flowers fell out now and she placed them on the table. She purposefully placed one in front of Zehra and one in front of her mother. An offering for the fact that they both could make that face so well. Liv wrinkled her nose at them and sat. She straightened the collar of the dress she was wearing that was just a little too big for her. It was as though the maker, her mother, had anticipated a more heavy, curvy body to fill it out when it was to be worn, but even in this Liv protested. She was growing up to be a long-limbed, willowy creature.

A creature that felt this need to look around and see who....if... not yet. She pushed down on Ruv's soft warm head as he came to smell her for scraps that had not been served yet.

Seated at the opposing end of the table was Petre, Writ's father. He stood upon Liv's appearance. He wore a high collared tunic of fine colorful embroidered accents and metallic gold thread. This unraveled to hang to his knees over the large legged pants that bowed out and back in at the ankle. Seated to his left, a witch of a woman, if ever the sight of one could be trademarked. Ismarin. Dark coils of hair. Dark eyes. Hazel like Writ's but at least eight shades deeper. They were fringed in lush dark lashes and didn't blink.. they pierced.. watching the girl's heart enter the room. She smiled.. but her mouth twitched slightly. Trouble. Was her instant interpretation.

Seated next to her, Nisha. A calm, peaceful, inviting expression lighting on the commotion like an eye of a storm. Then Tielah.. with her ruddy hair and thinly veiled distaste. Then Chaya.. who trembled with want to open her mouth and say something humorous.. or terribly inappropriate.. but maintained her grace with those chocolate brown eyes all adoring as she watched Esila tend to the dust on Liv's knees.

To Petre's right... an empty chair. Next sat two boys.. thirteen. One, Diece, kind looking and well mannered, stood when his father had and bowed slightly. He was.. almost angelic to look at. Short dark hair, eyes like his mother's.. Writ's twin in jawline and mouth.. and he exuded light. The other, Van.. who didn't even look up.. simply twirled a fork against the table and tested the prongs against the soft pad of his forefinger. He looked.. bored.. and there was an empty blackness around him big enough for anyone to fall into.

Bulibasha and 2nd son sat.. and a clean, tall, shape moved towards the empty seat. He walked with a ferally regal grace.. Back straight, work-shaped torso taut beneath a plain white button up shirt.. the collar of which held a border similar to his father's finery.. just a more modern, understated version of it. His eyes, the perfect blend of his parent's own, skipped over everyone assembled in a brief acknowledgement.. except Liv. They lingered there a while longer.. heavier.. pressing against her in an unidentifiable mixture of want and disappointment. Where had she been? She hadn't come to find him when he was sure she would. His mouth was set in a straight line.. all business... until Nisha eye-elbowed him from three seats down. He cleared his throat and offered a warm, genuine smile to the room at large as the food was brought in his wake. "Te avel angla tute, kodo khabe tai kado pimo tai menge pe sastimaste."

Liv sat in her chair. And she sat... still. She was self-contained. Her family could feel it and they marvelled. Perhaps this would get better than it had started. Zehra rose one of her dark, skepticle brows as she leaned forward a little to get a look at Liv. And then she saw where her sister looked, as though transfixed. Watching. Zehra caught the glance between Writ and Liv and she caught the layers there that held a thousand upon a thousand words. For the first time, someone who knew what was going on realized that Liv truly didn't have an idea. And Zehra wondered what the stiffness in the boy really was. And wondered if they had decided not to like each other. But Liv, for just a moment, looked like a paler ghost of herself. Her honey coloured eyebrows raised in a 'who me?' look that may or may have been too late to be caught by Writ.

Of Liv and her reactions... her easy smile was on delay. She had a moment to be haunted by him. How he moved. How he seemed to be important tonight. Though, really, in their way, he was always important to her. The thread of disappointment that snapped at her was the most effective chastising she had ever received. And she was unsure if that was what it was, so perhaps that was the secret of it. More so than where it came from? She felt... she was unsure. But it gripped her chest and it made her fingers curl around the sides of her chair like she had to hold herself down or she would float away.

Esila leaned in to make a comment, "He looked at you funny," and for the first time, Liv pawed at her to hush her. Liv? Hush her? Esila looked at Zehra like someone asking what to do for a sick friend. In a wave of reaction, Zehra offered no help and looked at her mother in almost comical succession. Zehra leaned in and asked a pointed question. Her mother exhaled a sharp hushing hiss. Zehra shook her head and marveled at the ridiculousness of her family. It was Alperen, father, who was left to deal with social graces. Family. Feast.

On Writ's side of the room, Chaya was the first to grab at the food and received a wrap on the knuckles from her older sister's hand that shot out with snake-strike speed. Dejected, Chaya slumped back in her chair and twirled a dark auburn curl around her finger. Petre raised his glass to Alperen in a ceremonial toast, welcoming him into the kumpania officially and extending an invitation for his return at any time. The man turned to Writ with a nod before returning back to a boisterous conversation that struck up between him and Liv's father. His son obediently rose. Like water around a fallen tree. Smooth and gracefully adjusting to the dance of this meal.

The main course tray lifted into one hand, he moved around the edge of the table. As he made his way.. he was certain that there was something following him.. a pair of eyes beneath the table waiting for something to fall from the platter he carried. His mouth twitched. Ruv.. his mind said in affectionate greeting.

Liv watched him move like a dream. It was a strange blend of reality and confusion and disbelief. Eventually she looked less perplexed, less like she wanted him to answer a question. But it was more because he was quietly answering them as he moved. By watching him she knew dinner was soon. She knew he was more than she had thought he was. She saw his family and she skimmed them with her pale eyes. If she had wanted to interact with him, perhaps she shouldn't have done it the way she had tried. Perhaps if she had paid more attention to her family she would have had more chances to interact with him. There was a pang of regret. And she felt like she deserved whatever ire there seemed to be. Wait...deserved for... as he approached her the world spun into a silent, dizzying gravity. She leaned back in her chair but she kept watching him. Esila started to talk but Liv strangled her with a harsh stare. Comically, Esila turned back at Zehra but she had been abandoned by the older girl who was comfortable in her always hearing, ever watching aloofness that often included a lack of eye contact with anyone.

Writ's very noticeable presence paused next to, and slightly behind Liv. His eyes crept down the golden braids in her hair and the.. casual rebellion of their arrangement made it difficult to be upset with her.. in any capacity. She really hadn't done anything wrong.. she doesn't even know why she's here. The tray lowered by his hand next to her plate. "Olivia.." he said deeply.. gently. Clearly, she was meant to be served first.

When Writ came close, there were so many reactions. Liv felt Ruv take a few ninja steps closer. Not even steps, more like slinks. The wolf peering up through bushy eyebrows as though the platter were for him. Writ said her name. Her name. She swallowed thickly, and as she was about to speak her stomach growled loudly instead. Esila giggled and Liv blanched to a lighter shade of cream as blood flooded and rushed in her ears and under her skin, licking the syllables of her name through her insides, straight from his mouth. Utterly taken off guard, and betrayed by her stomach, what came out of her mouth was unplanned, "Are you mad at me? Did I do something wrong? ...I mean..I usually do but..." Always as though they were in a long, comfortable conversation. Like they knew each other more than....Oh and why? Why was he walking over here to her? But that could wait.

Nisha watched the exchange.. and when her warm smile started to tilt slightly she lowered her eyes to her empty plate. Oh boy.. she thought. The air between the two of them was thick, electric and.. It was so tangible that it seemed out of place. Like it was too intimate for a formal dinner.. to be witnessed by other people.

Writ was either oblivious to the fact or too focused on the shade change of her skin, the clear cutting words that fell out of her mouth, and the orbit she put him into. "No," he said quietly and swallowed hard. "Can you put some food on your plate though?" he glanced at the mountain of lamb he was holding.. then to her, purposefully.. a subtle reminder of what she should be doing, urged quietly enough so as not to embarrass her as her stomach had. His lips parted to say something else- but his throat squeezed with another constricting swallow and he brought them back together in a tight smile that made his jaw clench. His eyes though.. there was nothing hard or cold there.. or proper even. They were fascinated.. searching.. gently prodding at her like he could uncover some sort of secret.

"Oh," she said. There was a subtle shake of her head as if she were trying to banish sleep or stupidity. "Uh," and she was choosing utensils and accoutrements and running through all the things her mother had yelled at her so long ago before giving up on her. She had been listening, she just... that was the problem, she remembered, she didn't have to do it over and over and over and over again... She remembered and she put on her manners and put herself in check. Her insides were trying to become the girl she had been told to be. For him, or for the moment, ...whatever it was she was a chaotic management of her own affect.

"Ok...." Liv nodded slowly, like she was cheering herself on. She took some of the choice pieces. Joint pieces. Tender things. "I uh.. I'm going to drop some by accident ..not on purpose," she looked up at him and smiled. As if she knew he would be all right with it, or perhaps like she could drag him into her Ruv-feeding conspiracy. Then, "Thank you.... " a solemnity in the way she said it, Not just for this. and a seriousness in the way she looked at him. A glimpse into the depth of her. As though she felt him ask for it and...

Writ's tight smile loosened a bit and he leaned a little closer with a conspiratorial whisper. "If you didn't.. I was going to.." She smelled like wild flowers and honey. He smelled like clove and wood shavings and fire. The two scents floated up in the small space between them, curled around each other like cats and bled into one another.. leaving a single, unified, and intoxicating perfume in the air.. Home. Wild. The Vesh. The Kumpania. All in one. His eyes felt heavy.. drunk.. and his skin ached.

Liv's smile unfurled so dramatically that she tried to reign it in. Her lips quivered and she even rose a hand to hide her mouth behind. Some obscenely choice pieces, just two, flopped on the floor and there was some commotion that would be lost for anyone who didn't know. Because the large room, with many people, was humming with conversation. There was a buzz to it, like a vibration, but that buzz was sweet and cloying, but also heavy and dark, like it carried a comfortable serenity to it. Their mingled scents would always have that reaction, and for the most part, this was the first time she let it creep into her blood through her lungs.

Writ pressed his lips together and drew a deep breath, his stubborn resolve allowing him to take a step back and look up at his youngest sister as he made his way around the table to serve the rest of those gathered. He glanced down at the floor by her feet and she watched his face with curiosity for the briefest of moments.. then suddenly looked like she was about to pop with excitement. They had a silent way of communicating and she read him like a book. Casually she slid her hand beneath the table.. flexing her fingers to beckon the wolf she knew would be there.. somewhere.. and it was enough to distract her from the wearing formalities that were delaying her supper.

He stopped and greeted each member of Liv's family by name and offered plate.

Esila was much more simple to appease. She gave a one-toothless beaming smile at Writ and dug her fork right into a big, dry piece of meat like she was pretending to be important and erudite and plopped it on her plate. However, she shifted in her chair restlessly when she realized how much food that was and she just nodded at him as she worried the corner of her mouth knowing that she couldn't put it back.

Writ gave a little bow to Esila, followed by an exaggeratedly impressed thumbs up at the size of the meal she'd claimed for herself. A grin broke out on his mouth. She did remind him of Chaya. He had such a soft spot for his little sister that it was almost immediately transferred to Liv's own. Underneath his duty, he was really just a big kid anyway and it wasn't something he got to indulge very often.. so when given the opportunity to be silly.. to bring a giggle out of a young one.. he always took it. An encouragement to hang on to that for as long as they could.

Esila was won over and avoided shame for childish gluttony. She started slicing away at her big piece of meat like Writ himself had dared her to finish it whole. Then she remembered that Ruv could also help, so the wolf would be kept busy between the two younger girls. Perhaps they'd make a game of it. Calling the wolf back and forth. Liv did not need a tight leash on him, she just wanted him to be here. Be a part of...whatever this was. When he slunk away to the far end of the table, she tried to make out who it was for without looking beneath.

The procession of food circled him behind Zehra. The girl tilted her head. She was all cheekbones and chin, her dark features, dark eyes, and short jet hair was a home for darker insinuations as well. "Good luck with that one," she crooned. Wrong sister, it implied crudely. Even taking the luxury of a glance at Liv which went unnoticed. Over Zehra's shoulder, the piercing stare of her mother was on Writ in a way that would remain even when she was no longer looking. But Zehra had spoken softly enough for the comment to be private.

Writ met her dark eyes with the faintest impression of distant admiration on his features.. until she spoke.. and it shifted slightly.. it added a trace of a smirk. He was sixteen.. he wasn't blind.. and he wasn't entirely in control of his hormones either.. he could see quite plainly what she knew how to do.. what he knew how to do.. and.. there was something mildly predatory in his eyes.. but she engaged it in a way she probably didn't anticipate. Protection. Not lust. Right sister, it responded.. and he moved on without a second glance.

Van at the other end of the table though.. had the same capacity for not blinking as his mother.. and the second Zehra's mouth opened.. the skill had been put into practice. The prongs of his fork digging harder into his flesh.

Zehra. Zehra, well.... if one brow had been higher, they both rose evenly. "Huh," was mixed with a Hmm. And there was a pregnant dose of amusement and admiration. When he walked away she let her eyes narrow and linger. Pity that, she thought to herself. But she wasn't one to fight for something she couldn't have. Nor was she one to make a mess of things without knowing what they were worth. But she had a feeling this would be an interesting story. She turned to watch her mother meet the boy. For boy is what they both thought of him, if only because Liv was a girl.

Next was Liv's mother, and Writ was proper again. Respectful. Warm. And.. quiet other than greeting. He didn't know how to feel about the woman yet.. she'd kept all of this from Liv.. and.. He was sure she had her reasons but he couldn't shake the deception of it.. it made him stand just on the other side of affection for her.

"Well met, and well said," said Liv's mother. But it was through stiff lips and from beneath a piercing gaze that was meant to leave sunspots on whatever it glared down upon. However, she did sound impressed, and she gave him a once over that took him in like he was a gathering of human statistics. "I imagine she will come to heel through a good ...man... like yourself. Though your work is cut out for you," from behind her Alperen clapped a heavy hand on his wife's shoulder. "Dear," silencing. "Writ," acknowledging. "Son," transforming....and strangely, he nodded. It was heavy and masculine and held an ocean of meaning. And for a moment it sounded as though he'd say more...but no. It was all in that last word.

If Writ hadn't known how he felt about her before that moment, the woman had just made his choice for him by the words that came dripping out of her mouth like poison. He felt his eyes start to harden and he bit into his tongue to keep from saying the things that were quickly scrambling up his throat like the bile she had encouraged. Heel? Indeed. Like a f**king dog? It disgusted him immediately. Then the pause when she said man almost broke his silence. He was thankful for Alperen's interruption.

The sneer that was building at the back of Writ's jaw aborted, he exhaled deeply and found an awkward smile, glancing sidelong at Liv to see if she'd heard what her father had called him amidst the din.

Liv had not heard.

"Sir." Writ responded respectfully to Alperen, a tentative olive branch reached for. He seemed much more tolerable and Writ got the feeling that he had been apprehensive of the arrangement on his daughter's behalf.. which brought back some of the warmth that had been ran out of him. He placed a large portion of food on his plate and didn't linger.

Alperen's smile was warm. Sincere. Sad. Proud, and pleased. But yes, it was relieved and he thought, if just for a moment, that he saw Writ understand that. And it sat with him well. He made a note that he must speak to the boy candidly. And that it had to be tonight. There was an old, festering guilt that he had to share... and he was not sure if he needed to say it for himself, or for Writ, or for his daughter. But his wife's words made his heart hurt in an old wound. He would never know. Liv would never really know. Perhaps Writ could make up for that for him. At least a little. He was glad that Liv had known the love and comfort of other good men, even if it was not from himself or his eldest, but her brothers were good men. That mattered, didn't it? It would help her understand what a good man was. He was lost in thought, wondering what scars linger in our hearts. And what was this they were toasting to tonight- that steppe of solitude and togetherness that was marriage. The relationships of men and women. He sighed.

Olivia tried not to look at Writ as other trays and food stuffs were passed around. And though food was often an afterthought for her, she ended up with a huge pile of food in front of her. One that made her eyes go wide. She really was hungry. But she wouldn't forget to look around the room to figure out when she was going to eat.

Esila was pestering Liv about manners and get togethers and how when she got older she wanted a wolf like Ruv, and how it was great that he was there to make up for her taking a -- "Here?" said harshly as her mother leaned in, half way across Zehra's lap. "Where is he? Not here Olivia, not tonight," she looked under the table at their feet and saw nothing. She narrowed her eyes and looked between her three daughters

Zehra laughed, but she was too distracted by making a scene of eating her food in a particular way to be a part of this small drama. Well, she would enjoy a private scene, meant for one pair of eyes. It was nice to be reacted to.

Van didn't have much of a reaction.. in the way of facial expression at least. Just the black abyss of a swallowing stare.. watching the cuts of meat push passed her lips without so much of a lip lick of his own.

When Writ got to his family's side of the table.. the platter would be passed hand over hand. He served Chaya, Chaya served Tielah, Tielah served Nisha... and so on.

Ceremony complete, Writ risked another glance towards Liv as he made his way back to his seat, just in time for his father to place his portion on his plate. He wasn't hungry. When he looked up at Petre.. the man could see it.. and he shook his head softly. "You must" he said simply and went back to chatting heartily. He felt like he was drowning momentarily... until a great big fuzzy head nudged his knee. Saved by the Ruv. Writ would gladly lose a good portion of his food to the beast.. he just couldn't stomach anything at the moment.

Liv tried to make herself smaller, a little less noticeable. She had begun to eat as the rest of the gathering was.

Liv's attention began to wander, her eating slowing to a stop. She couldn't bring herself to lift her eyes from her plate. Esila hopped out of her chair and went to comb through Liv's hair with her fingers and reset some of the flowers and braids. She had always loved playing with her sister's pale hair. She would hum and haw about how she was sooooo different and that maybe she was a changeling baby because she didn't look like anyone else. About how she wished she had fairies for parents. Especially for a -- At first Liv tried to shoo her away but then she smiled and became a bit of a nuzzly thing and let her sister do what she liked. Sometimes Liv truly enjoyed being doted upon.. if only because it happened so infrequently.

...When her eyes came back into focus from reminiscing about how he smelled, Liv realized she had been staring at him across the way. And she realized that at least once she had seen him peek under the table so... she smiled. Ruv was being good. Nosey, but good. And there was something comfortable about them getting along. And afterall, he wasn't mad... so..she wondered what that look before had been. She watched him quietly as Esila made a crown of pale braids across her brow, and made waves that fell more curly as she undid some braids and braided other strands in their stead.

When he ate, Van brought food to his mouth by his free hand.. fork prongs pressed so hard into the other that little beads of blood started to well beneath their surface. He stayed in that unblinking line of sight.. happy to go unobserved by the rest of his family as per usual. He preferred it that way. He did what he wanted. No one said s**t. No one noticed. Except Writ.. who.. well.. Van shrugged at his own musings and continued to finger his dinner in sync to Zehra's chews.. as if he could coax and control her movement like manipulating a voodoo doll or... maybe it was her that was controlling him. That was such a novel idea... that it actually got the faintest raise of a black brow.

Writ would have noticed but between the sloppy licks of the wolf beneath the table and the eyes he felt on him from across it.. his senses had left him.. and he found himself completely absorbed. Ensconced in the threads of her pale gold hair that had fallen around her face from her sister's ministrations. Hazel followed the lines of those strands down her neck to her collar.. to the thin cream colored dress she wore.. then back up to meet pale blue.

She looked lovely.. the most proper he'd seen her.. and in that.. There was an arching juxtaposition in him. It was written like a combat sequence of calculation in the way he looked at her. She could be the wife they wanted her to be.. the heeled animal, subservient with her braided crown and fancy clothes.. but that's not who she was.. and it's not who he wanted.. or how he wanted it.. it was the wild girl he wanted. The one that ran through the forest with her wolf, unfettered. Free. The one they warned him about was exactly the one he wanted to chase.. No.. Not chase.. run with... but that couldn't happen, could it? Not like this. Not the way they all did this. She still didn't even know. He was simultaneously bewitched by her and sad.. so sad.. for her and.. himself. His bottom lip rolled inward slightly in the bite of his teeth. How do I help you choose this?.. Can I? When will they tell you? Am I supposed to tell you?

The gathering and festivities continued.

Some time during his conversation with Alperen... Liv vanished.

Ruv was gone as well.

Neither returned.

But that drama was replaced by another.
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Olivia Diogenes
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 02 Sep 2018
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[From live play with Writ]

Two days, two longer nights, after the dinner she went to go find him.

The drama that unfolded between Zehra and Van was something else for her parents to be distracted by... and ashamed of...

Well, she appreciated the displacement of her mother's scolding stare. She seemed to be the victim of it whether she left, or whether she stayed. Whether she listened, or rather *how* she listened, or disobeyed. She was tired of it. She wanted to see him. She wanted to talk to him. She wanted to breathe him in and let his very presence bring a soul-deep solace. Though that was, perhaps, less of a conscious desire. She also just wanted to see him. To see his tawny skin in the sunlight. To try and figure out what that electric resonance was that hummed in her ears when she was near him. She wanted to feel it wind its way around her and settle in places she hadn't quite understood. Places no one had been, and no one but him would be. Ever.

So she ran. She sliced through the woods as quiet as she could while still running as efficiently as she could. Running with her wolf. She was a ruffled mess of knotted hair and frayed hems snagged on underbrush as she moved through the woods on unbeaten paths (she had to make it interesting at least), but she knew where she wanted to go. And she ...felt that it was the right direction. She wondered if it was the sea that started quieting her soul as she neared. She did love the ocean, she didn't go to it nearly enough, or as much as she wanted, when she was in their own city, but that was mostly due to it being dangerous and no one else finding it pleasing.

Here, there were quiet places harbored in the rocks. And there were trees. And she knew that he enjoyed the little coves and secret places. And that was what she wanted to find.

She dropped down into the sand, on one side of the rock he leaned up against.

"Hi," she said simply as Ruv slipped in from the other side to book-end him. Book-end him and go for a face-lick that demanded his immediate attention.

And Writ's immediate attention would be given in the form of a hard-returned nuzzle and nip at the air above the animal's muzzle. Writ's arm bent at the elbow and hooked itself around Ruv's scruff.. fingers digging into his fur to scratch deep down against the skin beneath his dense coat- as natural and familiar a response as there ever was. Like he had invited them in the first place.

And.. he did in a way. Hadn't he? When he gave her the drawing? Just.. she didn't show up before the dinner.. then left and never came back after the dinner.. and.. it left him a little dizzy- a little confused.

There were so many things Writ could read about her.. but.. she had to be close enough for him to do it.. and.. she hardly ever was. He'd felt them coming.. and he was glad.. a little surprised.. but.. also relieved.

Liv's heart swam in her chest as she watched him pet Ruv strongly, and affectionately. If she had to put a label on the feeling, in this moment, she would have been incapable of it. But it felt like the organs inside her body had become dislodged and were floating to inappropriate places.

He glanced at her from his stranglehold on Ruv. "Hi." he responded. Casually tentative with almost a question mark at the tail end.

"Hi!!!!" came a jovial shout from somewhere amidst the trees.

The swimming feelings on Liv's insides were only made worse, or perhaps better (?) by the uncertainty in his greeting. She almost addressed it, then she had a little start, hopping an inch or two closer to him to accommodate the tree and the other voice into more of her view.

Writ smiled at the sound of his sister but continued to address Liv. "What brings you out here?"

Liv looked up and shaded her eyes to scan the trees. In the meantime, Ruv was precocious about the way he really wanted to get all up and under and into Writ's face and personal space. "Hi..." said Liv, almost as tentatively but once she realized who the girl probably was, she had an easy smile for her. But Writ pulled her back. He always would. "Oh.... I... It's kinda intense back there and... I ..." she pursed her lips. "I have been wanting to for a while I just... I wanted to ... see ... you," which was the honest truth of it. The meandering search for a different label for it really didn't seem all that efficient or useful, so she just said it.

His brow flared as a knowing nod met her mention of the chaos back in camp. "Yeah.. um.. Van is.. Hm.." It was clearly weighing on him.. but definitely didn't seem to be the only thing. He kept looking at her like everything that came out of his mouth might bruise her somehow.

He smiled though.. and it was genuine.. "I'm.. glad to be seen.." There was still a question in the slight squint of his eyes as he regarded her.

"I don't know what he is but I know what Z is and ughhh," she groaned quietly and tilted her head back all the way in a sign of exasperation and utter surrender. She even stuck her tongue out just a little when she did it, because...that's how she felt about her sister.

His eyes followed her head as it fell back.. watched her tongue creep out of her mouth in distaste.. it made him smile a little wider. The animation of her.. it just.. it was so real and she existed so often in his mind as a dream that the notion of having her actually next to him.. sorta spread through him like a brushfire.

When Liv re-aligned herself again she peeked up at him as if she wanted to see if she at the least amused him. Because he seemed.... sullen. Or... just... She smiled at his comment about being seen. There. That was a little better. She smiled at the morsel of vulnerability that was there.

"She's here cause of the drawings! Huh? Isn't that right?" Chaya shouted down at them from the perch of her tree branch- sunkissed legs dangling lazily in the cool breeze.

Chaya's interjection had stolen his admiring gaze back to the tree line with a withering glare of warning. What are you doing? Shutup. Just.. let her talk to me. Stop interrupting. Your plan is working. You little evil genius that I love so much. Now shh.

Liv moved to speak when she was interrupted. Her eyes squinted some, like it felt funny having words stolen from her. She tilted her head, and instead of turning to Chaya she nodded to Writ. "Yeah, I suppose I am. I'm sorry. I didn't say thank you.... I got... they... they were so good that.... I don't really...I felt like I didn't even know how to say thank you. I can't do anything like that."

Eyes returned, the embers of frustration withering away with a soft hiss as they fell into the cool pools of her own- like he hadn't just been mind-yelling at his sister two seconds ago. "You get used to her.." he murmured into Ruv's neck.. he had moved in between them and inserted it in front of Writ's face.

Then Writ peeked up at her from behind the wolf.. and while his mouth was hidden by the sudden presence of the beast, you could tell by the sparkle and crinkle at the corners of his eyes that he was smiling.. fully. "You're welcome.. but.. I'm sure that's not true. Everyone is good at something. You're.. you're good with a knife.. right?"

His smiling was contagious. Almost as if it hadn't been her plan to inspire him to do so. Whether she was pleased at herself or just... that smile. Even when it was hidden she felt it like sunlight, and it made all of her sunkissed skin warm. Eventually she looked up at Chaya and smiled in her direction. She couldn't see her perfectly clearly but it was good enough. She knew she was... seen. "Chaya...yes," she had known or heard, at least that night or in the aftermath, the name of his siblings, so she said the name like it was a different flavor on her tongue. "How old are you? Have you met my other sister?" she couldn't help but ask.

Chaya's descending form gave him the perfect opportunity. She scrambled down the trunk of the tree like a proper forest creature and came running towards them. "I'm.. I'm 10!" she answered, panting with the exertion the sand beneath her plodding feet had instilled. "Esil-.. esilaaiaayaa?"

Liv was a pile of laughter for the other girl, for the way she chanted her sister's name to the way she clamored out of the tree and ran at them full tilt. "I think she's almost ten, too. Ooh boy, you two would get along," making a silent notation of all the energy and thinking about the bouncing ball of trouble Esila was... and how she, herself, surpassed them both in trouble...combined, in her own way. She chewed her lip a second as she mentally compared the girls and wondering what girls were...

Chaya met her brother's eyes and wilted.. plopping down into the sand next to him and mimed the zipping of her lips.

Then Liv looked back at Writ and the smile that touched his eyes as he, in a way, hid behind Ruv made her feel... naked. Exposed. She shifted a little and pursed her lips ...then he dragged her comfortably back into conversation, "Oh... well.. yes..I can do lots of things. Like... I can walk on my hands... and I can do cartwheels and I can do.. I can throw knives and skin animals and all that stuff but... I can't do something I can give you. Like art or.. make you a knife ... I can leave some skinned rabbits," she laughed. "But that's weird. So... I.. Also ...It made me ...happy and... .....rabbits might make Ruv happy but..." she trailed off and brushed sand off her hands as she rubbed them together.

Yes you can. That flicker-shift in his eyes said. It was very brief. Replaced quickly by a mental-shake of his head. Calm down. He cleared his throat.. "I mean a rabbit stew might be nice.." Writ decided to look away from her.. thought that might be best.. for now...

Liv asked "Do you know how to cook one?" It was said in a vaguely feminist sort of way. She was before it was cool to be. That was part of the whole problem. She grinned at him, but then also, pragmatically added, "Cause I mean.... we could make some on the beach one night. That'd be fun," inviting herself to a private campfire and any of those implications that she had no idea about. Not a one.

"Yes I.. know ho--.." He was actually quite a good cook.. but instead of being offended by her teasing, he appreciated her humor and gave her a soft Psh and an eyeroll that hovered above a now certifiable grin.. cause.. she invited herself. He glanced at his little sister and she nodded insistently. "You and I could.. yeah.. Chaya.. hates rabbit stew though..." He smirked lightly at his sibling and she bared her teeth at him.. which would have been quite menacing if it wasn't just plainly adorable.

"Who hates rabbit stew?" Liv frowned and there was a tone, and she teased but was she kidding? "Or maybe it's your rabbit stew she hates. Now this seems to be coming together..." like a jigsaw puzzle of past and present, personality and proclivities.

Writ continued..."Or whatever...you can do an acrobatic feat.. that would be cool.. not.. that you need to repay me.. I didn't.. I didn't do it for that.. but.. you know." SHRUG. Crooked smile- a hand raked through his hair. Smooth...

Chaya snickered softly to herself and took some fruit from her pouch- popping it into her mouth like she was watching a play.

Liv watched him shrug and smile and ...his hair... a soft draft of his scent curled into the air... She hopped up onto her feet. Like it was a little too much all at once. But apparently it was still smooth because... he would get his request.

"Hmm. Do I know?" Liv thought aloud while she started rifling through her pockets, her boots, her pants....there was a small armory of 3 daggers and a slingshot on the ground between them before she shrugged an oops? at him with a smile that dripped impish charm-- an apology for her willful delinquency.

Wirt laughed softly and brought his eyes back to the arsenal she turned out of her clothing.. which made the decibels of his laughter a little higher. He stared at her in half-amusement and half-possession.. like she had always belonged to him.. with him.. like she'd always been there. The familiarity of her almost made him forget that it'd only been a few weeks since she'd arrived.. that this was only the fifth time they'd had any direct interaction.

After she finished emptying her pockets and spent one moment studying his features... Liv sprung back three times, hands over heels, and was walking her way back to them on just her palms. Which was getting more and more difficult as her long and tight, but not tight enough, tunic started creeping down her body. The gentle sweep of her spine started to shimmer in the sun. And just as she made her way to Chaya, it started to fall alarmingly.

Aware that Writ could see as she passed him, she bet at the middle with a controlled curl of her core and swung herself like a pendulum of crossed legs and dropped into a folded leg position in front of the girl. She was across from both of them, in between. Ruv raised one bushy brow, than another as he looked up at Liv... unimpressed. Olivia apparently had a completely different appraisal and put out her palm for a piece of fruit like she deserved a reward.

Then Liv turned her head to Writ to beam a toothy smile at him. "Maybe I can teach you to throw daggers some time, so it actually feels like I gave you something," obviously the notion of returning the favor meant a lot to her.

His eyes followed her stunt and he applauded her upon landing.. as Chaya promptly shoved treats into her palm with cheers. "Maybe.. though you already did give me something.." the lean in his voice was suggestive.. even he could feel it. ".. your acrobatics.. I mean.." Not at all the slip of skin that had shimmied out of her clothing. No. Not that. He swallowed and stood up. Glanced away again. Water.. to the water. Cold. Water.

Chaya waggled her eyebrows at Liv. What the girl was implying.. she didn't even know.. it was just a shadow of the transference shared between her and her brother. Whatever he'd been thinking at that moment, clearly deserved a brow-wriggle.

Writ left them on the sand bank and walked straight into the ocean- belly button high.

Liv popped some of the fruit into her mouth to lighten the load that was being heaped into her palm. She even threw a piece to Ruv who snapped at it and caught it. To be truthful, it was with a menacing quickness, but the way his dark tongue lolled and his eyes sparkled, he was still half a puppy. Liv leaned far to ruffle his fur and her smile was bright but lazy as Writ laughed. Eventually she sprawled out and flopped down to half lay upon the wolf and the sun-warmed sand while Writ spoke. The wolf's fur was getting very hot in the daylight but the soft heat on her skin was especially comfortable. However, Writ's tone had her curious, prickling adolescent senses, and she watched him walk away with a thick curiosity.

"I don't hate rabbit stew.. not even his rabbit stew.. he just said that cause he wants you out here aloooooone. Oooooh..." Chaya teased.. the ridiculous wriggle she loved to wield prancing along its favored ridge.

Writ couldn't hear her.. gratefully.. and he sank a little further into the water with closed eyes.. letting the cold de-escalate the situation. He stayed there, facing the horizon. Beads of water dotting his back and the spray of it slicked his hair to his neck.

Liv half rolled to face Writ but the sun was so bright she closed her eyes for a moment before repositioning into another cross legged sit. Always responding to the next step he took, she preferred to keep him in her line of sight.

Liv couldn't stop the creeping smile on her face at Chaya's insinuation. She tried to catch her lip in her teeth, she wished she could have just leaned down and hugged Ruv and buried her face in his fur but that just wasn't going to work. She wasn't exactly going to blush, or maybe she was? She was exceptionally grateful that Writ wasn't sitting right here when the girl had said it. But it was worse when she looked over at him, glistening in the sun. His shoulders.... She focused on Ruv and laughed quietly and pet Ruv a little too aggressively. He made a pleasant sort of groan in protest and rolled over, even baring his belly a little to be pet and ruffled.

Liv continued on the topic of acrobatics... "Eh, I mean, I guess people pay for a show. That's what we do. Which I thought was weird but you people are more weird sometimes," clearly indicating their sibling antics, his actual people, and his walking away. "By the way," this inspired by Chaya and her cheering, "sand is a good place to practice that stuff. I can show you some things before I go.... But you have to promise you don't hurt yourself, or just do it only when your brother is around." She glanced over at Writ and was quite jealous of his going into the water... if he stayed there much longer... she considered how she could make a swim possible all things considering.

Chaya looked clearly pleased by Liv's suggestion.. then puzzled.. then pleased.. but puzzled. The expressions popping back and forth on her face like a game of hot potato.. Yay!.. then.. But..... Writ could feel it creep up his spine.. felt the dread rise as the next few words toppled out of Chaya's mouth. "Go? Go where? You mean after your wedding?"

Liv was all "Mm..."s and she didn't really think about the scene playing over the girl's face as it did. But she attributed some of it to the nature of her own squirming. But then it stopped. Comedically. A record scratch in the conversation, "Huh?" And the lack of elegance to it, the asymmetrical raise of her brows was quick, a lightning crash on her features. Then... it began to soften. This was not due to time, but because something about those words made too much sense. The air was heavy the connections she began to make between scenes that flashed in her mind from the past month she had been in this new place..

Chaya stared at Liv in innocent query. Completely unaware of the can of worms she'd just opened. Writ's shoulders slumped and a knot formed in his throat as he turned slowly from the water to look at her. Chaya hadn't known that she.. that after the dinner.. that Liv still didn't know.. and as angry as he wanted to be at her for blurting it out.. he just couldn't.. instead.. he just felt ashamed he hadn't been the one with enough guts to tell her himself.. just another secret-keeper in a long line of deceivers.

"Uh oh..." Chaya exhaled.. and looked past Liv to see the solemn face of her brother coming closer as he emerged from the water at a deliberately slow pace. Like someone not wanting to spook a wild animal. "I'm sorry.. I .. I didn't know... Didn't they.. ..that you and Writ..." the girl sputtered.

Writ had silently made his way back to them, standing a few feet behind Liv. "Chaya.." he said softly. His sister turned her chocolate brown eyes to him-- they were swimming with tears. "Don't.. cry.. just.. Go on, goodlo.. go home." his pet name for her an assurance that she wasn't in danger of incurring his wrath. Had he had any to spare for anyone else other than himself and her family. Even his parents.. though it wasn't really their place to have told her.. certainly Dat at least.. and Nisha.. were under the assumption that she'd been told something.

Chaya turned her wide eyes back to Liv and shook her head back and forth.. like she could shake her guilt from her face. "S-.. sorry.." she whimpered.. before running off.

Writ watched the gold fleck of her in his mind make her way through the trees and back to camp.. standing in silence for a short while before his tongue attempted to form her name.. "Liv.. I.."

Vaguely, somewhere far away, a part of Liv wanted to comfort Chaya. The girl had seemed so upset it hurt her heart. But the problem was that at this moment, in this moment, Liv was almost certain that she had no heart. That she was hollow. The sensation made it impossible to speak, the emptiness crawling up her throat to sit there and softly strangle her.

Slowly she felt heavier. Much heavier as connections became realizations, and realizations became acerbic resignations. She should have known. She should have seen. The ground seemed to want to greet her, and so did Ruv. The wolf righted himself and crawled closer, nudging her knee and her hand, as if he was suggesting her to get comfortable or to wake up from her thoughts. She did.

She slowly turned back to Writ as Chaya ran off. Her legs unfolded and wrapped around her in her slow side-sit on the warm sand. "They're just going to leave me," she said solemnly, like she was given the answer to a riddle she had been working on for a long while.

She looked up at Writ and the way her chest heaved she had to stifle an urge to leap up and embrace him. She wanted, no, she needed to be close to -- She wanted to throw her arms around him and bury her features in the crook of his neck. She wanted him to protect her from her thoughts. From her family. From the looming sadness. "They're going to leave me?" her pale eyes peered into him and pleaded for the answer to this question that her whole body needed an answer to.

A small portion of her heart broke, and the soul-tugging echo of that soft implosion rung in her ears with the pattern of her heartbeat. It seemed to ring in Ruv's as well, he moaned quietly and nudged her, but she paid him no heed. "I see..." she said, looking at but through Writ. Still not seeing all of the pieces, and not placing him in them just yet....

"I.. I don't know what their plan is.. I just.. we all did this so wrong... I'm... I'm so sorry.." He took a step towards her but almost immediately took it back.. his muscles coiled in the retraction like a plea. Comfort her, they demanded. A brief image of their fingers nearly touching and the lack of breath that followed it reminded him of why he couldn't. "Not like this." He said... unsure if he was talking to himself or to her.. or about touching her.. or marrying her.. or.. what. What? "Can I.. can I walk you home?"

The words were like velvet, she wanted to wrap herself in them and hide in them. His voice as like Ruv's ruff, she wanted to let it take away this enormous weight and this sinking, empty feeling in her entire body. When he took a step forward her body leaned towards him as if preparing to... and when he retreated she audibly sobbed and it took her by such surprise she covered her mouth, and then she covered her eyes with her forearm as the tears started streaming down her cheeks. She didn't want him to see her cry like this.

The sound of her cry cut straight through him. Gutted him. He felt the other pieces of himself collapse around whatever part of him it had dissected and he was somehow.. suddenly.. less.

"I," she choked, "I need a second...I...." she tried to push away her tears but they kept replacing themselves. "I ... I didn't even say goodbye to Emre... I knew that something was wrong and nobody.....everybody...." she laughed awkwardly, and bitterly just once, shaking her head.....

"Your dad after dinner... he.. he told me.. asked.. me.. if I'd allow.." the word itself made him close his eyes and turn his head away.. but he repeated it.. because that's how her father had asked.. and he refused to be a coward anymore than he already had been. He would always tell her the truth.. even if it killed him. "...allow your brothers to visit.. I.. if you.. I mean.. I'm not.." He brought his eyes back to hers and held his hands up. "I'm not like that, Liv.. I.. I swear.. allow.." he spat the word out and winced at the taste it left behind. "If you wanted to stay.. I mean."


It was too much. Her head swirled and swarmed and ran around pieces and portions of stories and conversations and.... she had this strange feeling like she knew they had already left. What better timing, what better way to hide all these small shames, as her mother would see them, than just avoiding this last little scene with her? This idea caught in her mind, burying in like a splinter, but so did the injustice of it. So did the mental, desperate grasp at reasons things had to be like this-- her brothers... where were they? Why had they let this happen? She was sad and angry all at once. They all knew. They all knew. There was a sweet release of her emotions in a pang of anger, anger and a bitterness for the simple clarity she had for the capacity to do such a thing. Her mother. Her father. But even then... she didn't want to be here...among strangers..among....

.. Her blue eyes saw him after fading away from the moment. Her mind wrapped around the words he said,--she caught up in a slow replay of the sounds of him back to herself. To consciousness. The place her heart had been throbbed with a desire to console him, to...

"I.. I know, .....Writ. I know," she wondered how many times she had said his name to him. She swooned with the syllable in her mouth like it was an incantation she had no right to utter. "I... I ... mean... I don't know anything, I guess. I don't know but I know you ..... I know you ...I mean..I think you... You aren't ..." then she kind of laughed at herself, at the moment, a strange transition into another thought... "I'm sorry," she slowly formulated in a strange, hazy empathy.

She wanted to ask him how long he knew, she wanted to understand, she wanted to say she knew he wasn't like that but...what was he like? She understood now what Vai was. Why Emre had said goodbye the way he did, the way she felt they didn't say goodbye. She wanted to console Chaya. She understood some comments Zehra had made. She dove into herself, "I... I feel like I can't breathe but at the same time I feel like I never had to to begin with... or like I don't remember how..." the tears came but her body didn't move. Just tears. Just tears.


Writ's brows scrunched together and he shook his head in disbelief.. "Liv you.. God.. you really shouldn't.." The step taken. One more foot of distance removed. Forgotten. Be brave.. face it. Whatever it is. Comfort her. Her pull on him tempted him forward. "Don't apologize.. for.. anything.. you've.. done nothing.. and I mean nothing.. wrong .. or anything worth apologizing for. Please. You aren't to blame here."

"Shouldn't....?" shouldn't what? That word. Always something for her, and something rarely said among their people but... she wanted to climb inside his thoughts and know what he meant... because her own were so uncomfortable. And because she wanted to feel close to something. Perhaps anything. But especially to him. Just because in this moment she felt so far away from herself didn't mean that he didn't create a torrent of yearning in her.

There was something resonant and hazy about this, this mirrored and shared infinite desire to console, and to grab ahold of time and justice and... she dared to want him to feel her. She dared to desire him to fill the awful emptiness this created. "I know..." she said quietly, looking up at him.

He reached out a still damp hand and swiped his thumb across the path of a tear that rolled down her cheek.

"Don't cry.." he pleaded.. like it hurt him just as badly. That familiar thrumming in his chest kicked at his sternum like a bass drum. He'd made contact with her.. and though it was glazed in the salt of her eyes he could feel it made all of him go weak.. but.. he was still standing.. so.. maybe it wasn't as extreme as he'd recalled.. maybe he imagined it?

She felt and she knew... but... the helplessness. A feeling she would fight against with every fiber of her being for the rest of her life. She needed both freedom and agency. And this despair had robbed her of both. So, his genuine concern, from how he consoled her... a nearness she had not known before from anyone but Emre... But it felt like he really could unfurl inside of her and fill the places that were empty. That had just become so but other places that had always been... ... it crept through her. An insidious hope and desire to understand and surrender to it... It slunk down her veins and her nerves. How she wanted that. Simply. Purely. Utterly. In his moment of weakness she had a moment of self-efficacy.

On acrobat's limbs she stood. It was swift and gracefully willful and inspired. Possessed. Another pair wrapped around the back of his neck and she kissed him. She held him in her arms and she kissed him as though that could convince him to hold her in his. She breathed a timid but radiant sigh against his mouth and it carried with it a nearly obscene whimper and warmth past her parted lips. She lent him some of her weight in the gentle, perfect swoon she felt as she did this. He blocked out the entire world in an eclipse of her consciousness. Just him. Just him. And the desire for just him enveloped her like a wave that she felt overcome her and knew that she wanted to replace all the turmoil in her. It pulled her under completely. She swam in that bass beat of his heart, she considered surrendering to that, too... perhaps if she stopped breathing she could make their heartbeats thrum in time with each other. What part of this had he imagined? He was right.

Nope. No. There it was. She crashed against him figuratively harder than the waves breaking on the shore behind them. Swallowed them both by encircling his neck with her arms. Her desire.. his own.. flooded him. Pulsated through every vein and lit him completely on fire. His hands immediately went to her waist and under the weight she leaned into him, he stumbled backwards in the sand until his back gently found purchase against the rock she'd found him seated at when she'd arrived. His mouth melted beneath hers. Pressed soft yet hungry for the sound that broke passed her lips. Happy to drown.. in their breath..-- Writ's eyes, that had fallen nearly shut in the heavy intoxication of her touch, flew open and he stared at her.. still attached at the lips. "Uuhh... Liv?" He winced at the tentative sound in his voice and sort of... rolled his shoulders back to break the circuit of her arms.. hands still on her hips but safely above the fabric of her tunic. "Are you.." He drew a long breath. One his body had been starving for.. apparently. Even touching her through cloth was dizzying.. but at least he could breathe. ".. you ok?"

She had nothing to compare it to. Perhaps the stories women tell or the chatter of girls in their private coteries romanticized things in a way that could never be met. Stories and expectations that were not real. Experiencings always out of reach. But not for them. Not here. Not wrapped in the gentle sonnets of his thoughts, and hers, and the weighted warmth of his bare arms... Home.

She kissed his mouth reverently and possessed at the same time. It was delicate but it was thick with new desires and old wounds. And whether it was heavy with fate, or heavy with a secret obsession she had been harboring for weeks... or with hope...did it matter? Did it matter that a consoling hug may as well be a consoling kiss? Did it matter that they were gone? Did it matter that there was no one left to betray her or abandon her? Only --

She opened her eyes in a blink of pale lashes. A flutter of sanity and something more familiar. Of course. Of course. She frowned and wriggled her shoulders and squirmed her arms to get away from him. To put distance between them. The question was so absurd how could it not be rejection? No. She wasn't ok. She shook once, in a wave, like she could fling the want of him from her skin and onto the sand like something sticky.
...So it wasn't all right to be not ok here. A lurch of her stomach made her swallow hard. "No. No. I'm not ok." and she turned to scoop up her things off the sand.

"W-w-wait. Liv. Please.." he moved around her and the wolf turning to face her every time she bent and turned away, his hands still held up like.. like what? Like he was concerned she thought he'd taken advantage of her? Like.. an assurance that he wouldn't touch her again. "Don't go. Don't leave mad.. I'm.. sorry.. I just.." He really didn't know what to say. She surprised him. He didn't anticipate it and.. then the whole.. feel like I'm drowning.. thing.. happened and he mostly just wanted to know if she'd felt it too. If he was crazy.

She had started crying again. Inside her it felt like the last grasp for something floating by had drifted out of her reach and she knew that actually drowning was just a matter of time. And now she just rather do it alone.

"I'm not mad...I,...Ruv," the wolf had sat up but now he was scrambling to his feet. She was maneuvering around him nimbly, collecting herself. She didn't want to look at him again. It was, perhaps, an honest just ...miscommunication. They would have more. But right now, she didn't know what she wanted or where she would be or what was hers or where she would rest her head or if she'd ever have anyone in her life again. Nor did she know whether she was a prisoner or whether she had already been abandoned.... it seemed pretty clear that he had no intention to be any solace. Nothing. Nothing but confusion and one more person who-- She even smiled bitterly at herself. A particular sort of self-pity coming in a sickening rush. And even if pride did not lurch at the rejection, both physical and emotional, it slammed on emotional armor that would not let her be abandoned again. Nor allow him to be a spectator of her misery. Maybe she had misread him. Maybe she had misread herself. But this was a decision of necessity. A gamble of protection.

"Did you feel that? That's.. is it always like that.. for you?" Writ sighed heavily. He could see by the way she was snatching things up that he wasn't making things better. "Please.. let me at least walk you back to camp.."

"What the... what are you-- just leave me alone. Go do whatever you want... I'm not staying here. You have nothing to ..I don't need anyone to walk me anywhere."

He stopped moving. His hands fell to his sides. After a quiet appraisal of her words.. and the wolf that would certainly be enough to protect her.. he shook his head once and quietly responded with a rasp of defeated resignation. "No. Of course not."

Writ swallowed thickly and backed away from the pair of them.. three.. four.. five steps.. before finally turning his back and walking away.. not to the treeline.. not back to camp.. along the shore... deeper into the darkness that fell around them as they had struggled for breath. Of course not. How could he have thought for even a second that she had changed her mind?

The injustice of it all itself gave her plenty of reason to flat out hate him. Let alone see the possible worth of staying. He couldn't prevent her from leaving.. couldn't force her to listen or understand. He couldn't force her to do anything... ever. He'd never lie. He'd never push.. no matter if it was what he wanted. She would have to choose it. Choose him. And most clearly.. he would never.. ever.. touch her skin again.. if he could help it. There just wasn't a way to know what she meant and didn't mean.. what she wanted and didn't want when they were caught up in that vortex. It was too powerful.. too much. All.. too much.

She would only make it a few hundred yards into the treeline before the heart-wrenching sob that she was holding, fluttering in her throat like the last bastion of her child's heart, croaked out of her mouth and made her crumple to the soft forest floor. He would have thought it was withdrawal? A mis-attribution of the experience of their nearness? Like this was their fate? Like it was just stars and DNA?

Unlike the next time this happened, Ruv came up close to her and nuzzled her and pushed her gently. Like he could persuade her to go on to the camp. To fire. To him, eventually.

It would get dark... But Liv knew better: it would always be dark. There was no where to go. Well, there was no one waiting for her to arrive. And apparently, she didn't know how to tell the difference between someone who wanted her to stay, and someone who didn't.
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